Are You Resisting Change This Christmas?

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This year seemed to be a struggle to get our Christmas decorations up. Usually we pick a day soon after Thanksgiving for the massive explosion of gold ornaments and half lit light strings, extension cords and Christmas wall hangings all cheerfully (to Christmas music of course) to be placed in trees, on mantles and doors by our family in one long but satisfying afternoon.  This year, however,  it was a slow motion eruption that took days instead of hours.   And some decorations were left in the boxes–they are just not coming out this year.  And this all was frustrating to me, because this wasn’t how we usually did Christmas and I couldn’t change it.

Change has been knocking on our door for a while now and I have been resisting it.  It has been a gradual but monumental shift of how we do family life, all as a result of our children growing up.  We now have an 18, 15 and 13 year old, and they are tall and independent and busy.  But I still want them to be short and dependent and not so busy –or busy in a controllable sort of way, where I schedule the sports and play-dates around my mom-agenda for our family, like sitting together around the dinner table or 8:30 bedtime.

But that is not reality anymore.  They are busy being the people we have taught them to be; involved in church commitments, holding down jobs, being loyal friends and studious students.  Which means they are most often not all home together for dinner, or in bed early, or around on the weekends.  And I find myself resisting this all the time.  I am constantly surprised and often frustrated at how little we all sit down together at the dinner table, or when we would plan a time for all of us to go out to eat or watch a movie, inevitably someone has been scheduled to work or has a sports conflict.  My children feel like slippery jello through my mom-fingers.

And then this year change messed with a very important thing–Christmas Tradition.

Traditionally, for many years, we have formed a SUV caravan  with friends to Winter Park the Saturday after Thanksgiving to cut down a tree.  We meet at Starbucks at 9:00AM with our boots and hats and saws, make our plan and head off. We do this as a family, a whole family.  We spend the day trekking through the forest in search of the not-so-perfect Charlie Brown tree, and after all the families finish the hunt, we tailgate with cheese and bread and wine.  It is wonderful.  Then we drive back down the snowy roads of I70, drag the tree through our front door (always realizing it is way too tall),  crank up the reindeer and holy night music and create Christmas in our home for the evening.   Did I mention we always did this…all five of us?

Until this year.  We found out one of our children had to work at 2:00PM on the sacred tree cutting Saturday (and could not get out of it), another wasn’t feeling well, and my husband was exhausted from a marathon of work trips, and it just seemed like it was too much for our family this year.   We cancelled.  And as we sat on the couch watching football that day we told ourselves, “This was a good decision.” And it was.  But it was still difficult, and felt like more of the jello issue.  Our dear friends still went and brought us back the perfect tree– just without the memories.

Two days later the tree sat in its stand, half lit and unadorned because we just couldn’t get it together to decorate…anything.  It was like herding cats–my husband had to leave out of town again, the kids had church commitments and friend plans.  And I was being stubborn–I wanted us all to do this together, like we always did.

By Tuesday, I realized it was happening again–I was resisting change.

I pulled out the Christmas boxes from the basement and began to decorate.  I remembered an hour in to turn on the Christmas music, and began to do a little jig while placing gold balls all over our tree. The lights went up, the nutcrackers and Santas and manger and snowmen all took their respective places.  Later in the day Maddie, our youngest, walked in the door from school and exclaimed, “Holy Christmas!”  I smiled inside.  That night, when I considered not putting the garland wrapped up the stairs like I always do, my oldest daughter said, “Mom, you HAVE to do the garland up the stairs!”  I smiled again…some things don’t change.

The following weekend, when my husband and I snuck away for a quick anniversary trip, this same daughter drove to Target, bought outdoor Christmas lights that were missing, asked a good friend to come over to help, and ran extension cords and timers and red and white lights throughout the trees in our yard.

Well, this was new.

I have decided to stop resisting the fact that change is no longer knocking but has a recliner and a personalized coffee mug in our home.  I am learning this Christmas to look for the new traditions, the gifts the older children bring to our home and our life (like driving themselves to Target to help with Christmas decorating without being asked), and be okay when some traditions shift temporarily or even permanently.

Times are changing, and most likely they are for the good.

When I feel frustrated that things are “different” I am going to ask myself–where is the frustration coming from?  Am I being too controlling?  Is this an area where I am resisting instead of embracing change?

