stepping back this holiday season

There's a lot of pressure when you're a blogger and a mama of three littles. Pressure to do it all, appear to have it all together and lead the way in motherhood. And let me be clear: no one puts this pressure on me but ME. I promise, it's me, not you. So, why do we as bloggers allow ourselves to feel like we always have to one-up ourselves? Just because last year's advent was successful, I felt the need to go over the top this year. I started planning and scheming for what we would do. I even put together this list of 100 activity ideas. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but why did I think I could accomplish it all?  whyiam

It took me having a near breakdown to realize it was time to step back a bit.  So, I'm taking some very wise advice and I'm only doing as much as I can do.

The Elf on the Shelf will be spending Christmas in a box upstairs.  Advent activities will be simple and stress-free.  We will focus on Jesus and the gratitude & joy of the season. 

I have nothing to prove to you or myself. Advent should not be about how many retweets, how many likes or how many pins your calendar & activities get.

As I look at what December looks like for us as a family, here's what I see: a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a 9 month old.  loooong hours for hubby.  cold days = lots of inside time.

This is OUR season. It's wild and crazy. We will soon have THREE toddlers since the baby is convinced she's so big. There's no reason why I should focus on planning each perfectly-pinnable day, have a stuffed elf cause a ruckus, and run around like a crazy woman (which I'm already on the verge of anyway!). My season of life is too much for that.

I can't just put away Advent altogether, I'm way to big of a Christmas person to do that! I do have a list of fun activities planned for each day. I have a beautiful Advent Calendar from my friend Jessi that I look at all throughout my day and what a peaceful reminder of hope it us!

I want to spend more time ENJOYING my kids than just worrying about each daily activity. If we forget to open an envelope or switch up what I have planned for something else? That's ok! The OCD in me will (hopefully) chill out and go with the flow.

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I want to encourage you to embrace your season, and only do what your season allows. Maybe all you can do is read a story each day? Great! Maybe you can go all out with huge plans! Great! Do what works for YOU and don't compare or allow yourself to feel the pressure of the holiday season.

Let's keep in mind WHY we celebrate Advent and what it's truly about. 

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I would love for you to join me in reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible with your little ones!! And don't feel pressure in doing this every day...trust me, I am just hoping to read about half of them!!

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a brand new day

The past two weeks have been probably two of the hardest weeks of my life. I've faced some things that I hoped I would never have to, but I'm thankful to say that through it all...God is still so good. Without going into much detail, maybe later on I can share more, but I must say that I'm so thankful for each of you. It's when the difficult times strike that I realize how amazing the online community really is. I've gotten so much encouragement and prayer from so many of you. Thank you for that.  I'm so thrilled to be sitting at our family's lake house this morning, over looking this beautiful view.

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Another reminder of God's grace and beauty in the midst of chaos.

One of my friends text me this yesterday as we were on the road to go on vacation, and it was exactly what I needed as I attempt to rest for the next 10 days. I hope this encourages you today too.

Nothing can separate you from my Love. Let this divine assurance trickle through your mind and into your heart and soul. Whenever you start to feel fearful or anxious, repeat this unconditional promise: "nothing can separate me from Your Love, Jesus" - from Jesus Calling

when it all gets a little rocky

When I look back on the week, I always try to reflect on the good. Because I'm a glass half full kind of person. I love linking up with my friend Blair because it's usually all about cute babies and the fun we've had in the past week. This week? My glass is low. It's about 3/4 empty. I have been walking through an absolutely unfathomable situation with one of my very best friends, and my postpartum anxiety is through the roof. Struggling would be an understatement. I'm broken. So very broken. I'm attempting daily to pick up the tiny pieces of me and find a shred of hope in between, but even that is difficult. It's one of those seasons where I catch myself crying out "God, where are you in this??" Thankfully, He is there to remind me every time where He is. 

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." Isaiah 43:2

THIS MAY DEVASTATE ME, BUT IT CAN NOT DESTROY ME. Right now, I'm devastated. But I can place my hope in the fact that nothing can destroy me. I'm held in the palm of the hand of a loving God and He has written my name on his hand! He will never forget me, even when I feel so very forgotten.

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I sat tonight to try to write a note of encouragement to my precious friend, and my words were struggling. How do I tell her there is hope when I'm wondering where the hope is?

So I have to make a decision, do I cling to it or do I give it to Him?

I'm laying it at His feet.

"Surrender is the path to peace" - Rick Warren

relentless.

I believe that God speaks to us in many different ways. For me, I get a word in my head and I just cling to that word during specific seasons. God speaks to me a lot through a single word and through music, and the song Relentless by Hillsong United has been a favorite lately. When I first heard this song, I went and looked up the word "relentless" because I love reading about meanings. I saw it described this way in one place:

When you're relentless about something, you mean business. You're not stopping until you get what you want, and you're not taking "no" for an answer.

I just cannot get that word out of my head! Relentless. I was talking with a friend recently who was feeling attacked and they described the enemy as being relentless. Listening to her describe the evil one like that, God spoke to me and reminded me of what He had been putting in my heart for the last few months.

HIS LOVE IS RELENTLESS. He is never-ending. He will NEVER give up on us. He will chase after us without stopping. He will not take no for an answer!!! 

relentless

God showed me something very important this week. No matter how relentless satan may try to be, He will always fight harder. And when we speak the name of the evil one and give him recognition for the hard times we face, that just opens doors for him to kill, steal & destroy even more. When we focus on the name of Jesus and HIS relentless love, nothing but GOOD can come from that!!!

As I have walked through a tough 4 months, I'm at a better place that I have ever been in understanding God's love for me. He will never give up on pursuing me!

I encourage you to focus on Jesus this week and His RELENTLESS love. And chase relentlessly after Him.

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Click to hear "Relentless Pursuit" by Kim Walker

floating.

Four years ago we took a trip to Israel. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Walking where Jesus walked, watching the words I'd read my entire life just jump right off the page and become real for me. It was thrilling. By far one of my favorite things to see was the Dead Sea. It's the most amazing thing. You get in the water, and sit down and just let go. You float. Without having to do anything, you just float. It's amazing how the water holds and supports you, and you don't have to do anything. I loved that feeling.

deadsea

I feel like my life is a little like the Dead Sea right now. I strain sometimes to keep my head above water. Sometimes it hurts, but then I let go and I realize I don't have to try so hard. I have support. My head stays above water without straining.  And I just float.

There's nothing wrong with floating sometimes.

I am forever changed by that float in the Dead Sea. Even though no life can thrive there, it's still fascinating to me. I want my life to be overflowing with rich, life-giving waters. I don't want to just float on and get by. But sometimes, it's just ok. It's what we need to do.

I continue to put one foot in front of another. I hurt and struggle every day. I wish I was better, and wish I could take back some of the stupid things I say. My days are hard, and my nights are long.

I wish I could say joy always comes in the morning. Sometimes joy isn't there. Sometimes I just can't get myself out of bed. Sometimes it takes every ounce of energy in me to be mommy.

Sometimes I just float. And you do to. And that's ok.

The important part is that you keep floating.