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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96 hours

Last week I was sick with strep throat. It slammed into me out of nowhere. Two weeks prior, the kids were each sick. One after the other. I guess I caught it from the kids – could be a long shot… but probably not. Anyhoo. I was super sick. For 96 hours.

We had been traveling nearly non-stop for 4 weeks, when the kids began getting sick. On our last day, Selah (our 5yo) woke up sick and threw up 5 times throughout the day of travel back home. She slept in and out of cars, planes and shuttles. It was hard… but every time she felt a little energy she sang, “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here…”

For 96 hours, this strep throat kicked my butt. I unable to be of any assistance to anyone. My family, my friends, all of society. It sucked. For 96 hours I was basically useless. The kids were worried about me. They would check on me every so often and Selah would sing “Holy Spirit…” over me. I told the kids not to come too close to me. I did not want to pass anything back to them. For 96 hours, I did not hug my kids… but they would blow me sweet kisses from a distance.

For 96 hours I slept thru the day and night. I did not shower. And wow – I stunk. I am grateful for showers. And soap. I did not eat anything except a few crackers and sips of water. I did not leave the house, except for a visit to the Doctor. The kids fended for themselves. They made their own food and their sticky little fingers left jelly, peanut butter and humus on the drawers and counters and they left their dishes in the sink. They tried to be helpful, but I am a control freak about the kitchen. Eventually, the army of ants we had been trying to rid the kitchen of, took over again temporarily.

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The kids played well together and worked hard to get along and entertain themselves. When I finally emerged from the bedroom after 96 hours, the house was a disaster with their toys everywhere. But they did a great job cleaning up! For 96 hours, Adam avoided me. He had much more to do without my help around the house… and keep working his job… and he did not want to chance getting sick!

We were all extra anxious about my being sick because it was intense for those 96 hours. I was worried the kids would catch something again. Or Adam would get strep throat, and our 18th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii was upcoming!

Thankfully, I recovered. The meds and prayers kicked in and after 96 hours, I was back to normal. Which is unusual, because I’m an unusual person. But I was back to my normal, unusual self 🙂 Just in time for Hawaii… whew. We had a few days to spend family time together and prep for our trip. Monday morning came and the Grandparents were getting settled in to our house to stay with the kids for the week. We were almost out the door to leave for the airport when… Salem threw up.

NOOO!!!!

Confident in the Grandparents ability to bravely handle whatever came their way this week, we loved on Salem and made sure he was okay before we set out for our trip. He was fine with us leaving, and slept off and on thru the day. We checked in when we could as we traveled, and he was fine by the evening. The next day he had an infected splinter in his foot and Dr. Grandpa took good care of him. Soon, all was well and the kids had a great time with their Grandparents, while we spent 96 hours in Hawaii.

After 96 hours of sickness ended my heart was incredibly grateful. It could have been much worse. There is always so much to be thankful for, regardless of our circumstances. The 96 hours we had in Hawaii together were phenomenal. We celebrated 18 years of marriage and family. We started missing the kids and wishing they were with us after 48 hours! More on our adventures in Hawaii later… Now our hearts are full and we are grateful to be home with our family again. In Him, Leslie

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embrace the suckiness

Sometimes life can really suck. And there are levels of suckiness. And we all have varying levels of tolerance for the suckiness that enters our lives.

Embrace the suckiness.

This is an anonymous quote (by one our friends).  Sometimes life sucks for a day or two, or a week, or a month or even years… but there are ways we can embrace it.  And grow from it.

Now we are going to explore 3 levels of suckiness and how to embrace them.

Level 1. an Annoyance.  You have a Ginormous zit on your eyebrow line (at least that’s what I’ve got going on the last few days) or it’s cloudy outside and you’re a sunshine kind of gal (or guy) or you had a terrible day at work/school… or your $4 mocha was accidentally thrown away.

Embracing Level 1. Cover up your zit with tons of make-up.  Or let it shine.  Deal with the clouds. Or don’t live in central Ohio.  Get over the bad day, tomorrow will be better.  Buy another mocha.

Level 2.  A strain.  A health strain.  Your kids are sick, up all night puking, so you are cranky b/c you didn’t get any sleep.  Or you are sick and need to work.  Or you AND your kids are sick (this is a level 2.5)  Or there is a strain on your marriage or a friendship.  Or you are having difficulty with your job.  Or a financial strain.

Embracing Level 2.  This can be tricky – one of my examples below.

Level 3.  A loss.  Personally.  Financially.  Relationally.  A loss of trust.  Or loss of a loved one.

Embracing Level 3.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5  This is difficult, and is not always easy to do.  Trust in the Lord gives way to surrender and produces an attitude of thankfulness, which leads to an unexplainable peace and joy, despite circumstances.

Then there are those days I just forget the make-up, pull my hair back, put on my stretchy pants and consume large amounts of coffee to get thru and embrace the suckiness.

Today was one of those days.  It was a level 2.  Selah was up all night puking.  Which meant I was up all night cleaning.  She puked every hour.  I slept a little on the floor at the end of her bed in btwn cleanings.  As I laid on the floor, I kept thinking of funny sayings in the book “Stuff Christians Like” by Jonathan Acuff (a must read btw).  I was embracing the suckiness with laughter.  When I was washing the 6 extra loads of puke laundry, I embraced the suckiness, thankful for our washing machine.  Selah slept most of the day.  She had a fever and was worn out from being up all night.  I was thankful for the extra time I had to cuddle with her, and hold her close.

                                                         Then she woke up and had a little bit of water.  And went back to sleep on the floor.  Her brother and sister played around her as she laid in the middle of the living room.  I was thankful she was able to rest, even with her sibs running in circles around her.

                                                                                               Later she moved into the kitchen and had a few bites of cracker.  I was cooking dinner by this time.  She laid down on the kitchen floor to be near me.  I was thankful to be near her.

This morning, she had her 2-year-old check up previously scheduled – coincidence – so we went to see the Dr.  From the moment we entered the office, she was crying the entire time, “I want daaaaadddddyyyyyy!” and raising the suckiness to a level 2.3.  Then I started crying in the Pediatric lobby while the receptionist stared at me from behind the glass with sympathy… or disgust, I couldn’t tell as tears welled up in my own eyes.  Eventually I embraced the suckiness, thankful that Selah wasn’t throwing up anymore…

After we got back home, I let her have some milk.  Bad idea.  How can I deny my baby milk?  A few minutes later, the chunks started flying again.  Salem comments, “It looks like shaving cream!”  Great observation.  I was thinking cottage cheese.  He’s a bright boy.  Meanwhile, Soleil turns queezy and hides to avoid all physical and visual contact.

Thankfully, today I wasn’t sick.  I’ve been there, done that.  Those days when momma PLUS kids are sick, I try to embrace that suckiness level 2.5.  Being sick and taking care of my wee Babs is difficult really sucks.  But I can embrace it…eventually.  If I’m sick, I’m thinking Yes!  I’m gonna lose a quick 5 lbs!  and sure it will come back, but for a few days I get to enjoy being 5 lbs lighter.

We’ve had many opportunities to embrace the suckiness.  On all levels.  Annoyances, Strains and Losses.  Of friendships.  Being a laid off of work.  A miscarriage.  And in time I will share those stories and how we embraced them.  And how we have grown.

How will you embrace the suckiness?