I love this time of year. Seriously. From the time I can even remember, Christmas has been, well, magical. It was the time when my family, regardless of all the hardships we were going through, were together, and happy. Christmas was done BIG at my home growing up. I am talking mounds of presents under the tree, stockings filled to the brim….big old tree…. everything. Even though we most likely couldn't afford it. We didn't know it. Our Christmas is filled with memories of sleeping in the same room as my sisters on Christmas Eve listening to KBIG radio all night. Because way back then they only played 24 hours of Christmas Music. Not 8 months.
One of my favorite memories of Christmas as a child was going to the candlelight service at church. Oh I can still smell the wax and I get goosebumps remembering the sound of the congregation singing Silent Night acapella with only the lights of candles. There was something so sacred about that. I hold that memory close in my heart.
Now that we are all grown up, or at least my age tells me I am, I get to celebrate Christmas with my own family. We have begun our own traditions. Our own story is being molded and changed as each year passes. I love that years ago we began having Christmas eve dinner with our sweet neighbors back in El Segundo. They introduced us to their family traditional dinner of ham, belgian waffles, whipped cream and strawberries. Spending time with the Reynolds are some of our favorite Christmas eve memories. And so, now, though we have moved, we are now continuing the tradition of the dinner. It is something we all look forward to.
Going to church to is another favorite of mine on Christmas eve. The love and joy in the air is palpable. As is the excitement of the children who run around decked out in patent letter Mary Janes and ties….waiting for news of Santa's arrival. And the holiness of celebrating the birth of our Savior. The quietness in my heart often speaks loudly through this season.
So, life this Christmas has a little bit more magic to it. Celebrating with Michael, Jack, Sam and Katie Mei has been my mainstay. And now, we will be adding sweet Jing Yan Lauren to our celebration. The joy in our home has increased immensely over the past 2 weeks. The laughter is louder, the kisses a little bit messier. The love has mulitiplied.
I have watched my older children absolutely fall in love with their new sister. And I have seen her just adore all of them. And the joy that is inside this little one bubbles over every minute of every day. That joy is simply magical.
Though life with 4 is busy, and hectic…. I can't even imagine life without any of them. And in this season of sweet memories, worship, music and magic…… we are blessed with 4 children. I am beyond thankful.
I want to take just a moment to talk to anyone who is considering adoption. I have been in your shoes. I know what it is like to feel that little pang in your heart. Is my child out there? Could we do it? The answer is yes. Resounding, yes. Your life will NEVER be the same once you encounter an orphan. I look at Katie and now Lauren and know without a doubt that they are meant to be our daughters. Lauren is a Markmiller through and through.
Is it easy? No. Not one bit. In fact, it may be the hardest thing I have ever been called to do. But, it is also the MOST amazingly rewarding and life changing things we have ever done. My heart has forever been changed. Adopting Katie changed me. Adopting Lauren deepened my desire to forward the plight of orphans. Adopting an "imperfect" (in the eyes of the world) little girl has opened my eyes to so many things. I am so thankful.
So, all said, if you are considering at all entering this world of adoption: DO IT. Your life will be different, sure. But it will be filled with more joy and love then you ever knew existed.
And that, my friends, is magical.