To Think About:

Jesus was a great implementer of change.  His birth and life challenged and frustrated many who resisted his message because it was different than their traditions and ways of life and thinking, but it changed EVERYTHING for us for good, for eternity.  Change and doing things a new way can be incredibly positive if we are willing to embrace it.

  1. What change are you resisting in your life?
  2. Why do you think you are resisting it?
  3. What things frustrate you that could possibly be a blessing if you embraced the change?

I wish you a blessed Christmas!!

xoxo,

Amy

 

 

HOW TO DECORATE A CHRISTMAS MANTLE

This past year I “officially” started a home design company-I say officially because I have been interested in design for several years but never truly did it as a paid job. I had a staging business with a friend for a few years, often help friends with ideas for their homes, and do a little happy dance whenever I find a Better Homes and Gardens magazine in my mailbox.

GraceFullHome Update

Hello…

It is good to be back.beach pic

I took a break from blogging starting at the beginning of this past summer to focus on the kids being home from school along with the YouTube channel I had started for middle school girls.  I fully intended to start writing when the fall school bells rang, but then we decided to put our house on the market in early September which turned into a story that is too long to share right now (future post on
that coming…).

We just took our house off the market and I have decided that I need to choose between writing (which is food for my soul) and shooting videos (which feels like exercise–a good thing but not always so enjoyable).  While both are valuable endeavors, one of the most important lessons I have learned in 2015 is that for every “Yes” there is a “No.”  If I say “yes” to both, then something else sacrifices….my part time job which brings in needed income, my energy and time available to my kids, my ability to fully be present for my husband in the important areas of our life.

There are SO many great opportunities that we have in life.  That is the gift.  The challenge is to pick which few deserve our time.

I have learned to ask myself–does this activity, project, effort bring me joy and excitement?  Or does it cause me stress and sometimes dread–even if it is a GREAT thing to put effort into?  I believe God has given us gifts and talents to use for His joy and good purposes…and as a result they will bring us the same in return….joy and good purpose.

So I am saying yes to GraceFullHome and no to HairstylesandHallways.  While I love the idea of speaking into the lives of tweens and teens, I have to choose to listen to my heart which knows there is something better for my time and energy investment.  Yet, I want to finish that effort well, so I am wrapping up that project with three videos on Dating and Middle School.  I believe this is so important to talk about with our girls, as they are in such malleable and formative years.

I have big plans for GraceFullhome in 2016–including a total re-brand with a new look, new topics, and hopefully a lot of content that is practical and inspirational for you!

Here is the Dating video if you want to check it out!

 

Have a BLESSED THANKSGIVING!

xoxo,

Amy

Silencing The Most Critical Person In Your Life

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When you think of someone who tends to be the critical voice in your life, who comes to mind? Is it a friend, a parent, a child, or a boss? Who is that person who is never pleased with your efforts, who makes comments that sting and guilt?  That person you are thinking of…make an imaginary list and put them at the top.

Then, just bump that person in the number one spot down….way, way down.  And replace your name with theirs.

“What? No…there are other people who are way more critical of me–than me.”

Really?  How often are those people critical?  Once every couple of years, maybe a few times a year?

Probably peanuts compared to how often you criticize yourself–my guess is daily…even hourly.  Think about the voices in your head. Do they praise your efforts in parenting, cheer you on when you make a mistake, whisper words of encouragement on your housekeeping, cooking, marriage relationship,  job performance? Or, are they more like mine:

“Well that parenting moment didn’t go so well did it?  You didn’t keep calm–you let your emotions win over self-control and then there went the volume on your words.  Now your message was not received because your child is upset and angry.  Way to go.”

“Darn, you blew it with the communication with your husband again.  All those things you were going to try to do next time a hard subject came up–listen before speaking, don’t get angry, try to understand his position before making yours known–well, what happened there?  Will this ever get easier?”

“You didn’t make enough of a dent in your to-do list today– your house is messy, the laundry is not put away (again), and you didn’t get the grocery shopping done.  No toilet paper for everyone tonight!  Wait…do we have enough Kleenex?  You better do more tomorrow.”

Think about it.  There is no one in your life who will give you a running list of critical comments everyday on all subjects like your own self.

