Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015: A call for peace.

I think we all look forward to the start of the new year.  

Quiver Tree Photography, 2014.
Not that January 1st really ever feels much different, but I feel as though the whole month we are bombarded by the "freshness" of a new year in advertisements--get healthy, clean up and organize, find space and margin, etc.  It always feels like a chance to start over--and in our efforts to start over, we find ourselves making plans and commitments and adding more things to our routines to help ourselves become more focused and less stressed.  We add workouts and cooking at home and take on new hobbies and getting our lives straight.  We want to become more engaged at home and at work and with our friends.

Then, about mid-January, we hit the reality wall. 

And, so often, this new year often feels a whole lot like the previous one, and we're still not very happy with the state of affairs. So, may I offer a humble suggestion? 

 I'm going to make 2015 a year of peace and I hope you'll join me. 

It's time we came to terms with the reality of our lives, and start making peace with what we've been handed.  Sometimes this is easy--maybe we're in a bubble of happiness.  New baby, new jobs, new relationships, new new new!  Maybe we've finally reached a goal we've been striving towards.  Maybe things are finally improving in other situations.  Maybe this is the year we're completing that degree.  There are a lot of great and wonderful things that can happen within the year.   

2014 was really good for my family in so many ways.  We had wonderful gifts dropped in our laps--we were able to take a family vacation and go on some overnight adventures.  We were able to sell our home.  We are surrounded by good people who care very much about our emotional and spiritual well-being.  Our camp finally has a septic system that works!  This was also the year that I made it my goal to start taking care of my physical needs.  I went to the gym 3 days a week for most of the year and we were even able to figure out how I could meet with a trainer on a regular basis as well.  I feel so much better physically, but I have found myself becoming mentally and emotionally stronger as well.

But 2014 might not have been your year.  Maybe you're in a time of trial.  Maybe you're waiting on a diagnosis.  Perhaps you're dealing with a lot of pressure from work.  Or a difficult family situation.  Maybe your friendships have dwindled from the demands of family, life, and other obligations.  Maybe you're not in the place you want to be physically or mentally or spiritually.  Maybe you just really want a relationship that will matter.   

2014 was full of some low moments for our family as well.  We had a fairly serious injury occur this summer during camp.  While we are pleased to know that everything turned out relatively fine in the end, it was a scary and emotional time for a lot of different reasons.  People in our lives lost the people they love the most.  I sat through a trial that made my head and heart hurt for the young ladies of this world.  There were tornados, financial worries, and health scares.  There were unkind words, unsolicited advice, and old wounds.  There were times we fell short, and there were times we were let down.     

But, I'm calling on 2015 to be the year of making peace with what I've been given.  

I am going to extend my hands and receive what's been given to me right this minute.  I'm going to make peace with who I am today.  I may not like moments from my past, and I may be fearful of my future at times, and I may not always like where I'm currently standing, but I'm going to learn to become content with where He's led me today.  

I'm going to remind myself that my life is full of so many wonderful things that I've taken for granted.  I have luxuries that people spend their whole lives waiting for--water, shelter, food, family, friends, and employment.  I have been given so, so much and the Lord has always met our needs at exactly the right moment we needed them.   

I am going to let go of my notions to change the world, to change my house, to change my habits, to change change change all the things--because who I am, and where I'm at today, is good enough for today.  Of course I'm going to continue to make personal goals, but I'm going to hang up my superwoman cape and remind myself to be comfortable in my old lady skin.  True change can't begin until we face reality and start working on what's currently staring us in the face.  

We can't change what's behind us.  
We can't know what's in front of us. 

But we can make peace with today. 

Quiver Tree Photography, 2014.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Weary World Rejoices

These past few days have been quiet at the Avery house.  We've had the flu and the Beau-Co. Crud take up residence (and among our extended family).  We literally had to stop and rest and be still. 

