Tuesday, November 29

Reflections on Christmas, Part 1

Ava playing with some of her first Christmas toys...just about sums it up, huh?! 

     Christmas changes when you become a mom, doesn't it?

     The first couple of years are sweet and easy--the  baby smiles, eats wrapping paper, bangs haphazardly on the box of the toy you gave them, you hang the "First Christmas" ornament on the tree and take lots and lots of pictures.

     And then things start to get more complicated...even by the time they are, well, 3 or 4 in my case. Our minds become infiltrated with lofty desires to decorate the house, go out to see Santa in the mall, buy great gifts to ensure that their eyes light up when they open them.  We want to check out light displays, and make cookies for the swap at your mom's group. We go all out with the tree and perhaps even buy extra decorations for the outside of the house, all in the name of creating a Christmas our kids will remember...a magical experience.

     But what is it that we are wanting them to remember? 

     The magic? The excitement? The thrill of it all?

     Those are all fun things...but are they the real things?

     I thought I had the real meaning of Christmas hammered into my daughter's head last year (in the nicest way of course!)..."What is Christmas all about?" we would ask her compulsively, feeling a sense of pride as she answered correctly under the guise of watchful eyes.

     "Jesus' Birthday!" she would say.

    "Oh how cute," we'd all say smiling.

     We colored nativity scenes, put one on our kitchen window, read books about Christ and the little drummer boy and the manger.

      Fast forward 330 days or so.

      As we started seeing the lights again, and the blow up Santa's in the stores..."Do you know what Christmas is all about?" I asked, expecting her to know the answer.

     pause. pause. pause.

     Uh-oh, I thought.

     "Uh...Uh...Santa?" she said hesitantly (I'm thinking she guessed I was looking for something deeper by the look on my face, but it just wasn't coming to her 4 year old mind.)

      Argh! Gosh darned the man in the red suit. 

     "AVA! Really? Try again...."

     I probably overreacted a little...


     "It's Jesus' birthday!!!!!"

     "Ohhhhh.....right," she says.

     She's gotten it right ever since! However, it did stop me in my tracks. How did we miss that? How did she not remember? What can I do better this year so that her two year old sister remembers next year when initially asked, that the real reason we celebrate Christmas is to celebrate Christ.

     I'm not saying there is anything wrong with talking about Santa...we don't overdo it in our house--we lightly allude to the fact that mommy and daddy and Santa all drop a few gifts under the tree. We will stop and say hi to Santa in the mall, and joke about how he'll have to sneak in through the sliding glass door in back since we don't have a chimney.

     But light talk or not on our parts, our culture does such a great job talking up Santa, that even if we never said the name our kids are going to be slightly confused by everything they are seeing.

    So what are some proactive steps we, as parents can take? 

     Celebrate Jesus' Birthday. Fortunately, Ava is in a wonderful preschool this year that is going to be celebrating Christmas for what it really is. They have a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party planned their last week of school, and I am confident the story of Christ's birth will be strongly emphasized. I've heard of families making cakes and cupcakes to sing Happy Birthday, and have seen these very cute plates  in stores and on Amazon. We just might pick one up! 

     Create a Scripture Based Advent Calendar. A friend of mine (Sarah Ehret should get full credit for this...she is a wonderfully creative mom!) shared an idea that I have been thinking about...they have an advent calendar in which they place a different part of scripture from the story of Christmas in each of the boxes. Their girls pull the scripture out and read a new verse for each day and then re-read  the pieces they've already read.  Sarah said that by Christmas last year her daughter nearly had the story memorized. How cool is that?!

     Consider Investing in good Resources.  I  downloaded this wonderful e-book from http://truthinthetinsel.com/. Amanda, the author, spent many years in full time children's ministry before having her own children-- her passion, talent and God given skills for connecting with kids through crafts and scripture are so evident in this book. As I said to my husband to defend any skepticism about spending $4.99 on an e-book..."I just spent $4.75 on an eggnog latte at Starbucks (which I think is ABSURD by the way...it might be my last!), isn't it a better use of money to spend $4.99 on something that will help me to engage our kids for the entire month in a meaningful way?"
     He fully agreed. (If you're husband's giving you the funny money "eye", I give you permission  to use my line!).

