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I Disappointed my Daughter for Christmas

Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision. But it was so hard to stick to my guns. Am I a mean mom?

Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision.

But it was so hard to stick to my guns.

She had asked for a $5 set of orange and blue ponies with hair to brush and braid, a minion toy, a Barbie that rides a horse that really walks, and a big white horse like her friend has.

Every night for a week before Christmas, she reiterated her list.

I had shopped for her gifts months ahead of time. All the gifts were bought and wrapped. There would be no big white horse under the Christmas tree. I had disappointed my daughter.

My mommy heart wanted to search every website, race to the store, and spend more than I should just to see her overjoyed face Christmas morning. Yet, something said, no, this is a small lesson you can teach her now, for free.

Be happy with what you have. Disappointment brings a grateful attitude not an entitled one. Click To Tweet

We aren’t wealthy, but despite living on one income, we’ve been tremendously blessed to provide her with more than she could ever possibly need.

And she doesn’t understand real want.

I wonder if I’m doing her a disservice by not giving her more realistic expectations for life or age-appropriate growth opportunities.

She had fairly simple requests, but she didn’t need both horse toys. Her Nana had already bought her the Barbie Horse toy, and I didn’t want to overshadow it.

Plus, she was getting a pots & pans set and “Live” pet bird along with boxes of books, clothes, and educational games. She was getting too much already. I wanted fewer toys to spark interest and creativity, not overtake her imagination.

After all the gifts had been opened and we passed around the cards on the tree, including the White Envelope, I asked her, “Did you have a great Christmas?” I wondered if she even noticed.

She looked at the stack of presents around her, her face falling just a bit.Yes, I deliberately disappointed my daughter for Christmas, and I think it was the right decision. But it was so hard to stick to my guns. Am I a mean mom?

I disappointed my daughter for Christmas.

“Well, I didn’t get a big white horse . . . ”

“No, instead you got a tan horse with a barbie. You can’t get everything you want all the time. Maybe another time or you can save up for it.”

She wasn’t devastated. She was disappointed, for a rare time in her life.

And it was good for her. Learning to control her emotions is one of her personal challenges. One unnecessary gift gave her a chance to deal with disappointment on a tiny level and successfully overcome it, gain perspective, and learn to be grateful, not entitled.

While chasing the ethereal ‘perfect’ Christmas for each of my children, I forgot to consider the expectations and lessons I was teaching them. Getting everything you desire for Christmas isn’t reality. It’s commercialism.

Focusing on what really matters (Christ, family, friends, togetherness) is the lesson I really want to teach.

As I watched her process her emotions, she looked up and said, “It doesn’t matter. Jesus is the best gift of Christmas anyway.”

Lesson learned – for both of us.

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Giving Tuesday

I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa Avila

Today we started Advent, marking days toward the celebration of the greatest gift mankind has ever known, celebrating the birth of Christ. How fitting that this year, today is also Giving Tuesday.

We follow days of gluttony and excess, perhaps self-absorption and consumption with a sweet day of being focused on doing good.

How do you find your heart for Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday only started a few years ago, but is growing as more and more people recognize that we need to focus outside of ourselves.

While, a calendar day set to tell you to give can make it feel compulsory, God doesn’t specify what to give or who to give to, He  just says how – joyfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

We give because He gave to us.

As a faithful steward of what God has given me, I use Charity Navigator to research charities to make sure they are really doing good things with the money we entrust to them.

And I give prayerfully, I can’t control the gift once it leaves my hands, but sometimes God asks us to have faith in the giving. We give to the struggling single mom who has taken her first baby-steps into Christ, or the homeless man who might not use it wisely. Sometimes God just says give.I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa of Avila

Thinking about the beautiful watershed of grace covering me in His eyes through the blood of His son, Jesus, how could I not give, to share that joy by being the hands and feet of Christ.

Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours- Teresa of Avila Click To Tweet

I’m reminded of a poem, written in the 1500s by St. Teresa of Avila.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

I can only pray that people hear Him in my words, see Him in my hands. This poem has written itself across my heart as a reminder of my real place in this world.

If I want the world to see Jesus is real, I have to be their window into who He is.

And I strive to be a better friend, neighbor, mother. I want to be His hands when someone is struggling with a heavy door at the library or His heart when we sat and prayed at Pizza Hut for the person who stole the money out of my wallet,  “if their need was great, that the money bless them, that God would open their heart to Jesus. To help us forgive.”

Even though Giving Tuesday is technically over, giving isn’t a day, or even a season, it is a constant place of knowing what a gift we’ve been given and just wanting to share it.

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Thanksgiving Attitude – More than a Day

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

In 2015, Thanksgiving was a contradiction in our home. While most of the country celebrated with large meals and loud boisterous gatherings, our table was be quiet.

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It was just another day without daddy in a long month of long daddy-less days.

But instead of sadness and bitterness over his responsibility to the army, I was able to react and adjust. How different was THAT response from previous responses dissolving into anger?!

