Wednesday, December 25, 2013

God gives God

Christmas time is such a beautiful melody of memories and excitement for what's to come.
For many it's a nostalgic season that is sparked by the smells of baking, sights of colored, twinkling lights and the sounds of long ago carols wafting through the night. 
It's family and friends gathered together.  Reminiscing of Christmases past and making new memories laughing over the children's squeals. Just writing this brings a smile to my face thinking of the squeals we've heard just this year.
 It's the kids off of school enjoying their childhoods and the adults taking time from their usually busy schedules to enjoy the season.  Shopping in crowded stores for the perfect gifts, sipping hot chocolate from crammed backseats as you awe over the miles of Christmas lights and cuddled up in your living room reciting each line of you favorite holiday movie.
It's the anticipation for what's to come in the new year.  Fresh starts as clean as the white snow we all wish for this season.  Past regrets gone, hopes for the dreams of tomorrow start now.  It's an exhilarating time.  It's magical and dreamy.

Though I can't help but have my mind clouded with something else the last week.  This season can be extremely hard and rough on people.  There is heartache, devastated families and illness that loom over the magic of Christmas.  I have several friends that are struggling. Whether it be spending the first Christmas alone after a break up/divorce, depression, financial stresses or a family member's illness.  It can all seem too much, I'm sure.  

That's why we must realize our greatest gift of the season isn't one under the tree. 

Like a child, I wish I could run in Christmas morning to peek under the tree to find no more pain, freedom from fear or sin and especially no more death.

Though it's not under a tree where we find those things.... we can have them.
Maybe not just like we want.  We can't keep our loved one from having terminal cancer.  This gift won't pay off the debt that is overwhelming you. It won't even immediately clear up the crippling depression you are dealing with. 

But it does give us HOPE for a future home where there is no more pain, freedom from fear/sin and no more death. It also gives us peace like a warm blanket on a cold night to battle this hard life. It can give us a clean future and grace from our struggles.  Give us purpose and a compass to help us navigate our way while we are waiting for that new home.
Please over all the other expensive gifts and precious moments of this Christmas, take time to 
consider this gift. It's unlike any you'll ever have. 

This quote says it best,

“God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet.”  
~ Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Merry Christmas, friends!
My heart and prayers are with the many families and friends who are hurting tonight.
May Christ be ever so near to us all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Things that make me want to cuss

Let me go ahead and put a disclaimer up here...I love my children and would do anything for them gladly.  With that said, there are things that happen daily that make me want to cuss....

1.  After a long morning at church, out running errands or sitting for a while at preschool pick up line....there is nothing more frustrating than your one year old falling asleep on the way home.  You know that means there will be no nap time or shortened nap time.  No matter how loudly you sing It's Bitsy Spider, play peek-a-boo in the mirror or reach back to pull on their feet....those heavy eyes eventually give in.  Ugghh!

2. There is nothing like being up at 2 am for a feeding and deciding you'll die if you don't go downstairs to get a drink, to only step on a small toy.  Legos, barbie shoes and the thousands of tiny figurines/action figures can create more pain than childbirth.

3. You've managed your time well and gotten up early to get out the door a certain time.  Laid out clothes the night before, packed all the bags and even took a shower before bed....all to get delayed as you are walking out the door by a up the back explosion by the baby and a mega fit over what shoes to wear by your 4 year old.

4. Taking 4 children out to eat at a nice restaurant. Enough said.

5. The "witching hours" between 4-6 where you try to make dinner with crying in the background, a toddler tugging at your leg and trying to finish up homework with your 1st grader.  It's least impossible to complete with a good attitude. Everyone is hungry. Everyone is grumpy.

Anyways, just a few things that really grate my nerves.  Would do them all everyday if it means I get to have these four little loves.  I would love to hear from y'all what really makes your eye to start twitching as a mom.  : )

Friday, December 6, 2013

What will they remember?

I have, as most of you out there, been hustling and bustling trying to squeeze as much holiday traditions into the few days of December. I'm always excitedly running about making plans or trying out a new idea to celebrate with the kids. Tonight as I watched my kids dancing around to the music resonating from the old Christmas record we put on, my mind wondered.  After a day full of all the good stuff childhoods are made of.... snow day off of school, sledding, hot cocoa drinking and taking in holiday movies, I wondered just what would they remember about Christmas?

I often stop and think of my own childhood. The many traditions unfolding in my memories through the years of joy and wonder.  I loved snow days and the chance to play all day without any borders on our time of fun.  It's amazing how many lines I can still quote from the movie White Christmas and other favorites. There's so much good stuff between plays at school, going to look at lights in our maroon old mini van, decorating our little tree for our room, shopping with Daddy for Moma's presents, the many holiday parties, Christmas Eve services at my Nanny's church and of course the excitement of Christmas morning.

All those memories don't contain my Mom yelling at us for not wanting to participate in the photo for our family card or her getting frustrated at the 4 year old for turning too many days over in the advent calendar. Or her being so busy making plans for us to "celebrate" together that she forgot to relax so we could just enjoy what we were doing. Now maybe my mother did do some of those things, but I don't remember them.  I think that is because even though she isn't perfect, that wasn't the tone of our holidays.  All I remember is how much she loved Christmas and the joy that she brought to us.  I can see her now standing at the kitchen sink working and singing...

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

That is what I remember about her and about Christmas.  Joy over a Savior.  A peaceful home on quiet snowy evenings.  The thrill of the magic that filled most everyday of the month of December.  I think I remember it this way because of her.  Not because her hot cider was just perfect (though it was) or she got us all the right gifts.  I don't remember if we made it to every local holiday event.  There was no pinterest and list of crafts that we had to rush through.  I think I have such fond memories of Christmas because she enjoyed it...with us.

We often forget as mother's that we set the tone for homes.  Especially so during the holiday season.  If we are frazzled and frantic with all the to do's, then our children might catch on to our moods. My heart is always in the right place. I want them to enjoy this season and I want to share with them the treasure of Jesus.  Even if it seems like I'm cramming it every nook and cranny of our time. Over all the greatest of memories my mother gave me, the best was that of seeing Jesus every year.  Isn't that what I want... for them...for me.  Going back to the Christmas carol my mother used to sing and we all know, O Little Town of Bethleham's lyrics....

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

I'm going to try to relax and stop making soo many lists.  I will sit a little longer with my toddler and the plastic nativity scene. Peace will be in my heart and I will speak love through the different stressful events/busy moments over the next few weeks. When my children ask me to sing "Angels We Have Heard On High" for the hundredth time, I'll do it with a smile on my face.  Because I want their memories to be how their Mommy was full of joy as she would sing about how the heavens broke loose with praise over the newborn Messiah.

snow day...25 or so years ago.

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