Kid Fashion

Let’s talk kid fashion. I first want to go on the record and let you know that I am a hands-off parent when it comes to fashion. I have some really loose standards, kind of my line-in-the-sand rules, but that’s it. These rules have evolved as the situations have demanded.

  1. Don’t wear pajamas to school.
  2. You must have two shoes on your feet, not one.
  3. I should not be able to see your underwear or feel like I’m about to see your underwear. 
  4. If your low-cut shirt is making you uncomfortable or me uncomfortable, it’s probably too low. 
  5. Please wear nicer clothes to church. (as in no sweat pants, ripped, stained etc). 
  6. Please dress for the weather. 

And that’s about it. 

I have a highschooler who walks to the beat of a different drum. She makes really interesting clothing choices. I have learned to appreciate her uniqueness and be proud of her complete disinterest in what other people think of her. 

I have a preteen who is starting to walk in his older sister’s footsteps. Yesterday for church he was sporting a straw hat, ray ban style sunglasses, black button-up shirt, black bow tie, sweat pants and red and white stripe Dr. Suess socks. Since we were going to church I told him No sweat pants. So he exchanged them for elastic waisted khakis. He wants me to buy him a fanny pack so he can accessorize. 

I guess my feeling is that fashion is a journey. Each person has to decide for themselves what they like. I am in no way a fashion expert of any kind, so I just keep my mouth shut, and make the occasional suggestion. 

I have some kids that are strict blue jeans and hoodies only. Some who hate jeans. Some who think that pajama pants are a viable daily option. 

Occasionally, a small child will come up with a color combination that is just painful to behold. I might speak up. Depends on how nitpicky I’m feeling that day. 

I have one child who hates putting on shoes. He owns a pair of velcro Avengers shoes and a pair of lace-up Nikes from the thrift store. So, yesterday, when he was dressed very nicely for church in khakis and a collar shirt, guess what shoes he put on? His rubber mud boots. Yep. this is the same kid who made me create the rule that you have to have two shoes on your feet, after he showed up to church with one shoe, cause he couldn’t find the other one. 

One of my little girls is blind to stains and rips. She comes down in an old fancy dress that is covered in stains and half the lace torn off. The only reason I have kept this dress is because it used to be fancy, and I thought they could use it in their dress up games. Uh No. You can’t wear that to go out. It’s covered in stains, and look at that big rip. BUT IT”S MY FAVORITE DRESS!!! YOU’RE SO MEAN!!!

Hair is also interesting. I have a six year old girl who likes to do her own hair. Uh…Would you like me to help you with that? NO! I”m doing it MYSELF! Ok. I ponder whether her teachers think she’s some poor child who has to do her own hair cause no one will help her. Ah well. 

This is not to say that I don’t try to teach my kids that we look neat and respectable when we go out in public. There’s just such a wide spectrum to “neat and respectable”. 

So, this is kind of my Public Disclaimer notice. If you are impressed or amused by my children’s clothing choices, just know that I really had nothing to do with it. It’s my way of teaching independence and individuality.  

Breathe

Sometimes I am shockingly disconnected to my body and what it’s going through. And then my body responds to a situation in a very normal physical way, and I’m like, What’s going on?? What is wrong with you?? 

The past two days I have been so tired, any time I sit down, I start falling asleep.

Crazy.

Am I sick? Vitamin deficient? Coming down with something? 

And then I stop and try to assess the situation.

Ok. I had to surrender my dog to a shelter on Monday. On Monday I also started a new diet/exercise program that I am sure is a shock to my system. On Tuesday I had an important meeting at the kid’s school, had to put myself forward and stand in the gap for a child that needs some special help. Everyone was nice, but any time I have to speak my mind in front of strangers, I get stressed. Last week my teenager was walking home from school and shooting broke out, half a block behind her. Now I am feeling hyper-vigilant as I listen to all the sirens throughout the day. It’s not been a tranquil month for relationships. In short, while I have decided to pump up on vitamins, stay hydrated, etc. I am also just trying to be kind to myself and acknowledge that maybe my body is trying to tell me something. 

Like,

You are Tired. 

The following are the words to the final chorus in the song  Breathe put out by Jonny Diaz.

