The Christmas I will never forget…

The post I share below was written exactly eight years ago today.  At the time, our Christmas was looking very, very bleak.   Our income was barely existent, we had most of our nine children and our two grandsons and their mom living with us, and we had experienced some very real and emotional trauma as a family unit.   Yet in spite of all that, or maybe because of all that, we had our most memorable Christmas ever!!

What I remember most is Christmas Eve….  I had made a family DVD that showed pictures all through the years and had worked hard to chose the right songs and line specific pictures with specific parts of songs etc.  I knew it had turned out well when everyone was sobbing.  

Then for hours, we nibbled from our appetizer buffet (a yearly tradition Christmas Eve), and reminisced.  I learned a lot that night as the kids began to share their memories!!! :).  We shared a lot of laughs, and a few tears.  It’s what we do….

Take time to enjoy the people you will celebrate this season with.  As I say below, there are people here this year that may not be next year.  Life is more fragile than we know…..make it count.

I give you permission….

November 25, 2010

If you have read some of my Facebook posts, you will know that we are attempting to do Christmas different this year.

As you may well imagine, with such a large family, the usual gift giving and the stress of trying to find the dollars to fund it all, is always a struggle; so much so, that as people began talking about Christmas being just around the corner, I felt this huge weight settle on me, a heaviness that I’m pretty sure could be accurately defined as a form of depression. Not only do we have a large family to buy Christmas gifts for, but 3 of our children were born in December before Christmas!!! Who planned that, I’m not sure!! 😉

I know I’m not alone. I know that I’m not the only one that feels a tremendous pressure to buy stuff we don’t really need with money we definitely don’t have to celebrate a holiday that moves steadily away from the true intent of the occasion in the first place! As the kids would say, “It’s messed”!!

So, I decided that I will not go through another holiday with the stress, pressure, and depression that, until now, have become annual guests. Instead, we are on a journey to discover how to truly celebrate this holiday, and make it incredibly meaningful, independent of the latest “must-haves.”

At a totally impromptu family meeting, I laid the situation out before the kids. I presented the reality, but then challenged them to come up with ideas as to how we CAN celebrate this holiday and make it both memorable and significant. As we discussed ideas and shared our hearts, the excitement began to grow. Katie came up with the idea of putting together a family scrap book with contributions from all of us, and we grew excited about the time we will spend just being together as we gather for our traditional Christmas Eve “family party.” As the days have unfolded since then, more and more ideas are surfacing. Stephanie called and said that she was going to write each member of the family a letter for Christmas, and challenged us all to do the same. Josiah wants to put together a family video and then give DVD copies to everyone, and I’m sure there will be more ideas to come.

We could have very easily become depressed or discouraged if our focus had remained on what we “can’t” do this year, but there was animation and excitement as we began to explore the possibilities for things we CAN do instead!!! We even have a very special gift that we believe God wants to send us, one we are praying and believing for, as it will only happen by His incredible grace, might, and mercy. We are dreaming big!

Obviously, all of our ideas so far have centered mostly on family. This is incredibly fitting since, as a family, we are all pretty darn tight. But the reality is, that we wouldn’t be this family without Jesus. He took a lost, empty, lonely young woman and gave her a new life, REAL life, filled with promise, hope, freedom, and purpose. He called me, revealed His love to me, cleansed me, and then took me on a journey. There have been mountains, and there have been valleys. He put people in my life that have shaped me, challenged me, and supported me, and some have even hurt me. He took a lost, lonely girl and gave her a wonderful husband and nine amazing children!!! I wouldn’t be who, or where, I am today, and neither would the rest of this family, if it were not for Him!!!!

