This is our's crazy, it's hectic, but most of all it's fun!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

O Holy Night

I'm noticing as the years tick by the small things are becoming big. The big are becoming small.

Christmas was always magical for me as a kid growing up. I remember rushing downstairs on Christmas morning filled with so much excitement. This, of course, was after I checked my bedroom window each year just wondering if a pony with a big red ribbon around its neck was awaiting me. I don't think I've ever really admitted to that until just now either. But I did it. Even on the years I didn't ask for a pony, I still looked out that window for a present...just in case it was too big to be inside.

We believed in Santa. For us, it added to the magic of Christmas. He wasn't an idol that we worshipped, but rather an added measure of fun during the season. He always left us amazing presents and filled our stockings with lots of goodies. Santa always had cookies and milk and the reindeer an apple or carrots. Santa always left with a full belly and the reindeer left perfect teeth marks in the apple. I clearly remember the sheer delight I felt on those mornings. Santa delivered us gifts far beyond our discovery of him and I love that even into my teenage years we still got gifts from him, but our level of appreciation were directed to the right people. My parents so graciously made my Christmases incredible. There was no hatred, no feelings of disappointment, no scarring for life when I found out the truth about the man in the red suit. I think maybe because Santa was just an added bonus and again, Christmas wasn't revolving around him.

Now, as a parent, I have taken on a new role during the Christmas season. I am the one creating the magic and wonder. At times, I feel like I am so horrible at it. For example, our Elf on a Shelf Chip didn't make an appearance this year. He is still perfectly placed on a shelf in my closet. I skidded by this year because my kids are still so young. I could have easily brought him out and had him do lots of fun things to entertain them, but I chose not to. Why? Honestly there is no rhyme or reason. I simply put it off and put it off and here we are less than a week from Christmas with no Chip shenanigans. Am I sad about that? Sure. But there is always next year. Am I okay with it? Absolutely.

We have decorated three trees, put up Christmas lights on the house, wrapped presents, bought for kids who would otherwise go without, saw Santa with no tears, dropped money into the bell ringer's buckets, and still have gingerbread houses to build. All while making it fun and magical and trying as best we can to share to our kids why we are celebrating Christmas. This season is one of my favorites. To see the pure joy in my kids make everything worth it.

I want to give, give, give to my children, to my parents, to my family, and friends this year. Fill them not so much with presents this year, but with love.  With quality time.

This morning in church we sang the Christmas songs and I had tears falling during O Holy Night..

The thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine! O night, O night divine!

I am so fortunate to have my family and Ryan's family. They love our kids so much and want to spend so much time with them. Last night my parents showed up to take the kids home with them because "we haven't seen them since yesterday."

Ryan and I are very opposite in our childhoods. He grew up with his grandparents very, very involved. At almost any moment he could show up at their house within minutes. I, on the other hand, would have to travel anywhere from 4 to 6 hours round trip to visit mine. He was so very close to his and as I get older I realize how much I missed out on that precious relationship. I've had dreams lately about my maternal grandmother. They are brief, but each one is about the same. I am craving knowing her. Wanting to know more about her and more about her life. I am sad that I didn't know her better, but I think Heaven will be a beautiful place to know her and love her. Not to mention, my mother is the closest I will get to knowing her and I hold the relationship with my momma so close. My mom's mom passed away Christmas day in 2004 and the older I am getting the more and more I see how hard it must be to be without loved ones, especially parents. Especially on a day that holds so many memories. But as we heard this morning and I truly believe it, God is with us. He is always, always with us. He loves us and understand each burden we are carrying around. The sadness, the regret, the longing in our heart, He understands all of it. He doesn't want us to be focused on that, but handing those burdens to Him so that our hearts can be opened up even more for his goodness. I am so grateful that my parents, Ryan's parents, and one great-grandparent are here to love on my children. To love on me. I know these days are hard, but I know that they won't last. That while I am feeling a small void in my heart, I know that these people I am missing, and possibly you, are sitting with Jesus right now.

