Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Traditions

Traditions are important to me. They became a little more important when we had our girl. I guess I never thought about our traditions being traditions until I had a family of my own. I didn't realize how important they were to me until they were the memories I had always known.

Advent wreath. Every year, we lit the candles on our Advent wreath. I had to look up what the heck it even meant - sorry Mom - but I knew that it was important. I wracked my brain trying to find a cute advent calendar to use for Maddie, but we're sticking to the basics. Partly, because we started in mid-December. The groove will come eventually.

Cinnabons. Santa brings Cinnabons for breakfast every Christmas morning. This will never change. And nothing further needs to be said. Cinnabons.

Visiting Santa. I loved seeing Santa as a kid! I wanted to make sure that man knew what I wanted for Christmas. Visiting Santa now? Way more fun. My poor girl is terrified & fascinated. Terrified has won out, but fascination will win in the coming years. Plus, these pictures are frickin' hilarious.

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2012. Last year's Santa looked more legit.

New ones started trickling in a couple of years ago. Family baking, Christmas jammies, & singing carols have joined the ranks. And I'll add new ones as the years move on, but some of the new traditions are the best yet.

The Night Before Christmas. Last year, we started our new tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas with our girl. She loves this book this year! She reads it almost everyday. She gets that Santa is coming to bring her presents & that his reindeer fly his sleigh. I'm already nervous about answering the chimney question seeing as how we don't have a fireplace.

The reading of the Christmas story. Great Grandpa reads the story of the birth of Jesus from the King James Bible. We've done this for years, but the best part is the new pop-up book we have for the kids to read along on Papa's lap. They don't know what "lo" and "decree" mean yet, but they know that baby Jesus was born in a barn with the animals surrounding Him. They get it.

And in light of the tragedy on Friday, I'm challenged to start new traditions. We're going caroling to retirement homes next year. We have a family of singers, & it's time for this girl to learn how much we can do by being kind & generous. I want to clean out the toy box at the beginning of December, have her help me pick specific toys to give to children who don't have toys or won't get anything for Christmas. I want her to know that she has more than enough & that she can bless people even as a toddler. I want it to make her appreciate what she has more, cause her to think about how less fortunate others are, & how blessed we are to bless others.

That's what it's all about. It's not about the presents & the millions of calories we will consume in 48 hours. It's about appreciating the people in our lives, the traditions we have, & knowing that all of this is made possible because a tiny, baby boy was born in a barn 2,000 years ago. This year, our new tradition is about loving each other, appreciating each other & helping others. That's the Great Commission - loving people with the love that Jesus loves us with.

Go bless someone less fortunate. It requires so little of us. Think of how much joy could be brought to someone, who has so much less than you, when you step outside of yourself & start a new tradition of loving people.

Merry Christmas to all,


Monday, December 10, 2012

Square One

The blinking cursor is staring at me, taunting me of sorts. I suppose I have things to write, but they aren't what I want to be writing. When I started writing earlier this year, I had this Pollyanna outlook. Things were cheery & bright. They aren't dull & dreary, but they are more serious. There is a ray of sunshine laced through all of it, but still, I want to be writing about different things. I think all of this, but then when I have a dear friend email me, sharing her sad story of her miscarriage & the heartache & trepidation that she is feeling, asking for my! It's worth it. If I have to do this, I want to be someone who helps other people. I want there to be meaning for other people through all of this. That's ok with me. In fact, it's pretty frickin' cool.

Life is moving forward. Christmas is 15 days away, most of the presents are bought & wrapped under the tree, Christmas songs are playing constantly & candles are aglow at all times of the day. I love Christmastime. If I could live in a Thomas Kinkade Christmasy town painting, I'd do it today. We are so looking forward to Maddie's excitement this Christmas. We're learning about baby Jesus & Santa - which should NEVER be combined in a front yard. Pick one.

And while life is whizzing past us, faster than I care to admit, we hit a road block. Late last week, I went for a routine exam, only to find out that I was given misinformation about our blood tests that I had done back in August. I, in fact, have a blood clotting disorder. I was both thrilled to hear that there was something wrong & pissed that they had been so careless with my information. I was told that everything came back perfectly fine. It's not true. My body is clotting too much & cutting off supply to the babes. So, in the spirit of moving forward, we are meeting with a new doctor & getting every test known to man to find out what is going on.

That's the short version. We know a few things, but we have a lot of things to uncover in the coming months, but that's ok. We're moving forward. Lots of exciting, FUN things coming up. Christmas, birthday parties, my Papa's coming to visit!

Merry Christmas from Maddie.

Monday, December 3, 2012


The name of the game is simplify. Life is so cluttered & messy right now. Some seasons are just that way, but when it's time to calibrate, you just know it. The schedule is cleared & the month is wide open. And I do not intend to fill it with much.

Simplifying is being applied to every aspect. I cleaned out our utility closet the other day - top to bottom. It's ridiculous how clean it is. I'm selling stuff stored in the basement that is just taking up space in the house & in my brain. It's time to declutter. I have overcommitted in so many areas of my life - some of them have been rewarding & others have not. The have nots have got to go.

In watching multiple people go through life-altering events in their life in the past year including our 3rd miscarriage, I have gained so much perspective on what is important in life & what needs to be dropped. I'm sick of wasting my time & energy on the things that drag me down.

Sometimes in the middle of writing here, I need direction or depth or just something to get my mojo going & that place always ends up being Kelle's blog. Her advice on writer's block is to get to the heart of what you want to say. And what I really want to say is that I'm tapped the hell out. I would call my Papa nearly every Wednesday, either before or after Bible study, & say "I have nothing to give these women. I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel. How can I possibly add anything to their lives?" And since he is old, he has good advice. He would say, every single time, that those are the times when God uses you the most - you have nothing to give, so it's Him giving through you.

Over the last 11 weeks, I watched Him change things. I struggled to get through a Bible study that was intensive & exhaustive, & at a time, when I was just scraping by myself. We ended last week, & it was a nice time. Our group has become close & we'll miss our times together, but I was relieved. I had nothing to give them, so I assumed that not much had changed. Maybe they could tell you differently. Maybe they would tell you that it was just what they needed for this season in their lives. Maybe they would tell you that God moved.

Or maybe one of them would tell you that her life was changed. Saturday morning, at our women's Christmas luncheon, I watched as someone so near & dear to me that I consider her my sister, raise her hand, ever so slightly, to receive the Lord. In one instant, she went from uncertainty to a life filled with purpose & direction & hope. She's forever my sister.

Was it worth the weeks of feeling inadequate? Was it worth the frustration of feeling like I had nothing to give? Was it worth it to feel like a fool every week? I'd do it for the rest of my life to be able to say that it was instrumental in getting my girl to change her life.

That's the stuff that matters. That's the stuff that makes this life worth living. That's the stuff that sheds light & perspective on the rest of the crap we put up with, the people who hurt us, the situations that kick our butts.These are the things that give you pause & make you take stock of the people, commitments, & situations in your life, & decide what needs to stay & what needs to go. It's a season of purging in our house - physically, as well as emotionally. Perspectives have changed. It's about time.