The Gift of Time

Our families decided a few years ago to stop gift exchanges and to use the money on travel and experiences. For us, it has made our time sweeter over the holidays. Instead we can experience Johnny's Pizza, family trip to Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Georgia Aquarium, and several trips to Chick-fil-a!
This Christmas season was all the more sweeter now that we live on the west coast and family visits are rare. It was a blessing to fly east and spend 2 weeks visiting family and friends. Ben and I discussed that our gift this season was the priceless gift of time. Our God, who loves to give good gifts to His
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children (James 1:17) blessed us abundantly with time.

Just the 5 of us spent countless hours in a rental car traveling from Atlanta to Albany, GA to Americus to Tuscaloosa to Calhoun, LA to Ruston to Monroe to Gainesville, GA and back to Atlanta.
so without going into every detail...

tick tock. tick tock.
here's how we spent our hours on the clock.
for every hour of time awake
we lavished in the conversations
and laughs for ole' times sake.

12 o'clock: Paths do cross again! My childhood neighbor and friend, Christy, had our family over for cupcakes for Asher's 3rd birthday while in Albany, GA. We caught up on Camilla news and introduced our families to one another. It was good to see them in person after following her blog for several years.

1 o'clock: Elizabeth and I were 1996 graduates of Westwood in Camilla. Her family now attends Sherwood and serves in the college/career ministry. Ben and I got to spend some time sharing our story with a small group of leaders in that area on Sunday afternoon. We also go to catch up on life and introduce our families to each other. We are certain we will see them soon in San Francisco!

2 o'clock: God gave me 2 sisters, but He has blessed me with 3 sisters through Ben's side of the family. It's amazing how we can pick up where we left off - and that's with 8 kids running around from ages 8 and under! We talk cooking, exercise, recipes, and craft ideas. We also share about life where we live and what God is teaching us.

3 o'clock: If there's a father-son relationship to model, it's this one. Ben treasures every second he gets with his dad. Though they talk often on the phone, nothing compares with face to face time. Whether it's time outside with the ball and glove or pulling up a chair in the midst of a full house, they find time to talk sports, laugh about memories, and challenge one another.

4 o'clock: Ben, his brother-in-law Zach, his brother Lee, and his brother-in-law Walter. We count our blessings for our family and don't take for granted the fact that we actually love each other and get along! These guys model godly husbands and are raising their families in such an honorable way.

5 o'clock: There's just one other on the Malcom side and that's 16 month old Ella Reese. She and Sam took to each other quickly. Her gibberish is something I could listen to all day. She and Asher cooked in her little kitchen and she always had a small toiletry item in her hand.

6 o'clock: Natalie, my sister, and Michael, my cousin shared with us about their churches they are plugged into and the friendships in their communities and in their jobs. My aunt Debbie and I talked much about playing into our kid's strengths by knowing how they think...whether they are left brained or right brained. Then we found ourselves laughing as we watched left brained Elijah interact with right brain Sam!
7 o'clock: This is Sweet Nanny. We became dear friends in our time in Tuscaloosa as we attended Bible Study together. She and I continue to writer letters to one another and call each other. I know she prays for our family and for Epic Church. I got the joy of meeting her for coffee and bagels on her 64th wedding anniversary - December 22. She lives such a legacy of faith, prayer, and giving. Time with Sweet Nanny is absolutely precious.
8 o'clock: Roll Tide! We stayed a night in Tuscaloosa on our drive out to Louisiana. Alan and Lauren Henderson were gracious to host us in their new home. We met up with several former college students for dinner and an Alabama basketball game. Our friend, Kimberlee, who works for Alabama Athletics brought Big Al to us in the stands for a personal high-5!
9 o'clock: Moses was adopted into our family when mom and dad discovered empty nest a few years ago. Though I'm not a dog lover, I appreciate the companionship he brings to mom and dad...though he might bring more companionship to his kennel friends with all the traveling they do! Nonetheless, Moses has eased Asher's fear of dogs so hopefully Asher won't claw us tightly next time he sees a dog on the sidewalks of SF.
10 o'clock: My family talks all the time at the same time. Yet, somehow, we understand each other. And if we're not talking about something, we're taking a picture of it! Other than that we played Settlers of Catan and video games, ate our La Parilla dip, and the Varsity downtown before adding to the 89,000 people at the Georgia Aquarium. I always say my family goes and goes and doesn't know how to stop! That's why we have to fly home!
Time. What a gift.
Now we ask ourselves, "how will we invest our time in 2011? how will we give of our time to our boys? to our city? to each other?"
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1.17