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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We need self-control even MORE than gun control {and no offense, Mr President, our Prayers ARE Enough}

For the moments when this world seems upside down…

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to...

I have no experience with guns. I have never owned, used or even held a gun. I know very little about ‘gun control’… however I DO know those two words evoke a range of emotions from a range of people. This is not a debate on the pros and cons of gun control but rather a call for self-control.

I have a quick temper. I have wounded many people with my anger in the course of my 38 years, navigating thru this life. I, along with every other human, need self-control. I have clenched my jaw in frustration, raised my fists to bang on doors, cracked a car windshield with my feet, thrown my shoes at the walls, and slung my words in rage. I, along with every other human being on this earth, need Jesus.

We are all vulnerable and fragile people, in need of a Savior. We are crying out for salvation and yet… in the same moment, we are blind to recognize and acknowledge the gaping soul wounds we carry, which only He can mend. The reality of worlds brokenness is glaring at us. We do not have to look far to see the hopelessness and desperation our world operates in. We are scrambling to ‘get it together’… We are scrambling, grasping for control.

The tragedies we are facing daily in our nation are not rooted in gun control, but rather self-control. And with all due respect to President Obama, our PRAYERS ARE ENOUGH

Self control is rarely exalted. But losing control is. Let’s change this! Do we want to see things change? Or do we want to continue bemoaning the same issues with the focus constantly on ourselves? Adults — We need to get over ourselves! The world is not going to change with lawmakers and political discussions, throwing fits about who is right and wrong. The world is going to change with our KIDS. We need to PRAY over our kids!

I have the privilege of working with 200 elementary students, teaching Art and watching over them when they are at recess, in their classrooms and in the cafeteria. Part of my job is having eyes to see when issues arise with the kids, and address those issues before they grow into bigger issues. I support the teachers and help teach the students navigate their own self-control. I help them recognize the responsibility they have for their own choices, actions and emotions as they go thru their days, as they study and work in class, listen to their teachers, eat their lunches and play during recess. Kids have a lot to sort thru as they go about their days. They experience stress as much as adults do. Never cease in PRAYING for our kids. 

My heart along with many others breaks for the senseless tragedy at Umpqua Community College this week. We must honestly ask ourselves – Are we numb? Do we believe our prayers are enough? This is not just another mass shooting. We honor the 9 lives lost too soon. This is another moment in our lifetime to grieve, mourn and cry out on behalf of our nation, our world. To cry out and pray against future mass shootings. To pray for those contemplating using violence in any form to hurt the innocent. To pray for the souls of those who lack self-control and whose actions impact our nation with senseless shootings. To pray, pray, pray and PRAY some more. How are we responding?

If we merely see the surface of this and so many tragedies, we will only see the cracks caused by brokenness. But if you look further… you will see beyond the hopelessness and desperation. You will see beyond the rage of a gunman and see God working thru this tragedy. You will see people rise up in prayer and surrender to Jesus. You will see we have a choice. We can operate from a place of peace and self-control.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of he Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.” We are human, we are people born into sin, and we need to learn self-control. We need to PRAY for the fruits of the Spirit to invade our individual lives, and our world. We cry out for YOU, King Jesus, our Savior who is King of all the earth and King of self-control. Show us what it means to operate in the Fruits of Your Spirit, rather than our human sinful nature and terrible tendencies.

If you are a follower of Christ, this is not a time in our nations history to continue the ongoing political debates about gun control and what suit looks best on President Obama. This is a time to pour into prayer for change. To lift our voices for the next generation… for them to walk and RUN thru this earth, bearing every fruit of the Spirit!

It is time for more prayer and self-control. Thank you for reading, sharing and responding!

In Him, Leslie

screaming on the way to church

screaming on the way to church is perfectly acceptable.

this is me — screaming on the way to church. i reenacted it for you to capture this lovely image… you get the picture. (photo cred: my hubby 😉 )

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i woke up to a beautiful day. had some coffee. had some eggs. had plenty of time to get myself ready….. and as i was heading out the door to leave for church, i became super agitated and angry. i was running a few minutes late, which is not unusual always for me. but… this was not about me running late. this was not about me being on my period. this was not about anything anyone did that pissed me off. the frustration that came over me was sudden and ugly. i didn’t want help loading my guitar. i didn’t want to hug my kids good-bye. i didn’t want to kiss Adam good-bye. i wanted to scream. 

i rushed out of our driveway. gave a fake smile and fake wave to our next door neighbor — during our ‘love your neighbor’ sermon series, nonetheless. and screamed on the way to church.

as i was driving (and screaming), i was battling. i was battling lies infiltrating my thoughts telling me i’m a terrible mother for leaving the house in a huff and not hugging the kids good-bye. i’m a terrible wife for not kissing adam good-bye. i’m too angry to lead worship today. i’m too angry to be in church leadership. i’m too angry to even be a Christian.

