The Cost of Christmas

I’ll admit that I’m starting this day a bit exhausted, physically that is. The majority of mommas could probably say the same thing about this time on Christmas Day. My day will require a lot of me. My attention, my energy, even my patience will be in high demand. It will cost me. 
Mommas stretch themselves on days like today. We’ve planned and worked and wrapped and labeled and cooked and organized until we’ve just about come to the end of our reserve tank of energy. Even so, once again, we have managed to pull it off and pull it together. 

I’ll tell you one thing, if I could only tell you only one thing, about this Christmas. It will be good for my soul. My children gathered together under one roof at the same time, healthy, happy, whole. Y’all know it is my favorite place to be, together that is. It will be worth the cost. 
This year has been chaotic and challenging, breathtaking and beautiful in so many ways. There have been some heart-rending moments, some tears, some struggles, some unexpected changes. There have been some victories, some precious memories made and lots of opportunity for spiritual growth.  But here at the end of this sometimes tumultuous 2016 love has shown up, shown out and made my heart glad. 

No extravagant gifts, no expensive trips nor even any impressive decorations to speak of. But, oh the wealth we are blessed with. The wealth of seeing my children smile and hold them close when it was time to weep. The wealth of cheering them on at their best moments and reaching for their hand when they’ve stumbled and helping them to their feet. Such wealth. 

So, while this day will require a lot of me, it will give me so much in return. I’m so thankful that another momma 2,000 years ago, gave her all, more she she imagined she could as she delivered the greatest gift the world would ever receive. She was the first momma to pay  the cost of Christmas, the very first Christmas. 


Some Assembly Required

When it comes to families, some assembly may be required. Are you willing to follow the instructions?

Stephanie Rodda

How many parents will tackle toy assembly this very night as preparations are made for Christmas morning? Instruction sheets will be studied carefully by some and ignored by others. Occasionally the instructions will be missing or in a foreign language that can make the task of assembly seem insurmountable.

No matter how frustrating the process is, it must be conquered for the gift to be fully enjoyed. You can give up, grow frustrated or even convince someone else to help you but it must be done if it is to be assembled.

This morning I was thinking about families and how they too sometimes need to be put together or put back together in some cases.

Just as we’d like those doll houses and play kitchen sets to come fully assembled, we may wish the same could be said of our families. Oh how we would sigh with relief for…

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Confessions of a Momma with Too Many Children

We are an #xlfamily and I am a #momofmany. If you’ve been around me for very long, I’ve likely proudly showed you their pictures and expected you to guffaw over their wonderfulness. Most of the time that’s just the reaction I get but sometimes the reaction to our family with so many children is that we are a family with too many children. 

Some folks are concerned.  You know, concerned that I’ll wear myself down, concerned that my husband will work without being able to get ahead. Or concerned that the kids will somehow be neglected by being a part of such a big brood. Sometimes, that particular concern stems from their own childhood. 

Other folks are just critical. They’re critical of any choice that is different from their own. Critical of how many you parent, how you educate, discipline, and maybe even what you believe. Bless their hearts, as we are known to say here in the south. 

It’s okay, I get it. We aren’t your average family and more than once I’ve referred to myself as the old lady in the shoe who didn’t know what to do. But, what you may see as chaos, I see as… well, okay, I see as chaos too. But, I see it as more than that. 

I see it as living large and loving large. I see it as an opportunity to grow a family that is forged together not by blood but instead by love. I see it as opportunity to grow spiritually, emotionally and even physically stronger. I see it as an opportunity to leave a legacy of faith and by doing so, influence many more people than I could ever do on my own. 

So, here’s my confession as a momma of too many children. 

  1. I’m not always available to every child every moment they might like me to be. But, someone is. There’s always a partner to play a game or help with a difficult task. 
  2. I’m not superwoman. I get tired, irritable, frustrated and aggravated. I don’t ‘do it all’. I let somethings slide. I don’t dust nearly as often as I should. 
  3. I’m not enough for my very large family. Because I’m not, I encourage them to also rely on each other and build strong relationships with extended family members. Most importantly, I teach them to invest in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not enough, but it’s ok because I don’t have to be. 
  4. Our kids don’t get the very same things that kids in smaller families may get. We don’t do exactly the same things, go the exact same places, take the same trips, drive the same cars or wear the same clothes. But, guess what, we celebrate the gifts of each other, work and play hard together and make do with what we have. I like to think I’m nurturing a rare commodity in this day and time. It’s called contentment. 
  5. I’m a little late starting my ‘dream career’ of writing because I have been so busy the last two decades raising kids. But, it’s okay, because this life I’ve lived as a mom of too many children has given me a LOT to write about. 

All in all, I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Sure, I would like less laundry, less dirty dishes and many times less noise. But I don’t want less of us and if we are too loud, too much or too different than what you might be used too, I’d like to invite you to set aside your concerns and criticisms. Instead consider how many hugs have been given, prayers answered and how much laughter this mom of too many children experiences each and every day. 

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas
When all through the house,
the children are fairly vibrating
And I’ve hardly seen my spouse…

A favorite Christmas post that I think we can all relate too! Merry Christmas! 🎄

Stephanie Rodda

It is about this time of year that I can almost surely hear the ticking of a proverbial clock. Tick tock tick tock. Are you ready? Tick tock tick tock. Have you forgotten anything? Tick tock tick tick? Time is fleeting.

