Monday, December 24, 2012


When Bing Crosby released his album “Merry Christmas” in 1945, it was a collection of Christmas songs written for an era unlike any the United States had ever seen.  World War II and the Great Depression had just ransacked the populace, and Bing used his voice, smoother than chocolately satin, to offer comfort. “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” are two very familiar songs of his, and their message is painstakingly simple. They offer dreams of family, presents – home.  

There is an element of melancholy to the Christmas songs of this era, simply because one knows Bing’s voice radiated over foxholes - and spoke of the comfort of home to boys who were far, far away from loved ones.  

Even today, something about Christmas evokes something in each of us of home.  We decorate our houses.  We invite friends and family to see us.  We buy little porcelain neighborhoods full of snugly houses covered in perfect snow.   We visit loved ones and family and sit around a tree opening presents and eating food.  And for a moment, things can often feel perfect.  

To think of home – even briefly - brings comfort.

Yet, despite the Christmas-inspired comfort some of us feel at this time of year, social media and its interconnected ways have us looking at friends who do not get to come home.  As the years grow on my face, I see more heartache – precious people who will never see their loved ones come home for Christmas.

And to those who will not be home for Christmas, or to those whose Christmases may feel lonelier than ever this year, I offer home.  A real home.

This picture may look like an Instagrammed picture of my Nativity scene (and you would be correct), but to me, this picture reminds me of home.

Sometimes the little manger scene can look foreign and decidedly different.  In a world of iPods and iThings, a little barn 2000 years ago seems old and outdated.  Despite this, there is comfort in that manger. 
Emmanuel.  God with us.  Christ our King, risen savior, our atonement. 

He is the key to our true home.

See, sometimes it is hard to remember between the tinsel and lights that we’ve got another thing coming.  Sometimes we’re so blindsided by the comfort around us this time of year that we forget that the true comfort resides within us.  It leads and guides us here – until one day we go home.

So the next time you see that nativity in all its robed d├ęcor, think of home.  Remember that He came to redeem, restore, renew.  Christ in us, the hope of glory.

He came.  And because He did, He will one day bring us home.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”  - C.S. Lewis

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Skills I Lack

There are things I'm good at.

There are things I am okay at.

There are things I'm terrible at.

And then, there's parenting, which never gives me a definite, tangible answer.  Parenting gives me a myriad of responses, most telling me that I'm "not enough."  Most days, I feel like a mediocre parent.  There are some days I feel like a decent parent.  Of course, there are the days (and months) where I feel like a pretty rotten parent.

I've experienced those feelings this past month or so, all thanks to that big white potty.  Sometimes I feel like that lid laughs at my troubles.

If you haven't figured it out, Amelia and I have had to face our toughest challenge yet - potty training.  Potty training has taken the mythical cake - teething, bed-moving, going to school- nothing has been this difficult.

I didn't think it would be that tough.  According to mothers on facebook and ones that I actually know, it would just fall in to place.  My child would just "get it." She would just wake up in her "big girl pammies," get her marshmallow rewards, and use the potty like no one's business.

But that didn't happen.

I don't want to gross the readers of this blog out, but I'll just be honest with you.  Amelia deals with chronic, painful constipation.  I believe it is pretty psychological, but I have very few answers to it.  We've tried lots of remedies - homeopathic as well as medical - and few things worked.  I sat over Thanksgiving break with a nurse on the United Healthcare nurse line about to cry my eyes out because I thought my child had a blockage that finally, finally passed.

We've had accidents at school, at church, at Pammy's, at Chick-fil-a, at home - do I need to go on?

We've been in "big girl" mode for a month, and we're still not accident-free.  We're much, much better...but I'm still have that little tug in my heart when I leave her.  

My patience hasn't been the best (let's be honest, when is my patience ever the best?).   When it is coupled with these seemingly perfect mothers who hold their practices (and mine) to a high standard of perfection, it has just shattered.  I think about the facts:  my kid is well past three and just now potty training...and there are kids who are a year younger than her who potty trained with few problems.

I get caught up in game of comparison, which is a dangerous, dangerous game to play.

This past month, I've just let the pressure get to me, and I've been a foolish, foolish woman.

Children are not the same.  My daughter is gorgeous, intelligent, polite and kind.  Every day, when I prayed for her in my womb, I prayed that God would use her and that she would shake nations for Him.  That He give her a servant's heart.  I didn't sit around and say, "God, please let my kid use the potty right."

She's had issues with it...and I've had issues teaching her...but heavens, don't we all have issues?  Shouldn't I be thankful for what a wonderful child I've been given?

Last Wednesday, I left Amelia with her teacher at Wednesday night church.  I went through the talk I've been giving lately, "she's had trouble lately..."

"It's okay!" responded the teacher.  "My son has been there - we'll watch her real close.  I promise, I understand, I really do.  She will do great."

And I left with tears in my eyes.  It was such a simple little thing - this "I understand" - but it was just what my heart needed at that moment.  That understanding came with no judgement.

I wish - oh, how I wish - that mothers were a little easier on each other. I with stay-at-home mothers, working mothers, single mothers, and married mothers would all just realize that no matter how many kids we have, how much we have to do, or who we have to sacrifice for - life is difficult for everyone.

We all sacrifice.

No one's journey is the same, and no one's journey is easy. And that includes everyone - single, married, parents or hopeful parents.

I hope that I'll remember that as I do my next facebook scroll of pictures.  I hope that I can turn to another woman who's struggling soon and say, "It's okay - I understand.  I've been there."

I hope that God will continue to open my heart to those mothers around me who hurt - for so many of us just sit and hurt in silence with the wounds of self-judgement.

When the skills I lack become evident, I pray that the skills I have will bubble to the surface. I pray my weaknesses, no matter how large, will illuminate my dependence on the One who loves me despite my deficiencies.