Tis the Season

Simply put, I love Christmas.  I have always loved Christmas and to a point I am almost teased for the joy I can find in this season all year long.  In mid June during a hot spell, I can be found sitting at my desk enjoying instrumental Christmas music and fa-la-la-ing my way through work.  It is so serene and peaceful that it really motivates me to write and become emotional in what I am producing.   I anxiously wait for the day in which I can decorate my house.  I have everything up around November 1st, and usually keep it up through January. 

What prompts such desire to celebrate this season?  I will admit that I do get caught up in the secular Christmas with the mistletoe, wreaths, lights, and baking but this does not overshadow the celebration of the gift God gave to the world one day in Bethlehem many years ago.  I find that the peace of this season helps me to cope with the not so peaceful days of single parenthood.  Very often life will become chaotic and overwhelming.  Playing a Christmas song is sure to lift anyone's spirits, so who cares what day of the year that is?  We can and should celebrate Christ coming to earth throughout the entire year.  Sometimes even in June or July,  a little reminder can make a bad day, not so bad.  At least, this is my "happy place".

Where is your happy place?

Thanksgiving Blues

The Thanksgiving of 2008 marked the beginning of many Thanksgivings to come where my life was drastically different from before.  At that time I had nowhere to turn for someone who could give me life experiences and practical advice for how to still remain thankful during this time of uncertainty and emotional pain.  Sitting around a table giving thanks for all that God had done in my life, to put it blatantly, was just something I was not wanting to do. This was the first Thanksgiving facing divorce.

Four years later I am in a much healthier place mentally and can look back and see clearly all of the reasons I should have been thankful on Thanksgiving 2008.  If you are struggling with having a heart of Thanksgiving this year, try these activities to help ease your pain and open your heart.  It can be done.

1) Sit in a circle with your kids and have each person say something they are thankful for in the other people individually.  I guarantee that tears of joy will follow.

2) Look through photo albums of your children and relive the memories by telling your children what stories surround each photo.

3) Create a blessings board with your kids.  This can be a simple piece of paper taped to the wall, but have each of your kids fill this paper with the blessings in their life.  Make it fun and put pictures or drawings instead of words.  If you are really feeling down, post the papers ALL over the house so that you are bombarded with the blessings in your kid's lives. 

4) Take an outing to a park or another scenic place and spend some time with your kids talking to God and pointing out all of the wonderful things around you that He's made.

5) Serve at a food pantry, shelter, dinner service with your kids.  I guarantee you will walk away feeling more grateful for the roof over your head and food in your cupboard.

6) Dress up in your best clothes to attend your Thanksgiving dinner.  It is a known fact that a shower and some primping will lift your spirits.

7) Invite others to your Thanksgiving dinner and make it more potluck-style.  You make the Turkey and your guests bring everything else. This also helps on the expenses!

8) Spend time on your knees in prayer everyday.  Even if you do not feel like you want to speak with God, do it.   You might be surprised to find that He has something to say to you.

9) Decorate your house! This doesn't have to be expensive at all if everything is homemade.  Have the kids make drawings and little cut outs that you can put around your house.  This is a definite "smile-maker" for you as a parent to see your kid's talent put into action.

10) Do not isolate yourself.  If your kids will be with the other parent, ask friends/family if you can come to their event and GO!  It is extremely hard to motivate yourself if you are facing a holiday alone, but it is the most important thing for you not to be alone.  You'll be much happier if you are amongst other people.

What other ideas do you have or have you done?

Ways To Say "I Love You"

My son handed this to me one day before work.  

I recently picked up a book by Jay Payleitner entitled, 365 Ways to Say “I Love You” to Your Kids.  I went through this book and highlighted everything that I currently do to tell my son “I love you” through my actions, and to my pleasure the book is quite highlighted!  There are some really great ways that were mentioned that I wanted to share with you! 

1) Get a heart-shaped cookie cutter and use if for lunch meat, pancakes, French toast, sandwiches, and sometimes-even cookies!

2) Learn the international sign language for “I love you” and use it across the room, across the yard, or across the gym.

3) Apologize when you mess up.

4) Say, “If they lined up all the
twelve-year-old boys (insert appropriate age/gender) in the entire world, I’d choose you.”

5) “You are just about the best thing that has ever happened to me!”

6) Empower them to try new things.

7) Get down on their level.

8) Climb a jungle gym with them.

9) Tuck them in every night.

10) Write “LOVE YOU” on a sticky note and put it on their bathroom mirror.

These are just some suggestions but I thought they were great! Of course this book is filled with 355 more great ways to say you love your children through words and actions!  I have found that the best reaction from my son is that he does these things back to me.  What a great way to teach your children how to love!  I have been blessed with a child who loves with a huge heart. 

What ways do you say or receive “I love you” from your kids?

He Is Faithful

Lately I have been hearing of so many people hurting and so many who are in despair.  Looking back on my journey to where I am today, although filled with despair at times, I remember all of the blessings.  God has been so faithful in my life and in my son's life.  It is hard to see blessings during hard times but it is important to remember and be thankful of all things, not just the good.   One time in particular has me praising God daily for how he pulled me out of the seemingly “pit” and made me new so that I could live for His purpose here on earth. 

In October 2010, I had really hurt my back through numerous falls, wrong moves, and outside circumstances that landed me incapable of taking care of myself for almost 2 months.   An MRI was performed and through the generous help of family and friends I was able to get the care I needed and have recovered to about 90% to date.
During this time of recovery the MRI results had come in.  I had a bulged disc that was sitting on my nerves and was causing the pain.   This is actually really common for people to have after trauma to the back.  Then came the observation that changed me forever. There were spots found in my uterus; spots that needed to be checked out immediately.

I made the appointment with fear and proceeded to have the ultrasound.  The doctor explained that I had 3 masses on my uterus and that she was unsure if they were anything to be nervous about at that point.  I really don’t remember much she said after that first sentence to be honest.   I immediately went to the worst possible scenario in my mind.  Could this be the beginning of my battle with cancer?   I made a follow up appointment for 1 month later, called my mom and we prayed.   I have no doubt that my parents prayed daily for my follow up appointment to show no growth in the masses and for what God would do with this situation.  My parents have always been the first to show me that God is in control and that everything is orchestrated by Him and for His purpose.   This was my time to prove to God that I truly believed that too. I am not sure I passed that test because as a single parent, the idea of Bradley not having a mom around, or that I would be too sick to care for him just flooded my worry.  It is very easy to let your mind entertain these thoughts when you are the sole caretaker of a helpless child.

The month crawled by but my follow up appointment proved to be very different from the first.   After the ultrasound, the doctor came into the room and said that she really couldn’t explain the results, but that the masses had completely disappeared! It is not often I find myself in a loss for words, but the feeling of relief, answered prayer, and renewed hope flooded my emotions! I could hardly contain myself and couldn’t get out of there quick enough to call my mom and share the news! 

God had healed me! I still am not sure what those masses were, but it doesn’t matter because God had the entire situation under control.  God allowed my back to crumble, so he could show me a miracle!  Without one I wouldn’t have found the other.   Was I praising God during my back pain? Did I trust Him during the month of uncertainty? Surely not the way I should have been.  God showed me through this experience that although the world seems to be falling down around us, He is there.  He is faithful and in His timing everything will be okay.   Words that a single parent needs to hear daily: It will be okay. 

Are you struggling to trust God in your situation? What ways has God shown His love for you and control over your circumstance?