I am just grateful. I come back to the word each time I see my kids with their grandparents. How sometimes Ryan and I joke whether or not we will be able to claim them on our taxes this year because they spend so much time with our parents. Just grateful for their relationships with them. That their early childhood memories will be filled with fun, laughs, and love that they received from them.

The birth of Jesus means more to me with each passing day. It's during Christmas time that I feel an overwhelming sense of His love and His gifts. I am so, so thankful.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love is.

It was on the way to church of all places.

It may as well have been on the way to marriage counseling.

There was lots of bickering, eye rolls, huffs and puffs, and even a turn around in the Harps parking lot because there was no way I was taking the mad one in the front seat and the crying, grumpy, I can't believe you're not letting me wear only a sweater vest to church tonight little boy in the back. Nope. Not tonight.

In that moment you would have wondered how this family of four even functioned. It was not pretty, but we sorta, kinda had to air it all out tonight because you know what verse we were looking at during small groups?

Go on, guess.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Sweet!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Wait a minute.

I just pulled into the church parking lot not in the mood to even be around my husband. I secretly was hoping we would divide up into guys and girls instead of couples, but alas we did not, and here we were.

As soon as I heard the word "first" I knew. I knew we were going to dive deep into that verse and I knew that I was going to have to take a hard look at myself.

Love is patient.

Sarah is patient. Sarah is patient from the hours of about 8am - 12pm. Then nap time happens and I'm all JUST.GO.TO.SLEEP.ALREADY. Come 2/3 o'clock my patience meter is filled back up and I'm ready for a couple more hours of playing referee, maid, chef, etc. whatever it is I am needing to do. At 5:30 when Ryan walks in the door I honestly feel like my patience meter is done. But why? Shouldn't I be full of patience all day. Joyful. Doing everything without grumbling or arguing. (Philippians 2:14) But I'm not. I fail so miserably. Each and every day.

Love is kind.

Sarah is kind. But not all the time. I am least kind to the people that see me the most and do the most for me. My husband, my family, those closest to me. I actually see myself not being kind and it's like I can't stop. Then, 2.5 seconds after I've finished I sit back in disgust at myself, but I have too much pride to admit how ugly I just was.

Ahem... it is not proud. Moving on...

It is not easily angered.

I mean...I'm a married woman. I am committed to someone for life. Someone that is so different from me. Who knows my buttons. I should know by now that in the midst of even our best arguments the angry feelings don't last. We look back minutes (sometimes hours) and realize that the argument didn't matter. That nothing but mean words, regrets, and frustrations are the only thing that come out of that.  I am so thankful we got to a point in our marriage where we realized disagreements for us were healthy, but we still had to respect one another. . . and that a smile and an I love you sooo much, want to French kiss me right now? usually gets me out of  a lot.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Always hopes. I thank God for the gift of my marriage. For my family. For my friends. I know that they are always there for me. They pray for me. They wrap me up in love when I desperately need it and they look to the future with me, rather than dwelling on the past.

I am always tickled at God's way. We walked into church tonight frustrated with one another. Just over "it". "It" involved a lot of little stuff that built up and finally exploded. This is normal right? Someone say right. We walked out of small groups in a better place. Reminded of how we should love and I think we both said unspoken, personal promises to do better.

I love that God forgives me. I have to ask for it each and every day because I make mistakes. I make really bad choices. I'm trying so hard to be like Jesus. It seems like such a big task and it is. I've learned I do better when it doesn't seem so big and overwhelming. That when I read the word, learn more and more about Jesus, that I'm better able to model that in my every day life. That if I take the little moments and really see all the good, all God's blessings, that I typically do better. I feel better.  It's when I listen and truly seek Him it's easier. I want to love like He loves. I want to plug my name in the "it" constantly. I am constantly working so hard just to fall flat on my face. I am constantly seeking Him, eager to listen, eager to say Yes. Today, I thank God for the moments when I realize I am a human. That there is nothing perfect about me or the choices I make.