   There are tons of resources out there...Be deliberate to spend a little bit of money to buy something that will have a big impact. Heaven knows we spend plenty of dollars on stuff that doesn't! 

     Read and Play. Other than that, we will try to read lots of books and I'm thinking about picking up a "playable" nativity scene (Melissa and Doug makes one). We will also be sure to read the Christmas story on Christmas morning (a tradition from my own home...my parents ALWAYS read the Christmas story to us before we were allowed to open gifts...well, in our later years anyway).

     My hope is that next November, as we see the first evidence of Christmas in the way of lights and decorations, and I ask my daughter..."Hey babe, what's Christmas all about?" that there will be no pause or hesitation...that she will simply and enthusiastically say, "Jesus Birthday!"

      I suppose I can say honestly that of all the tasks and goals I hope to accomplish this month...that the most important is to instill reflections that last longer than the month of December and that there is eternal significance in our Christmas worship. 

     Do share...what are some your favorite ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus during the Christmas season?! 

(This post is the first of four (and only four!) that I will offer in December. Check in every Sunday between now and Christmas for more Reflections on Christmas.)


If you'd like to read the many wonderful ways women around the country are preparing their hearts and their children's hearts for Christmas, click on the image below, scroll to the bottom of the post and check out their blog posts about "preparing". 

Monday, November 28

Coming Soon...Advent Posts

Hi Friends!
     Yes, it's me, your bloggy friend, writing from my blogging sabbatical.

     I'm here to tell you that I'm going to be blogging in December (yay!). But on very limited terms (once a week) and about just one topic: Christmas.

     I was feeling like the month of December is too important to go by without writing about it (since writing is how I process life!), and that as long as my writing is limited (so that I can focus on my family, faith and home), and that it is truly an act of worship (about how I'm trying to keep my eye on Christ in the Christmas season), that it would be o.k. for me to share with you a few thoughts about my Christmas experience from a spiritual perspective.

     As a woman of faith, and a mother to small children, I have found myself contemplating, anticipating and bracing for the craziness of the next four weeks...Here's the thing, the most significant thing that I'd like to accomplish by the end of December is to feel Christmas... its truest meaning, in its most sacred form, and to let the next four weeks be a time of real worship.

    I fear getting to the end of December feeling tired, and empty and frenzied and glad that it is over...If that's how I feel, if that's how you feel, at the end of this very sacred month...then friends, we are doing something wrong...very, very wrong.

    So, here's the plan...one post a week between now and Christmas, and then one the week after Christmas to let you know how it has all gone. In the process I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, either at the bottom of the posts in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter, about your own journey and experiences leading up to Christmas.

    Let's encourage each other to buy less and bond more, to run less and rest more, to feel frenzied less and faithful more...What good is all of this blogging, and connecting and interneting if we are not using it to move each other into better places and spaces. Right?!

     The first of the four posts will be up tomorrow....Advent: Have You Made Room?, and the next three will come each Sunday afterwards.

     Here's to preparing our hearts, our homes and our children's hearts to experience the beauty of Christmas the way it was meant to be.



Tuesday, November 22

Giving Thanks

photo taken from: Country Living

"For each new morning with its light...
         ...for the rest and shelter of the night...
         ...for health and food...
         ...for love and friends...
         ...for everything Thy goodness sends."  
                                            Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 6

Cleaning House...A Temporary Blogging Break


     Hello friends and faithful blog readers (who are mostly, um, my sister, my best friends, my sister in law and mother in law!)...You ladies rock!

     Well, it's been almost two years since Little Writer Momma found its way into cyberspace...Two years of my crazy days as a mom, random life moments, thoughts on fellowship with God and many other silly, thoughtful and funny moments in between.

