Three Tips for Thriving Through This Christmas Season

December is here. 

We’re gearing up for the Christmas season.

Are you worn out already?

Are your kids in meltdown mode?

Are your triggers and your kids triggers causing chaos in your home?

I hear you. I know. It’s hard. Everyone else seems to be having the Pinterest perfect Christmas season. The tree is decorated, cookies made, lights hung outside, and you are just trying to get your child to regulate. I’ve lived there.

When we first brought our four home through adoption, they had never experienced an American Christmas while their new siblings had. Twenty-five days of building up to something was too much stress on their little bodies. Too many new people. Too many new traditions. 

Some Practical Suggestions

Simplify but don’t give up on your traditions.

It’s tempting to give up on traditions because your kiddos are overwhelmed by them. Instead of giving them up, simplify. It’s okay to pare back. Not go to every party. Not go caroling because your kids don’t know what a carol is. Just don’t give up on them altogether. To help my kiddos learn some carols, I bought a book and we sang a Christmas carol every night after our advent reading. Many times the kids were silent or sang “blah blah blah” sorts of sounds to the rhythm. It was okay. They learned carols. They know carols today. The biggest mistake parents tend to make is to give up and give in when kids “Don’t want to” which is code for “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m scared out of my wits.” 

Involve your kids in the practice of celebrating Christmas.

If you are like I used to be, you want to do everything yourself because it is easier. You decorate the tree. Make the cookies, shoo the kids out of the kitchen because it’s less messy. Don’t. If you want kids to practice the habit of celebration, let them help. Let me rephrase that. Require them to be present and help in some way, even if the kiddos say, “That’s stupid!” One of the issues humans struggle with is doing something they are not competent in. It’s universal. I remember when my kids didn’t know how to hook the bulb and hang it on the tree. Heck, I remember when I didn’t know how. Be patient. These are moments of connection. It’s tempting to say, “You’re doing that all wrong!” or “Just let me do that!” Resist the temptation. Show the kids how to do it. Expect some things to be broken. Expect there to be icing and sprinkles on the floor. It’s okay. It will clean up, sweep up, but broken spirits take longer to heal. 

Don’t expect your kids to understand the real meaning of Christmas. 

Daughter Ania and I hopped into the car after an evening of Christmas shopping at Ikea. Siri decided to send us in circles before putting on the interstate and gave us a three hour drive time for our ninety minute trip. Was that her idea of a joke? Half an hour down the road we hit snow and bumper to bumper traffic. Huge rigs pulled on the side of the road to avoid the slip and slide routine going on with cars. We snailed our way along singing Christmas songs with Pentatonix (we do the sound effects in the background perfectly) and laughing until tears streamed down our cheeks. Oh… Christmas, we love you. We arrived home safe and sound two and a half hours later, tired, and happy. How did you know Siri?


Or better yet, did Mary know? (Mom joke). Really, what does this have to do with kids knowing the meaning of Christmas? Lots.

You see, we sometimes over-spiritualize Christmas. Do you hear me serious sister?  As Moms, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the true meaning of Christmas and in a parallel universe, checking off a to do list like a maniac:

  • 
WRAP PRESENTS ☑

  • ORDER LAST MINUTE FROM AMAZON ☑
  • 
MAKE PIE ☑

  • RUN OUT FOR STOCKING STUFFERS ☑

  • CLEAN☑


And when our children ask for time, tire from activities, walk around in sugar comas and meltdown, we Moms despair of our kids ever understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  When the kids play with the plastic nativity scene and have Mary duke it out with Joseph, and the wisemen, we may wonder if they will ever “get it.”

Do we get Christmas?


BUT- AND THIS IS A BIG BUT…..
Do we get it?


If we do and we live consistently, acting on that belief, then they WILL get it. It won’t be a shopping trip to IKEA and driving home in snow. It will be Christmas.

