Christmas “Hangover”

Anyone else know what I’m talking about? Leaving for work the next day, your house a wreck, feeling puffy from all the food and sweets, money spent, and wondering what all just happened…

This year, there was a happiness, a fullness, a contentment. More than years past. I still feel “hungover”, but happily so. A messy house that I’ll tackle one thing at a time. A puffy face and tummy that I’ll treat well over the next couple weeks. A warm heart that has been ever so loved on.

My favorite part of this Christmas? Was the engagement and care from my family to my significant other. The man joining us was embraced and treated well. This is a gift neither one of us could ever buy. Rather receive thankfully.

Today, I’m tired. Six Christmases later, I’m tired and thankful. I used to feel sad and frustrated in the scheduling of my divorced parents and, now, my own kids and future step kids separate Christmases. Now, I embrace and am just so thankful they are all alive, willing, and close enough to schedule one in. This year, I let few memories go undocumented. This is not my norm. But, I wanted the world to see how thankful I am for my family and the new one I have coming early next year….

I’ve had all kinds of hangovers (emotional, physical, spiritual). But, this one I can say was 100% worth it. Now, on to the new year and new chapters in so many ways.

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Christmas Wreath

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This has always been my personal favorite Christmas decoration. It hangs on my laundry room door.

I pull it out in late November and it grows over time. The pictures come in slowly so I wonder if it will actually fill up and it always has, always does. This year there are fewer cards than in years past. I am well aware that that is not at all for lack of love or friends, only a surplus of technology. We all see most of each other’s faces and children on social media these days. So much so, that cards may see pointless. I know they are an added stress this time of year, I didn’t send them out last year in attempts to cut myself some slack.

I appreciate them, I know the sacrifice, the struggle for the right picture, the hassle of accumulating addresses, the foreign trip to the post office for stamps, the mad rush of the Christmas to-do list. I know this all very well. But, still, it’s my favorite decoration. I’m admiring it this morning and cherishing it. I know each year in this technology age it will get sparser and sparser. But, I’ll continue to put it up each November, watch, and wait.

My Christmas wreath may not grow over the years anymore, but I am thankful. I am thankful for the friends that do. I think of you all. I pray for you all. I love you. From my heart to yours…

Hashing Out the Holidays

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After living through it as a child and as an adult, I have no doubt why God hates divorce. And, it becomes all the more evident over the holidays when sentimentality and family time is planned around, planned for, and deemed most precious. That being said, I also know God hates abuse and infidelity. God hates selfishness and pride. And, because of these traits, divorce is imminent in this fallen world.

Hashing out the holidays with my ex is always painful. Who wants to share kids on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? No one!

Being a child of divorce, I’m well aware of the scheduling that goes into seeing everyone. We have multiple homes to visit and presents to open, along with mass quantities of food to consume. All blessings! I’m the type who wants to be everywhere with everyone I love….all the time. But, the schedule can get tight at times. And, we still want to make time for the personal Christmas with our spouse and kids. That’s hard enough married, but throw my own divorce in the mix and I just can’t do it. Well I can, but not with my kids. It’s painful and, no doubt, the hardest time of the year for most divorced parents. We want to celebrate the season, but without our children, there is a fog that’s hard to lift. There is definitely something (someone) missing.

Thank God for family to celebrate with. Thank God for children to buy for. Thank God for a family who understands my situation. Thank God for places to be. Help me, Lord, with patience and the aching heart that comes along with absent children at each and every event where I crave their presence. So much more than their presents.

This year, I want to focus more on peace than fighting. I’d rather give too much than fight one more day. I’d rather know my kids are loved at both homes and give up time if necessary, than argue over going back and forth. I’d rather forego family traditions on my end than stubbornly fight to uphold them if all it causes is chaos and stress. I’ll make new ones. New ones full of peace, love, and sacrifice. And, I’ll also stand by the fact that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I will once again grieve the old and embrace the new. I will choose peace. Isn’t that why Jesus came as a baby anyway? Peace. I choose to lay it down and let it go…

If this post leaves you with anything, I hope it emphasizes the importance of presence over presents. When you are loved and not present, you are gravely missed. Once again, looking forward to the day we can all be together…..all the time. Happy, healthy, and whole.

 

Mary’s Perspective

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I was thinking about Mary’s personal journey today. As a young woman engaged to be married, she was visited by an angel who tells her that she has found favor in God’s eyes. Because of this favor, He has chosen her to carry and deliver His son. She had questions…how can this be possible? I’ve never even been with a man! What will my fiancé think? Will my family believe me? Why would God pick me? Do all these questions really mean I’m favored….or in trouble? She only asked Gabriel one question…how can this happen? I am a virgin. Luke 1:34. His response was The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Once she accepted her divine yet incomprehensible assignment, God went to work on all the rest of her concerns. He sent an angel to inform, soften, and strengthen Joseph’s heart. And, he accepted his assignment too. People talked. Mary and Joseph both knew they probably always would.

People’s questions and accusations didn’t deter either of them. I read that one reason Joseph may have taken his extremely pregnant wife with him on the treacherous journey to Bethlehem was to protect her from a possible stoning because of the infidelity she was accused of. Joseph was the supportive and God fearing man that Mary needed him to be. Both of their reputations were at stake. Still, he protected her. He covered her. Just as God told him to. It took radical obedience from them both and that’s exactly why they were chosen. God knew they had it in them. I’m sure, at times, they questioned that as well. God didn’t.

Do you ever think about the humans involved in the nativity story? The living breathing human beings that allowed themselves to be ridiculed, judged, misunderstood, and turned away?? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was born in a stable surrounded by animals. It didn’t matter where He was born. His delivery would deliver His people regardless. God, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, the angels, and the wise men all knew that. Soon, the world would know. But now, imagine with me the people in this story that allowed their lives to be truly turned upside down for His Glory alone.

As a mother myself, I imagine Mary rocking her new baby to sleep and wondering “why God, why me?” I’m sure most mothers can relate to this feeling. but this story takes it to a whole new level. How could You entrust Him (Your Son) to my care? As the song goes…”Mary did you know, that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered , will soon deliver you.” Our kids have a way of doing that…..they readjust our priorities, they drive us to our knees, they change us. Their innocence is enough to make us crave ours again. Their curiosity arouses ours. Their answers teach us new insights. We never think we are ready, yet God entrusts us to more than we can comprehend.

It comforts me to know that questions are normal, they make and keep us human. God’s favor is not dependent on perfection, only willingness. His overwhelming love imparts obedience. If Mary hadn’t trusted God’s love for her and desired to please Him more than anyone else, the angel’s message would have sounded like a nightmare. Why would I do that, Lord? Why on earth would You put me through that? Instead her response was I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true. Luke 1:38

It was for His Glory, not hers. She found favor in His eyes. The rest, as they say, is history…..