I decided to do something new and different this year with my family as far as Christmas. I want to refocus my own life and live with more purpose… and I am bringing my family along. I mean, I am still the mom. I very much want my kids to be good people. To grow up with compassion and a genuine love for others. The best way to do that is to simply lead by example.
It starts with me… and Colby, of course.
No, I am not cancelling Christmas. I am simply looking to get our focus back on the reason that we, as a family, celebrate the holiday. I realize it may be different for you. Honestly, I think it should be personal. Each one of us has our own memories of holidays past. Good or bad we are either hoping to recreate family traditions with our own children or looking to make new ones. I think I am doing a mixture of the two.
Inspired by a book we are reading for Advent by Ann Voskamp called (affiliate link coming) Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, we are discovering, once again, the story of Jesus’ gift to us. From the discussions in the book, we have been able to reflect on the hardships and struggles we have faced in years past to get to right where we are. To realize just how far we’ve come as a family. Incredibly enough, I think the kids get it too.
Last night as we were discussing all of the blessings in our lives the list was growing pretty long. I was impressed with the items they were listing: health, financial stability, siblings, love. It was more than the material possessions they own.
We were also asked to share a way that God brought us through a tough situation and made it good. The one event that at least three of us mentioned was when Jaden (who turns 11 on Monday) was diagnosed with anorexia at 7. But it was more than the diagnosis. It was the effect the medication she took had on her. I can’t even begin to explain the terror and heartache our family went through during that time period. I wrote about it often but the best recap can be found in the “1 Year Later” post. Read through it to get a glimpse of what we went through.
Why did that one life event come up again and again? Well, when your child is going through a journey like this, you call on every resource you have. God was ours. We called out to him often for help, peace, comfort, wisdom… everything we needed to get through the trial. And He always provided. It was a long ordeal but we are stronger for it. And it was because of her journey that this blog was born. I wrote to share her story with family and friends. As she got better, I turned my blog into a way to support our family. That was almost 4 years ago. Even our teenage son realized this and pointed it out.
As we talked about Jaden’s experience, Colby also brought up the time he was fired just weeks before Christmas. Jaci (now 9) was a baby and I was not working. We were left with no way to take care of our family and his boss was “supposed to be a friend.” Jobs were impossible to find. Colby and I both applied everywhere. Colby did door-to-door sales to make what little he could.
That year, we learned humility. The local food pantry kept food on our table. Baskets of toiletries showed up in baskets on our porch from ladies at our church. The bills got paid by anonymous donors. We would find envelopes on our doorstep with an entire month’s rent. There were no names. No one we could thank. But we knew God was at work in our lives as He carried us through it.
Colby eventually got a job which led to another and finally a steady career… until he began blogging. Even that was a blessing in disguise. A layoff forced him out of work once more during the holidays but this time I was calm. Through the past events, Jaden, job loss, and most especially losing Reagan, I knew where our help would come from. I bought a domain, set up his blog and told him to write.
2 years later and here we are.
The kids know it. We’re blessed beyond measure. We work hard and play even harder. The kids do not want for much.
In fact, this Christmas I asked them to give me one gift they want. Just one. So far only Cheyenne has given us any ideas. (She just moved into a new apartment and wants to fill it up). They simply have all they need and can’t decide which gift they REALLY want. Which ONE gift would be the most meaningful to have. If nothing else, it has them taking a good look at all they have and puts their possessions into perspective.
Each trip we take downtown to pass out clothes, blankets, gloves and food to the homeless reiterates just how blessed we are. How much we have and how far we’ve come in just the past 4 years. As a family we work to remember why we do it and what it means to those we help. For me, I try to focus on my kids and the example I am setting for them. Doing my best to keep them grounded and humble in every circumstance. Why? Because I want them to know and show love.