How many of us don’t really meditate on the real meaning of Christmas every moment of the Advent season? How often do we get sidetracked into buying the perfect gift, keeping up with the neighbors and their extravagant Christmas decorations. We run out and buy more. Scour Pinterest and Instagram for the perfect table setting (guilty and fun!) It’s okay. We’re human. As long as we don’t overspend or make those things idols. The point is, all of our practices are confusing to kiddos, especially ones who have never celebrated Christmas the way we have. We each have Christmas ideals. We want kids to be thankful that Jesus left his place in heaven to born a baby. What does that mean to them and how often do we emulate our inner ideal? 

This is not a guilt or condemnation fest. It’s just a reminder that even if we know the true meaning of Christmas, we don’t always show it in outward ways. We practice traditions, ceremonies, and read Advent readings that have a deep meaning for us. Our kiddos don’t have the same deep meaning for things yet. It’s okay. Don’t stress over it. 

Christmas isn’t a day, well…..it is, a day we Christians picked to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I won’t get into all the theology. Christmas is a belief that God came to earth as a human babe. He left his throne and God-form to set up His kingdom on earth, not for a day- but for eternity.

When we live in accordance with that kingdom-

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

-Matthew 6:33

When we live with this in mind and action, knowing He works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will.

God sent His son to checkmate satan, to turn the tide in the game, to take us from the course and fashion of this world, take control back from the prince of the power of the air and establish His kingdom in our hearts and on the earth.

Kids aren’t going to respect Christmas because we put up a tree or purchased the perfect presents.

They aren’t going to act like angelic beings because we celebrate some man made traditions. However, they are going to watch us. If our actions are consistent with our beliefs, they will get it.

Just don’t expect them to float around singing the Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus unless you are!

Your children will get it, if you live it. It is a process. It takes time. You weren’t born with wisdom and understanding. Neither are they. We understand in part. They understand in bits. Wait for it.

I hope these tips help you thrive this Christmas season. How would you like a tip for each day of the Advent season? Grab a copy of:


Available at:

Alibris
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas: An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Families, provides an insightful, practical and encouraging resource for parents navigating the advent season. The book fills a void for adoptive and foster families as to ideas and guidance of not just surviving the Christmas season with children who have come from different backgrounds/experiences but to “thriving” during the season. With applicable daily Scripture readings to practical suggestions, this tool for helping families will become an annual tradition!

After you grab your copy, make sure to sign up for the free e-course to accompany the book! Click on the photo to see the course and watch the video explaining the course.


Three Tips for Thriving Through the Holidays

Every year the calendar flips to December and we Moms hit the ground with skis on and head down the slope to things to do and places to be before that magic goal day on the calendar, December 25th. We don’t want to just survive the holidays, we want to thrive!

1. Rest

This doesn’t mean do nothing at all. Rest can and should be planned.

Rest often means a different kind of work than you usually do.

Rest doesn’t necessarily mean vegging or bingeing on Netflix (it can be, but not always). This rest means doing something that pour back into you and your family. This is the kind of rest that you plan and always remember. It’s another group of coins in your memory bank.

  • In order for your kiddos to watch a Christmas movie, you make the popcorn and the hot chocolate. You snuggle on on the couch with your kiddos. Take the time to listen to their commentary and questions during the movie.
  • Visiting a tree farm and chopping down a live tree.
  • Decorating a tree.
  • Reading Christmas books aloud.
  • Singing Christmas carols.
  • Having a coffee date with a friend who is a kindred spirit.
  • Go to a Christmas market and look at the lights.
  • Listen to an audio book while you clean, bake or sit by the fire (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one I listen to every year.)

