Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Blessed Christmas

It never ceases to amaze me...  How, in spite of all my worrying and stressing and general out-of-sorts-ness, how God comes through and showers me with blessing.  As I sat and watched the kids open their presents, I was overcome with overwhelming gratitude and joy,  Because, somehow, we managed to pull it off.  As I knew would happen, we were able to provide enough for the kids to have their Christmas.  No, it wasn't big.  No, it wasn't fancy. But there were stockings filled, and presents neatly piled under the tree, and even a couple of surprises. It was a nice combination of meeting needs and fulfilling wants. Just what Christmas morning is supposed to be.

It was a joy to see the looks on the girls' faces upon opening their Starbucks' cards (decaf, only... they know...), and to watch the bigger boys put together their marble coaster and various Lego creations. And David loved his scooter... He's been riding it all around the family room, since it's too icky to go outside... But perhaps the most precious memory of all was watching Hannah, who was not at all interested in opening any of her presents, but WOULD NOT let anyone else help her. I wish I had gotten it on video... It was the absolute sweetest thing... ♥♥♥

So, once again, I have been given the gift of Christmas peace, in spite of all of my attempts to make it otherwise. God is good. And, after the gifts had been dispersed, the roast eaten, and the candy consumed, I was able to just bask in awe and wonder of the Gift that was given to us so many years ago. I am truly blessed. And I thank God for all of those blessings in my life - my friends and family, my children, and most of all, for that Baby in the manger, without whose Gift, none of this would be possible.

Merry Christmas, everyone! And may God richly bless you, as he has me, in the coming year...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Stress

I feel kind of awkward posting this, but I really need to get it out. I'm not angry, really, just incredibly sad.

We had to wait to start our Christmas shopping until Brian got paid (on Sunday), because things are really tight, and we're living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we don't have credit cards. So we live on a cash-only basis. Well, the treasurer didn't show up in church on Sunday (understandable, because it was sooooo cold, but it still set us back ANOTHER day). There were only a handful of people there, actually, because of the weather. So he brought the check yesterday. Except that it was for only $500. We are supposed to get $2400. There is not enough money to pay Brian the rest of his salary this month, b/c the treasurer picked NOW to catch up on some other bills that were past due (insurance and pension). They hadn't gotten the ultimate hate letters, yet - just the "you're behind" ones. But it scared him enough that he paid out over $6K to them, leaving nothing to pay Brian. Giving is down a little, because of the economy, but the bigger problem is that the church has lost 3 big givers in the last 18 months - people who have died, who used to help out extra when things got tight.

So we are struggling to budget Christmas for 6 kids, on a very limited amount of money. This has to also pay for incidentals, and stocking stuffers, and Christmas dinner (except for the meat, which is a standing rib roast, a gift from Brian's dad - thanks, George!).

We figure that $75, more or less, for the older 5 will suffice, and Hannah won't really notice that she's getting less... Brian and I aren't getting anything for each other, and there's nothing to get anything for any of the extended family, until after Christmas. And I made a mistake last night - bought a scooter for David, which I *thought* was $25, but was actually $50. Toys-R-Us had a bunch of them in the wrong place... So we may have to return it, and refigure the plan. But we're running out of time.

We usually get the kids Beanie Babies or Webkinz for their stockings, and each gets a book, plus the usual candy and cheap trinkets. But I just don't think there will be enough for that, this year. How do we explain there being nothing in their stockings??? Brian forgot about stocking stuffers when he budgeted for stuff...

Add to this the fact that Christmas shopping stresses me out. I really mean that. All the commercialism, and all the STUFF. My kids really don't NEED anything, but there still need to be presents under the tree. I come close to having a panic attack in the toy store every year, trying to negotiate the mountains of toys, trying to figure out something that they'll actually play with, that they don't already have, that is within our (always) limited budget. It's too much. I left the store last night with a splitting headache, and tears in my eyes.

Now, I am sure that everything will come out all right in the end. We've had offers in the past to help us if things get tight, and word has already spread throughout the church that Father can't afford gifts for his family. So I would not be at all surprised if a few checks and anonymous donations wound up in Brian's mailbox. And I will feel like an idiot for not trusting God in this, too.

Because, this is not the first time that we've been faced with financial issues like this, and every time, God has provided. And I always worry and fret, whine, and complain. And yet, God is there. And blesses us, in spite of my lack of faith. I just wish that I could truly give it all to God, and know that He will provide what we need. He always does.

Sometimes, I truly wish that we could do Christmas without all of the commercial stuff, and just remember what Christmas is *really* about. I get so worked up about ll the *stuff* and I forget to just *be* and simply wonder at the Gift that was given that first Christmas morning. And if He is who He says He is, and He was raised on that third day, then He can (and will) provide for us. Abundantly.

But I still want to give my kids Christmas. And it makes me sad that I might not be able to. I guess that I need to trust that they will have the Christmas that they need, even if it's not the one I want to give them. I've got a lot to learn, yet... Once again, I'm reminded that God is in charge of all of it. He's Lord of everything, and I need to trust that He will take care of us in this, too.

But it's just hard.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Twelve Days of a LARGE FAMILY Christmas

My friend Megan found this, and thought of me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Brian and I have gotten every single one of these... I just wish I had thought of this! *grin*

Although I like our response to the "Do you know what causes that?" one better...