Today, I read this post with great joy that I was able to see the blessings in a derailed holiday that year which reminded me to have a Thanksgiving attitude everyday.

—-Back to our story —-

This morning I crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. to hug and kiss him one more time before he went out the door. He won’t sleep tonight. And I’ll worry until he drags himself home tomorrow, 26 hours later.

But we’re so terribly grateful.

He is on U.S. soil, healthy and alive. Our extended family may be separated by too much distance, but everyone is happy and healthy even if we can’t share the same table.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last night with a veritable feast. Candlelight danced in my daughter’s eyes as we pried her fork out of the sweet potato casserole and tried to get her to eat a vegetable, even one covered in creamy mushroom soup and crispy onions.

Our table was beautiful and warm, heavy laden with more food than we can eat in a week, although we are going to do our best.

Do you have a Thanksgiving attitude just on the fourth Thursday in November or should thanksgiving be an attitude we have for more than just one day?

As of today (2015), we’ve spent six Thanksgiving holidays together, and six apart. In some ways, I’m sad because there is something special about being able to share a meal with my husband on Thanksgiving, the actual day, because we’ve missed so many.

But a Thanksgiving attitude really is more than a day on the calendar.

It is an attitude of giving thanks in everything, always, something this year has really taught me.

Thanksgiving is an attitude of giving thanks, always in everything. Eph 5:20 Click To Tweet

I’ve learned:

  • to see the the positives despite tough situations.
  • to Be Still and let God instruct me when I want to throw in the towel.
  • I can be more self-sufficient than I thought
  • having perspective to truly be thankful for my husband.

Ephesians 5:20 ESV “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Giving thanks in everything is about God’s perspective over our own. If you’re His, that is enough to flood you with thanksgiving because you know to Whom you belong.

So God helps me have perspective, we have a warm house, a child we longed for (I love that National Adoption month is the same as Thanksgiving), too many pets to love and cherish, a full pantry and stuffed tummy, a stronger marriage.

We are beyond blessed on our worst days.

Cleaning up the kitchen last night, we were joking around. I sprayed him with the sprayer over the shoulder while washing dishes. Our daughter bounced around the house high on salted caramel and ginger ale, playing mommy to her baby doll. I was floored with my blessings.

I watched her softness and kindness with her doll knowing she is learning how to be a mom from me. Hearing her reflect the best of what I hope I am to her, made us both pause and just watch her for a moment.

My husband teased me and we laughed together, enjoying being able to wink and play and kiss over a steamy sink.

Thanks to the wondrous work God has done in my heart, home, and family this year, today isn’t my thanksgiving  .  .  .

My LIFE is, every single day.

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Expectations Ruin Reality

Do we let unreasonable expectations get in the way of enjoying our real life? Heaven Not Harvard

Expectations are sneaky buggers. They are formed by Hallmark cards and romantic movies, but rarely are they realistic. Those champagne and caviar expectations often ruin the best parts of reality.

It has been a week since Mother’s Day, and I have seen so many people struggling with their relationships over a holiday that is supposed to be about honor and love.

How do we take a day of feeling celebrated and turn it into a burr between us and our families?

Our expectations ruin reality because we build up inflated expectations and life can’t measure up. Instead of offering grace, love, and gentleness, we hurt each other.

I sadly remember all the Valentine’s Days, birthdays, and anniversaries that turned into balls of hurt in my house because of my expectations that didn’t offer any grace to the love of my life.How many holidays have been ruined by expectations? Do we let unreasonable expectations get in the way of enjoying our real life?

A few years ago, my birthday had been pretty low-key, a fine day, but I couldn’t get over my disappointment at not receiving any kind of gift. After debating with myself about telling him how I felt, I decided not to say anything and be grateful for all the blessings I had.

Five minutes later, he came out from the bedroom with a jewelry set he had purchased months earlier. It was special hypoallergenic gold due to my bizarre metal allergy. I felt like such a jerk. I almost let my unmet expectations ruin his surprise. I almost missed a real expression of his love for me because I wanted to dictate what it should look like.

This Mother’s Day, I didn’t wake up to a perfect bouquet or breakfast in bed. But my day was just right. Why? What changed? Me. I did. I stopped placing my value and worth as a mother in the hands of my husband. I would love a moment of recognition from him, but I don’t need it.

Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

I have learned to let God’s love fill me so that I overflow with His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

So I set my expectations this year on what I wanted for myself on this day. I wanted a day of being the mom I really want to be everyday: fun, patient, kind.

I wanted to not use this holiday as a weapon against my exhausted husband, measuring my worth or value by how much of a fuss he made over me. It doesn’t feel like a gift if he feels unloved and obligated.

I don't want to use this holiday as a weapon. Expectations ruin reality. Click To Tweet

Does it really measure my worth or his love if he doesn’t roll out the red carpet and ticker tape parade on this one calendar day?

