Writing

Quick Thoughts

This post will be short, as I have so little time these days, but rest assured, I’m still writing. I’m just mostly working on my book and putting thoughts too private to share in my journal.

However, I’m in a good place these days.

Sometimes I worry about those who go silent online, so I just figured I should say something about my recent silence. This is just for a season… I really want to get my book finished.

To be honest, I have four books going at once. One is almost done. Two are half done. The fourth is just barely started. They are all so different from each other. They are geared to different audiences, age groups, and written for entirely different reasons. I do this so I can keep writing. So that when I’m in a magical world sort of mood, I can write. When I’m in a spiritual moment, I can write. When I am thinking of political and culturally relevant matters, I write. When my heart is heavy, I write. When I’m feeling silly, I write.

No matter how I feel, there’s a book to be written.

So, you can see why I’ve been quiet here lately. I apologize to those who’ve missed me. Regular posting and reading others blogs will resume in a month or two. I do miss those I’ve connected with on WordPress.

Keep writing, your words matter. And your perseverance inspires many. We need each other desperately. Thanks for sticking around.

Love Always,

Heather

Writing

Eating My Humble Pie

I’ve always loved a good slice of pie.

As we all know, some pies taste better than others. There’s the premium kind Mom serves at gatherings. It has the perfect crust with that smooth, but slightly flaky texture, so easy to swallow. The filling is sweet, with just the right spices. Then there’s the bakery pies. Delicious, but not quite the same as Mom makes it. And then there’s the pie from the convenience store, which has a shelf life of a decade and tastes like it too.

Humble pie tastes more like the convince store baking. And it’s not sweet, so the sugar can’t hide the flavour… it’s more like a dinner pie made with mixed veggies. Ugh. To top it off, these days I feel like I’m skipping the slice and eating the whole thing at once. And it doesn’t sit well.

Still, there are a few areas where I manage to feel immensely proud.

It just depends where I look.

The source of my pride is and always will be my children. They continually amaze me with their remarkable talents and personalities. Those who lack in “skill” most certainly make up for it in character.

Last week we received their report cards.

My oldest son, Isaiah did fine in his grades… especially after we handed in a couple of late assignments. But what pleased me most is when the teacher talked about the character of my young man. Respectful, thoughtful, always looking to put others first. He said that Isaiah has a good heart, both tender and wise. Trust me, when these words are said about your 13-year-old-boy, you listen.

My daughter got 100% on everything. A perfect report card. I hadn’t known that was possible until last week, but no matter how many times I blinked, there it was. I was more of an 70s/80s kid myself. She got chosen as one of the two girls in her grade at school to attend a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) event.

My next son, stuck right in the middle of five kids, excelled in his grades too. Jonas’ teacher was most astonished at his abilities in Mathematics. She said not only was he a leap ahead of everyone else, but he was brilliant, showing her and the class new methods to figure out problems that she hadn’t ever heard of in over a decade of teaching.

Dallas is also strong in math. He did really good in his other work as well, but he’s also our athletic one. Tells me he’s the fastest boy in his class. Whether this proves to be true, I have yet to see. But I don’t doubt it. He’s always kept me running.

And Emerson, my baby. He amazed me by learning the game of chess when he was four. By the time he was five, he could beat everyone in our family. His teacher was quite stunned when he showed off his skills at school, said that most kindergarteners can’t even grasp the game, never mind master it.

They’re not perfect. No-sir-ree. Sometimes their bickering drives me batty. And when they leave dirty socks on the kitchen counter I want to pull my hair out. But I’m proud of them, because when it comes down to it, they’re amazing people. I feel honored to be called their mother.

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for:

HUMBLE PIE.

Because no one wants to hear how everyone else is excelling.

We wait for the grit.

We love the grit.

Especially when things aren’t going too great in our own lives.

I think it’s a social media thing: others successes making us feel like epic failures. If we lived face to face with our friends successes, we would feel along with their joy. Now we just watch from a 6″ window into their lives and feel shame.

And in some ways, we should. For having false expectations.

Social media will never give us true relationships because it is only a snapshot into the lives of those around us. The only way social media can become something more is if we decide to finally open the window further and give others a real look into our lives.

So let me open my window further for you…

I’ve been reading a lot lately and it made me realize something: I’m not very good at writing.

