The Christmas Countdown and other stuff…

I’m guessing that you are aware that there are only 6 days until Christmas, right? So tell me, are you done with your Christmas shopping yet? Or are you the type who likes to wait and do it all on Christmas Eve (that idea basically makes me want to break out in hives, just sayin!). I think I’m done shopping….I think. I still have a few stocking gifts to buy for the kids, but hubby and I will be doing that together this weekend. As for the other gifts, I have to do some inventory, but I do think I might be done. Gosh, I sure hope so. I’ve had about enough of the crowded stores!

 

With Christmas being only days away, my mind has been going over all the traditions we typically do this time of year, and how stressed I feel if Christmas gets to close without those things being done. But this week, God has really been showing me that Christmas is about way more than traditions, and that if we miss a tradition or two, my kids won’t need therapy or hate me for life.

I’ve simplified a lot this past week, in order to allow myself more time for Christmas prep, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I did. By Tuesday night, I had declared that Christmas break had officially begun, and there’s no more school until after the New Year! You should’ve heard the begging and pleading from my kids, just crying because they didn’t want three extra days of vacation. Yeah, right!

 

With the thrill of Christmas right around the corner also comes the memories of Christmases past. The Christmases when there were seven of us around the tree, and when heartache hadn’t robbed our family of so much joy.
 
And there’s the memories of my sweet dad, and how he always made Christmas so special. He was like a kid on Christmas Eve, and couldn’t wait to open the gifts under the tree. We grew up with the tradition of opening stockings on Christmas Eve and then opening the gifts under the tree on Christmas Day. But dad was like a kid in a candy store, and would suggest numerous times that maybe we should open at least one gift on Christmas Eve. Usually, he lost that battle, but it was so fun to see his excitement and joy over the gifts under the tree.
 
It’s hard to believe that dad’s been gone for three years now. And it’s bizarre for me to step back and look at all that’s changed in my life in the three years since he’s been gone. I remember his funeral like it was yesterday, and the events that followed three short months later are just as raw and real. One doesn’t walk through such loss and devastation without being changed and scarred for life.
 
So much has changed now, our lives completely different and our home a place that it never was before. And while all of this sounds so sad and forelorn, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all of the good and the beautiful that has come out of such heartache and loss.
 
Walking through such trauma as a family has formed a bond between us and our younger four that we had never known before. There’s a tenderness there now that allows for openness and honesty, and a communication that goes heart-deep.
 
The mommy who used to yell and have zero patience is now a mommy who has more self control and allows grace for herself and her kids. And the depression in that mommy that went undiagnosed for so long has now been diagnosed and is under control and treated.
 
Home is now a place where I long to be, and I love every minute that I get to spend with my husband and kids; minutes that aren’t stripped of joy due to stress and turmoil within our four walls. Thanks to God and to dear, encouraging friends, I’m no longer alone in my struggles, and I know the gift of unconditional love.
 
God has done so much for me and in me, and my love for him has grown in ways I’d never imagined. There’s a faith now that runs deep and is unshakeable, and though hard days still come and the pain and loss is still so tender and real, I know that my God is able to carry me and will never let me go.
 
This side of heaven, we may never understand why we have to suffer and lose those we love. And we may never get why bad things happen and why this world is such a horrible place. But one thing is certain, and that’s that we can trust God and we can know that his ways are good and true. And that even when we may not understand something, he has it under control and promises to bring beauty out of the ashes…..and I for one can testify that the beauty he brings from the ashes is more beautiful than anything you could dream or imagine.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

If Only the Season Would Slow Down…..

 

Merry Christmas! Can you even believe that we are only 12 days away from Christmas? 12 DAYS, PEOPLE! And I don’t know about you, but knowing that Christmas is that close breeds quite a bit of anxiety in me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get ahead of the game, and I find myself easily getting caught up in the trap of making Christmas all about the gifts, goodies, and parties, rather than about the baby Who came to this earth and died a horrible death in order to give us life everlasting.

 

So much has taken place since my last post, which was over a month ago(ahem), so I thought I’d take a minute to bring you up to date.

 

Towards the end of November, we celebrated my middle daughter’s fourteenth birthday! I can’t even believe that my sweet girlie is fourteen; and she is an awesome fourteen year-old at that! We had a nice little family celebration here at home, and just enjoyed the gift that she is to our family.

 

 

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving at my moms this year, and even did some Black Friday shopping with our two middle kids before the sun was even up! After staying up playing Rook until midnight on Thanksgiving day, I really had no intention of pulling myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5am; however, I knew that my going along would mean a lot to my hubby and kids, so I went! I scored major points with my kids, as well as an early morning Starbucks, so it was well worth it. Not to mention, we got some great deals on a new down comforter for our bed, as well as some fleece sheets. If you have never slept on fleece sheets, you don’t know what you’re missing!

 

Because I was determined to enjoy this advent season, I decided to scale back on our school work this month, sticking to the three “R”s, and not much else. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, it’s been great, other than the fact that a hundred and one other things have come up, which has added a lot more busyness to my days. And honestly, I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety over how I’m going to get everything done before Christmas.

 

I’m almost done with my Christmas shopping, but still have all the wrapping to do, as well as making all the goodies that we like to have every year. Then there’s the Christmas parties, the dentists appointments coming up next week, the gifts that need to be mailed, and the list goes on……(Are you sensing the rising anxiety?)

 

 

I met with a dear friend yesterday, and she graciously helped me to see that the anxiety I was experiencing was being brought on by myself. She helped me to see that, rather than looking at the whole week ahead of me and all that “needs” to be done, I should instead look at each day as it comes and do what needs to be done for that day. Not looking at tomorrow or the next day, but focusing on TODAY. She encouraged me to sit down with my calendar and write down what I’d like to accomplish on what days, and then take those days ONE AT A TIME. I can’t tell how how much that advice has helped me. Last night, I sat down with my calendar and my list of things to do, and I can’t tell you the weight that lifted off of me when I was able to see everything written down with a time and place to get things done.

 

All that being said, I truly do want to bask in this Christmas season and reflect on beauty of Jesus and his sweet gift of life that he gave us so freely. I want to enjoy sweet times of fellowship with friends and family, without worrying about my to-do list, or wether or not I’m going to find that one gift I haven’t yet bought.

I want to be made freshly aware of the sweet, sweet love of Jesus, and I want to allow him to fill me afresh each and every day.

As we walk through these twelve days before Christmas, my prayer is that Jesus will be our main focus, and that his love will be the one gift that we can’t live without.

**What is your hope for this Christmas season? Are you going into the season aware of his amazing love for you; or like me, have you been tempted towards the busyness and chaos that often times comes with the season?

Remembering once again

Once in a while, I find myself getting up in the wee hours of the morning while it's still dark, hoping to find some solitude, and time alone with my Lord.   It's in those times, sitting in the darkness with my blanket and coffee, that I let my mind […] Read more »