These Tired & Weary Bones

 

I am Tired with a capital “T”. For the past few weeks I feel like I am walking around like a zombie. It’s been hard to get moving, hard to be patient, hard to be creative, and hard to keep on top of anything.

There are a few reasons for this. One of the big ones would be the puppy. I know it’s crazy, I knew it would be crazy when we got her. It’s not the first time I’ve been to this rodeo. But I figure the reward will outweigh the crazy of the first few months… I’m hoping!! And just let me digress a little here. She really is a good puppy, she is catching onto training fairly quickly, and already walking on a leash nicely. The boys (in particularly Silas) love her. Silas just plays and plays with her, usually there is a lot of giggles and squeals while they are playing.
That warms this mama’s heart. But she is a puppy and there is a lot of work, so much training to do and keeping an eye on what she is up to all the time. Thank goodness for crates!!

Another reason is Elijah, he has been teething. This has caused him to be up two sometimes three times at night. Which in turn is making my nights feel like a series of short naps. Leaving me feeling like an empty shell of myself in the mornings. I can sometimes grab a nap here and there during the week, but not many and they are not long enough. Having the other little boys running around complicates the whole, ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ advice. Haha!

I have been feeling very encouraged with all the moving paperwork finally behind me. The vehicles are licensed, our health care is pretty much figured out, and we have our New Jersey divers licenses. The list has been long but I think it’s finally coming to an end. Now I’m settling into our new normal. Which to my dismay doesn’t happen overnight! Ha! I’m realizing it will just take some time for me to adjust to new patterns in life. And this whole not sleeping thing… well I think it’s safe to assume it will not speed up the process.

I have been wrestling through what it means when I read through scripture, and it talks about how ‘the Lord will renew our strength’, ‘He will lift us on eagles wings’, ‘He is our refuge’, and ‘cast your cares on the Lord’. (Verses listed in the bottom.) There are so many encouraging verses for us in God’s word. My go to book for encouragement is the Psalms.

But what about those times when I don’t feel like it? What about those times when He feels far? How does this help me here right now in my tired weary state?

One of the things that happens to me when I’m running on empty, is everything seems harder than it actually is and I feel more emotional about things than I usually do. Which in turn makes it harder to be the mom I want to be, the wife I want to be, and in general the woman I want to be. I try in vain to stay on top of everything and it’s just not enough. I’m not enough

This morning after I got everyone fed and the boys off to school, I grabbed my coffee, I brought my breakfast into the living room and sat. The sun was streaming through the windows and I forgot about my checklist and the laundry. I opened up my bible, to focus on the truths that the Lord has for me. And then I prayed. (Caleb and Silas were having so much fun down stairs that I was able to pray and be in the Word for most of the morning.)

And during that time something awesome happened. I felt spiritually refreshed and renewed.

You see the Psalms help me know that I have permission to complain. God already knows my feelings, my struggles. It’s no surprise to Him. My struggles may seem trivial in the light of what many others are going through. It may seem silly to complain about the sleepless nights, and whiny children, when I have friends going through cancer. And yet God cares about me, He wants me to give Him my burdens no matter how serious or trivial. To believe that I shouldn’t share these things with God because others have it so much worse than I, is just buying into Satan’s lies, that I don’t need to go to God over this, I can handle it on my own.

Then I read God’s word. The truth. And I just let the truth of who God is wash over me. He is God, He is Faithfull, He is in control, He is all knowing, He is sovereign, He is my Rock, a Fortress around me, He is compassionate, He is my Savior, He is my Father.

Sometimes the voice in my head is so loud, it drowns out what I know to be true. And then I go to the word and it washes over me and breathes life into these tired weary bones. Because I can rest in God’s grace. The grace that extends when I’m not being a nice mom, or a nice wife, or forgetting important tasks. The grace that is always waiting for me when I come to the cross in repentance, or when I’m weary.

Even though I may feel battered and bruised. Barely hanging onto my sanity, or walking around like a zombie. I still have the truth of who God is, who my Father is. I like to go to the psalms and read and pray through them. I can pour out my heart to the Lord, the good, the frustrations, the things that need repentance and my petitions.