One week from tonight is Christmas Eve and one more week will bring us to New Years Eve. The end of another year. Opportunities seized or lost, never to be had again in that exact manner. Memories made. Moments spent whether wisely or foolishly, never to be regained, relived, redeemed.

Once again, although I determine every year, never again, I’ve overdone Christmas presents. Well, I suppose to some we are keeping it simple and to others we are being extravagant. It really matters where you’re standing I suppose. As for me, I’m standing in the midst of it, right smack dab in the middle.

My perspective is a bit…

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Let it Go

Don’t allow derailed hopes and dreams prevent you from moving forward. Let it go.

Stephanie Rodda

It’s a wonderful thing to have hopes and dreams. We are encouraged and given the strength to press on during times of hardship many times by reminding ourselves that we don’t plan to be where we are forever. If you are a planner, then you have likely plotted the manner in which you intend to get to that destination. As for me, I’m always happiest with a plan in place.

The thing about hopes and dreams and even plans is they usually involve other people. Other people can sure mess the plans up! Have you ever noticed? Just when you’ve got it all worked out, neat and tidy, another person, with their own choices (sometimes stubborn and foolish) derails your train of thought.

To add insult to injury, if these people were in a position to derail us, they are likely people we care deeply about. We’re talking your own…

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Holiday Stress 🎄

It has become my custom around this time every year to blog about holiday stress. Perhaps it is triggered by my own stress of striving to be and do all I can. Grab a cup of something hot to drink and take a few moments to read about the stress factor of the holidays. I hope it affords you some relief. 

Amidst all the holiday happiness, family celebrations, gift giving and decadent food eating there is a factor we may try to ignore. It is the holiday stress factor and it exists in the corner of our mind where we’ve shoved it to deal with later. 

We never totally forget that it is there for it is always in our peripheral vision. Plus, of course, it demands to be noticed, sometimes with nagging whispers and other times with bold cries. We wish it would just go away and we make some effort toward that end.
We remind ourselves how thankful we should be to which we earnestly reply back to ourselves that yes, we should be and yes, we are. We remind ourselves of those with less. We declare ourselves ‘too blessed to be stressed’. We press on to do the next thing, cook the next dish, attend the next event. 

All the while stress seems to increase as our wherewithal decreases. Finally, we find ourselves teetering at the edge of a melt down and scolding ourselves for feeling the way we are feeling.which of course only makes matters worse. 
Mercy, what a mess. What a mess of jumbled emotions and fears and anxieties and expectations. If you are one of the rare few who have not experienced the stress I am describing, I’m tempted to say, your day is coming. And, admittedly, that is not being said in the encouraging manner in which I often say those same words. 

Why are we stressed? What about the holidays seems to magnify the messes of our lives and amplify the disappointments we are experiencing?
I am put in mind of a line from an old movie called ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’. The main character, Millie, at one point, early in the movie says something like this. “I built up such a store of dreams. Dreams about love and marriage and such.” She was disappointed because reality didn’t measure up to those ‘store of dreams’.
I believe the same could be said about us many times. No couple dreams of infertility and childlessness or delayed adoption efforts. No bride dreams of marital problems and divorce. No one hopes to be on the verge of bankruptcy or unemployed. No one hopes to face addiction or alcoholism. No parents want their children to struggle with self-esteem or spiritual matters. No person wants to face deadly diseases or the death of a loved one. 
We don’t dream about such things. We don’t hope to or want to, we just don’t and yet, we must face these things at times and more that I haven’t mentioned. I think that is how the seeds of stress are planted in our hearts. Dreams that are dashed and disappointment of hopes gone awry.

Then comes the holidays and now, we must add on the expectations of others to the expectations of our own. Buy this gift whether you can afford it or not. Go to this gathering whether you have time or not. Smile at these people whether you feel like it or not. Say what is expected, do what is expected, go where you are expected or you’ll disappoint someone.
All the while the stress factor sits in the corner if our minds where we think it has been safely tucked away until it has grown to such a size that it can no longer be ignored. It demands attention with headaches, anxiety and a general sense of dread. 
Maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to have the perfectly decorated Christmas tree, a Hallmark Card table spread, presents beyond your budget and accept every invitation you receive. Maybe, just maybe, dream new dreams and hang on to hope after all. Maybe you go confront the stress factor in your life by looking it square in the eyes and see what the little monster needs to be quieted.

Perhaps a nap is the first step. Then, maybe a good cry for what you had hoped for, but what is not to be this year. Reduce your speed during this holiday zone and decrease your activities. How many holiday celebrations are you attending? Does your toddler need one single thing you’ll put under that tree? Will your teen finally be satisfied? Will you ever measure up to that store of dreams? Will your husband? Will your children?

It may well be time for a bit of dream decluttering. Could this be the year when you stop comparing what is to what you are sure it should be?
If you can be courageous enough to take a deep breath and embrace the beauty of the moment, you may realize that the stress factor has slipped away unnoticed to places where disappointment is rampant and far away from you. Let’s toss out the should bes and would bes and could bes. Let’s make room for the present moment, the simple gift, the shared laughter, the taste of delight and what we have, who we have, when and while we have them to treasure.