Why Did I Even Bother?

disappointed

You spend hours on a project, and your loved one is clearly not excited upon the reveal.

The cookie making experience you designed for your kids ends up with you yelling and your kids in tears.

You design a fun outing for your family, and the kids just complain the entire time.

The perfect gift you found on the internet? Not so perfect and the recipient is not impressed.

Frustration. Disappointment. Disgust. All of these feelings can pop up under these circumstances.

I have come up with many ideas to do with my boys over the years that have gone awry. Last week I was sharing with the moms’ group I help with that I medicate my children to go look at Christmas lights. Let me explain! Driving around to look at Christmas lights is one of my favorite traditions. My boys tend to get car sick, the oldest especially. A few years ago the boys put on their new Christmas pajamas, we loaded into the car with our homemade snickerdoodles and hot chocolate, then things went south quickly. We ended up in some stranger’s beautifully decorated yard gracing it with throw up. At the suggestion of a friend, I now give both of them motion sickness medicine before we leave so we can continue this much loved tradition. That little pill is an amazing gift!

So, I call it a much loved tradition, but my boys may tend to disagree. They probably wonder why I have attempted to torture them with this yearly ritual. This will likely be the first tradition they drop when they are older and on their own. At least this will make for funny stories down the road!

Here are some things to consider to help prevent those feelings of exasperation:

1) Is it just you enjoying the activity? Will others really enjoy it, too? Sometimes we project our own excitement on others unfairly, as in the above example.

2) Is what you are planning to do age appropriate? Your kids may end up bored with a trip to a Christmas harp concert, even if it seems like a fun family thing to do.

3) Consider reasons for the reaction of the individual. Maybe he/she was expecting something else. Small children especially can build up surprises in their minds to such a degree that literally nothing in reality could compare. I remember having a terrible reaction to a Barbie doll my aunt and uncle gave me for my birthday one year. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the doll, it’s because it wasn’t the exact one I wanted (which I ended up opening later from someone else). I cringe writing that.

Or maybe, like me, they are terrible receivers. I rarely show enough of an enthusiastic response. Just because I don’t bubble and spew over something doesn’t mean I don’t love it.

4) Remember life with children is difficult and organizing anything out of the ordinary can be chaotic. Just because it doesn’t go as you hoped, doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t worth it. I know I have memories of things that didn’t go well at the time, but as an adult I am grateful for my parents’ efforts. Sometimes the best memories are those that involve a little mess.

5) Prepare your kids for any kind of gift opening. Remind them to say thank you. Remind them to not freak out if it is something they already have. Encourage them to smile even if it is something they don’t really care for. Then hold your breath and don’t beat yourself up if they end up having a tantrum at grandma’s house.

6) Remember the real reason why you bothered. You put in the time or effort because you love the individual(s). That really is reason enough, even if things don’t go as planned. Just ask yourself if the pain is worth the gain before you set out on some grand plan.

We talk a lot about the importance of being grateful for what we receive, but I believe it is just as important to be a cheerful giver, in spite of the response. I’m not sure which one is harder: to be grateful for things we don’t want or cheerful in spite of when our efforts fall short.

I would love to hear your stories! We all have them, I’m sure.

Happy gift opening and tradition making during this season of holidays!

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Image from freeimages.com.

 

Get More Spiritual: Take a Nap

bed

My good friend and mentor, Claudia, often says, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” In a season of hustle and bustle, this seems an appropriate topic to explore.

As each year ticks by, America is increasing in the number of individuals suffering from sleep deprivation. As adults, most of us know we should be getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night. That goal seems harder and harder to achieve for some. Researchers are discovering more and more ailments that relate to lack of sleep. Even Alzheimer’s in some cases has been linked to not getting enough zzz’s at night.

National Geographic published an article recently about this situation. Sleep helps improve our memories, helps us control our emotions, increases our physical capabilities, and ultimately helps the brain repair itself while our bodies are in a restful state.

On the other hand, without sleep, we can develop diabetes, gain weight, have heart or blood pressure problems, and drastically impair our immune system, among a host of other potential problems. And, if you’ve ever had a newborn, you know just how beastly lack of proper rest can make you feel.

We met with our small group of friends the other night and one of the topics we discussed was the inability to get everything done in a day that we “should” get done. Families with two full-time working parents struggle to exercise, eat right, take care of their homes properly, spend time with their family, get alone time, AND give time to God. Sleep often ends up low on the priority list.

When Jason was first diagnosed with leukemia, one of the things his oncologist stressed was the idea of getting enough sleep. She said that while exercise and eating healthy would greatly benefit him, the single best thing he could do to help ward off the progression of his cancer would be to get sufficient rest.

Our culture pushes productivity and advancement. Recently, I even read an article about childcare facilities in New York that are now a 24 hour a day service. No more daycare…drop your kid off at 11:00 p.m. to spend the night and go work your graveyard shift.Ugh.

The story Claudia always uses to illustrate her point is the story of Elijah found in 1 Kings 19. He had just wrapped up some rather intensive duties as a prophet and had a price on his head placed there by Queen Jezebel. He booked it to the wilderness to escape an otherwise terrible fate. Physically and emotionally exhausted, he found a broom bush and quickly fell asleep by it. An angel appeared to him, and encouraged him to eat a cake of bread and drink some water. After doing so, he fell back asleep. The angel reappeared with more food, and after eating he was able to continue on his journey.

From this brief scenario, we see the importance of rest and refreshment. Shoot, even prophets of the living God needed a pick me up once in awhile. Elijah was soul weary. His brief respite gave him what he needed to press forward.

As you spend the next several days shopping, wrapping, baking, and celebrating, remember one of the best ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth might just be to get some shut-eye. If you are the parents of small children, see if you can tag team it over the weekend so you can get an extra snooze. Even a short rest can help you refocus and gain some much needed energy.

Instead of turning into the Grinch this Christmas, give Jesus his proper respect by taking care of your soul.

How are you doing in the sleep department? What are your challenges? What works for you?

Here are a couple of articles about how to get more/better rest, if you are interested.

20 Ways to Sleep Better Every Night

Sleep Tips: 7 Step to Better Sleep

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Photo from freeimages.com

 

Surprised by Christmas

nativity

Can you think of a time you have been utterly seized by emotion? A time you found yourself swept away, awestruck, humbled, shocked? Whether it be the game winning shot, walking down the aisle at your wedding, the death of a loved one, or the birth of new life, we have all experienced moments when we have felt overcome by the feelings raging inside of us.

We all know women tend to be more creatures of emotion than men. Apparently my DNA didn’t get that message. The older I get the more emotional I become, but I am still sorely lacking in that department compared to the average woman. I don’t often tear up and get weepy. I operate much more by logic than emotion on most days.

Imagine my surprise then, when one year in the midst of my Christmas decorating of all things, tears fell rapid and free.

To read the rest of this post, please click here to continue to the Sherwood Oaks Christian Church blog, which will feature various posts throughout the season on the idea of being surprised by Christmas. If you need something to help you put the proper focus on Christmas, this may be just the site for you! Wishing you many blessings over the coming weeks leading up to the celebration of the birth of the hero of all heroes.