All I really wanted this Christmas…

As Christmas day quickly approached a few weeks ago, my house was filled with shrieking, jumping, and count-downing [yes – that is a word, I declare]. The month of December was literally laughing in my face as it slid on by without a hint of showing mercy and slowing down. Our house filled with shrieks, jumps and countdowns expressed by my children – yes… and also, by me.

I was throwing a fit of anticipation, resisting the temptation to be suckered into Christmas anxiety. I was the one shrieking, declaring – I will not lose my cool this Christmas! I was the one jumping, staking my claim – this would be the Christmas I would enjoy every moment of! I was the one count-downing, sweating as each day passed more quickly than the last – with more to do and less time to finish … Christmas.

Finish … Christmas?! What the heck is wrong with this statement???

As December 25th drew near, I almost lost all I really wanted for Christmas. It was subtle, and it crept in momentarily… I was the one setting ridiculous impossible enjoy – every – moment of Christmas goals for our family. I was the one losing myself in the chaos of my mind wrapped up in thoughts of presents, coupons, sales, mailing and wrapping packages, decorating the house, cleaning the house, and planning the meals… I was the one having an anxiety attack in Target, pacing the aisles, waiting… for our eldest daughter to pick out elf pajamas she absolutely had to wear for the Christmas party she was hosting with her friends.

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She does look pretty darn cute as an elf 😉

Snap. That’s when it happened. In the Target aisle.

“I can’t do this anymore! I won’t do this anymore!”

I stopped the madness and took the kids outside of Target. “Let’s go back to the car, pick up the reusable bags I left in the trunk, and start over.”

Okay mom.

They understood. They saw me unraveling and helped me pull it back together. We went to the car, picked up the reusable bags, went back into Target and all I really wanted for Christmas wasn’t lost anymore. I found it – again.

Wonder. The Wonder of Moments. Joy-filled Moments. The Wonder of laughter, peace, simplicity, enjoying each other, being fully present together. (Even while shopping at Target.)

The next day, after the Target panic attack, I went to my women’s Bible study. Just a week shy of Christmas day, naturally the conversation turned to the potential –and sometimes inevitable– stress of Christmas. Why do we always put this pressure on ourselves? To create the “perfect” Christmas? Why do we put ourselves thru this year after year? *One friend described Christmas as an orgasm that never happens. Another friend piped in – I don’t want to fake it! HA! We were rolling in laughter – yes, at our women’s Bible study. Because the truth is this – There’s this pressure to have a grand, unforgettable, life-changing Christmas experience, and sometimes it just. doesn’t. happen.

All I want for Christmas is to be wrapped up in The Wonder of Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us.

Every Christmas, the dreaded gingerbread house taunts me. I suck at making them. The kids have made them at school, and I’m at home, praising the Lord I didn’t have to. It is always a chore. But this year the kids are being homeschooled, and Trader Joes came to our rescue! We decided to buy a Gingerbread House kit from TJ’s and the kids were excited about it. Whew. I stopped sweating over that stress. Every time we went into TJ’s to pick up groceries, the kids would ask – can we get our Gingerbread House this time? No – next time.

Until the next time they were out of Gingerbread Houses!!! Noooooo!!! Say it isn’t Soooooo!!! 

I briefly freaked out and calmed down, and said “Kids, I will get you a Gingerbread House kit if it’s the last thing I do!!!” I scrambled and called the next Trader Joes closest to us, desperation in my voice – “Do you have anymore Gingerbread Houses in stock? Ummm… let me check. (pause – panicked – moments – waiting). Yes, we have TWO left! Okay-can you put it on hold for me? We’ll be there in the morning to pick it up.”

The next day, we went to pick it up and the TJ’s associate I had spoken to went to the back to find it. He came back – ma’am I’m sorry, it was sold. I had your name on it, but someone must have sold the last TWO we had. I almost started crying… no – not really… but he could see the disappointment in my face and the kids. “Is this a gift?” He asked. “No, my kids and I were going to put it together for fun.” …you know, making Christmas memories that could be destroyed and possibly ruined forever if we don’t build a Gingerbread House together!!! “Well, we do have a few left we were planning to donate because the boxes were damaged slightly. If you don’t mind.” What?! Do we mind?! No way!! This is the Best. News. Ever!!! So the associate came back a few moments later with the perfect Gingerbread House box kit just for us. The best part – it was free 🙂 Thank you Trader Joes!!!