When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just

Breathe, just breathe

Come and rest at my feet

And be, just be

Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in, fill your lungs

The peace of God that overcomes

Just breathe (just breathe)

let your weary spirit rest

Lay down what’s good and find what’s best

Just breathe (just breathe)

Just breathe, just breathe

Come and rest at my feet

And be, just be

Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to just breathe

Just breathe

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Jonathan Smith / Jonny Diaz / Tony Wood

Breathe lyrics © Songtrust Ave

And that’s where I’m at right now. Needing to acknowledge my body’s efforts to slow me down. Needing to rest. I’m not up for solving any of life’s mysteries or thinking really deeply, or being anything amazing. I just need to rest at Jesus’ feet and breathe for a while. 

Sometimes Life is not Fun

Back in October we got a new puppy. He was sweet and cuddly and we all loved him. He got along well with our other pets and seemed to love all the attention from the kids. We quickly discovered that he was deaf. Ok. Well, we can overcome that. We did some research. Started trying to teach him hand signals. 

The only problem with this puppy was that he bit the kids sometimes. Well, he’s a puppy. Puppies do that. His breed is known for being nippy. We worked with the kids more about respecting his space, not bothering him when he was asleep, not teasing him in any way. 

And then he bit two of our kids really badly. Ok. Step back. Reassess. Maybe this puppy is not going to work out after all. My husband started asking around if anyone was interested in rehoming him. No takers. I didn’t want to rehome him, he saw us as his family. 

Then he started attacking anyone that came close to our yard. Not good. My kids have neighborhood friends who like to come over and play. We started having to be hyper-vigilant about the dog and anyone who wasn’t in our family. I looked up on the internet how to deal with aggressive dogs. There are a lot of good training programs out there. They all cost a lot more money than I have available. I called our vet, she said not to keep him. If he’s having this problem now, it isn’t going to get better. But, maybe we weren’t reading the situation correctly? Surely we couldn’t just give up on him? 

Then at the end of last week he bit one of my kids in the face. Completely unprovoked. I saw the whole thing. Child was innocent. Ok. What do we do???? A couple days later a relative who has spent lots of time with the puppy, in and out of our house, came to visit. The dog bolted out our door and attacked them, bit them, hurt them. 

Yesterday I called our local shelter and they said that they do have a program for aggressive dogs. We would have to surrender him and they would keep him isolated and then have a professional behavior specialist work with him until he was adoptable. I had to tell the kids and then take him to the shelter and leave him there. 

I left him in his cage and then walked out, got into my car, and sobbed my heart out. 

I hate it. 

I came home, took the kids away from the house for the day. While we were gone my husband removed the dog kennel from the hall. 

This morning the house feels empty and quiet without all his pent up energy wiggling around. My dog Todd looks sad. The kids asked to see pictures of him before they went to school. 

Sometimes life is not fun. 

What is Your Calling?

Today is cleaning day, and shopping day, and laundry day, and remodel the upstairs bathroom day. It’s busy. I am pacing myself. Or at least that’s what I told my husband when he walked into our room and caught me reading a book. Pacing! Honest! 

I have found in this marathon called life, I have to go slow and steady. So, I had already cooked breakfast for the family, cleared the table, taken two daughters with me and done a week’s worth of grocery shopping, came home, unloaded the car, supervised groceries being put away, checked to make sure that the kids’ bedrooms got cleaned…it was time for a break. And eventually, I put the book down, supervised lunch, got that cleaned up, set everyone to work on cleaning their “zones” (everyone gets a room or area that they have to clean), checked progress on that, and now, it’s time for a break again. 

This kind of leads into what I’ve been thinking about. How should we let the chaos in our country affect our everyday lives? 

I’ve been observing on social media the different ways that people have been responding to the recent chaos. Some people have completely withdrawn. Deleted their accounts, either to set up in a new place or be done with it once and for all. Some people are ignoring the situation completely, posting fun memes and things designed to uplift the soul. (I appreciate these posts!) Some people are sharing intelligent articles or essays that explain their positions in well thought-out prose. And some people are just very angry and it leaks out in everything that they say and post. 

In the last couple years, I have made it a point to tell my kids that it’s ok to be angry. Being angry is normal. Sometimes things happen that deserve our anger. But, you have to be careful what you do with your anger. You need to find a safe way to vent your anger that doesn’t hurt other people. Mockery, derision, name-calling, screaming, hurting…these are not appropriate ways to deal with your anger. Or at least, that’s what I tell my kids. I sometimes kind of want to tell other people that too. 