My dreams of holiday busyness and the last minute hustle and bustle were quickly put on the back burner--because it just wasn't happenin' with the sickness.  We spent too many hours napping and laying around.  We've watched a ton of movies and have had a lot of screen time.  We've eaten soup and comfort food, we've wiped noses and administered meds like it was our job.  

It's brought a whole new meaning to "the weary world rejoices" because I have felt some to-the-bone weariness these past few days.  It has been all I could do to just exist, and thankfully my husband felt better a few days before I did to prevent our home from completely falling apart.   

We've had a lot of quiet time just as our little family five.  We missed a lot of our favorite things--the Sunday before Christmas service (with all the Christmas music), Christmas Eve celebration with Chris' family, and other fun things I had planned in preparation for this blessed day.  It hasn't really felt like Christmas, even surrounded by all of the pretty lights and decorations in our home.    

But, this is all that really matters, isn't it?  We have our sweet family who is finally on the mend (save for a nasty cough all 4 girls have kept).  Santa still came and brought his 3 gifts for each child (just like baby Jesus), and we will extend our family gatherings over the next few days.  We have plenty of food, a wonderful home, and have been blessed in immeasurable ways. 

Quiver Tree Photography, 2014
Christ was born so many years ago without all the holiday glam.  Mary was probably bone-weary with exhaustion from the end of her pregnancy.  Joseph was probably overwhelmed with caring for his wife and this new blessed Child.  I'm not sure if Mary recognized the magnitude of Promise her baby brought the world, or "the thrill of hope" in the eternal sense.  But I'm sure she found herself full of love and adoration--much like many of us parents who have marveled in the faces of their new baby.

This Jesus, this baby, this Savior, this King.  
He is the One we celebrate this glorious morning. 
He has come for us, and He's coming again.  

Oh holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born

Merry Christmas to you and yours-- 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Singers of songs.

On Monday we hosted a Christmas party at our house for the camp board of directors.  It is so fun to have people in our home.  I love the stories and the party food and the laughter.  We are surrounded by good people in our lives.

But after the party ended and we were cleaning up (and putting children to bed much later than usual on a school night), my body reminded me that I'm not as young as I used to be.  I got into bed as soon as I could and my alarm still seemed to cheat me of about 4 hours of sleep on Tuesday morning.

I encouraged my girls to move a little faster, as they were obviously having a hard time shaking off the sleepies, and we drove to school on a misty, cloudy morning. I had an early meeting and it was also a deadline day for children to turn in their money for a school order and I found myself writing 50 receipts in my planning period.

It could have easily have gone downhill if I had let my pity-party take control of my mood. But I had the sense to decide to enjoy the day.  Left to my own demise, I probably would have had the worst attitude throughout the day.

Instead, I took a deep breath and remembered that I get paid to sing songs with children.  

Now, before my fellow arts educators pull me into the alley and beat me down for repeating the junk general educators say, and believe, about our classes (kickball for P.E., coloring for art, etc), please note that singing is not the only thing we do in my class.  We also have a curriculum and (eventually) an assessment process like everyone else.  

But, yesterday?  

Yesterday I was able to delight with the kids in the old and new songs of the season. We were in high spirits and excited about all the things to come.  Of course I had to deal with some knuckleheadedness and the usual children who may need some lumps of coal, but as a whole, it was a fun day in my room. 

Sometimes we just have to make the decision to carry through.  We have to decide that we are going to make the best of things.  I don't always like being in a classroom--it's hard for us teachers when people make decisions for us that don't make sense, when we aren't paid enough, when our hands are tied in many ways.  We parent the parentless and we love on the unloved--and sometimes all of that drains us completely dry.    

So today my dear teachers (and parents and workers and students)--when we are faced with the most ridiculous situations, the most difficult people we'd like to punch in the face, and/or the overwhelming exhaustion that comes with December, let's all commit to taking a deep breath and make the decision to not let it overcome us.  

The waves will come towards us, but we will not let them take us down.  

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