Sunday, November 24, 2013

Picture Perfect

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are all excited about stuffing our faces with turkey and getting to hang out with family.  It is a time of being thankful but it has also become the holiday that sets the stage for Christmas.  Is it just me?  Or does everyone seem to start setting up for Christmas earlier and earlier each year.  I absolutely love Christmas!  It is by far my favorite holiday and favorite time of year.  I love the colors, the smell of Christmas trees, fires burning and hot chocolate.  I love the meaning of Christmas.  It is the day that a Savior was born!  It is a time to be joyful and a time to give as we were given such a great gift.
During this time, I start preparing to send out my Christmas cards.  So, I have been running around for the past two weeks trying to find my tall and skinny kid a pair of blue jeans just so we can take a family picture for our Christmas cards this year.  I have yet to find anything that fits him and I refuse to have him in wind pants or shorts.  That would just defeat the whole ambiance that I am trying to create.  So what goes into the photograph that makes it just right, picture perfect?   That very question has me wondering just what lies behind the scenes of  the perfect picture. 
Anyone who has little ones, knows how difficult it is just to get just one picture where everyone is looking in the same direction.  I know over the years we have done everything to get our boys to cooperate.  The final product turns out fine but if you saw all the out takes you would laugh.  I have had Christian crying because we threated to spank him if he didn't smile.  I have had Bo crying because Christian hugged his neck too tight and caused him to choke.  Bryan has mooned both boys just to get them to smile.  Someone farts just in the middle of the count and then we have to start all over because everyone is laughing hysterically.  After several shots, we usually have a couple to choose from.  Everyone sees the picture and says how great everyone looks.  They don't know the struggle that is behind those perfect poses and those sparkling smiles.
When you look at someone's finished portrait, you may not know the struggles or the triumph's they have encountered.  There may be a loved one missing from that picture that has left a void in the family's life.  There may be scars from a surgery and wounds from battle that are covered nicely by clothes and makeup.  There may be pain in their body because they are sick but they are able to muster up enough energy for a picture.  There may be internal hurt because someone has betrayed them or because they haven't let go of past experiences.  And of course not every story is full of heart break.  Behind someone's smile might be the recent joy from the birth of a child.  Someone is beaming because they were just told they are healed of cancer.  A young man asked a girl to marry him and she said yes.  They may be smiling because they know what all God has brought them through and they are just glowing with thankfulness. 
Behind my picture is a whole life story.  My life is not perfect.  I have encountered sickness.  My smile is crooked now because of a wound that never fully healed.  I have broken relationships that have caused a void in my life.  I have missed God's voice and made several wrong decisions.  I have had to swallow my pride and admit that I am wrong.  I have lost loved ones that I miss a whole lot.  I have smiled when I don't feel like smiling.  And I have been hurt because no one asked me what was wrong.  I have had pity parties and invited only myself.  I have been discouraged because I feel like I am not using my gifts and talents the way I should be.  Maybe I am scared that I don't even possess those gifts and talents anymore.  But even with all of that said, there is so much good that comes with that smile.  Behind that smile, is a woman who genuinely cares about people.  I smile because I have two healthy boys who make me more proud to be their mom each and every day.  I smile because I have a husband who has my back and wants to be a better man even though I already think he is the best.  I smile because even though I interfere with God's plan for my life, He takes me where I am and puts me back on track.  He believes in what I am called to be and who He created me to be.  I smile because God reassures me that my gifts, talents and dreams are not dead.  I smile because I have a God that will get me through anything.  I smile because there is hope in Him.  Heaven is picture perfect to me!
So I challenge you as you are opening everyone's Christmas cards and seeing pictures of their families, remember that they have a story.  It may be a good story but I am sure it has some bumps and turns and twists.  You got their card because you are special to them.  Remember to ask them how they are doing.  Take time to pray for them and whatever they may be going through.  It may be all good. In that case take time to thank the Lord for blessing them and ask Him to continue to do so.  As you sit drinking hot chocolate in your home, opening cards, there may be someone in the hospital fighting for their life.  They need your prayers because they may not have the energy to pray for themselves.  As you sit and take your family picture, there may be someone just trying to hold their family together.  Be thankful for all that you have!  Take time for people.  We are all very busy and sometimes feel like we don't have an ounce of energy to give to anyone else.  But there will be moments when you may be all the energy they have.  Love people.  Don't love them just from a distance.  Put your arm around them and let them know that you care.  Christmas is all about Jesus who was born to save us all.  Jesus preached love and compassion.  He carried our burdens and told us to go out and change the world.  You may not be able to help everyone.  But you can make a difference in someone's life.  You could be a part of the smile that lights up their family picture.  You can help make it picture perfect.
I hope you all have a great holiday season with your family.  I encourage you to spread love through this wonderful and hectic time.  I pray your families keep smiling and keep sharing your life story.  Everyone has a story and everyone can make a difference.  I am glad you are a part of my story as you take time to read my random thoughts in this blog.  You humble me and I am thankful.

Below is some of our imperfect Christmas pictures over the years!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Because it's November and I am thankful!

