A season of second guessing

This is the back of our tree as the ornament side is leaning against the wall because it will not stay standing any longer. It's been that kind of week.

       It’s been this kind of week.

 

With Christmas just days away, we have definitely reached that time where I start rethinking everything I’ve done. Have I done enough? Did we do too little? Did we do too much? Should I have done this? Should I have done that? What about…? And the list goes on and on.

It has been especially rough this year with Hope 2.0. It’s worked differently that it has in the past. Instead of people helping others directly, all but one of the helps has sent me a donation and then I have decided how to use it to do the most good. This wasn’t the original idea, but it has worked out. I’ve really enjoyed it, and when I look towards next year, I’m going to think about this format and how to best make it work.

I’ve read the stories people told and I’ve looked at what we have to give and have tried to figure out the best way to help the most people. I feel such a responsibility to be a good steward especially with the money others have given. What would they want me to do with it? What would they see as the most good? And let me tell you, it has been hard.

I made a plan and sent out emails to families. I learned kids’ names and what kind of toys they like. I learned what stores were close to people and how we could do the most good. I learned about families needing food. I heard about people being desperate for help, not qualifying for government assistance or just being too late for most charities. For example, to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Christmas assistance, you have to register in the beginning of October.

And maybe that’s what so great about what we have done here. These are the people who fell between the cracks. Maybe in October, it looked like they wouldn’t need any assistance for Christmas but by the time December rolls around everything has changed. I know how fast life can change. I’ve heard about illness and hospital stays and deaths in families. I sent a package to a family living at a hotel because they have nowhere else to go.

I made decisions that were hard but felt right. I sent the emails and made promises that had to be kept. I spent the money I was sent and felt really good because we had helped everyone that asked for help. We sent gifts and stockings filled with surprises to 7 little kids with the sender’s name as Santa. And then I got a notification that there were new comments on the blog.

Three new families needing help. Okay, I might be able to do a little more. And then over the weekend two more requests came in. A single dad, a grandma, families who had taken in nieces and nephews who needed a safe place to live. People asking for winter coats and food.

Let’s be real honest. Saturday night I sat and cried. I felt guilty for the people I hadn’t been able to help. I felt guilty that maybe I had done too much for the first group we helped. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to do enough for anyone. And then my husband reminded me that I had done enough, that I can’t save everyone. I can’t help everyone. And it sucks but it’s true. And considering this is all done on faith with hope, I was feeling pretty low and hopeless Saturday night.

God works in mysterious and wondrous ways. Sometimes I can picture him looking at us, at me, shaking his head with a little smile the way a parent would and saying, “Oh, ye of little faith.” Sunday night I got a message on Facebook from someone who couldn’t have known how I was second guessing all my decisions. They told me they wanted to help. And their help is enough to do something for everyone who hasn’t received help yet. It’s enough to fill the gap that I couldn’t fill.

And while I still wish I could do more, I also know that God provides. The week between the first needs and the first helps was so hard for me. Everyday I had to say to myself that it was still early. That people would help. People would give. It would be okay. And people have given and it is going to be okay.

With 4 days until Christmas, I’m going to try to stop second guessing every decision I’ve made. I am going to slow down and relax and enjoy the time I have with my family. I’m going to be grateful for everyone who helped me make this Christmas a little easier for some families. I’m going to be thankful for what we have and what we have done. I’m going to stop wondering if I did enough. I’m going to be joyful when I get messages from people we have helped and stop worrying if it was enough when they tell me it was so much and how excited they are when packages arrive. I’m going to take great joy in the message from the mom who tells me how much her daughter is going to love what we sent and how excited she will be Christmas morning.

Stop second guessing yourself.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Hope 2.0 and me this year.

Merry Christmas!

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A Cheerful Giver

*Originally printed in The Hometown Treasure 2016 Countdown to Christmas*

As we move closer and closer to Christmas, people become more generous. Or maybe it’s just that there are more opportunities to give. There are food drives and donation boxes and red buckets everywhere you look.  There are opportunities like Shop with a Cop and Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.

