The 4 Webbs are in full bloom of Christmas cheer. Our house decorations are minimal this year, but our thankfulness for giving us another Christmas together is so dense that I can barely go an hour without thinking about how thankful I am for us to have this holiday season together as a family. We had the pleasure of attending the Christmas Extravaganza with our friend Stephanie and Brett. Their son performed in the event and we sat in the sea of 1,000 people experiencing all the Christmas goodness.
This next picture turned out to be one of my favorites of the whole year. Kendra and her friend Stephanie both have genuine smiles and this particular one shows the real glow of Kendra better than any other picture from the last few weeks. She is healing and growing and living and dreaming and all the other wonderful aspects of life that I love to see.
and then there's the only sad part of my week and even that is still a happy part... sending Kendra off to Sacramento on the plane. I want her to have a few days there without me and kids and without day to day chores of the house. She's been stuck in Phoenix for 9 months without a single day of vacation anywhere. What she endured this year warrants an extravagant vacation on a Disney cruise, but that's not in the budget right now so I'm giving her the next best thing: time alone. She gets to choose which friends and family to see and for how long. She gets to nap or go to bed early or rest or read. This will be the first week in nine months where she is not poked with a needle. We miss her intensely, but I'm happy for her to experience friends and family on her own terms.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Layla had a school friend, Alex, over for a play date. I expected to have time for myself while they play, but that didn't happen. I was invited into their world and gladly participated. They dressed up and danced to Christmas music. I was the DJ, judge, and cheerleader.
Then they had a tea party. I mean, WE had a tea party. I put together their snack track with pears and crackers and oranges. I displayed it to look like flowers on the plate. I also folded their napkins like a rose. Neither of them used their napkin to wipe off the fruit juice. They kept them in the shape of a rose, which defeats the purpose of a napkin, but I was flattered by how much they appreciated the setup. Layla had a bell and would ring it every time they needed a refill of the "sunshine juice" I made for them. It's just pineapple juice, but to a princess everything is magical.
It was a cold, blustery day... Well, OK, this is Arizona. It was a little on the chilly side so they wore light jackets to go play in the neighborhood park. I had the privilege of playing the role of the prince in their playground game. It was basically tag, but they were able to make up rules on the fly.
About three months ago Easton asked me for the Indominus Rex Breakout lego set. I told him "maybe for Christmas". He talked about it almost every single day since then. This dude is persistent! I called the Lego store every Tuesday morning at 10:00 sharp for the past several weeks waiting for them to get one of the sold-out sets. I finally picked one up this past Tuesday and Easton went bananas.
We will be Sacramento for Christmas day and he doesn't want to take the set there because it's so large he would have to dismantle it to bring in home. He was willing to wait to put it together until we return from the holidays, but because of his willingness to be patient I gave it too him early. He knows the number of pieces, the number of bags in the box, and every functional part of it. He discovered Youtube and product reviews...
This is Kendra showing her jars homemade lemon curd.
When life gives you lemons... make lemon curd and give it away! or make lemonade and give it away if you don't have cooking skills like Kendra. She turned the lemons in our backyard into a delicious topping for pancakes and she's giving it away. She is like a bee pollinating and buzzing around being a blessing and encourager to those who cross her path. I love watching her switch from receiving mode to giving mode again after so many months of people blessing us. All treatments are done and she is continuing the recovery from radiation. She will continue taking inhibitor pills along with getting vitamin C and curcumin intravenously for the next few years as long as we can afford it. The good thing is that she gets to spread her joy in the doctor's offices.
Joy is not what she is doing, but who she is being and when she is joyful it shapes the atmosphere around her. I've discovered there are too many people whose mood depends on what is happening around them. Happiness is based on "happenings", but joy is based on a Godly relationship. That leads me to a word that isn't used much in our culture: rejoice. The word "rejoice" means to be joyful over and over. If joy relates to an incident instead of a culture inside of you then it isn't sustainable. Kendra loves Disneyland because it is a joyful experience, but that's not the joy-fuel she runs on all year long. Anyone can be joyful at Disneyland because their goal is for everyone to experience that, but being full of joy while walking in the valley of the shadow of death requires the culture of joy to be already functioning from the inside. Speaking of the 23rd Psalm, I like to lay down by the still waters and in the green grass, but when I'm going through the valley of the shadow of death, I just keep walking. People have asked, "what do you do when you're in this season of difficulties?" I keep going! I keep moving forward
Kendra's in the middle of her story. We reached the end of a chapter and are turning the page, but we have no idea what the next chapter will hold. We don't know which chapter we just finished nor how many chapters our book will have. I stopped asking questions God isn't answering. Godly confidence, or Godfidence, is the result of faith. If you have faith then you will have confidence, but that require trust that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. The promise only applies to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. I've seen too many atheists claim this promise in their life, but it is conditional. If you want all things to work together for good, then love God and discover His purpose for your life. If something isn't good, then God's not done yet. This is one of the many truths that I meditate on during the hard times. Through my impatience and worrying and striving to get ahead of the process by my own efforts, the truth shines brighter to help me see that God is not done yet.
Sometimes God gives us an acorn instead of an Oak tree. He answers large prayers with small answers to see if we have the stamina and focus to steward the small answer. I've prayed some large prayers during the past 9 months and I celebrate every acorn. Anytime God engages me in a process it's because he's growing me into the kind of person who can handle the Oak tree. All of God's disciplines are so that his blessings don't kill me, not punishment. No one has ever been punished into purity or Godliness. Discipline comes by God speaking the nature of reality directly to my heart. Hebrews 4:12 says "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. " the phrase "word of God" refers to the living, active voice of God, not just the Bible. My main point is that the first target of this verse is myself, not others. I am not allowed to use the Bible or words given to me by God for the purpose of cutting up other people. However, I can choose to grow when I let the word of God work in my own life. The world will be a much brighter place when we allow the word of God to shift the way we see Him and ourselves instead of slicing up other people with it.
The measure of a man's ability to cherish his wife can be seen in her face. Kendra gets more beautiful every year and I have a small part in that. When I believe she is worthy to be cherished then I will choose to grow in my ability to cherish and serve her. She must also choose to receive, but I am the initiator. If you want to know how I'm doing as a husband, then look at Kendra's face and you'll know infinitely more truth than whatever words I say. Look at her face as she browses the cereal isle at the grocery store instead of her selfie face. Reality is not displayed in a well-timed selfie, but in the mundane daily routine. It is in these moments that she reflects back to me how well I cherish her. As a second measure of the strength and fulfillment of a marriage, ask the wife, "how is your relationship with your husband?". Her answer is 99.5% more accurate than the husband's. I totally made up that statistic, but you get the point. I used to not understand what it means to cherish Kendra. Now I understand it experientially, but I can't find the words to describe what it really means to cherish Kendra.
See you soon!