The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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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 

The Grinch in the Target parking lot

Today I went to Target. 

It was my *one* outing for the day…
So it was A. Big. Deal.
I got all dressed up in same the outfit I wear most winter days.
I even put on mascara (not while driving tho, as I am sometimes often guilty of doing in slow traffic, at red lights, etc… hey, don’t judge me)… but rather, in the Target parking lot. Yes. even better.
Selah was “relaxing” the minute we made it to the coffee shop drive thru.
“Mommy, I’m just gonna relax for a minute…”

Since she was out like a light, I had a few moments of alone time, sipping my coffee, in my cold van, in the Target parking lot. I know, I know, you *wish* you had my life!

But before I parked, I observed the Grinch… 
It had snowed all morning, and Target was bustling with busy holiday shoppers, so the parking lot was a picture of patience and parking lot etiquette by most of the drivers. That is, except one. 

I drove down the line of cars, , ready to pounce on the perfect parking spot up front. I waited calmly as a big truck in front of me backed into his spot and BAM! The spot closest to the entrance, next to the big truck, opened up. I know, I know you *wish* you had my luck!

Still waiting on the big truck (which took several tries to back into his spot), the Grinch slowly pulled up behind me and BAM! She squeezed past me, and went around my car, nearly hitting the front of the big truck still backing in and cutting off another customer leaving Target walking to her car, nearly hitting her, while weaving around other customers, to the handicap parking spot she had her eye on.

As I pull into my awesome best spot ever, I glance at the big truck driver and we both shrug our shoulders agreeing the Grinch lady was nuts, and I exhale, relieved he didn’t take any longer to back into his spot… poor thing, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but it took him quite a while. He was simply trying to land a best parking spot ever too.

Then I met eyes with the woman who had just had her toes almost driven over. I rolled down my window and asked if she was okay. Thankfully she was. We both shook our heads in disbelief that someone (not naming any names – Grinch) could be so ignorant of others…

I sat there in my parked van, shaking my head, waiting for the Grinch to make her next move. In those few moments, my mind raced at her rudeness. Her ignorance. Her neglect. I had to hold my tongue resisting the urge to yell at her. Immediately, I was convicted. How many times have I been so selfish? In a hurry, rushing past anyone in path, blinded to those in need.

The Grinch made her next move. Her car had a handicap sticker, but she walked quickly and spat on the ground with no regard, as she bolted toward the Target entrance.

My heart began to judge again. I didn’t know her story, but I was observing so much about her…
I was torn between wanting to talk with her, ask her why the hurry, yet frustrated with her actions.
And her actions never affected me, directly.


Even in the Target parking lot. We all deserve respect. We all deserve the best spot ever. 

Humans are strange creatures. We can become even stranger around the holidays. Sometimes even turning into the Grinch… selfish and joyless. 

Christmas time can be all about the gifts we receive…
We do need gifts. 
We need the gifts God wants to give us ~ the fruits of His Spirit ~ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… {Galatians 5:22-23}

The fruits of the Spirit are a gift from God and for God’s glory.
They shift our focus toward God and the needs of others.

What are you asking for this Christmas? 
I’m asking for more of God’s Gifts ~ the fruits of His Spirit.
And if I run into another Grinch this Christmas season, I hope and pray I can share these gifts with them.

*Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share, comment on, and follow the blog 🙂 In Him, Leslie