Birthdays: Time or Gifts?

Let me be the first to say I was the all time worst at giving things instead of time. You see my son is an only child and an only grandchild; I have always felt like he was missing out because we were unable to give him a sibling. I mean I am number 6 or 7 children. Our journey to get him was so rough and scary, that is a story for another post!  We did try a few years but it just wasn’t in God’s plan; he for sure knows what he is doing because I now know that my uterus is attached to my abdominal wall and another pregnancy could have been the end of me. So I tried to fill the void by getting him toys and video games and rc cars…you get the picture. Now he is by no means an ungrateful child; he is thankful for what he has and for the most part is respectful of the items (meaning he takes care of them) and knows that we work hard for everything we have and he has. He is always willing to help out and when he is at his grandmas’s she pays him for the work he does for her. He usually saves the money up so he can purchase replacement parts for his rc cars or some other item he may want.

This year he is 10…wow…my only baby is going to be 10. It just does not seem possible! All the years of struggle to get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy; just seems like yesterday we were in the hospital having an emergency c-section to get him here alive. He was around 3 weeks early but big and healthy, thank God! Now here he is getting into his preteen years

My Little Man as a newborn.
Little Man at age 5
Little Man at age 10

Last year I decided that the big elaborate birthday parties were just too much for us. All the planning and money and gifts, just too much! So we spent the day together as a family and went to the aquarium in Oklahoma and had dinner there. We had so much fun! I think that he really appreciated the day, just the 3 of us spending the whole time together with no distractions. He wasn’t even unhappy about not getting any gifts for his birthday! So this year we got annual passes to our local aquarium for Christmas from the grandparents. We have guest passes that we can use so we invited a few of his friends and their moms. Our local aquarium is the new Wonders of Wildlife by Johnny Morris and it is amazing! We went back in January for my birthday and loved it. 4 hours and we only go through half of it. If you are ever in the Branson/Springfield Mo area it is worth the time and money to check it out.

So if you feel overwhelmed with parties and gifts and the time/effort don’t feel bad if you decide against it. In my personal experience and seeing other families do the same the child is okay with the change so go for it! Spend the day together doing something they love and enjoy and I bet it will be the best day ever 🙂

 Edit: I would like to add that he does get presents from other family members but I prefer to do a special day out as a gift from me. He is a Leap Year Day Baby, meaning he only gets his “real” birthday every 4 years, so that is when we really do a big party.

Being a mom when you lost your parents as a teen…

I come from a big family, there is 7 of us living and 2 in heaven that were born sleeping. My parents basically had 2 families; 5 pretty well together and then 11 years later myself and my younger brother who is 16 months younger than me. My parents were in their early 40’s when we came along. I think we were distraction babies that were going to keep the marriage together…didn’t work. (I don’t think it has ever for anyone just in case you might be thinking that  it would) When I was 7 or 8 my parents got divorced. I will never forget the fight that was the last straw, or at least it seemed so to me being 7 years old. They were yelling at one another about finances and dad walked out and mom threw things around the house for a bit. I have never cried or prayed so hard in my life that night.

My mom and dad on their wedding day, I think my mom was a few months pregnant with my oldest brother. They were both 18, I think.
I am the little girl on my momma’s lap. I think I was 3 or 4 maybe.

So there they were both in their early 50’s starting over. I am just in my mid 30’s and I can’t even imagine being divorced and starting over. Maybe it is because I am a child of divorce that I am willing to fight so hard for my marriage, we had a really rough patch last year but we were both ready to listen and make changes needed to keep our family intact. Anywho, I kinda got off topic but I feel you needed the background to understand the immense void there is for me and lessons learned. My mom was my best friend; I could tell her anything..no matter what it was. You see I fell off into heavy drug and alcohol use for a few years of my late teens after my dad died suddenly of a heart-attack.  No matter how far I fell I knew I could always go home and my mom would be there.

Dad, mom, me and my baby brother. You can tell by my hair I was a child of the 80’s, lol.

When I was 20 my mom was diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma. We knew she was sick but we had no idea she had cancer. This kinda kicked my ass back into reality. Around this time I also met my husband; he really was a God-send and well that is a story for another day. Once we found out mom had cancer my oldest brother moved her to K.C Research medical center for treatment but unfortunately she was too far advanced. She had started having flashbacks to when the older kids were little and hallucinating so the cancer had spread. She was too weak to do chemo or any other treatment by then. Less than 6 weeks  she was gone, my mom was gone…

My momma and my sister at my little brother and niece’s 8th grade graduating. Yes my oldest sister and mom were pregnant at the same time, twice.