I didn’t want to feel disappointed and resentful, so I stopped having expectations. BEING a mother was the one thing I wanted for decades. Spending the day enjoying being a mother was the perfect way to remind myself how much I love these people!

When I quit having expectations, I got to see more fully who my husband is, appreciating and loving him, and letting us both live in the joy of the moment.

He didn’t make me breakfast in bed, so he could ask me what I would like. He didn’t buy me a gift, but researched a special place for me to choose exactly what I wanted. He spent his afternoon cleaning out the pool so I could have the first swim of the year. His quiet thoughtfulness was more precious to me than any gift.

I almost missed the real gifts because of my expectations.

Sometimes we feel invisible and ignored. No one sees us up at midnight, straightening the living room or washing dishes. Laundry magically folds itself and finds its way back into drawers, or maybe you magically earn the paycheck that keeps your house from belonging to the bank.

One or two days a year doesn’t change who you are and won’t heal days you were taken for granted or ignored. But rest assured . . .

Matthew 5:14 ESV “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Don’t let the darkness of envy and materialism steal true joy from your grasp. Even on this side of heaven, jewelry and flowers pale in comparison to help with the dishes.

2 Corinthians 4:18 ESV “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Focus on the eternal blessings, and you might realize you had the wrong expectations in the first place.

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50 Shades of Green Valentine’s Day

Do you picture a 50 Shades kind of Valentine’s Day?

Are you doing Valentine’s Day wrong? I was for years and didn’t realize it until recently. The gift that made me realize just how much I’ve changed wasn’t really for me and involved new socks. And real love isn’t 50 shades of grey; it’s one shade of dark green, trust me.

This year my husband has to work late, may not even make it home for dinner, and will probably barely drag himself through the house and to bed after the week he’s had, and I’m okay with that.

In fact, when my husband “warned” me he has to work Valentine’s Day, I calmly replied, “Uh, okay? But we can celebrate another day, right?” He looked at me like I had two heads. That is just not the response I would have given a couple of years ago. 50 Shades of Green Valentine's Day - Heaven Not HarvardBecause I had gotten Valentine’s Day all wrong, caught up in the hype, the commercialization, feeling like this one day had to measure our relationship or how much he loves me.

And it sucked .  .  .

. . . all the joy out of celebrating our relationship. My husband got stressed about not disappointing me. He didn’t feel loved by worrying about whether I really wanted flowers even though I said I didn’t. He didn’t know if ‘I’m on a diet’ meant ‘don’t buy me chocolate’ or ‘you better buy me really good chocolate worth the extra treadmill time’.

So what changed? I did. I learned that I’m worth loving because God loves me. I learned to let God be my true love every day.

Psalm 73:26b (ESV) “. . .  God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I started searching out and focusing on the promises of God’s devotion, paying attention to the times I see God at work in my life, then I started to worry less about getting love and more about being loving.

Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

When I started hoping in the Lord, I stopped placing unfair expectations on my husband.

I EXPECT him to be faithful. I EXPECT him to have a job, work hard, help care for our family.

There are many things that I might like or hope for, but don’t expect, because 1 Corinthians 13 says nothing about rigid expectations in what loves is and does.

In fact, my new attitude gives him permission to relax, and that is when he is his best romantic self. He took me out last week for a surprise trip to the theater to see a musical because he was going to miss Valentine’s Day.

But you know what got me really all week in the knees? He bought himself new socks. THAT ALL MATCH.

Heaven Not Harvard - 50 Shades of Green You may not understand the joy of this if you’re not a military wife. This will save me the weekly headache of matching ten pairs of socks by discoloration, wear, and amount they’ve stretched out.

But what made me happy is that he listened to me. I once told him how much frustration matching his old nasty socks caused me, and he remembered.

And Thursday, when errands kept me out later than he had to work, I came home to a clean house. He mopped, vacuumed, cleaned the counter tops, straightened up. I almost cried.

Our baby girl is sick. We’re going to spend the night home, on the couch, and maybe do some hot hand-holding after we germ-x each other.

Besides, the best way I can celebrate Valentine’s Day now is demonstrate what love should look like to my daughter, not expensive gifts, but true love, the real, hard, messy, wonderful stuff of folding army socks and kissing snotty faces.

This 50 Shades of Green Valentine’s Day beats 50 Shades of Grey, because real love will say, “I want to do disgusting things with you!”But you won’t see any of them in that movie.

Real love will say, 'I want to do disgusting things with you . . . like change diapers.' Click To Tweet

Real love asks you to wash someone’s dirty underwear, clean up puke, stay up all night rocking a feverish baby, drive him to work in yoga pants with no make-up, and other things so disgusting you couldn’t imagine doing them until the person you love needs a bandage changed or help after surgery doing even the smallest things for themselves.

But real builds a love so deep and lasting, you’ll forget what greeting card love ever was.

So whatever you do this weekend, don’t get the two confused.