All of us are different. We all have different callings on our lives. I think this is a really good time to have an understanding of what God has called you to do. Are you a protector, an educator, a prophet, a nurturer, a peacemaker? A politician? We all have our callings. Me? My day job is a homemaker. I am a peacemaker by nature. I seem to have an inclination towards interceding through prayer. I try to encourage people through my blog. I keep an eye on what’s happening on the political scene. I write letters to my representatives about issues that are important to me. 

I have come to the conclusion that the things that are happening in Washington DC are not in my sphere of influence. While I continue to pray for our country, LORD! Your kingdom come! Your will be done! I have not felt led to join a political party or try to convince other people to join my way of thinking. I have not been put in a position to affect the federal government in any way except through prayer and my vote, and an occasional letter to my Senator or Representative. That’s me. Everyone is different. 

My sphere of influence includes my family of eleven children. My husband. My home. The social workers and various therapists and lawyers I have met on our fostering journey. The teachers and staff at my kids’ schools. My church family. My blogging audience. My social media friends. This is the circle God has put me in. This particular circle does not need to hear my views on Trump and Biden. They need to hear that I love them, respect them, care for them. They need to hear that Jesus is always the answer. They need to hear that I am present in their lives and that I hope that I can help them in some way. 

This is my calling. 

So, how do I let the chaos in government affect my life? More time in prayer, and then focus on doing my calling to the best of my ability. It’s all I can do. 

My Word for the Year

I have seen several people, in talking about this new year that we are in, talk about how they have a Word for this year. There have been some pretty good words that people have picked. I’ve been impressed. 

I have never had a Word for a year, something that I am focusing on, an area I am hoping to grow in. I decided that I wanted to get a Word too. The one that came almost immediately to mind was “Discernment”. And since January 1st, I have been thinking more and more that this is the exact right Word for me. 

dis·cern·ment

/dəˈsərnmənt/

noun

  1. 1.
    the ability to judge well. 

(google dictionary)

As I read the news, watch the conversations on social media, listen to the people around me, I am overwhelmed with how desperate I am for good discernment. The ability to sift the wheat from the chaff. To be able to tell truth from fiction. Wisdom. I need this. Desperately. 

As a Christian, I do have some direction on how to get this discernment that I need. In the book of James, God comes right out and says, If you lack wisdom, just ask me, and I’ll give it to you. (Just make sure you are asking in faith, not doubt.) (James 1:5). Jesus also says, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father if not by me.” (John 14:6). Jesus is truth. If I am wanting to know what the truth is, it would make sense that I spend as much time as possible with THE TRUTH. 

My Dad often told a story when I was young about a goldsmith who gives only one job to his new apprentice. He must sit all day and hold a piece of gold in his hand. After weeks of this, the apprentice complains, he wants to learn how to work with the gold and make beautiful things. The goldsmith nods, throws a piece of gold to the apprentice and tells him he can make something with that piece of gold. The apprentice catches the gold in his hand and then exclaims, Hey! This isn’t real gold! The moral of the story being that if you want to tell the difference between real and counterfeit, you have to devote your time to knowing the Real. 

I have been thinking about that story this January as I have sought after discernment. If I truly want to know truth, to have discernment, wisdom, then I need to be spending as much time as I can with the Original Truth. Wisdom Incarnate. 

The more time you spend with the Real, the more obvious the counterfeit is. 

We are living in a time when we are being bombarded by everyone’s version of “truth”. And people are angry when others do not agree with them. When someone else pulls out a different theory and says, No, this is really what’s true. It is a shaky, uncertain place where you no longer know who is speaking the truth and who is lying and who is just speaking in ignorance. I, personally, just want it to all go away. I want peace. But, there is a niggling inside of me that says, one day I’m going to have to make a stand. There will come a time when neutrality is no longer an option. And when that time comes, I want to be standing on the side of truth. And in order to do that, I need discernment. And in order to get that, I need Jesus. 

I Don’t Have Any Answers

My mind has been reeling the past two days, watching the news, watching what everyone has to say about the news. And honestly, I don’t feel like talking about it. The press has covered it Ad Nauseum, almost everyone I know has voiced an opinion. (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing!) As I thought about writing my blog today, I thought, well, I should address what is happening in the country. Give my opinion. And I have finally realized that I really don’t want to do that. 

First, I feel like my opinion is half-baked at best. I am bewildered, torn, and kind of feel like I’m in the middle of a blizzard of information and ideas. I don’t know anything and I don’t have any good thoughts to share at the moment. 

Second, I really don’t feel like I have a finger on “What does the Bible say concerning these matters?” I am still searching and praying. I don’t know. 

