The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Christmas. Oh, how I love Christmas! It’s so magical, and fun, and amazing. And honestly, I just love it so crazy much. Most people are in an extra cheerful mood, and are more inclined to give, society, as a whole, kind of steps outside of itself a little bit. Not only that, but let’s talk about all the fun traditions. Candy canes, hot cocoa, decorating the tree, singing carols, the presents, the parties. All of it. I love every, stinking bit of it. Sure, it’s a little stressful at times, but to me, it’s all worth it.

Warning: the words I’m about to speak will probably offend, or at least, maybe, tick some people off. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ve lived in a certain bubble of a world where I let things affect me too much, and it took me too long to settle everything in my own heart. Maybe you’ll laugh and think, “The things this poor girl put herself through.” But either way, here it is I am done with the Christmas guilt. Phew, there. I said it. Do you know what I mean? Do you know “the guilt” that I’m talking about? It’s that church-y voice telling me for as long as I can remember, “Yeah, sure, Christmas is great and all, but it’s far too commercial, and don’t forget about Jesus.” By the way, let me be clear, this “voice” I’m talking about isn’t some metaphorical voice. It’s been people saying it every Christmas season since forever.

Now, hear me out. I’m not saying that those people are wrong. I don’t, personally have anything against them. And I don’t even have any specific person in mind. It’s just the cacophony of voices passed down through the years. I know that almost all of them are coming from a good place. I know people are speaking their own convictions, and that’s ok. But for too long, I personally, let the convictions of others affect the joy in my own heart during this season.

It was a few of years ago, after hearing somebody talk about how they’re so disappointed in how Christmas looks, and doesn’t anybody even remember that Christmas is about Jesus anymore? I honestly don’t even remember who was saying these things. I only remember that it wasn’t a personal conversation, it was a meeting, or a message, or something of the sort. It may have even been something I saw on youtube. I don’t remember. I just remember that the whole time they were talking, I felt sad inside. I felt sad that I just love Christmas so much. And I felt like this person was telling me that I should feel guilty about that. That I should cut it out on the “non-holy” traditions, and only fully embrace the ones that have to do with Jesus. The whole time I thought, “not this again. It happens every year. Somebody feels like they have to advocate to the church to chill out on the commercialized Christmas on account of looking too ‘worldly’. I wish I could just enjoy it.” When all of a sudden it was like a voice (an entirely different voice, mind you) said to me, “stop feeling guilty. Just enjoy this gift.”

There it was. Plain and simple. Just. Enjoy. Christmas. Stop feeling guilty that you love to give, and yes, *gasp* to get, gifts. Stop feeling guilty when you want to listen to only Christmas music all day every day (and not just Silent Night). Don’t feel guilty when you get super excited about all the cute Christmas decor they have out at Target. Don’t feel guilty when you get all caught up in the hubabaloo of the holiday. Because that’s exactly what it is. A holiday. And it’s meant to be enjoyed. Once I realized that, I felt free. I enjoyed that year’s Christmas like nobody’s business. And it’s a good thing, because the following year, hell came crashing down around me. Right at my favorite time of year. Right at Christmas. And it was honestly what kept grounded, and hopeful, and going. I have no idea what darkness would have enveloped me had it not been for Christmas. Had it not been for all the Christmas cheer that surrounded me. Black Friday, ugly sweater parties, cookies, and lights, and the whole nine yards.  It kept my head above water. I am beyond grateful that the year before, I had let go of all of that useless guilt that I let crowd my heart.

Now, please. Don’t misread me. We celebrate Jesus in this household 100%. Our kids know that we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus and the ultimate gift that He gave. They know that He came and lived, and served, and died, and rose again. In fact, they love Easter more than anybody else I know specifically because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We don’t downplay that part of it. We know that there are some seriously holy aspects of Christmas. But we also know that we live in a day and age when there are other parts of Christmas too, and those things are crazy fun! And there’s nothing wrong with them! I honestly feel so much more worshipful during the Christmas season when I don’t listen to the voices that are saying it’s strayed from the main point. I feel so grateful that we have an entire holiday that most people choose to participate in regardless of if they are “church goers” or not. In fact, what an awesome way to relate to people and share the love of Jesus. By enjoying the traditions with them instead of enjoying them a little bit but also feeling a little bit guilty about it, because “it’s not what Jesus would want.” Christmas is an awesome time to unite people of different opinions, and to celebrate the things we have in common. I think we, as a church, are missing it just a little bit when we frown upon the commercialized version of Christmas. I think there’s a way where we can enjoy both aspects of this amazing holiday.

Please also understand, I know that Christmas is an emotionally tough time for a lot of people. None of this is directed at you. Maybe that’s obvious, but in case it isn’t I want to make it obvious. In fact, let me just say that this whole post about letting go of the Christmas guilt is not supposed to make anybody feel bad or guilty. Heaven forbid I do the same thing I’m trying to help people break free of. I’m not pointing fingers, I’m not calling anybody out, and I’m not saying that anybody is wrong verses right. I’m only saying that when I allowed myself to breathe and release all that ugly guilt in my heart, I was able to enjoy and celebrate and be thankful for Christmas on a whole new level.