She didn’t get to see me fully get clean from the drugs/alcohol, graduate high school after being a drop out, get married (though she did get to meet my husband and approved of him) or become a mom. I didn’t get to call her in the middle of the night crying when my son was colicky and wouldn’t sleep and I didn’t know what to do or when he couldn’t have a BM for a week. I didn’t get to share the milestones my son reached and the joy I felt. My son isn’t getting to know his grandma or his grandpa for that matter.  Granted I have other “mom” figures in my life and I can’t imagine my life without them but they don’t compare to your own flesh and blood momma, ya know?

Our son is any only child to my husband and I and an only grandchild to my mother-in-law; she spends a lot of time with him. I am so grateful for her and her love for her grandson.

We buried my mom and dad on the same day 3 years apart…I know they both died with broken hearts for one another. They are buried together though despite being divorced for many years before passing.

I write this (1) to get it off my chest today after being stressed out and my memory triggered about my mom and wishing I could just sit with her and vent and cry and (2) because I want to remind you daughters out there that you should treasure your mom and the time you have with her. I know moms can be difficult (my 10 year old son would agree, lol) and not the best at times but please don’t ever turn you back on her. People grow and change all the time, I have a sister that is a perfect example if that. Pray for them if they are difficult; give it to God as much as you can and continue to be there but not to be used if that is the case. Once she is gone the void is like no other. Really no matter how old you are when you lose your parents the void is real and touches each and every part of your life. My older siblings were grown and out of the house when we lost our parents but I know for sure it affected them deeply and forever.

I miss them both (some days are harder than others) and I still grieve for them; I imagine I always will till we meet again in heaven.

I hope this post blessed you in some way, now go pick up the phone and call your parents! God Bless.

Motherless daughters is a powerful book that helped in some healing after I lost my mom.

December 25th, Advent Activity 25

Merry Christmas everyone! I pray you are having a wonderful day with friends and family! And for those like me who work in the healthcare field I hope you are enjoying your clients/patients and showing them the love and care this season is all about. The work can be hard at times but, in my opinion, it is the best kind of work. Enjoy your time with friends and family. Speak life into those who need it by sharing the Story of Christmas and God’s undying love for us. I hope these 25 Advent Activities have blessed you and yours. I know we really enjoy them each year and build on the lessons more and more as our son gets older.

Day 25 of the count down to Christmas scripture Matthew 2:11-12 On coming to house they saw the child and his mother Mary and they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back King Herod they returned to their country by another route.

 

The Christmas Story, Advent Activity 24

Do you read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve? How about “The night before Christmas”? Well we do both and I would like to share them:

The Christmas Story Luke 2:1-20 KJV

2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The Night Before Christmas Link

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

This is the book we have used since our Little Man was a baby, I am hoping to pass this book on to him for when he has children of his own.

Day 24 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture, Matthew 2:8-10 He sent them to Bethlehem and said” God and search carefully for the child and report back to me so that I may go and worship him also.” After they had heard the King they went on their way and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Dinner, Advent Activity 23

I can remember when I was a kid we had HUGE family Christmas dinners. Extended family and friends. I remember the love and calm we all enjoyed together regardless the issues that may have been between one another. Once the grandparents starting passing away and my parents got divorced that was all lost. But recently myself and my siblings, well 5 of the 7 anyway, have gotten past any hurt we have had in the past and have started having big family dinners again! I can’t express the joy I feel when we get together. This year one of my nieces, yes I have nieces my age, just had a baby December 12 so we have an extra special Christmas with a newborn.  I love that my son is finally getting to know his cousins and extended family. Life can be a little lonely as an only child.

At Christmas dinner I always make a point to remind the kids of the true reason of Christmas and why we celebrate. They have coloring activities and they get a copy of the Christmas story. They all seem to enjoy the lesson.

You know Jesus was always inviting himself to dinner 🙂 Can you imagine answering the door and seeing Jesus and he is asking to dine with you for the night? What would you want to talk about? Would you talk? or would you just sit and listen at his feet? I am not sure how I would react. I am sure it would be somewhere between Mary and Martha. I would hope to be like Mary and sit and listen but I know my desire to accommodate guests I would be acting like Martha!  Mary and Martha story is one of my favorite stories in the bible.

Are you having a big family dinner for Christmas? Or a smaller dinner? Somewhere between? How ever you celebrate I pray you have a joyful time!