Since it is November and we are well on our way to Thanksgiving, I was going to try and do a daily post on Facebook of what I am thankful for.  But I have already missed three days.  So I thought I would just sum it all up into one blog.  I have so many things to be thankful for that I am sure I won't be able to cover it all.  But as I write them all down, it does remind me that my life is truly blessed.

Let me start off by saying that I am thankful for the little things.  I love the things that make me smile like chocolate when I have a sweet tooth thing going on.  I love when my favorite songs come on the radio and cause me to sing at the top of my lungs and put my hands in the air and wave them like I just don't care.  I love when the sunshine is out, because it reminds me that there is warm ray of light that shines down in a dark and sometimes scary world.  A baby's giggle and toddlers beginning to talk make me smile.  I am thankful for lipstick because I don't leave home without it.  I am thankful for basketball gyms, and baseball and football fields because they give me a place to cheer my favorite people on at.  I am thankful for the people who hold the jobs that I would not want to do but are so vital to our way of living. I am thankful for teachers who deal with my kids all day long and then have to go home and be parents to their own.  I am thankful when Summer first hits so there is no more homework and then I am thankful when August rolls around because I get my routine back.  I could name so many more things but you get the drift.  I tend to always remember the big stuff and forget that there are so many little things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my family and friends.  I am thankful for my Dad who has taught me to work hard and to get your hands dirty.  He taught me how to mow a yard and how to catch a softball.  I am thankful for a mom who put her teenage life on hold to raise me and love me.  She always made me believe that I could do anything and is always in my corner.  I am thankful for the rest of my family who have filled my life with so many memories that will forever be in my thoughts.  I am thankful for friends who have been like a family to me.  They have brought me caramel apples and homemade food.  They have shuttled my kids around.  They have coached my kids.  They have fed them and cheered them on.  They have prayed for them.  I am thankful for the ones who cheer me up and the ones who shoot straight with me.  I am thankful for the ones who make me laugh so hard that I shed tears.  I am thankful for the ones who I can say something off the cuff with and yet they still love me.  I am thankful for the ones who defend me when I am not around.  Words can never be enough to describe how much my family and friends mean to me.

I thank God everyday for the two precious gifts He gave me in Christian and Bo.  I am thankful that I have a brown-skinned one like me and a light-skinned one like Bryan.  My point in saying that is not because the color matters.  I love it because it is a true representation of Bryan and I.  We are different but we fit and what comes out of it is beautiful in every way.  I am thankful for my oldest who has made me question my every move as a mother.  Being his mom has made me work on being the best mom that I can be.   He has caused me to pray more prayers than I have ever prayed in my life.  I am thankful for his uniqueness.  I am thankful that when it counts, he has listened to what we have taught him.  I am thankful he shows his character through his actions.  I am thankful he believes in prayer and knows the Lord.  I am also grateful that Bo came into our lives four years later.  We almost didn't have him.  And now, I couldn't imagine life without him.  I am thankful for his dimples and his smile.  I am thankful for his huge heart.  I am thankful we decided to name him Bo because who knew two letters put together would create such a great kid.  I am thankful I have two boys.  I do wish at times I had a girl so she could wear cute clothes but I am thankful for jerseys and tennis shoes too. Thank you God for entrusting me with the lives of these two amazing boys.

The Lord blessed me beyond measure when He brought Bryan into my life.  I am thankful for his humor and playful attitude.  He makes me smile.  He keeps me sane!  He can give me just a look and it lets me know that everything is going to be alright.  I am thankful that he has an opinion.  That may bite me in the behind though.  He is not scared to stand up for what is right no matter if he becomes the outcast.  I am thankful that he lets me be me.  He is complimentary and unselfish.  I am thankful for the father he is.  He spends a countless amount of time with the boys.  He plays video games and throws footballs and runs races and coaches and works hard.  I am thankful that he is a man of God. He is believer and he is a doer.  I am thankful that he hugs me and tells me he loves me every day.  I am thankful that God gave me a man who is everything a man should be.  His genuine spirit makes me want to be a better person.

And most of all, I couldn't have all of these things if I didn't have God in my life.  I am thankful that He gave His only son up to die for me so that I could have an abundant life and a promise of a future.  I am thankful that He loved me before I was even born.  He knew where I would be and what I would do and yet He still loved me.  I am thankful for every perfect gift that He has given me.  I am thankful that I can wake up each morning and know that He holds my every moment.  Thank you God for my health because without it I could not be a good mom to two very active boys.  Thank you for your promises of healing sweet Savior.  For in those promises, I know that my friends and family that are struggling with sickness have hope.  Thank you for loving me despite the ugliness that can fill my mind and my heart.  Thank you for hearing me when I pray even when it seems like it has been a long time.  I am glad you listen because I am praying for so many that need you right now.  I am so thankful that you saved me and that you are still walking through this life with me.  I am thankful that I get to be with you forever!

I hope that after reading this, you will see that there was no way I could fit all of this into a daily post.  I am thankful for each of you who read this.  I pray that each one of you would have so much more to be thankful for.  Thank you for being part of my extended family and for letting my words speak to you.  I hope this November is filled with an overwhelming amount of gratitude.  Life is good!  I am thankful!