Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm back...

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave my something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger adn you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me." Matthew 25:34-40

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. I didn't go on vacation. And I wasn't even abducted by aliens (although it feels like my mind may have been taken over by extraterrestial beings). I've just been busy with this thing called life. So I haven't been on the computer to write.

That and I've had no material. You'd think that having three children and babysitting three others would provide me with ample material to fall back on, but alas they have failed me with their angelic behavior.

Then God decided to provide me with some new material. Some raw, disgraceful, utterly embarrassing material that I just drop my head in shame. I type this out of obedience...not desire. After this situation happened I immediately knew it had to be put on my blog. Why? Because of all the lessons I've been taught this year and shared with the people I love, I am still stubborn and failing. Everyday I'm failing to be the person God wants me to be. Thank goodness for GRACE, right?

So, the other night I'm at the stove making dinner and Nick says, "I think we should give that [a gift given to me] to [someone in need] to help them out a little bit."

(I'm just cringing as I'm about to write my response)

I immediately turn into a two year old child.

My foot stamps the floor. My arms cross over my chest to show that I'm standing my ground. My lower lip pouts out, and I say...


You may laugh and think this is a complete exaggeration. I wish I could say it was. In fact, I'm sure if you asked Nick, he'd probably add a few choice words, so more foot stamping and maybe even a few more NOOOOOOO's, and then he would say it was accurate.

Just shameful, but I was wrought with anger. How could someone want to take something from me that was MINE?

Nick in his great wisdom chose to walk out of the room and let me continue in my tirad e of the injustice in my little world.

Alone. To face my own greed. One on one with God. Talk about convicting. The conversation in my head with God went a little like this...

"Yes, really!"

And then the flood of memories from my year came rushing through my head. Money in my mailbox from an unknown source, money in my adoption fund from unexpected friends, money when I needed it and when I least expected it.

Shame was on the horizon.

Then my Christmas list came to the forefront of my mind: a Kindle, Wireless Speakers to listen to music while I cook, an Ipod, and the new Taylor Swift cd.

Not one need. All wants.

Shame was now overtaking me.

Why was I so quick to say "Save the Orphans", "Help the Children with Incarcerated Parents", "Feed the hungry around the world", but unable to see the need in my own front yard? Was it too personal, too close to home? Or am I just that greedy that at this point I just wanted to keep something for myself.

Instantly, I knew I was wrong. It was almost as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The adult temper tantrum that I threw wasn't what I wanted to do, but what my human instincts told me was fair.

I asked for forgiveness, from God and Nick, and suddenly I wanted to give everything I had to help out this sweet family. The grace that I needed washed over me, and I felt the joy of Christ's birth again.

Every time I see a picture of the nativity scene, my heart is thankful for the helpless newborn baby in that dirty feed trough. Who knew that He chose to come down from His comfortable, lush throne in heaven and live the life of a lowly, hated human just so he could die to take away our sins. Who does that? Jesus Christ. He knew we were selfish, he can see the black in our hearts, but He knew he could offer forgiveness. And He loves us enough to do that and still bless us.

"But after this, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-22

And when I let go of my grip over a few dollars you know what I found? An email saying someone gave a gift to our adoption fund.

Funny God. Your humor in my failures never ceases to surprise me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

30 Years Ago Today...

a baby boy was born. He was born to be a son, a brother, a best friend, a husband, a son-in-law, an uncle, a father, a dreamer, and a leader. Happy birthday to the man I love and my partner in crime! We love you Nick!

PS Nick likes to go on and on and on and on...about how I'm sooooo much older than him. He always says that I like to rob the cradle...I just prefer to think that I'm a cougar! Ha!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just Passing Time...

I'm going to be lazy with this post. I'm simply surviving life right now, so I thought, "let's take the easy way out this week". I'm copying this off of a blog I love to read (www.itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com), and thought this could be fun.

A Christmas Quiz

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Mmmm...I love the taste and smell of homemade hot chocolate cooking on the stove. It's just so warm and cozy. When we were little my sister and I would act out commercials like the Folgers commercial. We'd think we were so cool pretending we were drinking coffee. I still sometimes feel the need to sing, "It's Folgers in your cup" while drinking a warm, chocolatey cup of cocoa. As for egg nog? Any drink with the word egg in will never enter my stomach.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
This is a great question at our house this year. Nick and I grew up with different traditions, we had Santa at our house and they did not. Nick and I discussed this every year before we had children, and we decided that we really wanted to emphasize Jesus' birth with our kids. So we've always told the kids that Christmas was a day we celebrate Jesus' birthday and we get to share in celebrating by opening gifts as well. We've never tried to hide Santa and have always recognized that he is a story that some people believe. The kids always go and visit Santa and tell him what they want. Yet, somehow the fun of Santa has taken precedence and our kids believe that Santa is real. I'm not even sure how to explain this because they know their presents come from mom and dad, but it's like their brains want to protect their childlike innocence and let Santa become real. So they get all of their presents wrapped except for one big one that Santa told me to get them. It's very confusing, but my kids just keep asking if Santa is real...and I get tongue tied.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Nick likes to make fun of me on this. I despise colored lights on the tree. Maybe it was the years growing up with colored lights and homemade ornaments that adorned my parents' tree, but I swore that I would never have a "kids" tree when I grew up. WRONG! We still have our one "pretty" tree, but our main tree is starting to be a collection of paper ornaments, photos, and Cubs memorabilia (but I still win with the white lights!) I have allowed colored lights on the outside of the house because Owen asked me so sweetly when he was three, and I couldn't resist. But this year, daddy didn't get those lights on the house, and I must admit our house looks rather unfestive.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Never have, but I actually looked for some this year. I thought it would be funny to see what people would do during our sugar cookie party, but never found any. I guess its a hot commodity!