My husband and I are raising two little boys. Living in a world filled with entitlement, we are trying to raise them to be givers, to earn what they have and give when they can. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” We are trying to raise cheerful givers.

One of the ways they love to give is by putting money in the red buckets. They love the ringing bells, and I know this time of year, I had better have money ready for them if we are heading to the store. The boys want to give on the way in the store and on the way out. They want to stop and talk to the bell ringers. They want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. If we head into a store and the red bucket isn’t on the stand, it makes them mad. How can they give if the bucket isn’t there?

Another way we are teaching them to give is going through their toys and donating some of them. They boys have an abundance of toys and at least once a year we go through them. Some of the toys get put up for a later time, some get thrown away, and some go into our donation pile. The first time I let the boys help sort through the toys to get rid of some, they were 5 and 3 years old. I will never forget that day. They asked who the toys were for that we were giving away. When I told them that there were kids out there who don’t have a lot of toys to play with or may not get presents for Christmas, they were shocked. My oldest picked up one of his favorite trucks and told me it was for the little boy who wouldn’t have any presents for Christmas.

That same year, we were asked to ring the bells for the Salvation Army red buckets. We were on our way to Wal-Mart for our turn when I decided I should explain to the boys once again what we were doing and why. I told them how they needed to remember to say “thank you” and “Merry Christmas” to the people who put money in the bucket. I told the boys that the money was not for us to keep. We were just helping. They wanted to know what the money was for so I told them it was to help buy food and presents for people who needed help.

It was one thing for the boys to hear that some kids don’t get presents for Christmas, but it was completely different for them to hear that some kids don’t have food. They didn’t understand that there are people out there who are hungry and don’t have food. They asked if we could stop and buy pizza for the hungry people. It was such an obvious thing to them. If people are hungry, we should feed them.

I think about my boys and the way they love to give and then I think about the way we adults look at giving. How many times have we looked at those red buckets and groaned? We pull the couple of coins out of our pocket and toss it in. Or we look away and walk as fast as we can past the bell ringers. Or we go through our closers and pull out the clothes that are about to fall apart or are so outdated that no one would ever want them and put those into our donation bag, but hang on to the nicest stuff even if it is 2 sizes too small and we’re never going to wear it again. How many times do we give not with a cheerful heart but with a sign or a groan or a roll of our eyes?

I think about that first Christmas. God gave us His best. He gave us His Son. And it wasn’t with a shrug or a groan. God didn’t think He was too busy to give to us that year that maybe next year He’d have the time. God didn’t look at us and say, “I’m just going to hang on to this because I know what those people will do with My Gift.” God didn’t look at the earth and shake His head and walk away. God looked at the world and loved us so much that He gave us the best that He had, the most He could give.

As we head through this Christmas season, as you hear the ringing bells and see the donation boxes, remember the way God gave to us on the first Christmas. Even if the only thing you have to give is a smile, give with a cheerful heart.

 

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Another great way to give is with our Hope 2.0. We have helped many people but new needs are still coming in. Please help me bring some hope and Christmas cheer to people who really need it.

Hope 2.0 Update

I thought I would give everyone an update on what’s going on with Hope for the Holidays 2.0. Things are moving very slowly, and I find myself needing a big dose of hope. The first time I did this, it got shared a lot. People saw the post and helped. This year feels different. People aren’t seeing the post even if they wanted to help.

I have shared and shared and shared the Hope post until I think my friends and family must be getting super annoyed with how many times it is showing up on their news feeds. And then I learn things like I had shared it 4 times before my best friend saw it. There are several people who I know I can count on to read and share no matter what I write, and they never saw it (or have just stopped sharing and liking my words.) I’ve shared in a couple of groups with very little response even when I’ve just been asking for prayer and nothing else.

