Tuesday, December 20, 2016

overlooking the cracks

Dysfunctional family movies were always my favorites during the holidays once I became an adult. They were the ones I could relate the most, especially after my parents divorced. 

Every family has faults. It's part of what makes us all human. You might joke that they are the black sheep of the family. Loose nut. Bad apple. Rotten egg. Eccentric. 

Unique.  
Unfortunately, some of the faults become fault lines. Lines in the sand. Fences. Walls. Estranged. Call them what you will, they all mean the same thing.

Distance.

Holidays are harder when you know something is broken in a relationship with someone. Right or wrong, it will either make us long for the relationship that was, or the relationship that it could have been.
Sometimes those relationships have become so fractured that there isn't any going back, there won't be any clean slates or do-overs. For whatever reason the relationship broke in the first place, that isn't always a bad thing.
But one of the reasons that we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of Jesus is because we did get a do-over. We did get a clean slate. We were forgiven, and that is a powerful thing to realize. Especially on our darkest days.

The forgiveness that we were given was for us. The forgiveness that we can give others is because we were forgiven. It may not make a difference in your relationship with them. But it will make a difference in your relationship with Him.

it's the little things...

The holidays can sometimes implode on us as we rush to make them perfect memories for everyone at the dinner table or around the tree. Because we are so focused on the big things, it is so easy to overlook all the little things that can make them the memories we hold closest to our heart.
The reverse is also true. When we let one little mistake like a burnt pie, forgotten gift, or lost directions become blown out of proportion, it is the larger meltdown that remains in memories the longest.
The memories that continue to make us smile years after the holiday has passed won't be the perfect ham or pie. They won't be the perfect gift wrap or the ornaments and lights that matched your decor. They won't remember the cost, or name brand, or upscale store you shopped at.
The memories will be of the love that was felt, the laughter shared, and often the simplest, handmade, or thought out gifts that show how well you know them. It will be the second-hand book that you remembered they loved reading when they were younger but hadn't read in ages. The candy their great-grandmother made with a recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations.
Make these holidays worth remembering.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

things i learned in ...

i have been slacking on my posts, and have not shared my lessons learned since August. that isn't to say that i haven't learned anything. quite the contrary.
September ... mostly sucked
yeah. that was harsh. but so was September. my husband was in Florida most of the month spending time with family and seeing his father whose health is not good. the other part of the month i came face-to-face with some of the devil's minions. it was a month of the self-inflicted reopening of old wounds.
there were some uncomfortable lessons in all that. i thought i had a grip on trust and faith. i learned that i didn't. i thought i had forgiven some things and let them go. i learned that i hadn't. i thought that i had control over my emotions, especially my anger and resentment. i learned that i had no control over anything and that the only way i would ever be happy would be to let go and let God be in control. i had to go back to square one for some of the things that i thought i had dealt with and hold myself to some humble accountability.
~ * ~
October ... a month of miracles
the miracle of life. simply amazing. unbelievable. and beautiful. the lesson? gently rubbing mama cat's belly while she is having contractions can be very relaxing and stress-relieving for her. but you better get your hands, arms, and face away from her when she actually starts to pop one of those babies out. i helped my pug have puppies back in the early 90's and it was at the opposite end of the danger scale from a mama cat having kittens. i was misled into believing that all animal pregnancies would be so laid back and chill. if ever a next time? renting a hockey goalie's uniform!
it was also a month of some really big, God-sized miracles. from the moment we set foot in Ashland, God was opening doors, making way, and moving some of what felt like mountains in our path. this is without a doubt where we are meant to be. i was talking yesterday about the journey we've been on to get here, and how sometimes we have to wonder why things are so hard.
this is what i have learned: most of the time things are hard because we are reluctant to really let go and trust that God knows best. we want to run from where He leads us because we think we know ourselves better. to that, i can only say, really? do you know the number of hairs on your head? He does. we sometimes try to take the easy way, and all it ever does is just take us longer to get where we were meant to be. part of the journey, especially when we are trusting the path that He has chosen for us, is to make us ready for what we will need to do when we get there.
consider this... (and forgive me if it seriously dates me) if you were down one run in the first game of the World Series, bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, and the tying run on 1st base, who are you gonna send up to bat? me? or Kirk Gibson? (and just to be totally transparent in your decision making, i flunked p.e. in jr. high. more than once.)
God already knows the outcome of the game. He already knows who wins. but he is still going to want to put the player with the most experience and with a better chance of hitting a home run. even if that player already has two injured legs. Kirk didn't become the better player because he took the easy way. he became the better player because he had faith when times were hard.
~ * ~
November ... had some prickly times
November started with lots of exciting news, including a job offer for a bright, shiny, dream job. that i turned down later in the month. sometimes bright and shiny is just a distraction from what you are really supposed to be doing.
it was our six year anniversary. and it was a month where i stepped away from a job ghostwriting for someone else because i wanted to write under my own name. it was also a month of spiritual attacks and amazing blessings.
what did i learn? i learned that integrity is more important than money. i learned that dreams can come true any time and anywhere. and i learned that sometimes what may feel like a sacrifice for what someone else wants, can be a blessing in disguise.