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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

Honest “No” vs. Dishonest “Yes”

YES ~ to give an affirmative reply to; give assent or approval to.

NOto reject, refuse approval, or express disapproval of.

Has this ever happened to you…the phone rings (or you get a text notification) and before you even answer the call, you knew it was someone calling to make a request. May be a request of your time, your talents, or even a monetary request. And as you use your most congenial voice, saying “Hello”, you know that your calendar is so full that you cannot possibly say yes to the event that you are being requested to help with. Or possibly you have reached the end of your budgeted “extra” money?  All of these thoughts swirl around in your brain like a blender on high speed, and a feeling of panic overtakes you.

“What will they think if I say, no?”

You know that you have the ability to help out at the school fair or to babysit a friends little one; or you finally get the call from a mom inviting you to a luncheon that you’ve always wanted to be invited to!  But…you already have a commitment that day during the same exact time. All of those things can go rushing through your mind in the span of seconds. What do you end up doing?

You say yes to that committee, you say yes to that school event, you say yes to the church event, etc. All the while knowing that by saying yes to those things, there will be other parts of your life that will suffer because you are adding too much to your calendar. Or as they say, you’re adding too much to your plate.

That last phrase made me think how about 10 years ago we decided to stop eating on our dinner size plates and changeover to the luncheon size plate. It was a physical and visual help to our whole family as we restructured what our eating habits needed to look like. It works!  You cannot put as much food on a smaller plate. (Yep…that’s my college class of “physics for poets” paying off big time there!).

But then there are those days where you attend a function and they have the bountiful buffet table spread before you. Sometimes, well most of the time, you get back to your table and you set down your plate and you exclaim, “Oh my goodness! How did I get this much food on my plate! It all just looks so good and I knew it would all taste so wonderful, I just couldn’t decide and so I just took a little bit of everything.”

I don’t know about you, but after experiences like that, and after finishing a plate that is too full, I feel horrible for the next several days. My body cries out to me, “Why in the world did you do that to me!” My friends, this is exactly what our mind and our hearts cry out to us when we have put too many things on our calendar…making our plate too full. The time with our spouse is diminished. The time spent playing with our children doesn’t happen because we have to spend time preparing for that extra event.  Time away from home causes missed opportunities elsewhere.

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m all about being involved in my community; be it my family, our church, our neighborhood, or my kids’ schools. It’s very important to be involved and get to know how we can best serve those communities with the gifts and talents that God has given me.  I’m talking about balance here and how to achieve it.

Matthew 5:37, “But let your word ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” 
2 Corinthians 1:17, “So when I planned this, was I irresponsible? Or what I plan, do I plan in a purely human way so that I say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” simultaneously?”
James 5:12, [ Truthful Speech ] “Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.”

These three verses are just a sampling of how God’s Word encourages and admonishes us to be careful with our speech and the actions that follow.  We are created in God’s image, and as such, we are a reflection of Him.  God keeps His word and never makes a mistake in His answers.  We are called to those same standards as followers of Christ.

I used to get so conflicted about deciding what events to be available for and what not to. I would fall into the trap of wanting to be liked and accepted by the other moms at school, so out of fear of being left out, I would say yes to things that I knew I truly did not have the time or resources to participate in. But isn’t that what we do? We volunteer, and then we volunteer some more, and then we volunteer some more. To what end? We get home at the end of the day and we don’t have anything left emotionally or mentally to give our family. We work so hard at times to gain the approval of others that we don’t realize we are showing our family that they come second. Why do we do this? Why do I not remember that my identity is in Christ and He has the best plan for me…better than I can even imagine for myself.

One way to start changing what your plate looks like, is simply….to think!  Instead of jumping at the opportunity and saying yes right away, give an honest answer that might sounds like, “You know what…that sounds really exciting, but I cannot give you a firm answer right now. Let me go home, look at my calendar and talk with my family and I will get back to you as soon as I know if this will work in our schedule.” My friends, that little moment right there will save you a world of anxiety and frustration!  You may find that you can say yes…and Honest Yes…and it will be a joyful activity to be involved with.

If you have to come back to that person with an Honest No…you are doing two things: 1) You are honoring the Lord with your time and blessing your family with your sanity; and 2) You are making room for someone else to have the blessing of saying yes.  Yes…someone else is out there waiting to be asked.   God may have someone else in mind for that event or activity.  Be patient and trust that God will have you in the right place for a time intended for you to be a part of!  There is no “FOMO” with God ~ you know…”fear of missing out.”  God isn’t on pinterest, facebook, instagram, or twitter. Those outlets aren’t bad in and of themselves, but the credence we can give them in our life may at times be out of order.

An honest no is ALWAYS better than a dishonest yes.  Take a breath.  Pause.  Think.  Wait.  Then answer truthfully and thoughtfully.  Honor the Lord in all that you say and in all that you do.

Blessings,

René

James 5 verse 12