For a few weeks now I have been trying to find the right words for what I want to say...I know, I know, me at a loss for words! So many thoughts have come flooding through my head this time of year, I keep putting notes in my phone, of what I want to write about, the thoughts that come into my head...then I try to connect them all, and I don't know how.
Richard works retail, so from Thanksgiving until after Christmas is always hard in our house. He works a million hours, and as much as I hate that, I'm very thankful for his job. But with the emotions that are stirring around this house right now, plus the addition of Richard working a ton, and a new baby in the house...things have been, well a little touch and go.
Thinking back to year ago, we knew our daughter wasn't going to live, and we choose to let nothing else matter except spending time together. We didn't worry about jobs, or making other people happy. We did what we wanted to, when we wanted to and even though our daughter was dying, we were living life the way it was meant to be, filled with love and dedication to our family. We didn't fight over chores, we didn't stress bills, or who would babysit, we just lived in each moment, because we truly knew what it felt like to not have tomorrow promised. We let ourselves STOP and live. Now a year later, we are back to the busy life. Back to jobs, bills, babysitters, school, disagreements, tempers....stress. The other day, when the stress was maxed out...I thought to myself why is it that it takes someone telling you your daughter is about to die, to slow down and truly enjoy what life is. How quickly we forget to appreciate our lives, our children...how quickly we fall back into the chaos of life, pushing the important things, like family time, aside for other things.
I was digging through pictures the other day and I came across this picture.
Our family was over, we were celebrating a niece's birthday. Silly string was involved. Silly string is something I have never played with, its something I have never even thought to play with. My brother and sister in law brought it with them and we had a huge silly string fight in my front yard, we have it on video, it was so much fun. Ellie wasn't too sure about it, but as long as I carried her around, she had fun. This is the kind of silly and meaningful fun we had last year. Yes, there was a large "stress" hanging over our heads, but we weren't "stressing" anything. No worries about the mess, or who got who, or how loud we were or if we looked silly, we just played. It's a shame we don't do this more. Its sad that we just don't STOP. This pictures stayed in my head for days. Why can't life be like this all the time? Of course I'd love to go back to this time because Ellie was still here, but I loved the way we lived. I loved what was most important in that moment - just that moment. We truly lived in today.
We (I) spend so much time trying to rush through life, or we are too busy to enjoy what is going on in our lives. We don't stop, we don't slow down, and before we know it, that time is gone. We can't get it back, those people are gone that we wish we had been nicer to or spent more time with. Our child is gone that we should have played with instead of saying "hold on". Our parent is gone that we should have called and listened to even though we didn't want to. Our old friend is gone that we never forgave or never told them we were sorry.
This time leading up to Christmas has caused me so much reflection. I have spent weeks watching others get ready for Christmas, I rarely see Richard because he works so much, I have tried hard to give people ideas for my kids for Christmas, and tried really hard to be excited for this holiday. I won't lie, I'm not that excited. I have loved Christmas my whole life. I was the teenager still up at 6 am on Christmas because I couldn't wait to open presents. I am the parent who lays in bed, just waiting for a child to wake up so I can see the joy of their faces....this year, I don't have that same excitement, and that makes me sad. I am digging deep for that Christmas joy, its not easy. Last year our lights were up in October, this year, there isn't a light to be seen. Its not because we are choosing not to, its just life is "too busy" I guess, and no one is really in the mood. We just put up the Christmas tree, and that took Noah's persistence - thank goodness, it finally started to feel like Christmas. To me this is technically our first Christmas without her. Last year, she was here for the preparation of Christmas, for all the excitement, the beautiful lights...the only part she missed was the opening of the gifts. Which I got really upset about...and angry for a minute. But really...is that what Christmas is all about, opening gifts? It shouldn't be. She got to enjoy the joy of Christmas time, and then celebrate Christmas with the birthday boy himself. Last year, I desperately wanted time to stop. Our world stopped and we breathed in every word, step, giggle, kiss and breath.
Over the past year I have struggled time and time again with a life that doesn't stop. Life that continues to move on when one of my children is not physically here with us. Life that continues to be chaotic and exciting but so lonely at times. And I know life cannot stop. My life was not meant to stop when Ellie died. I am still here because the Lord has more to do with me. He is not finished using me to spread His word and His love. I am still here to love my amazing children who are a blessing, each in their own way. My life is going to continue to be used in whatever way He sees fit.
"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."Philippians 2:13
But I have learned that there are some things I need to stop doing and moments that I need to slow down and enjoy.
Stop worrying - about what others are thinking, about what others may say, about messing up, about making the wrong choice. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
Stop and take a selfie - These are my favorite pictures I have of Ellie and I. It's not vain, it's capturing a moment in time, for all you know a moment you will never get back. It's being silly
Stop judging others or making assumptions about them, you never know what they have just experienced or what their day holds
Stop stressing dinner, PB&J is a fine meal and the kids love it! Stop complaining...when you start, find something to be grateful for
Stop being quiet in the car (the thoughts I'm thinking are usually stressful anyway) - use it as an opportunity to learn all about Noah's day Stop telling your kids "in a minute" especially if you've said it 10 times already
Stop crocheting and hold the baby (that one's totally for me!)
Stop holding in emotions, people need to understand I feel sad too.
Stop doing it all yourself and take time to shop with your hubby...or do something together.
Stop looking at the computer, iPad, and phone so much - play with the kids
Stop holding a grudge - we all mess up, we all make mistakes, God forgives us all.
I ask for prayers, not just for my family, but for the many families who are struggling this Christmas. Many of Ellie's fellow fighters went home to Jesus this time last year. And while we all deal differently, I can only imagine their pain is intense. Thanks for the continued love you surround us with!
Prayers, Praise and Pink