So we are going to use the tradition of Advent to prepare our hearts, align our focus, and reintroduce wonder and awe to our celebrations this year. I want this life of Christ within me to take center stage this holiday, in whatever way He chooses to manifest Himself. I know that the possibilities are endless, and we are remaining sensitive and attuned to the opportunities and ideas that He will whisper in His still, small, voice.Just in case you need it,

I give you permission to do Christmas different this year; to step off the conveyor belt carrying the masses into stress, pressure, debt, and depression, and continually farther from the real reason we should celebrate. Just step off, step to the side, let it go on without you. Take back this season, and feast on the “small” pleasures that money can’t buy. Life is short, and some of the people that are here this year may not be here next year, another fact that I was painfully reminded of recently, so make it count!!!

I’m not saying no gifts….we will probably do one gift to the whole family and then there will be others from grandparents etc., but gifts will NOT be our focus, at least not the gifts that take money to buy. There are much more valuable gifts waiting to be unwrapped and experienced this year, but they don’t present themselves in flashing neon lights or on the glossy pages of the Sears Wish Book. They are priceless and irreplaceable, spiritual and emotional, and you can’t buy them…you have to discover or create them.”

One of those days…

This was my post in my Challenge group today….  

So need some ideas…. Looking for something that is, you know……Friday night worthy!! Worked nights last two nights, been a long week, feeling hung over (from night shift 🙂 ) and kinda cranky. Before, I would have ordered pizza – quick, easy, and all I had to do was pick up the phone. Have that same feeling tonight. Not sure what to do.

Still not sure what I will have….likely leftover spaghetti squash with sauce.  But my point is, not every day is great

For the most part, social media is where we portray our best selves.  The wins, the successes, the goals achieved.  Nothing wrong with that, as long as we don’t create the impression, or illusion, of perfection.  

The good news is that it doesn’t have to either/or…..I can be moving toward my goals, experiencing a few wins AND still have not so stellar days.  It’s ALL part of the process, and it’s all okay!!!!

I won’t be ordering pizza….  Not because pizza is ‘bad’ or ‘not allowed’ but because right now in my journey toward a healthier relationship with food, I want to focus on making the program I’m using work for me the way it was designed.   And to be honest, I don’t trust myself with pizza yet, especially in my tired, cranky state.  

‘Even if’ you are having a bad day….

I was listening to Rachel Hollis’ “Girl, Wash Your Face” as I drove yesterday.  At one point, she asks you to make a list of at least ten things you’ve accomplished in your lifetime, and though I haven’t actually put pen to paper yet, I began to mull it over in my mind and I realized, I’ve gone through some pretty tough………..stuff; more than I could write publicly, because although it affected me significantly, it isn’t just my story to tell.

I was listening to the Mercy Me song, “Even If” as I drove.    As I listened, I contemplated the different things I’ve experienced personally and the things we’ve weathered as a family, and how frustrated, confused, and even angry I’ve felt as I’ve been thrust into situations and circumstances I NEVER would have chosen, had I been given the choice………….which I wasn’t.

“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand….”

So many times I’ve heard, or been told, we aren’t supposed to question “Why?”   Well, I’m sorry, but I beg to differ!!  There is no way in he#% people can go through some of the things they go through and not ask why!!   And if we aren’t supposed to ask why, then clearly King David didn’t get the memo!!!  

Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?

I’m not alone in asking my why’s……and neither are you.   In my opinion, the “why’s” are even more justified because like the words in the song, “I know you’re able and I know you can….”   

So why doesn’t He…..

I don’t know the answer to ‘why,’ and I may never this side of eternity.  What I DO know, is that He loves me – infinitely more than I can think or imagine. I know that His purposes and plans are for my good and not my harm, He is for me NOT against me, and that if He rescued me from every hurtful thing, I would never experience the supernatural power of His grace, imparting a strength and courage beyond what I could ever produce on my own.

 I’ve experienced supernatural peace fall on me like a blanket in some of the most painful moments of my life – not five minutes before, not five seconds before, but in the exact instant I needed it, like when I opened the door and saw a SWAT team on my front yard.  

So…..’even if’ He doesn’t jump in and rescue me or turn the tides in my favour, I will trust.  I will trust in His unfailing love, His mercy and His grace, and I will go forward in full confidence knowing that I don’t see the big picture……not yet.  