2. Go Deeper in your understanding of Christmas. Get an Advent Devotional for yourself as well as your children.

I’m never going to get to the place on this earth where I have arrived spiritually. I’m always learning. Going deeper. Having new revelations. Our children learn by repetition, layer by layer we add truths from the scripture as we read through the Advent Devotional. It’s the same for us adults. We need to add layer by layer of Christmas truth to our understanding. Each year we pray that God gives us a new “book of revelations”. God can’t do that if we aren’t willing to take the time to read and study. There are plenty of Advent Devotionals out there. Find one that fits your life for now. If you have small children, try one that you can read in the few minutes you have after everyone is asleep. If you have more time because you have teens or are an empty nester, find a longer version to invest in!

I’m trying Jennifer Hand’s book:

I haven’t read it yet, but I’m super excited about it. Yes, I wrote an Advent book as well. You can find it here.

3. Pray Through.

Mark Batterson speaks of this in his book Circle Maker – here’s my paraphrase:

We don’t usually remember the days we did nothing, but we remember the days we had everything to do and God pulled us through.

If your plate is full this season and it’s all good things that you committed to, then pray through. If you’re tired and don’t think you can do it all, Jesus is all. He gives strength to the weary. When you wait upon Him, He will lift you up on wings as eagles.
Don’t do what I sometimes do – pray and then hang on by my fingernails hoping God will pull through. Thank Him in advance what what He is going to do. Enjoy the the “through” instead of waiting until you get to the other side.
I’ll leave you with this set of verses from Matthew 11.  Note that Jesus says His yoke is light. A yoke implies work. So, whatever work you must do this season, He can make it light. He can refresh your soul.

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and [e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

You are anointed and qualified to raise your adopted/foster child.

Jesus

“For unto us a child is born and unto us, a son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Emmanuel.”

-Isaiah 9:6

My first born came out wet, red faced, pointy headed and squalling. I was in the birthing room at Mon General, the first to use this new(0ld) concept-to give birth in a room and stay there for the duration. It was state of the art.  Comfortable and top of the line everything. On the tour, hubby asked what the small square pieces of equipment was on the hinged arm hanging over the bed.

“That would be a tv,”the nurse said with a chuckle. All the couples from our birthing laughed heartily and the tension and fear of that moment was broken.

* * *

We all know the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, at least the general story. In fact some of us have rehearsed it so many times, we could repeat the verse that houses the history, verbatim. It’s like memorizing a poem, but do we really think about the meaning?

* * *

Feel the trek to Bethlehem riding on a donkey?

Labor overtaking you and having no place to go.

Lying him in a manger?

Shepherds coming to worship Him.

No midwife or doctor.

* * *

Jesus wasn’t born in the traditional way or in a comfortable environment. There were no gadgets or TVs to help Mary along or make her feel comfortable. Joseph had to lead the way and fend for his new family. He had to trust the dreams and the word spoken by an angel. Mary had to do the same. Mary and Joseph carried more than the angel visits and dreams in their hearts. They had the prophecies of the coming Messiah.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).

-Is. 7:14 (Matt 1:23)

We adoptive parents prophecy the intention of building our family through adoption. Over months or years, we inform extended family and friends.

* * *

We are pregnant with the seed of adoption.

* * *

Most of us don’t have angelic visitations, some of us have dreams to confirm or enlarge our hearts. Yet, none of us have exactly the same journey and none of us have an easy one. There may be travel to a foreign country, eating foods that are not common to us, jumping through political hoops of policy. We stand in embassies waiting for rubber stamps to hit paper. We sit in doctor’s offices with panicked, crying children, fulfilling the necessary vaccine quota, all at once. We may spend hours in the air, comforting fevered, frightened children who have never traveled outside of a 15km radius of where they were born. Some of these have only lived within the four walls of a hospital and orphanage for their short life span. Outside terrifies them.

* * *

We listen to the naysayers, the people close to us who tell us we’re crazy. Or worse, those family members who try to convince us through scripture that adoption is not biblical (FALSE) and that having children ‘naturally’ is God’s will no matter how many barren years you have suffered or miscarriages you are still grieving.

