Merry Christmas, y'all!
Growing up, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was getting a new ornament. My parents would take my siblings and me to Hallmark and we would choose our ornament for that year. By the time I moved out of the house, I basically had a tree-full of ornaments with lots of special memories attached.
As I've gotten older, I find myself buying ornaments to sum up my year. It's all part of attaching new special memories since I have started my own family. (Now what did my ornament from last year, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, say about 2014? No idea, except I have a very understanding husband and I LOVE Beauty and the Beast : )
I can say with full honesty 2015 is the first year I feel like Florida is home. Up until now, I felt like I was a tourist in a foreign land waiting until my exile could end. Boy, did I have the wrong attitude. I had already softened up to Jacksonville, but circumstances taught me Florida could be more than a pleasant place to live if I would let it.
The first thing to make a difference was joining my church here in Jacksonville. Jared is usually working on Sundays, so I've been using the opportunity to involve myself in a church which is incredibly important to me. I suddenly became a part of a family and found a place not only to worship, but to serve my community.
A couple of months ago, with the holidays looming, Jared and I tried to start planning what we would do for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Residency is so unkind when it comes to the holidays, I have to tell you. It's not even that I feel entitled to celebrate the holidays on the actual day. No, it's more like I would love to see my husband and family at all during the holiday season. For awhile, it looked like we would be in Jacksonville not only for Thanksgiving, but for all of Christmas as well. Seeing family looked like a very small possibility, especially since airfare is so dang expensive.
I mourned for a little bit, and then I got on my knees and did what I should have done in the first place: ask God to provide a family for me. Residency has taught me to expand my definition of family, so I asked God to help. I didn't even know how He would answer my prayer. As the Bible says, God often gives us more than we can ask for or imagine.
First of all, two of our dear friends from church took us out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We had a great time just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. I realized how loved I felt.
A wonderful family from church invited both Jared and me to their home for Thanksgiving. Surprise upon surprise, Jared didn't have to work until 7 pm that night, so he could participate in the Thanksgiving meal. I thought it might be awkward intruding on this family's traditions, but it was the exact opposite. Before lunch was ready, many of us stood in the kitchen chatting and snacking on deviled eggs. That's exactly what my family does! I realized again how loved I felt in that moment. You don't feel those kinds of feelings unless you are home.
As for Christmas, Jared will be working quite a bit, but has some time off the following week. His parents are coming to visit us! We will be flying to Houston to see my family the second week of January, right before my birthday. Even though Christmas will technically be over, I will still get to celebrate my birthday with my family.
All in all, family of all kinds abounds in the Walker household. God is good. He understands the deepest desires of our hearts. To commemorate all of these blessings, I HAD to get a Florida ornament this year. Every time I look at it, I will be reminded of God's faithfulness and the power of family. Remember, family is who you choose and who chooses you.