So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

She takes a deep breath as she slowly creaks her way down to the dark, dusty, cobwebby basement to pull out those tubs and haul them to the living room. The tubs, which are filled to the brim with lights, ornaments, stars, candles, greenery, tinsel, and more. Today is the day it all begins. From decorating to cookie baking to Christmas card writing to craft making to parties to get togethers to shopping to wrapping to bows to gifts upon gifts upon gifts. It will be 26 days till it is all over, and perhaps the Advent calendar that she hangs readily on the kitchen wall is really counting down the days to THAT. It’s all relevant . . . right?

Oh dear, Mama. What a month it will be. But dear Mama, do we remember? Do we remember what it used to be like?

Now it may be a chore to find the tubs in the back of the dusty and dark storage closet, hauling them up to the living room, and trying to piece together the décor in order to make it look somewhat presentable.

But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the excitement of glitter and green and red. It was the joy of lights and flickering candles. It was the act of putting the ornaments on just so and getting Daddy to lift you up to put the star on the top.

Now it may be another task on the list of “to-do”s–bake cookies, write cards, make Christmas crafts.

But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the laughter of baking together, covering each other in flour, making favorite shapes in the dough, and designing with sprinkles and icing. It was the pride in creating your own craft for more Christmas décor or a gift for Grandma. It was the beauty of making something to give and seeing the joy on the recievers’ faces.

Now, it may be more money. Just more and more money.

But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the thrill of finding that perfect gift for that aunt or that grandpa or that friend. It was the fun of picking out a new shiny ornament or a yummy dessert to bring to the big extended family Christmas. It was the happiness in opening a gift meant just for you from your Mommy and Daddy who love you so.

Now, it may be another get-together, just another outing to get ready for. Another place to brave the snowy streets to get to. 

But do we remember what it used to be like? It was the sweetness of putting on your favorite red Christmas dress, showing Daddy while you twirled around. It was getting your hair curled and finding the black “church shoes.” It was feeling the excitement fill you as you headed off to the family gathering and reunited with your favorite cousins. It was about being in a room filled with laughter and joy and, most of all, love.

Yes, love.

Oh dear Mama, do we forget? Do we forget what it is all about? Our little selves knew it so well and our own little ones still do. It is not meant to be a drag or a duty or another holiday to get through, yet is that how we are choosing to view it?

Oh yes, we are the ones who bring it all together aren’t we? Without us would there BE any decorations or Christmas cards or baking? Dinner would probably be ordered pizza and many gifts may either be forgotten or left unwrapped. We bring a lot of the holiday to the table, and in truth, that can be utterly exhausting and overwhelming.

But what about the joy that it can be? WE are the ones who get to bring the traditions and the beauty of Christmas alive in our homes. WE are the ones who get to carry on what our mamas did for us. Most of all, WE are the ones who get to show our children the true, the very true, meaning behind it all.

Can we do that when we are found “just getting through” til the 26th day? Maybe. But maybe not well.

She blows the dust off the lid of the tub. She opens it up and the first thing she sees is the star. The star that every household has in one way or another. The star that finishes off the tree and glitters day and night. The star that the little one places on top with her daddy lifting her up. A tear rolls down her cheek as she remembers why. She remembers why this work, why this trouble. All this work to remember one thing and make sure her kids remember it, too. She feels a spark light in her. She takes the star and places it on her mantle, ready for the topping of the tree when it was time. She turns on ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ and her steps become lighter. As she hums, she begins to feel the true joy of Christmas fill her soul, just as if she was little once again.

“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.” Matt. 2: 9-11

 

Esther Vandersluis

Esther is a Canadian writing from Hamilton, Ontario, living in a sea of pink as a girl mom to three. Find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beautifulalarm) where you will find writing for stay-at-home moms, moms with littles, sleep-deprived moms, moms feeding babies, and babies with failure to thrive, all under the umbrella of faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Meets Me in Motherhood With His No Matter What Love

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother embracing daughter in sunlit room

My toddler was that kid on the playground—the one who would push and bite, erupting into a tantrum and needing to be carried home screaming. As I would carry my child to the car, the other moms looked at me with sympathy, confusion, fear, and . . . judgment.  Parents of challenging kids know this look well. We see judgment everywhere we go. I knew others were judging me, and I knew our challenges were beyond the normal bell curve, but as an overwhelmed young mom, I did all I knew to do: I blamed myself.  At my lowest, I...

