Category Archives: gratitude

Changing Christmas: A Midlife Mom’s Musings

IMG_1015I was excited to listen to a Christmas CD I just received and popped it in the player to set a festive and worshipful mood for my work. Rob was outside in “Santa’s workshop.” The happy “trappings and trimmings” of preparing for a full house at Christmas were all around me. I love Christmas — all of it!

Suddenly, waves of raw emotion crashed my world without warning or fanfare. One minute I’m sweeping up needles, wrapping presents and arranging holly. The next I’m choked up with tears that won’t flow. Enveloped by a menagerie of sentiments and feelings I can’t identify, much less express. My soul is instantly weary.

I notice the CD player (despite greeting me with “hello”) never started playing… I curl up on the sofa with whatever devotionals my email and facebook offer me. Searching the Bible seems like too much. The joy of a beautiful Sunday is suddenly sucked out of me.

IMG_1024When Rob comes in, I first think it’s something he said earlier that has me upset… as we talk, it becomes obvious that’s not “the thing.” Rob is patient to let me talk my way to discovering what I am feeling.

It’s not one thing… more just that the floodgates can’t contain the emotions surrounding all the change in my life. Consequently, this Christmas has taken a life of its own in my head. I finally acknowledge this as a Christmas of major changes. Of “last times.” Of new territory. A Christmas to find courage to prepare for all that’s ahead — joys and sorrows.

IMG_1029Sigh. And I was so determined to joyfully just accept change and grow old with enviable grace. Seems I can’t just wish it into being. Like many seasons before it, it will be a process of reflection and work. Surrender and trust.

You know how people typically ask about your holiday plans as part of their greeting at Christmas? Well, I’ve been excitedly telling them, “I’ll have all my children home! And Mom and Dad will be here.” Then adding with mixed emotions and a forced smile — “maybe for the last time, at least for a while.”

I redouble my Christmas planning and efforts…  I want this to be a Christmas every one cherishes. What mom hasn’t gone overboard, trying to make the holiday extra special for one reason or the other?

IMG_1027We’ve added 2 more stockings to the mantel. In 2016 my boys will each marry a beautiful bride. It’s wonderful and exciting. But at the same time, it’s the end of an age. It’s the last time this Mama will have all my little babies waking up under my roof on Christmas morning. It’s akin to other milestones like the first day of school or a college graduation (we had another one of those last week too).

I’ve long known new families were starting and adult lives were budding — but graduations and “last times” punctuate and define what we already know to be true. They make it all real. Forever more, just as I’m gaining daughters, I’ll be sharing my sons. At times the house will be more full than ever. But I also recognize I’ll need to master the art of facetime connections as our family grows and spreads out. As generations shift.

Change is a constant throughout all our lives. In our youth and younger adult years, adaptation often involves growth, excitement and abundance. Midlife moms are blessed to participate in our adult children’s bounty.  But oftentimes we add to that the uncertainty that comes with loving our aging parents. I’m blessed to still have both my mom and dad.

Granny used to say, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” As our parents live out their “golden years,” it seems that many inevitable life alterations are of a limiting nature.

IMG_1030I’m flooded with so many fond childhood memories –Mom and Dad started a wonderful Christmas Eve Chile Party tradition when my sisters and I were young adults coming home for Christmas.  Of waking up to a delicious quail breakfast Christmas morning and huge extended family gatherings at Granny’s on Christmas night. Those days are over.

My mom and dad have already faced many holiday changes in adapting to the lives and schedules of their children. This year they will leave their quiet house to be with us for Christmas dinner. I want to make things special like Mama always did. I want them to feel so loved and joyful this Christmas…

Other friends and family come to mind. Imposed solitude, peace and quiet can feel a lot like lonely (click for post) to anyone. I’m heart-broken for all those who don’t anticipate this Christmas with childlike wonder — for whatever reason.

The ornaments, traditions and gatherings trigger memories that span a lifetime. They spawn other recollections… the good bring warmth and joy, but sometimes also melancholy with them. No one escapes pain entirely — and those impressions often yell louder than the sweet ones.

IMG_1031Aging parents, weddings, jobs, babies, holiday work shifts — all can disrupt. Midlife moms like me know both the joy of anticipation (will there soon be little ones on Christmas again?) and the ache of silently wondering which dining chairs will be empty next year. I’m so grateful for all who will be with us this Christmas and feel the pressure of wanting our celebration to be extra special — again this year.

