Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not what you expected

Pain during the holidays. 

It's pretty common from what I've observed, these past forty years, though nobody would seek it out intentionally and add it onto their already over-filled life plates.  It's one of those things that can come in all kinds of forms and show up regularly like clock-work, or out of the blue in a way that takes your breath away.  It can come from relationships, plans turned sideways, jobs lost, finances in a tangle, or betrayals of many kinds.  It can come from expectations not met or no will to have expectations period, based on pains of the past.  It can hit you so hard that you sink into a depression, or make you want to run from all social obligations.  Pain during the holidays can load your shoulders down so that you can't focus on the Reason for the Season and you end up missing the entire point while you're left with your head down, sorting details "just to get through."  

I haven't gotten to Christmas yet but our small, extended family is dealing with the pain of Alzheimers.  It's hard to see that blinking at me, in black and white.  If I could, I would single-handedly banish it from the planet, I hate it SO MUCH.  I want my old daddy back and I don't want to see my mama hurting and being strong for all of us.  I want life to be what I expected it to be and go how I expected it to go... not this... this crappy new plan. The truth is, it's often... not what we expected. Pain comes in many shapes and sizes, and sadly, we can all relate. 

It's so easy to get caught up in life, thinking about what "we're going to do" and "where we're going to go" and then that awful driver, pain, slams his car into you from the side, or rear-ends you when you're not looking and suddenly you're hurting and dealing with the extensive damage. The other day, I heard a friend say, "I just want to get through the holidays already."  Pain was taking it's toll on her heart and the holidays ended up being the thing on the plate that was overwhelming her, when really, it was the pain itself that was causing her overwhelmed state of mind.

It made me pause and wonder.... what if... we're supposed to let pain push us toward God and into His arms during this chaotic season.  What if we actually did that?  What if we spent more time than normal talking to Him, thanking Him for all things good and bad, laying our troubles at His feet.  Would our holiday have peace, even in a sea of questions and "not what we expected's?"  If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt, right?  Press in.

The truth is this; God never wastes our pain- He promises that He doesn't.  He holds every tear, knows every hair on our heads and loves us unconditionally in spite of the pain we ourselves have caused!  He allows the hard stuff for His reasons, not because He is an awful God who loves it when we suffer. Especially at Christmastime.  We are always a part of His grand plan, a thread woven into a far bigger, more beautiful picture and the only part we can see are the tangles on the backside of the tapestry we're being worked into.  I said this on Instagram last night... "Staying soft takes work but it doesn't drain us the way bitterness does and in the end, it is always worth it!  I loved the verse Lamentations 3:22-24 in the Message version- "God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.  They're created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness!  I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."  

I don't know where you're at in life.  Maybe you're blissfully pain-free and all your details are lining up just how you expected them to.  But... if... just maybe, you're in the boat alongside me, and it's not what you expected, let's make a pact, you and I.  Let's press IN.  Let's press deeper than we ever have.  Let's lay it ALL down at His feet and let Him do as He wants with us and within us.  Someone hurt you?  Pray for God's blessing over their life right now.  Even if you have to grit your teeth to get the words out. Something went sideways on you? Thank God for it right now, even if your words don't match the feelings in your aching heart right this moment... ask Him to change the feelings.  He has always done that for me when I've asked... sometimes it's taken a little time, but He has always been faithful.

Let's press in to HIM, and away from the pain.  We've got this, because He's got us. 

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

A few holiday touches in our home

I so appreciated being able to blog my heart out in my previous post about finding peace within this often chaotic season.  I wanted to share a few photos of our home with you after the sharing of my heart.  Like I said, I have tried to make sure that Jesus is very present throughout our decor, so we remember to focus on Him all season long.  Mostly, I went a little buck wild with fresh greenery.  Trader Joe's supplied the majority of my treasures in tiny wreaths, cedar garlands and mistletoe.  I couldn't help myself.  I even went back for seconds on a few items! But truthfully, it's my favorite way to decorate.  I also raided my son's feather collection, used several of own art pieces, a few other precious art pieces, some magazine pages that I clipped and framed (hello gorgeous red barn from Country Living), and some special items from Ever Thine Home + signs from Between You and Me and House of Belonging.

Our house configuration changed since last Christmas (we moved the family desk into the dining room, and then we purchased a bookcase/tv unit from Ikea) which made it difficult to find a perfect place for our small faux tree.  Actually it made it impossible. In our small, open concept space, there was NO place for one.  So... we moved it into the master bedroom, and Ava decorated it with whatever she wanted, which cracked me up completely because she found some photo ornaments that I haven't seen for about a decade, along with some other items.  It makes me smile every time I'm in my room.  Then we bought a three foot fresh tree at the grocery store, and plunked it into a bucket on the side table.  Ava insisted on us using the vintage mercury glass ornaments that Adrain bought me for our anniversary last year for it and it is so sweet.  (I might show it later if the sun ever shines again and I can get a decent photograph.)

The little desk in the guest room, though tiny, was my primary wrapping spot.  I stocked all the drawers with lots of tape, tags, scissors, spools of ribbon and twine, stamps, pens and my address book.  (It's also my packing spot when my shop is open.) It's small but packs a punch when organized well and I love the quiet of that little corner.  Plus I can spread out on the guest bed when I need to and lay all the gifts and boxes there.  The advent bucket countdown calendar was made by me last year & you can see the DIY here.  The Fall on your knees sign was from Tiffini, the O come all ye faithful sign was from Tara.  The beautiful ribbon I wove around the cedar garland came from Ever Thine Home, here, as did the metal nativity. (found here.)

Okay friends, I think that's it for now... here are some of the holiday touches in our home.



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