This year, I’m not quite single for the holidays. I’ve got the FFK* with me.
But as I mentioned last year, I have learned that I need to be intentional about the holidays so that I don’t end up singing Blue Christmas. As a singlish person living on a tropical island, fall and the holiday season can create a little sadness, loneliness and longing. For home. For more. For a simpler time. And lets be honest…It doesn’t feel like the holidays when the sun is shining and everyone is wearing bathing suits.
So may I present to you this years….
CREATE THINE OWN HOLIDAY TRADITIONS 2016
Decorate for Fall. Start drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Light a fall scented candle.
Head to the Pumpkin Patch with the FFK and a few friends. Wear a sweater. Drink lavender tea at the Lavender Farm. Snuggle up with Finding Father Christmas and a blanket (and the AC cranked).
Begin Operation Random Acts of Kindness. This addition is inspired by my friend Jenna. Something happens in my soul when Christmas starts shining in the distance. All of the sudden I am aware of all the things I want. This year, I want to focus on meeting the needs of others. Hopefully with the FFK in tow, we can get creative and spread a little light and a little joy. Don’t tell her though. It’s a surprise.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Because I travel for Christmas, I have found that decorating early makes all the difference. So bring on the Christmas music and lets deck the halls!!! I am one of those saps who needs at least 6 weeks of Christmas music to feel like I got my moneys worth.
The night before Thanksgiving.
Last year I struck tradition gold. I compiled the best Thanksgiving episodes of all time (in my humble opinion). The FFK and I will while away the evening watching these classics as we cook our Thanksgiving delights. There is a slight chance that the FFK will roll her eyes and mock my television brilliance. If so, we will end up watching The Walking Dead. But here’s hoping.
This year I’m planning on attending Gluten-Free Thanksgiving with the usual suspects. The FFK decided she wants to join us because, “that way I can have two Thanksgivings. One with you. And one with my mom on Saturday.” I’ll be honest. I choked up a little when she was making the plan. This fostering thing is tricky. You have to keep both an open hand and an engaged heart. It’s an interesting balance.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving.
2 words. Gilmore Girls. 3 more words. All day binge. Thankfully the FFK will be feasting with her mom all day.
To be honest. That’s about all I can get my head around at this point. I am a born antcipator but life has gotten a little more full. So the plan for December…will have to wait.
In the meantime…
How do you celebrate fall and the coming holiday season?
I’d love to know!
Love, Love, Love,
The Girl Who Lives in My Head
FFK=Future Foster Kid. It started as a way to refer to whomever I would end up fostering. As in, here is the FFK room. Once she came to live with me, I still call her that in my head at times.
When I was a little girl….and well into college, I used to pray that my life would not be normal. From an early age I wanted to serve God in a grand way.
Of course, I assumed that would include marriage and a family. Duh.
Growing up, there were always a handful of “older” single women in my life. I remember them as fun and dynamic. They were involved in ministry and poured into my life in some form or fashion. That’s why I knew them. And loved them. But as much as I admired them, I did not want to be one of them.
I always thought marriage and a family was a given in life. Until it was not.
The other day I was in Target, walking down the aisles.
About life. God’s plans. My plans.
And in a moment of clarity, I realized I AM THAT GIRL!!!
I am the “older” single woman.
Who is fun and dynamic. Involved in ministry. Who still dreams of marriage but has accepted that it might not be in the cards. At least at this point in life. Who is going for it. Regardless. Living life to the full. No matter the season.
And the truth is… I really like being that girl. Her life is pretty great.
What I judged in my youth, is actually a gift.
Getting ready this morning, I had a bit of a hangover. A vulnerability one. Because when I wrote about my year without romance, I opened up my heart a bit too much. I feel like I showed my guts to the world. And they spilled out a little.
Because I’m 38 years old. A grown woman.
Friends my age are navigating life with teenagers. Mortgages. College funds and daycare. Parents who are sick. Possibly dying.
And my deepest struggled is still boys??? Are you kidding me???
But it is. I could lie and pretend it isn’t. But then I would be keeping a secret. And living from a lie. And lies destroy us. And then we eat our feelings. Or worse.
And I don’t think I am alone in this.
When I think about the people I care about, I think there are plenty like me.
Who are living lives they never imagined. Or judged in their youth.
Maybe you are one of us. Maybe you are the mom where your life and family look like a crazy hot mess busy. And you always swore your kids would not act like that in a grocery store. Until they did. All the time. And maybe you realized life isn’t about being the perfect mom. It’s about being available. And messy. And it’s beautiful.