Ouch.

Did I really just say that? On WordPress? Among authors? As the handful of followers I have stampede away in droves…

That’s right.

You’re following an average joe. A stay at home mother, whose best accomplishment will most likely be raising five kids. Which is probably a good thing in a generation of fame seeking narcissists.

Don’t get me wrong… I want to be a bestseller. And for much of my life I believed I would be. But now, as I read my work compared to so many good authors, it’s pretty obvious: The wit, brilliance and effortless beauty that seems to come naturally to so many, has most definitely not been bestowed upon me.

I mean, I’ve had my moments.

I won second place in a local city competition for short stories and got a piece published in the paper. My high school teacher kept my best poems and says she still shows them off once in a while. I’m known to be authentic in my writing, which is what I want most of all. I once got a thousand views on a post I wrote. Must’ve been shared by the right person.

By the way, this isn’t me giving up. This is me getting real and putting an honest word out there to writers everywhere…

We just aren’t as good as we want to be.

Journaling my thoughts is one of the most amazing and effortless things I can think of. This makes me a natural writer. My best pieces come out of journal entries and poetry I’ve written. But writing for an audience is tough, gruelling and painful. This is the difference between a natural writer and a published one.

Writing my story was simple. Ok relatively simple.

But editing it and admitting that almost half of my story needs to get shuffled around or rewritten before it faces the publishers has been daunting. I mean, I thought I already finished the work! Now I read and reread every sentence until the words blur together and seem meaningless. But this work is necessary if I want it to be the best.

Almost makes me feel guilty for the way I’ve read books in the past; skipping over pages to get to the good parts. Those authors deserved more than a quick skim of the words they mulled over and over again.

As a result, I’m now back to 30,000 words on my book. Down from just over 85,000. But they’re a promising 30,000 words. They mark my best work. Worthy to be published.

At least I think they are. Maybe the publishers will feed me more humble pie. In fact, I’m expecting it. But it’s not the worst thing that could happen to me. The worst thing would be for me to stop eating at all for fear of being giving this bitter tasting food.

Humble pie may not taste great, but I’ve found it is the most nourishing food for the soul. It’s nothing, if not filling. And it even teaches me; inspiring me to be honest with myself and to learn from my mistakes.

Given enough time, humble pie actually doesn’t look as bad as it sounds. The fact of the matter is, eating humble pie may be my best chance of becoming that bestseller. It might even end up being the key to my success. So, I’m going to eat my pie and enjoy this meal, knowing that someday, I’m going to get a taste of Mom’s Homemade pie again. Until then, this humble pie will keep me alive, so I will be grateful for it.

I may even ask for seconds.

Cake Decorating · Vulnerability

My Love/Hate Relationship with Cakes

So I decorate cakes sometimes. And for the most part I’m happy with how they turn out:

Usually.

But then you get those cakes, where they just turn out the worst. Like today’s cake.

Ugh.

It started out ok. I formed a cute little Dumbo.

And a cute little bow…

And then I thought, hey, I should try a new icing recipe because I am getting tired of the one I usually use.

Now I remember why I hate trying new things!The icing was super soft and would not form a crumb coat. If the cake was covered with fondant, this would’ve not been a problem. But as the customer had ordered a chocolate cake covered with white icing, this was a huge problem!

As you can see there’s already crumbs in my first coat. I count on this crumb coat to harden so that I can do another layer of icing over, therefore not getting any crumbs in the second coat.

Literally one hour later this was the best I could do:

Not smooth at all!!!

Here is my first take on the top of the cake. I was not happy with it at all. The icing is just not smooth enough, plus it was so soft which made my fondant literally sink into the icing. Adding extra icing sugar would’ve made it too sweet so I was stuck! So I tried to redo the top. This is what I ended up with:

I know, I know, it looks okay. And if this was for me I wouldn’t be complaining. But someone is paying for the cake and it definitely wasn’t my best work.

So the lessons I learnt today:

1) Only try new recipes for my own cakes, this way there’s no harm done if they don’t turn out.

2) I don’t do well under pressure (actually, I learn this daily)…

3) It’s ok to post about my mistakes. I could’ve edited this cake picture until it looked perfect, but then, everyone else has a false picture of my reality and honestly, when everyone else is airbrushed we begin to hold ourselves to those unrealistic expectations.

