Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Watch That Attitude, Mommy!

Just a few minutes ago, my four year old corrected my bad attitude. I don't think he meant it quite as a rebuke but more of a statement of wisdom (yeah... my wacky four year old son displaying wisdom...). It struck me deeply, in a way that can only be from God so I thought I'd pass it along.

I have 6 people that I do laundry for. The piles build up quickly. My 4 month old spits up, my 2 year old spills everything on herself, my husband has "hand wash" work clothes, I wear gym clothes and then regular clothes every day...The mountains rise up almost over night. I feel like I'm constantly sorting and washing and folding and hanging and drying and blah blah blah. This morning, not so under my breath, I made a comment about how sick and tired of doing laundry I was. My four year old overheard me and responded, "Mom, at least we have lots of clothes to wear. Some people don't even have socks or underwear." That shut me up real quick.

A friend recently came to me, down and self critical. I told my friend that I believe that attitude is a choice. That we control our actions and reactions. I said that {I believe} a good way to promote more positive thinking and less negativity in our own minds is to practice thankfulness or {gonna sound cheesy here} an attitude of gratitude. I can't believe that a) I'm a total hypocrite and b) it took God correcting me through my 4 year old son to show me that. 

I'm whining. Like a Hebrew in the desert who was miraculously freed from oppressive slavery by a more than impressive God. I'm whining about laundry. Of all the silly things to complain about. At least we have more than enough to wear. At least I have a fully functioning washer and drier. At least I'm blessed to be a Stay At Home Mom and can start the laundry in the morning instead of having to tackle it at night after a long day of work. I am blessed. 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks Satan throws at us, which is ironically one that we don't even see most of the time, is taking our blessings for granted. It's so so easy to do. Such an easy trap to fall into. And it results in pride and a list of other sins. I do it way more often than I'd like to admit. It's shameful and when I think about it, downright disrespectful to God. Who am I to not thank and praise Him for the abundance of warm clothing He has provided my family with?!?

I am grateful that God is working in the heart of my little boy. I am thankful that God does not hesitate to bring me to my knees with a couple sentences of truth from my son. I am thankful for the clothes spinning in the nice washing machine upstairs. 

Watch your attitude through the day. Your children are listening. Your coworkers are observing. Your spouse is feeling it. Are you thankful? Or ungrateful? Are you even paying attention to your own actions and reactions? Choose your attitude consciously and wisely. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

It's been a long week. Yes, I know I'm not even halfway through Wednesday yet but it's still been a long week. Thanks to some icky germs making us all ill (there's 6 of us) and Christmas just two weeks away, I'm worn out. It's funny though that it takes getting sick and being forced to take a chill pill in order to rest for a few days. Although I hate seeing my poor babies miserable and I don't exactly enjoy being sick, I'm thankful that I got knocked down so I HAD to sit for a moment. 

I've been reading a lot of other blog posts about "not stressing during the holidays" and "don't worry about decorating, it's not worth the annoyance" and most of it irked me. It's Christmas time. Decorate your tree. Hang your stockings. Rock that ugly holiday sweater. And keep moving. This happens every year so don't act surprised that there's a ton to do, way more places to be and more cookies than you can stomach. It is what it is. Make those memories! 

But then we all got sick. And it took me having to hold back my oldest daughter's hair while she threw up to realize that I hadn't had much physical contact with her recently. Or any of the kids except the baby. That bummed me out. It shouldn't be like that. I shouldn't be that kind of mom.

Today, everyone is better but I chose to stay home and not go out at all for just one more day because this rest has been so therapeutic. I think it's been as good for the kids as for me. We've gotten to do some crafts, so watch some Christmas movies together, build a tent for "picnics". And I got to hold my kids. Like hold them hold them. It felt great to snuggle a little.

I'm a pretty big advocate for making special occasions as special as you can. I think my parents instilled that in me because they did such a great job at it. I feel like I'm slipping in one area though that they didn't and it's the part where we were all involved in the special occasion. I'm in this mode where I'm saying things like, "No, baby. I need it done right and fast so I'm just going to get it done myself" and ignoring the twinge of guilt I feel when my forlorn child goes back upstairs. Or "If you guys don't pipe down, I'm gonna have a talk with Santa!" Woo boy. So wrong. Kids are kids and especially around this time of year, are supposed to be constantly feeling joyous and excited. It's part of why we celebrate in the manner that we do. To help build up the excitement and wonder and anticipation. Not beat it down so we can concentrate on surfing the web for the next fun Christmas activity. 