What we must hang onto, what we must rehearse is the word given to us. What we parents must recall is the holiness, the sacredness of this messy journey. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Every worthy endeavor has obstacles

Every worthy endeavor has obstacles.

* * *

Joseph and Mary had many, yet knowing the importance of their calling, they persevered.

None of us are raising/adopting God. Thanks be to God, that is finished. That fact does not diminish the importance of our adoption journey. Adopting is following in our heavenly Father’s footsteps. When reading the summation of what Jesus came to earth for, insert your name.

The Spirit of the Lord upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor and the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the physical and spiritual captives and the opening of prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.

-Isaiah 61:1

When my newbies first came home, I read this chapter obsessively. It’s worth taking the time to read today. The two words I focused on in those early days (and even now)-anointed, qualified.

* * *

Parents, you are anointed and qualified to preach the Gospel of good tidings to your children.

* * *

With the help of the Lord, under your prayer covering and guidance, your children can be set free from the mindset of neglect and lack. If you adopted a child from birth, he can feel chosen, not abandoned. If your teen struggles with his identity, you can proclaim liberty and continue to point to his worth. Formed in his mother’s birth womb, he was chosen and set apart.

Adoption builds families the God-purposed way. Adoption is greater than or precedes the universe. Before Jesus, the Word made flesh, spoke the world into being, God chose us, planned for us to be adopted as His own, because it was His kind intent. (Ephesians 1)

1. Adoption, like the birth of Jesus is hard and messy.

2. Not everyone will understand your calling, but you must hold to your confession of faith.

3. You are anointed and qualified to raise your adopted/foster child.

“This is how adoption works-like a sacrament, that visible sign of inner grace. It’s a thin place where we see that we are different and yet not entirely foreign to one another. We are relatives not by blood, but by mystery.”- Kelley Nikondeha

Christmas Has Needs

I paced back and forth at the front of the house where large windows looked out over the front yard and the mailbox. The mailbox- what had been a symbol of Christmas cards and good news had become my worst enemy. I dreaded the mailman coming bringing bills and more bills, and yet I watched, waited, worried. When the mail truck pulled up to my box, I hid behind the curtains, afraid he would see me and hand deliver bills that said, “FINAL NOTICE”. I imagined him shaking his head in pity me as he saw the stack of bills.

I’ve lived there, deep in the pit, where my prayers were only about my lack. Mortgage payments. Groceries. Presents.

* * *

How do you have a silent night when your mind is full of the need? Of worry? Of the reality of the barrenness of now?

Christmas
Has 
Needs

I’m not going to tell you how to shop smarter or spend less (there are plenty of great blogs and books about that). The truth is you cannot shop smarter with nothing. It is not a great deal if you have nothing.

Over ten years ago, we moved to our current home and still owned a home in another city. It sat on the market for a year and a half. We paid two mortgages for that length of time. A few years before that we lost our family owned business. We ate through our savings, our kids college funds and put the rest of our money into a house that the downturn in the market swallowed up. We went from being middle class to on the edge of homeless.

* * *

I don’t share this info often because I don’t enjoy pity parties anymore. I’m not inviting you to one. I do, however, enjoy empathy parties with a healthy dose of encouragement. That is what this book is for. Encouragement. As I said before, I have talked to many adoptive families over the years and all of them have something in common- after the adoption comes the Job syndrome. Sometimes it’s years down the road. Sometimes, just months or days. It can come in different packages, loss of heath for parent or child, loss of finances, behavior issues, trouble attaching,_________(fill in the blank). The Job syndrome is a whole book in itself, I’ll keep it brief your sake, you get the picture, right? (This is redundant.)

* * *

Christmas has needs. It needs us to step outside of our everyday stress and receive it.

* * *

That is difficult to do when we are full of worry and the weight of the world on our shoulders. So, how do we accept the gift of Christmas when we cannot buy our children the gifts we want to? Or buy the groceries we need to make the traditional dinner? How do we meet Christ in the morning when we are so weighed down and depressed we cannot get out of bed? How do we celebrate when our children from hard places have had every trigger activated and are out of control?