It all makes me very nervous and scared and leavings me needing my own hope. I have to take a moment and remember that everything I do here is a giant leap of faith. I remember that I said we were going to move, help and be brave. I need to remember the brave part. I remember that God has a plan and I truly believe that the needs posted here will be filled.

And then I climb in bed at night, and it’s dark out, and I lay awake thinking about all this. I think about all the people who have posted about having a need. I think about how it seems Facebook is hiding my posts from people. I think about how I’m failing these people who need someone to care about them and to help them. I think about how I am not in a position where I can help everyone who comments with a need. I can help, and I will help, but I cannot do it all by myself.

So far we have 7 families in need. And no families that are giving. And in the daylight, I remember that God does not set us up to fail. I believe that there will be givers, and we all need to have patience while this works out.

I would ask that if you are reading these words you would share them on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else you would like. This only works if people know about it. Also, if you haven’t liked my Facebook page, you can find it here. I am doing 25 days of Christmas songs there right now and will also post updates as they come.

To end this post on a slightly happier note, we took the boys to see Santa. Thanks to Misti Yoder Photography, LLC for the awesome photos.

They were both very excited to get to see Santa.

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Cameron whispered into Santa’s ear what he wanted for Christmas so no one else could here. I’m hoping he asked for a little Christmas magic because we could use some over here right now.

 

Move. Help. Be Brave: Hope for the Holidays 2.0

It’s that time of year again. The Christmas season has officially started, and even though this year we have a couple extra days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it gets here so fast the older I get.

In my last post I talked about doing Hope for the Holidays again this year, and here is it. THE OFFICIAL POST.

Some back story on what we are doing here. I have been part of a community project of strangers helping strangers this time of year since 2011. It was amazing that first year when there was no planning or thinking about it. A stranger said something to another stranger about how hard Christmas was going to be and spontaneous giving began and exploded.

It was a little strange the way it all got started. People started telling their stories about empty bank accounts, losing jobs, parents and children who were sick. There were stories about kids old enough to understand that there just wasn’t any money for presents under the tree. There were stories about kids young enough that they wouldn’t know that there should be presents under the tree. There were stories about the empty corner where the tree should be, but that year there wasn’t going to even be a tree. People told how they struggle every week just to put food on their tables. People told how they have a job that covers the bills, but just the bills, and they weren’t even sure how they would put gas in the car to get to the job. As hard as it was to spill their guts, people shared their honest and hard truths to strangers.

And then there was the amazing people who could help. People with a little extra they could give. People who didn’t have children to buy for that wanted to help others be able to shop for their children. People who had never worried about how they were going to put food on the table and wanted to take that burden away from someone else. People who didn’t have money for gift cards but did have winter coats their children had grown out of and sent them to the mom struggling to buy her child a coat. There were people who the only extra they had was yarn and knitting needles, but they created hats, and scarves and mittens for kids that needed them. People gave with the faith that the stories were true and the hope that they could ease someone else’s burden just a little.

The next couple of years in happened again, with thought and planning, and it was good, too. Two years ago, the blogger who started it all had taken a break from blogging and couldn’t host it, so I took her idea, softened up the language a little, and brought it over here.

Two years ago, Hope for the Holiday’s didn’t help as many people as WANA ever did, but it was so awesome. From my small town in middle America, I was able get help to families as far away as Alaska. It was strangers helping strangers, giving a little bit of hope to those who may be feeling hopeless. I hope it moved everyone involved as much as it did me. You can read the post for the original Hope for the Holidays here.

Last year, WANA was back for its final year and I was struggling emotionally so I stepped back and just let it run over there. This past summer MODG shut her blog down completely. She was done and ready to walk away from her corner of the internet. And while I am sad that she isn’t writing anymore, I’m happy to be hosting Hope again this year.

I think especially after the extremely rough political season we just went through we all could use a little hope this year. Hope that not everyone is selfish or greedy or mean. Hope that there are people out there who care about other people. Hope that people are genuinely good and kind. Hope that people do want to reach out and help others when they can. So over here we are going to MOVE. HELP. and BE BRAVE.