Lets take it one step farther. When we talk to ourselves this way, we live on an island of self-sufficiency.  There is no solution unless we change and do better.  Which often feels hopeless. Where does God fit into this picture of messy life?  Let me show you:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14.27

 But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ 1 Corinthians 12-9-10    

In our barrage of self-deprecating remarks we completely cut God out of the equation. We limit him powerless to help us because our own voices muzzle his work in our lives. But look at His promises–to renew our strength, give us peace, His power in our weakness, to take away our fear.

What if we spoke different, better words to ourselves.

“Just because I have a less than perfect response to my child it doesn’t mean I have failed.  God has the power to give me patience and wisdom in my parenting journey–I just need to ask and invite him into this situation! I will remember that God loves me and my child and is bigger than my parenting flaws.”

“Lord, you know I struggle with wanting to be right. Forgive me for my pride and self-sufficiency in my marriage. Give me courage next time to defer my way. I know you love me and I’m a work in progress.”

“Tomorrow I will give my to-do list to God in the morning. I will ask him to help me manage my time and keep me focused on his plan for my day. I will get done the housekeeping that I can, but I will have grace for myself when I don’t accomplish it all. My home and homemaking doesn’t need to look perfect–God cares much more about me having margin for joy and energy with my family than to be a ragged mom striving to keep up with imaginary Pinterest perfection.” 

When we change the way we speak to ourselves, we change how we invite God into our moments and struggles.

Here is a three step process to changing the voices in your head:

  1.  Confess your sin/issue/struggle to God
  2. Invite Him into the situation. Ask for wisdom, hope, guidance…whatever you need
  3. Resolve to move forward, even to do better, but not on our own–with God, and with kinder self-talk.

What kind of self-talk can you invite God into?  How might it look different?

Let’s silence the inner critic today 🙂

XOXO,

Amy

 

Who Are You Trying To Please?

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For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.                                                        ~Galatians 1:10

When I was a teenager, I was often consumed with comparing myself to how others looked.  The hallways of my school seemed to teem with beautiful girls–the right clothes (ya know, those skinny zip at the ankle guess jeans?) or the perfect blonde curly hair–if I could only look a little more like them….then I would fit in.  The culture of my high school was a little cut-throat at times. When I flew 1000 miles away to college to escape the pressure, I landed myself in a sorority that precipitated this ideal even farther–and I found myself in a great battle with an eating disorder.

Later, when I became a teacher, a career I poured every piece of myself into, I compared myself to other teachers-whose class was the most composed walking down the hall, which teachers had students with highest test scores, etc.  As educational consultants, “the experts,” came in and out of our staff development room, teaching us about the latest and greatest, I would sit in admiration of their knowledge and authority.  So much so that I became one a few short years later.

Later, when I became a mom, I completely stopped comparing myself to others.  Except in a couple of areas…like every one.  As I sat in a mess of toys and dried oatmeal, at least two crying kids at all times, feeling defeated by how hard this new role in my life was, I couldn’t hear one more story about moms who just loved playing with their happy and well-behaved children for hours on end on the living room floor.  Would my kids rise up and praise me one day?  Would others ever ask me for parenting advice? I struggled with insecurity like I had never had before.

These days, I compare myself to other bloggers–we are a dime a dozen right now–what do I possibly have to offer that is anything special?  And, since I have started a new YouTube channel for tween and teen girls I am back to comparing myself to other teenage girls (go figure!).  Not that I want to be a teenage girl again, but my peers in this new world of media are very successful teen YouTubers with audiences in the millions-and I can’t help comparing myself to their success since at the moment I have an audience of 40.

All of this comparison has brought me to my knees over and over and over again in my life.  And God has the same message for me again, today.

His voice is gentle but prodding.

He tells me to look up, not around.

He is to be my audience of one.

One.

One.

One.

Not stats that spike with followers or likes or subscribers. Not admirers of my knowledge as an educator. Not children that act perfectly and grocery store shoppers that nod their heads in approval of my magnificent parenting skills-ha! Not the world that I want to see me as an attractive-ish, fashionable-ish, forty-something. None. Of. That.

Just God.

When we serve our Creator, we do not disappoint.  He subscribes, follows, likes, cheers, listens, and approves of anything we do in His name with a pure and willing heart.

It is the echo of His two clapping hands in an empty room that I long to hear.

He is our audience of One.

 

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