Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is what I love about Christmas.








Merry Christmas!

December 24 and some other days


I hate making hot cocoa for the kids even though they beg for it often.  I don’t know why, it isn’t very jolly of me.  It’s a mess and a pain.  The cups never come out of the dishwasher clean.  But we do live in Northern Minnesota where hot cocoa is very important.  So as a gift to my kids, I did it up big for Christmas break.


Because, really,  could my life be that much messier with a little hot chocolate?


A cup of hot cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles is a nice treat on a cold day.  And since when has it been about me anyway?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23

It’s almost Christmas.  I think today might be the longest day for kids.  Mine are excited and bored while I am trying to get a million things done.  It doesn’t make for the best combination.  We’ve got some fun surprises for the kids and family coming so tomorrow should be fun!

I’ve been so blessed by the comments and emails I’ve received from other people who are also looking for ways to serve others this Christmas.  Here’s another story I thought you might enjoy.  These are her words, I just took out the names.

There's this really dysfunctional family that lives fairly close to where I work.  We found out they both recently lost their jobs.  My bosses try to help them out when they have a need.

Last week their water froze and they just have a crawl space under the house.  My boss went over to check it out.  He was too big to fit under the space where the problem was.  So he came back and my other boss went over there.    He could fit and was able to check it out.  He came back to brainstorm about the situation. 

I went home, but I kept thinking how sad it was that they've had one thing after another to deal with.  So I made some chili, cornbread and Christmas cookies to bring over to that family.  My bosses were back over at their house in the process of fixing their leak. 

It was cool that almost all of us at work were helping that family and that it was for Jesus’ sake.  As I was bringing the meal I was thinking I should have picked up some milk.  Then I thought I had already done enough.  It kind of smacked me in the head that I can afford the milk and even if I couldn’t God is more than able to make it up to me.  So I stopped at the store and bought some milk.

It’s so amazing to see how God works in all of our hearts isn’t it?   Thanks so much for sharing that story C!  James 1:27 comes to mind.  It says,

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” 


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 22

tonight we ditched our Santa hats and turned into birthday elves

because our first born is about to turn twelve

Photo shoot with Kellers 005

the rolls are rising, the presents waiting on the shelf

streamers are hung and now I’m here by myself

sitting in front of the lights of the tree

reminiscing about twelve years ago, how could that be?

there is something special about your first born they say

but there is something special about each one’s birthday

even if we had been blessed with twenty-seven

there’d be something super great about number eleven

and number fourteen

and each one in between

so don’t think I’m showing favoritism here

it’s just that each birthday is so very dear

our first born came early into this world

and he was quickly followed by four little girls

I think God knew when he gave us our son

that we would need one laid-back, drama-free one

my first little baby is growing up

I fit in his shoes and with his appetite can’t keep up

it’s sad in a way to give up my small boy

who I sat and read to as we played with his toys

what I didn’t know is that as he grew

I would love him even more than I ever knew

He’s caring, understanding and willing

to help with cooking and babysitting and shoveling and mowing

but it’s more than just the things he can do

the amazing thing is the person he’s growing into



I always dreaded the baby years drawing to an end

but I’m not losing a baby, I'm growing a friend


Monday, December 20, 2010


MOPS recently posed an interesting question on their twitter account.  It wondered if being a mom has made you more or less resilient.  I thought about that a lot.  I’ve always considered myself to be so. 

However, the last few months, have been extremely frustrating for me; too much to do in too little time, not being able to do the things I need to and want to do because of lack of resources, and continually running behind on everything. Groceries, laundry, paperwork.

My “Do December Different” has kind of stalled out thanks to sickness.  I spent a bunch of days at urgent care or the doctor’s office with Maren and then Abby last week.  This week?  Stomach flu.  There is very little I loathe more than that but especially at Christmas.  It’s kind of hard to bake and shop when I’m cleaning out buckets. 

On top of that, I had to deal with my preteen girls this weekend.  I’m not really sure how girls learn so young to cause great hurt with their mouths.  It felt close to anarchy around here at some points and my head and heart hurts.  One of the few things that I really pour my heart and soul into is my parenting and when that falls apart, I feel like a failure. 

All of a sudden all I feel is overwhelmed, frustrated and bummed.  I  want to give up.  Or freak out.  Quite often it’s both.  What’s the point?  I try to do everything right and it seems like something always gets in the way.