So how is this all going to work?

The only way this works is if those who need some help, tell their stories, and those who can help, give. To ask for help please leave a comment below. Tell your story as much as you can. Be honest. Share what is going on and the specific help you are needing. At the top of your comment put *IN NEED* so it is easily spotted as a need. Tell your story and include your email address so people can contact you to help.

Here is an example of what a need should look like:

*IN NEED*

I’m stay at home mom and my husband has been out of work for several months. He just got a new job, but we are still trying to catch up from the time we were without income. We have two small boys, ages 8 and 6. They love trucks and dinosaurs and are so excited about Christmas, but I just don’t know if there will be anything under the tree. We are stretched so thin right now, sometimes I’m not sure after bills how we are going to put food on the table. We have family that would help, but they can’t afford to take care of us and we feel so guilty having to ask. If someone could just help a little bit it would mean so much to all of us. My email address is myname AT Hotmail DOT com.

That should give you an idea of the information to give. Feel free to give as much information as you are comfortable giving. Be sure to include your email address so people who want to help can contact you. If you leave it the way I did in the example, it is less likely spammers will find you. Once you have posted a need, please be patient.

For those who are wanting to GIVE, please reply to the comment on here so I can see that someone is helping. I will watch for those needs that get missed as more comments come in, but I won’t know who had received help, if you don’t leave a comment below.

Some important additional information. When leaving a comment, you do not have to use your real name. If you would like to be anonymous on this blog, you can be. Please include your real email address in the box for it because only I can see that and it gives me a way to contact you if I need to. Also, please check the box to be noticed of additional comments so you will know when someone has replied to you.

So here we go. This whole thing runs on faith and love.

MOVE. HELP. BE BRAVE.

A crazy year

This has been a crazy year. It has felt that we have gone nonstop and the only times we’ve had to slow down is when we’ve been sick. Trust me, it’s not restful when we are sick. And the craziest part of all of it is if you ask what we’ve been doing I’m not sure what all we have been doing.

One of the more exciting things that has happened is I was asked to write an article for a local publication. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is to be asked to write something for print. It’s the first time my words will be in print. I am so amazed that someone believes my words are good enough for print, and at the same it makes me want to throw up if I think about it too much.

The article I wrote was for a countdown to Christmas special. I was given 5 days to write it and told it could be about anything Christmas related. I thought about it. I brainstormed. I wrote paragraph after paragraph and then deleted it all to start over again. I finally put together what felt like an okay group of words the day it was due.

I ended up writing about giving. I took some of the ideas and thoughts I’ve shared here before about raising boys with giving hearts. I talked about how sometimes we giving grudgingly and how thankful I am that God doesn’t give to us that way. I talked about how easy it would have been for God to look at us, roll His eyes, and keep His Son with Him rather than sending Jesus to Earth.

While I was writing, I thought about the giving we do personally and the giving we did here 2 years ago with Hope for the Holidays. It was a great experience for me and hopefully everyone else involved. People came to the blog and told their stories about needing some hope and others, strangers, gave from their hearts and gave hope where they could. The idea of strangers helping strangers came from another blogger who I loved. I followed her journey from martinis to diaper genies and was a part of the first 3 years she helped hook people with needs together. What would have been the fourth year, MODG, the blogger, had stopped blogging for personal reasons. I saw a need and did my best to fill it.

Last year MODG was back, and I had a hard year. With Grandpa dying, I just didn’t have it in me to do Hope for the Holidays. And that has carried through with how I have neglected the blog this year. I’m better, I think. I’m hoping enough time has passed that I can start writing again. I have thoughts and ideas I want to share again.

So while I was writing the article, I was thinking about this space and writing again, of how I have all these words inside me that I need to get out. I thought about Hope for the Holidays and how this summer MODG blogged once last time and told us she was done. I thought about the people we helped 2 years ago. I thought about hosting Hope for the Holidays again this year.

