Friday, December 12, 2014

Prepare

I have not done a FMF post in forever. I am not sure that I will even finish or post this one, but here goes.....

Every time before we go on a trip I make a list of things to pack. And before we leave the place we were visiting, I grab the list and make sure everything goes back home with us.

Often times I lay out clothes for the next day, or meal plan and I have three paper calendars. Three. One of which I print out for each member of the family and one for the kitchen. I even color code it.

I am all about the preparation of things.

But, some things you can not prepare for like when you are unexpectedly pregnant at 17, or your son runs away and becomes a drug addict or your daughter is pregnant at 15. Or your husband loses his job and you end up living with your parents for 7 years longer than you excepted.

Or you leave the church that has become family. You can not always prepare for those things.

But, God is never surprised. He is never unprepared for the circumstances that blind side me.

And He prepared a way for us to escape our final destination of eternal separation from Him. By sending a baby, born in a manger.

Am I prepared to celebrate Him? I seem to fall short in the preparation I should be taking for advent, making sure my heart is ready to receive the best gift I have ever been given. How about you? Are you prepared?    

Link up over at Five Minute Friday and then visit some of the other participating blogs. And leave a comment. It is always nice to know when someone stops by!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

For a Sleigh Ride*.......

I certainly feel like I have been on more of a roller coaster ride, than a sleigh ride this season. My emotions have been a mess. I am having trouble sleeping at night and all I want to do is sleep during the day. Thankfully, school/work during the week makes that a bit difficult. And this week has been full of activties for the kiddos - appointments, concerts, homework, make up work. 'Tis the season.

Thankfully, we have done most of our shopping online and have had it shipped to the store for pick up. I need to wrap some gifts and get them under the tree. Normally, by now, the cards are done and being mailed and most of the wrapping is done. But, this year, I just feel like I am going in slow motion.

But, God is still faithful and I have definitely felt His hand in many areas of our lives. Maybe not in the way I would like, but I can still see Him moving and know He is working. I have been reading through the Psalms in my nightly devotions. I was trying to do HelloMornings and it has not been happening this session. I can not get to bed before midnight, so getting up at 6 AM is not feasible. But, I found a list of Psalms in the back of my prayer journal, so I have been reading through them and journaling as I am reading. I have also been trying to count 1,000 joy moments this month. Some days my list is truly one of gratitude and other times it is just a list of all the foods I am thankful for, especially iced coffee. But, it helps me refocus unless I am being stubborn and just go to bed. I still end up whining praying before I fall asleep, but I am not sure that qualifies as quality quiet time. And Rick and I have been praying together every night which is good. Good for our marriage and good for my soul. Something about hearing him pray. I love the sound of his voice and hearing his petitions for our family.  

Last night after counseling as I was switching an appointment time, I noticed that they had a Christmas tree filled with ornaments. A sign was by the tree which said that the ornaments contained promises from God and to take one as a gift from the center. I took one and as I read the promise, I was immediately thankful for a Christian counseling center. It was 1 Peter 5:7. So perfect for me right now.

I am also participating in #fmfpartysnailmail right now and received my first card in the mail today. It was from a sweet girl in AL that added the verses from Ephesians about God's love. Verses I would pray for my son, Josh. The one in jail right now, needing to know and feel God's love. The one who was given new charges while he is in jail and most definitely will miss Christmas with his children and family again this year, unless God chooses to miraculously intervene. God's timing is always perfect.

I know that my depression affects my husband and my younger children at home as much if not more than it affects me. I am snippy and sullen, sluggish and forgetful. I even scared my husband this week and gave him the impression that I was not committed to our marriage, that it had gotten too hard and too much at a time when he is under the pressure of the ending semester, teaching without technology and curriculum that is so necessary and trying to keep our budget afloat during the holiday season. I could never imagine doing life without him, but had somehow communicated that maybe, I was done, with all of it, including our relationship even though that is furthest from the truth. Thankfully, he was honest and forgiving and we were able to recommit ourselves to each other and out family. Life is hard enough that I could never imagine doing it alone. He is my rock and I am so grateful. Just need to remember not to take him for granted.     

So, as much as I would like to wallow in my circumstances and turn my eyes away from the blessings in my family, I have been gently reminded this week, that life is a ride of sorts, of twists and turns, of hills and bumps and even at times tragedy, but that as long as I can refocus my mind, recommit my plan and lean into His arms, Abba Father will hold me steady and bring me joy.

*...together with you!
   

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Silence is Golden

Tonight I got into a text battle with one of my addicted son's "friends". Why I let myself get suckered in to having a fight with an immature idiot is beyond me. I felt validated in verbally blasting him and defending my husband and my family, but I know it was not in my natural character to do it. Or was it?

I try so hard for my Christlike character to be genuine and not a facade, but I think that many times it is a mask I hide behind, not a lifestyle I live. Jesus said out of the mouth, the heart speaks and I apparently have much hatred for this young man and his lies and horrible influence on my son. 

I held nothing back as we verbally assaulted each other and then I promptly blocked him.

Sigh. Thank God for His forgiveness and grace.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Addictions

Having a son with addictions is hard. It is hard enough to watch a child be sick or hurt when there is nothing they have done to cause the sickness or hurting. But, when someone chooses to make themselves sick or is hurting due to the choices they have made, it does not make it any easier to see them suffer. I have a cousin with two physically disabled children who judges my son and my husband and I very harshly because of the life he chooses to live. She has said many times that her children suffer unnecessarily, while my son chooses to suffer and inflict pain on himself and the family. And while that is true, it does not make it any easier to have a son that is an addict.

