Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I Want an Avonlea Christmas

Loveys, I keep having a craving to watch An Avonlea Christmas. I'm a sucker for all things Anne of Green Gables and Avonlea--ish. Really, if you know me, you know I break out Christmas music in July. So the fact that I want to watch holiday movies in October is actually not surprising. Now, even if that's what I want, it rarely happens. To have two straight hours to actually watch what I want? And not to be interrupted by snack time and diaper changes and breaking up sibling fights? Well, those days are so far behind me that I can't even remember them. The good thing about watching movies you've practically memorized is that you can turn them on and not be devastated if you only get to watch snippets.

It'll be a different kind of Christmas this year, lovey. Not in a terrible way. My baby sister will be married. I don't think most of my family will be traveling much post-wedding, so I'm thinking it will be a quiet holiday at home with us and the kids. And that sounds fine really. Because my heart has Christmas goals this year. One goal is fewer presents, along with online shopping rather than going out to stores. I'm actually already starting to think about the gifts I want to buy for family. Because fewer doesn't mean less meaningful, to me, it means more meaningful. Starting early gives you time to put some thought into what you buy. The fact is that this is the first Christmas in as long as I can remember that I haven't been working. So that factors into things too. I don't want to add lots of pressure on Jeff. I want to navigate the holiday season without debt and regret. This is our first Christmas as a family of five. I know I don't need lots of activities to keep up with. I mostly want nights at home, baking yummy things and watching a Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol with these kiddos.

I'm a crazy-about-Christmas-lists kind of girl. I make lists all season long. Lists about things I want us to do (like making gingerbread cookies or going to see Santa). Lists about what I'm buying for everybody. Lists about cards to send out. Lists about dinner parties or social gatherings we need to make time for. Lists about crock-pot recipes I want to try during winter! Lists about anything and everything! And it's nuts how fast the calendar fills up this time of year. We can only do so much before it gets ridiculous.

Here's what I know will happen if I don't approach the holiday season with intentionality: I will spend too much money and the season will be swallowed up in activities. There's so much I'd love to do! My mind starts filling up with ideas. Maybe a chili night with the neighbors? Maybe a girls movie night with drinks? Maybe a kids cookie exchange with Ash and a few friends? Book club with a Christmas novella? Dinner parties? Take gifts to a nursing home?

But the truth is that we can so easily overextend ourselves during the holidays. Even with service projects. It's good to know our own limits and what's healthy for us. Every time I host something, I have to factor in how much time I put in cleaning and prepping, how much things cost, the time Jeff will spend watching the kids, and so on. For me this year, I'm going to be mostly out of commission in November (foot surgery). And I'm okay with it. Because for some reason, my soul just wants things to be a little simpler this year. (Maybe it's the baby factor and the lack of sleep.)

Once upon a time, I was a little girl living out the Christmas season with my family in Texas, wearing jackets when it was 69 degrees. :)  And the memories I have from those times are varied. I loved the Christmas program at school. That was a big deal. I liked the Thanksgiving breakfast at church. I loved setting out our Sarah, Plain and Tall village on top of the piano. Shopping for gifts was stressful. Even cooking could feel stressful sometimes. Decorating could be stressful (I vividly remember my mom going to war with the lights on the Christmas tree). But mostly, my favorite memories are food and family. Hot chocolate and popcorn and watching movies like Sarah, Plain and Tall or While You Were Sleeping. Mimi's dressing (the magic of going to grandmother's house!).

Every year, our holiday season looks different. Our kids age and things are either easier or even more filled with activities. Some years we get tackled by the flu or colds. The holiday season can come at you like a train and topple you over. Or you can make a plan. Pray about your holiday goals, lovey. Make a list. What do you want for this season? Like I said, for myself, I want to buy fewer presents and be more intentional with spending. I want to make time for a few important activities/gatherings, and also be okay with nights at home with my family. I'd like to make this season special for my kids and incorporate Jesus even more. What about you? How do you want this season to be different? What are your goals? What's on your to-do list? How do you keep the holiday season from making you crazy? (I am seriously open to suggestions!)

Let's live it together and make it beautiful.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hello, Fall. Nice to see you.

Loveys, I think fall showed up today. Windy and breezy and just a tad chilly. Just in time for tea.