     I've enjoyed every minute (or post!) of it. Blogging has been a great outlet and exercise in regular writing for me. It has been a way to capture moments, milestones, and emotions. It has been a way for me to connect with other women who I may otherwise have never met, and a way for people who know me best to get to know me even more deeply (even my husband who said, "Lis, I feel like I know you even better after reading your blog posts).

     So, for all of those things I am very thankful!

     It is also for all of those reasons that although, for a while, even though I've felt as if I might need a little blogging break I've persisted...until now.

     Yes, I'm taking a break. I know, I know, it's like your therapist telling you they're leaving you...I promise you'll be o.k. And it's only temporary...I swear! I'm sure you'll all survive without the stories of my preschoolers peeing on floors and stomping on toads and running rampant through grocery stores.

     A friend from my MOPS (mothers of preschoolers for those who don't know!) recently said "I read x, y and z blog when I need something calm, collected and beautiful. I go to Lisa's blog when my day has been nutty and crazy and all over the place because I know hers has been too!"

     Haha! That was the purpose all along...to make ya'll feel like you're not alone in the craziness of motherhood.

     It will still be the purpose when I return...I swear. Just hopefully with more focus and panache (whatever that means...it's really just a cool word that I've always wanted to use and never had a chance to!).

     My hubby, who cracks me up, did not believe me when I told him that I wasn't going to blog for a while...I think he might have actually rolled his eyes...in a good, loving and funny, "Lis, c'mon just give it a couple of days" kind of way.

        "Seriously honey," I said, "I feel like God is telling me to take a break. That it has become a distraction from some of the more important things that I should be focusing on and that it has also become something I never wanted it to be."

      "It's like you're telling me you're not going to use your left leg for the next 7 weeks...I'm just surprised"

     Yes, blogging has become that much a part of my life. And perhaps that is why I am taking a break. 
     "I get it," Scott said, "Sometimes when things become so close to us we need to take a step back."  

     Also, when I prayed about my writing (several months ago) and for direction in this area, guess what I felt like God said...

     "Clean your house." 

      "Say what? I'm asking about writing, not my house, what direction should I pursue with my writing." 

     "Your house...clean your house..."


      In summary, here is what I feel like God was saying...

"Lis, I know you have a big heart and passion to communicate to others. I know that you love interviewing people and writing about them and writing for others about your life...and I have plans for you...because not only do I know, I created those desires...That said, in order for you to fully pursue your passions in the way you'd like to, in the way I'd like you to be able to, you need to get your home life in order."

     At the time, I was taking on a few more freelance projects, doing the MOPS newsletter and trying to post frequently on my blog. I figured if I just pulled back on the freelance work I'd feel better about where I was...

     It didn't work that way...I simply started blogging more and filling my life with other things. 

     Then I attended that wonderful blogging/writing conference last weekend. And, it was wonderful and insightful, but I've got to tell you...it was a little overwhelming too...

     I heard stats like that there are 6 million mom blogs out there! Some of the women at the conference have thousands of followers...Some of those women  blog and tweet and connect with thousands of other women daily! And for some of them it has become a full time job ( there are women who are supporting their entire families on what they make from their blogs!). 

      All of that is great, and God is using a lot of them in cool ways, and I am happy for them (maybe happily jealous sometimes, but happy nonetheless!)...But I just felt like it was something I couldn't keep up with...the levels at which they are producing posts and content and connecting socially...maybe I'm not supposed to either but my thinking got a little off track...

       How in the world am I supposed to keep up with all of this? I found myself asking. This is like a hamster wheel (and sometimes feels like a popularity contest (sometimes...)) that I can't compete with. 

     Thoughts of...eeekkk....high-school! came flooding back...insecurity, inadequacy...yadda, yadda, yadda...

     I'm done going there. To the high-school emotional place that is...God has done such great work in my life since then that I don't need to go to that place anymore. When things start to make me feel that way I retreat from those things for a while...to gain perspective...just like being away from high-school for 15 years has finally allowed some wonderful perspective on some hurtful moments...

     alright, so now I'm getting all blah, blah, blah on you...

