Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Memory Jar

Last year we started a new family tradition I thought may be worth sharing for those of you who could use some encouragement in the new year.

At the start of every new year I set out an empty jar with a note pad and pen nearby. Then throughout the year, as a family, we individually write down happy moments on paper then tuck the paper into the jar. At the end of the year, on New Years Eve, we gather around the jar and read the happy moments aloud. Often we find ourselves laughing as there’s always a few funny jokes added, thanks to the amusement of our middle son, but overall we are left with a feeling of gratitude for all the great moments that have happened throughout the year.

I think it’s easy when you’re facing significant struggles to reflect back on the year and only remember the bad stuff, but when you take the time to write down all the good moments, they quickly add up, you soon realize that you are blessed even through the trials.

This year has been especially difficult, but I’m happy to share that the jar is stuffed full, awaiting our discovery on New Years Eve.

Inside the jar you’ll find:
A first kiss...
Dancing in the kitchen after the party was over...
Making Leadership team at school...
A first girlfriend...
A new job...
Family scary movie nights...
and so much more...

We are thankful, so very thankful.

I wish you and yours a wonderful year ahead, even if the blessings are small, may your cup runneth over.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Not So Cheerful During the Holiday Season

It’s almost Christmas, just a few days away and I find myself fighting a war inside my head as I seek peace and joy. It’s been a very difficult time, almost comical if it weren’t my own life. At times I’m grateful for the blessings that God is bringing to my family, such as a new job for my husband, a successful surgery to remove cancer from a loved one and three thriving sons; yet there has been significant pain, such as the unexpected death of a close friend, unsuccessful job search for myself and financial challenges that seem hard to overcome.

I search for peace and I’m grateful when it comes, wrapping myself in it like a warm blanket. Yet it feels so fleeting at times. I panic, I think the worst is coming. My imagination goes into overdrive and I start to experience pain for events that haven’t even occurred yet. Then I experience pain for what has occurred.

There’s a lot of pressure during the holiday season to be “gleeful,” but this season of my life feels bittersweet. I just wish I could fast forward this season and not feel the pressure to be so cheerful. I find it hard attending holiday parties and trying to answer the question, “How are you?” I usually respond, “Doing good.” When instead I want to talk at length about how hard things are or how scared I am for the future. But I don’t want to burden others or come across as a “debbie downer”. So I fake it with a smile and pretend like everything is just fine.

I wish I could curl up on the couch with a pile of junk food and binge watch Gilmore Girls and escape all the hard stuff in my life right now.

Better yet, I wish we had a Christmas miracle to take these challenges away.

But I know that there is only one thing that will truly work and that is putting my trust in God. It isn’t easily maintained, so I have to choose to do it daily, sometimes hourly. I have to trust that God can handle it all, that He is big enough to take us over these mountains and that He can hold us when we grieve.

I have to let my faith be bigger than my fears, as a dear friend reminded me.

I admit I’m terrible at it, yet I know that it’s a truth I have to hold onto.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. —Jeremiah 29:11