So, let’s talk about how we’re doing with just life in general right now. 

Do you realize that we just finished a month and half of celebrating: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years? And did you know that it’s a common phenomenom that when you have an emotional high, it’s followed by an emotional low? I for one am sitting nice and firm in that low. My kids went back to school this week and I started homeschooling again. The kindergartner was not happy to start homeschooling again. It’s taken me to Thursday to get him through a normal school day in a normal amount of time. And then this afternoon I got the news that “due to the possibility of inclement weather” all the kids will be home for virtual school tomorrow. 

Wonderful.

Tomorrow I also have to take my 7th grader to get a covid test because he is having surgery on Monday morning. Something that just got scheduled this week. (I’ve never had this doctor’s office move so fast in getting a surgery lined up.) It’s an old complaint. Fluid in his ear causing hearing loss. He already had six sets of PE tubes when he was little. We’ve had a good long stretch of no problems, but now it seems it’s back. 

Our family has managed to stay healthy through all this Covid junk, but it’s concerning to me to hear, every day it seems, of more people I know who are sick with it. My daughter is going to bed right now and told me that she is cold, even though she is wearing really warm pajamas, socks, gloves, hat and is under a blanket. All I can think is that she’s getting the chills that come before a fever. And I just feel tense, wondering if the three days back at school was enough for her to pick up something that will now spread through the whole family. Who knows. We’ll see. And, as I think about it, if this daughter ends up getting sick, it will probably affect the other child’s surgery. Uggh. 

Emotionally I’ve been struggling with feeling like a failure. The old voices are speaking loudly in my head. 

So, here I am, just hanging on, and then the news explodes and everyone’s social media explodes and I get all caught up in it. And I realize. I can’t do this. I can’t let the drama of this dysfunctional country keep me yo-yo-ing up and down. I’m already having a hard time without focusing on what’s happening in Washington D.C. 

Someone suggested on their Facebook that now was a good time to get off the social media and focus on Jesus and His Kingdom. And I have to agree. I need wisdom, discernment, love, patience, power. I’m not going to get any of that by focusing on the world. I will get that by turning my focus back on God. Repeatedly. Over and Over again. Habitually. 

I’m not saying that I’m going to just ignore everything that is happening in the world. I live in the world, my personal life is affected by what is going on out there. But, if I take a look at how much time I am devoting to every activity in my day, social media and the news should not be taking up the majority of my time. (And I can hear my husband in the background saying, AMEN!) 

So, that’s where I’m at. Post-holiday blues, regular stresses of taking care of lots of kids, trying to resolve to spend less time on the internet, more time in real life, more focus on the Real King. 

I’ll talk to you all later. 

Life Feels Fragile

This afternoon I was at the park with the kids. A beautiful winter afternoon, blue skies. Warm enough that the kids could run around, cold enough that I was still wrapped up in a jacket. My phone started ringing. I looked down and the caller ID said it was one of the kid’s schools. My heart rate immediately went up. Are they calling to say, don’t come to school tomorrow, we’re doing virtual instead? 

Fortunately, it was just routine announcements, except sports are now only allowed to have immediate family members in attendance. 

I have been getting the same elevated heart rate every time I see an email from our Superintendant, or any school official ID pops up on my phone. 

It’s not a fun way to live. 

Our schools seem determined to stay open, for which I am thankful, but it is a shaky, fragile thing. We’ll stay open, as long as we have teachers, staff, enough students, we don’t hear otherwise from local or state officials…

We did one week of virtual school before school let out for Christmas break. My two kids, whom I have been homeschooling, got a significantly less amount of school done that week. My high schoolers were fine. My 5th and 4th graders were fine. The second grader was often baffled by technology and time schedules. She took it personally when she wasn’t able to get into a planned meeting. “They won’t let me in!! Nobody likes me! They don’t want me in the class!” 

I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to give the second grader the amount of help she needed because I was busy dragging the first grader out from under tables, or chasing her down, or trying to get hold of her teacher because she had purposefully hit the Send button on unfinished assignments because she simply didn’t want to do them. 

We are diligently working with all the professionals necessary to see if this particular child has some learning differences that make school more difficult for her. But whether these exist or not, I do know, without a doubt, that virtual school is not the right answer for her education. If, for some reason, our schools needed to switch to virtual, I have a feeling that we would all be better off if I simply enrolled her in straight-up homeschooling. And so I feel this sense of limbo, what is this year going to look like? 