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After all the fuss, we had a blast making it, but it didn’t taste very good. Similar to cardboard with sugar on top. Oh well, it was all worth it – no doubt 😉

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All I wanted for Christmas was to lose myself in the Wonder of it all. The first time Jesus came to earth. The first Christmas as a baby. As Emmanuel God with us. God coming as a child. The Wonder! I want to be wrapped up in the child-like Wonder of it all. Now Christmas has come and gone and the New Year is in full swing. Yet nothing about Jesus has changed. He has been, still is and always will be Emmanuel ~ God. With. Us! He is with me. I can forever be wrapped up and lost in His Wonder. And that’s all I want for Christmas ~ and every day in between.

What did you want this Christmas? Did you lose yourself in His Wonder or in stress and anxiety? Please share – don’t be shy – we’ve all been there!

In Him, Leslie

*I hope you won’t be offended – all stories necessary for the authenticity of this post!

Christmas Worship Medley

Dear Friends, Merry Christmas! I would love to share with you our version of the Christmas Worship medley “Do you hear what I hear & This is what it sounds like”. We recently recorded the song, and the link below will take you to our Facebook page to hear it. Originally, we heard these songs beautifully woven together in worship led by Steffany Frizzell and Jeremy Riddle from Bethel church. I pray your Christmas season would be saturated in the love of Christ and His promise to come and reside as Emmanuel, God with us.

In Him, Leslie

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<div class=”fb-post” data-href=”https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152927685492430&#8243; data-width=”466″><div class=”fb-xfbml-parse-ignore”><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152927685492430″>Post</a&gt; by <a href=”https://www.facebook.com/adam.l.babcock”>Adam Leslie Babcock</a>.</div></div>

the mom who *wishes* for snow days

Hey there.
I’m the mom who wished (and prayed) for 1 (or 2 – even better!) more snow days.
Yes. It’s true.
Christmas break went by way too fast and I wasn’t ready for school to begin. 
Then, much to my surprise (and happiness!) an Polar Vortex Arctic Blast or something visited us folks here in Ohio 🙂 Yipee! The kids were able to stay home 2 extra days 🙂 On Wednesday, they went back to school.
Weren’t you ready (over joyed, even?) for them to return to school?
Nope. I was still wishing for one -or 2- more…
Just a few days ago we returned from 2000 miles of travel on the open road marked by dirt, asphalt, rocks flying and gritty gas stations lined along the highway, littered with beer billboards and porn shops. Road trips are never dull, when you’re in a race you didn’t know you were in with impatient cars in the next lane over – oh W O W buddy – you can flash your headlights signaling I’m in-your-way because I’m only going 2 miles over the 75 mph speed limit to let me know you can drive 3miles faster than me. You are profoundly talented! I didn’t realize we were racing.
While all that racing was happening around us, we had a sick boy puking the entire 18 hours from Oklahoma to home. He was puking , I was driving, Adam was sermonizing (putting the finishing touches on his sermon while trying to assist our sick son). We pulled in to our driveway at 4am in good shape, safe and sound. Only to return to our dogs little present she left all over our daughters bedroom floor. Sure. We’ll stay up a few more hours to clean that up, shuffle the kids beds around, get them back to sleep and zzzz…. It was interesting
So yes. we’ve had plenty of family time, but it still wasn’t enough. It never is. On the open road I was struck (again) with the fact that it is never enough (like wishing time would stand still) never enough. We only have a short time with our kids -as kids- parenting, fully engaged in their young lives overwhelming them with our deepest love and listening ears.
Wednesday they went back to school and I didn’t get my *wish* of 1 -or 2- more snow days. Salem was convinced he would be going in to 2nd grade. . His teacher kept saying “See you next year!” before the Christmas break, so he thought that meant he was moving up to 2nd grade. 
Don’t grow up too fast, buddy…
Life goes too fast. There will be others speeding past you, flashing their lights at you, challenging you to go with the faster flow, or get out of the way. 
Slow down. Hold the moments. Keep *wishing* for more snow days.
In Him, Leslie 

The Cost of Christmas

This Christmas for our family was…hmmm, well… not. that. great.

I don’t want to write like a whiny complainer, but it felt sorta lacking…
The past few weeks leading up to Christmas were cracked with stress fractures, parent failures and heavy hearts.
Running short on time and high on stress, the simple task of buying a few small gifts for our three children became daunting.
I got sick on Christmas Eve and spent most of Christmas day sleeping, trying to feel better.
The cost of Christmas weighed heavy…
Where was the JOY?

