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!

Will you be my valentine?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. How excited are you? It’s a day to force your spouse or significant other to buy you an overpriced card/flowers/candy/gift/dinner. It’s a day to say, “No, Honey. You don’t need to get me something.” and then be mad when you don’t get something.

Maybe that seems a little harsh. Maybe you and your loved ones truly love Valentine’s Day. That’s great for you. I know Hallmark/Hersey/ProFlowers loves it. (Hey, way to go! Yay for capitalism!) As for my family, tomorrow is just another Saturday. No big deal.

I can hear you now. Oh, sure. You say it’s no big deal, but we all know you’ll be upset if your husband doesn’t show up with a dozen roses. If my husband shows up with a dozen roses tomorrow, I’m going to ask him if he’s lost his mind. Don’t get me wrong. If he wants to get me flowers, I would love them. However, I don’t want them on a day that the world has told him he HAS to get them for me. I’d much rather have them on a random Tuesday when the boys have driven me to the edge and nothing has gone right and I have no idea what I’m going to fix for supper. A week old bouquet from the gas station on a random Thursday would mean so much more to me than the nicest, freshest bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day.

We said years ago we weren’t “doing” Valentine’s Day. I told my husband not to get me anything. And you know what? I meant it. If you tell your significant other not to get you anything for Valentine’s Day and you don’t mean it, well, in my house, we call that a lie. And I don’t lie. A lie is a lie is a lie. I do not understand why someone would say they didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day when they do. Why would you set up your significant other for failure?

Maybe instead of setting ourselves up to fail, we should celebrate love for what it is or is supposed to be. Randomly this week, Connor walked up to me and said, “You know Valentine’s isn’t about presents and candy. It’s about friendship.” Amen!

What if instead of expecting gifts, we offer kindness. “Love suffers long and is kind; love doesn’t envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) What if we love each other like that?

What if instead of walking down that red and pink aisle in Wal-Mart/Target/Kroger, we spend Valentine’s Day following Jesus? “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.'” (Matthew 22:37-38) Maybe February 14th should be about that.

Maybe we are just weird. Maybe it is strange that we don’t “do” Valentine’s Day, that birthdays aren’t that big of deal, that on Christmas morning I don’t need a gift under the tree. I don’t need a big dinner out or flowers or fancy words in a card. I would much rather have a nice (crazy) night at home with my husband and kids. A simple “I love you” is just as good (better) than the sweetest Hallmark card for me.

If you needed/want the dinner out, the flowers and gifts and fancy cards, that’s great for you. I hope you get them. I hope you’ve told your significant other that you need those things. And I hope you’ve found someone who will give them to you. I respect your decision.

In return, I hope you’ll respect mine. If you ask my husband what he’s getting me for Valentine’s Day and he tells you I don’t want anything, don’t act like only an idiot would fall for that trick. If we say we’re staying in on Saturday, don’t feel sorry for us. It’s exactly what we want to do. This is who we are, and we like it this way.