4) I’m tempted to say no to ever making another cake, but I won’t do that. I will try again.

So show your flaws. And when you fail, get back up again.

And please, at the very least, take lots of pictures and blog about it.

Vulnerability

Raw Post Ahead

For the past few months I’ve been struggling a lot with feelings of inadequacy. I feel like I just don’t measure up, like I’m mostly a disappointment to those around me and actually many times I wonder if those closest to me even like me.

And writing a blog when I feel this way? Yuck.

I mean, there’s {almost} nothing worse than reading post after post of an insecure individual, fishing for compliments and for others to validate them. In fact the only reason I am up to writing today is because finally I feel a bit better, as if things may be looking up for me. Often, when I feel this way I begin to drift away on my latest social media platform of choice, this time it being WordPress. I don’t want to be that whiny blog no one reads so I instinctively want to fade out before my followers do. I feel that familiar longing to do my knee-jerk reaction and “delete the account”…to crawl back deeper into my hole.

Being forgotten is often less painful than being noticed for the wrong reasons.

This blog hasn’t been super rewarding for me. As of now, I have a handful of people who actually read what I write. Mostly strangers.

I began this blog after having a dream that awakened a desire in me to write again. Writing for me has been therapeutic for as far back as I can remember. It’s a balm on my wounds. It takes the deepest pain, the most utter confusion, the darkest fear, the greatest joy and put words to it all. Suddenly that painful, dark thought doesn’t seem so frightening anymore when it’s been put into language. It’s been named and therefore, it can be understood.

There is nothing as beautiful as when emotion is transformed into words that make sense of it all. Make it musical and even more dimension is added; you can almost touch it. Poetry is the combination of our thoughts and feelings, finally released in a rhythmic form that expresses the inexpressible; a miracle that hits the page.

I never intended to write for fame or to be noticed.

I never started so that I could become the next top blog or because I expected my writing to make me an overnight millionare.

I started so that I could practice and improve my skills as a writer while sharing my unique story and lessons I’ve learnt along the way. I wrote to share my faith, to encourage, and, quite honestly, to write about some things that I couldn’t dare say out loud. Using my blog in this latter way has caused unintended conflict and I’ve had to delete a couple of posts in the past that brought pain to certain people in my life (one particular post was taken personally when it was addressing how tired I was of gossip). Since that particular post was written, I’ve felt an unaddressed strain in a couple relationships which resulted in me losing that first zeal I had for writing. No post is worth losing relationships over, no matter how well-meaning it is.

And on that point lies the reason why I feel like quitting: If I, a writer, can’t clearly get my point across and am so misunderstood, then maybe I’m not such a good writer after all.

Many times I approach the keyboard, clicking out my heart-felt words…

Only to delete.

Out of fear. Who will I hurt this time? Who will read into my intentions wrongly this time? Do I really come across that harsh? Am I that oblivious to my actions? Am I completely lacking self-awareness? Oh, when did these relationships become so painful, so delicately breakable that I feel like tucking myself into a corner and giving up? When did walking on egg-shells become a daily practice for me?

However I look at this though, no matter what lens I use, I always know that there is someone else out there who knows exactly what I’m feeling. They understand my words perfectly. And so I continue to write:

For it’s the only way I know how to navigate my feelings.

It’s the only way I know to ease my troubled thoughts.

I share,

Because I am not alone.

Somewhere out there is another soul:

Who feels forgotten and alone,

Who is painfully insecure,

Whose blog makes the ‘Sega Dreamcast’ look like a success…

And for some reason, that’s enough to keep me hammering on these keys, knowing that persistence may be the only thing I have left.

I keep writing because of how it helps me.

I keep running, because it teaches me endurance.

I keep working because the results are rewarding.

I keep loving because real love never fails.

I keep on giving, because one day I’ll see the fruit.

I keep learning Spanish because it’s been my dream since I was a little girl to speak it.

I keep praying because there’s a lot of impossible things that I am still waiting for.

I may be called a lot of things… but least they can’t call me a quitter.

Uncategorized

A Short Summer, A Long Bucket List and Three Half Finished Novels…

Summer is almost over.

Since when do I literally panic at those words?!? I have a real desire to move somewhere hot for September, October and November and live in denial that it will ever end.

