Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Day After Christmas!

It is early.  There is a stillness in this house that was nowhere to be seen yesterday.  There is no anticipation, no excitement, no wonder.  I am sitting here among the remains of a busy and exhausting Christmas: toys jumbled together all over the floor, empty boxes, and torn wrapping paper...and my children are sleeping in.

The day after Christmas always feels like a letdown.  The party is over and it's time to get back to reality.  But what if we didn't let go of Christmas?  What if we held on to the joy just a little bit longer.

Because the giving wasn't about the gifts, it was taking a little bit of ourselves and sacrificing it for another.  And the receiving wasn't about what we got, but humbling ourselves to accept and feel loved.  Because you are loved

And what if we made family time a priority every day; if playing on the floor with our children was always our only plan for the day.  What if every day I could ignore the mess, embrace the chaos, and just be in the moment.

This was our baby's first Christmas, and I wanted to soak in every moment, every reaction, every smile.  What if I treated every day like Christmas and gave them my full attention, cherishing every second.

What if our hearts sought out random acts of kindness all year long.  Would we leave cookies in the mailbox just to make the letter carrier smile?  Would we be a little kinder to the people we pass, smile a little more?  Would we mail out cards just to send encouragement?  Would our churches be filled every week and the poor not forgotten?

And so, today, as I start to clean up the mess and try to find room for all the new things, as I pack away Christmas for another year; I am choosing to not let go of the Spirit of Christmas.  Because it was all about Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us...and He's still with us even in the messy day-after-Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Simple Christmas


It is 5:30 am and I am sitting here by the light of the Christmas tree enjoying the quiet stillness of a December morning.  The wind is howling outside, but my coffee is hot and my home is filled with gentleness and warmth.

The Christmas season can be so full of excitement and busyness, but I always find a magical peace sitting by the glow of Christmas lights.

I am 39 weeks pregnant.  As my children are counting down the days 'till Christmas, as we prepare our hearts through this Advent season, we are also waiting for our baby boy due on Christmas day.

This has, by far, been our simplest Christmas.  I've given up on my expectations and guilt.  I am only doing what I can do.  We've missed a few traditions, but maybe started some new.

We took off an extra week of schooling and I have used this time to read stories to my kids snuggled up together.  We've cut out paper snowflakes and made ornaments for the tree.  We are baking cookies just for us and watching Christmas movies.

I am just enjoying my children, soaking in their joy and anticipation.  I am learning to rest and quiet my heart.  I've let go of the stress and accepted that this Christmas will be what it will be.

And that, in itself, has been a gift.



Sunday, November 8, 2015

In His Arms

I will never forget our first date.

He nervously asked me to dance.  Neither of us had ever slow danced before and we stood there awkwardly looking at each other.  Our friend, John, yelled out across the room, "Hold her like Jesus would, Scottie!" and flashed his ornery smile.  I miss that smile. John is now among angels and that moment became one of my favorite memories of him.  I don't think he ever knew how much his words would mean to me all these years later.

As we danced, our friendship changed.  He held me in his arms for the first time and yet it felt so familiar.  In his innocent gentleness and quiet strength, I felt so safe and cherished.  It felt like...home.

4 years later in a white pine forest, he asked me to be his wife.  He slipped that ring on my finger, held my hands in his, and prayed over our new life together.  With tears in our eyes we thanked God for giving us this gift of each other. 

6 months passed and I became his bride.  We danced to that same song again on our wedding day.  Holding me in his arms...I was home.  In our 13 years of marriage he has never stopped holding me like Jesus would.  His unconditional love has carried me through the hardest moments.  He has loved me when I least deserved it.  He has loved me in spite of me.  He is my comfort through the tears, my strength through my doubts and fears.  My best friend when I have felt so alone.  My protector, defender, and my biggest supporter.

I have watched him hold each of our babies with the same gentleness and unconditional love.  It makes me fall in love with him all over again each time.  And now we are just weeks away from meeting our 8th child.  I know he will hold me through my labor pains and fears, speaking words of strength and peace. 

I am so humbled that God would bring this man into my life.  My first date, first love, first kiss...to be each other's one and only is truly a gift.  This little love story of two high school sweethearts has grown into a family of 10.  I can only imagine what God has planned for our family, for our children and the generations to come...and it all started when he asked me to dance.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tomorrow is a New Day

This week our little 3 year old learned a new phrase and has been repeating it multiple times a day, as 3 year olds tend to do.

"Tomorrow is a new day, Mommy!" and he smiles sweetly and runs off to play.

I wish I knew what his little mind was dwelling on so deeply; but I'm realizing that maybe I do need that reminder throughout the day.

When my to-do list goes unfinished.
When I've lost my patience and life feels overwhelming.
When I declare, "I just can't!"

Tomorrow is a new day. A fresh start, a new beginning.  I may not be able to take back those words I shouldn't have said, but it is never too late to say I'm sorry. Never too late to try harder. Never too late to change.

Because every new day is full of purpose.  It is when I forget that, that my days just blend together. A blur of chores that are never really done, children who are always hungry, or fighting, or just so bored. A marriage that so easily fades to the back of the list because life is just plain busy.

But tomorrow, I have a new day. A day to choose joy and to laugh and play with my kids. To kiss my husband like I mean it. To serve my family out of love, not obligation.  A day to write that letter, to call that old friend.  To allow myself to slow down and drink that cup of coffee while it is still hot.  To read that book or pick up my paintbrushes again.

Tomorrow is a new day to choose forgiveness. To let go. To hold onto hope when there is nothing else.

Because if we've been given tomorrow, our story isn't over yet.
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