* * *

Biblical Application:

1. Accept your now.

You may not be where you want to be financially or physically, just remember a healthy part of getting on the right path is enjoying something in your now that you can remember later. Play games with your kids. Cut out paper snowflakes. Sing Christmas carols. Make gifts.  Watch for points of connection and behaviors you want to encourage. Mention them aloud to your children. Before you know it, you will have a pocket full of wonderful memories. The kids won’t remember the lean years as much as they remember the celebration.

* * *

2. Prepare for your future now.

I’m not talking about getting a financial plan. Those are great, but the bottom can fall out of those too. Ask me. I know. I’m talking about your heart. If you believe your child will always struggle or always make things a struggle then it will become reality. Instead, look for pinpricks of light and believe that God is doing a great work in the child that He put in your care. Instead of thinking that your Christmases will always be full of lack and need, focus on the blessings you have. Thank the Father for them. Often. Keep a list or a thankful tree (it doesn’t have to be November to do this). This is heart preparation for the future blessings. It makes things well with your soul.

* * *

3. Rest in HIM.

I can’t say this often enough. I do say it often because the Lord leads me to verses often that hi-light REST. His rest is not the same as ours. It’s not vegging in front of the TV ignoring the  issues, it’s digging deep into His word. It’s dialoguing with Him. Tell Him your concerns. Don’t just make requests. When you do, trust Him to supply. He will. The Christmas that was the most lean for us financially, friends of mine gave me gifts for my children that were perfect for them. We didn’t spend lots of money. We didn’t have it. We did celebrate. I bet if you asked my kids if they remember a ‘bad’ Christmas, they would say “NO!”The great thing about the need of Christmas is –

“You don’t have to make Christmas…..You can rest in Christ…..You can breathe easy in Christ.”- Ann Voskamp

Christmas needs us to rest in Christ.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents

It Had Better Not Be Perfect This Christmas!

Every year when the kids and I were putting up the Christmas tree, my Spock-like tendencies came out. Every candle had to be perfectly spaced. The ribbons had to be equal distance apart.  All the lights had to be white and homemade ornaments had to go on the back side of the tree. I wish I could go back in time and change those practices. I cannot. But, you can learn from my mistakes. Part of my habit was personality. Part perfectionism. I wanted the tree to be perfect. I’m not sure who the tree was being perfect for. It wasn’t for the kids. They would rather have popcorn and homemade ornaments. Colored lights.

* * *

The problem with perfect? It doesn’t help children. It leaves them wanting. It makes them feel as if they don’t measure up.

Happy Birthday.png

The last thing a child from a hard place needs is the expectation of perfectionism. They are wrapped in control that leaves them in manipulation mode. To add perfectionism to that scenario spells disaster. Instead we need flexibility. Fun. Willingness to bend. Willingness to bend down and see where they are and join them.

* * *

Biblical Application:

“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down from heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.”- C.S. Lewis

Kids who have come from traumatic beginnings or kids who have just had a hard day need us to descend to their depths in order to help them ascend into joy.

* * *

This is the Christ-like Christmas act. This is not perfect. It is messy. It is not self serving. It is bowing down to serve.

* * *

It is paper chains strung across the living room. It is flour all over the floor when baking. It is globs of shapeless cookies with mountains of icing. It is sloppily wrapped gifts with half a yard of tape around them. It is falling asleep on the floor under the Christmas tree with a child who pops out of bed like a batch of popcorn. It is joy in imperfection. Bend down to bring those in your world up with you.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents

Don’t Expect the Christmas Season to be Free of Hardships

Don’t expect the Christmas season to be free of hardships.

A dear friend of mine died  around Christmas time. I won’t make this tip about it. The grief is fresh and private and yet I rejoice that she no longer suffers.