I've had friends over for tea the past two weekends. Sometimes I wish I had a table that seated fifteen or more, but since I do not, sometimes I split things up. I wanted to do a Harvest Moon/Celebrate Fall tea party. I'm a tea-party kind of girl, lovey. Something about a few girlfriends around a table, with scones and cookies, on a breezy fall day--well, it's my cup of tea. If you know what I mean. :)

It's been a long week. Lily is doing great, and I'm so relieved. That precious little one was all smiles today. She fell asleep early, which means she and I will be hanging out again in the middle of the night, but that's fine. I'm so glad she's doing well. But, no doubt, I've had an emotional week. In fact, after I dropped Michelle off at the airport on Tuesday, I'll admit that I basically sobbed. The after-affects of all that had happened, I think, with Lily. And the knowing that I'll miss Michelle and we just don't see each other as much as I wish we could. But friends--good friends--are friends forever. There's something about being with people who know you, really know you, and accept you and love you and care what happens to you. It's a profound thing. I was thinking, how lucky Jeff and I are. You guys know that just a few weeks ago, Jeff's two best friends from Texas flew out here to visit him. Seriously, these guys have families and responsibilities, but their friendship with Jeff is such that they take time (and money) to come here to see him. It makes me want to cry. And that's how I feel about Michelle coming out here.



She and I had tea with the supper club I'm part of and it was a great time. We had our tea on Harvest Moon (supermoon, this year). Did you see the moon that night, lovey? It was magic. And tea was delightful.

Community is a wonderful thing. I love being part of a supper club. Women that come together around the table, to eat or drink tea or wine, to talk and laugh and share pieces of our lives on a regular basis.

Ashtyn has this adorable thing she does. When she meets someone she likes, she invites them to be part of her friendship bead club. She made this thing up on her own (inspired, I think, by the million beads she has).

But I understand it. Because we want to be linked, don't you think? We want to be part of something that says, You're my friend, and I'm yours.

We had small group this week. I love being part of a small group. People who are saying, Let's do life together. Let's be linked. Honestly, Lily cried a lot. She's clingy right now. She didn't want to be with the sitter. And John and June kept telling me, It's okay. Because doing life together means it's not always ideal and that's okay.

I'm thankful.

I was blessed to have time this morning with a couple more girlfriends. A little time around the table. Sharing our stories. Ushering in the fall season. This afternoon, I watched Ash and Linc sit at the kitchen island and eat grilled cheese sandwiches and noodle soup. I rocked Lily to sleep tonight, still so relieved that she's doing well. I paused and prayed today for the people affected by the shooting at the college in Oregon.

Life can be so bittersweet, loveys. Light and dark.

The seasons change. It's good for us, I think. Today I was talking about how we've moved several times and how I like the feeling of new spaces. Sometimes we need change. We desperately need change. A better direction. A healthier living space. A happier outlook. A change in where we are, or just a change in who we are.

Sometimes we just need to talk with friends. Or to be held by our spouse. Or to have even one quiet moment to put thoughts together and pray.

Loveys, what do you want for this fall season? What do you want to feel or experience? How do you want to change for the better?

If I had a friendship bead club, I'd invite you to be in it. :)

Have a cup of tea and think it over. Leaves are changing colors and falling down. It might be time for change for us too. We're entering a season of thanksgiving. I want this fall season--busy though it may be--to be beautiful, with time for reflection and lots of love.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Giving Thanks . . . When You're a Mess

Loveys, I haven't wanted to talk about this. Really. I'm still conflicted right now.

But this morning, the fabulous Glennon from Momastery posted a note on Instagram that hit me emotionally. Just a few raw comments about her depression. And I remembered why I think she's made such a difference to so many people.

Because sometimes a little honesty frees us.

So here's the truth, loveys: Last Thursday was the worst day of my life. (Not an exaggeration.)

The worst day. All was well at first. It was the Jeffster's birthday. I'd booked a babysitter and made reservations at a fun restaurant. It was going to be a great evening. We needed a date desperately.

And then.

And then an accident happened at my house and Lily was hurt. Those last three words still cause anxiety to flare up all over me. I called the doctor's office and talked to the nurse. Then she called back to check on us. I kept watching Lily closely. I called the nurse again. She paused and said, "And how are you, Mom?" Um, I'm a wreck. She knew it. I knew it. Jeff knew it. (He came home from work.) I kept watching Lily and I just felt . . . scared. And terrible. And sick. This was on my watch. I'm not supposed to let things like this happen. So many overwhelming feelings. Jeff and I talked and watched Lily, and something didn't feel right. So I packed up Lily and drove to the doctor's office. They got us in right away. The doctor was great. He calmly checked her out, then I could see him visibly grow concerned. He was trying not to scare me (since I was already crying), but told me we'd need to take her to the hospital.

