Category Archives: Christmas

Small Acts of Love

Is it just me or did the colors of fall come late this year? Back in early November when this area typically sees fall in all its glory, I was sure fall wouldn’t be noteworthy. However, over the last couple of weeks it’s been beautiful. This tree caught my attention today at the park. It lifted my spirit.

I’ve been fighting a bit of a cold and have been a tad ‘Ba-humbug’ this past week. The cold conquered my voice and not having a voice is challenging (to put it nicely) as the parent of an eight year old. He’s a lucky soul that he listens…mostly 😉

It’s hard to believe it’s the first of December. The start of advent season is here. Having grown up in church, I’ve always heard about advent, but frankly, never really thought more about it. For me, it was just part of the season, part of the holiday. A candle that was lit each Sunday until Christmas. The actual definition of advent is, the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Well, that does sum of the days leading up to Christmas fairly well. Advent, the days that lead up to the coming of love. A love like no other. A love this world needs – desperately.

At home, we’re doing an advent chain. There are mini bags for each day hanging in our kitchen window. To start, someone will place a small token in the day’s bag that makes them think of someone else in the house and then that person gets the token that day. The next day, the person who got the gift the day before is responsible for selecting the token for another person. Simple, small acts of love.

Small acts of love and kindness. Very important things this world is in so much need for. Today, I had taken my son along with a couple of his friends to play at the park. When we got there the playground was fairly empty of youngsters running about. As our time at the park progressed, I watched families and kids come and go. It got fairly busy at one point. During this time something else caught my attention and lifted my spirit: the children. I found them incredibly amazing.

I was most intrigued with this apparatus that is much like a modern day merry-go-round.   It stayed consistently filled with gaggles of kids and they each took a turn to push. I did not witness one argument between any of the kids that would come and go. It didn’t matter the age, ability or the appearance of the children that visited the ride. At one time, there wasn’t an open spot available on the merry-go-round. As it would glide around in circles, there was a cycle forming each time someone new taking their turn: leap off, push, hop on, laugh, squeal, lather, rinse, repeat. From the smallest to the tallest and the youngest to the oldest it was simply joyful to watch.

At one moment, a very young girl toppled off and let out a cry. The entire gang stopped the wheel figured out if she was okay, helped her back on and then proceeded to spin. Talk about small acts of love. Talk about kindness. Talk about compassion. Talk about gathering around someone in their moment of need. This is how the world should be. We shouldn’t stop working together. We shouldn’t stop caring. Not because of age, or gender, or race, or ability, or beliefs.

I love the purity of children. The way there is a genuine and authentic acceptance of others, whether they look like them or not. The pact of children is how love and the world should work in the most simplest of terms: if you’re kind, willing to play, take your fair turn in the work, and look after others – you’re in. It starts there. Nothing else matters. That is what’s born in us, that is what’s natural to us. It’s society that teaches us what it feels matters and so many times, what it’s telling us is unnatural to us. Our hearts know different.

It’s the whole reason for advent – the gift at the end of this season is love: undeniable, unconditional, uncompromising love. For all of us. Not just some of us. It was given to all of us. It stands for all of us. It sacrificed for all of us. It’s fine to enjoy your turn on the ride, but also be willing to take your turn to push; and when someone falls, we all must stop and help lift them back up.


The Source of Joy

My Christmas Day started like this:


For the first time since 2010, I haven’t awakened Christmas morning with a little one excited to see what Santa left. I didn’t get to see him race to find the milk and cookies gone, the carrot half eaten, hear the squeal of surprise. I have missed the wonder and awe in his eyes. You see, my Christmas hasn’t even started yet. It will come later today, but it won’t feel the same.

It’s hard not to feel some resentment in that, this time of year especially. If you choose to walk away, you should be accepting of the consequences that come with that choice instead of continuously asking the rest of us to pay for what you want. You take the second seat, you bow your head in humility, you know in your heart you may have managed yourself wrong, but you accept what needs to be done to do right by those you’ve crushed. It takes rare people to go through a separation and still find the value in the other. Not what someone else says or continues to feed you. You put ugly influences in their rightful place and work hard towards a new kind of peace for all involved.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself this morning. I’ve worked hard to get through this holiday weekend not focusing on the sorrow, but my sorrow track seems much greater than my joy track. There has been quite a bit of Christmas music going (those who know me are shocked, right?), but this was one of the first Christmas songs I really stopped and listened to this morning, and it felt fitting:

Where Are You Christmas? (YouTube link to song)

I opened my ‘Choose Joy’ devotional (eyerolling-ly appropriate for all of this upheaval) and the verse jumped out at me, “There I will go to the alter of God – to God, the source of all my joy.” Psalm 43:4. Amen. There was my punch in the gut. My true joy cannot even come from my favorite little human in all the world. Though he is my greatest earthly treasure and gift, he cannot hold my joy. My joy must live outside of even him. It must live in me and what I create around myself. It really is a choice and the source is always ready and willing.

If there is one thing I can impress upon you this Christmas, it’s that no matter how hard or dreadful or dreary things may feel or seem, try harder. Make sure you give this life your all, your family your all, your loved ones your all. Don’t quit. Choose joy. It’s there. He’s there. When it all seems hopeless: pray. And when you’re tired and exhausted and done: pray harder. Ask him to be your source: abundantly. He will.

