Having children has taught me that things don’t have to be perfect to be good. When I let go of my own expectations about what Christmas “should” look like, I discovered a new way to celebrate. Now our holidays are much less scheduled, less busy, less urgent. There is joy, wonder, and anticipation in our home for everyone. Sometimes we crank up the carols and have a raucous Holiday Dance Party. And sometimes, every so often, we have Peace on Earth.
Usually I can hide from my grief in the everyday life as a busy mom to my six, but at Christmas it is hard to hide, as much as I wish I could. It isn’t Christmas itself that I want to hide from, but the holidays bring a reminder of what I have lost, to death and to distance both physical and emotional. During this season I often find myself wondering: What did I do wrong? Why is this so hard?
When I was 8 years old, I went through something most 8 year olds don’t go through. My father passed away on January 18th, 2001 and it was a very difficult time in my life. The only person I had to look up to at that time in my life was my mom. She has raised me by herself and has always put me before her needs. She has been a mother and a father to me my entire life, and that’s what truly makes me look up to her in many of ways. I can go to my mom for anything that I need, or that I’m struggling with. She has made sure I have had the best of things and works very hard for the things I need. She is not only my mom; she is also my best friend. She tells me daily that there’s nothing in the world that is ever to big that we can’t get through together.
I believe a hero is somebody you can look up to in certain aspects of your life and follow their guidelines to live up to their perspectives. I can honestly say my Mother has been my hero my entire life. My mom has helped me through many rough times in my 17 years of life. I truly believe that if it wasn’t for my Mom, I wouldn’t be the respectful and appreciative person I am today. She has truly been there for me my entire life, and I look up to her for that and one day I want my kids to look up to me in that sort of way.
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My sweet daughter, fresh off a week of sickness, stuffed full of candy and milk, and coached to excitement by her momma, threw up, again, all over her whole family. It was not subtle, as evidenced by the sympathetic looks the row of single, college-aged men in front of us suggested as they turned with kind faces, mixed with sympathetic smile and slightly terrified eyes. Out we marched again, this time covered in vomit.
This first entry was written by Shannon’s daughter, who I have met on many occasions. She “gets it”, as you’ll see in the Essay that she wrote for us. She shares how her Mother is her Hero, and how surrogacy has changed her life.
Now, nearly a year later, I can laugh as I remember how my expectations stole away some of the delight – and how triumphantly the season ended with the very last moment I would have designed. I also remember how the grace came quietly, not in the picture-perfect moments I anticipated, but in the moments of desperation, of weakness. Still, still, we are tempted to look for a radiant King with a triumphant, blockbuster entry, even though we know his Glory comes to us tucked into a forgotten stable, Holiness in humble trimmings. If we can wait, expectantly, searching for His Glory instead of stacking up our own intentions, I’m certain the Christmas season will be all the sweeter.
Surrogate mothers – this month I asked our Surrogates to send in an essay, either that they have written, OR that their kids have written, sharing How Surrogacy has changed their life.
I will be the first girl on my mother's side to attend college, and the first of my immediate family to go above and beyond today's worldly expectations.
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Twelve years in, our tree is not only filled with ornaments; it’s filled with memories. My three children are beginning to understand that tree-decorating is not just a time to slap ornaments on a fake tree; it’s a time for us to reminisce and tell stories. I feel like an Israelite mother, using ornaments instead of stones to recount stories of all God has done in our lives. I have the privilege of telling our children the meaning behind each ornament we hang. I want them to hear the story of God’s faithfulness to our family through the years. The family tree has morphed into a tree filled with history. Additionally, each child gets one ornament per year to remind them of different milestones in their own lives.
Jessica Doebler is a Christ-follower, full-time mommy of three, and has been married to her sweetheart for twelve years. While she is knee-deep in housework, dirty diapers, and wet kisses she likes to spend nap-time snacking on chocolate, and sharing life with other moms.
That is, until I was staring down the barrel of a second pregnancy. I knew I needed to watch for postpartum depression, but I still thought I had a handle on this motherhood thing. I adopted a “whatever works” mantra for when baby came, crossed my fingers, and prayed.