I went back and forth on it. I havent been blogging like I should. How do I come back and immediately ask those readers I still have to help me help strangers? Yes, I’m going to do it. No, it’s too much. I can’t do it. Yes. No. I went back and forth. I know I have people who will share my words, but will people still give? I struggled thinking about it.

While I was having an internal debate, God spoke in an amazing way. I got an email from the contact page here. Someone who followed MODG, who needs help, who saw 2 years ago I helped, emailed me. And then because she wasnt sure the email went through, she posted a comment on the original Hope for the Holidays post. If that wasnt enough for me to decide to go for it again this year, there was a second comment from another person. She also needs help this year and wondered if I was going to help.

I was on the fence and God said, “MOVE.” I wasnt sure and God said, “HELP.” I was scared and God said, “BE BRAVE.” So I’m going to move. I’m going to help. I’m going to be brave. And im going to count on you guys, my super awesome readers, for help. Between Thanksgiving and December 1st, Hope for the Holidays 2 is starting. And it can only be successful if I can count on you. Move, help, be brave with me. And thank you for hanging on with me while I have been unable to write.

Jesus didn’t need the stone rolled away.

There is something that bothers me a lot when we talk about Easter or when I hear songs about the resurrection. It’s a little thing, a small detail that most people probably don’t even hear. But when we talk about Easter and use this certain phrasing it changes the story.

One of my favorite Christian songs is Glorious Day by Counting Crowns.  They use this phrasing in their song. “One day the grave could conceal Him no longer, one day the stone rolled away from the door. Then He arose over death He had conquered.” Did you hear it? Honestly its just one little word. THEN He arose.

Nope. That’s not how it works. Jesus did not need the stone rolled away so He could leave the tomb. When you use the word then it sounds like Jesus couldn’t leave the tomb unless someone opened the door. We believe He was born to a virgin, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead three days later, but He needed the stone moved so He could get out of the tomb?

Maybe it’s silly how much this one word affects me, but, to me, this changes the story. It opens up room for so much doubt. How could Jesus be the Son of God if He needed the stone moved? He performed miracles but was trapped in the tomb until the stone was moved? Was He trapped in there until an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven and rolled the stone away? (Matthew 28:2)

No. Jesus wasn’t in the tomb when the angel moved the stone. Matthew 28:5-8 says, “But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.'”

The stone was not rolled away so Jesus could come out. Jesus was long gone from the tomb when the stone was rolled away. He was already on His way. He is alive. The stone was rolled away so that we may go in. It was moved so we  could see that the tomb was empty, so we could see the folded cloth and know that Jesus is not there. The stone was moved for us.

The stone was rolled away and we found an empty tomb, not Jesus waiting to get out.

Do you hear the difference that one word makes in the story? Death was already conquered. Jesus had already arose. God had already won, long before the stone was moved. The stone was moved so those who needed to see the empty grave could see it.

I’m not sure why the story gets told as if the stone was rolled away first. Maybe in the songs it just flows nicer that way. Maybe people don’t even realize the way they are phrasing it. Maybe I’m the only one in the whole world who hears it that way. (Although I’m guessing you’ll hear it now even if you never have in the past.) Maybe it shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but it does bother me.

Jesus rose from the dead and THEN the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Not the other way around.

 

It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas Yet

king become baby

I’m in a strange place this year. We are one week from Christmas, and it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. I’m not sure why it doesn’t feel like Christmas time. This is truly one of my favorite times of year. I love the lights and the tree and the songs and the snow. I love THE Christmas story. The story of Jesus’s birth is the beginning to the greatest gift creation has ever been given. We get cards in the mail, and I make cookies and wrap presents. And I love it all.

