Our Christmas Eve was as slow and easy as it gets. As our holiday time has gone on day after day we have become more and more thankful for God's gracious leading to stay in Doha. While I was very thankful to save the money and not travel with my children for 18 hours on an airplane plus jetlag...I still dreaded being so far away from home at such a special time. I just wanted to be with our family and ached at the idea of what it would feel like on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I especially hated not being able to share my kids with their grandparents and cousins.
As usual the Lord knew where we needed to be. There might be some reasons we'll never know but some became obvious. Tatty's husband Ronnie had back surgery in mid December. His recover was slower than expected and he needed Tatty's 100% attention. And I'm certain 3 little loud Junods would have been a big distraction and changed the volume of their house. In addition, my mom, our Honey was diagnosed with Shingles and has been in a tremendous amount of pain. My dad has been a saint caring for her but she has literally been in bed most all day everyday. And finally my sis, poor Ash found herself at the doctor on Christmas Day with a bad case of the flu, which now has been passed on to her little baby Boone (both of which had the flu shot).
Whew! There's no kidding, I have had tears and aching to just be in the same house as these precious people but our time together would have been strained and stressful. Definitely not an environment for getting well or staying well. And most importantly what a big disturbance for what our focus should be on over the holidays. I'm pretty certain our stay in Doha has pointed us straight to Jesus and the gift of Christmas more than us being anywhere else. I honestly have never had more free time and I've used a lot up on praying (not to mention, sleeping and eating). Its really is true that we have to make room for God. He's a gentleman and He's not going to force Himself into our lives, even if we're "doing Christmas"
I have best friends back home struggling with heavy responsibilities of sick or dying parents, plus a slew of tragedies that have burdened my heart in one way or another. I have had the time and space in Doha to feel a unique closeness and special welcoming for Jesus. My need for a Savior and my thankfulness for Hope in such difficult or unknown circumstances have narrowed. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for our health, our family, and their unconditional love (no matter how far away we are). Thank Jesus sickness, sadness, worry, fear, unknown and distance don't last forever and there is something far greater than the simple facts that we see right before us. I keep having to relearn that lesson. I pray our Christmas in Doha lasts a lifetime and that I never forget the little treasures and time God has given us. And it all basically boils down to slowing down. We have had the time to relate and love each other the way we should all the time. We've had the opportunity and time to talk or see our families on FaceTime which isn't the same as hugging but its certainly a blessing! We have also loved all the sleeping, napping, reading, watching movies, games, puzzles and eating...we've mastered all of it TOGETHER.
This is a little video from church on Friday morning. Our church has been a place of sharpening for so many reasons. For one its given us a better picture of what heaven must look like and what Jesus really meant for a church. Its stripped down to simple stuff. Its not perfect but what church is?
This sweet song was special to me for some reason. Might have been the timing, might have been the memory of this song but mostly I think its the genuine hearts that sing and lead our congregation. Great way to start our holiday weekend.
Christmas Eve was spent in our PJs mostly...we did a little cooking and baking but not much.
Brooks working on our birthday cake for Jesus.
Barrett is very unhappy that Georgia just DUMPED the sprinkles instead of making them pretty. He recovered pretty quick.
This is the Junod picture that my parents used for their Christmas card. Honey gave all of her grand babies matching adorable red dresses and shirts that they didn't end up wearing together on Christmas Eve.
We unfortunately under estimated the traffic on Christmas Eve. It wasn't like all of Doha was rushing to a Christmas Eve service. We were the advent readers/lighters so we were in a real pinch. We made it just fine and basically walked down the isle reading as we walked in the door. It was simple and sweet, no big production, just like that night thousands of years ago I suppose :)
Not a great picture but there we are...candles and all! Brooks was the official lighter and he loved his responsibility!
On our way home from church we made a quick stop at MegaMart to pick up some last minute things. I happened upon the very last EggNog pint...whoohoo...for a whopping 37.75 QAR or $10.37. We loved every drop!
These little people were itching to open a present and OFF THE WALL CRAZY!! Like spinning on the floor out of control CRAZY. We sure did drug our kids and have no shame. I've never seen anything like it and my mom just kept laughing when she saw it on FaceTime. That's some other spirit of Christmas I've never experienced!
Can always count on an expressive thank you from Barrett! He loves everything you give him!
Over the last few years the Watkins family usually has a fish fry sometime over the Christmas or New Year holiday. My dad, husband and BIL always have fish they've personally caught so we fry it all up with some hush puppies and other high cholesterol goodies.
Nick and I worked away in the kitchen for our little munckins to have some fried fish, which they love. I like to play off the work as if it was totally for the kids ;) I found a few Paula Dean recipes for jalapeno hush puppies and fried shrimp. Guuuuuud!
Georgia and Barrett snuggled on the couch watching Christmas movies while they waited for dinner.
Master Fry Daddy and Dawgs! What you mean this doesn't look like a professional fry station? The green towel, shady propane tank and laundry rack for a table...works just fine at our house.
Oh and I might mention that night, Brody (dog A front and center in the pic) cleaned up the entire cast iron skillet full of frying oil. I'm pretty sure Santa didn't leave the puke Nick had to clean up the next morning. The dog stories never stop.
Tatty sent some pretty awesome jommies complete with Minnie ears we just had to open that night as well!
We're fairly certain that Jesus and Santa prefer red velvet like we do and so it was! (bakerella.com has the BEST and easiest homemade recipe. Trust me we've experimented!)
Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!