* * *

None of us knows the day or the hour when hardships or struggles will strike.

Life happens during the christMas season

At this time last year, I was running around with a heart monitor strapped to my chest and wires trailing out of my yoga pants, thanks to some heart issues. My eldest son, Damian,  fell and broke his elbow at work so we traipsed from doctor to specialist trying to get a good picture of what was going on inside his arm. I got home and jumped into son Hunter’s car to be whisked to the cardiologists and rip off the monitor before they locked the doors. (Wonder what the reading looked like that last hour.) Not what I planned to be doing during the countdown to Christmas.

* * *

The truth is- life happens during the Christmas season. We cannot put sickness on hold or plan not to have any tragedies. Struggles are not scheduled on your calendar app.

* * *

Our children from hard places know the drill. These children have already suffered hardships. They can get stuck in the expectation of devastation. It is our job to allow them to grieve, but not stay stuck in the pit. Tough job. Not impossible. When we have this mindset that Christ gave us – all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) we can put struggles into perspective. Remember, this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Give thanks. Not for the circumstance, but in the midst of it.

* * *

Biblical Application:

2 In those days it occurred that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole[a]Roman empire should be registered.

2 This was the first enrollment, and it was made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 And all the people were going to be registered, each to his own city or town.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5 To be enrolled with Mary, his espoused (married) wife, who was about to become a mother.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her delivery,

7 And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn.

-Luke 2

The circumstances of the birth of our savior were probably not the Christmas that Mary and Joseph had envisioned. Fleeing to Egypt shortly after was probably not on their agenda either. Yet, they rejoiced. They celebrated. Mary pondered all of these things. There were gifts and songs sung by angels. There was great joy!

“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.”- Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

We parents must learn to rejoice and struggle at the same time for our children’s sake. We must teach them to cope and rejoice in the midst of circumstances. We can rejoice in one thing and grieve another at the same time. Nobody is asking us to ignore grief or pain. We don’t ask our children to either. We can rejoice in Christmas in the midst of pain. Hardships happen even at Christmas.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents.

You are NOT a Vending Machine

“This is what I want,” my son said as he flashed an expensive item before me. I saw the price first and the present second. Almost half my Christmas budget.

This was not my first Christmas with children or my  first Christmas with adopted children. I have learned the hard way that children from hard places sometimes want proof that someone loves them. Material proof. If you love me then you will buy me this pricey present, they challenge.

Material things are not eternal soul-fillers.

It was daughter, Audrey who reminded me of the important truth- I am not a vending machine (and neither are you). Christmas presents do show others that we love them, but they are not based on coins spent or love doled out in material measure. Each gift should fit the recipient and the budget of the giver. We Moms can easily throw our whole year’s budget when we feel compelled to love a child with the vending machine mentality.

* * *

The sad truth is no matter what we buy a child, it will never fill the need for love. Material things are not eternal soul-fillers.

* * *

The child may be happy for a moment, a week or a month, but eventually that vending machine need grows into greed. And greed is never satisfied. Greed never loves. Greed doesn’t affirm. Greed doesn’t hug or play board games or read books. Greed just cries for more.

So, this Christmas don’t fall into the vending machine trap. Fall into the loving, time-giving, affirming habit. Christmas gifts are not the purpose, they are the icing on the cake of Him who gave the perfect present-Himself.

*Excerpt from:

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas (1)

Expect a Mom Meltdown This Christmas Season

Expect a Mom meltdown.

