Bumbling Through the Challenge of Christmas

I’m normally a positive person- but my ‘positivity’ this past month has been pretty depressing. I was positively negative.

I didn’t feel good.

I didn’t feel like decorating my tree, even though it was already put up for me.

Our family chose not to exchange gifts this year- just to create less stress and financial strain, which was great- till it was sad.

Loved ones have been wrestling with serious health, relationship, financial issues…! I can do nothing to help, but I feel the concern deeply anyway.

I missed all but one of the Christmas music events I so enjoy during the Christmas season. The one I did participate in, I felt like I was only half present.

If it sounds like I am complaining —- I am! Or I have been —- alot! (poor Ren) I didn’t realize how much until I started feeling better, which wasn’t really until today- last day of the month, the year, and this depressing mood. My dear husband has been more than patient with my bungling the Christmas.

My friend Pat encouraged me to look at my year just to see the big picture of it. You know there has been a lot of HARD STUFF this year. There were some circumstances that felt intense such as my dad’s heart attack in February, and Ren’s dad going into hospice and passing in March. As I looked at the list of HARD STUFF, I saw that while they were full of emotions, they weren’t ‘bitter’- just hard.

I also noticed I was DOWN a lot (exhausted, fatigue, lack of brain power or emotional capacity). I did throw my back out last January- and dislocated my shoulder in March. But most of my DOWN was probably due more to my stress- or the way I handle the stress and emotions of life. I work hard to keep on top of things, but sometimes it is just too much. Since my adrenal glands don’t work, it doesn’t take much.

So how was your holiday season? If I am bringing yours down by all my complaining, I am sorry. If you connect with me because of the HARD STUFF in your own life, then I am also sorry. And yet, I am very aware that it is in all the STUFF that life is lived. In the tension of the happy and sad, the good and the bad - that is where we grieve and cry, celebrate and laugh, fear and take courage. There are moments when all seems well with the world, but they seem fleeting.

As I look ahead to the new year, there are many circumstances that I don’t see changing anytime soon. There are issues that may not be resolved, at least not the way I want them to be, as soon as I want them to be. Healing of my body or emotions may not look like I want it to look. Relationships may be messier than I hoped. The book will take longer to write than I planned.

But as I have pondered what I have been hearing from the Lord this season, it came back to a conversation I had with a client earlier in the month. She was really NOT wanting to go to the annual Christmas dinner with family because of a heated argument that had taken place the last time they were together. I chuckled because she offered to go ‘lick every spoon in the elementary school dining hall after the kids ate lunch’ so she could get whatever germs would make her sick enough not have to go.

But as we spoke she decided she would go for 3 reasons:

  1. Her young daughter wanted more than anything for the whole family to be together. She would go for the child.

  2. She would lean into love and choose to behave in a loving way toward family members in order to have an enjoyable time together.

  3. She would put herself in the shoes of the other family member, and seek to understand how they might be processing this situation.

The conversation has replayed in my mind over and over again this holiday. Isn’t that the whole jest of that first Christmas? It was a messy scene with smelly travelers, animals and shepherds instead of fragrant trees, and lights and beautifully wrapped packages. Mary wasn’t in the comfortable surroundings of her home, or with people she knew and trusted. She and Joseph had to both be really tired from traveling and dealing with the masses of people who had also come to Bethlehem for the census.

She probably didn’t feel great.

She didn’t have her own space.

She was surrounded by strangers at a most vulnerable time in her life.

She could have complained. But Luke 2 says “she pondered all these things in her heart.

The child

The love

The lives of the people who were sharing this moment with her.

That is Christmas!

The Child

leaned into love

and put himself in our shoes to bring us hope.

Hmmm? There were some times when I felt like I had “licked all the spoons” so I wouldn’t have to do something I didn’t want to do over the holiday. Fear of what could be, or sadness over what was got in my way several times this holiday.

But when I quit complaining and started pondering… I saw so many things differently. I don’t know what 2019 will hold, but I want to LIVE CHRISTMAS year round this year. In fact,it guess it is my resolution list this year.

Know the child- his birth, his death, his resurrection and the power that has in my life.

Lean into the love he came to share with you and me.

Put myself into the shoes of the people in my world and sharing this hope with them.

Ok! I may have bungled a lot this holiday, but the spirit of Christmas broke through to me again.

What are you pondering as you start the new year?

