Oh, to be truly loved! What a comfort, what sweetness.

Joy and Sarah, who entertained me in their sleepiness last night.

Somehow, as I closed the affairs of my day and began to climb the stairs to bed, my legs felt heavier than ever. Each step reminded me how tired I was from the day of shopping at three stores, teaching, running around to piano lessons, to the bank to deposit money a child needed, cooking and eating and washing dishes one more time. I am bone-tired lately at the end of each day.

At the top of the stairs, I heard loud music coming from Joy's room. Multi-colored paisley cloth, buttons, headbands, strewn all around her, as she diligently sowed. "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserable was waxing eloquently out of her speakers. One of our mutually favorite Broadway songs called me to sit on her bed and sing loudly with the lovely voice on you tube.

"You know, Mom, though I do think that song applies to so many girls, I also think that 'On My Own" is just as poignant!" So, I sat on her bed, legs crossed under me, jammied all about, computer on my lap and played this piece loudly, while again singing it from my heart, along with the soloist on you tube, with Joy giggling at me. "I didn't know you had it in you this late at night."

Discussing the depths of these two songs for few minutes, as only a late night brings on, giggling and chatting a bit more, I finally left her to make her Christmas gifts alone. How I do love this funny daughter of mine--the one with a hysterical sense of humor, always singing, always teaching me something from what she has been thinking, a friend of friends.

And so, it seemed only right to push Sarah's door open. "Are you asleep yet?"

"Not much chance of sleeping with you two next door," she commented wryly.

She lying like a princess, with covers up to her chin, long brown hair spread out on her pillow with soft light glowing from one tiny lamp, her Bible in hand.  Squishing against her, while sitting on the side of her bed, I asked her how she was doing. With a book deadline looming large and mission trips and college applications to finish, and expensive and challenging decisions to make, she, too, was weary and exhausted.

Gently massaging her fingers and arms, we commiserated about our own personal loads we were carrying, and talked about yielding them into His hands. I picked up a ceramic rabbit next to her to jump on her bed covers, just like I had done when she was a little girl and needed comic relief. (Don't know what possessed me.) We laughed and laughed at some antics that came up between us, and finally I said, "Tell me a Jesus thing before I go to bed. I need something in my mind before I go to sleep."

She smile knowing me, and how often I live in condemnation for the little failures in my day, and opened the Bible to where she had been reading.

"Oh, how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are." I John 3: 2-3

And suddenly my heart was filled with thanksgiving. Even as I had been delighting in my own sweet children, feeling I could be myself, resting and rejoicing in our mutual, close relationship, with the strings of their heart to tightly tied to mine, I immediately felt relieved in my heart, and accepted and at rest myself.

You see, I prefer Joy and Sarah, my very own children. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on them. I have given them my time, my body, my sleepless nights, cooked thousands of meals, sought to make celebrations so very special in buying them gifts, crafting a life, putting them to bed with blessing on countless nights, forgiven them their attitudes and messes, and still preferred them from all the other people in the world--because they are mine--my  very own, coming out of my body, beloved children.

And so God, has bestowed such a great and endless and personal love for me--I am preferred and forgiven and cherished and served and thought about by Him, because I am His very own child. Even as I can, in my own limited sinful way, enjoy and celebrate my children's lives and moments and be intimate friends sharing hearts, laughter, weariness and needs, so He, as my Father, has bestowed all of His love in these very same ways on me, even knowing me to my depths, and yet willing to keep giving, celebrating life, listening, helping, comforting--because I am His very special, chosen, related to Him child.

Unimaginable, astounding that He, our heavenly Father, should love me so.

And this is what I am most thankful for this year--thankful that I am His own beloved child--that He loves and enjoys me in spite of it all, because He is my Father.

And of course, so very thankful for my family and thankful for you, my friends.