But how? I’m better this morning, but have the remaining edge of yesterday’s funk. I made coffee in the Keurig, BEFORE situating a Christmas mug to contain it.  I haven’t figured out our Christmas Eve dinner plan. My shopping isn’t done.  And I’m out of ideas. I haven’t baked a thing and wonder if I will. The beds aren’t fresh and I’m running out of time and energy!

Then I happened on this verse and God grabbed my attention —

“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

IMG_1028The answer is right there in the manger scenes scattered throughout my home. God — through Jesus — offers hope that heals, energizes and transforms us. He came for the sick. The broken-hearted. He came for you and me —

I know what I need to feel refreshed. I’m going now to hide away with God. My CD player may not always cooperate, but nothing can stop me from praising Him with everything I have left in me. His mercies will fail not — and I have full hope that He will give me all I need to celebrate my changing family and the birth of the Christ child with grace and thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas! May your heart be full with Him.

Addendum: the playlist I worshipped through had some great lyrics copied below about the One who never changes. God is so GOOD!

IMG_1034Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”

Great is thy Faithfulness, O God my Father,/ There is no shadow of turning with Thee/  Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not/ As Thou hast been Thou forever will be… Morning by morning new mercies I see/ All I have needed thy hand hath provided –/ Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

IMG_1035“And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,
Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then *I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!”

IMG_1033O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born”
IMG_1036“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

  1. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.
  2. The Lord has promised good to me,
    His Word my hope secures;
    He will my Shield and Portion be,
    As long as life endures.
  3. Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
    And mortal life shall cease,
    I shall possess, within the veil,
    A life of joy and peace.”
IMG_1037“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room…”
Please share this post through the social media buttons at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to receive future posts by email, let me know in the comments below. Or you can join the Pink Reflections  Facebook community. Thank you!

Fruitful “Bunny Trails”

1 Corinthians 12:6 “God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”


I’m offering a glimpse into my awkwardly-haulted, mid life, empty-nester, sandwich generation life — but I’m hoping you won’t diagnose me just yet. Because wonder and expectation are the joys I’m beginning to taste, as God gives me a new perspective on who I truly am, and why I’m here right now. This crazy “bunny trail” might be fruitful after all.

If you’re new to my blog, you can click on red links for previous posts. Since last spring God’s message to me has been to abandon many things that once defined a good Christian life to me. To be still and listen for His voice. Midlife is a new stage, and He is doing a new thing! So, I stopped doing much of the activity that felt comfortable,  good and right. My days begin as a pretty blank slate and end full to overflowing,  but without an easy description.

IMG_3189In my decreased “doing” and increased “being” I’ve felt… what? It’s still hard to articulate. For the first extended period of my life I’ve felt insecure, inadequate, afraid, vulnerable, old, obsolete, invisible… like the me I know is slipping away.

Isaiah 43:19 “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

At the same time, I feel confident that God is doing something important — preparing my heart for what’s next. Secretly I’m expectant, but I’m also embarrassed. It’s now obvious to the casual observer that I’m muddling.

I was once a young girl living for achievement to prove my worth.  Could it be that my adult “performance pendulum” needed to swing to what FEELS TO ME like the opposite extreme — an unproductive and worthless life — when in reality, I am discovering my sweet spot in seeking Jesus and His will for my days?

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

IMG_2807I think God’s current work in me required this path where not much makes sense and I feel inept — because this season leaves me increasingly distrustful of my flesh and clinging more whole-heartedly to God: His love, His Word and His Sovereign goodness.

Galatians 5:24 “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

I cherish solitude. I need to discover who I am in His eyes, what He’s teaching, and where He’s calling me. To allow Him to search me and show me where I need to repent. To let God fill me to overflowing. Oftentimes so much solitude feels lonely, but His call is stronger than the world’s distraction.

Sound peaceful? Think again. Here’s that real-life glimpse into my home with no “ugly staging.” That’s why I’ve been perplexed as to what’s going on. I think I’m being obedient, but it looks fruitless and really BAD on the outside…


I did clean out the stuffed-to-gurgling skimmer and even some of the leaves in the pool, but all while I was on the phone with a friend, so I couldn’t finish the job well… (half-baked is a theme around here)





The suitcase is still partially packed from a weekend getaway… 2 weeks ago. It’s become a makeshift dirty clothes hamper. The heels were from last weekend’s wedding (I didn’t decide which to wear until we arrived), the boots from the Young Life Banquet — all reminders of wonderful times, but I’m sure Rob wishes they weren’t just inside the bedroom door!