This year is just different. Maybe part of it is the weather. It has been unseasonable warm this December. In fact last weekend it was in the 60s. I live in a place that is supposed to have a white Christmas. I want that foot of snow on the ground and snowflakes to fly Christmas Eve. (Last I heard they were calling for rain on Christmas Eve with a slim chance of snow on Christmas Day.)

As for the tree, we had it up early this year. We have never had a tree up before the middle of December, but this year we got it the last weekend in November. And then that sucker fell over completely decorated and broke our ornaments and lights not once but twice. Finally yesterday we got it decorated for the third time. I’ve told everyone that if it falls over again, I’m tossing it out the front door.

I have the most lovely nativity scene. I think it was Tuesday this week when I finally got it out. The boys and I drew and painted leaves to cut out and tape into a paper wreath to hang on our front door. The papers are still in a stack waiting to be cut out. There is a Charlie Brown and a Veggie Tales nativity set around here somewhere that haven’t been put up.

As for wrapping presents, well, we will need to buy them first. Christmas is one week away and we have exactly 1 gift for each of the boys. And it’s not that we go crazy with gifts piled a mile high, but just one under the tree with make for two very disappointed little boys Christmas morning. Someone really should start thinking about (and actually doing) our Christmas shopping.

What about that Christmas picture of the boys in front of the tree I like to take every year? I guess I did take one last weekend but it was just because that’s where they were standing when I took their picture and the tree only had lights on part of it because we hadn’t redecorated it yet.

And maybe I’m not the only one feeling this way this year. We don’t send out Christmas cards. Every year I think about it and then just never get it done. But even though we don’t send them, we always get a few. So far this December we have gotten exactly zero Christmas cards. And the boys love to look at all the Christmas lights on the houses when we are out driving around. It seems like there are just less lights up this year.

The boys did finally get to see Santa last weekend after missing all of the other opportunities we normally have in December with everything that’s been going on.

cameron and santa connor and santa

Thanks, Misti for the awesome photos! It was a great time and a great Santa, but it was also in the 60s and the boys didn’t even wear coats that day.

And the boys are just the exact opposite of where I am. They are so excited. They ask every day if it’s Christmas Eve. The saw Santa and made their lists. They talk about Jesus and His birth. They play with the nativity. Sunday they are in a program at church. They loved Piney (the Christmas tree) even when only half her lights worked and she had no decorations.

I’m not sure why I’m feeling this way this year. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s missing Grandpa. Maybe it’s because I had been picturing this Christmas looking a lot different than it does this year. I’m just not having that excitement that I normally feel especially by this time every year. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet.

I’m sure over the next few days the boys’ excitement will rub off on me, and it will finally start to feel like Christmas. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas yet.

That Busy Time of Year

Like most people, it feels as if we are just insanely busy this time of year. And this year, it feels much more overwhelming than it has in years past. At night when I finally get things wrapped up and get in bed to go to sleep, I remember that I was going to blog that day but I never got to it. In fact, I normally blog from our desktop because it’s easier for me than using our tablets. For Thanksgiving, our desktop was unhooked and placed in a corner out of the way. Today, I finally got it hooked back up.

Besides family get-togethers, company Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, visits to Santa, and all the regular every day things, these past few weeks have been so stressful. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Cameron had a cavity that became abscessed.  After treating the infection, he had to have the tooth pulled. He was an absolute rock star with how he handled all of it. And apparently, he doesn’t get his teeth from me because, where I’ve never had a cavity, before Christmas, Cameron has four additional teeth that are going to need fillings or crowns.

In case that’s not enough going on in our lives, for Thanksgiving, Connor got the flu. That annoying flu morphed into Bronchiolitis in Connor. By Sunday night, he was taking short, fast breaths and trying to take a deep breath would make him cough so he and I headed to the Emergency Room. After 2 hours in the ER waiting room, we finally got to see a nurse. Connor’s oxygen level was at 55. It’s amazing how fast they can get a doctor in to see you when your level is that low.