Coming before my Heavenly Father may not be able to give me a full night’s rest, train my puppy or a visit with my family on the other side of the coast. My situation may not have changed. But my focus has. And when I have set my focus on Christ. It’s much easier to remember that this is a season, and I can rely on my God’s strength and power, not my own.

I just need to take it one day at a time, and set my eyes on Jesus.

And someday I will sleep again!!

Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

 

Isaiah 40:31

Yet those who [a]wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will [b]mount up with [c]wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

 

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

 

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

 

 

The Day Elijah Came Into the World

By Daniel Stenberg

Karen gave birth to Elijah Quentin at 9:06 am on February 3rd, 2017.

He didn’t come when we hoped, or how we had hoped. But if he had come according to our hopes, he wouldn’t be here at all.

It seemed like we had been waiting for Elijah forever. True, the nine-month incubation that is pregnancy can drag on seemingly ‘forever’, especially towards the end, but there was more to it this time.

Being in my 3rd year of Seminary it’s time to start interviewing, or ‘candidating’ at churches. We had to wait for Elijah to be born however, as Karen couldn’t travel at the end of pregnancy, and then of course there would be the recovery time after birth. It felt like our future was stalled, like it was just waiting on the baby. So the sooner he came the better.

At least, that’s how it felt.

Also, my parents were visiting in January. My dad would be here for a week, and my mom would be here for three. Being as we don’t live close to each other it would have been nice for dad to be able to hold his newest grandson before catching the plane back to the Pacific Northwest. So the sooner he came the better.

We did all that we knew how to try to convince our youngest that it was time to breathe the fresh Minnesota air. It was time to meet his grandpa. It was time to let mommy and daddy take steps towards the future.

We went for walks. Not easy to do during a frigid Midwest winter. Thankfully the YMCA in town is heated and has a nice walking track. Karen kept working at her cleaning job. She ate spicy food. Short of taking castor oil (no offense dad, but you weren’t quite THAT important) we did all that we knew of to get baby to come.

Nothing worked. There were many occasions of false labor that we hoped would lead to actual labor, but again, our hopes were not realized. The little guy could not be convinced.

Dad left, and the days went by. It was getting close to the time when mom was going to have to leave. Karen went to her Doctor’s appointment the day before her due date and everything looked great. Baby was looking really good, and Karen’s body was ready to have the baby. It wouldn’t take much to set the wheels in motion, and so the Doctor agreed to induce Karen a couple of days later, so that Grandma would have a chance to meet the little guy before she too had to take a plane home.

Karen was pretty excited about this. She had never been induced before, and this meant that maybe she could actually get the drugs! Previous labors had been so quick, that there hadn’t been time. She didn’t regret having children au naturale, but given that this would be the last one, the allure of it being relatively painless was strong. Karen was looking forward to experiencing this side of labor and delivery.

On Feb. 3rd, at 5 am they started Karen’s induction, and everything started out pretty normal. All the vitals were looking good. The Pitocin had begun to get things going and her body was responding well. The Doctor showed up around 8:30, saw that things were progressing well and decided it was time to break the water. The water looked good, and since contractions were going to start getting more intense it was time to get Karen her epidural.

Now I didn’t eat breakfast, we woke up a little too late for that (4:30 am comes WAY too early for me) and since I have an aversion to seeing people stick huge needles into my wife’s backbone I decided it was time to go grab breakfast. Since she was getting an epidural labor should slow down a little, and I should have the 15 minutes it would take to grab a bite to eat.

So I left.

I got down to the car and there, to my intense frustration, my windshield had frozen over. Again. I had scraped it that morning. Well, scraped might be generous. I had cleared sight lines that morning in the frigid cold, and was frustrated that I would have to do so again. It is not a fast process, and it hadn’t warmed up much in the few hours since my last attempts. I decided against it. Who needs breakfast anyway? I headed back up to Karen and the delivery room.

When I walked in the door I was greeted by bloody towels. Everywhere. Not what I wanted, or expected to see. Karen was bleeding, and I didn’t know why, or how, or what was going on.

While I had been down fuming at the cold, my frozen windshield and empty belly, Karen had decided that since the epidural would remove feeling from the lower half of her body that she should get up and use the bathroom.

When she stood up, a gush of blood hit the floor.

That is not supposed to happen.

