Top Ten Most Read Posts for 2016

,

I get a kick looking at the past year. I like those little videos Facebook makes to capture your year. I enjoy seeing the most liked posts of my friends on Instagram. Even though, if I think about it too much, it’s a little creepy, I still like to reminisce about the past year.

And for my Only a Season Mamas, I love seeing what you guys kept coming back for on our site to get your mom tip fix. I love being surprised too! Sometimes I see a post pop up as most read for the week and I’m like “Whoa! That’s from last year!”

So reminiscing is fun for me and I hope it gives you an opportunity to look around the site a little more to see if there’s a tip or some advice you can use right now, in your mom life today.

Let’s take a look at what you’ve been reading at Only a Season this year!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are always my own. Full disclosure here.

Most Read Posts by Moms looking for mom tips! Most read posts by moms in 2016.

 

10. Can I Just Take a Minute and Talk about Some Awesome Mom Bloggers?
I love that this post made it to the top ten list! I have made some amazing online friendships and I am so glad that many of you mamas out there stopped by to read about these amazing ladies to help support you in your mom journey!

9. Why I Don’t Shop at Gap Anymore
This post has been one of my most popular throughout the year. As I talk about my transition to being a SAHM, many of you mamas out there, whether you work away from home or at home or both! you felt like you could connect with my sort of identity crisis during that transition and The Gap.

8. What It’s Like to Grieve without God
This is one of my faith-based posts where I talk about the loss of my mother this past year. I had originally published it on Only a Season but eventually started another blog and moved it over to there. Nonetheless, it seems that grief unites many of us in many ways, no matter the journey we’re on with it. If you’ve lost someone you love and you struggle with God and grief, then this post may be for you.

7. Five Freezable Baby-led Weaning Breakfast Ideas
Apparently many of us mamas are looking for quick breakfast ideas that we can pull out of the freezer in the mornings! My son is well beyond the weaning process but we absolutely LOVE these recipes and the handiness they bring to our early, busy mornings!

6. Which Wonder Week Was the Worst for You?
So yah, you are NOT ALONE in wondering what the heck is wrong with your baby and then find out that there’s a Wonder Week for that! I remember times when Bubby would be crying or waking for what seemed like no reason and then BAM, it was a Wonder Week. Check out the survey from other moms and see what was their worst Wonder Week!

5. Four Healthy Snack Alternatives for Your Toddler
I’m thinking that food may be a common theme for many of us moms as we are searching for tips to help us thrive as we parent our little ones! From Universal Meltdown Hour to the screaming baby in the grocery store, these handy snacks will make you feel good about what you’re giving your little to snack on during the day.


4. Five Items Under $20 Your Kitchen Needs
And here we are, another food related post that we all seem to want tips on. ALL of these items are in my kitchen and I absolutely love being able to grab them when I’m whipping us up something to eat. These are great deals and they will last in your kitchen for a good amount of time too! Check them out here!

3. 20+ Tips from Real Moms for When You Have a Toddler and a Newborn
There’s strength in numbers. And that means when you have more than one kid, they outnumber you when you’re home with them all day. But it also means when you receive tips from other moms who have been where you are, then you find strength in their advice, knowing you WILL survive. This post came out only a couple of months ago and it is the third most read post on the site this year. That tells you something, Mamas.

2. 45 Daily Activities to with Your Toddler (12-18 months old)
I remember being inspired to write this post when I found myself constantly scrambling during playtime with Bubby. I finally decided to make a list and then it dawned on me that other moms could use this list too! Apparently many of you feel the same way, making this the second most read post on Only a Season. This post is also one of my higher pinned posts too. For someone who still has a young blog, that’s pretty exciting! 🙂

1. How to Transition Baby from a Rock n’ Play to the Crib
It was late in the night and I started Googling “how to transition from the rock n play to the crib” and the results were pitiful, like there was hardly anything out there to help me figure out how to get Bubby to sleep in his crib. I scoured Pinterest but came up empty handed. So I used some of the principles for nap transitions and viola! I got Bubby to transition sleeping in the Rock n’ Play to the crib. And many of you mamas out there faced the same dilemma, making this the most read, most searched post on Only a Season. And what’s better yet about this post, is if you have a friend who may be going through a similar battle, you can refer them to the post! Whoot!