Connor got some steroids, a breathing treatment and a chest x-ray. He thought it was all great fun. I was functioning mostly on panic. After another 2 hours, we finally got to leave the hospital with a nebulizer, 2 prescriptions and instructions that if his breathing got worse or he started breathing like that again, I was to bring him straight back to the ER.

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The next day, not only was Connor sick, but Cameron and I had both caught the flu, too. Thankfully, neither of us had issues breathing, but we were all in sad shape.

What? That’s not enough fun? Well, there is more. While we were all sick, my husband had the one work trip he takes a year so there was no backup at home. (Thankfully he didn’t leave for the trip until after the ER visit.) We also got our Christmas tree that weekend.

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It is much bigger than the trees we’ve gotten in the past, but the boys love it and have named it Piney. Piney drops more needles than our last 2 trees did the entire time we had them up combined. And apparently Piney isn’t very happy about where she is sitting, or maybe it’s just really tiring being a Christmas tree because she’s fallen over twice. Let me tell you, the idea of having to decorate that tree a third time makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Oh, did I mention that last year we made glass ornaments and all but one shattered the first time Piney fell over?

So that’s where we are right now. Mostly well finally but also very overwhelmed.

I did noticed today that over the last week or so there has been a lot of visits to the Hope For the Holidays post from last year. I actually meant to talk about that a couple weeks ago (and then all the above happened). MODG, the blogger who started WANA, which Hope For the Holidays was based off of is back to blogging. She is hosting WANA again this year and I have decided that I just don’t have the strength to host a similar event. I would ask any of you who are looking to help someone in need to check out this years WANA. Any of you looking for help this year, please post your stories over there. (Fair warning, they use a lot more colorful language over at MODGblog.com than I use here.) You can find the post for WANA here.

I wish I felt I could do it again this year. I wish I could help everyone who needs help this year.

Now you guys are mostly caught up on where we are. I am hoping after the first of the year to be back with posts more than once a month or so. No matter what happens, 2016 is going to be an exciting year. I have lots of strong opinions on everything going on in the world that I would like to share. Hopefully, you guys will continue to stick around even when I’m not posting very often. I know I’ve lost some readers, as happens when you don’t have new content consistently. Thank you to everyone who’s hung around for 2015. It’s been one of those years.

Here is a special treat. Cameron wrote a song about Grandpa John today and had me video him singing it. He wanted to play guitar while he sang, but his guitar is broken and hasn’t been replaced yet (and he doesn’t actually know how to play the guitar). He is using a plastic wagon handle as a guitar. And a special thanks to Grandma for the lovely glasses she gave him yesterday that he needed to wear to make his look complete. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

 

This season I’m thankful for God’s perfect timing

We are two days away from Thanksgiving and over two months since my last post. This has been a rough year. I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I would like. There has been so much going on and so many thoughts and feelings that I’ve wanted to write down, but when I sit at the computer they seem too personal and private to share with the whole world. I actually did sit down one day and write a long post about how the boys have been dealing with the grieving process since Grandpa died. I got all the way to the end and then hit save instead of publish.

Emotions run high and low and, although I know Grandma would never tell me to censor the words I use here, I didn’t want to be responsible for more low emotions. So I write out long posts in my head and save them for a day when everything isn’t as close to the surface. It’s not that we will ever be “over” Grandpa’s death, but someday November will come and we won’t just sit around for days crying. You see, November 14th was Grandpa’s birthday, and yesterday Grandma and Grandpa would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

If all of that doesn’t make me emotional enough, I got some extremely disappointing and confusing news yesterday. We were in the middle of something big. It felt so right and like God had led us to this place in this time and all of the many, many pieces were falling into place at just the right moments. It was so close we could feel it. And it felt so right and we could all imagine just exactly how it was going to be. And then yesterday we got the news that it probably, most likely is not going to happen.

It was one of those punch you in the stomach, can’t believe what you’ve just been told, what do we do now, moments. And, yes, there is a very, VERY slim chance that all the pieces line back up and our plan continues, but that is just so very unlikely at this point.

