My Christmas

This past summer my dog, Oscar, of 14 years died in his sleep of old age. The kids were devastated and we held a memorial service for him.

Since then the kids have been asking (begging, really) for a dog. I knew I could not handle another breathing thing to take care of, so my answer was always no.

As Christmas drew closer, the kids kept asking over and over for a dog. They even made sure to ask if I’d be mad if Santa brought one. I told them that as long as they weren’t mad if they didn’t get one. Then they went on to pick out names for their new dog.

When I say I had no intention of getting a dog, I mean NO intention AT ALL. Not one iota of doubt about my decision. One afternoon, I went on Craigslist and other sites to view dogs up for adoption. I’m still not exactly sure why, but I did. There were no dogs that would fit our family, as I have one with extreme allergies and another with asthma. Plus, I was surprised by the price of the dogs… even those up for adoption. It just wasn’t an option and life went on.

A few weeks later when I was bored, I looked at Craigslist again. There was a picture of a toy poodle who was 13 weeks old and the owner was selling him for 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of other poodles. I emailed and got a response within 5 minutes and I called to talk to the lady. She was incredibly nice and said that she knew this dog needed children to play with. In fact, she had just turned down an older couple looking for a poodle, because she felt strongly he needed to be with kids.

Even though I was interested in the dog, I was not settled on getting him. Later that evening, a friend sent me a text asking if I would like company to go meet the dog. Immediately I responded YES!

On our way to meet the puppy I asked my friend to let me know what she thought of the dog before I made a decision. I didn’t want to rush into something that was not right for our family. (I knew that many people fell in love with the LOOKS of the dog, but regretted their decision later.)

A few hours later I was the owner of not only a dog, but a PUPPY (I said I’d never do the puppy training again… especially now with life so overwhelming). My friend offered to keep him until Christmas at her house, which was another HUGE blessing and of course I took her up on that offer.

Well… I couldn’t wait until Christmas so TODAY I surprised the kids with the puppy as an early New Year’s gift. Something new to start a new year.

I sent a text to my friend asking if she could have Milo at The Pawty Palace (my friend Jenn’s place that you have to visit if you have a dog) within the hour. She was out running errands, but said she would make it happen. Excitement does not even begin to explain what I was feeling during lunch!

An hour later, we walked in to see my friend holding Milo. When they found out that he was THEIRS the looks on their faces was priceless! In fact, I have not seen ANY of them glow with happiness like that in literally a YEAR. Their giggles, hugs and excitement were a site to see.

I am so thankful that God somehow got me to buy that puppy. I have NO idea how He did it, but I sure am glad He did! I would gladly clean up pee and poo every day to see that light in my kids’ eyes.

Today was MY Christmas. It has literally changed this holiday for me, as it started out extremely depressing. My heart could not be more full. SO like my Creator to dazzle me with his love just when I needed it…. just never thought it would be in puppy form :-)

Home-made is best

Growing up I learned to bake home-made cookies of all kinds, because my Mom was always baking for others and of course I wanted to help. (Hmmm… and I wonder where Morgan gets that?) My mother can bake almost anything and her cookies are the BEST by far (just ask my children, my friends, or anyone in her church, or our whole family, or her neighbors… you get the point).

Because I learned to bake cookies home-made, I rarely bought the roll of cookie dough. I knew it was faster, but I also knew they were not quite as good as home-made. Buying store bought packaged cookies was not even a factor. They were not worth the calories, in my opinion, and that’s saying a lot!

Late one night the infamous cookie craving hit. I had recently bought two Betty Crocker packages (bags) of cookie mix (Well, truth be told, they were almost free since I was couponing at the time). Funny, I didn’t even know they existed until then. It was intriguing and I wondered why I had been doing so much work, when all I really needed to do was buy a bag and add some butter.

Anyway, I decided to try them out because I knew I didn’t have the time to make anything from scratch. Imagine my horror when I realized I didn’t have any butter. I sent a message  to a neighbor and fortunately she had an extra stick.

After the cookies were made I took some over to her house as a thank you. I enjoyed the cookies and they were good, surprisingly good. Then the question came… “can I have the recipe?” I had to laugh. Recipe? Um…. open up the package, dump in the contents, add a stick of butter and stir it together. Bake. 😉 It was too easy, and a little embarrassing to admit I had not made them from scratch.

But as I thought about it later I still would have rather gone to all the trouble to make them from scratch… because home-made really is better and worth the trouble. And I was still craving cookies. Hmmm….

My Christian life is the same. I can go to church and get a “quick/easy” fix of the bible, drop the kids in the classes hoping they “get what they need” spiritually, visit with friends, and go home having checked off “Go to Church” from my mental To Do list. Sure, it’s good and I enjoy it, but does it really satisfy what I really want? Not hardly.

OR I can take the time and put in some work like studying the bible for myself, living out what I believe by helping others, and being intentional about teaching my kids about their Creator. In the end, I’ve learned that the route that’s more difficult brings the best results (contentment, peace, etc) and the most joy.

And who couldn’t use more joy? I know I certainly could… especially this Christmas.

32 Minutes

Over the past 32 minutes (I get that “exact-ness” from my Dad), I have gone from feeling blessed, satisfied, content and even happy to bawling and feeling like God has forgotten me. That He and everyone else is too busy and do not really care what happens within my four walls.

Did anything change? Absolutely not. So what happened between 9:01 and 9:33? My thoughts, that’s what happened.

There’s a reason that Phil. 4:8 is in the bible- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

My thoughts were telling me that this Christmas will be the worst holiday I’ve ever had, that no one really cares about the loneliness of the holidays, that I should feel guilty that I am even thinking of myself when it’s Jesus’ day, that the kids will be disappointed with their gifts, that I should be more successful, that I need to go back into teaching so that I can support my kids on my own, that something is wrong with me which is why I am alone, etc.

When I purposely began to think of the TRUTH, the loneliness, fear, sadness, and depression left. I absolutely know that none of those things are true. I do. No one has to convince me. I know. I know in the deepest places in my soul. I know, because I know what God says about me and those things do not line up with any of it. It’s just all crap. (sorry about the language)

I know that I am blessed. I am loved. I have amazing friends and family who continually surprise me by their love. I am beautiful. I am working right where I need to be. I know the kids will be thrilled with their gifts…Not that it’s about that, but I do know they will be thankful for anything they get. (That’s just their hearts and I so love that about each of them.) I know God sings over me. That He fights for me and thinks I’m worth fighting for. I know I am alone by choice. I also know that even though this Christmas will be different and will bring with it sadness, it does not have to define the entire holiday.

Are things amazing? No. Are they terrible? No. They are what they are. But my circumstances do not need to define me and in my stronger moments they don’t.

And now that those 32 minutes of yuck are over I am feeling joyful and hopeful. Whew… on to better things. :)