The nurse had her get right back into bed and called the doctor. I returned seconds before the Doctor arrived. I will never forget sitting in that chair and watching his face. He looked at my wife, he looked at the towels and floor, and back to my wife. His brow was furrowed, with growing worry.

“I know this isn’t what we had planned, but we need to do an emergency C-section.”

Those words tore into me.

They also kicked over a beehive of commotion. Nurses just magically appeared out of nowhere. Suddenly there was another bed in the room and they were moving Karen onto it. Next thing I know we’re being whisked down the hall, and into an elevator. Out the elevator and down the hall, around corners, through doors with keycards. We’re practically running now. Our pace couldn’t match what was going on in my head however. What was going on? Was Karen in danger? Was the baby? Both? Why is this happening? The questions spilled over, filling my cup of panic.

“Swallow it Stenberg, swallow it and listen”, I told myself.

The Doctor was telling me how maybe I could still be in the room, maybe they would have time to give Karen an epidural in the Operating Room (OR), and then I could still be there, and she could be awake. We could go through this together. At least I could hold her hand.

Except when we got to the OR they pushed her into the room, and they left me outside. There was no time. They had to get the baby out as quickly as possible. There would be no epidural. They were going to put Karen under. It had to be quick. The bleeding had to stop. There was no time.

I was ushered into a room that resembled a large closet. There was a patched couch along one wall, some stacked chairs in the corner, an overused desk and a squeaky rolling chair. I slowly sank into the chair, rested my head on the desk and prayed. The rush of the last five minutes washed over me and I began to feel tears carve paths down my cheeks and then fall to the floor. I reached out to family and friends via text and asked for prayer.

“Pray for my wife. Pray for my child. Please, just pray.”

One friend asked if he could come and join me, to be there as a support for me. I laughed ironically to myself. I didn’t even know where I was. I didn’t know where this room was. I didn’t know how to get into, or out of, this part of the hospital. I told him that I didn’t know how to get to him, or how to get him to me, so thanks for the thought, but at this point, just pray.

What else could we do?

Soon, a nurse found me. I don’t know how, but she found me. Maybe they put all the dads in that little storage room? I dunno. Just glad I’m not still stuck in there. She brought me back up through the labyrinth and into the Labor and Delivery department. She took me to the room they had moved Karen’s stuff into and told me that it wouldn’t be too long now. It was probably only 8 minutes, but it felt like an hour. Suddenly she was back at the door, asking me if I wanted to hold my son.

My son. He had made it. Praise God. I was filled with joy, but in the back of my head I couldn’t help but wonder: how was Karen?

I was brought to a room where Elijah was undergoing the battery of tests that newborns are subjected to. They told me he was great. Beyond great. He was an incredibly and surprisingly healthy baby. The awe in the room was almost palpable. For those of you ‘in the know’, Elijah scored an 8 on his first APGAR test, and a 10 on his second. 10s are unheard of. They just don’t give those out. But they did to Elijah.

Soon I was holding my 5th son. This was the first time I had held one of my children before my wife had been able to. Which brought my mind back to Karen.

How is my wife doing?

It wasn’t too long before the Doctor came in. He came in and congratulated me on an amazingly healthy son. He told me Karen was doing really well. She was on her way to the room they called ‘recovery’ and that as soon as she was awake and coherent they would bring her up, and she could start feeding Elijah.

She was OK. It was a good thing that I was sitting down. As the relief flooded my body and the tension that had been building relaxed I felt my legs go weak. Thank God that my wife is OK, and thank God for whoever invented chairs.

So what happened? Why the bleeding? Why the emergency C-section?

The Doctor told me that it turned out that Karen had a condition called ‘Vasa Previa’. It is a rare occurrence, and it is hard to spot during Ultrasounds, unless one is looking for it specifically.

Vasa Previa is a condition where the blood vessels that attach the umbilical cord to the placenta run in between the baby and the birth canal. When Karen’s water broke, the blood vessels broke as well, and that is what caused the bleeding. That blood was supposed to be going to Elijah, and since he wasn’t getting it they had to perform the emergency C-section.