The Greatest Gift is SIMPLE, but Not Easy!

This time of year is always a bit confusing for me. We gather together to give thanks for our many blessings, then jump into Back Friday & Small Business Saturday and now comes Cyber Monday where we scramble to “get what we need….” before the Christmas. We hit the mall or our favorite stores, whether it be local or online, to get the best deals of the season so we can save money on the things we may or may not remember to be grateful for by next year.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic- though I know it sounds pretty much that way. But I’ve been reminded this year of this truth.

The greatest gift we can give is …

Today was not the day I thought I wanted!

For a few weeks now, Rennie and I had been making plans to head to Texas this Thanksgiving weekend to be with our parents. It was NOT going to be easy, we really needed to work, but our hearts longed for ‘home’- the first home we grew up in with the parents who loved us to adulthood and beyond.

But that was not to be- and for several days I have physically grieved what couldn’t be and struggled to see what was. Isn’t that how it is sometimes? We get consumed by what we don’t have and we forget to see what is right in front of us. …

This is ME! I am Her! Tribe Conference 2018

I caught myself wondering if I was ever going to grow up to be 'HER'- that woman who moved through life confident that she was who she was supposed to be.  My reason for sharing it here will make more sense at the end of this post.

I knew I was going to TRIBE CONFERENCE different than I have been in the past. I felt more ready, more eager to grab hold of what would be there for me.

Here's how the theme showed up…

The Power of Your Tribe

Do you know that feeling of being surrounded by people who are amazing and feeling like just being in their presence makes you a better person?

I do!

I have chosen to connect myself with some amazing, super people, whether it is my network of professional women I belong to - or my church or small group. I am a better person just because these people are in my life.

One of those highlights in my life is to connect with a group of creative, soul-searching writers and artists who gather at the…

Will I ever be HER?

I find myself sitting in the chair in my front room pondering what I see in my future. I want so much to feel confident; healthy, productive, grateful and graceful, beautiful. Helpful. Peaceful, HOPE full.

I want to being a strong, confident woman. I see a woman who has poise and gentleness, yet is bold and persevering.

Yet this week as I've laid on the sofa a lot, I have felt none of those.  I have felt weak, tired, messy. I've wondered if I could ever be that other woman. I've had moments of doubt, confusion and discouragement; times when I only felt desperate. How can I ever be a strong, confident woman when I keep floundering in moments of discouragement and sadness?

 But today I am taking time to ponder what I've heard this week from just listening, from forcing myself not to let my thoughts take me to despair or to deciding to quit - again for the umpteenth time, to feel like I wasn't good enough.

 Here's what I heard. …

"En" Changes Things!

…there are times we create this VISION for what we want for our family, or our career or our LIFE!

We perhaps set goals, we make plans, we study those plans and add dates to our calendar.  Then we get to work doing all of those things.  Sometimes it works.  Many times it works for a little while (think New Year's Resolutions). 

Then the urgent things of life step in and demand attention, and our STUCK places insist on becoming more bothersome with each forward step we try to take.  Our VISION soon becomes nothing more than fine words on a pretty page, or dates on a calendar. 

Ho-hum!  Not again!

Then… Ta Da! 

In soars our super-hero EN to the rescue! 

Thank you Jeff Goins!

Dear Jeff,

Last September 2017, I left the TRIBEWRITER Conference with three phrases planted solidly in my brain.

DON'T QUIT!

SHOW UP!

DON'T STARVE!

I was both undone - but mostly encouraged as you shared your story of starting not one- but #7or 8 (can't remember exactly how many) different businesses.  How it took not one, but 8 years to find the ONE THING you were committed to doing.

I was undone because …

Vision is Born in The Space Between

As you look at your LIFE's HIGHWAY, what do you see down the road? Maybe it's one year, maybe five years. 

The conversations is had this week have more to do with what's in our way rather than the destination. We will talk about the more see we go. But our purposed this week it's to talk vision. What do we see down the road?

If I were to ask you to describe how you picture your life in ten years, chances are you could paint a fairly clear picture.  You might have some idea of where you want to be financially, or you could describe what you hope to achieve professionally.  You may have some sense of the relationships you want in your life.

Andy Stanley says in his book Visioneering,

"you would be able to look beyond what is and paint a picture of what could be—and in some cases what should be—true of your life. That’s vision."

In my coaching practice, there is a dramatic difference in the people…