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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Recent Reading

The house cleared out and quieted down so quickly as all our children went to their other parents' to continue their celebrations.  In the quiet mess that remains, I'm grateful for sweet memories.  I've enjoy reading and catching my breath after the fun.  Here are some great reads I've enjoyed:

I'm so glad I'm not the only mother who still serves hot dogs!  This author shares my perspective of not aiming for perfect, but real motherhood.  Love it!  The Mom Confession

I love remembering that It's Supposed to be Hard.  Usually that's when we're doing something right!

I don't think everyone can or should stay married, but this has a lot of important information: We Are That Family

If you are in a relationship, review these traits in full honesty.  I wish I had the courage to face the truth decades ago: Red Flags

As we end this year, may 2013 didn't turn out the way you expected - I understand that and this post speaks right to it: If 2013 Wasn't What You Expected

Don't forget that holidays will come and go but the memories are what will last forever.  This mom is doing it right!  A Single Mom Christmas

Such important reminders about setting boundaries and owning your feelings - I love this! 
Simple Solutions for the Most Complicated Time of Year

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope this week finds you feeling settled and joyful.  Even if things aren't the way you imagined, look for the joy and the memories you will have of Christmas 2013.  I'm sharing just a few things from previous years.  I hope you will comment or reach out!  I'll be soaking up time with family for the next few days and then some time alone to nourish my own heart and think about hopes for 2014.

The Christmas Magic is YOU!
The Christmas Magic is Christ

Home Alone at Christmas

Holidays Without Your Children

It's Better This Year

He Came for this, He came for me

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Closet Has Been Overcome with Christmas (There will be a lot of gifts this year!)

colors 2
Image Source - Isn't this a lovely room?!?

While I was getting ready for work this morning, I realized that I've officially come crossed the line into being conquered by my Christmas Spirit.  I have gifts stashed under the bed an in my closet...and the closet has become almost non-functional!  I have to lift bags to get to my shoes, boxes block my jackets, there are various items tucked behind my hanging garments and the floor space has disappeared!  I have started wrapping and there are some things under the tree already ... but with seven people at home and a dog, there is a lot of stuff!

Having a lot of stuff at Christmastime has become kind of unpopular in the blogging world.  Simplify, Purge, Less is More are themes when I read my ongoing list.  But his is a year of extravagance for me.  I've spent years being frugal, one-gift-per-child, paring down, letting go, purging.  My heart along with the ornaments got divided. For several years, there was deep sadness in the background of my merriment.  Not so this year.  My heart is overflowing.  My budget is no longer bone-tight and I plan to spoil my people.

I'm all for keeping it simple.  We are extremely careful to keep the true meaning of Christmas on Christ and His coming to save us.  I don't even tell the children that Santa is real.  I have decorated, but there is a lot still in boxes because laundry, dinner and dishes are a priority.  Our family is on the front-lines of real.

We have spent years keeping it simple.  This year will be BIG!  And I'm not going to feel badly about it.  It's our first Christmas as a blended family and I want each person in the house to sense the special-ness of where we are in life.  The healing, the bonding.  We are going to celebrate!

Check back after Christmas for a recap and ideas for boys and girls.  I was pleased to find much that isn't digital had so much fun!  Mr. Wonderful is going to be a bit overwhelmed, I think.  What fun I'm having!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Faves

I really enjoy movies!  And I so many memories surround them during Christmastime.  I watched several this weekend and felt inspired to share my favorites...and I would love to know yours!

My sister and I watched Holiday Inn together every year. We had to search for when it would "air" on cable in a time before DVR and Blue Rays.  Now I rarely find it on the showing schedules.

It's A Wonderful Life always reminds me of my mother.  It was her Christmas classic and the timeless tale always draws me in...haven't we all felt like the world would be better off if we disappeared?  I love the story-line and the approachable acting.

My grandmother gave me this movie years ago...and I fell in love with it.  The costumes are just divine and I've always adored a musical.  Judy Garland is charming and the settings just captivate me.

White Christmas is another timeless classic.  This movie was based on the earlier show, Holiday Inn.  But the sister dynamic and the vivid pageantry along with music with which we all connect. 

I laughed so hard the first time I saw Home Alone!  I remains a carefree way to pass the time throughout the holiday season and with children now, it is even more comical!

Our family spent evenings laughing around the with Griswold's in Christmas Vacation.  The slapstick comedy and family humor makes us appreciate our family even more. 

I also enjoy all the variation of A Christmas Carol.  The power of generosity to 
change a heart is a true and timeless message. 

What is your favorite holiday-themed movie?  Do you watch them alone or with others?  children?

Note: All images acquired through free sources via search and remain the copyright property of licensed owners.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"The Christian Divorce Advocate"

I am the pastor's daughter who filed for divorce and have happily remarried the most wonderful husband this world has to offer.  I enjoy a good relationship with my bonus daughters.  My children are well-adjusted and happy.  My former spouse and I co-parent and cooperate well much of the time.  Because of this, some people may assume that I am pro-divorce.  Some might think I would encourage women in difficult relationships to take this way out and sign up for a better life.

I want to alleviate any chance that I promote divorce as solution or quick-fix.  I can only describe experiencing divorce like trading one set of trouble for a different set of trouble.  Afterall, the Bible did say we would have trouble in this world, there is no avoiding it.  Learning to accept discomfort, trouble and hardship part of maturity.  Divorce is not an escape from that.