My Christmas Prayer this year: Psalm 43

“Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars. For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the alter of God – to God, the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!”

❤ Merry, Merry ❤

Christmas in July

It’s been a while. It’s been a time. It’s been a season. I have found myself many times simply at a loss for words. More moments of the day than not, my heart beats faster than I ever knew it could. Sometimes it scares me just how quickly it beats. But I’ve come to the conclusion it means: I’m still kicking.

This morning started early. Most of the time, I feel like I’m constantly racing from one second to the next. I don’t want to let anyone down and am not really in a place to ‘slow’ any part of my life down right now. I feel like I’m constantly in a state of inhale (not even sure the last time I actually exhaled). When I do exhale, it’s intentional. I’ve had to remind myself, breathe out.

With the season of life I’m in, I talk to God a lot. Recently, I’ve caught myself talking to Him even more. There’s a lot going on. And this morning on my drive to work, wasn’t any different. As I finish my little chat, I continue playing the Eagles Greatest Hits CD.

Somehow, I find myself thinking about fall and how it’s my favorite season and that I can’t wait for the last 3 months of the year. The feel of that time of year: crisp, colors, comfort, warmth, snuggles, joy, love, bright; always creates an excitement within and I am like a ‘kid at Christmas’.

Just as I’m finishing my ‘I can’t wait for’ thoughts, I hear the keys of the beginning of a very distinct Eagles Christmas tune and then, “Bells will be ringing…” a smile immediately forms. The irony isn’t lost on me. He wanted to spread a little cheer this morning. I graciously accepted.

And I couldn’t resist sharing. So here’s a little holiday cheer for anyone else that may need a little Christmas in July today.

Eagles – Please Come Home For Christmas (youtube link to song)


Secondary Grace

As I wrap up this season of giving & receiving, I find myself contemplating my favorite little ‘P’ word, Perspective. It wasn’t but a couple of years ago that word never passed my lips without my infamous eye roll (I was told quite recently ago, I’d perfected the eye roll. I snidely responded it was good to know your strengths, finishing with a smirk and my roll; I’m sure leaving a lasting impression). Perspective…’a particular attitude’…I remember in college learning that perception is reality, though reality is rarely perception. That’s a scary thought. Does anyone have a grasp on what’s real then?

I know what’s real to me and you know what’s real to you. How can two people experience the exact same thing having two completely different perspectives. Therefore creating two different realities. What, in all of that, is actually real? I’ve experienced this firsthand: living same life experiences with someone and having two completely different realities. Our perspectives were devastatingly opposite. Not an easy feat, and we lost.

I thought Christmas might be hard this year, considering the loss. Surprisingly, I’ve had a good season. Quite the opposite of hard actually, I’ve been told (a couple of times) I have a glow about me. I was also asked “How did you get so strong?” the other day. Crazy, it’s all a matter of perspective. Truth is, my life is an utter mess right now. And don’t you dare ask about my future plans. You’re likely to get an eye roll (I have no damn idea). Future = murky, so don’t ask. But in all this ugly mess, I realized the other day what it is I feel, joy. Yes, in all that chaos you just read, while living the epitome of ‘I don’t have a damn clue what’s happening in my life’ and in the midst of experiencing a huge life disappointment, I feel joy.

In all of this, there is gratefulness in my heart. Each day I notice things, usually little things. It’s those little things that make me smile. They keep me grateful. And I’ve found as long as I keep grateful in my heart, it’s hard not to feel joy. Even in dark, difficult, nasty moments (and I have plenty of those too) because I keep grateful & joy close by, dark, difficult & nasty find it hard to stay around for very long. Perspective. It’s the light switch in life. There are really only two choices with perspective. On or off.

One of my favorite gifts this year is a mantra bracelet given to me by the one who is the right to my left. This woman brings sincerity and sarcasm to my tribe. And I adore every ounce of her compassionate soul. After all life has decided to throw my way over the last 6 years, she nailed it. My perspective: She believed she could, so she did1225161835_hdr222

And I do. Everyday. It’s a choice. And Dark still visits. I welcome him. Invite him in for a spell, sit with him, embrace him, but then I tell him when he’s overstayed his welcome. There is no easy in any of this. It’s all very, very tough.

After finishing Christmas with my most favorite human to ever exist, I went and saw Collateral Beauty. Let me tell you now, if you haven’t seen it yet (believe it only opened a week ago so not sure why you haven’t seen it yet), but you absolutely MUST see it as soon as you can get your rear end in a movie theater seat. There are so many layers to the story. And without ruining much, three of the most important characters play roles in our everyday lives: Love, Time & Death. Life is the most exquisite tragedy of all time. We will all experience joys and sorrows along the way. The ultimate definition of bittersweet. And how you feel it, experience it, and live it is all a matter of your perspective.

So…are you on or are you off? It usually doesn’t happen in a grand, defining moment. It’s after-the-fact, like a slow awakening. It’s in the little things. The collateral beauty, many times the less obvious, a secondary grace. The things that are undoubtedly harder to see in the tragic moments, but they’re also undeniably difficult to un-see once you begin to realize them…

Grace was given for us and to us. Secondary grace is what we choose to give ourselves. And you’re worth it. Know it. Believe it. Do it. And ‘Keep Pounding’ doesn’t hurt either 😉