Some coloring sheets to print for Christmas.

Day 23 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture Matthew 2:3-7 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people of Israel” Then King Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star appeared.

 

 

 

Opening Presents, Advent Activity 22

Opening presents! It is almost that time! 3 more days till the 25th of December. Are you excited? How about your children/grandchildren? I know I am. We usually open our presents to one another on Christmas Eve and do Santa presents on Christmas morning. What are your traditions? All around the world everyone has different traditions. In Finland it is traditional to take a sauna bath before Santa’s visit (sounds lovely to me!) In New Zealand, Christmas comes in the summer so they go out on the beach and have a picnic.

1 Corinthians 11:2 “It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you.” This Christmas will you open the most precious gift God sent you by letting Jesus into your heart and giving you eternal life in heaven? He waits for you to open your gift with a joyful heart.

Day 22 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture Matthew 2:1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod; Magi from the East came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

The Wisemen, Advent Activity 21

The wise men; there is no hard and fast rule that states there were just 3. We assume 3 because of the 3 gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Do you know what each gift represents? Gold signifies Jesus royal birth, even if he was born in a manger! Frankincense was used in worship and denotes the deity of Jesus. Myrrh was used in the preparation for burial and represents the death of the Son of Man who would rise up and sit at the right hand of the heavenly Father.

The wise men were not at the manger though, they would have arrived when Jesus was around 2 years old. They most likely traveled from modern day Persia.

The wise men were not kings either. The Gospel of Matthew refers to them as “Magi” and when translated from the Greek word magoi it means magician. But not the kind that pull rabbits out of their hats! These men were priests and powerful men of great wealth who were counselors to the kings of the Medo-Persian Empire.

Day 21 of the count down to Christmas Scripture Luke 2:18-20 And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which they were just as they had been told.

Nativity Scenes, Advent Activity 20

Don’t you just love the Nativity? I love walking through the stores and seeing the different variations but the message is always the same; the day when true and pure love came in the form of a tiny baby!

What does the word Nativity mean? Noun the occasion of a person’s birth “ the place of my nativity”, the birth of Jesus Christ, or a picture, carving, or model representing Jesus Christ’s birth.

God had wrote this story long before the very first Christmas. When Eve convinced Adam to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, after being told specifically not to ( isn’t that just like a child? ) we were separated from God and it broke his heart. So he began to set into motion for his Son, the Messiah, to restore our relationship with our heavenly Father. He used prophets to leave hints and signs of when our savior would come. Things like he would be born of a virgin (Mary), he would be born in Bethlehem, and he would be born into the line of King David. God made his children wait and wait for this special gift he was giving us. To look forward to his coming. To build excitement. Isn’t that what we as parents do for our children at Christmas when presents are wrapped under the tree but they must wait till Christmas to open them?

Each piece of the Nativity fulfills prophecy of the virgin birth (Mary) and humble beginning in a stable in Bethlehem with Joseph ( a direct decedent of King David ) The Star that led the wise men (Magi) to the babe to offer gifts and worship him and the baby Jesus.

Day 20 of the count down to Christmas Scripture, Luke 2:15-17 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven the shepherds said to one another, “Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child

Christmas Pageants, Advent Activity 19

Have you ever been to a Christmas Pageant? When I was a child I would play in our Christmas pageant every year. It was so much fun to act out the greatest gift of love God gave us! In medieval times pageants were preformed in the streets on 2 story wagons. The top was the stage where the actors acted out Jesus’ first day on this planet and the bottom was the dressing room area. They would travel all through the cities spreading good cheer. They did this because in the 15th century most people could not read and the churches had services in Latin. So this was a simpler way to spread the good news to the common folk. What a wonderful way to meet people right where they live!

Day 19 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture, Luke 2:13-14 Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Santa Claus, Advent activity 18

Do you do Santa Claus with your kids? Did your parents with you? We do Santa Claus with Little Man and at age 9 he still believes 🙂 Child like wonder is so heartwarming. In our home Santa can only bring one present that can fit in the stocking and us under $100. So about mid November Little Man starts thinking and researching about what Santa can bring him. He looks for price and shape of the box the item will come in.

Well did you know that Santa Claus is based on an actual person? In the 3rd century a boy  named Nicholas lived in Myra, which is modern day Turkey, he came from a wealthy family and had a deep love of Christ. He was known as “boy bishop” and was on track to become a great christian leader. One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value, a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver. If you would like to read more about St. Nicholas click here.

Day 18 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture, Luke 2:12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.