#Perfect

May I be honest?  The past few weeks have been a bit rough.  Cancer is dying {can I get a hands-raised hallelujah?!} but the chemo rounds are getting tougher on sweet ginger’s body.  More side effects like nausea, fatigue & chemo brain are creeping in. He’s a bit more, let’s say ornery, for good reason. And my patience often feels fleeting.  Cancer, chemo, all of it is just plain no fun!

Now how about we throw Christmas in the mix?  Why not?  I will admit up-front that online shopping has saved the gift giving aspect of the holiday.  I have not stepped foot in an actual brick & mortar since Black Friday.  This has no doubt helped to save my sanity.  And while the boxes are filing up nearly all my adequate hiding spaces, I would say that shopping has come to a close.  That’s the good news.  Cancer cannot win the gift giving battle!

I think what has been getting to me…is all the “perfect” Christmases I see everyone else having out there.  And by everyone, I mean a bunch of people who mostly I don’t even know.  Don’t.  Even.  Know.  And by perfect Christmases I mean the ridiculously faux, staged, photoshop perfected, do-people-even-live-in-your-home posts filling my Instagram & Facebook feeds.  I don’t know most of the folks & I know that there’s no way their homes looks like that 100% of the time.  Yet for some reason my Christmas feels downtrodden and frankly lacking when their homes, cookies, decor, Christmas lights, trees, parties with every ounce of their perfection fill my screen.  Here’s the amazing tree at the nurse’s station on the oncology floor:

The “perfect” tree for the cancer kids of the 7th floor.

For many, who are in far worse circumstances than ours, this is the only Christmas tree that they will be enjoying this season.  It hardly compares to the ones coming across the wi-fi.  And I have spent too much of my recent days a bit on the angry side about that.

OK!  I’ll say it so you don’t have to.  Jealous much?  Yes, I would agree.  There is a jealous covetousness that sits inside of this little annoyance of mine.  Jealous.  Covetous.  Ugly.  Really…I’ll say it..:: I really just want a perfect Christmas, not a cancer Christmas.

A “Perfect” Christmas

What exactly is a perfect Christmas?  From my feeds, I might conclude it’s in the tree, the decor, the food, the parties.  So what to do about that?  I could cancel my Instagram & Facebook accounts.  But I don’t actually think that would solve the root of my problem.  Instead it would perhaps just mask it for a while.  I would say the best go-to is always…wait for it…prayer & the Word.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  And here’s how the story looks this morning.

Yesterday, while feeding the chickens in temperatures that make your face hurt, I was complaining {pretend you’re shocked} about all the frozen poop in the coop {that’s a fun rhyme} it occurred to me that Jesus was born in a stable…basically a big chicken coop.  The poop in that stable was likely not frozen and instead horribly stinky.  And that is where Mary delivered him.  Mary.  What on earth would have gone through her mind if they’d had Instagram back at Jesus’ birth?  All her other friends would be posting full make-up smiles holding precious pink newborns wrapped in striped blankets from clean beds with hashtags like #perfectbundle and #amazingdelivery, while she was holding her precious bundle in some old strips of cloth Joseph found on the ground of the stable and shook off.  There would have been dirty animals, straw & stinky poop in the background of her photo with Jesus.  Not exactly hashtag worthy?

But as I envisioned this, about the King being born in a dirty old barn, I couldn’t help but smile.  Jesus really isn’t interested in our “perfect” Christmases.  His Christmas {if you can call it that} was less than picture perfect.  He isn’t necessarily impressed with our picture worthy Christmas decor or our Christmas cookies or parties or any of the things we pretend are perfect & post for some “likes” and accolades on social media.  All those things I’ve been jealous of lately.  Jesus came for people.  Christmas is about people.  Christmas {coupled together with Easter} is the gospel…the whole story…the perfect story.  Christmas is about Jesus.  Coming to earth so humbly it’s ridiculous. Remembering this, made my jealous rage {yep rage} seem so misplaced.  And rather silly, really.

Mary’s Instagram would have looked absurd.  Imagine it.  Baby Jesus in a feeding trough-#cozy.  Holding baby Jesus while the cows lick his face-#madcowsnotspreadthroughsalivaright.  Selfie with Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the barn-#atleastitscovered.  Jesus surrounded by dirty, stinky shepherds leaning in, touching baby Jesus’ face-#strangementouchingmybaby. Mary holding Jesus while wise men bow with amazing gifts-#theybroughtembalmingfliud.  These pictures would have been so foolish by our current Christmas standards but each embodies the Perfect Christmas. And each should have #perfect.

I don’t post this to judge anyone.  Please don’t take it that way.  I think these pictures of trees and decor and parties are beautiful. I just needed to realign my heart, remember what Christmas is really about, and appreciate my cancer Christmas.  When I look at Mary, I can see that this Christmas perhaps is closer to the Christmas Mary experienced…dirty, ugly, less-than-ideal.  But because of Jesus–absolutely perfect.  If your Christmas is not exactly Instagram-worthy, remember neither was Mary’s.  But she treasured up every, single moment.

Luke 2:19 – But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Thankful Cards // part 1 :: Free Printable

Let’s call this a freebie Friday!  Because we all love Friday & we all love freebies!  Especially free printable!  Am I right?

I need many, many reminders to focus on being thankful. I forget sometimes to count my blessing & thank the giver of those things.  Sometimes I’m counting other people’s blessings instead of my own.  Which is utterly stupid, because I have enough blessings to not need to worry about other people’s, but that is the ridiculousness of me being a human.  I don’t count every single blessing of others, just the ones I’d kind-a, sort-a like to be counting in my blessing column.  Ugh!  So yucky!  Truth is my blessings column is probably full enough, if I’d just take a second to really look it over.  Silly humanness.

So to try to remind myself to spend some quality time this month actually thanking the giver of all for every amazing thing he has provided to me in this life, I decided to make some little scripture cards.

IMG_2340And {this is where the freebie part comes in} I’m sharing them with you.  Today I’m including the first 8 thanksgiving printable.  {hopefully more will follow leading up to Thanksgiving}  Scripture that reminds me to look to God and be thankful.  In all circumstances and situations because he is my strength when life is hard & for that I should be thankful also.  So enjoy these little cards!  Print them out on some nice cardstock {i use 65 lb.} and cut them using the cutting guides.  I used my decades old Creative Memories corner rounder to give them a little softness.

IMG_2342Hang them up where you’ll see them.  Or read one each day.  Or memorize them.  Definitely share them with your kids around the dinner table.  And be thankful.  Because we have SO much to be thankful for.  Enjoy!!

UPDATE

More FREE Thanksgiving printables available for download here & here.  Enjoy!

Go do it!

ezra 10.4 What’s your assignment today?  Love on someone?  Offer grace?  Be a humble helper?  Change a wrong, forgive a friend, celebrate another’s victory?  Our tasks aren’t always huge, enormous, change-the-entire-world things.  Dare I say those assignments are rare.  More often they’re the little everyday things that are talked about throughout the Word.  Sometimes they are joyful and easy.  But sometimes they’re I-don’t-want-to-do-this hard.  But He says “get up! get going! and do it!”

And we can’t just focus on our tasks.  We are to be the “we are with you” folks too.  We must be there for our sisters & brothers as they’re arising and doing what they need to do.

Two parts- get up & get to work on your tasks & support those who are also getting up & getting their stuff done!