Keep Reading

Dear Child, God Sees All of You—And So Do I

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mom and young son painting together

Math has always come easily to him. Even from the beginning stages when we counted wooden blocks on the living room floor, the numbers just came to him. “How many blocks are there?” I asked him, pointing to the scattered row of blocks. I expected him to count them. He was only three or four years old. “Six,” he answered promptly. “Yes . . . but how did you know that?” I asked hesitantly. He had not taken the time necessary to have counted them. “Three and three are six,” he replied. And on it went. The math came easily,...

Keep Reading

Dear Girl, Give Jesus Your Mess

In: Faith, Living
Woman holding Bible, color photo

Oh, dear girl, Give Jesus the mess. Your mess. The mess you think is too much or too big or too unbearable. The depths of the mess. The very worst of the mess. Lay it at His feet. He knew you long before the mess existed. Nobody knows your mess like Jesus. I assure you—this will not catch Him by surprise. Even when you do not understand, even when it is most difficult, even when you have your head buried in your hands. Praise Him, for God wastes nothing.  Even when it feels like opposition is coming at you from...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love Is an Endless Pursuit

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child on bike, color photo

I look at him and my heart breaks into a million little pieces. It simply hurts too much to know he hurts. He is my heart, and it squeezes and revolts when he struggles. I want to close my eyes and hold him close, and when I resurface, I want the world to be different for him. Look different, smell different, taste different. But, it remains the same, this pain.   In the beginning, when he was in my womb, I held my hands on my stomach and his tiny feet kicked me back. His bodily imprint on my skin. He...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Brings Me to the Floor and Jesus Meets Me There

In: Faith, Motherhood

I recently came across a short memoir writing competition with the theme, “Places that have made me, changed me, or inspired me.” I could write something for that, I thought. I’m by no means a jet-setter, but I do have a passport. I spent my 16th birthday in Russia on a three-week mission trip. During college, I lived in Thessaloniki, Greece for a four-month study abroad program. After my British husband and I got married, we settled in the UK, where we’ve spent the last 10 years. And now, I’m back in my sunny Florida hometown. These experiences and places...

Keep Reading

I Will Be a Friend Who Prays

In: Faith, Friendship, Living

You mentioned it casually. They had found a lump in your breast again. You’ve been here before, and maybe that means you better know how to navigate it. Except how can we possibly know how to handle such things? What emotions lie hidden behind your words? You tossed out words like lumpectomy and biopsy as if you were sharing a grocery list. I don’t know you well yet, but as you spoke the words, I had a deep desire to let you know I’m sorry. Seated around the table that night, you asked us to pray for you. I committed...

Keep Reading

I Wish I Could Tell You There Will Be No More Mean Girls

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and two daughters, color photo

Tonight before bed while I was tucking you in, you seemed really down. You are normally bubbly, talkative, full of laughter and life, but tonight you seemed sullen and sad. I asked what was wrong, and at first, you didn’t want to tell me. But then you shared with me what was breaking your heart. You told me about a mean girl. You told me the hurtful things she said and the unkind way she acted and the sneaky way mean girls bully by making you feel left out and less than.  It made me sad and angry. I didn’t...

Keep Reading

In the Hardest Moments of Motherhood, I’m Reminded to Look Up

In: Faith, Motherhood

It’s 3:00 in the afternoon, and you know the scene—I step on a tiny Barbie shoe as I’m walking to the sink. I shove it to the side with my foot and release a heavy sigh. I momentarily think about picking it up, but my back is aching from bending down to gather up treasures all morning. I place my half-filled coffee cup into the microwave to re-heat it for a second time. I need just an ounce of energy to get through the afternoon. My daughter heaves another basket of toys up from the basement, step by step. I can...

Keep Reading

Sometimes God’s Glory Shines Brightest in the Hardest Parts of Life

In: Faith, Living
Woman's hand with chipped nail polish

Half of the fingernails on my hands still show remnants of nail polish. It looks pretty awful. People might notice it and think, Really? You can’t take just five minutes to wipe off the chunks of color that haven’t flaked off already?  And I could. It probably wouldn’t even take five minutes. It’s not that I don’t have the time or that I’m being lazy. I just don’t want to.  You see, my daughter painted my nails almost a month ago. She’s five—they were never pretty to start with. They were sloppy with small strips at the edges left unpainted....

Keep Reading

God Tasked Us With Raising Beautiful People in a Fallen World

In: Faith, Motherhood

Today, I watched my little boy put an oven mitt over his hand and mix up an imaginary meal. Like any mother would be, I was touched to see my son enjoying himself—playing fearlessly in the Children’s Museum and exploring with many fun and creative toys. He would open the wooden fridge and purposely put a spatula in a specific compartment. Though his reasoning was not known to me—or anyone else for that matter—you could tell he had a plan for that metal spatula, and it was to be in that freezer. RELATED: The Secret No One Told Me About...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections