“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
December- What a whirlwind! I have at times felt like someone clubbed me over the head back around the 20th of November and every time I began to come to, they slipped some Tylenol PM into my coffee. Honestly, I was functioning in the "what comes in the next 20 minutes" mode! While I was unequipped to handle the overwhelming tasks that lay before me I managed to juggle, spin, tap-dance, and tread water through the majority of it all while remembering to don my snowflake earrings and turn on the tree lights every morning.
Up at the crack of dawn, bake something quickly for a set of teachers, stop at Starbucks on the way to school, stick the gift card in the sack (hear the sound of horses feet galloping in the background and some Lone Ranger music?) Daily tasks became casualties of the battle to "do Christmas". Quiet time? Laundry? Love, Joy, (fruits- ya know)? were for the sleepy days of winter *after* Christmas was over! Sure, things would have gone much smoother if I had planned ahead a bit better, but THIS WAS DECEMBER AND THERE WAS NO TIME FOR BEING RATIONAL!!!
Hmmm..... I wrote a few weeks ago about some "issues" that had begun to plague me (aka, God was dealing with me) and it seemed that things might not go as well as I'd hoped this Christmas.
I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew then that I was in the grip of a "self" focused grief and really resented the fact that this whole Christmas facade was my responsibility! (holding my breath because I know that sounds horribly bad) Well meaning friends have advised me over the years that, "I do too much" or "Kim, you just need to let some things go". In my head that sounded right, but what could I reasonably "let go of"?
Gifts? Baking? Church? Laundry? Christmas cards? Showering? Whew! That's a hard choice- I mean I really hate laundry, so shouldn't I bake instead? I love church, so that's not a possibility. (days ticking by while I contemplate the wise choices of the Christmas season.....)
I pondered this throughout the month as I "let go" of responsibilities that were laid upon me as a wife and mother. Wasn't I supposed to be "letting go" and "relaxing"? That's what people would say. So if "letting go" was the prescription, then why wasn't I feeling any better? Why was I feeling even worse?
Sorry for the rambling, as I am trying to connect the dots and not bore to tears.
I should give a bit of history on my “story” and a bit could turn into a novel if I’m not careful. I lost my mother in 1992 to lung cancer when she was just 37 years old. I was 19 and my brother was 12 and we are forever changed because of this loss. While the years have brought peace and comfort and the friendship of women that can only be described as God’s provision, I still have an inconsolable ache for my momma. For the most part, I just miss her in my heart. I think of her in passing moments but I never really take up residence in that thought because that would be consuming and too painful. The only time I cannot seem to allow the moments to pass is around the holidays. Maybe because my memories are the strongest for this part of my life. Also, I think the presence of “mothers” seems to be oozing from everyone’s life during this season.
“I’m going to my mothers this weekend and then we’ll go to his mom’s next weekend”
“My mom will watch the kids while we go Christmas shopping”
“Oh my momma makes this delicious chocolate pie for me every Christmas, and I can’t wait!”
"Oh my mother drives me nuts! She is such a meddler!!!"
Don't feel bad if your mom drives you nuts. My mom drove me nuts sometimes too, but you will find after you lose someone you even miss them driving you nuts.
Sure, most of my friends have the whole “Christmas morning” responsibilities and maybe even some cooking or hosting. Maybe even most of them buy all the gifts, wrap all the presents, write all the Christmas cards, and keep the spirit in the home cheery and lovely. Certainly many of them have more children than me, cook homemade, sew their own stockings and bake homemade cinnamon rolls for Santa Claus, BUT they still have their momma’s! At the end of it all, there is that solace. That place to go where someone else can take the torch. Another mother soul to be interested in the child’s new plaything, someone to bake the cake that only your middle child likes, and the person to stand next to in the kitchen rubbing elbows while doing dishes. I cannot begin to describe how much comfort I found in her touch alone. I do miss her terribly.
So now, we are in the smack-dab middle of December and I have begun a passive revolt against the duties in which I have been assigned. I don’t want to “carry it off” (see- child/arms crossed/lip sticking out) I have convinced myself that “it shouldn't have to be my job” and it (ya’ll have heard this one before) *isn’t fair*! So, I’ll just do what I can and everyone will be fine with that and I’ll be fine with that and the kids will be fine with that and if your not fine with that, then guess what?- Too bad.
Were things “fine”?
Yes & No
Christmas was “fine”, and probably better than fine. But things definitely started going downhill after the gifts were opened. I’m sure my kids are clueless because things were going on as usual and they were *not* invited inside my head so they were spared most of that emotional roller coaster that was going on in there.
We (Chris & I) were up super-late on Christmas Eve (dad-putting together the 4-wheeler & me- poor planning so I was still wrapping gifts) With only a couple of hours of sleep I was feeling pretty lousy around 9 am on Christmas Day, so I laid on the couch for a little bit (Hannah says 8 hours, but she tells lies).
In the meantime, Chris had been soaking a dry-cured ham (actually since the night before). WARNING- if you like dry-cured ham then skip this section….
Dry-cured ham is the nastiest thing I have ever seen in my life!!!! Why, why, why would anyone eat this stuff? Have you not ever had a honey-baked ham before? Oh-my-goodness I think eating this stuff is like punishment! Anytime you can scrape the mold off of something and then eat it, I think there is a serious health issue to be concerned about.