I'd been trying to figure out what we're going to do this weekend concerning "making memories". There's tons of options where we are but I think that doing something close to home and then at home is what's best for all of us. Something that will keep us close all day and end with us all cuddling together in front of the tree. 

I encourage you, for the rest of the Christmas season, to focus on loving instead of doing. If we don't have love, we have nothing. Your "doing" and "giving" means nothing if you're having to tune out or turn away the ones you love and who love you just so you can get the cards mailed out or the gifts wrapped or the cookies delivered. Chances are, your loving will be acted out by doing but in a way that let's you "do" together. 

On that note, I have some coloring to do with some of my favorite people :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Reason for the Season

As I get older, I find myself getting more and more cynical. I've been a little frustrated lately with "society" or the people in control of holiday marketing and then the people who allow themselves to get sucked in. Haha, now that I really think about it, I'm not really sure who I'm frustrated with. Satan perhaps? For trying to distract mankind from the whole Reason why we celebrate Christmas in the first place? It's like a disease: the "gimmes". My kids have it bad and we're constantly trying to figure out the "cure" for it. If I'm honest, I've got it too. "Hey Babe, here's a good gift idea for me." or "Please tell me what you're getting me. You know I don't like surprises." (Yeah... I really said that...) but it's everywhere. You can't go anywhere with out the message of "This is what you NEED this Christmas" or "Go ahead and indulge in this this year" and "Kids, trick your parents into buying this crazy expensive-turn-your-brain-into-bubblegum gift for you". Bah humbug! 

I was sitting here realizing that I was quickly becoming Scrooge, so I decided to think back to my own childhood memories of Christmas. My parents are pretty awesome people. Creative, fun, thoughtful and sentimental. There's not a single memory of Christmas with them that didn't make me grin from ear to ear. I can remember my Dad standing on the front porch Christmas Eve, jingling his keys and telling us that he could hear Santa's sleigh so we better get in bed. I remember getting all dressed up to go see The Nutcracker at The Kenedy Center. I remember one Christmas morning when all the gifts were unwrapped and my parents saying, "Wait! What's that last gift behind the desk, Abby?" And yes, it was indeed a Red Rider BB gun. My mother's home made egg nog is still the only egg nog I will ever drink. Always attending the candle lit Christmas Eve service at church. Christmas Eve never would have felt right without it.

Two of my favorite memories are the ones we did every single year. First, decorating the tree. Fire going, bowls of nuts and Christmas records. I LOVED those records. John Denver, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby and The Muppets. Burl Ives has probably one of my most favorite voices to listen to. Something comforting about it. Man. I need to figure out how to record those onto my iPhone or something so I can listen to them again. Getting to spend time together as a family doing something fun and peaceful. Then sitting in front of the tree at night next to the fire, music quietly playing and no lights except the ones on the tree. Love love love.

My second is the "light hunting". Once the lights started going up on houses, we'd take drives and count the lights. Each man for himself. And we did get a little competitive. But you had to count out loud a certain way. "Christmas lights ONE!" and then "Christmas lights TWO!" and so on. Once my kids are old enough to understand the counting (and not fight during the process), we'll do the same. Each year though, we do go out one night to just drive around and look at lights. We stop and share chicken nuggets as a family and then stop at Starbucks so I can sip my Peppermint Mocha while we drive around and admire the lights. 

Christmas is about the birth of our Savior. It is a celebration to mark the day that God sent His only Son to earth so that He could fulfill His promise of giving us a chance to accept His gift of sacrifice. We give gifts in light of that. And I think that the celebrating should be done the way my parents did in our family: by enjoying the love and hope and peace of God's gift to us as a family. Spent with those we hold most dear, sharing time and wonder and joy. 

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of The Lord appeared to them, and the glory of The Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which The Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:8-20 

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