About an hour later, Karen was wheeled into the room that she would spend the next three days in. I brought her Elijah, and they began the mother-baby bonding process. We were both so relieved to have a safe and healthy baby and mother that it took a while for the emotions to settle. It wasn’t until Saturday night that we decided to do a bit more research on Vasa Previa.

I hopped on my laptop and took a stroll through vasaprevia.com.

What I found filled me with a humble thankfulness that I find hard to accurately describe.

Here are a few statistics from vasaprevia.com:

  1. 95% of vasa previa pregnancies that are not prenatally diagnosed end in the death of the child. (Any instance that I could find of a baby surviving a case where it was not prenatally diagnosed they did so through a blood transfusion.)
  2. If a pregnancy is diagnosed as vasa previa, the mother is recommended to be put on bed rest between weeks 30-32, and then Doctors perform a C-section as soon as the baby is deemed able to survive outside the womb, typically weeks 35-36.
  3. It is strongly discouraged to let the mother go into labor and have the baby naturally, but should she decide to anyway, it is necessary to be prepared for a blood transfusion for the child.

The realization of what I was reading began to hit me.

My son was not only in the 5%, my son didn’t require a blood transfusion. Despite the incredible amount of blood that Karen lost he scored higher on the APGAR than any of our other children. He scored higher than children are supposed to score.

Added to that, we had TRIED to get Karen to go into labor. We had gone for walks, worked hard, eaten spicy food, and thankfully passed on the castor oil. If Karen had gone into labor, if her water had broken, anywhere else but in a delivery room, statistics and science say this story ends differently. If we hadn’t scheduled an induction so that Elijah could meet Grandma, if Karen hadn’t decided to get an epidural, resulting in the bleeding being caught right away, if…if….if…All the ‘ifs’ kept piling up.

It began to sink in.

Karen and I began to realize how God had provided for us. How God had blessed us. How miraculous the birth of our little Elijah was. Statistics and Science said that he shouldn’t be here with us. And yet here he was, in my arms. As I watched his chest move with each breath, I felt the tears begin to retrace their steps down my cheeks.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for my son.

So how do we respond?

The initial reaction is to say, “God is good!” And He is good. But He would still be good even if He had decided to take Elijah that morning on Feb. 3rd, 2017.

Another reaction is to say, “God is faithful!” And He is faithful. But He is also faithful to those who lost their children to vasa previa, or any other complication that takes children too early from this world.

Another response is: ‘Man, God must have some plan for this little guy.” And He does. But it might not be what we would typically classify as ‘amazing’. You see, I believe that it’s similar to conversion, or testimonies. It’s similar to the understanding that those who go through a miraculous ‘Damasacus Road’ conversion experience are not more important to God than those who grow up in the Church, and have always had a relationship with Him. He just used some means that we would deem as ‘miraculous’ to bring them into the fold. I would argue that how he saves each of us is miraculous. In the same way, Elijah does not mean more to God than other babies, God just used means that we would deem as miraculous to bring him into the world.

How God chose to act in this instance doesn’t dictate His goodness, or His faithfulness, or Elijah’s future.

So, again, how do we respond?

With thankfulness that He acted. Karen and I are just so thankful that God chose to bless us with Elijah. We are overcome by humble gratitude. We know that it is not because of who we are as people, or as parents, but because of God’s grace and mercy.

We want to say thank you to all who prayed for us, and with us for the life of this precious little boy. Our God has answered your prayers. We humbly ask that you continue to pray for him as he grows. Pray that he would walk with the Lord all of his life.

It feels like in America, in Western Christianity, we don’t get to see what we would call ‘miracles’ very often. Well, a miracle happened on the morning of Feb 3rd, 2017 in the sleepy little city of Fergus Falls, MN. And if you need a reminder that our God is able to perform miracles, just take a look at this little face and be encouraged.

Praise be to God.

1 Chronicles 29:10-13

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.

Intentionality in the New Year

 

It’s a new year! We have just landed in one of my least favorite months. Christmas is over and the reality of how much winter we have left to go sets in. This winter has been a bit brutal so far. It’s been going from bearable temps, to below zero temps, blizzards, and there was even an ice storm on Christmas Day thrown in there. We have not had much of the picturesque 20 degrees with light snow falling. However I really can’t complain. I’m used to driving in the snow at this juncture in life and I don’t usually have to leave the house when it’s blizzarding, unless of course, I’m picking the boy’s up from school. And really Fergus is so small that this is not a big deal. Also (don’t hate me) but the kid in me loves watching storms. There is just something beautiful and captivating in them.