Oh. WHAT. THE. HELL?!? these thoughts lies were from the pit of hell. from the father of all lies — satan himself.

on the way to church my mind was a battle field. i was pushing into enemy territory. i was on my way to lead worship — to lift up the name of Jesus above all other names,  proclaim Him as the Son of God and sing of His glory and Lordship over all the earth!

before long, the screams flowed into prayers. the lies ceased and Truth pierced thru — taking my thoughts captive.

every time we worship, we are engaging in spiritual warfare. we are participating in an unseen battle and we need real protection. we need the armor of God. i don’t recommend screaming every Sunday on the way to church, but there will be times to use your tongue as a spiritual defense weapon.

as i screamed on the way to church, warfare was waged. my tongue was on fire and it wasn’t pretty — battle never is. it is messy when we follow Jesus. my worship on Sunday was an overflow of the battle i had just been part of. my worship became warfare and celebration simultaneously, as the light of Jesus broke thru the darkness and the Kingdom of God advanced.

Have you ever experienced hearing and believing the lies of the enemy? How has your thought life been affected? How has your worship been affected? Please share – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In Him, Leslie

Yesterday, I lost my mind

Yesterday was one of those days… You know the ones.  Where your 2-year-old wakes you up at waaaaaay too early o’clock in the morning, screaming, “Ake up Mommy,  AKE UP!” while pulling on your covers. One of my biggest pet peeves is when anyone pulls my covers off of me.  That’s my job.  I don’t need any help with my covers.  Before I could even say, “it’s too early, go back to your bed”, I had a headache to kick off the day.

I was emotionally, mentally and physically drained before I even got out of bed.

I had hit my boiling point.  Frustrations had piled up and were weighing heavily on my shoulders.  My 2-year-old screaming was the thing that sent me over the edge.  You know those things.  The piled up frustrations/worries/fears/anxieties that you hold in/push down/shove under the rug… until something small morphs into something big.  Something simple, that you could normally handle as “no problem”, becomes the biggest deal on the face of the planet…and you lose your mind.

As custom with my emotional roller coaster days, the rest of the day followed suite.  I took out my frustrations on the wee Babs, P.A., the dishes, the dirty laundry, the dinner…. and myself.

I lost my mind.

I ran out of Grace.

Eventually, I put myself to bed.  at 8pm.

But before I gave myself a time out – the dishes, dirty laundry, dinner, P.A. and the wee Bab’s were the brunt of my lack of grace.

I had ZERO patience for P.A. and the wee Babs.  I cleaned the dishes with contempt.  I threw the dirty laundry around.  I wrestled with dinner until… I won.

All of this while I was feeling guilty, and growing more and more angry with myself.

I didn’t really win anything.  I hated the way I was treating my fam, the chores, and the feelings I had toward myself.  But I couldn’t stop the emotional roller coaster of ugly events.

I had lost all sense of reasonableness… and run out of Grace.  

After reflecting, forgiving myself, and asking forgiveness from my family, I could see I needed a break for myself.  Not just a “I need to get away from my kids/out of the house for a few hours” break, but Grace.  I needed Grace… for myself.  2 Corinthians 12:9.

Grace is a Gift from God.

There is no way to manufacture it, conjure it up, or create it within ourselves.  It can only be received from God.  If we don’t accept His Grace for ourselves, we can’t extend it to others.  Only the Grace He gives can overflow from our own hearts, and then be extended to others.

God’s Grace is His patience with us. His forgiveness toward us. His unending love for us.

I am thankful for God’s Gift of Grace, and for those moments when He reminds me how much I need His Grace.  For Myself.  And for others… including my dishes, dirty laundry and dinner.  Amen.

How are you experiencing God’s Grace in your own life?