The Beauty of Unique

Some people think I’m crazy because I like winter. There’s something magical about snow, especially the first snowfall. It falls like a blanket over the city, muting the noise and casting an ethereal beauty. If it’s nighttime it’s even better because the silence is deafening and the black night and white snow contrast each other perfectly….

I’m sharing over at Raising Generations Today.  Please come on over and read the whole article here: http://www.raisinggenerationstoday.com/the-beauty-of-unique/

 

Choosing What’s Important This Holiday Season

Can you feel the pressure mounting? The expectations rising? It’s that time of year again. The Christmas season.

I never quite know how I’ll react to the holidays. Two years ago, I was ready early. I had the advent calendars made up and everything. It was a rare year. Last year, I barely got the tree up and really didn’t even want to think much about Christmas, I was at the other extreme. I usually sit somewhere in the middle. Both equally anticipating and dreading Christmas.

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A few weeks ago I read a blog I follow which turned my thinking upside down. The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels is about making our houses into homes. She posted a blog entitled Simply Inspired Holidays: First Things First. (You can read it here, you won’t regret it.)

She writes: “I believe that if we begin this season with an intentional focus on gratitude, we’ll be inspired to create a special atmosphere in our home for celebrating.”

My brain clicked on and started to work as she asked three questions. The first was what matters most to us this holiday season and the second “What are you most grateful for? Ask yourself how gratitude can help you shape your holiday plans and expectations.”

I stopped there. What? I had never looked at Christmas through the filter of gratitude. Not really. Not beyond the we should be grateful for the baby Jesus and let’s try to manufacture that feeling this holiday, amid all the spending, and frenetic hype. Not very inspiring. Instead it was just another thing to do on my getting-longer-by-the-moment TO DO list.

But Michael’s questions made me focus. I couldn’t actually answer it right away unless I wanted pat answers, which I didn’t. I’ve been mulling these over for weeks. What am I really thankful for and how does that translate into making Christmas more meaningful? How does it look in my house? These were significant questions because frankly I haven’t been feeling very grateful lately. Christmas was just going to make me feel more guilty for my less then stellar attitude. The answer had been to avoid the holiday. But maybe I could change my perspective.

Baby steps. I thought to myself. I can do this in baby steps. Embrace the holidays but not the consumerism. Not the should do’s and must do’s. I will do what is best and important for me and my family. Because my husband is a pastor, he’s already busy this time of year, I don’t want to add to it.

These are the things I’m grateful for this year. They may seem simple but hopefully in these small things, I will come alive to the bigger things.

I am grateful for the rich colours at Christmas time when it can be dreary and grey. I love red so I am thankful for the deep, rich tones that are woven through this season. I want to colour up my house this Christmas because I love bright, colourful things. It will help my mood stay more cheery.

I am grateful for twinkling lights. – Christmas lights on houses, on trees. Candles burning. They are warm and inviting when it can be cold and dreary. When we feel frosty and grey on the inside the lights invite us into their warmth. They point to the Light of the World who is also inviting us in. I need that reminder some days. I also want my kids to feel like their home is warm and inviting.  That they are accepted here.

I am grateful for the many blessings we are given here in North America. I am grateful we are privileged and have the ability to share with others who are not as blessed.  I want to focus on sharing.

Speaking of gifts, I love giving good gifts. I worked in a gift shop after I graduated from university and it was a great lesson in giving. I appreciate when someone has thought about the gift they want to give. We’ve all been there when we’ve purchased something quick and easy. It happens but I don’t want it to be the norm. Nor should we stress about buying the perfect gift. Because it’s not about that either. But a little thought can go a long way. For some, a gift card is the perfect gift. For others it’s about time spent with the person or being given the gift of time for themselves. As I said, it doesn’t have to be complicated but maybe this year we can take a few minutes to think of the person we love and are thankful for before we buy. Most times we are more touched by the fact someone actually thought about us than the gift itself.

 

Those are the things I’ve chosen to focus on this Christmas. Every year we look to make it meaningful and more times than not, I, at least, come away feeling empty and guilty because I feel that way. Maybe my focus needs to change. Maybe as we pick and choose what matters most and filter it through the lens of gratefulness, we will be pointed back to greatest Gift given.  The only Gift we ever really need.

