That Week After Christmas

My 3 month old laptop crashed without warning right before Christmas. You know the brand new expensive one I bought to replace my 4 year old one that had been dropped twice. There was some serious distress, which is code for MAMA HAD A MELTDOWN.

I had to go to the mall twice the week before Christmas. I was only able to recover about half the data from backup. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a sobbing woman/writer at the mall. Two days in a row.

But I know the true meaning of Christmas, so I pulled up my big girl stretchy pants and ate a lot of Chinese food and self-medicated with 3 hours of The Carol Burnett Show.

I also didn’t open my computer (with a new hard drive) for 5 days in a row. Some might call it denial. I’m gonna call it a vacation.

We had a lovely Christmas (vacation) out of town. Imagine a little National Lampoon Christmas Vacation with a dab of I Love Lucy. I’m a realist (maybe that’s why you’re here), so I made a list for the week after Christmas:

  • I have a pile of money and gift card Christmas gifts for my children from well-meaning relatives.
  • I believe this is also an un-gift for parents.
  • I’m not a fan of giant candy canes the size of a child’s leg-thank you Santa. (I have two nasty ones in a ziplock bag right now. The third met a timely death by way of Schnauzer.)
  • Also not a fan of peppermint candy stuck in dog’s furry beard
  • I can’t shake that crazy feeling to purge THE ENTIRE HOUSE. Nothing is safe.
  • The pile ‘o Christmas cards I still haven’t addressed won’t stop staring at me.
  • Why isn’t taking down Christmas decor as fun as putting it up?
  • I’m just going to say it: I hope the Elf on the Shelf fad fades quickly
  • Feeling the pressure to stay up to ring in the New Year (yawn)
  • Realizing your youngest photobombed most of the blurry Christmas pictures of you and your hubby

What’s on your list?

Happy New Year!


Your Best of 2012

It’s hard to believe we are at the end of another year. They come faster now, don’t they? Sort of like birthdays over 30.

I love my friend Ann’s idea for celebrating the end of the year and wanted to ask you, dear friends… What’s your best of 2012?

Share it in the comments! Your best memory of the year, your greatest lesson, your best project, your best fashion tip, the best advice, the best food you made or ate, the best laughter?

I’ll go first.

Best home project

Best picture (hanging a huge one on my wall)

Best eye makeup

Best family decision of the year

Best jeans (for petites)

Best parenting lesson

Best book I couldn’t put down (hard to choose, but I loved this series)

Best laugh of the year

Okay, your turn! Share your best links in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

Happy Year Ending and Year Beginning to you!

{Merry Christmas} from all of us

Many of you supported Mercy House before it existed. Your faith and support has rescued 18 lives and many more to come. Deep gratitude and Christmas blessings to each of you–from our family here in the USA and in Kenya.

I’m taking the rest of the week to enjoy time away with my family. Merry Christmas!

Never Once Has He Left Me Alone or On My Own

We drove in traffic across town to meet my twin sister and parents for the best Mexican food in Texas. You can only turn 40 years old with fajitas and a mariachi band.

I clutched a tattered Kleenex and felt the tears well up again. Just an hour before, while standing in my kitchen, handing out after-school snacks to my kids, an email came and with it a gift from God and I am still reeling from it.

He is continuing to bless Mercy House, the crazy dream we said yes to two years ago. The blessings keep coming in waves. And 2013 is going to be amazing. We will be able to help more pregnant girls and continue to work towards a permanent home in Kenya for our present girls and babies and many others.

This past week has been hard for our world. We feel the kind of sadness that we can’t shake with Christmas shopping or birthdays. My soul yearns for His Kingdom.

I have scars from this struggle.

There are wounded, dark places in my heart where I’m tempted to believe I’m alone.

But standing there in my kitchen, I felt His presence. Emmanuel, God with me, us-in joy and sorrow. The gift He gave wasn’t so much about a tangible present (although it was), it was His Presence. He reminded me (again) that He is with me.

I closed the door to my bedroom and knelt beside my bed and I sobbed. On my birthday.  Happy, hard tears. I wept for good news in an email and bad news in our world, joy and sorrow mixed and mostly, I cried because He was right there with me in both.

And I’m learning more the true meaning of Christmas: He is God on the mountaintop and God in the valley. The heartbeat of Christmas is God with us. All the time.

My husband held my hand as he navigated traffic, kids in the backseat, all hungry for refried beans and celebration and he played this song on the radio:

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

-10,000 Reasons

The road blurred and tears dripped off my chin, overwhelmed with His abounding faithfulness, even when I don’t understand, carry unanswered questions, He is here. Never once has He left me alone or on my own.

I don’t know if you’re on the mountaintop this holy season or struggling on the battlefield, I waffle between both. But wherever you are, He is there. That is the essence of Christmas, unwrapping Jesus, God with us.