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Celebrations and Preparations…

I absolutely LOVE to have parties & get-togethers!! To the point it drives my sweet husband a bit crazy. 

I mean, what better way to get your house clean than to prep for a party! Right? In our almost 27 years of marriage, we have moved 14 times…yep…fourteen! And every single time, we’ve hosted family & friends for a birthday party or holiday celebration within a month of our move in date. My family indulges me, even in the midst of my crazy, to help get the house in order.

Boxes are unpacked, items put away, pictures are hung on the walls, and drawers are filled. And okay, whatever I don’t know what to do with in the moment, stays in the box and goes into the garage! Come on…you’ve got a few (or 20!) of those boxes in your garage too!! 

But inevitably, “crazy-town mom” would rear her ugly head & the beautiful event we were preparing for would be scarred with one of my freak outs. It’s hard sometimes to look at photos of various events from past because they are marred (in my mind at least) by my unrealistic expectations that I poured out on my family like boiling tar over the walls of a castle onto the enemy. It still makes me cringe, and I once again have to give those guilt feelings to the Lord and ask Him to touch my heart & mind with His grace…and grace for my family too.

Over the years, the intensity of planning parties has lessened for me because the true value of these times of celebration is about the people. It’s not about the platters & bowls matching perfectly on an expertly laid out serving table.  And thank the Lord, I stay away from Pinterest…no judgement for you if you have all kinds of things ‘pinned on you party boards’…I just know that for me, it would be more of a burden than a joy.

But I LOVE to celebrate….like, EVERYTHING!  I have boxes in the garage for every holiday…Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Fall, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas (those take up the most space).  And yes….there is a difference between “Fall” and “Thanksgiving” decorations!!

I’ve been known to put in silly  notes to my kids lunches all the way through high school!  I love to arrange tea parties and coffee dates with friends, just because. Surprising a special teacher at school with treats or their favorite Starbucks drink. Baking cookies during the holidays and throwing old-fashioned “cookie exchange” parties.

I simply LOVE to CELEBRATE!  After all these years, I’m finally getting better at the “pre-celebrations” part!

Several years ago, September 9, 2013 to be exact, my husband’s first book was released!  It was so exciting!  He had worked on it for over two year in-between his day job and keeping up with all of our family adventures.  So of course, I wanted to throw him a party to show him how proud we all were of him.  We wanted to celebrate his accomplishments!

He wanted to go out to dinner with just our family.

So of course, I organized a surprise party for him with our friends and family!  Appetizers for the guests to enjoy until we got back home and yummy desserts to enjoy after we arrived.

I had the task of making sure he didn’t go out to our “garage fridge” so he wouldn’t see all the goodies. Then, I had to figure out how to get him out of the house. The errand I created wasn’t one where we would get dressed up, and I thought, “What does it matter? We’re celebrating his achievements, not our wardrobe!”  I had our three girls ready to spring into action to set up food & decorations after we left. I remember how surprised they were when I told them, “Y’all know where all the serving platters are, you know what food we’re serving, have fun with it, get creative & use whatever you want.”

They just stared at me like I’d spoken in a foreign language. Finally one of them spoke up and said, “Anything? Are you sure? I mean, usually you want things in a specific way.”  And they were right…they’d seen “crazy-town mom” one too many times. I assured them that I would be happy with whatever they did & wanted them to use their creativity. The best part…I meant it…and they believed me.

Oh, and my sweet husband was completely surprised & loved the party. No stress. No craziness. Just celebration!

But what really has spurred my recollection of that party was the “party weekend extravaganza” we recently enjoyed. 

Yes…ENJOYED…every minute of it!!

I enjoyed it thoroughly because I let go of my unrealistic expectations & control. I remained completely present at every event. Not allowing myself to jump to the next one. Each celebration was unique unto itself & could not be repeated.  The help that was offered, was gladly received.  The friends who helped set up and clean up were immensely appreciated. Dirty dishes in the sink for days…didn’t matter because that’s what a dishwasher was for and there was plenty of time later for that.  The people were the important parts of each celebration to focus on.

Within three days, these were the fabulous memory-making parties our family was involved with:

Friday night – High School Baccalaureate for our youngest daughter, followed by a family dinner, and a 10pm showing of “Wonder Woman.” ~ which was amazing!!

Saturday morning/afternoon – High School Graduation (our last daughter graduated..so this was really “it” for high school!), followed by her party.

Saturday evening ~ drove an hour-ish to my nieces “California Baby Shower”…she is such a cute pregnant momma!  So wild that I’ve known her since she was 3 months old and now she’s married and about to become a Mom!