This pretty flower arrangement could have been separated into several nice gifts for neighbors after the event. What a great excuse to drop by for a visit! Instead it’s been in the garage… next to the citrus fertilizer I need to spread. Or did I miss that window?

I could go on… message me for the other 10 snapshots if you need more evidence that God’s directives can look messy.



I have ample time on my hands to do all that’s left undone. I just haven’t been using my extra hours to accomplish much of anything. Maybe like me you’re sort of dismayed by my neglect. I’ve been hard on myself, but unable to “get it together,” because the call I’ve felt to “be still” is much stronger than the urge to jump in.


Psalm 39:7 “And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You.”

I have made time to rekindled the gift of hospitality and met with or talked to numerous family and friends. We’ve shared, laughed, cried and prayed. I’ve been involved with a variety of people, but not in my usual activities.

In a scheduled world where so many people are driven to get things done, I have very little to show for my time these past months. God has given me permission to be available, unstructured and present with others. To rest and to be alone with Him, without words.

I’ve been able to “be there,” precisely because I’m not really needed anywhere else. I’ve felt uneasy with change. It hasn’t been glamorous or noteworthy — but maybe it’s been fruitful. I’m learning to let my life be a simple gift. To pay attention and be present. And that my “work” is no less valuable when it’s unannounced and unseen.

I think my Granny’s life held more secrets to the truth of John 10:10 than I ever realized.

IMG_2622I’m even starting to see the Godliness inherent in the mundane daily tasks required to keep the wheels on my bus — I just have a whole lot of catching up to do!

My undertakings aren’t very exciting in and of themselves, but I’m developing a refined taste for them and a new joy in each moment. I think it’s because all these little tasks comprise the humble everyday work of being me. Of life to the full.

What about you?  Philippians 1:6 says “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” His work is ongoing.

IMG_1317Are you so busy doing what you do, that there’s no space for the Holy spirit to speak something new? Jeremiah 2:25 says, “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.'”

Or are you in transition — missing the “old days” and wondering if life will ever be vibrant again?  “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)

IMG_2913Maybe you have to spend more  time than you ever imagined managing invisible health issues? Psalm 92:14 — “They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.”

What is God whispering in your ear? Will you still yourself to listen and let God do a new thing? “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (1 Thess 5:23 – 24)

If this post resonated with you, please share it through the social media buttons at the bottom of the page. If you’d like to receive future posts to your inbox, let me know in the comments below. Or you can join the Pink Reflections  Facebook community. Thank you!




Talked Off the Ledge to Attend a Royal Banquet

IMG_3030Monday. It began with a funny story where yours truly is the brunt of the humor and ended with an amazing Young Life Banquet where Jesus was clearly central: high and lifted up!

Allegorically, it’s the story of each of us. Whether things look and feel good or bad, in our flesh, we are living on the brink of eternal disaster. The good news is we are invited to be children of our Heavenly King! To share in His royal banquet table. Though it’s all up to Jesus, sometimes He gives us a little help from our friends to find our way from darkness to light.


IMG_0528James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

We were keeping Penny, my daughter’s young dog. I took her for a quick visit to the grass before my busy day. I noticed the plastic sheets protecting Rob’s front porch renovation had flipped up exposing everything to the next few days of forecast rain…

Rob was already going to be late to work after hauling 2 grills-on-wheels Young Life was borrowing for the event that night. Surely I could climb on the porch roof to resolve this without help.

IMG_0526No problem getting up the ladder or repositioning the plastic to protect the wood. Penny happily frolicked below. All was well.

Then I inched to the edge of the roof and sat by the extension ladder (all while on the phone with a friend). I quickly and correctly realized there was no possible way to get on the ladder from my current position without falling.

Panic set in… I admitted my predicament to my friend (who had no idea I had climbed onto the roof as we talked), and she offered to come over. I hesitated then accepted. At least she could call 911 if I fell!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

We hung up, so I could call Rob who had climbed all day Sunday for advice (what kind of nut takes a phone up a ladder to the roof?? Thank goodness I did!) He had been this path before…

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”


Nothing Rob suggested made sense — unless he wanted me to use the extended top of the ladder for torc to bury me after I fell! Tears began to flow.

