Monday, December 26, 2016

Good News...Great JOY

Though it feels nothing like Christmas, due to a random Kentucky heat wave, I've been full of holiday spirit for days.

We've had our windows open and fans blowing, but I've lingered beneath the tree, resting in the glow of the lights and pondering on the magic of the season.  It's been a beautiful weekend and I just wanted to savor Christmas a bit more.

Life moves so quickly, children grow, parents age.  The older I get the more I find myself dwelling on the passing of time.

We kicked off the festivities on Friday with our annual craft day.  This marks our sixth year of spending the day with our kids focused more on the presence of each other than presents under the tree.  From toddler to teen, they each look forward to the day.

My baby was such a help this year, from set up to clean up and all the places in between.  He led our first craft, his idea, making hot chocolate spoons.  Several weeks back, I'd asked him about his favorite Christmas memories and craft day was among them.  I would guess it's a favorite memory among all the kiddos.

Although my body ached from head to toe by the end, my heart was full from the memories we made.  
Christmas Eve was packed with our typical traditions from beginning to end, though with a working teen we needed to jam a lot into a little time slot.

He was a trooper though, waking early on the weekend to have appetizers for breakfast.  We managed to squeeze in a holiday movie,a long game of dominoes, a visit from Santa and even a nap.

Thankfully, Noah got out of work early enough to go with us for our favorite, fairly new to us tradition of attending the candlelight service at our church.  In fact, that service is what inspired the title of this post and has me feeling well within my soul.

Preparing my heart, I began to lift up prayers of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us this year.  And suddenly, the pity party I had in my last post seemed very petty.

Life is going to have hills and valleys but we can't lose sight of God's love for us when we're in a lull or a pit.  That's exactly what the enemy wants.  In fact, it is in those trying times His love is never more present.  And truly, the health hiccups of 2016 are nothing compared to what we've already endured and survived.

In the quiet, simple service my heart swelled with remembrance of His many blessings.

Darkness will never cease trying to stop us from shining.  But light always overcomes.  As our church began to glow in increasing brightness, one candle after another, it was a visible reminder of the difference we can make in this gloomy world.  We must keep sharing the light.

That light, pure JOY, carried with me into the birthday of our Savior.  It is my prayer that Christmas will remain in my heart throughout the new year.  And also my prayer for you.

The best "gift" under our tree

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016: Record Year?

2016 was supposed to be The Year of Blair's.

January seemed so promising.  A milestone year, as each of celebrated "big" birthdays.  My one word for 2016 was chosen - Forward - with hopes and dreams of a record year. has left it's mark.

For Tim and me, milestone birthdays just meant a big reality check of aging.  More on that to come.  But for Noah, turning 16 has been filled with changes, opportunity and possibilities.  And for that, despite the hiccups that this year has brought, I'm thankful.

We've watched him hop from the nest and soar this year.  It's bittersweet as your child grows.  I'm proud of his independence but it isn't easy letting go.  As he's closer to an adult than a child now, I find myself mentally counting the days he's left to nestle under my wing.

In less than a year, he's become a licensed driver and been accepted to college.  How did that even happen?!  I'm thrilled he already knows what he wants to do with his life and is so passionate about his future.  For that, 2016 has most definitely been a record year for him.

Spring saw me with an extra bounce in my step, not just from the return of warmer weather but also because this 40 year old body moves much better without ice and snow.  I welcomed the season with a trip to the mountains with my momma and restoration within my soul.

By summer, with half the year gone, I found myself grabbing hold of joy.  Realizing that my focus was slipping, I pondered on what began this little blog and challenged myself to find joy every day.  And record each moment.  31 days of Joy.

Perhaps it was because God knew I needed to store it up for the season that was coming.

Tim welcomed 50 with a surprise retreat.  Though my dream was that somehow a free cruise or trip to the beach would have landed from the sky and whisked us away to celebrate, I was pretty proud with the mini vacation Noah and I pulled together.  It was relaxing and everything that Tim loves.