JOIN THE TRIBE!
There you have it, ladies! I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on other posts we’ve had here that encouraged you! Tell us below! If you’re interested in getting posts like this sent directly to your inbox, check out our Mom Tribe so you never miss a post!

I look so forward to 2017 and what it will bring to us Only a Season Mamas!
Cheers!
Glo

My Two Words for the Year 2016

,

Back in January I wrote a post about my two words for the year 2016. As I look back and see what my goals were I sort of chuckle to myself. I had a new baby, a new blog, and a bunch of new endeavors I wanted to tackle.

For the most part I think I stayed realistic with myself and self-aware of how I operate when it comes to these resolution things. And honestly, I feel like I stuck with a most of them too. Some of them got a little bumpy as we became pregnant this summer with our second and with the loss of my mother, but I have stayed active nonetheless, which was the ultimate goal anyways.

Social media and I have a love hate relationship. As I have worked to grow my mom tips blog, I have had to utilize social media, BUT I have majorly grown in organizing my time and planning tools so I don’t have to stay glued to my phone. Score!

As I look back over our year of 2016 and I can’t help but think the words cultivate and focus still ring true for how I would describe this past year.

With all the deaths, anger, elections, shootings, religious controversy, and that’s to name a few, I feel like this year has caused me to seriously cultivate my relationship with Christ and focus on who He is according to His word. And this wasn’t originally my reasoning for picking these two words back in January.

If there was ever a year when I felt like my faith was tested, then this was the year.

I have spent much of my Christian life relying on my experiences in my relationship with Christ. While I think most of us need those supernatural experiences when we feel God holding us, I have also come to realize that truly knowing what His word says about Him is the fuel that fans those experiences.

It’s the fuel that fans my feelings from day to day experiences.

But my relationship with God isn’t all about feelings either.

Cultivating my relationship habits with Him has caused me to focus on His truth. And while I will continue to look at how God has provided for me throughout the years based on my experiences, I will read His Word to believe in what He will provide for me in the future.

I think we fall into that rut of “seeing is believing,” but that mindset causes me to lose site of the truth that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

To me, this means that if I am praying for growth and change and God’s supernatural power to transform something in my life, then I need to already believe it’s going to happen. Not just look back at what He’s already done to give me encouragement for what He can do. It’s a balance, don’t you think?

And while I want to look back at this year and see how God has shown me to not be shaken in my faith when man tells me otherwise, I want to look ahead, believing that He in His mighty power has gone forth to prepare a way of victory for me.

I want this truth to be real, deep down in my core and daily vision.

This doesn’t mean it will be easy. Doesn’t mean I wont lose heart or sight of Him. But it does mean Hope. And I don’t know about you, but I need all the Hope I can get. Every minute for every day.

Peace,
Glo

 

 

What Memories of My Mother Have Taught Me

,

Last week we had Sarah’s guest post about her thoughtful and sweet memories of her mother this time of year and baking cookies. This post especially hit close to home for me with my recent lost and I felt like Sarah’s article could not have been more timely. And then Julie’s guest post came along and it seems many of us moms have similar things on our mind this time of year of the loved ones we have lost.

When I met Julie in a fellow writing group, I was always interested to see what new essay she had written. She has a great ability to write as if you are flowing through her daily life with her. In my mind, I see Julie as she is experiencing life and then things to herself, “This is something other moms would want to know to. Let me share my experience with them.”

Whether she actually thinks about her writing process like that or not, I definitely love the genuine, simple and real appeal Julie offers through her writing tips to other moms. And since we’re all about mom tips around here, I was excited to have Julie guest post. I was even more excited to see that she also decided to write about her mother and provide endearing, honest encouragement for many of this time of year.


