O Holy Night

I don’t completely trust this ladder.

This is my second attempt at flocking our tree. The Frazier is sitting in our carport. I tried earlier today, but as I sifted the fake snow, it floated away on the wind. It was actually beautiful in the sunlight with the occasional sparkle catching the sun. I abandoned my efforts for more productive activities of blowing bubbles and playing ball with my young son. The task at hand kept pulling at me, however. So tonight l am standing in the carport (much colder now) and trying to complete what I started.

Speechless

The sounds I hear are few. My little boy laughs out loud at a Christmas movie. Nat King Cole is crooning “O, Holy Night” on my phone that is perched on the ladder. Oh, I also hear an owl. I put down the flocking and shake out my wet hands. Goodness, they are almost numb. Stepping out of the carport, I can hear the nocturnal bird again. I spot some stars and what I believe to be Venus in an almost endless, velvet night sky. Goodness, I am cold. Time to finish this tree.

The Frazier is unique as all trees are. Imperfect, but as the Creator made it to be. Just as we are. A professional could do a lot better work flocking this tree, but I am happy to be serenaded by Mr. Cole and the occasional hoot owl. God is all around in the stars, the cold air, the sounds of the night. And it is Holy.

O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song. When the busy season becomes too much, this hymn quiets my soul…

Image: Google

Details

Spice drop tree

The first Christmas decoration we got out today was the spice drop tree. Good luck finding spice drops. My daughter found them at Dollar General. They literally have everything. Great store. My mom used to do this same tree with my older two kids. Now we continue the tradition with our youngest. He was very particular about where each color went. Details are important, right?

The next trip to my attic was for the Little People Nativity belonging to my youngest. I also retrieved the wise men from my own Nativity. I used to exclude them because they were not actually with the shepherds when Christ was born. But I am overlooking that detail and including them this year. Why? I guess it has been a challenging year and sometimes details can be overlooked intentionally.

I was not going to put out my extensive collection of loud (by loud, I mean BRIGHT and maybe gaudy) snowmen. Everyone seems to have more traditional collections of Santas and nutcrackers. But these snowmen are fun and happy and add a lighthearted atmosphere to Christmas. I do have two special Santas from my Grandmama. They go in a special place in my living room. I will put the snowmen in the kitchen with some fake snow. I forgot that I am out of fake snow. Maybe Dollar General will have some… I mean, details are important, are they not?♥️

A Santa from my Grandmama

Christmas

A gift from a friend

There is a sweet, tiny Nativity that I keep on my kitchen windowsill. It stays there all year long. The reason I put it there is because the kitchen is my first stop after getting out of bed every morning. I can look at it as my coffee is brewing. Honestly, it helps me on many mornings when my attitude is less than positive or when I am going through a hard time. I can clean the kitchen and it serves as a reminder that Jesus is always near.

As a fairly pragmatic person, I have never been one to put up Christmas decorations early and I do not watch Hallmark Christmas movies. Oh, I have tried! And I absolutely understand the concept behind these movies. There is always a happy ending and sometimes we need an escape from the otherwise stressful realities of life. If I am truthful, I have to admit that I may have chuckled a time or two when people talk about decorating early or watching these movies. But this year is different.

Riding down Market Street in Pascagoula a week ago, I found myself looking at signs of Christmas everywhere. Never mind that the weather was unseasonably warm. Someone outside Nelson’s Outdoors was hanging Christmas lights. Out of the corner of my eye I spied the glimmer of Christmas mesh adorning the front door of The Menagerie. And on Ingalls Avenue, the tell-tell sign that the Christmas tree lot was about to open were the white string lights hanging in the front of the lot. We had not even eaten turkey, and all signs pointed to Christmas.

When I think about all the early signs of Christmas, I usually get a little jaded. I am personally guilty of stressing and making it less about the birth of the Savior than all the trappings that go along with it. But this year I am trying instead to view these signs as a reminder that Jesus is always near. Christmas is not just a day. Christmas is an attitude. A reason to celebrate…all year long.

Signs

God is never silent. For some reason, I either catch a beautiful sunset or rainbow when I’m struggling.

I do not believe in signs from God. Well… let me be more specific. I specifically do not believe in asking God to show signs. God is loud in His own way…in my child’s laugh, the sound of the rain, my older two children talking when my son is home from college, a song at church that moves my soul… He has His own way of showing up.

God is visible. He is visible in the sunset, the promise in a rainbow, a foggy cow field, the photos of my family on my phone, a sunrise, flowers, and butterflies.

At my son’s preschool before I head into work. This view reminds me to not be anxious about my day, but that God is in control.

He is tangible. God is tangible in the tears we sometimes cry, the helping hand from a friend, intercession by prayer warriors, and many more ways to count.

God is love. He is who he says He is. His Word is true. That is more than any sign I will ever need.