And it just leaves us all confused. What do we do now? What we were moving towards had been prayed over day after day after day, by not just those directly involved but others who prayed that God would show us the right way. And we all prayed that if we were moving in the wrong direction that God would stop us and not let us get there. But if we were moving in the wrong direction, why did God let us get so far? Why did he answer the first, second, third, fourth steps with yes just to give us a no about 6 hours before the last step?

And with all these things adding up, it’s hard to remember to be thankful for what we do have. And then I remember that God has perfect timing. And for reasons that I can’t see today, these things were supposed to happen in this order at this time. I can even trace the decisions and steps made back to when Grandpa first got sick, if not before. There is a big plan and smaller plans happening all around us that we can not see, and that we may never see.

I believe that someday (hopefully in the near future but maybe not), I will understand why we took the steps that we have taken and why we were stopped in this spot at this time.

This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for. I have an amazing family, a fantastic husband that I can not imagine life without, 2crazylittleboys that bring me such overwhelming joy, a God that loves me so much He was willing to die for me, a roof over my head and food on my table. I have a warm bed to sleep in. I have been blessed with so much.

And this week as we work to make sense of what’s happened, I’m going to remember to be thankful for my God who stopped us from making a decision that could have harmed us all. Instead of focusing of what could have been and what I wanted, I’m going to remember that this is what we prayed for. Apparently we were on the wrong path, and now we are waiting for God to point us the in the next direction we should go.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you with fun and food and family (and football!).

Instead of the Bunny, Focus on the Lamb

courtesy of jonfletch via rbgstock.com

courtesy of jonfletch via rbgstock.com

Today is Good Friday and the start of Passover. Christians reflect on the day our Savior gave His life for ours on the cross, and the Jewish people remember the day God spared their lives and delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

As it happens every year at this time, I have found myself aggravated again on Good Friday. The boys were sitting down to watch some cartoons and became so excited. It was a new Wonder Pets! Connor comes running to find me, yelling, “Easter is coming! Record it, Mom!”

I went to see what was on and, sure enough, the Wonder Pets were talking about Easter coming. They were talking about collecting eggs and helping out the bunny. Oh, how I despise that bunny. I paused the show and told the boys we were going to have a talk before I turned it back on.

I asked, “Is the Easter bunny real?”

They both shouted, “NO!”

“What is Easter about?”

“Jesus!” Cameron answered.

Not to be outdone, Connor yelled, “Jesus is alive!”

We talked about it a little more and then I let them watch the show. As I walked away, I realized that we’re doing it right. It’s okay for them to watch the shows like that one as long as they understand what it’s all really about. And they knew what Easter is about with no prompting. They get it and understand it as much as kids that age can.

I let the aggravation roll off me. All the pictures of the bunny and Facebook post of Easter crafts and center pieces that are about nest and eggs and bunnies. I don’t have to let it bother me. I don’t have to let it affect the way we spend this weekend.

And then I thought back to the Jewish people and Passover. Last Sunday I attended a church where the message was given by a Jew for Jesus. It was amazing. I knew almost nothing about Passover, other than it was in remembrance of God freeing the Jews from slavery in Egypt. I learned so much.

I found it incredible how every part of the Passover meal relates directly to Jesus. The first time Christians had communion was at Jesus’s last Passover Seder. And as the Jewish people remember the sacrifice of a lamb to spare their firstborn sons, we remember the sacrifice of the Lamb who is the firstborn Son.

Last year on Good Friday, I took the boys on an adventure to find the cross. This year I’m focusing on the Lamb. When I see that bunny, I’ll remember the Lamb. And, when we are on our egg hunt, we will remember the Lamb.

Remember the Lamb who died so that we may live and rejoice that He is alive! The tomb is empty! Our Savior lives!

The bunny doesn’t matter.

From my family to yours, happy Easter.

You can learn more about Jews for Jesus here.