Summer in Canada is ridiculously short, but like most things, that’s what makes it so irresistibly sweet. We bear through a bitter six months of winter – half hibernating, half shriveling away in the arctic air and then after being soaked in the rain for a month or two, we finally can enjoy SUMMER. Children burst out of their homes, not a minute to lose! Playgrounds which were eerily empty and abandoned for the frosty months come to life. White legs stampede to the beaches. We book our holidays months in advance, being sure to make the most of every single second.

For the past two years, my kids and I have made a summer bucket list. It’s nothing crazy, no big life changing events are on the list, but it’s about 25 activities long and therefore, always is a rush to complete.

42A2E69B-8D67-418F-A77D-E33B39D0DC73

This time, however, it isn’t so much the weather change that I am dreading, or even failing to check off every box on our list; it’s the realization that summer is almost gone and with it another year of my failed goal: to finish my first novel.

Oh, by the way, I am writing a book.

Actually three.

Cue the awkward pause as people nod politely and change the subject…

And in many ways I don’t blame themPublishing a novel and making any sort of career out of it, never mind actually becoming a bestselling author is almost like a child claiming they’ll grow up to be a movie star…😏 “Mmmhmmm, sure sweetie, you do that!”

Yet I have had this desire from the moment I could write words on a page and form them into something resembling a sentence.

I remember writing my first story in grade 2. My peers wrote their opening words, the only ones that could possibly be used to start a story at that age: “Once upon a time…” And I knew even then that that didn’t cut it. Already, at age seven, I knew that wasn’t the way to write a book. Not a good one. I still remember my teacher’s surprise when she read my opening line: “The sun shone warmly on little Jessica’s face, her dark hair blowing in the summer breeze…”  I remember her reading it to the class, devouring my writing as if it were a rare exotic treat. I felt gifted, as if I were a prodigy of writing, sure to blow the rest of the world away with my cleverly thought out plots and well-structured sentences. Only to find out in my teens that I actually had a long way to go before I would ever publish my work.

But maybe that’s why I’ve always loved it. It’s challenging, and still relaxing for me. It takes effort, yet is in some ways rather effortless. Not to mention, it is also the only talent I ever remember being noticed for in school.

But the funny thing is, I’ve never finished a full novel.  I’ve had countless ideas, some that eventually fell rather flat, some that took off. Until, well… I got near the end.  Every single time I’ve come close to finishing, I give up.  Eventually, after years of sitting in an unopened file on my computer I click delete.

I don’t really know why. But it’s as if I fear what will happen if I finish. So I finish…then what?

Perhaps, it’s partly because I think it’s childish, this dream to write.  Because writing isn’t a real job, right? More like an eccentric hobby for the most lonely of introverts, those crazy ones, who’ve never quite given up their childish imagination.

But even scarier to me is the thought that keeps plaguing me: If I do in fact finish it, will anyone actually read my book? Will they have any interest? Or will I finally be publicly exposed for the wannabe writer that I really am? Should I just grow up already and let go of my childish dreams?

However this time, I am further than I’ve ever been before. In all three books. And even though I’ve been working on them for months (ok one of them I’ve been working on for years!), I feel like I actually really like my work. I am proud of the writing I’ve done. And I feel like others may like them as well.

So summer, please stay a little longer. Don’t hurry away. Let the days slow down and the workload pause. Let me finish the bucket list. Let me enjoy my kiddos. Let me finish my novels. Ok, maybe just one of them.

Because I really want to know how it ends, and, even more so, if others will enjoy reading it as much as I do.

Uncategorized

A Splash of Color

Many times depression has been explained to be like living in a world void of color, seeing in blacks, greys and whites. For many years, I took this as a metaphorical meaning and believed that depression was a state of emotional darkness in which one simply had to break through and choose to see the colors. I believed this for a huge part of my life and honestly still struggle with thinking this is either partly true or at least has a sliver of truth to it.

This is why it was devastating to me when my doctor diagnosed me with depression just one short month ago.

I sat in his office, surprised and yet not surprised. Numb, yet hopeful. Certain of which paths I was willing to take to healing and which paths I refused to go down.