I love that I have a sweet, loving, forgiving man that calls me his wife. Someone that understands I am full of faults and less than pleasant words. Someone that is just as flawed as me, but just as forgiving. Did I mention forgiving? We needed small groups tonight in a really big way. As a reminder. A reminder of how to love because of His love for us. Now, let's hear how God was there for you today. I know He showed up!

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Timehop is a precious little thing isn't it? Throwing you back in time to young, engaged faces without a care in the world or how about squishy little babies that have your hearts aching for another baby. Oh is that just me?
Today this little jewel popped up.
Now while you may see me and Ryan during the Christmas of  2014 I see panic, fear, restlessness, sadness, and an overall person on the right that looks nothing like me.
In December of 2014 I was struggling. I was having panic attacks often. I was dealing with anxiety which was something that was completely foreign to me. I was withdrawn and moody. I was putting on a happy face in public, but walking around like a zombie at home and sitting up late into the night fearful. I was carrying around a heavy weight. I was bogged down by fear. I was 100% convinced something was wrong with me. My mind had completely consumed me and I was headed into a horrible place quicker and quicker. Looking back I was depressed. I was in such a horrible place. Seeing that Christmas tree behind us, I remember clear as day laying on the living room floor with nothing but the Christmas lights bouncing around crying trying to catch my breath. Trying so hard to convince myself I was okay. That nothing was wrong.
What's wild about this is nothing was wrong. But everything in the world was wrong.
I had forgotten, briefly, where I came from. Who loved me. Where I could get reassurance if I cared enough to ask for it. In a place where seeking Him wasn't something I was doing. I saw doctors and they addressed the issues, which I am so thankful for. They reminded me of the hardship I had faced earlier in the year and my body was responding to it. Looking back now, I wish I had asked for God's help more. I wish I had given more of my burdens to Him rather than sinking deeper and deeper into a place that I pray I never go again. Behind those eyes I see what many don't. An empty vessel.
Fast forward one year and I posted this photo:

My kitchen table. A table that was filled with four other women for lunch today all eager to grow closer to one another and closer to the Lord.
The first service we attended at our church I was asked if I was part of an if:table and if I would want to go to an if:gathering that was happening in our community soon. In my mind I was saying absolutely not, but my mouth was saying sure. It was out of my comfort zone, but I went. I know God works so wonderfully in my life and I love when I can see it. That night at the if:gathering I knew in my heart I was heading in the right direction. Where I wanted to be. Where I had asked God specifically to work in my life. He answered that prayer when I joined my if:table.
Oh my group...a group of ladies who have very similar struggles, but at the same time very different. A group who won't blink an eye when I bare my soul. A group who laughs with me at the randomness that is my life. A group that I've only been with for a very short time, but a group that I am so looking forward to doing more with.
Looking back over the year and seeing the pain in that first picture hurts. It hurts my heart knowing that for a couple months I wasn't myself and I had cheated my family out of a lot of sweet time. At the same time, I am thankful. I am thankful to God that while it wasn't pretty it was something that helped me grow. Once it was all said and done and I was in a better place mentally, I was able to function. I was able to clearly see where work needed to be done and it was in my spiritual life. I am no longer than empty, sinking vessel from a year ago. I am no longer that half-empty vessel that was no longer sinking, but barely staying afloat. I am now a vessel filled with hope. Filled with God's love and ready to share that love. God loves me. He loved me through that very ugly time in my life when I wasn't making him a priority. Even when months before He had blessed me so richly by healing Ryan I had somewhat turned my back on Him. I didn't deserve His love, but yet He still welcomed me back into His arms. He did it for me and He can do it for you. I am so looking forward to continuing on in the next year with my if:table. I encourage you to be apart of one. Your life will be so richly blessed!
...for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 (NIV)
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