This was the first Thanksgiving in four years that he was able to be with his children and he spent most of the day in a medicinal hangover because he is on medication to help him with his heroin addiction. The medicine causes him to fall asleep suddenly and be in a hangover like state most of the time, which hindered him from really being able to enjoy his time with the children. His four year old son said he was worried about his Daddy, while my son laid on the kitchen floor after he suddenly fell asleep while getting dessert for him. It broke my heart for my grandson to see his father like that.

And then last night when the police came to our house for an incident unrelated to my son, but asked to speak to him and later cuffed him and took him away because of a warrant, my heart again ached for my grandchildren, who thankfully did not see anything, but were totally unaware that he had left because he has done it so often during their recent visits.

Now, during a time when he should be planning his next visit with them and shopping for their Christmas gifts, he sits in a prison cell for an undetermined amount of time for a very serious crime. I am very unsure of his guilt or innocence, but am sure that he will be missing yet another Christmas with his children when he should have been celebrating his recovery and freedom.  

And at a time when I want to be celebrating the season with my younger children and husband, I find myself grieving for my son's lost life and yet another holiday we will celebrate without him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like.....

Since Rick and I have been married we have always put up our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. Normally, we decorate on the weekend following the November holiday. I have always liked waiting until after Thanksgiving, feeling like each holiday deserved its own special attention. I hate that stores start decorating and commercials for Christmas start running right after Halloween. So, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving we'd trim the tree and hang the stockings.

But, once the grandkiddos started arriving it became a bit stressful to host 2nd Thanksgiving and try to decorate all in one weekend. We normally go to my sister's for Thanksgiving Day, so we have a second Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday to be able to spend the holiday with Kaysen and Kiyah since they are with their Momma's family on Thursday.

Noah wanted to start listening to Christmas music as soon as Halloween was over in October. He couldn't wait until Hallmark Channel started running their Christmas movies and he was not sure why we had to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the tree. I tried to explain to him that we always wait until after Thanksgiving to start any sort of Christmas festivities. He didn't really see my reasoning, so I obliged as far as the movies went, but insisted we wait to decorate.

We had plans to visit Devin in PA today for pre-Thanksgiving dinner, but some surprise snow changed that for us. So, today became the perfect day to trim the tree and decorate the rest of the house.

I am actually gald we did it today because now there will be no rushing this weekend. We can enjoy dinner and time with the grandkiddos.

And we are watching Elf while packing and cooking in preparation for tomorrow.

Traditions can always change.    

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Desires of My Heart

When Rick and I got married we had two cars that fit our new family of five, but if we added to our brood or if our kiddos grew (ha, ha), we would need more room. So, we went out and purchased a van that allowed our kiddos to spread out, us to add to our crew and me to haul around my day care kiddos for a few years before Noah arrived. It was the perfect van for us and served us well for 12 years.

As the time to look for a new vehicle grew closer, I really felt like a Honda Pilot was the way to go for our family. I wanted to get away from a mini van, but have a third row option for when we had the grandkiddos. My sisters both have Pilots, so I was pretty set on finding one and making it work for our family. Although, in the back of my mind, in the secret places of my heart, I really wanted a Chevy Traverse. Friends of ours had purchased one a few years earlier and I loved the look of it, the third row option and I just wanted one. But, I figured we could never afford one, so a Honda Pilot it was!

Rick decided that January 2014 was the perfect time for us to purchase a 'new to us' vehicle, so the search started on MLK's birthday while we had the day off from school/work. Some dealerships were having a few deals and we had a trade in and nice down payment, so off we went. We looked at several vehicles, including a Honda Pilot, but got settled on an MDX. Unfortunately, the financing was not working out, so we had to start the search all over near the end of the business day and with the possibility of a significant snow storm looming.

We ended up at a dealership that had a Town and County minivan that was exactly like the one we borrowed from friends' for our 2009 trip to TX. It had a lot more bells and whistles and was in our price range.   

But, when I drove it, it felt weird. I couldn't quite explain it, but it was not the car I thought our family needed.

Then the salesman told us a Chevy Traverse had just been brought in and had not even been processed yet, but we could test drive it and if we felt like it would work for us, he would make it happen.

As soon as I drove the car, I knew it was what we needed and what we wanted. I loved everything about it, even though it is not brand new, nor full of extras (I really wanted heated leather seats), but it is perfect for us.

And this week, as I contemplated how very differently my life has turned out since marrying Rick and blending our families, I was reminded that God does know and remembers our secret heart's desires, even in something so trivial as a car.

And I know that those other desires He planted will bloom when He determines that it is time and I am ready.

God is so BIG even in the little details of our lives. So in awe of that today.   

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Year Later

Life as a middle schooler is hard. Sixth grade is a shock to the girl who was a big fish in a small pond, popular with the students she has been friends with since kindergarten. Especially, for someone who is starting at a new school where she only knows those she met during the summer bridge program. Add in having to open her locker with a combination lock and ride a bus to and from school for first time ever and her mind will be blown and it will take a while to adjust and actually like school again.

But, then let her and her best friend of 6 years have a knockdown drag out fight that lasts a few months and makes an everlasting break in her heart and middle school becomes unbearable. She struggles to be happy and to even smile.

She learned to lean on new friends who suddenly understood her more than anyone ever had because now they were all dealing with growing pains and lost relationships and middle school woes. She grew and she changed and she blossomed. Ever though, it was hard and heartbreaking, she did not let it completely break her.

She misses her best friend and the relationship they had, but has realized that people change and life is hard, but she can be joyful and smile again.

And she has.

She has started to sing and laugh and be social again. Going to birthday parties, hanging out at the mail and having sleepovers and inviting friends over to our house.

It does this Momma's heart good to see her daughter, who is quickly becoming a young woman, to surround herself with friends that she will probably have for a lifetime.