Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Then Sings My Soul

I've been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving and what it means to be truly "thankful". This year has been a rough year for my husband and I financially, and some days I feel like we are drowning. It's so hard to remember how many blessings you have, when there is nothing but clouds in your sky.

But last week, I had the opportunity to help my mom with a labor of love for her called "Operation Christmas Child". She spends all year buying things and preparing them for her "shoe boxes". If its small, inexpensive, and looks like something a child in a third world country would appreciate, she will take 100 of them. That's how dedicated she is! Anyway, she decided to let the kids at Camden Christian School help with her shoe boxes this year, so she packed all of her goodies and empty plastic bins to the school lunch room and let each child go through the lines and fill a shoe box of their own. If your like me, you may think that filling a shoe box for a child who won't be getting anything for Christmas would contain things like candy, color books, crayons, and small toys? Well, you would be right, but they also contained things that you and I take for granted everyday. She put things like soap, wash clothes, toothbrushes, sewing kits, manicure kits, hair brushes, pencils, writing paper, and even these special shawls made out of fleece blankets that my grandma helped her sew. I mean she thought of anything and everything that might make that child's life a little more enjoyable for even a couple weeks. But, for her its not about the box or the items in the box, its about the seed of faith that box will plant in that child's life. So, every box is shipped with a letter, a prayer, and this incredible faith my mother possess that God is going to use that box to give someone in that country the opportunity to share Christ with that child. What an amazing thing a shoe box can do, and what an amazing mother I have. As we focused on those shoe boxes for one morning, I was reminded of how I have so much compared to those children, and no matter how dark and cloudy my skies are, I'm sure they are a lot brighter than the skies of those children and their families.

You see, just like everyone else in this country, I have so much to be thankful for! First of all, I am thankful for my salvation, and for a Godly heritage that pointed me in that direction. I am thankful that God allowed me to born in a country that is so rich in blessings, even though everyone here takes all of it for granted.

I am thankful for a Godly mother who prays for me and my family everyday, and who is the biggest reason why I am who I am today. She has seen me through so much, and even though she drives me crazy, I know that she just wants what is best for me, and wants me to fulfill God's ultimate plan for my life.

I am thankful for my dad, who in spite of his many failures and short comings, has really stepped up to the plate in the last few years. He is always there for me, and he never judges me when I fail. He just loves me all the same.

I am thankful for my husband who gets up everyday, goes to work, and provides for me and our daughter. My husband is the hardest working person I know, and he sacrifices so much so that Emma and I can have the things we need. His unconditional love is a blessing in my life, and I feel so blessed that we found each other in this great big world. I am thankful for a healthy, beautiful little girl I get to call my daughter. She has been one of the greatest blessings in my life; my saving grace. She has reminded me what it is to play, giggle, and just to have fun. She has also taught me what it is to view the world with a great sense of awe and wonder, and what it is to truly love someone completely. I feel so honored that I get to be her mom, and help her find her way in this great big world.

I am thankful for my sisters. My crazy, loud, but incredibly amazing sisters. They always know how to make my life make sense, and they help me laugh even through the hardest times. I know they always have my back, and I'm always going to have theirs. They are beautiful and incredibly their own. I wouldn't change any of them for the world, and I feel so blessed that I can call them my sisters and my friends.

I am thankful for amazing in-laws. I am so fortunate to NOT be one of those girls who hates her mother-in-law, or who dreads spending time with her in-laws. My in-laws are great! Not only are they a HUGE help with Emma, but they are also extremely supportive of us and our marriage. They have definitely been there and done that when it comes to finances and marriage, and they are full of so much wonderful advice and guidance without being pushy or making us feel like we are doing it all wrong. They have definitely been our saving grace more than once, and a beacon to us, especially through these early years.

I am thankful for a HUGE extended family! Sure my family is crazy, we don't confess to be anything but, but one thing is for sure, and that's that we love each other and we'd do ANYTHING for each other! We are 100% supportive of one another, no matter if we have been defeated or are celebrating a great victory. Even when we argue or have a "falling out", we always find away to come back together and act as if nothing ever happened. Family is family: they are the friends you didn't get to choose, but that God knew you couldn't live without.

I am thankful for so many great friends. I have always prided myself on having such a small, intimate circle of friends I can turn to and trust completely. I love each one of those girls with a great big piece of my heart, and I feel so incredibly blessed that God brought each one of them into my life for such as time as this. I couldn't get through the days, weeks, and months without them to make me laugh, and remind me of the fun girl I used to be :)

Just like everyone I have so much to be thankful for, but this time of year, I especially find myself counting my blessings. It's hard to remind ones self of all the good God has brought into your life, especially when you are going through a difficult time, but it is true that He always provides and He is always there. He is always faithful, and always ready to provide blessing to them who are faithful to Him. Being able to serve such a great God is probably the greatest blessing of my whole life, because it is He who allows me to have so many other great blessings.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

I've been think a lot about Christmas. I know its only the first part of November, and don't worry I'm not one of those crazies that puts my Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving (I don't get THAT into it!), but I always start thinking about it this time of year, mostly because of the amount of money it takes to make sure everyone has a Merry Christmas. I know that seems a little Scrooge-ish of me, but I promise its not because I'm all bah-humbug, "I hate Christmas spirit" or whatever! I'm actually a very giving person, TOO giving if you ask my husband. Sometimes I feel like it is my sole purpose to make sure everyone gets exactly what they want for Christmas no matter the cost.
No, my stress over Christmas is simply because I'm a stay at home mom with a limited budget, and since I've sworn off credit cards, this is the first year I will be doing my Christmas shopping without the "help" of a little plastic card. While I'm proud of myself for taking the steps we need to get out debt, I still know this will be a huge adjustment for me. I don't like to see anyone I love "want", and I love to use this time of year to show our friends and family how much we appreciate them. But, I have also learned that Christmas is not worth going into debt over, and that in the long run, its the little things, like the people you spend it with and the memories you make that truly make Christmas, Christmas.
So, this year, I am resolved to make Christmas not so much about the money, but to make it about the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ. I'd like to be able to teach my daughter that Christmas really isn't about presents and what you "get". Its about giving to others, not just monetarily, but by giving of your time. By making time for your family, or volunteering your time to help the needy or homeless, or filling a shoebox full of goodies for a child that lives far, far away, you are embracing the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ came not only to give His life for our sins, but to minister to and love others. He spent his entire life on earth surrounded by others as He taught them and loved them. Even on the cross, He was ministering to the robber that hung next to Him. Jesus Christ came to give not to take and to bless others instead of wanting from others.
I hope this new attitude will help me get over feeling so stressed and inadequate. I mean I think I will always "want" for my daughter to have a good Christmas, because there is nothing quite like a child's face on Christmas morning. But, I hope that I can learn to show love in others way besides gifts and money, because I don't want to pass that on to my daughter. I want to be the mother God has called me to be, and I want to raise a child whose sole purpose is to love and honor Him with their life.

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