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Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 

from our very imperfect family.  

Joy is available, even in difficulty.
God is good, even when we don't understand.
I will choose to trust Him when it seems impossible.
Love is so much better than bitterness.
Come quickly, Lord. Our weary world waits.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. - Luke 2:11

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Second Marriage Christmas Perks

I'm still grateful to feel that second marriage is not second best and I'm so glad I risked trying again.  The holidays, especially Christmas, bring complicated feelings as we deal with memories with a previous partner, maintaining the traditions we value, sharing children with another home, and many other conflicting and complex feelings.

But, there is also a chance to connect in a meaningful way during this time of magnified emotions.  This week my children are spending time with their dad, with all the excitement of a new home and school letting out and I hate to miss it.  I really do.  So I have to acknowledge the grief that lives along with the joys in my life.  It's not my life, it really just is the way of living in our fallen world.  I have so, so much for which to be grateful that it would be selfish to dwell in the negatives.  Being sad and grateful at the same time is a real thing.

  • Create your own traditions - Just you and your spouse.  For us, that means attending Christmas Eve service together then driving around to see lights.  Christmas morning we will be unrushed as we head to church and then to the Apple Barn Restaurant.  I just know Mr. Wonderful will make me coffee and we will laugh together as we anticipate the return of all our children.

  • Make your spouse a priority - It's so easy for the children to steal all your attention at Christmastime.  Their schedules, their wish-list, their preferences get the spotlight.  Plan something for just your husband like a back rub or special dinner.  Ask him what he wants to do with your time alone together and just go with it, instead of having a 'better' plan.  Give him your undivided focus while you can because those kiddos and their lives will dominate the home again soon.

  • Let go of the ideal - There is an ache that will not go away, even when you are enjoying sweet moments of the season.  There is a longing for the dream that you once had prior to divorce.  But don't let your past steal the joy from your present.  Look for the bright spots at every opportunity.

  • Camaraderie with the Hurting - It's so easy to get wrapped up in my own life, I'm sure the same is true for you.  But my wounds make me so much more aware of the wounds others bear, both near and far.  I'm learning to treasure time to consider how I may help another and to pray for refugees, leaders, and those around me who are hurting.  Awareness is a huge gift.  Even when I share here, my eyes are opened to so many experiencing their own kind of imperfect Christmas.  There was a time I couldn't relate, but now I get to share my burden and help bear the pain of others.  This is a gift.

I love being married to Mr. Wonderful.  The times we share together often seem stolen and limited.  So this unhurried week of fun is a special treat!  Remember, second marriages don't have the same "honeymoon" period as newlyweds in a first marriage.  There are complications, children, exes and many other distractions.  So, when you have time without those stressors, embrace the gift!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Blues - When You Are Apart From Your Children at Christmas

When I tucked the children into bed last night, I knew it was the last time I would do so before Christmas, since they are spending this week with their dad.  It never stops feeling unnatural for them to have a home apart from me and I always feel sadness at the thought.  Their father and I work to co-parent fairly and their stepdad (Mr. Wonderful) is so kind to encourage them to have fun and enjoy their other home.  But having limited time is challenging on all of us and there are dark days in December.

So, I'm trying to remember the positives.  Afterall, I can think of countless mothers who have wished for a few hours of extra time to catch up, especially during the holidays.  I will be able to get the house in order.  Complete the wrapping of gifts.  Shop for our food and travel needs.  Enjoy quiet time with the Lord.  Spend special time with my husband. I'll work some extra hours and even try to catch up with friends.

When I make the list and see the things I can do, it helps me have a better attitude about what I will miss.  These are the painful and ongoing realities of divorce.  I will acknowledge the pain, the loss and then focus on the positives.  My children are healthy and privileged.  I will still see them everyday at school programs
and parties plus other Christmas plans.  We have already made sweet memories and enjoyed the traditions of baking cookies, gingerbread houses, silly games and more.  There is so much good, that to focus on what we miss is simply selfish.

Being without your children on Christmas morning seems almost unthinkable and most of my friends can't even imagine it.  I've come a long way from that first Christmas after divorce.  The longing has truly helped me to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and why we have it in the first place.  Holidays without my children are painful, and I used to believe that where there was pain, there was no joy.  I've learned to accept the joy and celebrate, even when things aren't perfect.

Christmas is less than one week away.  I feel better having acknowledged the grief but I'm choosing not to lose my joy.  Tonight I will watch my youngest in a Christmas performance - he's so proud to have a speaking part.  Tomorrow I'll go ice skating for a one-on-one with my son. There will be Christmas parties at school and on Christmas Eve the get to come home for a  few hours and we'll have homemade soup and hang our stockings.  We will enjoy one another while we look forward to Christmas Day when we gather together once again as a family.  I can't wait!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Modern Family Holiday Helps

From dealing with your ex to embracing new traditions, Christmas time brings out the wonderful and the woeful.  I hope that you find a way to cast your gaze on the goodness that abounds in this season and let go of the frustrations that drag you down.  The calendar can get a crazy and finances may turn into a fiasco.  Try to notice the many points of light and joy, even in the hectic times.  Capture some precious memories while running through the holiday paces.

It's okay if not every ornament makes it to your tree this year.  If you don't have time to put the lights outside, that's alright, I skipped it, too, but we really enjoyed a trip to the local light show.  I'm not sure when we might do our holiday baking, but we have enjoyed seasonal candy treats.  The memories are the moments more than the activities.  It not just one day that makes the season, the longing and shuffle are part the tradition.

So take pictures with the decor that makes it up this year.  Record the Christmas concert and holiday recitals.  Enjoy some extra fine dining or just store-bought dessert.  Whatever works is okay - you're doing a great job, Mom!  Most of all, remember the simple first Christmas and take peace in knowing that all our troubles are the reason Christ came.  Reach out to help someone, if you are able, and reach of and ask for help, if you need it.  I'm grateful to have been in both positions.

Holiday Tips for StepMoms

Holiday Survival Guide

Let Go of Expectations This Season

Blending Traditions and Schedules

From Me on The Blog:

Traditions in Our Blended Family

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

(reposted from 2015)