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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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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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. <no, you have to finish first grade, first :)>. 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

***I recently posted this on my blog http://www.halfwrittenrecords.com The kids have had several more snow days  & school delays since writing this. My *wish* has come true again… and again!