Christmas Wreath

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This has always been my personal favorite Christmas decoration. It hangs on my laundry room door.

I pull it out in late November and it grows over time. The pictures come in slowly so I wonder if it will actually fill up and it always has, always does. This year there are fewer cards than in years past. I am well aware that that is not at all for lack of love or friends, only a surplus of technology. We all see most of each other’s faces and children on social media these days. So much so, that cards may see pointless. I know they are an added stress this time of year, I didn’t send them out last year in attempts to cut myself some slack.

I appreciate them, I know the sacrifice, the struggle for the right picture, the hassle of accumulating addresses, the foreign trip to the post office for stamps, the mad rush of the Christmas to-do list. I know this all very well. But, still, it’s my favorite decoration. I’m admiring it this morning and cherishing it. I know each year in this technology age it will get sparser and sparser. But, I’ll continue to put it up each November, watch, and wait.

My Christmas wreath may not grow over the years anymore, but I am thankful. I am thankful for the friends that do. I think of you all. I pray for you all. I love you. From my heart to yours…

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Everybody Falls!

roller skate

I was inspired by a recent roller skating party with my nine year old. I left her younger sister with my mom so I could really focus on skating with her and teaching her. As much as I loved skating as a kid, I was certain she would, if she would just keep trying…

She got a quarter of the way around the rink clinging to the side rails before she decided she wanted to use a trainer like the other kids. These trainers look like walkers for beginner skaters. We didn’t have them growing up, but they are really helpful in learning to balance and lean forward. She hobbled along slowly. All she could see in her periphery were smaller kids zooming past her. I just kept encouraging her, proud that she was giving it a real go this time and so thankful I could focus all my attention on her when she needed it most. I wondered what else I could do to help her, but I soon realized all I could do was watch, encourage, and be there to help her up when she fell. I couldn’t “make” her skate well. She would have to keep going and put the effort in. She would have to learn at her own pace.

About half way around the rink, she lost her balance and fell HARD right on her tail bone. She looked up at me with big tears in her eyes from pain, anger, and utter embarrassment. As I helped her to her feet she told me she quit and wasn’t cut out for it. I felt so sorry for her and told her to look around at all the others falling. She said “No one’s falling but me!” I followed up with “Not true baby, look around. Watch.” So she did. Sure enough three skaters hit the ground in the few seconds I got her to look up. And, they all got back up and kept skating.

Just then, one of her classmates came up to check on her. She said “My parents gave me the best advice. It’s ok if you fall, just don’t quit. Keep skating. Everyone falls. Even grown-ups!” I loved her encouragement and joy. Abby kept skating, slowly but surely. My heart swelled with love and pride as she fell again and got back up…..again. She wanted to keep skating and even hinted at the idea of having her next birthday party there. What a refreshing change! She worked up the courage to skate once around the rink without her trainer, but still felt more comfortable with it. I told her that’s what the trainer is for, to lean on. Use it.

I think our praying friends are like trainers, they are there to be leaned on and they want to be. They help us balance and keep us moving forward. They help us up when we fall and look around for us when they do. They aren’t there to skate for us, they can’t. But, they are there to lean on.

Everybody learns at a different pace. Some are timid, some are aggressive, some are naturals, but we are all humbled as our rear ends hit the ground. Some don’t skate anymore because of age or past injury. Some continue to skate as long as they can (that would be me). But, everyone falls. Even the best skiers and skaters still fall. It’s part of learning and it’s part of the sport. Such is life.

 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (CEV)

We all get frustrated when we fall and feel embarrassed when it’s a fall in public, or worse in front of our peers. But remember, everyone falls. And, remember your trainers. Use them. That’s what God gave them to you for.

And, now back to an all skate…

Dating?!?!

beauty from ashes

I’ve never been a good dater. And, I’ve never been interested in “playing the field”. My “dating” past before marriage consisted of about 4 long term boyfriends. I must be more of a relationship person than a dater because dating does not come naturally to me whatsoever.

Nonetheless, it’s been three years since my divorce and  I do have the desire to remarry one day, so dating has to happen, right? Once again, God tells me to trust that He is working and that He will teach me along the way.

One thing I’ve learned through my dating experiences is that I’d rather hear crickets than be with the wrong guy after what I’ve been through. Maybe one day I’ll expound on this story, but in short, I’ll just add that I never knew the extent of what human beings are capable of until I went through my divorce and started dating again. It has literally pried my eyes open. Which was shocking, scary, and painful, but God knew I needed to know.

Dating is tough personally for multiple reasons. I’m a mom and I work full time, therefore I have limited free time. I want to be an example to my girls. I want to protect my girls. I want to honor God. I want to grow together in a healthy way. I don’t want to get hurt…..who does?  I don’t want to hurt others. I also don’t want to settle for anything less than real love. The counterfeit comes off pretty perfect at times. And, I have been fooled before, hook, line and sinker.

Because of all this, I pray for discernment and God’s will every single day. I ask Him to expose and remove the deceptions and distractions. I ask Him to cover me in His grace and wisdom and help me to enjoy the process, which is so difficult for me. I ask Him to help me!

Another thing I’ve learned is that the perfect man for us will not be perfect, and I can’t expect him to be because I’m not. He’ll have flaws, struggles, and baggage just like I do. But, we will be able to share these struggles with each other because……he’ll be a communicator.

We’ll connect. He’ll be a listener. He’ll make me laugh and smile. He’ll be strong enough to handle my sadness and fear when it flares up because…..he’ll be my friend.

He’ll love me in spite of my insecurities and my past. He’ll hold me just because he wants to. He’ll encourage my passions and love my love for Jesus. He won’t push me, he’ll relax me. He won’t rush me, but walk alongside me. He’ll know that love is sacrificial. He’ll pursue me. He’ll understand me and appreciate my personal weirdness.

He’ll pray for me. He’ll be proud of me and my story. He’ll love the Lord and want to follow Him all the days of his life. He’ll love us so gently and consistently that trust and peace will follow.

This may sound like a lot of pressure to put on a man, but I yearn to do the same things for him. To love him well and to love him anyway.

Blending two people and two families isn’t easy and I don’t expect it to be. But, I also believe that with the right partner, it can be beneficial and beautiful. And that’s what God specializes in: Beauty from ashes.