Meet Julie! She is a freelance writer and blogger, wife, and mom to three busy boys, & fur mama to two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. She writes on her blog about motherhood, kids, family, recipes, DIY, travel, and faith. She is a vegetarian who loves to cook and create recipes when she’s not driving her three boys all over town to sports practices in her crumb-filled minivan.

In her past life she has worked as a Scientist and Medical Data Manager, a Pediatric Nurse, and a SAHM. She loves to volunteer in her kids’ schools and help fundraise money for their schools. She is a Christian who loves nature, animals, traveling, gardening, swimming in her pool, and simply spending time with her family. Her favorites are dark chocolate, red wine, and cheese with yummy bread. Catch more of her writing at www.juliehoagwriter.com. Better yet, check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or my favorite!! her Pinterest.


 

Memories are like tissues. Sometimes they are out in my hand and present with me. Sometimes they are all crumpled up and thin, or balled up and tucked away with tear etched and hand wrung crevices. Yet others are shoved down in the deepest pockets of my heart. Memories like tissues are cried on, nose wiped, smudged with food. They are loved or used to help me feel better and soak up my sadness. Or some memories thicken my sadness. Whatever their role my memories have built me into who I am.

My motherhood memories from my own childhood are real. They are mine alone. Those memories built me into the mother I am today. Having lost my mother days before Christmas as a teen taught me many things about being a mother. I learned the lesson the hard way that my own motherhood will end someday when I’m not ready for it to end. I will be ripped from my children’s lives and I won’t be ready for it. They won’t be ready for it. It will leave my children scarred, scared, terrified, angry, and feeling cheated. And I will feel the same as I take my last breath when I die. No matter what age I will be when that happens, I know I won’t be ready to leave them behind. I will want to stay. I will want to be with them and imagining that moment scares me to my core.

I shove those feelings down deep in the pockets of my heart most days but they resurface from time to time to teach me.

Having lived the loss of my mother has brought me to a place in my motherhood where I know I can’t waste this motherhood of mine.

As I near the age my mother was when she died, I feel this realization the strongest I’ve ever felt it. I can’t waste my motherhood no matter how busy I am or how many tasks I get behind on; I am a mother first before laundry, before homemade lasagna, before writing my next post, and before my messy kitchen.

All I have to do is fall back into my sixteen-year-old heart (and this isn’t hard to do because it’s always at the surface) to realize how special those mother and child memories are for a child. I instantly put down my vacuum and stop folding clothes when I realize this. Sometimes I’m dense and my mountains of work cloud my vision and I keep working like a mad woman to get it all done. Sometimes this realization to live in the moment comes at me like a concrete fist to wake me up. This realization helps me stop working when my child asks me to snuggle with him on the couch while watching a Christmas movie. I remind myself the Christmas season is short and he won’t want to watch these movies with me in a few short weeks.

I’m a hard core type A personality and I often forget to savor moments because I get wrapped up in my to-do list. I remind myself I need to slow down. I recall that piercing memory of how I felt at Christmas when my mother had passed away, and all I had left was memories. This stops my racing type A mind cold and I sit down and be present with my child while I can because I don’t know when I will lose the ability to do so.

This thought composes my prayers each night as I ask God to allow me to be with my children into my old age because I so desperately want to do just that. Loss of a mother at any age is extraordinarily difficult but when a parent is lost to a child that loss is devastating. The child doesn’t understand and they struggle to go on. Their world is forever altered and slanted yet they must struggle to walk straight. I know because I lived that loss and it devastated me even as a teen.

My memories of my mother are present all around my house today at Christmas time. My children place memories of her on the tree as they fit the little strings of her initialed ceramic ornaments on the branches. My memories are in the lit up ceramic Christmas tree she made as my kids put the little plastic bulbs on it. We listen to the faltering music box inside as they work with busy little hands. My memories of her are intertwined with their fighting chatter about who gets to put what bulb where. Their fighting annoys me, but still I smile because I know decorating this tree will be a memory for them.

