Monday, December 29, 2014

Better Memories

I haven't posted since September.  I promised myself after we got all the kids back in school that I was going to rein in my tendency to overschedule and overextend myself.  Things have been so busy for....years.  Life continues to come at us full force and I have struggled with getting overwhelmed.  Some folks thrive on having full schedules and activity.  I am not one of those.  I have always enjoyed a good measure of solitary time.  I like having time to drink a cup of coffee in a cup that is not a travel mug.  I like watching my horses munch their hay, petting my dogs, and puttering in my garden.  I like keeping my house organized, fixing stuff instead of replacing it, and dropping handwritten notes to loved ones.  I like a slower life. 

I made some significant changes this year with the support of my husband and kids.  I said no to many things that I could have fit in my schedule, but knew would stress me out. I neglected this blog.   I did not host Thanksgiving as I have for my entire adult life.  I only spent 20 minutes at the mall shopping at Christmas -- everything else came by mail.  I didn't do Christmas cards.  I didn't bake every version of Christmas cookie that has become traditional in our home -- I picked three recipes and called it quits.  We missed church during the Advent in lieu of staying home as a family to rest. Instead of church we piled on the couch and watched The Nativity.  I felt no guilt...only peace and relief.  Christmas day was a change, too.  We did not allow any company until the afternoon.  Instead of an enormous formal dinner, we opted for ham and two sides on paper plates (gasp!).  Again, no guilty feeling.  Again only peace -- especially after I saw that everyone was content with the changes and that nobody went hungry.  It was a really great day!

I think sometimes we get the mindset that we have to do it all and do it all the time.  I'm taking a break from that mentality.  As a Christian I'm supposed to reflect Christ in my thoughts and actions.  A stressed out, exhausted mama rarely exhibits the love of Christ.  I have come to the realization that only God is capable of all things.  I am not. 

By stepping back a bit this fall and Christmas season I was able to enjoy it so much more.  The old adage that "less is more" really became a reality for me.  I was better able to prioritize, was more productive and intentional, didn't fret as much as in years past.  I felt better, laughed more, and looked forward to the holidays more this year than I can recall in recent years.  I have let a lot of stuff go.  I have come face to face with my humanity and all my limitations.  I'm okay with it.  Jesus loves me just as I am.  What's ironic is that by letting go of my own agenda there is more time for His.  Funny how that works. 

Christmas Highlights....

Our family picture in front of our not-so-Christmas tree.  After this photo we decided against this tree and went for another. We were too lazy pose again with the actual article, so this is it!
Adam after cutting our actual tree.  Looking just like his dad!

Why we have children.  Starting to earn some dividends from our offspring investment!

I found this on a gift bag from a few years ago.  Made me smile and tear up at the same time.  Some things change.  Some things are constant.  This note has elements of both.
It was fun waking up Christmas Eve to snow!  Not common in Oregon.  It lasted all morning.  A great backdrop for our holiday preparations.  It completed our festive mood. quick as it showed up it was gone.  A great memory.....
We took a break mid week and did some horsin' around.  Sophie enjoyed a few minutes of rest with her buddy, Rosie.  

I can't tell you how much I love seeing this gal smile.  As a family we have faced some more hard news this year.  I admire my mother-in-law for her courage and grace.  She is one amazing lady.

It was good to see Tawny, Kami, Blaine, and Shayne.  With two out of state and everyone busy, it's rare for all of us to be together.  Grateful for the time we get!
My dad rocked the Santa costume this year!  He was made for this!  I can't think of anyone that is better suited to play this character.  My dad loves Christmas and has always delighted in the traditions and excitement of the day.  Thanks, Dad, for making our Christmas fun and blessing other kids with your energy and enthusiasm!
Santa would not be complete without his Missus.  Such a sweet elfin couple :)

The best part of Christmas was the following day.  Brian and I got to get away for the day -- courtesy of my sister-in-law, Deb.  She watched the girls so we could sneak away for some bird hunting and hiking.  It felt great to get outdoors and spend some time together....and burn off a few calories. 
On a sidenote, I need to thank my husband for giving me the ability to enjoy this holiday season.  It was truly his greatest gift to me.  Without his support and encouragement I would have likely stayed in my usual exhausted rut this season.  I am grateful for the changes.  I'm grateful for him.....
With love and gratitude.....