Last year during the Christmas season, my good friend Lori posted this on Instagram:

“I am in panic mode you guys. I worry about what I’ve gotten the kids, if they’ll like what they are going to get, who else I need to buy for, where are all the extra funds going to come from? I know this isn’t the reason we celebrate, but I can’t help it. I want to give my kids the world! They don’t ask for things. In fact, JR only asked for one thing and he said he didn’t care if he got nothing else. The stress of money and things have made me grumpy and to not enjoy this season like I used to. I feel so behind….not just with Christmas, but on the house, with school. My mind is rarely on the joy that Christmas brings. So, I’m going to try and combat that this week. We are going to bake cookies, maybe research how other countries celebrate Christmas, and read the story of Jesus’ birth….I need to be reminded why Christmas makes me so happy, and I need to release myself from the stress and let God take the lead (because I’m such a control freak).”

And… the feedback was in agreement. I shared “you are not alone” and other Moms agreed that they have meltdown before Christmas moments. Some blame it on peer pressure. Yep, it is there. But I think most of it stems from our wanting to make Christmas perfect for our families. A top notch goal? Right?

Expect
A
Mom Meltdown

* * *

Blogs and articles this season have a wide array of advice about advent readings, the true meaning of Christmas, how to decorate the best tree, the best deals on gifts, yummy cookie recipes.

* * *

And these are all good things unless we Moms let them be the ruler by which we measure ourselves with. Then things get dicey. Our inner monologue becomes one of should haves and should dos instead of peaceful thankful thoughts.

* * *

I am not immune to the inner monologue or the meltdowns. I had one the other day. My inner voice says, you won’t have enough to get everything for everyone and you won’t have enough energy to do everything you need to do.

* * *

Biblical Application:

How do we combat these meltdowns and the negative speak? With the truth.

My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches and glory. (Philippians 4:19)

Needs. Not wants. Needs. Not perfection. The truth is God will supply what it is in His will to supply. He is not  our perfection provider.

I traveled to my eldest daughter, Audrey’s for a cookie baking day. I picked up my second eldest daughter, Amerey, and baby Cecilia on the way. I was feeling pretty great about the trip. I had given all my baking supplies to Audrey the day before. I didn’t need to bring anything but myself and the dough. Here’s what happened:

The fog was so dense in the mountain passes that I missed my exit. I had to travel further down the road and turn around and try not to miss it again. I almost missed the turn into Audrey’s neighborhood because I was disoriented. We pulled in her driveway and jumped out of the car, “I forgot my cookie dough!”

“What?! Mom?!”

Audrey ran out, “What’s wrong?”

“I forgot my cookie dough!”

“Mom, I didn’t make any because you and Amerey were bringing some!”

We laughed. It worked out. Audrey ran to the store and bought some more supplies. We did make cookies. We did have a good  time.

* * *

A joyous Christmas season is not based on perfection. We’re just a bunch of human beings.

* * *

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: “

-Matthew 1:18

The perfect gift of Christ was delivered in much less than perfect circumstances- an unexpected pregnancy, an edict to travel, birth in a manger. Yet, the gift was still was and is perfect.

Expect a Mom meltdown. Let it go and move on. I pray that God shows you His presence in your imperfect circumstances. Speak truth to your inner self. Christmas joy does not demand perfection.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas (1)

Adoption is a Holy Mission and the Message of the Wisemen

Wisemen

Three young boys shuffled on the stage in bathrobes. They hovered in the background while shepherds, sheep and cows knelt before the baby-doll- Jesus in the manger. They seemed tacked on to the production, adding no value or having no major significance. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. These Wisemen, who were not Jews, recognized Jesus, as King and Messiah.

“Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him.”

– Matthew 2:2

Who were these foreigners to say this child was valuable, deserving of life and praise? One who would replace Herod as King?

We commonly refer to the Magi as kings or Wisemen. They had taken the prophecies of the Messiah, studied and believed them wholeheartedly. They willingly sunk their time, talent and treasure into locating the child and offering him praise, thereby acknowledging His divinity and giving Jesus’ earthly parents confirmation, validation. It had likely been a few years since his birth and although Mary had pondered all of those things in her heart the night of His Holy birth, she may have been wondering as Jesus toddled around where God was. Joseph worked hard to provide. She took care of the household and may have had another child on the way.