Strangely, this seemed to me a familiar feeling, and I remembered a long time ago (yet not THAT long) when I sat in an office, feeling very fragile, alone and broken as a young teen. I remember clearly the vulnerability in the diagnosis: “You’re pregnant.”

These situations both similar, yet, different…

“Who…ME?!?” These things only happen to others. People who are careless. People with terrible lives. People with no support. But me?!? I am none of these things!

Yes. Me.

And as question after question was asked, denial was no longer an option.

Have I suffered trauma in the past few years?

Do I struggle with chronic fatigue?

Have you lost an interest in any of the things you love to do?

Do you ever resent your children?

Do you have trouble sleeping at night?

Have you recently wished you were dead or wanted to harm yourself?

Have you felt rejected or a lack of support from your loved ones?

Question after question was asked…and I wondered, has this doctor been reading my blog? Or truly is this how depression feels?

Depression for me isn’t seeing life in grey. It is a deep, pressing sadness that follows me everywhere. It invades my laughter and trickles into my sunshine. It is like a living in a grey world, but with a splash of color that always lasts too short…or always seems just out of reach.

But I see color, that I most definitely do. I see it in my garden, when little green seedlings start to peak out from underneath the wet soil. I see it on my four-year-old’s face as he happily trots along the yard, noticing every flower, every insect, every brightly coloured stone. I see it on my daughter when she rides on her horse like the wind. I see it in my friends, when we laugh and talk together. I see it so, SO clearly.

But it never quite reaches my heart.

When I’m in a social setting, I’m not out there putting on a fake smile – my smile is genuine. My eyes really do light up when I’m happy to see you. I really do find the lamest “dad jokes” funny. But I walk away from these things, pain heavy in my heart…still empty and sad. Unchanged. And I wonder, will life for me ever look the same as it did?

I think back to that first visit to the doctors: bright eyes, young skin, fresh youth. And I look in the mirror: tired eyes, loose skin – with faded purple lines, and an older, experienced face.

No – quite definitely, it will never be quite the same. I will grow through this. I will learn through this. I will be different after this.

Looking back to the ways I changed after that first doctors appointment, I smile, knowing that while the outside changes weren’t quite so pleasant…the inside ones, in my heart, were quite remarkable.

It is hopeful then, that this season may produce the same results.

Uncategorized

Down Unfamiliar Paths

I’m not writing here much these days.

Perhaps it’s partly because I’ve been busy, but mostly I think it’s out of disappointment.

I started writing because of a dream I had one night: A dream of going back to school and becoming a journalist. A dream of doing what I’ve always loved – writing. At the time I had the dream, college was extremely unlikely and out of my reach. It actually still is.

So I started this blog.

The purpose of this blog?

-To grow in my ability to write.

-To gain feedback.

-To encourage others in the midst of trials.

-To speak about my pain to an unknown group of people, because I couldn’t talk about it to anyone.

I wrote to give a fresh perspective, a godly view.

But as I left Facebook and eventually Instagram, I slowly lost more and more feedback and followers. I lost people who actually cared about what I had to say and I wound up with a handful of people who would give small bits of feedback, mostly of whom were strangers. I literally know five people who read my blog. And although I have almost 100 followers, those numbers really mean nothing. Many of the wordpress writers have one goal in mind: To gain more followers and if liking my posts and following my blog gains them a follow, they do it.

So really, I thought I had left social media, only to find myself on another form of it.

Blogging has become for me a lonely place, a reminder of the way the world is changing and a painful reminder to me of how there are already too many writers in the world.

There’s no room for another one.

So…is this me saying “good-bye” to blogging?

Perhaps.

Or maybe just putting it aside for a while as I desperately try to find a use and a purpose for my love of writing. Not one that just gains another “like” on social media – I am SO tired of “likes”! I want to write in such a way that inspires people, challenges them and makes a positive difference in the world.

 

I realize I’m walking around rather blindly on this road of writing. I’m not quite sure exactly how one publishes a book, or how they even get it to the shelves. I don’t even know any writers. Do they have support? Do they have people who care about what they write? Or did they start off like me? With people around them who don’t care for books and no one to ask about these things…

So I travel this path, in the middle of writing a book, unsure if anything will come out of it or if it will too end up with my discouragement and lack of interest. Will anyone really want to read it? Will they be honest with me about it? Can I take their honesty? Or will it crush me? I don’t want to have people “pity-read” my book and I definitely don’t want those around me to feel obligated to pick it up. So to be brutally honest, I’m actually too embarrassed to even share it.

