Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Memories

The year is winding down as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It's hard not to reminisce of the year we are about to say goodbye to.

As I think about Christmas morning, I cannot help to be saddened by the realization that 1 year ago we celebrate Christmas with my father. It was his final Christmas. While we didn't necessarily do anything special, it will forever be a special day for me. For that was the last time I saw my dad.

It was wonderful to come home from work that morning. To not only have my husband and children with me as we opened presents, but to have my dad there to join in the early morning chaos. You could see the sheer joy on his face as he absorbed the excitement that came from Slugger & Songbird that morning.

I can't remember a single gift that was given. But I will always remember that moment.There, by the lights on our tree, my little family of four was temporarily a family of five. Later in the day, we were joined by my sister and her boyfriend (my soon-to-be brother-in-law) and the delicious mustache cake she made in honor of Dad.

This year, we will once again be a family of 5 as my mother joins us for the holiday. What a blessing that my children get to have another holiday with a grandparent.

The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions. I've admitted that I wasn't looking forward to Christmas this year. Yet I know that I must move forward so that I can heal. My father would not want me to stop my life. In fact, he'd be very upset with me. So, again, I choose joy this holiday season. I choose to remember the wonderful times with my Dad. Not just last year's memories, but ALL of the memories that I have with him.

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas with Dad

One of the Christmas memories that sticks out most in my mind is from 1993. That was the 1st year my Dad was a single father.

Poor man was 'stuck' with 3 daughters who he didn't have much of a relationship with. To make matters worse, we were 21, 18 & 17. Those are hard enough ages to shop for when you KNOW the kid. Imagine having no clue!

I don't think I was expecting much that Christmas. I mean, we didn't have much of a relationship prior to that. At least not one that didn't involve screaming & yelling.

He did a good job. He did his best. That Christmas morning, we awoke to gift cards to JC Penny (where EVERY teen loves to shop), a hunter green bathrobe with our initials embroidered on the pocket and a 12 pack of our favorite soda. I'm sure there were a few odds and ends in our stockings.

Since that 1st Christmas, Dad did considerably better. At one point, he even remembered that I had always wanted to see The Nutcracker. So as an early gift, he gave my sisters, my niece & I tickets to a local ballet performance. That has to be one of my favorite memories. The fact that he remembered after SO many years that I wanted to see that performance.

My father really did have a big heart. It may have taken years to uncover it, but it was there. Eventually he poured that love into his grandchildren too.

We are blessed to have had him in our lives.

Many blessings,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Choosing Joy

The other day I had the wonderful opportunity to support my mom mentor/wife mentor, Karen, as she filmed the next installment of her upcoming DVD curriculum for her ministry Birds On a Wire. While she was teaching lessons I had already heard from her, I guess I needed to hear them again.

The overall topic was "Lies Moms Believe". Yet these lies aren't just for moms.

Lie #11 I must be happy to be a godly mom

I'm going to tailor this lie. I must be happy to be a godly woman. You can search the Bible high & low and no where does God promise happiness. It just cannot be found. But He DOES promise He will bring us joy. He also promises that He will never leave us.

We I need to learn is contentment. And, yes ladies & gentlemen, contentment is LEARNED! It does not come natural. Karen pointed to Philippians 4:11:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Paul had to learn contentment.

Karen also went on to say that God has provided a 'manual' on how to attain contentment in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

So, today I choose joy.

Today I choose to remember the wonderful times with my father. To keep his memory alive by enjoying those memories. I have truly been blessed by the relationship that I had with my father. While our early years together weren't the best, they weren't all bad.

Today I embrace the chorus of the Newsboys song "Your Love Never Fails":

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night
But joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

What a promise!!!

As someone sweetly reminded me, grief is a process. No matter how hard I fight the process, it won't change. It is something that must  be endured. But what can change is how handle it. Don't beat myself for feeling the grief, but also don't wallow in my grief. God has surrounded me with wonderful & loving friends and family. It's time that I lean on them.

I am a blessed woman.... I am a godly woman.

Many blessings,

Can't I cancel Christmas?

I've been doing my Christmas shopping since August. Picking up an item here & there that I think would make the perfect gift for one of my children. Just yesterday, I completed my shopping for them & the Mayor.

The Mayor is trying really hard to make sure that this Christmas is extra special since it will be the 1st one without my father AND since last Christmas was the last time I saw him before he passed. That means a little extra decorations inside & outside the house. I've got to admit, it's gotten me excited.

Then today I hit a holiday wall.

I decided to go through the pile of goodies that I've purchased for the children. We aren't one of those families that have unlimited price limit when it comes to gift buying. We decide on a Christmas budget at the beginning of the year and I usually do a great job of sticking to it.

Today.... well, I sat there in my closet, surrounded by my purchases and hated every single item I bought. I wanted to return it all. Gifts, gift cards, stocking stuffers - EVERYTHING.

It's not that I was regretting not buying the latest & greatest. Not at all.

I just don't feel inspired.

As I walked through the house getting ready for work, I just wanted to take everything down. Box up my Nativity. Toss away the lights. I want it all gone. Wipe away the thought of Christmas.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.. I know what you're thinking. Christmas shouldn't be about the gifts. I should focus on the birth of my Savior. Celebrate the day that He came to this earth, a human, so that He could walk this earth & fulfill a prophecy. I mean, aren't I a Christian? Shouldn't I be immune to the trappings of this commercialized holiday?

The truth of the matter is - DEATH SUCKS! There, I said it. Right there, in black & white for the world to see. I don't want to have a 1st Christmas without my father. If I don't have a 1st one, then I can't have a 2nd one & so on. yes, I am a Christian, but I am also human.

No, I won't cancel Christmas. It really is one of my favorite holidays. Instead of focusing on my loss, I'm going to try to remember the Christmases that I did have with my Dad. Focus of the gift of his life.

I can't guarantee it won't hurt. I can only guarantee that I'm going to give it a try.

Many blessings,