For those who are just joining along on my families little, life adventures may not know that last Christmas we celebrate the holiday as a family of 4. Last Christmas, in fact, was when we announced our elf count was growing from 2 to 3. I love having little babies at Christmas time! Tank and Henley were both born in the fall so they were very young at Christmas time. Although Tag is 6 1/2 months old, I love that he is very much still a baby during this Christmas season. Something about being pregnant at Christmas (last year) and then having a baby in my home (this year) reminds me of the first Christmas and the sacrifice Joseph and Mary endured traveling to a far off land, delivering a baby into this world with no loved ones close, and then taking a long trip to another land. For us this year, our family move to Oklahoma felt like a move to a far off land where a little baby boy was born into our family when no family lived close and then we endured a 6-week long road trip with a 2-month-old (and a 2 and 4-year-old). I don’t think I handled everything quite as gracefully as Mary probably did and I had luxuries far grater than she did. I will be the first to admit that automobiles, hospitals, and airplanes make today’s situation quite a bit more endurable then in the olden days of Bethlehem but I also believe that there is something about life trials and blessings that take a toll on us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. From last Christmas to this Christmas there have been an abundance of both blessing and trials. Loved ones have passed away and new babies have been born. Emergency hospital trips have been made but miracles of health have taken place. Childhood homes have been left but new homes have been made. Sometimes it feel like you cannot catch a break, that trial after trial are being heaped on and there is no refuge. In my experience, the refiners fire is not a pleasant place to be but through the trials I am often reminded of God’s goodness and how may small blessings I allow to go unnoticed and unappreciated on the daily. The little nuggets of God’s goodness and his infinite love and grace are incredible blessings that give hope to each new day and a light for the future to come. As we have gotten closer to Christmas this year with a little baby in our home; as I’ve reflected on the miracles of this year for my little family I stand amazed at the life I have. I know I am blessed. The trials of faith have been building blocks to a stronger foundation for the life to come. I don’t know what life will bring, no one can ever be completely sure, but what I do know is that life will become whatever we make of it. We can choose to see through a lens of despair or we can chose to see through an lens of hope. Hope is not always easy but without hope we have nothing. I am forever grateful for the miracle of Christ’s birth and blessings I receive daily because of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. I hope you all have a very happy holiday season filled with joy, laughter, and hope while surrounded by those you love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!