How exactly do you share something as personal as a book? Will anyone even care or will they just absently comment: “Oh, that’s nice!”

Now, there are definitely people who have sincerely encouraged me. And I want to thank you if you are one of them. If you are one who has truly read and enjoyed this blog, from the bottom of my heart: Thank-you. Your encouragement means a lot to me! More than you could possibly know. You are probably one of the few I have already mentioned my book to. And hey, maybe the next time I’m on here, I’ll be announcing my best-selling, award winning book 🙂

Or maybe I’ll simply announce that I’ve finished it.

Or maybe I’ll be sharing my sob story of my flop of a book.

More likely, I’ll just be back one day, ready to write again with a new passion for blogging.

I’m sure I’ll be back eventually.

That’s the thing about unfamiliar paths, you never really know what you will find at the end, until you try it out. 

Love always, Heather

Uncategorized

Welcome Here

I’ve noticed that recently more people are stopping by…it’s great to have you! I’m glad you’ve decided to join me.

If you’re looking for a flashy person or a celebrity type figure, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place!

I’m quite an ordinary person: a Christain stay at home mother of five precious kiddos, a wife to an amazing man, a homeschooler, a cake decorator, and a wanna be writer, who lives where winter lasts FAR too long 🙂

By now, many of you will have noticed that my blog isn’t consistently about anything in particular. It doesn’t have a set format, theme or topic. My blog actually came about after a dream I had one night about becoming a writer. This dream stuck in my heart long after I woke up and I realized it was a God-given desire; one that I would pursue as God opened doors for me.

This space is simply meant to be an encouragement for the Christian, but more than that, it was meant to be an honest picture of how life looks.

Many times, I post about the positives in life: Mothering, Christianity, Homeschooling, Things God is teaching me…but other times you’ll notice that I post vague and somewhat depressing pieces: poems and entries that reflect the dark situations and feelings I struggle with. My reason for this isn’t so that I can get my readers to feel sorry for me, or even so that I can “vent”.

It’s because my desire in blogging is to be raw and honest, authentic and real. You can think of it sort of like reading a modern day Psalm: you will get glimpses of my joy, happiness and worship of God, but also pictures of struggles, hardships and pain. Too often it’s tempting to just post the good things, and leave the bad stuff for my journal entries, but this just isn’t real. It gives the false picture that after becoming a Christain, everything is just “great”.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean we always walk through life showing others our good sides, rather we show people our true selves so that GOD gets the glory.

My prayer is everyone that visits this place will come to know that Christianity isn’t a neat picture of perfect people with put together lives, rather Christians are ordinary people, with sometimes messy lives.

The point is that whatever is going on in my life, whether good or bad, I will trust God. In my joys, I will praise him and in my hardships I will cling to him.

Either way we worship and trust him because we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes.

May you find this to be a safe place to be encouraged, to cry, to share, and above all, to gain a true perspective of how God works through ordinary, normal lives, like mine.

Welcome here 🙂

 

 

Uncategorized

A Messy Christmas

I did it!

I got my first piece published in a newspaper!

And I almost didn’t even notice, because they got my name wrong on the front cover….but hidden away in the paper, there it was!

My first published story.

Now, I’m well aware that my small city paper is no New York Times, but it still feels like a first step. Like a milestone for writing. Almost exactly one year ago, I started this blog, not knowing where it would take me, not even planning to share it at first with anyone (thanks to my sister-in-law, Andrea’s encouragement I did) and now I’ve taken one more baby step. And it feels good.

This is my story, which I submitted into the local newspaper, The Carillon, for the Christmas writing contest. It placed third out of who knows how many entires (hopefully more than three, LOL).

A Messy Christmas by: Heather Bergen

This year it will be perfect! I thought, as I put the last few packages under the tree. Finally, this year I was going to be able to make Christmas look just a little bit like the Christmas’ we read about in all those heart-warming Christmas tales! Decorations hung around the house, most of them new. Mountains of presents are stacked underneath the sparkling tree, each carefully wrapped in brightly coloured paper, ribbons shining on top of them. The usually empty box that sits in the corner of our kitchen (my husband tells me it’s a refrigerator and that people put food in it) was packed so full of meats, cheeses, egg nog and other mouth-watering dishes that there’s no possible way my small army of children will ever finish it all.