As a follower of Christ and His word as set out in the Bible, I understand the acceptable reasons for divorce as 1) adultery and 2) abandonment including when 3) an unbelieving spouse wants out of the relationship and finally 4) breaking of marriage vows including abuse.  There are many variations of these which must be interpreted.  Does emotional abandonment count?  What if the adulterer is repentant?  How do we handle cases of mental illness where abuse may be unintentional?  At what point does adultery take place, since Jesus said to lust is to commit adultery?  It's all so very complicated and I've included some verses below if you are interested in these.  However, I want to share from a human, personal perspective why I would say to any friend that if at all possible, stay married.  Fight for your marriage, fight for the history you share and for the future you dreamed when you took your vows. 

Still, I have first-hand knowledge that even when you've done everything you know to do, things unravel. 
  • Divorce will diminish your standard of living and may catapult you into poverty.
  • Grieving happens at a deep and guttural level.
  • You will analyze your relationship history for clues and wonder what was real? when did it get so bad?
  • Insecurity will wrap around your confidence making decision making a challenge. 
  • You will doubt yourself.
  • The ability to trust is damaged and a cynical note takes up residence in your heart.  Disappointment is the new expectation.
  • You will face decisions without a partner who has a vested interest in the outcome.
  • You will experience change and stress. The complete implosion of the life you had and imagined for your future will create a void that you will need to fill.
  • If you have children, you will spend less time with them because of additional work and time with the other parent.
  • The time you do have with your children may be more stressful because of the demanding and repetitive nature of parenting without a partner.
  • In most cases, you have less say in the lives of your children as you no longer hold influence over the other parent. 
  • Loneliness is real.
  • Your understanding of God will shift.
I do not regret the decision I made to file for divorce.  I could no longer survive emotionally in the situation.  Yet I understand that it wasn't a quick fix or an easy solution.  When I count the Christmas mornings I have yet to experience with my children, I have to cut them half...because half of those mornings will be spent in another home.  I do not yet know what wounds they will carry because mom and dad couldn't live in the same home together. 

Often I feel like a great deal of my personal history is just lost, or disappeared because the person with whom I shared that is no longer in my life.  There are moments when I interact with the father of my children that I catch a glimpse of the normal that could-have-been and it causes grief.  It completely catches me off guard, and makes me uncomfortable, so I avoid it.

There are so many layers to grieve when marriage-ties are broken. 

I am happier now than at any time in my life.  There is peace.  There is joy!  I have never been so loved.  Still, I tell any person that divorce is not the way to get their joy and love.  Divorce is one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I'm thankful for today yet would fight for the marriage I had the first time again and again. 

Other words on the subject here and here.  And I firmly believe that part of the mystery and wonder of God is how he uses sinful disobedience to accomplish great good...making all things work for good. (Rom 8:28).  Have you experience positive results from a negative situation?  Has your view of divorce changed if you experienced one? 

Academic Study on Divorce & Christians: What God Has Joined

  • Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)
  • Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)
  • Abandonment and abuse (included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)
  • Monday, December 9, 2013

    Christmas Traditions

    Every family has Christmas traditions.  Some are set in stone and held onto with clenched fists.  Others are more fluid and can evolve through the years of children growing up, families relocating and changing times.  I remember during my teen years, it became somewhat of a tradition to go to the movies on the evening of Christmas Day!  That was a new tradition for us, but we wouldn't dream of abandoning our stockings ... even if we didn't technically believe that Santa was coming.

    We are having our first Christmas as a blended family and in doing so, we are bringing together many years of traditions and history.  So, we're talking a lot about what is important to everyone and working out ways to be sure each person is included and the important traditions honored.

    We will have two Christmas trees.  This year, our family ornaments will remain distinct on separate trees.  So far, we are loving this!  My three little ones enjoy seeing their Toy Story, Thomas the Train and Barbie ornaments on a tree they remember and have decorated for years.  My bonus daughters will do the same on the ginormous tree they have enjoyed for years.  We'll get some new ornaments this year and put them on the larger tree, but truthfully, we may have two trees from here on - our house is large enough and we like the added festive atmosphere.  We have a tree in the family/great room and one in the dining room which is has been converted to a play area. 

    We brought our Advent Calendar and I asked Mr. Wonderful if he thought his girls would want to be included.  I didn't know if it would be considered too childish?  He said they would and it has been a source of fun and laughter each day.  We're building memories together.

    We'll all hang stockings and attend the Christmas Eve service at church.  Instead of a big Christmas dinner, we'll have a Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch.  That's new for my part of the family.  Other traditions we will be sure to do are: making a gingerbread house and Christmas cookies, attending a nativity pageant, ice skating downtown, gifting family members, touring Christmas lights.

    Traditions are important.  Recipes, memories, locations, they all create the fabric of family.  Working with your spouse, especially in a blended family is crucial to make sure the that important things aren't overlooked.  What traditions are most important to you?  Have any changed through the years?  Do you have a blended family?  Do your children have traditions in another home of which you are not a part? 
    This post is sponsored by Betty Crocker and Blogher. Thank you for reading, commenting and supporting Far From Flawless!

    Moody Monday

    It's rainy and cold outside as we begin another week.  After a very busy Saturday, I was a bit of a grump with a head cold on Sunday.  But I took a nap and we had a Christmas event at church last night so the day ended well.  My children were in a Christmas parade on Saturday with the Boy Scouts!  They were so adorable! 

    I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping and have loved doing so much online this year.  I get just giddy when packages arrive!

    This week is one is a calm one.  I plan to enjoy some baking and Christmas crafts.  I hope to get together with a friend and complete a weather project with my fourth grader. 

    I'm so thankful for the abundance in our home - we are blessed

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    We've started the decorating!

    I waited until after Thanksgiving to pull out the Christmas d├ęcor - but it is full swing at our house, now.  I'm improvising since it's the first year to decorate in our new home and we're working on combining traditions and decorations.  I'll share more soon!