preparations

I ran errands this week. It was mid-day and I was hopeful it wouldn’t be nuts.  It was nuts. I didn’t even buy a single Christmas gift.. but all the same I felt the Christmas stress.  The carts full of crap, the lines of impatient people, and oh my- the food!

I love the holiday.  I hate the consumerism.  I saw this on Facebook the other day and said YES.  I’ve posted it in my kitchen window and plan to read through it when social media tells me I’m not doing enough this Christmas.

Christmas

As corny as the saying goes “remember the reason for the season”.  We do we strive to. Here are a couple ways we have kept things minimal during the holiday season as a family..

-We give time rather than a lot of presents.  We make sure to incorporate special holiday activities as a family that require little money, but time.  As the kids get older we’re hoping that this is more hands on (like volunteering at a shelter or serving a meal on Christmas Eve).  For now we spend time doing fun family things: touring Christmas lights, making gingerbread houses, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, going to our church Christmas Eve service, sending shoe boxes to children that have so so much less than we do.  Speaking of presents- we get each of our kids one present and since santa does nothing.. we also fill their stockings.  You’re welcome, children.  Ryan and I don’t exchange gifts.  For our extended families we’ve done slightly different things over the years but have kept it simple, home-made, or often give to an organization (in honor of that person) rather than buying them a present.

-We send Christmas cards.  I love writing.  I love pretty notes and paper, I love a good pen, I love getting mail (especially packages), and I love photography.  To not send a Christmas card almost feels like a sin..to me.  I see it as another excuse to send love through the mail system.  So each year we buy 50 cards or family pictures and send them to family and friends until we run out.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we walk out this Christian life.  I mentioned it here. If we understand and have experienced the most amazing gift ever given (in the birth of Jesus), how are we telling that story?  Because its one thing to reign in the consumerism to “remember the reason for the season“- but what if remembering that reason caused us to live this out so differently that everything pointed back to HIM and the gift HE gave us?

Am I doing enough this Christmas?  No, I’m not.

a process

The best motivation often is to stop and look at how far we’ve come.  And hopefully that will give us momentum to keep going.  Meet my kitchen the night before we moved in as renters January 2013.

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Last November (after the house was in our names), I began a labor of love- painting our solid wood cabinets white.  I call it a labor of love as it was both long and utterly exhausting.  I was also getting pretty verbal as it went on.  Remember this post?  Well, it’s done.  Six months and a hundred hours later.  It is over!  As a reward for finishing phase one, Ryan and my sister Debbi put in the new floor while I was away on a church retreat. It was exactly what I pictured.

Up next – to replace the ceiling tile over the sink area or replace the kitchen countertops?

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who I am

As a mom.. have you had those days (weeks) you need to be reminded of who you are? NOT whose mom you are.  Who you are.

This place as a mom can feel like auto-pilot.  I do what I need to.  On repeat.  I cross of lists and calendars.  I shuffle around Ryan’s schedule.  I cook.  I clean.  I read the same six children books for weeks because my kids know what they like and stick to it.  All the while I wonder how I’m doing as a mom, feeling the pressure that I really should be getting this right because I give most of life doing it.  This is when I need to stop the crazy thoughts that end up with my kids in therapy because “mom was nuts”.

I am exactly the mom my kids need.  I know this because God entrusted me with this role in Jameson, Lucia, and Colette’s life.  Not because he knew I’d be perfect, but because He can use my imperfections.  When I need a reminder of who I am, I have to stare back at God.  Yesterday while Ryan and I were taking communion in church we prayed for each other (I didn’t tell him what to pray for or my feelings).  He started praying that I would be reminded that I’m God’s.  I’m his daughter.  In that simple truth I feel empowered!  Not just as a mom.

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In my last post I talked about how it’s not about our story, but how we’re telling Gods story in the way we live our life.  I wonder how this changes the way I am a mom.  What action do I need to take?  Because God’s story wouldn’t be “how comfortably can I do this?” “how good can it make me look?”  Recently our hearts have been pulled again towards the possibility of adopting through the foster care system.  It’s something that scars me.. in big ways.  Because it’s out of my comfort zone.  Because it could hurt.

The opposite of becoming comfortable is taking action.  Its to err on the side of doing something!  Because as much as it scares me, thinking of the children (the millions of children) that need a home breaks my heart.

I need boldness to respond.  Just to take the first step in this case.

our story

Hello!  I still blog.  In fact, to take myself more seriously I asked Ryan to update my blog header today.  The last few times I logged in to write I noticed the three little barefoot kids lined up over the back of the leather couch (If you don’t remember it, you won’t miss it). But I will.  Days are changing – my new header picture reminds me of just that.  It also reminds me of the early days when Ryan and I were dating and both working in downtown Minneapolis.  There were many many walks together to work or back to school again.  I’m then a mess of gratitude for the three sets of feet that are walking with us now hand and hand.  To say God has blessed us feels like an understatement.

Speaking of times changing, I had another birthday.  Not a big deal or anything, but I notice in adulthood birthdays always challenge me to ask where I am and where I am going.  Maybe because I thought that when I was in my thirties I’d feel like I had things more figured out?  Last year I felt challenged time and time again with not being comfortable.  Because I had this plan of how things could go, and they weren’t going that way.  My plan wasn’t the plan.  I’m reading You and Me Forever with a small group from church.  This book is messing me up.  In good ways.  You should get a copy and tell me what you think!  The book isn’t so much about marriage, but more about eternity and our relationship with God: “Life is about Jesus.  We are not here to tell our story, but His.  We are here to live His story, not ours.”  Tell His story?  Because I had this plan of how things could go…

For the upcoming year- for year 32- I’m praying that I’ll stop and ask again and again “how am I telling HIS story?”  Because the plan isn’t about me, what I want, and what would be easiest/most comfortable.

” We are God’s plan to make it believable that He is good and loving and true”.  

More to come-