Perfect.

I think back to our humble beginnings, just ten years earlier. It was our first Christmas together. I was with child at the tender age of seventeen, a child myself really. Not yet showing, but feeling so small – so lost in a world where everyone around me seemed to have their futures figured out. I couldn’t afford the paper to wrap a gift, never mind something worth giving…but that year the story of a young, unwed teenager, in a stable, pregnant with the Messiah reached my heart in a brand new way. My eyes twinkled with the youth that I possessed. The hope within me was so bright, so fresh…sweetly naive.

Fast forward one year. My eyes still young, but red from crying, stared out of the hospital window at the large, dancing snowflakes falling to the ground like big pieces of confetti. A tear slips down my cheek. How can this possibly be my sons first Christmas? We should have been starting our own traditions, setting up our first tree, maybe with one of those cute “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments hanging in the center. I should have been buying him new stuffed bears, musical mobiles or maybe rattles with flashing lights.

But instead, there is nothing.

We’ve been here, at the Children’s Hospital for over two months. No one is certain how much longer until he is better. None of the doctors even know what exactly is wrong. We’re waiting. Waiting for answers. Waiting to continue our lives together. Turning to face my baby boy, I hold out my hand to grasp the chubby little fingers on his. His large, blue eyes look back at me and once again he pulls away, expecting that I’m just looking for a finger to poke. My heart sinks. He no longer lets me hold his hand. Every couple hours, more blood is drawn from those tiny fingers to make sure that his levels are okay. The tips of them are covered with little cuts. I close my eyes and wonder: Will he make it? Will we ever walk out of these hospital doors and be a family again?

Another year passes! We’re finally together!! All four of us. My husband and our two children. My little boy, now a healthy eighteen-month old and his brand new baby sister! Each of them receives just a small toy. After all we’ve been through, there’s no money for much else. But we’re together this year and it’s all that matters. I’m filled with warmth and gratitude.

Year after year goes through my mind. Most of the time, we were just holding on week by week. Decor? There was no money for that. Fancy meals? Nor those. Just a small gift or two each. Nothing more. But finally! This was the year! We were in a new house, Ryan had a new job. I could pay for all the things on our lists and more! Surely this would be the most special week, the best Christmas ever!

My five children are tucked into their beds when I hear it…there’s no mistaking THAT sound. Someone is throwing up.

I groan.

Are you kidding me?!? Not tonight! Not THIS year! Not just one…but three little children are up all night. I spend Christmas Eve scrubbing rugs and doing laundry – load after load after LOAD! And then I get sick too. Throughout the whole week we all take our turns – a full six-day span before this family of seven is healthy again. The food in the fridge goes uneaten. the sweet oranges on the counter turn green. The new toys lie untouched in the corner, bringing little comfort to this sickly family. And once again bitter tears fall.

Why?!? It’s just not fair! Why did this have to ruin our first real Christmas?

Slowly a strange feeling comes over me and it dawned on me: What was the first real Christmas? It surely wasn’t neat and tidy, was it? And it dawned on me: This was the reason for Christmas. We are so weak and helpless, consumed by our own desires, and if our plans don’t work out, we cry and complain.

Yet Jesus.

He saw our pain, our helplessness, our sicknesses and our junk and he came. Not just to be a baby, but to show us that there’s so much more. He came to heal our hearts, and give us new desires that will never disappoint. He came to give us joy through the hard times. He came to die and forgive. Christmas wasn’t meant to be a neat, pretty picture. It was a messy painful story, full of people with ruined plans. But it is also glorious. It is all our hope.

With tears full of joy running down my face and a heart so full it could explode, I whispered, “Thank you Jesus, you never let me settle for all that Christmas fluff. You made sure that I got to experience the real Christmas once again…messiness and all!”

 

Uncategorized

And The Years Flew By

This past summer I took a break from social media; from posting on my blog to Instagram to Facebook. I also deleted all the games on my phone. Here’s what I found: All my missing time.

