Trying to Make Some Christmas Memories

Oh, it’s that time of year again.

I love decorating for Christmas…in theory.

But in actuality, it always turns chaotic, and someone gets grumpy and/or frustrated, and then it becomes contagious, and before long, I’m wondering why in the world we’re decorating for Christmas at all.

Ben often voices this thought, usually while I’m still thinking that it’s fun and important, and I think I love doing it, but it takes me about 45 minutes of trying to decorate to agree with him. If our timing on that sentiment would match up, the girls would come dangerously close to going without a Christmas tree.

But what gets me every time are these two little things:

1) Memories – from when I was a kid, and Christmas decorations were magical.

2) Our girls’ reactions – They love it as much as I used to! Anika plays with our little Christmas village every day, from the day we set it up until the day we take it down. Kaylia is following strong in her big sister’s example.

And they get so excited about decorating a Christmas tree, just like every kid.

So let the decorating chaos continue…for many years to come.

This year, I have something new to think about to get me through the moments of grumpiness:

Then we dragged out our Christmas decorations and set to work for the rest of the afternoon together. The tinies were so excited and we’re drifting into the years when they have precedent, when they remember what we did last year, when they can’t wait to open up the box and see their ornaments from the year before. It reminded me again that this is their time, their childhood and these are the memories they’ll have, the standard and expectations for their grown-up Christmases. (Emerging Mummy)

I want them to remember the way we used to do things. The traditions we had when I was a kid have always been important. I love continuing them with my kids, and adding some of Ben’s traditions, and coming up with some brand new ones of our own!

And sometimes that’s hard work, and it takes a lot of effort, and sometimes the efforts really bomb, but sometimes they create magic.

So we’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep remembering that these are the years I want to remember forever, and I hope our girls will, too.

My Confused Thoughts on Being “Not of This World”

Back when I was in junior high, my youth group got these fantastic matching T-shirts, made in true early-90’s style. They were white, with multi-colored neon graphics, announcing the name of our youth group on the front, and had a large picture and a portion of verse on the back: “Not of this world” (can’t remember the reference).

I wore that shirt for years, and those words stuck in my mind. Not of this world.

I’ve often wondered what it actually looks like in real life, to be “not of this world.”

This world is very confusing. It would be easier if things were always black and white, but there are a lot of gray areas, and it feels as though all gray areas are being thoroughly explored, and what used to be black and white is not anymore.

How do I live a loving, glorifying-to-God kind of life? When do I stand up for truth, and when do I step back to allow people the free-will to make their own choices?

How do I love a lost world without loving it too much and getting sucked in to the mess? How do I wade through the mess, when lots of the time, I feel like I’m a mess myself?

How do I share a message of hope and peace with people who are lost, when it’s judgmental to see them as lost? And how do I share answers to searching people’s questions without sounding like I think I have all the answers, because I definitely don’t?

There are so many big issues going on around us, and so much of the time, I feel like I’ve got an opinion, but I don’t have a clue what to do with it. Sometimes I have no idea if my opinion is even a good opinion.

I recently came across this blog post about same-sex marriage, and found it very interesting, especially this quote at the end:

God does not need me to defend marriage. He does not need me to block other people’s decisions. He does not need me to wade into a culture war or gang up on a minority or sow seeds of discord and fear. He does not need me to defend Him, my understanding of His best or even my way of doing life. I have much to learn.

Oh, I have so much to learn too.

(If you do happen to check out the article, I’ll just say that I don’t agree with absolutely everything, but she has a lot of good stuff to say, and she did get me thinking.)

Some people would think that God and marriage, among other things, need defending – that we’re not truly following Him if we don’t defend Him. But when does defending just become arguing or attacking? What is the difference? Can I “defend” by the way I live out my faith? Does that count?

It’s as though witnessing has become something where we try to force others to live by our moral standards, and somehow hope that along the way, they will “become Christians” by osmosis.

Why in the world would someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus want to live by the same moral standards as someone who knows Him deeply and intimately? There should be a radical, obvious difference between the two.

I’m frustrated with my need for more control than just demonstrating that difference. I’m frustrated with my judgmental spirit. I’m frustrated with my discomfort around anyone who doesn’t make the same moral choices that I do.

I’m frustrated with my lack of ability to just love, regardless of what kind of choices a person makes, or what kind of lifestyle they live.

I’m frustrated with my desire to “block other people’s decisions”, and calling it “standing up for the truth”. Is there a good way to stand up for the truth without bulldozing over people, forgetting to see them as people?

And yet it feels like loving others enough to give them freedom to choose is seen as being complacent, wishy-washy, “anything goes”.

Another quote from the same blog post asked this question:

What is the Christian response here? (When Brian and I were talking about it last night, I posed that question and he laughed in my face. “You mean, what’s A Christian response. That’s the whole point of the unity/disunity thing: there is no one Christian response to anything. Ever.“)

What is my Christian response going to be?

So I look at my 500+ words I’ve typed as I’ve sat here wondering, and I ask myself what it all means. What do I want to do in this world that I am not of? I want to become a shining light of love. I want to love Jesus so much that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know all the answers, so much that other people can see Him in me. I want to love Him so much that in the end, what matters most is that I’ll be with Him, and all the confusion and mess of this world will melt away. Is that a cop-out?

I hope, really, really hope, that if I keep my gaze on Jesus, that as I go through each day, I will learn to naturally make good, loving, godly choices. That people will pass through my gaze on Jesus, and loving them will become one and the same as loving Jesus.

I really don’t know how to do this whole thing right. I keep praying and reading and learning, and hopefully I’ll always be a work in progress.

There. Those are my rambling thoughts.