Starting the New Year, for a lot of people comes new years resolutions. Now traditionally I’m not a huge fan of new years resolutions, for myself. Not that I am against them, in fact I think they can be great and a good kick in areas we know need attention. But for myself I really gravitate toward the law side of them. In the past I have made these detailed resolutions, and then I drive myself crazy, because I want to stick to the letter of the law in them… I mean after all I made it! I love extending grace to others, but when it comes to myself I tend to have more of an issue. My type-A personality comes out in spades…at myself! So I have shied away from doing this the last few years.

But this year I have been pondering the “New Years Resolution” again. Not because I want to make some strict guidelines for myself like, -drink 64oz of water –workout 5 times a week –read to the kids at least 20 min everyday –meal plan on the weekend for the week. These are all great things, but I realize that right now in life this stuff is not going to happen every week. Especially the ‘workout 5 times a week’! Ha!

However I do want to be more intentional. I have a few things that I’m really excited about that I believe God has placed on my heart, which I will share with you all.

One of them is this blog. Believe it or not, starting this blog has been a huge stretch for me. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone and grown me. Mainly in writing about life and being honest and open in that. But also in technology! It took me forever to figure out how to get my site set up the way I wanted it! Thankfully I had my techie hubby around to help me trouble shoot! I want to be intentional in getting organized going into the New Year. This will also be a really useful device in helping me keep on top of things, and not letting this slip to the back burner as life gets busy.

Another thing that I’m excited about being more intentional in is Plexus. Not only is it a great company that makes top of the line health products, but all of the women (and a few men) who are ambassadors that I have worked with are so great and very encouraging. Their primary focus is to help people. I love that. I have talked a bit about how much it has impacted my life and Daniel’s. So I won’t go into the long details of that. (I will link below the blog post that goes into those details.) I have read and heard so many testimonies of how it is helping others as well. It helps with things like, Diabetes (types1 and 2), it provides energy, influences mood, helps in losing weight, and also gaining weight, skin issues, allergy issues, hormone imbalance and many more things. I’m not saying it will fix all these things for everyone. But because it gets to the root of the problem that a lot of these things stem from, it can have a big impact. And because of that I want to be more intentional with sharing about it, and in bringing some hope, tools and better health to others. One of the best parts is the routine is super simple! I mean, Daniel has no problem keeping up with it!

The last thing (but certainly not least) I plan on being more intentional in is relationships. This is a funny one for me to think about being more intentional in, because I crave relationship. I crave having deep friendships and conversation. It energizes and fills me up. But I get busy and forget to make it happen. I can tell when it’s not happening. I feel it. I start getting a bit stir crazy and won’t stop talking Daniel’s ear off. Poor guy… I need to be more intentional in setting up things like play dates, coffee dates, and having people over for dinner. The hope is that after Daniel graduates Seminary we will be taking a call at a church. And I really need to remember this one during that time. When I’m getting to know new people and a new area. I enjoy getting to know people and new areas, but it also puts me out of my comfort zone and I can let shyness and insecurities get the best of me in these situations, if I’m not being intentional.

As we start the New Year, I have been approaching these things in prayer. And I have only gotten more excited. However as I contemplate this, and start writing things down in my planner I realize I will have to write them down in pencil. And continue to commit my agenda and plans to the Lord. I believe that the Lord has given me these passions and hopes in my heart. But I also go into them realizing that I want to continue to seek His guidance in all the aspects of life. I want to be in a place where I’m sensitive and willing to change and adapt.

I don’t want to live them out through the law, but through God’s grace.

Blessings in the New Year!

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Link to our Health Story- This is a Story All About How…

Expectations and the Guilt that Accompanies 

 

The second Christmas challenge…

Another big challenge that I have been thinking about, is the expectations that come with this time of year. I think that the expectations look different depending on the person and family. But there are cookie exchanges, gift exchanges, Christmas cards to write and mail. There are family gatherings, and gatherings with friends. And then of course you have to add all of this on top of your normal week/work/school schedule.