O.K. now you know what I think about that. Chris brought one home from work and I wondered then, “how could something taste good that has been left outside for two weeks?” but I shoved that thought back in the dirty closets of my brain where I had shoved my “to-do’s” for Christmas. Remember, I was "letting go" :)
Back to Christmas Day- I had warned Chris that I had tasted this ham once before at a baby shower when we first moved here to VA. My girlfriend Dusty (also from Texas) and I love a good baby shower and all the goodies that come with it, so we each grabbed a ham biscuit. One bite and then we both spit it (very lady-like) into our napkins. Gross, gross, gross! It tastes like salt. I mean like the way salt would taste if you covered a hunk of mud with it, or if you covered a candle with it or if you covered a shoe with it (get the picture?)
So after I warned Chris that I probably wouldn’t eat it and the kids probably wouldn’t eat it, he soaked it in the sink (you do this to get the salt out?) and we all walked by it over the course of 24-hours and made noises like, “ewwwwww, that’s nasty” or “daddy, we are not going to eat that are we?” Bless his heart, he finally succumbed to the pressure and took the salt-filled pig to the garbage. It's okay, honey! You made the best peanut butter pancakes!!!
Now, fast-foward and find me on the couch Christmas Day after having a short nap and waking up to, “when are we going to have our big dinner today, momma? Are we gonna have our ham, and baked beans, and potato salad, and rolls, and chocolate cake for Jesus, momma?” Groggy momma (who hoped that the short nap would end on the 26th) is in big trouble now. You see all my “letting things go” had finally come to a boil and it was time to pay the piper. And there's nothing worse than saying, "I did not make the chocolate birthday cake for Jesus". My kids are notorious for asking me questions that hurt my feelings like, "is anybody coming to our house for Christmas?" or "are we going anywhere special for Christmas?" These questions always serve as reminders that even my kids wish for a Christmas that is filled with our family that is far away. I sometimes answer them sharply with, "You should be happy with the way things are". (note to self, right?) It hurts my feelings because for some reason I have come to believe that I should be enough to obsolve those feelings. It doesn't make sense, because I have the same desires that they do. I wonder if my content could serve as an example?
“OK, here’s what we are gonna do”, I said hoping to influence them with my enthusiasm. “We are gonna just have to go and get something”. (knowing full-well that there aren't too many choices of eating establishments on Christmas Day)
There you have it, my well-meaning friends. You said, “let go!"
AREN’T YOU PROUD OF ME? I sure enough “let go” didn’t I? I just squashed the whole Christmas dinner and decided to to go *Sheetz* and do a little a la Cart ordering.
So we did. While it was pouring rain outside, we went to Sheetz (aka- gas station) and picked up a chef salad for Daddy, a pretzel with nacho cheese for Hannah, a hot dog, fries, and chocolate shake for Emma and turkey sandwich for mom. Don’t be sad, we were all fed and we should be happy for what we’ve got and there are people right now with nothing and we have all these gifts and we are warm and safe inside of our house and we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and we love each other and isn’t this fun and aren’t you glad we don’t have to do dishes and spend all day in the kitchen (oh, yea you're kids and you don’t spend all day in the kitchen) but anyway, are you buying any of this children?
Oh my, I really don’t think they are scarred because we played a two-hour game of LIFE so we had "family bonding time" for goodness sakes. Later that evening when we tucked them in there were no tears or complaints and I was better for that. For a minute. Then I came downstairs and let the floodgates open. How could I do this? What was I thinking? What happened??? More than anything I was so disappointed in where I was (emotionally) than what "did" or "didn't" get done.
I began to share with Chris and as I did, the Lord was merciful in his correction and conviction in my life once again. I had written a long post about God’s sovereignty in honor of Samuel’s birthday (December 4th) and it was swept away with a Blogger tsunami. I knew instantly there was a work to be done because I was earnestly seeking to give glory to God over this work in my life and the gift of Samuel's addition to our family and that writing had taken such a long time. There was more for Him to say about this and more importantly more for me to understand (and there still is).
His sovereignty says that my mother is gone. It says that she won’t be back and she won’t make my Christmas dinner for me. She won’t answer my questions about the baked beans and she won’t buy me my favorite perfume. She won’t hold my babies in her lap and tell them that they smell like sugar. She won’t hold Chris in the highest regard and tell me again and again that he’s the best thing that ever happened to me (but she did before she died) No matter how I think it is *unfair* there won’t be someone else to “carry it off”. Because His sovereignty says I will. It says that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I can be more disciplined and be better prepared but still I cannot do it alone. He tells me to let Him carry the load because His yoke is easy (Matthew 11:30). Without casting my cares upon Him then my “burden” becomes mine and therefore gives no glory to him.
It is not for me to decide whether the task is too great. I am learning that if it continues to be present before me as the task then it is the task He has given me. I don’t have the privilege to say that I refuse this cup. It should be in the denial of my selfish agenda that I see the glory of His work in my life. Can I just tell you that his work in my life is the most magnificent beautiful fantastic thing I’ve ever known?
So, at the end of this month I’ve come to know this. The holidays make me sad and sometimes I will cry about it. I will miss my momma and wish she could know my babies and stroke my hair again and say sweet and special things to me that only she could say. But at the end of the day my cup is still my cup. I cannot reject my cup or refuse my cup or say that it is not fair. He has taken this completely broken and blind child and brought her into the most beautiful & right relationship that exists and I will seek to honor and obey Him daily.
Oh, and one more thing… Next year, I will buy the honey-baked ham.