Thursday, December 11, 2014

Birthday Wish

I do not remember if one is supposed to share their birthday wish or not, but I am going to do it anyway. Today I turned 38. It is a little close to 40 for my comfort. In fact, I can barely believe I am this far into my life. It seems only yesterday that I was holding my little newborn girl, adoring the rare moments she was peaceful. That little baby is 12. Time flies when you're having fun.

It hasn't all been fun and games, of course. I battle with a mighty temper, so there have been plenty of ugly days. Since the birth of my little girl, we have moved across the country three times, four if you count our current little expedition. I have delivered three amazing sons and suffered three early miscarriages.

But, as I gazed at the shining faces gathered around our breakfast nook table tonight, when they were finished singing Happy Birthday and I studied the one white candle in the middle of the frosted brownies I had baked (from a mix, don't judge) for my "cake," I had one wish:

Lord, give me more of this.

I want more of the laughing and singing. I want more of the shining eyes and the giggles. I want more of us together as a family at the dinner table. I want to enjoy the deep questions they ask. I want to savor the demands for hugs. I want to hear them beg, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy over and over. I want snuggles and stories and schooltime. And I want my husband to keep looking into my eyes, to keep repeating I love you, to keep pulling me close at random times. Please, God, give me many, many more years of this.

My parents call me every year and sing Happy Birthday, no matter where I am and no matter where they are. They have only missed one year to my recollection, and it was because my Dad had open heart surgery that day (excuses, excuses!). I asked them tonight after they were done singing if they would keep on singing until I was 60. Dad answered, if we're still around! It feels a little silly to be 38 and have my parents singing to me over the phone, but you know what? If they didn't sing, I would miss it. A lot. I look forward to that call, and I want more of those calls, many more.

This life that I have is so richly blessed. I find these days that it is easier to think gratitude than grumbling, and that is my prayer for all of you. I pray that you are able to slow down long enough to look around you and revel in the gift of your unique mother's life.

Bless Your Heart!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stillness and Joy

It has been a wild and crazy fall, my friends! My husband is taking some coursework for a few months at the University of Virginia, so we have rented a house and are here as a family for a bit. What a tremendous blessing it has been to cancel all of our obligations for a few months, load up the van with clothes and books, and drive halfway across the country for a new adventure! If we were not homeschooling, if I was not a stay-at-home mom, this would not be possible. But, it is!

And, joy! Joy is permeating everything, which is exactly as it should be during Advent, right? Actually, that's not entirely true. I am seeped in joy, a deep settled peace that isn't really wavering with the tween drama, toddler meltdowns, and brotherly battles that have accompanied me these past few months. So, I wonder if perhaps I am the only person in my family who feels this deep down wonder at it all. Truly, it is a gift.

You see, I do not have all of my stuff. I do not know a single soul IRL here in Charlottesville, and I have absolutely no obligations other than to love these people, these precious, perfect people that God has given me! I cook. I clean. I shop. I teach. I bathe. I read. I change. I pray. It is remarkable how every moment has felt like a gift, even on our challenging road trip, which I had to make on my own after dh had already arrived in VA.

There is a lot of talk on these interwebs the past few weeks about finding inner peace and joy and about what it is all supposed to look like on the outside, but I am finally discovering that Advent has nothing to do with what is on the outside. Duh! We do not have our gorgeous nativity set. We do not have our Christmas tree or ornaments. We do have each other. So, I am forced to make the most out of the traditions I was able to bring, and they are not really that important. Being together. Being truly present in the moment to one another is.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by what you have not done (yet) this season, please stop and breathe. Go read the wise, soothing counsel of Elizabeth Foss (she is offering an incredibly inspiring Advent workshop for free titled Comfort & Joy; it is not too late to hop on over and exhale with her) or the poetic, faith-filled words of Ann Voskamp and remember again what this waiting is all about. Focus inward on yourself and the people around you. Just do one thing each day to embrace Advent with your children. Let go of your dreams of doing it all: Advent wreath with prayer and signing, Jesse tree with homemade ornaments, picture books wrapped for each day, etc... and just let it happen.

We are lighting our Advent wreath at dinner but not saying any special prayers. We are reading Ann's gorgeous new book but not making the ornaments. We are reading our picture books, unwrapped, sometimes a few at a time, as we miss days. And Christmas is STILL coming! Jesus is waiting for us to be still with Him, over the kitchen sink as we do dishes, on the floor as we tie a shoe, in bed as we snuggle with our tired, worn-out husbands.

My prayer for each of you is that you can find the stillness and the joy that comes from embracing God's will each moment, even if that moment is not at all how you planned or pictured it to be. Each of you remains in my prayers during this Holy season, and I hope to write more as the days and weeks pass.

Bless Your Heart!