How do we do it all?

We can’t. Or at least I can’t!

Something somewhere has to give. And then if you are like me, you feel guilty about it.

I was listening to a woman tell this story on a podcast the other day, about how she grew up in a very unconventional family, she then ended up going to college in a completely different area of the country than what she was used to, and married a nice man from the south. In her early-married years, she signed up for the cookie exchange at church. And on the flier it said to bring your favorite cookie to exchange. So she showed up with her favorite cookie… Oreos. The other women were so confused as to why she would show up with Oreos, a store-bought cookie. She soon realized her mistake as she looked around at all the home made baked goods, and got the “oh honey, that’s ok” from multiple women. She had never really liked baking, and in her previous community of friends this wouldn’t have been a big deal. But obviously that was a different story here. The next few years she continued to sign up for the cookie exchange and this time bake her own cookies. But at some point along the line realized she still did not like baking. It did not bring her any joy. So she made the decision that she was not going to participate in things like cookie exchanges anymore, instead she was going to spend more time at Christmas doing the things she loved.

I really like the concept of spending more time doing what you love at Christmas and letting go of those things that you really don’t enjoy. This idea is really a freeing concept to me. Focusing more on my giftings and less on the checklist.

My mom loves writing Christmas cards. In fact she is just great at remembering and writing cards to people throughout the year. I love that about her. This is a gift that she enjoys, and through it she loves on others. I on the other hand really, really struggle with writing Christmas cards. It is not something that comes naturally to me, I struggle to remember to do it, and I don’t really enjoy the process. My poor mother really worked hard getting me to remember to write cards and thank you cards. But even with the repetition of doing it when I was younger, with her prodding, it is still a huge struggle for me today. So when it comes to the big task of Christmas cards…. Well I have pretty much given up on those.

And in previous years I have felt really guilty about this. But this year I have decided to let it go. I’m figuratively waving goodbye to that guilt! Maybe I will do it someday. But for right now I’m letting it go. I will grab on to some newfound freedom in changing my expectations. I will wish everyone a Merry Christmas from social media. And I will cheer on and be thankful for those that do love to send cards!

It’s usually pretty much impossible to get away from every difficult situation or time at Christmas (or life). But I have realized I can have boundaries and change my own expectations of myself.

This is a great season to love on people or let others love on you! Let your gifts and abilities shine. And don’t get bogged down by unrealistic expectations.

Our traditions and Christmas’ have looked pretty different throughout the years. Some years we have been close to family, and in the more recent years we have been away. But in all that, we have found some traditions that we love to do together as a family. So I will share a few with you!

We love to make “hot”(warm) cocoa, put it in the boys water bottles, load up in the van and drive around and look at (hunt for) Christmas lights.

Another one is making krumkake with Daniel. This is Daniel’s favorite Christmas cookie. It’s a Norwegian cookie that looks a lot like a mini ice cream cone, highlighted with the delicious spice, cardamom. You can fill them with cream, but for the most part, we just eat them plain.

On Christmas Eve we love going to the candlelight service at church. We are still in the process of figuring a favorite main course for Christmas Eve dinner. So if you have any favorites feel free to let me know!

We have been carrying on this tradition from Daniel’s side of the family. On Christmas Eve we eat dinner by candlelight, and then we serve rice pudding with a nut hidden in it, and whoever finds the nut gets a prize. The kids love this. Then we read the Christmas story and Daniel gets out his guitar and we sing a few Christmas carols.

Christmas morning, there is a lot of opening presents, playing, coffee and then cinnamon buns (In fact I will have to share my cinnamon bun recipe, it is so delicious!). Christmas day has been pretty low key for us, just enjoying each other’s company. Until the meltdowns start with the kids. For all the fun extreme highs of the day, it seems that they cannot go without the extreme meltdowns later on! But it’s all worth it!

For now I will stick to what I love and what works for this season of life, baking for others, baking with my kids. Parties, Christmas movies and curling up on the couch with a book while it dumps snow (which is actually what my day looked like today).

And to all of you, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Filled with hope, and peace in the Lord.

 

Romans 15:12-13

And again, Isaiah says,

“The Root of Jesse will spring up,

one who will arise to rule over the nations;

in him the Gentiles will hope.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.