I like to think of sun rays as God touching the Earth.

Rocking Chairs

In the corner of the den sits a rocking chair. Seemingly out of place, it’s original home was in my little boy’s room. It is the place I sang “Over the Rainbow” as I had sung it when he was in utero. This rocking chair saw many first stories, the “boon”(moon) out the window as my little baby called it, and too many snuggles to count.

But now he is too big to sit with me in it. So I held him on his bed tonight and rocked him close to me. He was “trying” me earlier, and we both needed a hug. He melted into me the same, but just a little heavier and with twice the curls as he had in the rocking chair which seemed just like yesterday.

Image: Google

There is a rocking chair in the corner of the attic, its reeded seat falling in from rocking two other babies so many years ago. My oldest with the colic and soft, fuzzy head against my neck… we spent many an hour there. He is a future accountant playing college baseball. I have to swallow hard as I write that. My pretty baby girl who would rock if there was a book to be read, resting her olive cheek on me. She is a senior dreaming of college days ahead.

These rocking chairs seem to mock me, reminding me that the years never stop. Sometimes they are more gentle and make me smile at memories that seem fuzzy at times, and at others, could easily be just yesterday. Should be yesterday. The years went by so fast…. I wish I would have slowed down more. The quiet part of the evening is the loudest in my memories and I can almost hear the creak of the rocking chairs as I rock my little ones to sleep.

Lanes

This is the type of lane I prefer…

“Awesome.” I think to myself. “That looks really fun.” I feel a catch in my throat as I look at the pictures of several women having fun on a beach trip. I am a little surprised and disappointed in myself. Here I am a capable, professional, grown woman. I feel as though I should be past all the social inferences… but, obviously, I still have some work to do. These women are not mean people. They are professionals, moms, wives…and have found good company with each other. I can neither fault them or be upset at them for that. As a wise man once said (my dad, more specifically), “It is what it is.”

It is my humble opinion that God places certain people in our lives at certain times for a specific purpose. Some people are there a short time and some are there for the long haul. There are just some groups of which we are not meant to be a part…. and I refer to this as “staying in our lanes.” This is so much harder in reality. Social media is a place where we shine our brightest and where others’ lives seem to shine even more brightly than our own.

Another way we tend to get out of our lanes is by comparing our lives to others’. There is a beautiful lady I know. She is always put together and her hair is never out of place. I am pretty sure she has a never-ending wardrobe. I have yet to see her get her feathers ruffled. Beautiful, put together, calm… all the things I aspire to be but fall short of so many times…it is hard not for me to compare my own shortcomings to her seemingly successful life. But God did not give me her life. And when I question my OWN worth, I am, once again, not staying in MY lane.

When we focus on being better, doing better, learning new things… and putting ourselves out there, the right people will see that. Be the best version of who God made you to be. Enjoy the ride and stay in your lane.

He Sees

Image: Google

This morning I woke up and could just tell. Aside from the migraine, there was just an undercurrent of an unsettling feeling. You know what I mean…you just know that it is going that be one of “those” days. And I know in a cerebral sense that we can decide to have a good day, but I also know that “stuffing”emotions is not a healthy practice, either. Instead of sunshine and rainbows (and a somewhat clean house), you wake up to a messy kitchen, piles of laundry, and overcast skies… both literally and figuratively.

Have you ever taken a walk outside when the weather is a pleasant temperature and the beeeze is blowing? Through some weird turn of events, this seems to also line up with my family meeting my expectations, bills being promptly paid with money left in the account, and the house looking picked up (with my favorite candle going). All seems right with the world, and I whisper a prayer of gratitude. It is in these moments that I feel God’s presence. See, a clean house, completed checklist in my planner, and good weather give me a false sense of control. Notice I said “false.” We are never really in control, are we? And this is part of my struggle…maybe yours, as well.

So what happens when there seems to be a cloud hovering over us like the little boy in Charlie Brown? Where is God when when life’s sunshine seems to stay hidden behind clouds of anxiety, disappointment, hardship? He sometimes seems far away or silent. This is where we have to reach deep down and find a bit of faith.

I am not one to just open my Bible haphazardly. But I do believe God meets us in our need. And this was the daily verse on my Bible app today. It could not have come at a better time, to be honest. On the outside, I am a wife, mom, friend, and teacher. But a closer look would garner the fact that I struggle with many things. And we ALL do. We just hide it well. But HE sees.

Your struggle with depression… He sees.

The anxiety attacks … He sees.

Your rejection from others when you try to fit in…. He sees.

The striving you do to please everyone… He sees.

Shame from the past…He sees.

Self-condemnation…He sees.

Never-ending housework…He sees.

The stack of bills…He sees.