     In conclusion...I'm taking a break to clean my house...to get my file folders in order, and the mound of clothes in my basement. To make the pediatric dentist appointment for Ava that I should have made months ago. To get a plan in place for meals and taking care of the house and investing in my children the way I want to and should be doing. To bring order to my closets and my mudroom and to be able to invest in the Thanksgiving and Christmas season in a tangible and intentional way. 

     Sometimes even good things (like blogging), get in the way of other good things and you have to figure out your priorities for a time. 

     I'm looking forward to re-joining all of the blogging craziness in the new year-- hopefully from a more organized place (my home), with more focus (my mind) and more inspired. I will update my "365" page (see the top of my blog) in early Dec. as promised, but that's it until January. 

     In the meantime, I'd love to know what all of you who have been reading so consistently, think...Which posts have been your favorites? What do you come to this space looking for (a laugh? inspiration? simply to know you are not alone in the chaos?)? How can I better serve you? 

     Hugs to you all. Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. See you in the New Year! 

P.S. If you happen to be stopping by for the first time, thank you! and hope to see/hear from you again!!! If you click the links in the sidebar to follow LittleWriterMom on twitter or Little Writer Momma on Facebook you'll be sure to know when I'm back and kickin' (er...um...blogging!). 

Friday, November 4

5 Minute Fridays: Remember

(This post is in conjunction with "5 Minute Fridays" sponsored by the Gypsy Mama. Every Friday she offers a one word prompt, and hundreds of bloggers join her in writing for just 5 minutes, unedited, whatever comes to mind...an exercise in teaching ourselves be freer writers! Join in (if you have a blog) or join here to read whatever comes to mind!)


God said to me...the other day while I was out for a run...and I started remembering when I was in my early 20's and pursing everything I thought I wanted...

A career in publishing, an apartment in Cambridge, M.A.  near some very, very, very smart people who were attending a little University called Harvard...I was thin, and had time to exercise, and cook great meals and snuggle with my husband, and my clothes fit...my size...gasp...4 clothes! I felt confident and on my "way"...to what? I don't know, but I was where I thought I wanted to be...

It  was where I wanted to be...

Perhaps it wasn't exactly where God wanted me to be...

So that day, while I was running, i was thinking about all of those things...perhaps in a spirit of reminiscence, perhaps from a place of longing (if ONLY I could wear a size 4 jeans again), perhaps in a spirit of discouragement because this new job of 4 1/2 years....this being a stay at home mom, makes me feel undone, unqualified, uncertain...and unidentifiable some days....

and then God said...

Lisa, what if you are closer today...in all of your tiredness, in all of your chaos, in all of your confusion, to being closer to where I want you to be than you ever, ever, ever were as that 22 year old girl who thought she was right where SHE wanted to be...


God is doing a work in my heart. A work in my life. My work was an outer work...things the world would see. His work is deep,  internal, it is a soul work...and while it feels uncomfortable and strange and disorienting some days...He has placed a hope that I will emerge from my cocoon...

In a beauty that HE wants the world to see...

This post was my first attempt at "5 Minute Friday!"...a challenge put on by Gypsy Mama to write, unedited in just 5 minutes!!! 

Thursday, November 3

Is This Illegal?

Check out this picture...

Who parks like that? On the curb?!!! Outside of Target?!!!

Surely it was some crazy woman driver who does not know how to park a large vehicle. 

Here is a photo of the driver....

She's trying to hide her face...but surely you can identify the culprit here...

I'm not sure which was worse, that she left her car like that while she ran into the store or that she had the audacity to take a picture of her car like that in the middle of a public place. 

When a momma's husband goes out and buys a large "man" car because it has a lot of cool buttons inside but it's a little bit hard to park because it's way bigger than anything else they've owned, and said momma needs to grab sandwiches at the grocery store before she picks up her daughter from preschool at noon...and it is 11:53 when she pulls into the parking lot, momma is going to do whatever it takes to get things done...a.k.a. take the spot closest to the store that is right next to curb, and requires turning at a very odd angle to get into...desperate times call for desperate measures. 

The best part is momma's husband's reaction...

"Well, it IS a Land Rover."

He was so proud...