The stores pulled out all the stops and put their best gifts on display…
The Cost of Christmas rang high.
Some pinching every penny…
Some putting off the payment until the credit card bill comes due…
Some planning perfectly and spending just the right amount.
As I stood in the lines, my mind swirled with the ridiculousness of the material mayhem.
>>>And I was fully aware, that I was a fully involved, fully committed, participant in it.<<<
I returned home, frustrated.
Where was the JOY?

I had forgotten.
I know it so well, yet I had forgotten…
It slipped away… almost.
Moments reminded me ~ Our 9 year old more excited to give than to receive, all of our children asking for simple gifts, grateful for the gifts they received… our children wanting time with us ~ more than anything. Special family time, laughing, enjoying, sledding in the snow… JOY was there all along.
Remember. Those. Moments.

The Cost of Christmas IS this ~
“Unto us a Son is given…” {Isaiah 9} 
The cost for Christ was everything.
He was given as the greatest gift.
He gave up His Heavenly dwelling
To dwell with us.
He came to live.
He came to die.
He came to be {Emmanuel} God with us.
Christmas can be costly, but He already paid it for us.
We may have allowed stress to overwhelm us,
pressure points strain us,
material mayhem consume us,
and joy to be momentarily stolen from us…,

but we have Him. 
He paid the Cost. no other bills to pay off…
He is everything. no other gifts needed.
He is our JOY. nothing else can be.
The cost of Christmas is found~
JOY in Him…
dwelling beneath the frustration, failures, hurt and pain, JOY abounds. JOY returns. JOY remains.  

He is Emmanuel God with us. With. Us. Always. 

Have you felt the cost of Christmas?
Remember. Those. Moments. 
Remember ~ He is with us.

In Him, Leslie 

The {Gift} of Time…

The sound of the clock ticking.

The sight of the clock moving. 
The swirl of thoughts worrying.
…about Time.
If time is your enemy, it will hurt like a bad break up.
Time moves on without asking.
Time gives no regard to your emotions, thoughts, opinions.
Time goes where it’s headed next, with or without, you.
Time functions outside of any ones control. 
You can follow time, but if time is your enemy, it will break your heart over and over again.
Time can be the enemy of our souls. 
Or…
Time can be a {gift} to be treasured, invested, and spent wisely.

Every person is given the gift of 24 hours a day… 
We can choose to {enjoy}, or loathe, the hours we are given.
Winter has settled upon Ohio… 
Snow has fallen ~ slowing everyone down, causing school delays, late to work statuses, and road closures.
In the middle of our winter snow and our holiday hustle and bustle, we have been forced to reckon with life slowing down and time speeding onward... moving ahead, time never looks back. 
Time lost is a reality, stranding some in a pattern of regret and pining. 
Time lost will never be regained. 
Use your {gift of time} beautifully, wisely, wholeheartedly
In winters past, I have struggled with the snow. 
Stranded in my own home, snow days meant I’d lost my freedom. 
I am grateful now to love the snow… to see its beauty, its wonder, its possibilities… 
I know how to use the snow shovel and get myself out of our long steep icy driveway…
I know how to appreciate the time at home, content with simply being at home...
This winter, we have enjoyed time together making memories going sledding.
This takes effort. 
Putting everything else pressing aside, for those precious moments with our kids… 
In the time we spend sledding, nothing else matters, only wholeheartedly enjoying our family time. 
We look not at our watches, phones or to do lists… 
As soon as the snow flakes begin to fall ~ 
We anticipate… the adventure of sledding… the hills, the thrills, the hikes up and down, our boots trekking thru the snow, the laughter, the fun.
We fly… down a simple hill… full of belly laughs, snow flakes in our faces, spins, twists, turns and twirls on a simple $10 sled. 
We breathe… inhaling the cold winter air… the space, the moments, the memories created. 
Time is to be stewarded and used wisely ~ housework, job work, school work beckon… but they will never end. 
Effort is necessary for anything we spend our gift of time on… 
This time spent enjoying each other is irreplaceable, the value is priceless, and worth every. single. minute. 
Time has to be received as the {gift} it is meant to be, or it will be taken for granted. 
***
How are you using your gift of time? 

Thank you for reading, sharing and following 🙂 In Him, Leslie