Just as it began sprinkling Rob said, “This is bad.”

I countered, “I know it is! I’m crying and scared!” All while thinking, why is my calm and steady husband telling me it’s bad… he’s supposed to have answers, not add to the misery.

He said, “No I mean the girl is gone.”

IMG_0463Me: “What girl?” Now I’m wondering why he cares about any other girl in the world when “his girl” is stuck on the roof crying in the rain!

Him: “No, the grill! I dropped off the first grill in the Bonefish parking lot just 15 minutes ago, then went to get the 2nd… now the other one is GONE! This is bad.”

Me: “Wait a minute — PENNY, come back! Good girl, now stay.” (Hahaha… that was repeated continuously as she enjoyed her freedom.) “Oh no, do you think the grill is stolen? Hang up and do what you need to do! I’ll figure this out myself…” More crocodile tears, but I’m capable, self sufficient and reasonable (that’s what got me up here in the first place).

Rob brought back from the missing grill to the roof crisis says, “No, we’ll get you down first!”

IMG_0491I was humbled, out of ideas, and very willing to accept help despite our disconnect. With a little more talking we realized Rob was assuming I was standing when in reality, I was sitting beside the ladder with my legs dangling over the ledge (the position that seemed safest to me when 15 feet in the air).

Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”

Perspective is everything… all his catastrophic directives became scary but understandably correct when I stood up. I hugged the rungs and made my way down the ladder, just as my sweet, loyal friend pulled up.

Safely on the ground, we hung up to let Rob find the missing grill. (Despite Bonefish being locked up and dark, it seems the chef was present and had pulled the grill around back. False alarm. Mystery solved!)

My friend and I got Penny inside, then realized the plastic had blown back on the roof! Thank goodness Divine intervention blew it down again and we taped it in place. Most of all my compassionate sister was present with me until I regained composure. Though I was never in real danger (what’s a little time spent on the roof in a thunderstorm?), I was shaken up.

IMG_0509Running a little late, but no worse for the wear, I went about my schedule in anticipation of Act II: The Young Life Banquet — where the real story is told.

I wish you ALL could have been there! An army of volunteers with some incredible leaders transformed a horse arena into a banquet hall fit for a royal celebration! Almost 600 guests began flowing in while over 100 high school and college volunteers served and prepared finishing touches. Smiles, hugs and conversation were so plentiful we had trouble getting the show on the road.

But a well-known and beloved FSU coach could preach with authority what needed to be said, “Y’all need to sit down and be quiet, so we can pray!”

A hush fell over the crowd as he thanked Jesus for all His bounty and blessings, for all the families represented, for the food, the venue and for Young Life… all in Jesus’ name.

Romans 12:6  “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”

IMG_0515Many spoke after Him. We even had a performance from well-known Christian singers who believe in Young Life and even more so, in Jesus. We sang. We prayed. We laughed. Some cried. We heard stories about how people realized for the first time that they mattered personally to a God who cares about the details of our lives.  A God who says come as you are… through Jesus, I want to bring you from death to Life! Life to the FULL!

From start to finish it was all about Jesus. Our desire is that the name of Jesus would be lifted up every time we have a Young Life event, and Monday’s banquet shouted His name in praise! I sensed no one wanted to leave…

While most good things come to an end, God’s love doesn’t! He is the Living Water. Jesus said in John 4:14, “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

IMG_0518That’s what I saw happening as guests reluctantly left for home, and others worked together to transform the royal banquet hall into an arena ready again for horses.

As I read posts and heard the buzz Tuesday morning, it was obvious Jesus is still working — welling up in us the desire to love and seek Him, and to carry out His purposes — wherever we fit in His body.

Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

IMG_2954We had prayed for all the details of the night we could think of. John 14:13-14 says, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

The rain held off and hearts were touched. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the end of how Jesus will use that night where some broken people humbly sought to proclaim Jesus and what He is doing with the hope of ultimately sharing the Gospel with Tallahassee’s adolescent population.

IMG_3591Ephesians 3:20-21 says “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” And AMEN!

If this post resonated with you, please share it through the social media buttons at the bottom of the page. If you want to receive future posts straight to your inbox, let me know in the comments below. Or you can join the Pink Reflections  Facebook community. Thank you!


 link to Tallahassee Young Life