* * *

This short visit by the Wisemen stirred a nation and angered an earthly king (Herod). It brought forth a Job syndrome of sorts for Joseph and Mary and the nation of Israel.

* * *

“Now after they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up! [Tenderly} take the young child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you [otherwise], for Herod intends to search for the child in order to destroy Him.”

– Matthew 2:13

A genocide began in their wake. Herod ordered all the male children (two years old and younger) in Bethlehem and surrounding territories to be put to death.

* * *

Adoption is a holy mission..png

We adoptive parents may go through a Job syndrome of our own. Horrific things happen in the wake of our calling.

A year and a half after our adoption was final, 911 shook our nation to the core. Our  restaurant businesses went down hill as a result. People were afraid to go out to eat. They felt safer indoors. We had taken our children from a nation fresh from the dissolving of communism where fear and lack reigned. And now it was happening here (or at least we thought). Fear reigned.

We lost our businesses in the economic downturn that followed. We were forced to sell our home and one by one, our four restaurants. Our savings quickly depleted and we cried out to the Lord asking, why have you forsaken us? It hit hard.

* * *

I didn’t want to suffer lack and more than that, I didn’t want my children to re enter the mindset of lack.

* * *

In the midst of the bankruptcy I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS). I had suffered many of the symptoms since I was a child without a diagnosis. The stress of the situation made the disease rear it’s ugly head. Hubby took me to Pittsburgh to a specialist and I sat in an IV room weak, crying and questioning, why? we did what you told us to, Jesus!

Or maybe yours is just a daily battle. I get it. I understand. It’s hard to think your journey is holy when four of your seven kids spill their spaghetti dinner on the floor and you follow suit (true story). Are piles of dirty laundry holy? Or meltdowns when triggers are activated? Or your schedule is overloaded with doctor’s appointments and therapies?

* * *

Adoptive parents may forget the holiness of the mission in the midst of the day to day trying to survive. The mission doesn’t lose its holiness or its value when kids are melting down, dishes are stacked in the sink and no one has clean underwear.

* * *

The more I have served adoptive/foster families the more I find that the Job syndrome is pretty much one hundred percent guaranteed.

* * *

Friends of ours who adopted from China had to sell the home they had just built and move to another state and begin again. New area. New church family. New home. All shortly after the adoption.

* * *

Another friend of ours, foster mom of so many I lost count and adoptive mom of three, suffered health issues for years. She was convinced she had thyroid issues, doctors repeatedly told her it was in her head and she just needed to work harder at working out. Finally, a doctor followed through and listened. After some extensive tests, she was told she only had half a thyroid.

* * *

There are many more stories I could tell you of families who suffered illness, financial loss, death of a child or fill in the blank. One thing I will say about all of these families, they didn’t turn around on the adoption/foster care road. These things may have happened anyway, you may be thinking. I don’t agree. When we are inactive, not pursuing our mission, the devil is content to leave us alone.

* * *

If you want to know what is most valuable, look for what is most fought against, what is being battled most vehemently and violently profaned. When we march forward valuing life, there will be opposition.

* * *

The Bible says to gird up the loins of your mind. That’s a simple way of saying prepare mentally before the battle. Put on the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation. Get out your sword of truth and write down and speak the truth, the word that is able to save your soul (your mind, will and emotions). Mary and Joseph had both had words to encourage them in their mission. Maybe you need a fresh one. Here it is. You are not alone. You have chosen to value what God values. Life. Family. Those are important to Him. You did hear His gentle whisper. What you are doing is holy. Hard, but holy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

We are also like the  Wisemen, walking in the footsteps of those who say each child is valuable. He is worth redeeming. Birth moms say this when they handed that swaddled one over to adoptive parents. This child deserves life. He has a purpose. You are serving that purpose when you step up to the plate day after day. Go YOU!

*This is an excerpt from:  25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas (1)