Or maybe you are that career gal. Sex in the City style. Or suburbs. Who is working her way up the ranks. You’re a leader. Shaping the future. Of a company. Of a planet. Of a generation. Getting to invest in people. Earning enough to give in ways you never imagined. You own your own home. You travel when you want. You do what you want. God is allowing you to use your gifts and talents and you are a person of influence. And while it wasn’t the life you dreamed of, it’s actually pretty great.
Or maybe you are that married lady. (Or single woman) Who is amazing. Whose life is blessed and beautiful. Whose relationships are fulfilling and job is awesome.
You long for babies. And it creates an ache deep inside that won’t be silenced. That cries out to God. Over and Over. And over again. You have done everything you can. To make the dream come true. And then later, silence the cries. But it won’t work. The longing won’t fade. And so you live your life. Full and amazing. To the best of your ability. Trusting God is writing your story. All the while, hoping and praying. That maybe one day. You’ll get to see a flutter of a heartbeat grow to maturity. And you have learned to live with the pain, Maybe it has actually become a place of ministry. Of healing. Of hope for others. And even though you would you trade it all in tomorrow, you see God’s hand. And know that He is with you on the journey.
I think in some way, we are all “that girl.” The one living someone else’s life. Dreaming of a different one.
I just finished a book called “Looking for Lovely” by Annie Downs. It’s all about how she looks for God in everyday moments. To see and acknowledge His hand. In her life. If there are any chubby girls in the house-this book could be our manifesto. If you want to see your inner most thoughts on paper, she spills her guts in the first few chapters. To set up the story.
Brene Brown calls it Daring Greatly. A life of gratitude. Leads to wholehearted living.
Ann Voskamp wrote 1000 Gifts. Same idea. Finding joy by being thankful.Seeing the gifts amidst the pain.
If you are reading this and think you might be “that girl.” The one you loved but didn’t want to be. Or judged and prayed you never would become.
Take a moment and find the lovely. The beauty. Be thankful for the good. Find the joy.
Because our God is good. He writes beautiful stories. With plot twists. Climax. And denouement.
You might just be in the middle of a really powerful tale of God’s love and redemption. That seems to be His favorite theme.
Last summer, I felt like the Lord asked me to give up romance.
For those of you who are still getting to know me, this was a hard ask.
I am a champion of love!!
I love all things romance.
And may or may not have a matchmaker sash to prove it.
I have whiled away many hours reading yummy Christian fiction. And teen fiction. And tween fiction. And chick-lit. Love stories. They are like candy to me. I don’t read tragedies. Life is hard enough. I want to be swept away.
I heart meet/cutes. Of any kind. Of all kinds. They lived happily ever after, yes please!
I may or may not plan my holiday social life around Hallmark Christmas movies. Oooo, your Christmas party is on the 13th at 6pm? Let me check my calendar.
Seriously. Hallmark movies are pretty much why I heart Christmas. I mean, besides Jesus’ birth. And time with the family. And the food.
So of course when I heard the Lord ask me to give it up for a year, I wanted to make sure it was Him and not me talking.
It started with a random thought while driving down the road. It went a little something like this…
You should give up romance for a year.Nope. Turns up T. Swift on the radio.
A few days later…
No really. I think there is something to that idea of quitting romance. Just give up the music and movies for one year. What’s the worst that could happen?
The worst that could happen!?! Some amazing guy would move to Maui and I would miss him because I’ve given up romance. Turns up Blake Shelton on the radio.
Sometime after that I wrote this in my journal.
Papa G-Help me to trust you. My heart is so full, so happy, so pleased. And yet, I don’t understand why I haven’t met my counterpart. I see the picture dimly. And I make up all sorts of wrong conclusions. It’s painful to me. My heart. My confidence. Our relationship. What is the Truth? Why am I still alone? Is there something broken in me that needs to be fixed or is it just a timing issue. I see this whole thing imperfectly. Would you speak to my soul and answer my heart’s most intimate question? If it is because I’m broken-will you please fix me? Mend me. Make me whole. I know that you are the God who sees me. I lay down this desire at your cross once again and choose to trust you and wait patiently for you.
After seeing my heart in writing, I realized that it was time to obey.
And give up romance.
And movies for a year.
It hasn’t been as hard as I imagined*.
And the results have been incredible.
Because the desire to be married no longer consumes me.
There have been (many) seasons where I been 100% content with being single. And there have been (many) seasons where I have not. Been content.
And when I am not content it is not pretty. Every time my brain is not occupied. When it at rest. When I’m driving. Or laying down to sleep. The desire to be married becomes my focus.
Or worse. The reasons why I must not be marriage material become my obsession. Focus.
It steals my joy.
And binds my soul.
To the wanting.
And I know God sees this. And wants so much more for me.
So He whispered the solution. Give up romance. So I did.
My friend Kimberly is always talking about idols.