Okay, so maybe all the extra time also had to do with taking a break from homeschooling, BUT, I had time to do my work, time to relax, time for devotions, and time to have friends over for dinner. I made a wedding cake, I learnt some Spanish, and I memorized 3 full chapters of the bible, plus some other verses as well! I had time to be with my kids; I taught them how to enjoy work and they taught me how fun being a mom can be. We got to make a summer bucket list together and we almost completed our whole list! We went camping. I hosted some out of town relatives for a couple weeks. I planted and actually took care of a garden.

Despite all of this, I still had time to sit and think! I thought about how much time my phone took of my life (I honestly never want to hear the full tally of the hours I’ve spent on it!) I thought about how I’m half done raising my oldest three kids. I thought about the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve done right. Mostly though, I thought about how short life is and what a gift our time on earth is.

Time is a gift. A precious gift. Each moment spent can never be gained back! This means every person who pauses to send me an encouraging text, or who takes time to have coffee with me is giving me a tremendous blessing: their time.

I suppose none of us in the early years of parenting really know what to do with the elderly who stop us with our new babies, gaze into their faces and dreamily say, “Enjoy this stage because the years fly by!” I mean, we think we know what they mean, and we nod in agreement, but in our hearts the days still sometimes crawl by; the endless checklists cause us to hustle about from morning until night and lets face it, the sleepless nights seem even longer. Sometimes we just think to ourselves: “I know it’s true, I do, but right now I just wish I was out of this stage.”

It reminds me of a lady at church who smiled at me, shifting in my seat uncomfortably at the end of my first pregnancy. Her little kids were crawling all over the pew around her and she said, “Just enjoy the peace while you still can!” Then about eight years later, that same lady watched me as I juggled my five kids around me trying in vain to keep them quiet and she looked at me with older, wiser eyes and said, “Enjoy the busyness, my kids don’t even want to sit with me anymore!” And I smiled to myself and thought about the irony of her statement.

Of course us humans do that, wish for the quiet when we’re busy and long for the busy when it’s quiet.

I’m turning 30 next year, about one third of my life is over…and I’m reminded of an old Psalm:

“Teach us to number our days, that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Thanks to our busy culture, rarely, if ever do we stop and take time to number our days. We pack our schedules full of sports, school, work, church activities, volunteering, social engagements, but when it’s all said and done, do we spend time on what matters in our lives?

When I’m old and most of my life is behind me, I want to be able to look back on the way I’ve spent my time and have no regrets. I want to pour more of my life into people, rather than things. Sometimes, it just takes a break from “things” to realize how much time we gave to them. Sometimes, it takes a break from the “likes” to realize how little we actually need them.

Oh that my generation would see the slap in the face it is to everyone around us when we continuously choose to pine away hours of time! We sit down face to face with each other, yet spend more time on our phones than with each other. It’s actually ridiculous, that one would prefer to stare at a screen over watching their baby’s first giggles, or joining them in picking that fresh bouquet of wildflowers. And our wasted time is a loss not only to our children, but also to the elderly who sit by themselves day after day, to our friends who struggle with depression yet feel completely alone because we are “too busy” to listen to them ourselves.

So why am I here, you may ask. If blogging and social media are such a huge waste of time, then why don’t I just stop complaining about it and delete it!

To be completely honest, I thought about it …but then I remembered something, something my generation often forgets about, a little something known as self control. Social Media, games, Netflix, blogs…these things aren’t the enemy. They aren’t bad. We don’t need to delete our accounts or block them out! Facebook and WordPress are nothing more than tools. If used wisely and correctly, they can help communication, they can keep us in touch with those we would forget otherwise. But if used incorrectly they become harmful and sometimes even deadly to us and our relationships.

My break from it all taught me how much I’ve been misusing these tools. My misuse of them led me to frustration in parenting, lack of energy and time and the false sense of acceptance from the likes I’ve received. Blogging helps me put my thoughts into words, it improves my writing skills…but I don’t need to spend any time watching the stats, because really, knowing how many people are reading my writing doesn’t help me improve. Facebook helps me to share moments of my life with others and to share in the joy of others special moments, but I don’t need to check it fifty times a day!

I’m grateful for my time off this summer. I’ll never regret it. It taught me an important lesson: I still have time to change.

Time that is ticking.

My years of raising children are literally flying by and I, for one, don’t want to miss one more precious second!