Anyone else ever feel like it’s a confusing mess to get through? Share your wisdom with me…

Favorite Things I Read This Week

I love reading blogs. They are so fantastic. They expand my life. (They also eat up my time, so I guess they provide such a wonderful opportunity to practice self-control….)

Anyway. I found some great stuff to read this week, so I thought I’d share it with you:

Have a great weekend!

The Temperature of Our Home

Loved this quote from Emerging Mummy:

That these tiny ones mimic, that their hearts are settled when my heart is settled, when I spill love and patience they are filled, that I am – inexplicably, amazingly, sometimes frighteningly – the influence sweeping them with me, one moment a river of life and the next a rooted oak and the next withering for water still, ever needing just enough for today. And when I take the time to savor, they savor.

So true, right? Elizabeth George has written about how a mom is the thermostat of the home – she’s the one who controls the emotional temperature.

I needed this reminder to be more conscious about the temperature of our home.

The Post in Which I Rebel Against Having a “Mom Blog”

Last night, I was spending the evening with a bunch of ladies, when I heard one of them say, “I hate mom blogs.”

I thought, “Ha! Then she would not like my blog!”

And then I thought, “Wait, really? Do I actually have a mom blog? I hope not!!”

When I got home, I went to my blog and looked it over, pretending that I had never seen it before, trying to determine if it comes across as a “mom blog”.

See, I have this issue with “mom blogs”. Which is a little weird, considering the fact that I really enjoy reading some excellent mom blogs. (Here are a few of my favorites:  the anderson crew , Emerging Mummy)

But for some reason, I have never wanted to have one.

The problem is that one of the keys to having a great blog is that you need a very clear angle, a defined purpose and theme to it.

Well, I’m a mom, I write about my kids, I share a ton of pictures of them, and yet I don’t want to be just a mom blog. Even though there’s nothing wrong with mom blogs.

But if you would say to me, “Kendra, your blog is the most mom-ish blog I’ve ever seen”, I would take that as an insult.

I’ve been asking myself what is up with that.

Here’s what I think I’ve figured out:

I love being a mom. I really do. I love our girls very much, and I love being  able to stay home all day, every day, taking care of my family. But that is only one part of my life – one part of who I am. It is very important to me, but I never want it to consume me. I don’t want to forget about the passion I have for other things, or miss opportunities because I have “tunnel vision”, and only see myself as a mom.

I don’t want my blog or my life to revolve solely around our girls, because I want my life to revolve around Jesus, and I want very much for my blog to reflect that.

There is nothing wrong with having a mom blog that focuses only on the kids, and covers things like cloth diapering, homemade baby food, and how to make felt play food for your kids. It’s just that I want something different than that.

I want to be learning and growing every single day, and getting to know Jesus more in all that I do.

And right not, I’m a stay-at-home mom. So I’m finding Jesus as I am a mom.

Maybe my blog theme is “Finding Jesus in My Mom Blog”??

Wait. That still involves the term “mom blog”!

Do you see my problem?

Whatever. I share pieces of my life with you, in the hope that as I’m learning and experiencing things, the words that I try to share with honesty and transparency will possibly touch on something that you are experiencing in your own life – even if you’re not a mom!

And even if you don’t find my kids nearly as cute or funny as I do!!

Been Thinking About Creating

Ben’s sisters are both off on wild, exciting adventures. They’re off to Europe and to the unknown.

I know that we’ll miss them, but I’m excited for them, and in a deep, dark corner inside me, I’m envious. I feel that way because they are going off to fulfill their dreams, and I often wonder what it will take to fulfill my own dreams.

I feel like I can’t quite figure out if I’m waiting for God’s timing, and for things to become “ripe”, or if I’m holding back because of fear, and all I need to do is start actively pursuing those dreams, there for the taking.

I’ve written about it on this blog before – my dream to speak and write and be the next Beth Moore and change the world. Sometimes I feel a little panicky because I feel like I’ll run out of time for all that and I should definitely be farther along in my pursuit.

Other times I feel like I’m still marinating, and like God has so much left to teach me as I stay at home with my girls, creating order in the midst of chaos, loving and supporting my husband in any way I can. There will be time for all those other things.

And in the meantime, I write.

It’s funny, because there have been times when I’ve questioned my decision to start a blog. I love doing it, but it can be really time-consuming. But I realize over and over again that I need to write. I need to communicate with people. So even during times when it feels like I don’t have time to blog, or have time to write, it’s what I need to do.

Sometimes it feels vain – like I consider all of my thoughts so important that they must be shared with the world. But sometimes it just feels like it is there inside me, and it needs to get out.

While I was having these thoughts, I came across this quote on a great new blog I found:

When you have a calling, when you have a gift from God, this is what I’ve learned about it.  Whether you do something with that gift from God or not, you carry the stamp of your gift, the weight of your calling, no matter how many years pass, no matter how many dreams you tuck away in the belief that you must have missed it.

You never stop wanting it, you never stop being it. It’s what you always loved to do and, yes, you do it every day without a single penny from anyone.  Even if no one acknowledges it.

You know in your heart of hearts that you can’t stop being this, doing this, anymore than you can stop breathing. (Emerging Mummy)

I love that. It’s like it legitimizes my need to write – not only legitimizes it, but…encourages it!

All our lives we all need to create because creativity is the life breath of our Creator Father and if we don’t create we breathe stale air and we wither dry. (A Holy Experience)

I blog to create! I used to paint pictures. Then I got a job, got married, had a baby. I didn’t have time to paint anymore, so I started scrapbooking. I had another baby. Even less time, so now I blog. The ways in which I create have changed over the years. Who knows what will come next.

What about you? Are you creating something? If not, you’d better start, cause who wants stale air?!