5. When do you put your decorations up?
The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. However, this year since I did not go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, we did it on Friday. My husband thinks I'm the Christmas Decoration Nazi, but you only get it up for one month a year, you better get a whole months use out of those decorations you spent a fortune on!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Bacon wrapped little smokies. Bacon and brown sugar...need I say more.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Staying awake all night listening for Santa. Then being locked upstairs on Christmas morning until my parents were ready. My sisters and I would just sit on the stairs and wait and my stomach would be turning with nervous excitement. Then the door would open and we'd go running around the corner to see what Santa brought. One year I got a ten speed bike, which was much to big for me, but the weather was nice enough that we actually got to take it to the park and ride it around on Christmas morning!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
When my mom told me it was actually my job to earn the money to buy the toys...I'm guessing around Owen's birth in 2004. It's still a pretty hard thing to accept.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
I'm the master at stealing other people's ideas and traditions, but I once heard about a family who all got new pajamas to wear on Christmas morning. So I, of course, stole their idea and every Christmas Eve we get to open a new pair of pajamas to wear to bed.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Probably the same way everyone else does. Ornaments, ribbon, and a star on top.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it for a day before anything touches it. Then I hate it for the rest of winter. It's dirty and the salt makes a mess EVERYWHERE!

12. Can you ice skate?
Not well.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I once got a puff paint kit and neon green sweatshirt to paint on. It had stencils in it and there was a picture of some guy with Vanilla Ice hair, so I painted him. It had some saying about being too cool or something. In fourth grade, I was unstoppable in my green Vanilla Ice Sweatshirt and MC Hammer pants. Oh and the cash Nick gave me last year so I could go shopping...that was the best.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
"And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life" Reliant K

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
This is a hard one. I love everything we do at Christmas. I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS!!!

17. What tops your tree?
A star

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Would it be horrible if I said both? I love to give presents, especially to my kids because I love to see their eyes light up when they get what they want. But to be perfectly honest, I don't mind receiving a little indulgence that I would not buy for myself!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
I love Welcome to Our World and O Holy Night.

20. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum?
They make me sneeze. Literally.

21 Favorite Christmas Show?
Rudolph and Frosty. Classic.

22. Saddest Christmas Song?
Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg, Batmobile lost a wheel and Joker got away. It makes me sad for Batman. The poor guy just can't get a break.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Mom

Have you ever heard the illustration about the circus performer who is "The Plate Spinner?" The guy starts with one or two plates and gets them spinning really fast and can keep them going with no problem at all. I've actually seen this done and its pretty impressive. They have these glass plates (I'm guessing Corelle, for easy clean-up) spinning around and around these super skinny poles. And as they get their first plates into a nice groove, they add another plate. And another. And another. Until finally, they are balancing 50 plates and 50 poles and suddenly its too much and all the plates crash and shatter on the ground.

This is me. I'm the plate guy. Of course, I'd love to tell you that I'm the woman successfully spinning two plates beautifully. I'd really like to say that I am Super Mom. But if I said that, who would actually continue reading? Nobody likes a perfect person. Nobody likes to feel like they are inferior to someone else, or that we don't have it figured out.

Or is that just me?

No, I'm the plate spinner with 50 plates spinning wildly out of control. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything except running from plate to plate to plate. I don't even feel like I'm doing the running between plates very well. In fact, I'm stumbling over my own two feet. I'm forgetting which plate I started with and which one needs to be spinned next.

My head is bouncing back and forth like a cartoon character. Or at least that's how it feels.

Don't get me wrong, I love every plate that I'm spinning. I love being a wife and having a husband to take care of and call my own. I love my job as a mother, more than my life its self. I love the little kids I care for during the day while their mother's are hard at work. I love visiting my mom at the hospital and having one on one time that we've missed out on the last few years. I love planning Christmas parties, birthday parties, holiday shopping, and visiting every family member, friend, and store in the near 50 mile radius. And I even like cooking and cleaning my domain...sort of.

But supposedly being one of the biggest fans of the holiday season that I know, I find myself a sort of Scrooge this year. In fact, while decorating the Christmas tree, I was so overwhelmed by it all I actually said, "Bah Humbug."


So I'm at the fork in the road where I need to decide what to do with all this frustration. My first thought is to go to my bedroom, close the door, climb into bed, put some ear plugs in and hide for the next 6 months. I will wallow in self pity and say, "Woe is me" over and over until I finally feel justified.

Believe it or not, I've taken this road before. Maybe I haven't laid in my bed hiding from the world...but I've wallowed. Man, have I wallowed. Let me tell you, wallowing is not pretty for a young (or middle-aged) lady to do. Wallowing brings out the ugliest, most selfish things in a person.

Its just not worth it.

So, again, I fall to my exhausted knees, bow my selfish little head and I pray. I ask for the minutes to feel more like hours. I ask that God would turn all of jobs I've been given in life would feel more like ministries. I ask that He would allow me to see that He has entrusted me with all that I can handle, and not one thing more. I ask that I would feel privileged, and not burdened, that He entrusts these things to me. I ask Him to allow me the rest I need, and with fresh eyes see the difference I can make.

And He says He will.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30