"Yes. We're just better at it than most people..."

*tee hee*

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time Wasting, for a Good Cause...

I have found a new way to waste time on the internet. But I am ok with it, because it's procrastination for a good cause. My kids talked about it last year, but I was to busy to go check it out myself. And a couple of weeks ago, one of my friends on Facebook (that *other* mode of procrastination...) became a fan, so I had to check it out. He's a priest, after all...

Free Rice is a wonderful site where you get to play a game, increase your vocabulary, and procrastinate, all while feeding the hungry. What could be better??? Hey - my husband spends hours on end playing World of Warcraft. This actually has some redeeming social value... *grin* For every answer you get correct, Free Rice will donate 20 grains of rice to feed hungry people in poor countries. There are several different categories - Art, Chemical Symbols, English Grammar, English Vocabulary, Geography, Languages, and Math.

I've stuck to the Vocabulary, but I will probably branch out eventually. I've been playing on and off all day, today, with the kids chipping in from time to time, and so far, I've donated 25,280 grains of rice. *blush* I've spent a lot of time at the computer, today... But I can do this while Hannah is nursing, which she did a lot of this morning...

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

So, the next time you find yourself sitting in front of your computer screen, wondering where to click next, give Free Rice a try. It's surprisingly addictive (although some of this may be that English major in me), and educational all at once. And you're feeding people. Guilt-free procrastination... What could be better??? OK - well, cleaning the kitchen might be more productive, but this is WAY more fun... And it's not completely mindless, either. Go ahead - give it a shot. And thank you for feeding the hungry!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Today, I have been forced to rethink my priorities. I woke up this morning with a whole laundry list of things that I wanted to get done (and coincidentally, no, laundry wasn't one of them. Did that yesterday...). And, so far, the only thing I've been able to cross off my list is that shower that I somehow managed to take before Hannah noticed I was gone. However, I didn't manage to get my hair done, or make-up applied. *sigh* And that pile of clothes and clutter in my bedroom is still in the same place it was this morning. *deep sigh*

Hannah is going through some kind of stage at the moment. She wants all-Mommy-all-the-time. She won't even nap if I put her down - I have to hold her. Now, I know some people might stop me right here and tell me that she's just spoiled, but that's not the case. The AP mommy in me knows instinctively that she needs this time and closeness for some reason, and that when she's ready, she'll let go. But it sure puts a crimp in my ability to get things done. And all of my babywearing devices would be useless for my chores today, because the spaces I need to work in are small, and there's not enough room for both of us. Our walk-in closet really isn't...

So, as I was sitting in the chair, holding her for her third cat-nap today, I stopped, and took a breath. And realized that *this* is what I needed to be doing today. The piles will wait. I can throw something together quickly for dinner. And I really need to *be* there for my daughter. In this season of ultimate busy-ness, I was given the gift of having to slow down, and re-think my priorities. Sure, it would be nice to have everything all put away. Sure, I like having pretty, clean counters. But my daughter doesn't care about such things. She just needs to be held, and to know that someone is there for her. When she can handle it, she'll let me go, and I can get about checking things off my list.

So, as I sat and held her, I watched the snow fall out the window, and I pondered. I began to wonder if this waiting wasn't part of the Advent preparation I am called to this year. So often, those things that I put so much emphasis on are not, really, in the grand scheme of the universe, all that important. And I need to be open to letting go of my own list, and more attune to just letting life happen, and trust that God will lead me in what He would have me do. I need to get better at allowing my list to give way to His. That's something I really need to work on...

So, my prayer for today is that I might become better able to let go of my own list of priorities, and to seek what God desires for me each day. Even if it involves letting the piles go for one more day... Let me find Him in everything, no matter how mundane or redundant the task. And to give thanks for finding peace where I least expect it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sarah

Today, fourteen years ago, I became a mother. Fourteen wonderful years ago, I brought Sarah Elizabeth into this world, and my life changed forever. I have been blessed beyond measure to be entrusted with this precious girl, to love, to teach, and to guide. What a gift!

Today, we ate chicken chow mein (her favorite home-cooked meal) and chocolate cake (heart-shaped, with yellow and purple frosting). And opened presents - clothes, mostly, nowadays... I took pictures, but I'm too tired to upload and edit them tonight. But fret not, dear readers, I promise to post them in the near future. It was a good day.

I thank God every day for the privilege of being a mother. I never imagined just how much I would love this job. There are no words for how your heart just overflows. Parenthood has given me new insight on just how our Father views us... If I feel this much *love* for my child, the LOVE that God has for us is just unimaginable. What a blessing...

Thank you, Sarah, for coming into my life. And thank you, Jesus, for blessing me with you. I pray for the wisdom, guidance, and grace to be the mother that you need me to be, to help you grow into the woman God means you to become. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of coming along with you on your journey. I look forward to sharing and growing with you for many years to come. Love, Mommy

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What are the Colors of Your Rainbow???

And since I slacked off for a couple of days this week, after my NaBloPoMo undertaking, you get a bonus! Two, yes, TWO posts from me in one day. Sorta... *wink*

I stole this from Suzy's blog. Apparently, it's the quiz o'the moment... Seems to be fairly accurate, as far as these things go...

Your rainbow is shaded violet.


What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

So how about you? What colors make up your world?

Wordless Wednesday - Snow on an Early December Day