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Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Had To Pull Off the Road

I heard this on the radio and had tears in my eyes...I hope you have time to listen today.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Year in Review

I've posted on my Little House blog about our 2014.  I don't post there much anymore.

I hope your year has held many blessings and much growth.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Like every single woman I know, Christmastime gets a little busy in my world.  I want to encourage each of you to remember to make room in your heart for the important things this season. Things like:

hot chocolate with marshmallows, reading the advent calendar verses, snuggling while watching a Peanuts special, laughing together - at anything.  I love accepting the dark evenings and getting the children to bed extra early.  I want to cherish the memories of my own childhood Christmas and the fun I have when I gather with family that live far away.  Christmas lights, especially the ones that twinkle a bit, and candles that glow.  Getting bundled from head to boot and watching my man take care of us all.  meals together with light-hearted music, school programs with cheesy holiday sweaters and church programs with glorious lyrics.

Most of all I treasure this time to remember so many gifts.  I loved this post by a fellow blogger. She so perfectly described the things I love to in her "Rapid Fire Thankfulness" post.  It's worth the read!

The Lord has given so much to me and to us all.  May we prepare our hearts to receive His blessings and may our eyes be open to the joy in our world.  

How do you prepare your heart for Christmas?  How do you encourage your family to abandon the crazy and embrace peace?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals at Dayspring

Why rush out to the store when you can shop comfortably at home?

on MONDAY there will be even more markdowns and a free ornament!
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room - Musical Christmas Ornament Classic Cross - Christian Journal Silent Night, Holy Night - Decorative Lantern Walk By Faith - Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Can I Feel Sad and Grateful at the Same Time?

I recently read a blog about someone who had experienced a bitter disappointment.  It wasn't life-altering, but still deeply saddening and yet this woman then explained away her sadness by comparing her loss to others who seem to have much greater things to grieve.  The thought of "It could be worse," often shames us into denying when we are hurt, sad or disappointed.
I have this in my kitchen to daily remember the good.  Available at Dayspring.
Of course it isn't wise to wallow in our misery and heap more and more pain on ourselves.  But I have learned we have to acknowledge our loss in order to process and move through the emotion, otherwise we land in the place of denial.  Stuffing our emotions down now only means they will pop back up with more power and less control later.

Maybe this Thanksgiving you are experiencing disappointment or sadness.  Perhaps it won't look or feel like celebrations in the past.  Maybe you won't get to visit extended family or it might be your first Thanksgiving where your children are with another parent.

Let me give you permission to feel sad for what you have lost and know that it is okay to feel bad when dealing with a hard situation.  Yes, I'm sure it could be much worse, but that thought doesn't help to process and accept what is.  Accepting your loss allows you to move forward and away from the wounding.  As you identify the ache, you can also note the gifts and find much for which to be thankful.

And as my friend reminded me in her own blog, you can be grateful for what God has given you while being sad about what has been lost.  God is big enough to handle all our emotions, not just the pretty ones.

I'm thankful to you, anyone who read, comments and interacts here.  It really does mean so much!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Family Table

We are a blended family and our seating varies weekly with parenting plans and children living between two homes.  We are keenly aware of the empty seats around our table and it is a painful reality that we all accept.  However, the ones who gather often talk about the ones not present and each one is still part of our family rhythm.  Mealtimes are a valued time to gather - even our senior in high school agrees!

As mother/wife/stepmom, the duty falls to me to plan, shop and prepare our meals.  Accommodating the tastes of seven individuals from differing family menu styles has been an enormous challenge, and yet it is one that helps me know my tribe better.  Now I can usually tell who prefers no tomatoes on their salad, who loves black beans and who will pass on the pineapple chunks.

Our greatest struggle is time.  Preparation and cleanup can be so tiring. We are late diners and the little children need to be put to bed, the older ones disappear before conscription to duty.  It's easy to resent the work and some days I fight especially hard to quell the resentment that rises from the never-ending tasks. But I'm counting on the memories to make it all worthwhile.

I would love to hear from others with a large family about the simplest meals that are sure-pleasers! Our regular rotation could use an update.  Do you plan ahead or wing it?  How do you manage to keep the budget in line?  I'm looking for inspiration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Co-Parenting Through the Holidays

For me, the most difficult part divorced life is watching my children bounce back and forth between two homes.  I know they feel torn.  I know they lack consistency.  I know they get mixed messages are sometimes confused.  And yet I know they need a relationship with both parents and this is the way it works in America...shared custody.

This is the reason for Christmas, why Christ came, because this world is so imperfect.

The holiday season is especially challenging because there are extended family members who want to be involved, extra activities in which to participate and traditions we want to maintain.  The first holiday season was the most challenging, but it's still tough for me.  But I want it to be a delightful season for my children and I don't want them to take on my angst.

First of all, work out the calendar with your co-parent.  Do this before the season begins to be sure you are on the same page.  It's painful to decide who is taking the children to a local show or theme park, but be reasonable and don't expect your children to do each activity twice, just because mom and dad are no longer together.  Avoid demanding more of them simply because they have two homes.  Recognize that they might not be into decorating the whole tree because they just put the tree up at dad's house.  They might get bored with icing gingerbread houses is they did it last weekend, too.  Be mature, use foresight and work with your children's dad to provide the most well-rounded holiday experience.  It doesn't benefit to compete or try to duplicate every activity.  That will only lead to exhaustion (for you and the children) and resentment.

Here are some other things to do now to prepare for a memorable and magical season.
  1. Communicate well and establish the calendar.  With the expanding circles of friends and family, it's easy to feel sucked into everyone's holiday dinner, office party or Sunday School social.  Be realistic and prioritize what will work best for you family, then communicate with everyone.  You can help others by letting them know early when you are available and when you simply are not.
  2. Set appropriate expectations for your children.  They will do so much better if they can predict the coming days.  "This year, you will wake up and do stockings at Daddy's house,"  or "We won't be going to Nana's after Christmas this year, we are waiting for spring break."  
  3. Decide what is most important.  Do you want to visit Santa or the local live nativity?  You may not have time to do both, so determine which events are important to you.  Talk to your children to find out what is important for them.
  4. Allow for down time.  I have found the times with zero demands are the ones I enjoy the very most. 
  5. Smile and share.  Whether is was a great day or a sad and lonely one, tell someone else how you feel.  It's easy to isolate when things aren't turning out like you imagined in your mind so take the time to reach out before you sink into a lonely spiral.  Don't be home alone this Christmas.
Families are complicated. The Christmas Season can make us crazy, or disappointed, or competitive. There is a lot of information on how to make the best, even when this season isn't ideal and I've included some links below.  Share in the comments how you are planning now to enjoy the season!