One day, my faith will become sight, and what was unclear and hidden will be revealed.  I will see how, though I only saw darkness and despair, He was taking what the enemy meant for evil and turning it around for my good.   And not only my good, but the good of anyone else navigating the same uncharted territory, and wrestling with the same uncertainties.  

#faith #trials #whygodwhy #whereareyou #god #whereisgod #why

Be prepared….

You can’t predict how life will go on any given day.  We have all had those days that we pictured way differently than how they actually turned out.   Things come up, rhythms get thrown out of whack, and sometimes we get totally broadsided.

In this few short weeks where I have been focused on my nutrition, I am becoming more and more aware of some of the pitfalls of the past and how to prepare for them.

I worked two night shifts at the beginning of the week.  These are twelve hour shifts  running from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.  Not only do my sleep patterns get interrupted, but meal times as well.

When I woke up after working two nights and sleeping a few hours, but only a few because I would need to sleep that night, I was tired, grumpy, and “hung-over” as another co-worker put it……and HUNGRY!  It wasn’t pretty.

I would have rather chewed glass than try and prepare something healthy to eat!  I wanted quick and effortless!!  That familiar discouragement set in as I, through the brain-fog, tried to think of what I could have or whether I should just say ‘forget it’ and eat whatever I could get my hands on!!  I mean, I could always just start again tomorrow…”  Boy, have I heard that before!!

And then it dawned on me that I still had leftovers from a really tasty, mostly veggies stew in the fridge and all I had to do was warm it up.  May not seem like a big deal, but it totally saved me and it enabled me to make choices that were congruent with my goals.

Some days may not turn out so well, and that’s okay.  I’m also learning how to “track and move on” instead of wallowing, or using a bad day as an excuse to turn it into a bad week, month….or even years.

I am purposing to be more diligent to food prep as much as possible – especially veggies.  They take time to peel, cut, chop…  But then it is so easy to throw together a salad, a stir-fry, or add them to a soup or stew, when they are already washed and prepped.

Thirty-two years….gone but never forgotten <3

The memoriam I wrote on the first anniversary of Andrew’s birth/death…

We didn’t get to see you smile

Or watch you run and play

We couldn’t tuck you in each night

Or see you growing day by day

You never knew how much we loved you

Before you went away

And though we never really knew you

We miss you more than we can say

Our arms still ache to hold you

Our eyes still shed the tears

Our thoughts so often turn to you

Even though it’s been a year

But we know you’re safe and happy

In your heavenly home above

Surrounded by the tender care

Of our Heavenly Father’s love

And when our work is over

And we reach that final place

We’ll finally get to hold you

And watch you run and play

We’ll tell you how much we love you

We’ll say it again and again

For we’ll be together for eternity

Our time will never end

So although we must wait now

For that time to be

We hang a little Teddy

From our Christmas tree

It reminds us that there is a life

Which we shall share some day

And that our little Andrew

Waits just across the way.

Don’t believe everything you think…..

It’s funny the lengths I’ll go sometimes to avoid digging deep and really looking at the way I think.

It reminds me of when I quit smoking and one day in the tub realized the myriad of lies that paraded through my mind constantly like a stock market ticker tape.  They were all the “reasons” why I needed “just one”, or why I would be fully justified lighting up, I mean seriously, did I not see all the stress I was under?  Or how much I “deserved” to have a smoke?

My motto back then was “If I have ‘just one’, I will be back to where I started.  Where I started was wishing I was where I am today….”

I don’t know what your belief system involves, but whatever it is, I am sure we can agree that anything worth having, or being – often does not come easily, or automatically, or permanently – without taking some necessary action, and making necessary changes.

But that will involve digging deep – really looking at that mental ticker tape.  It will mean rejecting lies and embracing truths.  It will mean choosing not to do some things, and purposing to do others.

Inevitably, it will mean change…..