Sunday morning ~ Family Wedding Shower for our oldest daughter.  What a joy to meet with all of her fiancé’s side of the family.  And seriously….my first baby is getting married!  WOW!!!  This shower was lovingly given by his side of the family,  and it was truly a blessing to simply “showing up” and celebrating my girl and seeing how loved she was by her new soon-to-be family.

Sunday afternoon ~ Visit with my father-in-law for his 94th Birthday.  It was worth the hour long drive to see him for a quick bit and tell him how much we love him.  He is not a great health right now, so it was important we go and see him instead of just calling.

Sunday evening ~ Visit with my parents, brother and sister-in-law to celebrate and early Father’s Day (another hour-ish drive).  Our middle daughter was in town for the graduation and Tony and I would be out of the country on the actual day.  Since this was the busiest day, we decided that we would have dessert and coffee instead of a full meal.

Then….back home! Exhausted but happy!

Each of these events were special and worth celebrating fully!  We made it to each one on time (um…yeah….first time to get to graduation ceremony and did NOT have to take the satellite parking shuttle service back to the venue thank you very much!) and I allowed myself to have fun at each one.  Because I was not thinking of the next one!

It was a whirlwind weekend for sure, but absolutely none of the photos that were taken have even a hint of “crazy town mom.”  I love that!

I’m thankful that the Lord is helping me to grow in this area because He created me with a love for celebrating my people!  What I do with that gift is either honoring to Him or honoring myself.  We all know which attitude is better to have.

When I’ve tried to prepare for a party with the intention of impressing those in attendance, it has rarely gone how I expected it to go and end up regretting choices, being ashamed of a negative attitude I allowed to take hold of me, or worse yet, making my family feel like they cannot do anything well enough or good enough simply because it’s not how I would have done it.

I believe God will bring back this “Celebration Weekend” to my mind whenever I start giving “crazy town mom” the keys to the party bus!

God wants us to celebrate…it’s in our nature because it is in HIS nature to celebrate!  The Bible is full of celebrations and feasts, and not one of them was to glorify the host or the party planner.  They were to honor Him….for His goodness, His mercy and grace, His protection, and His joy and love that He has for us.

In no way have I reached perfection in the party planning adventures…but I’m getting much better. I’ve become an expert of the “quick clean” ~ which is nothing to really be proud of…just being honest here…seriously though, don’t open my bedroom door!

But when people leave my home, I want them to go away from the house with a smile on their face, a lightness in their heart, and a feeling of being refreshed because they had been celebrated…they had been warmly embraced and made to feel welcome.

Don’t be afraid of the celebration…of the party planning…of the organization of it all.  Once you have the idea of a party, give it back to the Lord and He will guide you in the steps of the preparations. He really does care about you and how you want to celebrate the people in your life.

So go plan that party!  It’ll be fun!!

Blessings,

Rene’

Celebrations blog

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

If You’re Happy and You Know it……..

I bet you’ve heard that old song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” I’m sure you know the rest….so are you?  Is your new year’s resolution to be happy? How about just wanting to enjoy every moment?  EVERY moment…really?  Or do you want to be better?  What does that even mean by the way?  To “be better”….better than what?

I looked up “happy” in my handy-dandy bible app and found that (depending on the version you like), being happy is mentioned between 20-45 times in the Old and New Testaments.  If you are apt to take verses out of context, you could argue that God wants you to be happy.  Well, you’re partially correct.  The ways in which we can be happy are:

* When we are saved from our enemies

* When we speak with wisdom

* When we experience the goodness of God

* When we receive correction from the Lord

* When we do not follow the path of wicked men

* When we take refuge in the Lord

* When we remember that God chose us for His own

* When we care for the poor & show kindness to our neighbor

* When we find our strength in the Lord

* When we delight in the Lord and praise Him continually

* When we walk in the presence of the Lord

* When we seek the Lord with all our heart, mind, body, and soul

* When we wait patiently for the Lord

Best thing that I see in all of these references ~ it’s NOT about ME!  It’s ALL about HIM!  Is this as much a relief to you as it is to me?  I cannot be happy on my own.  I will never be able to be happy simply because I choose to be and live in such a way to make that happen.  That is not the reality in which God has laid out for us.  When we put ourselves aside, follow the Lord’s leading, and walk in the direction He has chosen for us, praising Him no matter what comes along that path, THEN we will be happy.  THEN we will have happiness that comes from a place that is beyond our control.

But really…..is it happiness that you want and are striving for?  I think the underlying emotions that we are searching for so much in our lives is that of contentment and peace.  Now, hang on to your hat….contentment and peace are absolutely intertwined with being happy. However, BOTH come from resting in the Lord and trusting Him with all your frustrations, messes, irritations, sadness, and in your joyful times too.  In all of it!