This is where being resilient is so important because we all know that things aren’t going to go as planned in life.  Especially life with kids.  Here’s the meaning of resilient: recovering quickly: able to recover quickly from setbacks.  And elastic: able to spring back quickly into shape after being bent, stretched, or squashed.  (According to the Bing Dictionary)

It seems like the older I get, the less elastic I become unless you are talking about the waist in my favorite sweatpants.  But we absolutely have to be able to bounce back.  No matter what, we have to do what it takes to keep going and be there for our families. 

I think there are a few things that block resilience for me.

First is performance.  I get confused and think that my worth is wrapped up in what I do.  A “good” mom should… you fill in the blank:  have a clean house, make healthy home-cooked meals, stay-at-home.   I am  so busy with my packed schedule that if one little thing goes wrong everything falls apart.

Second is perfection.  I feel the need to do everything perfectly.  I am not satisfied in just putting peanut butter sandwiches on the table for supper.  And when I do, we have to feel guilty and rake myself over the coals for it.

The third I’m going to call prozac because I want everything to start with a “P”.  My emotions are raw.  I think that’s true for a lot of us.  We are driving ourselves too hard.  We’re exhausted.  Hurt.  Angry.  All these things that we have no time, energy or outlet to deal with.  What woman do you know that has the time to fall apart or process things?

I’ve been there.  There are days when dealing with my children makes me want to run away from home.  There are times when I wonder if I’m emotionally stable.  There are moments when I just want to throw in the towel.  But I don’t.  I can’t.

I want and need to be there for my family.  The key to true resiliency is in Christ.  He loves and accepts us with all our faults and inadequacies.  Through Him and His love and strength I can bounce back.  I can fall apart and pour it all out to Him.  That’s ok.  With His help I can  get back to it. 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

As I was laying on the couch with my sick daughters last night, they were chatting away betweens bouts.  I had been thinking about how horrible this was.  How I wasn’t getting “things” done.  How I just wanted to go to bed.  But there I was laying around in front of the Christmas tree with my girls chatting incessantly.  It was quiet.  We weren’t busy.  It was kind of nice (except for the flu part).

And I wondered why I care so much about things.  Why do I care if we have cereal for supper sometimes.  Or if I don’t execute all my little plans.  Or if the house is messy.  Or if we struggle through some rough waters.  Have you heard the old saying, life isn’t about what happens to you but how your respond? 

Even in the crushing blows of family drama, mouthy kids, nights of puking, and bad suppers we’ve got the power of Christ to help us snap back into shape.  We can go to Him with our hurt and disappointments, then get up and get on with it. 

Because my kids will not be well served with a mom that is crying in her closet or just a zombie going through the motions.  They need all of us.  Fully engaged.  Fully invested.  Fully in line with Christ and His gospel of grace in our lives. 

Maybe I can finish the elfing I wanted to do in January.  Because I think it’s probably okay to give even if it isn’t December.  And maybe sometimes eating sandwiches happily in front of a football game is more of a fun night with the family then being stressed over a really nice meal.  Maybe it’s rolling with the punches that makes us strong.  And maybe we perform well when we don’t let perfection drive us. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 4:6-7

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19


One of the best things about writing here is hearing people’s feedback.  I don’t even mind when people disagree with me.  When I get an email or a comment I feel less like I’m just over here talking to myself, which I actually don’t mind that much either. 

I got an email sharing some of the ways one family is serving this month.  It was such a blessing to me that I asked if I could share it.  What have they been doing?

Well, they  bagged up and gave away cookies from a cookie exchange; offered to watch a single mom's kids so she could Christmas shop - she was moved by the offer alone! 

And my favorite, they are going to a restaurant on Christmas eve and giving a random waitress their work Christmas bonus as a tip.  Isn’t that great!  I remember getting a $20 tip when I was waitressing and being ecstatic.  Can you imagine the blessing that will be!?

I really can’t think of a better way to spend the month or a more fun way to give.  Thanks, D, for sharing!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December 15


I was going to post my Do December Different picture every day in December.  I keep forgetting.  Tuesday and Wednesday were about babysitting.  I babysat on Tuesday for my three year old’s BFF Hope.  And her sister.  I had Bible study but it’s pretty low key so I thought they could play while we studied.  I forgot how busy a one year old is!  But it was fun to play with the girls and Bible study went on famously in my own kitchen without me. 

