‘Tis the Season

 

Once again its two days before Christmas and my house is anything but peaceful and tranquil. Much of the blame lands on me.

Each year I push towards my idea of a great Christmas. Not that I could ever attain the level of perfection portrayed on Christmas cards. The homes, inside and out, beautifully decorated—not a dirty sock or hand print in sight. A large extended family gazes lovingly at each other across a table laden with scrumptious food. All the dishes match, the tablecloth is pristine and ironed. The children are neat and clean, with angelic smiles. Their noses aren’t running. Their chins are free of teething slobber.

Dec 2015 020Over the years I have found it necessary to modify my level of expectation. Last year was my lowest. It was our first Christmas with our grandchildren. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on the road so they could spend time with both parents. It was late in the evening when we all arrived back home to open our gifts. We were all too exhausted and overwhelmed to enjoy our first Christmas as a family.

The worse part was I had no sense of joy. The whole meaning of Christmas was lost in activities and responsibilities. In frustration I penned these thoughts:

JOY

I’m surrounded by it.

Spelled out with tinsel on large banners hung in the streets.

Embroidered on sweaters with brightly colored thread.

Proclaimed by carolers.

Written with spray snow as decorations on store windows.

But this Christmas it is the only emotion I don’t feel.

Sadness, exhaustion, and anger have crowded out the joy.

I’m overwhelmed by the challenges in my life,

I feel everything but happiness and joy.

Maybe that’s my problem.

I equate happiness with joy.

I need to remember the difference.

Joy is not an emotion derived because life is going well.

It is my response to life no matter what is happening.

            This year I have higher, but I think realistic expectations for Christmas. Even so, I again find it hard to experience joy. My friend joked she found my joy when she unpacked my Christmas decorations. Although the sight of J-O-Y stretched across the mantle brings a smile to my face, my quest continues. This year I want to experience joy.

            My plan:

Ignore the messes in my life.

Quiet the noise of what the world tells me is important at Christmas.

Change my focus from what I need to do to who I need to worship.

Embrace the truth of who I am in Him.

Recognize that joy will bring me happiness.

 

Dec 2015 051It is a tall order. I am ahead of last year. The tree is up and trimmed. Most of the gifts are bought and wrapped. The house would be clean except the warm weather and rain has turned the driveway into a mud bog. One grandchild is struggling with obedience—she’s been lashing out at herself and others. The other is having difficulty sleeping—he prowls around in the night and gets into things.

This Christmas I am striving to put these issues aside and focus on the reason for the season. Only then can joy be found.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Your gift of love and grace is the best gift I will ever receive. Knowing you love me, have forgiven me and will always be with me gives me true joy.

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Its A Boy

working with grandpa

Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “ What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

The first part of that verse surely applies to our life. We have been blessed with three daughters. We also had two other girls in our care. One for only a year, and one for six years. At times my husband complained he was drowning in estrogen. He survived thirty four years of a female majority and now there is something new in our home.

A boy to raise.

Yes Isaac brought his sister, but we now have the unfamiliar joy and challenge of raising a son.

Our first adventure—potty training.

I did the initial leg of the journey. Same as the girls. Sit and do your business. Our grandson, who shadows Grandpa, has discovered there is another way to complete the task. The “big boy” way. He is very impressed by his accomplishment. Now we  teach him to perfect his aim.

Our home has always been filled with dolls, dress-up clothes and drama. However, we’ve discovered boys play much differently than girls. Every car or truck is crashed and smashed. Loudly. Repeatedly. And they all morph into monster trucks that roll or climb on top of each other. Play doh is fun, sand is nice, dirt is better but mud is best. Isaac loves to run and swing and slide, but soon after his cousins arrives, its full-on wrestling, imitating their monster trucks.

Grandpa is enjoying his tag-along. A little boy who can’t wait to jump intoGrandpa and Isaac his boots, put on one of Grandpa’s hats and “go to work” in the sawmill, or around the farm. He “helps” cut firewood with his toy chainsaw and stacks small pieces of wood in the sawmill. Every tool he finds is a hammer in his hand.

When Grandpa goes to the music room to play his guitar and bass, Isaac accompanies him and plays the drums and sings. Loudly. Actually he has great musically ability with pitch and timing. Mostly likely he’ll be a drummer.

We cherish our something new under the sun, just as we cherished the girls. But we always prayed for a son. God finally said yes. A late in life son whose name means laughter.

 Our prayer:  Dear God, we are so blessed by this son and daughter you have brought into our lives. We recognize the responsibility you have entrusted to us. Please grant us the wisdom to do this task in a way that pleases You.

It Started with A Phone Call

telephone

You never know what changes a phone call will bring or how it will impact your life. A year and a half ago we were surprised by a call.

“Can you come and get the kids?”

Although we had been asked many times in the past if we could come and take the kids for a night or weekend, this call was different. We were informed our daughter had tried to end her life.

She was in the hospital when we arrived at her home. Her two scared and hungry children waited for deliverance. Our two-year-old grandson was lying on the couch, crying, arms reaching up to me. It was almost 8:00 in the evening and he and his seven-year-old sister hadn’t yet been fed.  He gobbled up two servings of instant oatmeal as quickly as I could feed him.  My granddaughter had eaten a granola bar she foraged from the cupboard and was looking forward to “going out to eat.”

We gathered their things like the house was on fire. I grabbed clothes, medicines, school backpack, a stuffed monkey and a doll. The children had been at our house almost as much as their own so we had enough stuff to get us through the next few days.

Within that time it was apparent the children needed to stay with us for a while. At least until their home life had significant changes. Our daughter needed tough-love parenting as we loving advocated for our grandchildren. I bought a crib, sippy cups, and lots of diapers and wipes.

We cried and prayed and I began to journal. These outlets have been my way of coping. I will end with a journal entry and a question: What do you do to help you cope with difficulties when parenting your child and/or grandkids?

I Want My Mommy

“Mommy, mommynote pad and pen. I want my mommy.”

Their cries pierce my heart.

We cuddle.

Our tears mingle and bathe our faces.

Two little ones whose lives have been decimated by the paths chosen by their parents.

No excuses or explanations will comfort them.

I can only offer the sanctuary of my home,

My arms,

My heart.

Father God,

Is Your heart crushed when I foolishly choose to ignore Your laws?

When I cast aside Your plan for my life?

When I seek my own way, not Your will?

As I raise these little ones, please help me remember to seek after You.

To follow You closely.

To draw my strength from You.

Supply me hourly with patience and energy.

Help me model Your love and grace.

The task is too important and too great to do on my own.