What about you? What are your thoughts? Am I alone? Because I could be. I could be the only person in the group of people who will read this post that ever felt like I love Christmas but maybe I shouldn’t love it so much. Let me know your thoughts! I would love to hear them! And by the way, Have a very merry Christmas season – happily, and guilt free. 😉🎄

Our Twin Story: Continued

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My oldest daughter, Lane drew this picture for us after we lost the twins. She said it was to help remember them. Her sweet heart never ceases to amaze me. We are so blessed.

Phew! Last week. Man, last week’s post was…it was really just so hard. I literally cried through the whole thing. And then I went upstairs and cried some more. And then I stopped. And then cried again some more. And then stopped…I think you get the picture. This was on and off again for most of the rest of the night. Then I felt it for the next few days. I usually read and re-read and then re-read my posts before publishing them. But I couldn’t do that with last week’s. I was too empty by the end of it. I had used up too much of myself to worry about if anything flowed or made any sense. Some of it doesn’t, by the way. There’s a lot of disjointed things in there. I thought about going back and editing it. But then that’s not real. There’s so much real, raw emotion in that post that I simply cannot fabricate. I know so many of you feel that real, raw pain in your lives. I think I would be shortchanging somebody if I went back and “fixed” it. And so, disjointed and imperfect I’ll leave it. Parts of it may make me crazy, but I honestly think it’s for the best.

I’ve received such an outpouring of love and support since last week. I just want to say thanks to you all for that. I honestly couldn’t walk this road without the people we have surrounding us. God has been so good to us. He has provided such amazing friends and relationships. Thank the Lord we serve such a kind and loving God!

But anyway, back to last week’s post. I could barely even finish it. It jolted my soul for sure. Not in a bad way, but definitely in a hurting kind of way. But also in a healing kind of way. I’ve had brief moments of grief come up out of nowhere this week. Things that I haven’t dealt with all the way yet. I think last week’s post sort of opened up the floodgates for that to happen. I’m certainly glad for that, but it has made for some real, hard moments. Moments in the kitchen where I’m getting some tea after the kids are in bed and I have a memory literally out of nowhere, and start to cry. It’s not like me, but I think it’s really good for me. I’ve only made it so far on this road to healing. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. In some ways, I know I will never heal fully, but I am so glad that the Lord is not done with me yet.

Friends, I miss my babies. I miss them every single day. There is never a day that goes by where I don’t think of them. Sometimes it’s hard for me to grasp that I have s-e-v-e-n babies. Seven. That’s a lot of babies. I often wonder what our lives would look like if all seven of them were here. I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my four babies that are earth-side, but I can’t ever help but wonder about all the what-ifs.

That being said, I never let myself wonder long about those what-ifs. That isn’t useful for me. Instead I try to redirect myself to the here and now. How can I use their short little lives to make an impact? How can I use what pain I’ve experienced and turn it into something beautiful? I have to remind myself over and over again that God has a purpose for their lives. There was a reason that they were created. Honestly, and I really hope that I’m not offending anybody when I say this: honestly, sometimes I get really, really angry that I got pregnant with those sweet babies at all. I hate admitting that. I am grateful, only in a different sort of a way. See, it would have been much easier to not have ever been pregnant with them than to have been pregnant with them and lose them the way I did. And so, I have to remind myself that I did get pregnant with them. And there is a reason for that. I carried them in my belly for so long for a purpose. It is not all for naught. There’s a distinctly difficult beauty about that truth. And I’m sitting here still trying to figure out what that is all about. I’m still trying to fight and struggle through it.

So welcome! You get to be my audience through this process. Hopefully I can shed some light for some of you. Hopefully I can let you know that you are not alone. Hopefully I can inspire you to share your own stories. Whether they be baby loss, infertility, or something else entirely. I know I sound like a broken record here, but we cannot do this thing called life alone. We just can’t! We were not created for that. We were created for relationships. We were created to bear one another’s burdens. To rejoice with one another and to weep with one another. I’ve had to learn to live in that kind of a way. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable. It certainly felt uncomfortable last week. I kid you not, last week was one of the most vulnerable moments of my life. Maybe that didn’t come across the screen, but, boy oh boy, I sure did feel it sitting here at my desk. I felt it hard. Last week wrecked me. And yet, last week brought me healing that I have long been waiting for.

This journey is long and hard. It’s exhausting. But there are parts of it that are simply inexplicably beautiful. There are things that make it all “worth it.” Thank you so much for sharing in my journey. Thank you for seeing me, and for hearing me. Thank you for not letting me walk alone. I pray mightily that I can do the same for you.