There are over 300 verses that talk about peace, and again, there is absolutely nothing you can do to gain peace for yourself on your own terms.  Same goes for the 7 verses that speak on having contentment.

One of the most difficult times in my married life is when my husband and I (along with two other amazing couples from our church) felt called by God to start up a faith-based children’s animation company.  All six of us, with greatly differing personalities, were all on board for the entire time we had our company; that this is what God had called us to.  Had we not all had the unique commitment to find our contentment, peace, and happiness in the Lord, I don’t even want to think about where we would all be today.  Little did we know that God was going to ask our three families to truly live out the verses that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Before we started our company, my husband had a very successful career with a major animation studio ~ pulling in a generous 6 figure yearly salary + bonuses.  And we left it because God asked us to.  Not quickly, but we did jump off the proverbial cliff of faith God called us to.

The lowest financial point when we had our company, was when we had about $80.00 total (like, yeah, eighty dollars….that’s it) for the month.  And then we were invaded by ants.  I seriously, VERY seriously, HATE ants!  Long story short, although my sweet husband was angry that he would have to use his $5 allowance for lunches (think Costco $1.50 hot dog special!) to buy me a can of ant-killer spray, he did it anyway.  That day, at a VONS in town, my man walked out of there somehow only paying .05 for a huge can of Raid.  Yep…no misprint there…FIVE CENTS!  We went back to the that location several times looking for the checker that helped him find the right store promotion and use our rewards card to get this deal, and never found her again.  Angels are real people ~ we met one and she helped us kill the ants!

Relating this very small part of our story, brings tears my eyes even now as I remember the hardship we experienced.  But the tears are not because I’m sad.  The tears are not because I am disappointed that God apparently didn’t mean for our company to last.  The tears are for the joys within the trials that we learned….individually and together as a family.  I honestly wouldn’t trade what we went through because it made my faith in the Lord stronger.  It made me know beyond a shadow of doubt, that God fully and completely cares for me and what happens to me.  It taught my daughters to know that God is always there because He loves us and wants the best for us.  We learned to live out in practical ways, “for my good and God’s glory.”  He cares more about my relationship with Him, than in what my bank account says!  🙂

God’s peace passes way beyond our understanding!  Our minds are incredibly finite when it comes to such things.  I want to encourage you to look up scriptures on peace, and read them over and over again.  Ask the Lord to wash over your heart, mind, and soul with the words of His promises.  His peace comes to those whose trust is in Him; to those who believe in His words; to those who reside within the borders of obedience to Him; who are faithful to follow Him.  Then peace, no matter the circumstance you find yourself in, will envelop you like nothing else.  It doesn’t mean you are skipping down the street throwing confetti & glitter in the air.  It means that your happiness finds itself generated in the overwhelming knowledge that God calls you His own and loves you more than you know.

Oh, and God has a sense of humor!  I have a TV channel playing a contemporary Christian pop music station.  A song called, “Happy” came on and I found it on youtube, so of course, I’m adding in the link to this blog.  My favorite verse is this one:

“No, I cannot count the ways
You have made my life so blessed
All I know is that You came
And made beauty of my mess”

Isn’t that beautiful!  I love music that reminds me of the greatness of my God and how very much He cares about me.  And no wonder ~ God is the creator of music! Part of the reason is written in Zephaniah 3:17 because He had something special planning for music and it involves YOU! It says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Just one more way that He wanted to connect with us on a spiritual level.

The days I want to simply stand in church and NOT sing, are the days I know that I MUST sing.  I can feel the groaning of the Holy Spirit calling out to me to lift my voice in praise ~ to unveil my mind from the prison of hurt, anger, or pride, and humble myself before the Lord.  There’s nothing that snaps me out of a bad mood faster than trusting my heart to a time of worship to the Lord.  The musical chords and words of the song, literally wash over my heart and shine the light of the Jesus on me!  Whew!  If you have ever had this kind of experience, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t ~ my friend, get to your nearest radio and find a station that plays great praise music.  I’ll listen to just about all of it, but anything from Hillsong or Bethel Music will absolutely and positively minister to you!!

So I don’t want you to be happy ~ not in the way the world calls out to our sinful nature to be happy.

I want you to be happy because you have found peace and contentment in the Lord.  Because you have found delight in honoring the Lord and in obeying the call He has on your life.  Because you have chosen to put yourself aside and step out in faith as the Lord directs.

Then, you will be truly happy!

Blessings,

René

Psalm 34 verse 8

https://www.biblegateway.com/

http://www.metrolyrics.com/happy-lyrics-ayiesha-woods.html