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Luke 2:11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. NASB (emphasis mine)

Three Years Later…

Cinder458: Your blogaversary is coming up, right?
(From Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram)
I was reminded today by my host site, it’s been three years today that I began blogging here. It made me think of the line above from a novel I recently read. “Blogaversary.” Three years can seem like a long time but I’m still an amateur when it comes to blogging. I have learned a few thing however these past three years:

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I could write about how blogging takes perseverance and commitment but you know that already. What I’ve learned is if you have the passion about something you will commit to it even if you don’t think you have it in you. I’ve surprised myself. How bout you? What have you committed to that you didn’t think you’d be able to?

Words are powerful. They can build up or tear down, give life or destroy it. In a day and age where anyone can write anything to anyone, words can be used as inspiration to do great good or as an even greater weapon to destroy. The temptation is there for all of us as we navigate our way through all forms of social media. Words stick, we need to use them wisely.

The final thing I’ve learned is how generous people are. Writing is solitary which suits me but the final created product is not. A fellow creative and I were discussing this the other day.  We create alone but once it’s done we want people to see it, read it and enjoy it. To find some worth in it that will maybe, hopefully, help them or make a difference for them in their own lives. People’s responses have blown me away. You have kept me encouraged on days I felt like I didn’t have anything to give. I have been humbled when you have shared little bits of your life so candidly with me. I am so grateful that you take time out of your busy days to read Whole. I can’t even describe how amazed I feel at that. I am always grateful when you share the blog or make a comment. Thank you.

I am posting a link here to my first blog here on Whole. Hopefully when you write, you evolve!   I have found my voice writing here so it may have changed! I hope my writing skills have improved too!  You can be the judge!  🙂

Thank you again for inviting me into your lives as you read Whole. I hope the next years are even more creative and that we all see ourselves grow and mature into the people we were created to be.

Happy “Blogaversary!”

Jen

Turn Home

Home. What is your reaction to that word? I imagine there are as many different responses as people reading this blog.

What got me thinking about home was the study of the prodigal and a very poignant scene in a book I read a few months back.

The prodigal ran away from his home.  He demanded his inheritance and left home to go live the way he wanted.  Eventually the money ran out and he was feeding pigs.  Realizing he would be treated better at his father’s house as a servant, he returns home.  Hid dad welcomes him with open arms and won’t hear about him working as a servant.  He is restored to his place as his dad’s son.  The story is recorded in the gospel of Luke 15 if you are unfamiliar with it.

In the novel I read, the main character was forced from her home.  Many years later, she is weeping and someone asks her why is she crying? Here is the quote from the novel Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas:


‘“Because I am lost,” she whispered into the earth. “And I do not know the way.”
It was what she had never been able to tell Nehemia – that for ten years, she had been unsure how to find the way home, because there was no home left.” (Heir of Fire, by Sarah J. Maas, p.281)

That scene has stayed with me for months because I understand exactly what this character is expressing. When we can’t find home, we are lost. Have you ever felt that way?

After many moves and as I age, I’m learning home is not really a place. I’ve lived in many houses, not all have been a home.

We put a lot of emphasis on the physical home here in North America. We are told in countless ways that the places we live need to be up to date and nicely decorated. There’s a certain standard to live up to. I agree that living in a place you find nice, goes a long way to making it a home. But it’s not the main thing. I think we have it all wrong.

I believe home is whatever we give our hearts to. That saying, Home is Where Your Heart Is, is true. That’s why it doesn’t necessarily have to be a place. It can be a person, a job, a dream. We lose sight of the fact that these homes are all temporary.

We can get lost in them. We lose our way from our true home. God created us with a longing in our very beings to be in a relationship with Him. He is our true home. I heard a speaker in the summer talk about how we should not inspire children to want to go to Heaven. Because heaven is not the prize, he said. God is.

Making our physical homes, our spouses, our jobs or our ministries our homes sets us up to get lost. We put our hope in things and people only to get disappointed. We become disillusioned and we wander away from the source of our true home and hope.

Sometimes like that character in the book, we can’t find our way back. We are lost. All we really want is to go home but we can’t find it anymore. How do we get back?

We make it harder than it is, I think. In the story of the prodigal, the son turned towards home and found his dad waiting for him at the end of the drive. God is the same. If we turn to Him, He is there. Waiting to welcome us home.

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The God Who Sees Us

No one ever told me that motherhood would be lonely.

How could we possibly feel alone with kids hanging off our bodies, a constant dull roar in the background and the word “Mommy!” on repeat all day?

But there it is. A lonely ache that nags as we push the stroller, change the soggy diaper and kiss the offensive boo boo. Motherhood is quietly lived out in the mundane and simple tasks of everyday life. It is done without anyone noticing.

Excited to be sharing over at Raising Generations Today.  To read more about the God who sees us, you can click here.