The “Do Over”

Do you wish that you could do over something?  Wipe it clean.  You know, pick the right words, the appropriate actions and perhaps have a more kind or gentle spirit?

At our home, we’ve been practicing the “do over” often.  For children from hard places (a term Karyn Purvis uses often in her books), do overs are essential for retraining the brain. You simply walk through the same action or actions again, this time doing them in the right and appropriate manner.

It’s not often easy to practice a “do over.”  Emotions and shame can often cloud the opportunity to redo something that had been just done.  However, each time a do over happens, it’s amazing to see peace and calm arrive in our home.

Do Overs aren’t just for Desta though.  I’ve found myself sitting in the space of needing mental and emotional do overs as well.  While Desta might need a do over to train her brain how to kindly and without yelling speak to one of us, I need do overs to train my heart how to accept love.

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift this Advent season.  Daily I’m amazed at how that morning’s particular reading was exactly what I needed to hear.  This morning was no different.

20161208_163300608_ios

I’ve been reflecting on joy and happiness, particularly after Caroline mentioned to us the other day how this year it doesn’t “feel” like Christmas yet.  I remember the first Christmas when it dawned on me that I was in charge of making it happen – the adult responsibilities kicked in full force and if I didn’t do something, the “feeling” for others wouldn’t happen.  Ah, the joys of growing up.

I read this from day 18 and thought of that conversation with Caroline –

“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.  

As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy.”

I go back to the “do over.”  Without retraining the brain to do the right thing, creating new neurological pathways, there is never the opportunity to see a failure become successful.  And when there is success, there is joy and peace.

It’s not an easy process – it requires intentionality and discipline.  It means setting aside pride and practicing humility.  Same goes with struggle and joy.  It’s easy to get bogged down in the blahs and failures, not seeing the good in the middle.

It takes us back to thankfulness and gratitude.  Ann says it so well, “A song of thanks steadies everything.”

20161218_144329598_ios

This Advent season I’m working hard on the gratitude bit.  Seems I can’t quite seem to learn that lesson so I’ll keep practicing.  This year I’m continuing in my quest to keep a 1000 phrases of gratitude.  Come with me and do the same!  It won’t change the circumstances but it will change the attitude.

Christmas Traditions Reworked – 2016

img_4868

It’s been a full Advent season for our family.  Caroline and I spent Thanksgiving in San Diego for soccer – delaying some of our usual traditions.  I’ve accepted that Thanksgiving, at least for the next two years, will look very different than in the past because of high school soccer.  As our kids grow older, I’ve had to work on leaving behind rituals and instead, create new traditions.

For this former missionary kid, doing that creates, at times, angst, frustration, loss of control and grief.  Funny how simple things like gathering together over a meal of family favorite foods, putting up decorations the day after Thanksgiving, running the turkey trot and a myriad of other small things  – when no longer available to do – can create a sense of loss.

This year, we’ve added new things and I’m learning on holding on to these things loosely – realizing that for this year, they’ve been a gift but not necessarily a tradition.

glass-ornament-christmas-tree-2016

One of my favorite, personal finds has been reading “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp each day for Advent.  I was given this gift from our church and when I started on day 1, I exhaled.  It was as if the devotionals/readings were meant just for me.  Most days I sneak downstairs around 5 am and find my spot next to the tree.  With a strong cup of coffee, I enter a world of expectancy and hope.  This little corner has been my tiqvah – my red cord of hope – as I navigate the rest of the days.

Instead of one tree, we chopped down two trees.  A few years ago we got a tree permit and headed up the mountain to chop down our tree.  While last year we didn’t do a tree as we were in Hawaii, this year (though not during Thanksgiving weekend) we still managed to drive to Woodland Park for our trees.  The pictures on Facebook show a fun, family centered time.  Reality?  It was 7 am, Desta was three days post op from tonsil surgery, Annie was a wound up ball of energy creating quite the stir with the child who had to hold her leash.  After shlepping down one hill, we settled on two trees and Matt and I were the soul tree tenders.  The kids sat in the car while we did all the hoisting, rope binding, tree holding work.   However, every morning when I sit next to the “Melody Glass Ornament Tree” I see wonderful glass trinkets reminding me of so many great memories.

20161203_201642371_ios

20161215_224124802_ios

20161214_234710105_ios20161216_000457611_ios

There was lots and lots of baking this year.  I did my usual cookie boxes for friends.  This year I made 30 boxes.  After posting online, a friend asked if I’d bake for some of her clients.  So I turned the on button again on my oven, bought a little bit of butter and made over 600 cookies this past week.  A day after I completed the boxes, my oven began to protest and I’ve since learned the “small fire” was from a defunct heating element.  Here’s hoping the repair man can get my oven back working tomorrow.

20161117_002455389_ios20161206_231348631_ios

This year I volunteered to be a mentor mom for our church’s Moms and Beyond group. I’ve met the most amazing women and have served along side a wonderful woman, Joanna. She and I hosted a mom’s only party here last week and I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time. Who knew a white elephant exchange could bring such laughter!

Desta began a new school this year.  As she’s worked hard on meeting new girls, I’ve worked hard on being a bit more extroverted and meeting new moms.  Tomorrow we are hosting Desta’s first ever gingerbread frosting extravaganza.  Facebook will have a few photos and I will be mopping my floors tomorrow night.

This was Caroline’s first year in high school. Gone are the days of fun holiday parties. Instead she had exam week which meant getting out of school at 11:45 each day.  I covet my time alone at home, especially the week before school is out and we’re in vacation mode.  Turns out, the week with just Caroline was wonderful.  We did errands together and chatted over her studying and my baking.  The house was a bit more alive with her home and I realized that these moments with her home are fast coming to an end.

20161218_000953283_ios20161218_020055695_ios

The highlight for me this Advent season so far was last night.  Matt and I took Caroline to Denver to see the Messiah live.  We explored a bit of Union Station/downtown Denver in 5 degree weather.  Brrr…cold.  As we sat in the auditorium, listening to the words of prophecy foretell Christ’s birth and story, I was struck by the simplicity of the story.  Each time I hear this cantata, a new truth is revealed.  It was such a privilege to share this night with Caroline and Matt – a memory that I will treasure for years to come.

Maybe you’re in my shoes this year – life happened and previous traditions have to be pushed aside.  Or your kids are growing up and things that happened every single year just aren’t cutting it any longer.  Have hope.  Creating new memories, letting go of hard earned practices might open the door to wonderful moments you never thought existed.  Take heart, have hope and Merry Christmas!