Everyday Life

All to Welcome Him

It’s three days before Christmas. I wake to pouring rain. There are visions in my head of my children and I baking merrily together and happily wrapping presents, surrounded by peace and warmth and filled with joy. I see this vision in my head, and IMG_4946[1]then I say to myself, “Temper your expectations, lady.” I may want peace and joy, but someone will be grumpy. Someone will be quarrelsome. Someone will be disobedient and make a huge mess. The cookies will not look pretty. Someone (ahem) will be stressed.  To top it all of, I still have to go to the grocery store to get cookie supplies. Horrors. Someone might yell at her children to get their seat belts on already, and that someone might be me.

And all of this is why Jesus came. He came because beauty on t his earth was marred, perfection unattainable, and perfect joy impossible to create. But then He came. He dwelled. He saved. And light is here and hope is all around. His coming is why joy is possible even when the cookies look wacky and the quarrels outplay the carols.

What if all my Christmas preparations were to actually celebrate His coming? What if
IMG_4832what I do today is done all to welcome Him? These cookies are made to celebrate His coming. This wreath is decorating our door to tell Him we’re glad He came. These gifts are wrapped in pretty paper to display our joy in Jesus’ love for us and our love for each other. Even in Christmas, not unto man, but unto Him? That could change our Christmas days, couldn’t it? Maybe I wouldn’t yell. Maybe I wouldn’t care if my daughter’s wrapping skills aren’t what I would like them to be. Maybe

He came for us. May what we do in preparation for Christmas Day be welcoming to Him.

Other Christmas-y posts at Miathereader.com:

It’s Not Too Late For Christmas

What Christmas Looks Like Sometimes

Uncategorized

It’s Not Too Late For Christmas

December 17th comes. I wake to find an unwelcome cold settling into my chest, but I also wake to feel something else settling in me– the softening joy and light finally taking hold in my mind and heart that tells me: It’s Christmas. I was supposed to feel like this on December 1st. Or was it November 28th? That day when Americans decide the Christmas season can start, when the attics are thrown open and red bows and colorful lights descend into our midst. That day when we are supposed to flip a switch and bring Christmas spirit in full to our homes and our families. But…what about when we can’t find the switch? Where is the On button for Christmas in ourselves?

I’ve never found it. Every year this happens. I’ve been doing all the right things…the advent studies, the decorating, the shopping (if Amazon counts), the driving around looking at lights, the Christmas movies and hot chocolate….but I have never been able IMG_4804[1]to manufacture the sense that a special time has begun. The warmth and joy in the Christmas season doesn’t come when I tell it to. It crawls into my consciousness slowly. Maybe Little Drummer Boy has to play at least twenty times. Maybe the smell of the Christmas tree has to permeate the living room completely for two weeks. Maybe I have to have eighty percent of my shopping done. I haven’t figured out the formula, but I do know that I am not into Christmas starting on December 1st. I do not dig that rule. Sure, I’ll start preparing, because that’s what it takes to make Christmas happen in a family. But when I start to get a certain panicky feeling nine days before Christmas Day because we haven’t yet made Christmas cookies or put the new bows on the porch or made any cool Christmas crafts, I have to remind myself: it’s not too late.

It’s not too late for Christmas.

We are not running behind just because we’ve pinned more than we can ever bake. We are not missing the boat when our wreaths are not made yet. Guess what? Christmas is a day. It’s one day when we welcome our Savior anew and when we gather our loved ones and offer gifts to them because we ourselves have been given so much. I like the idea of celebrating a whole season with beauty and happiness just as much as the next girl. But it’s high time we all refuse to believe that if we don’t start early, we don’t start at all. We have not missed Christmas. Put up those lights you meant to put up two weeks ago. Begin an advent activity on Day 17. Finish the craft you started. So we didn’t start reading Christmas books until yesterday. So you won’t get a tree up until tomorrow. So you can’t feel like it’s Christmas until you’re home the day before Christmas. You’re grieving someone who won’t be here this Christmas for the first time ever? Me, too. Cry on, and as Meg Ryan says in You’ve Got Mail, put up more twinkle lights. You don’t have a Christmas photo this year? Me, neither. You’re in the middle of moving? I’ve been there, and I’m drinking a cup of coffee in honor of you right now. Put on some Christmas music, and soak up what’s there, but banish the guilt.

There’s this day we get to celebrate, and what a privilege it is if we get to stretch it out into more days of celebration. But it’s not a rule and it doesn’t have to be a burden. It’s all supposed to be a gift.  