I’m feeling that way about a lot of things. Our government has some important stuff happening tomorrow, and right now, I don’t think anyone knows how it’s all going to turn out. 

The spread of the virus is constantly in the news. I have now had several people I know personally affected. A vaccine is being touted as the cure to end the pandemic, but I am not convinced. On many counts. 

We are all so happy to be out of 2020, but nobody knows how this new year is going to turn out either. Life feels fragile. 

And so, I put one foot in front of the other. I do what I know to do. Take care of my family. Take care of our home. Try to keep my focus on God and his power and wisdom, instead of the chaos that surrounds us. Take deep breaths. Let them out slowly. Read my Bible. Turn on the worship music. Try to be kind. Gentle. Keeping in mind that everyone else is operating in this same fragility. 

A Blessing for My Children

We have just finished a tough year. Last night, as I rang in the New Year with my family, I was genuinely glad that we were done with 2020. 

Last January, we had a special speaker come to our church, and he prophesied that this coming year was going to be a year of Lack. A year of Not Enough. And it would be a year where we would see that Jesus was enough. Words that turned out to be very true.

As I look back on this past year, I am still amazed that we made it through all the trials that were thrown in our path. And I start thinking about this year that we have just started. And I want to pray a blessing over my children.  

I pray that this year will be a year where you rely less on your own strength, and more on the strength that comes from God. 

I pray that this year will be a year where thankfulness becomes a habit.

I pray that this year will be a year where the entertainments of this world grow old and stale for you and instead you become captivated by the highly adventurous path of growing closer to God. 

I pray that your patience will become stronger, your kindness will become ingrained. I pray that you will gain an ability to see people through the eyes of love instead of judgement. 

I pray that your faith will grow exponentially. When problems rear their head, you will not be fazed. You will know that Your God is in control. 

I pray that Peace will be a defining part of your character. That you will seek peace with others and that God’s peace will be firmly in the center of who you are. 

I pray for Joy in the midst of hardship. I pray for love in an atmosphere of hate. I pray that God would put a passion for his Word in your hearts, that you would grow strong and firm in your knowledge of him. 

I pray that grace would lace your words and your actions. 

May this be a year, that no matter what happens in this world, on December 31st, 2021, you will look back and say, Wow, it was an amazing year. This is the year that I truly came to know that God is all that I need. 

 “May your love abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11, NIV)

With much love,

Mom

New Year’s Resolutions, Uncertainty, and God’s Sovereignty

Christmas is over. Yesterday marked my last day of festivities. This morning I took my daughter to get her ears pierced, one of her Christmas presents. As of 12:27pm today, I was officially done with celebrating Christmas. As far as taking down Christmas ornaments and cleaning up the debris from all the celebrating, well that falls more into New Year’s activities. And I am getting all geared up for New Years. 

Without fail, every year, I get excited about New Years. Every single year I think, this is the year. This is the year I will lose weight. This is the year I will become more disciplined. This is the year I will grow exponentially in my spiritual disciplines. This is the Year!!

I start making plans. This is the diet I’m going to try. This is the exercise plan I will attempt. These are the Good Habits I’m going to start. These are the Bad Habits I’m going to get rid of. 

RIght now, I’m pretty convinced that starting Jan 5th, I will be waking up at 6 am every day, getting on my elliptical with a sun lamp pointed at my face, working hard for thirty minutes while I listen to scripture being read out loud from my Bible App. Then I will go eat a small breakfast of vegetables and rice and maybe some fish thrown in. (And all these things will lead to inner peace, weight loss and lots of energy.) 

Hey, a woman can dream right? 

Interestingly, I was reading “The Atlantic” magazine today (a stocking-stuffer from my husband!) and the very first pages had an advertisement/article whose headline said, “Uncertain about the future?” and then at the end of the article, also in big letters, “Make a Plan”. The article of course had scientific evidence of how uncertainty stresses us out, and making a plan alleviates a lot of that stress. I think this is a coping skill I have been using for a long time. Making plans always makes me feel better. 

Uncertainty may be why we always face a new year with lots of New Year’s Resolutions. We have no idea what the New Year is going to bring, so we cope with that uncertainty by making all kinds of plans that should bring us health and prosperity. Almost like a good luck charm. If I just do A, B, and C, then I am guaranteed a good year. 