And the Southern girl in my wants to scream. Because I heard idolatry pounded from the pulpit.
But usually she is right. And she is lovingly trying to bring something to my attention. That is not serving me well.
Matt Chandler says it this way:
And that’s what the desire to be married had become. An ultimate thing. And knowing my track history, that’s a really dangerous place to be.
Now, I know some of you might be thinking…if it is an issue, why not kill it off? That desire.
It would definitely be easier. SO MUCH EASIER. To make the choice. To kill off desire.
To just decide, I’m not going to get married. I choose singleness. Done. And just live from there.
Because in essence…desire brings pain. So kill desire, kill pain. Right?
Oh wait. That’s Buddhism.
And I don’t think that is what God wants me to do. Kill my heart off.
Instead, He’s asking me to give up control. By surrendering. All my desires.
And to trust Him with them. All of them.
And wait. On His timing.
It is much harder to choose hope. Than to kill desire.
It actually takes great faith.
So He whispered a solution.
Make me the Supreme Romance of your life. Desire me. My love. My heart. My attention. My affection.
Only that’s not what He said. Because I wouldn’t have understood what He meant.
But when He asked me to lay aside what I thought was romance,
He filled in the gaps.
And set my heart on fire.
For Him. And Him alone.
And when my mind is at rest, I’m no longer obsessing.
I’m living. A beautiful story. That He is writing.
With an open hand and surrendered heart.
At least for today.
Love, Love, Love,
The Girl Who Lives in My Head
P.S. I am in no way advocating anyone giving up romance or anything of the sort. This is my issue. My journey.
P.S.S. In an effort at full disclosure, I have had a lapse or two in the movie department. When I was with my parents at Christmas. And maybe that one time in February. Around Valentines Day.
True Confession: Last year I walked away from my Thanksgiving festivities with a very full tummy and a very heavy heart.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely evening. Full of great conversation, laughter and gluten free fare. It’s just, somewhere between the front door and my car, the realization that I was a one person family hit me hard. There is a very good chance that I started my car, turned on Pandora Michael Buble Holiday mix and cried glistening tears as I made the trek home to my single bed. Which was in fact a giant California King. But that is beside the point. I have a flair for the dramatic and a tendency to turn up the burn when I want to wallow. And last Thanksgiving night, I wallowed. Sad little single girl.
Christmas left me the same hum of discontentment. After deeper reflection, prayer and a moment of clarity, I sat down (or possibly while driving) created a list of my very own Holiday Traditions that I would put into practice next year.
Well, the time has come. May I present to you:
Operation Create Thine Own Traditions 2016.
October 1st: Decorate for Fall. Check. This may be more of a Maui thing but I miss the seasons and need to “create” them by decorating my house. I buy a yummy fall candle and set out tasteful white plastic pumpkins. I pull out my fall kitchen towels and a cute little stuffed owl door stopper with Welcome Fall emblazoned on his chest. It’s simple. It’s enough for me to feel like the season has changed
November 20 (this Friday) I will decorate for Christmas. This is new. I travel for the holidays and last year I waited til after Thanksgiving to decorate. And then…didn’t. Why? In my sad little state, my inner Eeyore was like “Only three weeks til you leave. Why Bother?” So this Friday marks 4 weeks til I leave to go home, giving me a solid month of Christmas anticipatory joy in my own home. This is also when I will allow my self to overindulge in Christmas music. Which I LOVE!!
Thanksgiving Day. After my single gal pity party last year, I decided I needed my own Turkey Day tradition. Up to this point I had only participated in other people’s traditions which fun but didn’t fulfill me. So this year, I’m going to watch memorable Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite shows while I prepare my dishes to take to the party. I’m not sure how I arrived at this except when I watch certain shows I am transported back in time to when I watched them the first time. Friends=college. Greys=fall in Colorado. West Wing=time with MJ. It’s a new tradition. We’ll see how it goes.
Christmas Eve-The day hasn’t felt special to me in a long while. Maybe because I’m out of my element, at the mercy of others and therefore can’t create that rhythm I thrive on. So this year, I’m going to create a countdown to Christmas extravaganza for the only people in my extended family I can still have influence over-the nieces and nephew. A few years ago I did a New Years countdown that is still legendary in their minds. This year, I’m moving it to Christmas Eve Day with church that night being the big finale. I’m picturing minute-to-win-it meets Happy Birthday Jesus cake meets Pinterest. Outcome: TBD.
Christmas Day: Last year, I saved all my Christmas cards to open on Christmas morning and it was really special. I felt like I was sharing my morning with the people I love. Far and away. It also led to some sweet text conversations as I waited for the family to get their groove on so we could get to the good stuff. Hearing my 4 year old niece exclaim “Oh my nerves!” as she wrestled with the tape on her gifts was my highlight.