It’s December 17th.  I’m going to bake some cookies. I’m going to fold some laundry. I’m going to wrap some presents. I’m going to wash the dishes. And in it all, I’m going to remember, it’s not too late for Christmas.

Everyday Life, Parenting

Babies And Technology – My Favorite Blogs and Podcasts

Every time I have added a baby to my life, I have also added a new technology to save my sanity. You may be thinking of baby monitors or food grinders, which are good for maintaining sanity in our work loads, but there’s another kind of sanity that needs maintaining underneath all the ins and outs of caring 24/7 for a baby. I’m talking about brains here, folks. There is nothing I hate more than the term “mommy brain” (okay, yes there is, things like terrorism I hate more, but let’s go with it as a figure of speech). Sure, moms have a lot to think about and keep track of, but the idea that we get dumber as we have children is so insulting and wrong and we actually embrace it is an idea. Why do we do that to ourselves? Granted, we do have to face the fact that lots of mothering, especially with newborns, is monotonous. I think that’s why I felt a need for something to change up my routine and add a way for my brain to be active while also nurturing the new life I was responsible for.  Maybe that’s why every time I added a baby, I found myself adding a new technology, as well.

Blogs

With my first child, I discovered the blog world. People were writing blogs about everything and I never knew it before 2009! My favorite blogs at the time were ones that made me laugh or that were sympathetic to the new mother plight. Here are the ones that are still my favorites:

Memories on Clover Lane – I respect this blogger’s opinions on raising children so much! And we have similar tastes in books…

Modern Mrs. Darcy – Anne is a way more sophisticated book blogger than I’ll ever be!

Wenzel Photography – I love her photos. Especially since sometimes my kids show up in them, and almost always my nieces and nephews. #familyperks

Shauna Niequist – Her writing is so vivid and convincing, she makes me imagine I could actually be a “foodie” or “a creative” or all kinds of other crazy things that I’m not. =) No, I’ll never be a foodie, but one of her books really changed my perspective on life.

The Big Mama Blog – I find I have less and less in common with her, but she still makes me laugh.

E-Books

When my second-born was a few weeks old, we moved what felt like a long way away from any library. It was a temporary move, but I still thought it was pretty thoughtful that my husband decided it would be a good time for me to get an e-reader. He presented me with a Nook, and I honestly thought “He doesn’t even know me. I am a BOOK lover! How can he think I’d like one of these things?” But oh, how well he really does know me. Because suddenly, with a few clicks, I had a new book at my finger tips.. I didn’t have to drive 45 minutes to the library and I didn’t have to take my little children anywhere! What’s more, I could hold that book in one hand while holding a baby in the other, and I could read it in the dark, all night long if need be! Yes, yes, I still prefer paper books, but I am a fan of the e-reader. I now use a Kindle because the books are usually a bit more affordable and it’s easier to borrow books through my library’s website.

Podcasts

The birth of my third child found me in way over my head. I had a five-year-old who was a wonderful big sister, very thoughtful and good at taking care of others. She was also precocious, and her highest love language has always been quality time, so it’s easy for me to feel like I can’t give her the attention her intellect and heart need from me. Then there was my then three-year-old, a delightful boy and brimming over with raw, unending energy. I had no idea to harness it into anything good in his life. And then there was this baby who was so different than my other two. She cried. A lot. I needed help. I needed constant wisdom drumming into my head. By chance one day, I saw a friend post on Facebook that she loved to listen to podcasts while she went on walks. I checked out a few she recommended, and I kid you not when I say they have been a game changer in my mothering. The perspective they offer on all kinds of issues is invaluable. I realize that the podcast genre is wide and there are all kinds of topics – I’ve even listened to some of them – but what I come back to in this stage of my life are these blogs that speak to the struggles and joys of life in the trenches as a mom:

God Centered Mom – Heather is raising four boys and the questions she asks her guests are exactly the kind of questions I have in my mothering journey.

Inspired to Action – Kat is full of practical wisdom and so are her guests

Read Aloud Revival – This podcast centers on the topic of reading aloud to your kids – what to read, when to read, how it looks in different families…it’s just a fun book gab, really.

Sally Clarkson – Sally Clarkson is the mentor I don’t personally know. I love her book Mission of Motherhood and her podcast reminds me of the big picture and the ultimate goals I have for my children.

I don’t know where I’m going to turn for brain food if we add another child. Video games? Netflix? Just kidding. Still, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was looking for brain food each time I was in the very demanding but very basic phase of newborn mothering. Mothers need brain food! We are not dummies! [Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now]. I’d love to know if any moms out there felt similar needs when they’re babies were little. And I’d love to know if you have any favorite podcasts or blogs I should check out!