In the end, I know that I will not follow all my “plans” perfectly. I’m still hopeful. But, I know I will mess up. And even if I do succeed it will be a series of ups and downs. I also know that I have no way of predicting what is going to happen in this upcoming year. We still have election uncertainties, covid, vaccines, shaky economies, schools opening and shutting, lots of shifting in the world governments and systems. I have no guarantees that this upcoming year will be better than the one we just weathered. And yet, I am feeling hopeful. 

We had a very good Christmas. We ended up with a lot of snow, which for many people in our area ended up causing a lot of trouble, but for us, it was just pretty white stuff on the ground. Everything went smoothly. No sickness. (We’ve had several Christmases where we’ve been hit with the stomach bug.) The kids enjoyed each other’s company. My oldest daughter has been able to be with us. Everyone liked their presents. I have felt like this time has been a gift from God. A gift of Peace and Joy. And I really don’t know if I’m getting this gift because it will be a good memory to hang on to when things get rough again, or if it’s just the beginning of a better year. Only God knows. But, it made me feel seen. Made me feel like God was watching out for me. Made me remember that God is still in control. I’m in his hands. 

In the end, we live in uncertain times. All humanity has always lived in uncertain times. And we can make all the plans we want, but we have no guarantees that those plans will come to fruition. Psalm 20 verse 7 says, 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 

God has our future in his hands. The great drama of world history that is playing out before our eyes is also in his hands. And that is our true source of hope. For those who have put their trust in God, his hands are the safest place to be. 

Merry Christmas!!

It’s Christmas Eve. It is rainy and now, finally, snowy here in East Tennessee. Kind of like wet rain-snow. Looks promising, but the ground is nowhere close to being frozen. But, it’s enough for the kids to proclaim that we’ve had a White Christmas. 

My husband isn’t working today so we had the rare privilege of sleeping in till 9am. Of course, we had kids running in and out of our room starting at 7am, but we had no pressing reason to jump out of bed and it was nice to Loll Around. 

I went and got my Christmas Dinner shopping done and my husband went and picked up my Christmas present which was a  brand new mattress and box springs. Our old ancient mattress and box springs were extremely well-used, broken from children jumping on it and the mattress had permanent dents which automatically rolled everyone into the middle. I am SO HAPPY to have a new mattress!!!!

We’ve made Christmas cookies, which this year were no-bake cookies and then melted chocolate which we dipped pretzels and store-bought cookies into and then covered them with sprinkles. Not fancy. Very easy. A little messy. Pretty much the level of fuss that I was up for this year. 

My older daughters are hanging out together in my living room, giggling and arguing over books and stories and who knows what else. Another group of kids are putting together a Charlie Brown Christmas Puzzle. Other kids are reading or running around. I’ve got the Carpenter’s Christmas Songs Album playing on our tv and there is a fire in the woodstove.  Not sure if it can get better than this. 

Of course, the day has had it’s sour moments. Me freaking out when all my kids descended on the melted chocolate and tried to dip pretzels all at the exact same moment and then someone knocked over a cup of water right into the middle of the chaos. Breaking up some fights between kids. The crazy puppy went and peed on my brand new rug. We’ve loaded the dishwasher twice and there are still dirty dishes. I mailed Christmas boxes to my son in Pennsylvania, paid extra money to get them there in plenty of time, and he still hasn’t received them. He said there’s a possibility someone stole them after they had been delivered. That has me bummed out. Earlier this week I cleaned out my purse and threw away all the extra papers, including the receipts with the tracking info for the boxes. Argh. I got news today that friends of ours have their whole family sick with Covid. We have another friend who is still in the ICU fighting Covid. 

The future still feels very shaky. This past year will probably take me years to fully process and recover from. I have been struggling to let go of the stress. But, in the last days, as I’ve managed to conquer my overwhelming TO DO lists and things have been checked off one by one, I have been able to relax. 

And now, I can take a little time to be thankful. Thankful that Jesus came to earth. That Mary and Joseph were willing to play their parts. Thankful that God decided to first tell the Shepherds about the birth. Those insignificant, lower class Shepherds who had no political power, no social position. Thankful that wise men from the East were adventurous enough and had faith enough to follow the star to Jesus. Thankful that this was only the beginning, that Jesus would grow to a man who loved everyone, who treated women with dignity, who touched the unclean, who healed the lowest in society. Someone who said, You are Seen, You are Valued, You are Loved, and finally, You have been Saved. 

May the God of all Comforts, comfort those who are mourning. May the God of Peace give you rest from worry. May Emmanuel, God with us, surround you with his presence.

Merry Christmas!