New Years: Last year I volunteered at Passion, a gathering in Hotlanta for 18-26 year olds and loved every minute of it. This year, I’m going back for more. I get to part of the intercessor team who will cover the 72 hour event in constant prayer. I am a HUGE Louis (and Shelley) Giglio fan so getting to be a part of something like this is fills my love cup to overflowing. College kids falling deeper in love with Jesus and finding their purpose. Yes please.
SO . All that to say I’m really looking forward see what unfolds this holiday season. Navigating this time of year is tricky for EVERYONE who has breath in their lungs. Here is the course I’m charting. What’s yours?Whether your house is a party of one or fifteen, I’d love to know your tips, traditions and trade secrets.
How do you make the holidays meaningful in your home?
I hesitate to ask because nothing looks sadder on a blog than a question with no responses but I’m feeling brave. Brave single gal.
You check your email and see a familiar face pop up. You freak out. Run to your computer at work and maniacally try to log on. Out of trauma you black out, forget your password and get locked out of your account. You go through the tortuous reset process and finally get the ball rolling. All the while huffing, “Come on!” at your computer and impatiently tapping the mouse on the desk while you wait. Not now rainbow wheel! The moment you gain access to the site, you delete your profile, wipe out your entire eHarmony existence and pray to God that your friend did not have a chance to read it. Your rationale? You didn’t write your profile so people you know could read it. Dumb, I know. But rational thought has left the building. The truth? The image of him and his friends sitting around laughing at either a)what you wrote or B)the fact that you were on there to begin with, makes you want to curl up into a ball and die. You dodge said friend for about a month. Breathe a sigh of relief when you see him at a movie and he acts normal. Neither laughing nor pointing at you, jeering. Four months pass. And then one night he comes over because your car’s battery has given up the ghost. While battery charges, the two of you sit on the trunk and chat. He brings up the fact that you were once matched. You die a little on the inside and say something off hand and quickly change the subject. The two of you never speak of it again. He later marries a dear friend. You attend the wedding and mean it wholeheartedly when you say you could not be happier for them.
I used to adore them. I can still remember the first one I ever attended as a little girl with my mother in Tennessee. Women in beautiful dresses. Tiny sandwiches. Pink watermelon balls. Refreshing beverages.Beautiful ribbons and bows. Itty bitty bits of baby delights.
And then I grew up and graduated college. Time passed and my friends started having babies. One. Then two. Some four. First day of kindergarten pics turned into junior high. And more time passed. So I made new friends. Younger friends.
And now my news feed is filled with ultrasounds, baby bumps and adorable announcements like this one.
How adorable is that?
And I love it. I’m so excited to meet these little people.
I mean, how can you not love these faces??
I mean seriously. Bring on the babies!!
I LOVE being an Aunty.
But if I’m honest. Baby showers strike a chord deep within me that makes my womb ache.
It’s different from wedding showers. Wedding showers fill me with HOPE. Every new love story I hear reminds me that anything is possible and that Mr. Right could step off the plane tomorrow. (I live on an island)
Baby showers are trickier for me. Sitting there, trying to balance my refreshing beverage and plate of tiny sandwiches, I feel like a fraud. An imposter. It feels like I have nothing to bring to the party. Literally and figuratively. Your life is about to change in ways I will never understand. And I get that. I just don’t know how to fully relate to it.
I tend to leave these festive events feeling overwhelmed by how far behind I am compared to everyone else. With no hope in sight. Time is ticking and the clock might have run out. So when everyone starts doling out advice and telling their funny little stories, I will sit there and begin to do math. If I meet someone tomorrow and we date for two years…and then wait two years…and it all spirals downhill from there.
I mean, I was the girl who started dreaming of marriage and children straight out of the womb. Life didn’t quite go as planned. And as I told my dad after he read Pushing Through the Lonelies (he was worried about his little girl), 87% of the time, I love my life.
But baby showers touch that part of my soul that is raw and disappointed. And I don’t want to bring that to your party. You deserve to be with women who can celebrate with you, wholeheartedly. And most days I can.
Here’s the crazy part. Please don’t stop inviting me. Because I want to come. And when I RSVP yes on your adorable invitation, I have dreams of women in beautiful dresses. Tiny sandwiches. Pink watermelon balls. Refreshing beverages.Beautiful ribbons. Itty bitty bits of baby delights.
It’s just if by chance I “get sick” or “something” comes up, please know that I love you very much and honestly couldn’t be more excited for you. It’s just, I’m having a little trouble being happy for me. And as lame as that is…it’s the truth.
So please forgive me…
And I’ll make it up to you in free babysitting….
Once they’re a toddler. (and I can no longer accidentally break them)