And He hurts for you. But He is there, nonetheless…even when you do not feel it. See, He never said that feelings were a requirement, only that you have the faith to try. Sit with Him. Pour out your heart. He has grace and mercy waiting for you. He sees you. He hears you, too.

Sand on the Floor

We live where most people would refer to as “out.” In other words, getting here is not usually an accident and one would need a fairly good reason to drive out this way. We have a church, two gas stations, a caution light, and a brand new Dollar General (we are actually quite proud to have it). Other than that, the typical conveniences such as shopping trips and doctor visits are always planned ahead of time. So imagine how surprising it has been since the pandemic that my house seems to be a gathering place for young people.

Any day of the week during the summer, holidays, or weekends, the side entrance of our house is littered with an assortment of tennis shoes, slides, and flips flops… all belonging to teenage and college students. It is a respectful albeit unsuccessful attempt on their part at keeping the floors clean in the house. I have begun to recognize some of these shoes. There are always my daughter’s Birkenstock’s, my older son’s tennis shoes, and a vast array of sizes and styles from various friends. It is a sign of normalcy that was not present just one short year ago. Basically, the more vehicles in the driveway there are, the more shoes will be at our door.

All in a day’s work…

Tonight as I was walking in the house, tiny grains of sand kept sticking to my feet… sand that had been on my kids’ feet, their friends’ feet, and just from our comings and goings in general. And I was grateful. Grateful for family. Grateful for friends. Grateful for normalcy. And I am grateful for the cars in the driveway, the sound of laughter in our house, and even the sand that is on the floor.

All the Time

Children can teach us about the nature of God if we listen.

My youngest son has a habit of telling me he loves me multiple times within just several minutes. At first, I thought maybe he did not think I heard him. But after several more weeks of this happening, I came to realize that he needs reassurance. Little guy is my shadow. He is energetic, intelligent, fun…did I say energetic?🤣 And just like other children his age, sometimes he does not listen well. It comes with the territory, I suppose, but we are trying to “train him up” in the way he should go. And in his sensitive little heart, discipline does not necessarily feel like love.

“Mommy?” he asks. “Do you love me all the time?” “Yes, precious. All the time.” “How about when I don’t listen? “I still love you.” “Will you love me when I grow up?” “I will love you forever.” “But you love me when you’re not at home?” “I love and miss you when I’m not at home.” “Mama?” “Yes?” “I just love you sooo much!” “I love you, too.”

Image: Google

Sometimes love is hard, though, and I started thinking today about how fallible I am as a parent. Impatient. Selfish at times. Tired. But God loves me anyway. He loves me when I do not listen to His voice. He loves me when I do not spend time with him in prayer… and He misses me. He loves me so much that He sent His son to be the perfect example of love on the cross. And when I feel the heaviness of trying to be an example of love for my children (and coming short at times), he STILL loves me. He loves me. Forever.

Mother’s Day is a Start

The 11th Commandment: Thou shall not interrupt mom in the bathroom.

I could not make this up if I tried. And I literally dried off as soon as I could to write this. I was putting on pajama pants over half/dried legs and shaking my head while trying not to cry…. from laughing. I don’t know. Maybe I am angry. Maybe I just feel inspired. MAYBE I am in shock. One of my favorite days is Mother’s Day. I selfishly like it because no one asks me what we are having for supper. However, all other days are a free for all. I could have the flu and two broken legs on my birthday and someone will ask for supper. Why can’t moms get other days off, too?

We all know the jokes and memes about children following their mothers to the bathroom all the time. A few days ago, my husband and teenage daughter were home and I was “trying” (no pun intended) to use the bathroom, Little Guy needed something and came to me TWICE instead of my husband and daughter because we all know a 48 year old former athlete and high school cheerleader cannot open a fruit snack… only mommies sitting on the potty can do that.

Image: Google (this needs the added hand from a husband)

Why was I shocked then when my Little Guy opened the bathroom door faster than I could turn on the shower? Here is why:

“Mommy.”

“Why are you in here?” I asked .

“What you doing, mommy?”

“You know I’m taking a shower. Go in the den with Daddy.”

He left at this point… then, BAM!

He walked back in the bathroom again with his daddy (my husband, but I say “his daddy” when I’m irritated). My husband needed to know where my cell phone was, what my passcode was to get into the phone, and where my email app was in the phone. I begrudgingly supplied the aforementioned information. Well, Mr. Former Athlete Honor Student could not for the life of him figure this out and preceded to HAND ME THE PHONE. What’s that? Yes, I was still in the shower.

I helped find what my husband was looking for and my expression told him that I was less than happy. He quickly whisked away our little guy into the den. It was equal parts irritating and funny! And even though Mother’s Day is over, I think every day should be Mother’s Day. At the very least, let us moms take a shower uninterrupted. Oh, and pick up dinner, too. Thanks!