Wednesday after school we had some friends from church over to play so their Mom could work late, Christmas shop or whatever she needed to do after work.  We made gingerbread houses.  I never thought that 8 year old girls could make a bigger mess than preschoolers.




After the boys got back from a shoveling mission it was the older kids’ turn.  They had a strategy.




We had spaghetti from a can for supper, which is going to lead into my next post.  But right now I have to go do laundry. 

December 12

Sunday was the first day of family swim and I had hoped we could go as a gift to my kids for that day. We generally go every Sunday because I buy a pass and consequently become psycho about going so we don’t waste our money. But this Sunday we had a messy house, and an undecorated Christmas tree in the middle of the kitchen. So with our small group coming to our house that night I made the very grown up decision that we should stay home. I didn’t like it either because I love swimming!

We set up the tree and got out the ornaments.


It’s always really fun getting out the ornaments. The homemade ones.


Gifts from the kids.


Gifts from teachers.


The kids all found their special ones. Maren bemoaned the fact that she doesn’t have as many as the older kids. They kept reminding her that they “have lived longer” than she has.

I found one of my favorites. I got it from my prayer partner the year I was pregnant with Jenna (I think, yeah I’m pretty sure). It's a baby buggy. A photographer I am not.


And my new favorite. Sunday night a friend from small group popped this out of her purse for me. I love it because it means she thought of me and something special we share.


I’ve been accused of being a grinch on the gift giving. But it’s not that I don’t like gifts. I just hate the obligation. I love giving and getting gifts that are little signs that someone was thinking of me or loves me. And all the ornaments reminded me of that.

So this week I have picked up several little things to send out to some family members. They were cheap but they will bring a smile to their face. That’s what I love about gift giving; showing love. And spreading joy.

So that’s my elf act for this week, buying fun little gifts just because. Not because I drew their name, or because they bought for me, or because it’s Christmas. Just because they are loved.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 11

We didn’t get the snowstorm we were promised.  It slipped south of us.  So we also didn’t get to sleep in this morning.  It was basketball bright and early.  I just love going to cheer on the team even if I am loud and obnoxious.  My daughter still thinks it’s fun to hear us whoop it up when they score, for now.

After we got through the games and a practice we headed out on a very important mission.



We headed out into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree.  A few years back we started getting our trees from a wonderful couple from our church’s land.  They fed us cookies and hot chocolate.  A year and a half ago Betty passed away.  This year Mike had the idea of going out to get a tree and bringing dinner so we could eat with Clarence. 

They have a great sledding hill.  Well, it is great to kids who live on the flattest piece of land in the county.




In case you noticed, this is day three that Annie has had the “I took my pet to the vet” tattoo on her cheek.


Then our tour guide Joe arrived and we set out into the woods.  He never lets us take the first one.  There’s always a better one on the horizon. 


It wasn’t even (that) cold in the woods.


We saw a porcupine nestled up in a tree.  That made me pretty nervous.  Clarence told us a funny porcupine story at supper.  He can tell a story!


Then we found it.  There were no lights or angel choirs but we were getting tired.



Clark even remembered a saw.


We ate soup and bread and pie and had a lovely visit in a very warm house.  We thawed out, not we are just waiting for the tree to do the same. 

December 10

We babysat for a friend from church today.  She was going to a doctor’s appointment with her mom who just found out she is battling cancer.  I thought it would be fun to do a project.  My kids only had a half day of school that day.  I had read the idea to use your unwanted Halloween candy for gingerbread houses. We’ve got plenty of that.


I borrow this gingerbread house mold every year.  Maybe one day I should buy one.  I didn’t get the gingerbread made early enough so we used almond bark.  That’s right, a gingerbread house made out of pure candy.  We dyed it blue.



Pour it in the chilled mold and refrigerate.  Then pop the pieces out.


Get plenty of frosting ready.  Using the spritz gun worked really well.  But so did the baggie.


An architect or engineer I am not but we got it together.


Then it’s time for the kids to go to work.  I wish I could say they were responsible for the dilapidated roof but they aren’t.


The more frosting and candy the better.


It’s really fun to have the kinds of conversations kids have when they are busy working at a project. 


There are no rules against eating the candy.


Or looking like a construction worker with a jackhammer and cigarette.

If you have a masterpiece like this


and the kitchen looks like this


and the kids are covered in frosting, then it was a success.