And it was the respite we needed to prepare us for the storms ahead.  Once Tim blew out that big 5-0 it was if someone flipped the switch on his health.  My rock began to crumble.  Without warning, we found ourselves in the ER for random pains and scares in October and health concerns would continue to be the theme for autumn.

As I write this post, he's off for the week recovering from a foot injury, though there wasn't an accident to cause it.  None of his ailments have been serious but they've been enough to shake us.  He's struggling with having to be still and not be the doer, providing for our family.  For me, it hurts to watch him hurting.  I'm worried about his current issues but also stewing on our future.  We're so not prepared for aging, or the potential of either of us not working.

It's enough to have me concerned about the forward that it pulled me from the bed at 2 a.m.  And I know that isn't at all the purpose God would have for me, when he sent that word twelve months ago.
Through 2016, He's helped me learn to let go.  Now I must lean in and trust Him for whatever is to come...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Winter Wonderland Woes

We're just a few days in to the holiday season and stress has already reared it's ugly head.  Yesterday it was the "Search for the winter coat tote fiasco".

Crunched for time, hoping to get in a bit of our downtown festivities before Noah went to work, I popped open the blue tote that should have contained our winter coats.  Instead I found it full of spring jackets and hoodies.  Poor hubby made numerous trips to the shed, up and down the ladder, pulling back out the near empty Christmas totes to see if one got shoved in the back.  No luck.

Clock-ticking, Noah still not fully ready for work, no coats in sight.
I chose to deal with it by having a bit of a meltdown.

Yes, with a wonky thyroid, not having a warm coat and gloves can send me spinning this time of year. I knew my fingers would go numb, my teeth would chatter, and I'd feel miserable.  But it wasn't my hubby's fault, who caught the bulk of my fit.

Now, there are several factors I could blame in this scenario.For one, I obviously wasn't as organized as I should have been last spring when putting everything away.  For another, I've needed to get our coats out and organize the hall closet for a few weeks but just haven't made the time.  And, we were all a tad lazy Saturday morning.  It is rare the guys can sleep in and I treated them to a big breakfast as they awoke.  We then lingered and caught up on shows we never seem to have time to watch, played pool and enjoyed each other's company.  As such, Noah was more than a little delayed in getting ready for work.

But when I really press in to the reason for the meltdown it has nothing to do with any of that and more to do with adjusting to the changes in our family.  Noah is nearly grown and the holidays are just different as your kids get bigger.  With work and being a teen, he's rarely home.  Family moments are harder to capture.  There's a shift, a transition in time and this momma bear is struggling.

The picture perfect Christmas festivity I envisioned didn't happen.  

Instead of being pouty that Noah couldn't be with us, I should've been thankful for the time we had together that morning.  Instead of whining over the coat that matched my outfit, I should've changed clothes and added layers (and been grateful to have more than I need).  Instead of wishing for what was or could've been, I should have thoroughly enjoyed the couple time and my supportive hubby, who tried his best to appease his cranky wife.

How often does that occur this time of year?  We dream up an idyllic Christmas and anything less is a disappointment.  Overbooking, tight schedules, and thin wallets can add to the chaos.  Toss in healthy doses of family drama and you have a recipe for disaster.

But in the hustle and bustle that can become Christmas, how many of you hope to slow things down and simply soak up the goodness of the season?

As my calendar begins to fill and time gets squeezed out, I begin to feel that way myself.  When we have to decline a function and feelings get hurt, it makes me question priorities and relationships.  As the date draws closer to the 25th, I'm mindful that the relationship which should be my priority is the very One whose birth we are celebrating.

Amidst the chaos of Christmas, why don't we instead seek a moment with Majesty.  To be still and know...  To let everything else go and just be in His very presence.

I'm reminded that my Christmas wish should be so simple...

To not compare the presents (or lack of) under my tree with those I see
and focus more on the presence of who is around it

To say no when there's no space to give and be well in my soul in doing so

To pause whenever I feel the stress of the season and remember the reason we celebrate

To be fully in every moment, grateful for the memories in the making

To seek Him in the midst, to search Him out, and surround myself with His very spirit

To let it go when others hurt me and share examples of His love

To let His light shine through me everywhere I go

To be still...and know that He is God.
Above all else.
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