Thank heavens we had a sitter lined up. She came to watch the kids, and Jeff and I took Lily to the hospital. I grabbed a toothbrush and some socks, just in case. So, instead of date night, Jeff and I sat together with Lily at the children's hospital. Jeff was awesome. Strong and calm and capable. I was like a weepy leaf. Shaking and crying and literally beside myself.

There were some tests and as it got later, we realized that we'd be there overnight. Eventually Jeff had to go relieve the babysitter and I settled in with my toothbrush and socks. My sister came up to be with me. Thank goodness. I was so relieved when she walked in, carrying Starbucks and an extra sweatshirt and a throw blanket for me. I needed to not be alone. Gosh, the blessing of family. Thank you, Lord. I was so upset that I couldn't really talk about it. I still don't really want to talk about it. But it occurred to me that these things happen to lots of families. Accidents and trips to the ER and moments we don't want to relive. Moments where you cry and shake your head and want to turn back time. Do you know those moments, lovey? Have you had them? And if we can't tell anyone, then we go through it alone, for the most part. It's okay to keep things private. I'm a rather private person. Some things should be private. But then there comes a moment where you feel completely lost and alone and you need people to pray. You need hugs and reminders that people love you and they love your children and they'll show up if you need them to. You need that friend who cries the minute you tell her, because she loves you and loves your kids. You need that friend who immediately wants to help, no matter how late it is. She'll drop everything and drive across town to the hospital if you need her. You need your family to pray. You need your sister to hug you until you finally relax and a little of the tension seeps away.

God does cool things for us sometimes.

My best friend from Texas was flying in on Friday. This has been planned for weeks. As we drove to the hospital Thursday, in the back of my mind I kept thinking that this was all terrible and I wish it hadn't happened. Michelle was coming. I couldn't even bring myself to call and tell her. I knew she'd be flying with Gillian and traveling is stressful--so I didn't even send a text. Jeff picked her up from the airport and explained as they drove to the hospital. You guys know about Michelle. How we've been BFFs since we were twelve. It's a 25-year-long friendship, loveys. It's real. We live in different states and last year was crazy with both of us moving, so we haven't seen each other in two years. Then she walks into the hospital room where I'm standing there in clothes I've worn for two days, my hair is frizzy. Lily spit up on the sweatshirt I had, so I've got a blanket around my shoulders. I didn't get to clean house like I thought I would before Shell arrived.

And it's like we've never been apart.

(I just started crying again.) And rather than spend the next several days absolutely consumed by things I can't control, God sent someone to share the moment with me. We took Lily home. She's doing well. I'm still a bit of a shaky mess, but all I can do is keep praying and be thankful things weren't worse than they were. We'll watch Lily closely and love on her. She's her regular, smiley self.

And I am so, so thankful for that gorgeous smile. For my beautiful baby. For friends who care and pray. For family who make all the difference. For Jeff.

My time with Michelle was wonderful. I'm so thankful she was here. God knew weeks before that having her here would help. Our kids played together. She got to hold Lily. We sat together on the porch Sunday night and watched the full moon and talked about everything.

We still need prayers over here. I still need the support of people who care about us. We're entering the season of thanks. Of gathering together. I feel it, lovey. There are pumpkins out and chalkboard signs about thankfulness and fall. There are Gather pillows and things everywhere that remind us it's time to come together and be grateful for what we have. I feel all that. It's more than words to me. It's truth. We need each other. When everything feels scary and you feel weak underneath it all. When you worry that you're not a very good mom. When you cry because you feel broken and tired. When someone sends you a text just to tell you they're thinking about you . . . we need each other. We went to the doctor again today and my little Lily was a bundle of smiles, as usual. You know what kept going through my head? That song/scripture. I will enter His courts with thanksgiving in my heart. It's possible to feel thankful and a little overwhelmed all in one swoop. We're fragile people, lovey. But we're strong too. It's a crazy kind of thing.

Thank you, Lord. For babies and friends and true love and coffee and doctors and hospitals.