Memories of her are intertwined in my time making cookies with my own kids. We make many of the same cookie recipes I made with my own mom as a child.  As I make these cookies with my kids the images of my mother drift into my brain. I can see her standing in the kitchen with a spatula raised like a magic wand, or setting the caramels pan on the snowy deck in the cold winter air to harden.

As my kids shake sprinkles heavily onto white frosted cookies, I recall the time as a child when I shook the sprinkles too much. I had loved to shake the sprinkles container, the cylindrical kind with the little colored ball sprinkles, and I thought it made a glorious sound when I shook it. I loved to see the tiny colored balls burst out the holes in top. After I sprinkled my cookie one cookie making day, I kept shaking, and shaking, and shaking that container. I shook it until there were little balls rolling all over the kitchen floor. My mother had looked at me and asked me to stop. She had the you-need-to-stop-now look I know so well now as a mother myself. She didn’t get too mad at me because we were making cookies, it was a joyous day, but I knew she didn’t like my thoughtless mess. The beauty of that priceless memory is I hold it cherished deep in my heart pockets where it lives soaked into my tissues, and it comes out to dance and make me smile at Christmas time when I make cookies with my kids.

What Memories of My Mother Have Taught Me. Growing in the loss of your Mother to be a better mother.

I want to create special mother and child memories for my own kids so they can hold them in their own hearts. Hold them deep down in their heart pockets where their tissues will live all soaked in Christmas memories, tears, but with tons of joy too.

I try to relish the moments of each day so I don’t waste this motherhood of mine. I pray each night that God will permit me more time with my kids so I can keep watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with them on the couch each Christmas. I pray for the foresight to sometimes ignore my to-do list. I pray I will get to nurture my kids’ Christmas memories by making cut-out cookies as they grow each year to add new talents like rolling out their own ball of dough.

I lost my mother just days before Christmas on a fluffy giant snowflake falling day. That is the day I learned how to be a mother even though I didn’t realize this until just now as I hug and kiss my each of my children goodnight.

The secret of how to be a mother is to truly be present with your kids.

I know this as my kids and I talk about how Christmas is only a lovely few days away. It’s clear to me as we talk about how we will make more cookies this weekend, the ones they love made of peanut butter and a chocolate kiss. It’s reinforced as we talk about how they need to write their letters to Santa quick before we run out of time.

I tuck them in at bedtime and say their prayers, and add my own that I will get yet another day tomorrow, another year, another Christmas, another fifty years with them. And I know in my heart it still won’t be enough and I will still want more.

Fellow moms, may God grant you more time with your babies and may God help us remember we need to love our kids and live in the now of this Christmas.

Sprinkles and Burnt Antlers: The Joy of Cooking with Kids

,

I went back to her website to find that article. I remember it well because she had talked about her child seeing beauty in something that she, as the mother, saw as a mess. I remember this one well because it struck me to the heart. As a type A personality, I worry that I might rob the beauty my children will see in the daily mundane because I’m too worried about cleaning things up.

I’ve been following Sarah and her blogging since about February. I’m sure I stumbled along her writing in a mutual writer’s group. I do remember that I was immediately drawn to her writing. That’s what I love about growing as a writer. You find so many other great writers and you feel like you could be friends if you met in a coffee shop.

I wont keep you any longer. Sarah is our guest today and I can’t wait for you to meet her!


sarahheadshot

Meet Sarah! She is a current stay-at-home mom. After years of teaching high school English (ahh my kindred spirit! 🙂 ), she is now enjoying focusing on her two children while learning to slow down and look at the world through their eyes.

She has learned more about dinosaurs and princesses in the past few years than she ever thought possible.  Sarah writes about parenting on her blog, One Mile Smile, and has recently been published in the following sites:  Mothers Always Write, Parent.Co, and Her View From Home.

Check out her Facebook or Instagram to see what she’s up to! After reading her post today, I think you’ll want to!


Spinkles & Burnt Antlers: Joy of Cooking with Kids. A Guest Post.

As a child, one of my favorite Christmas activities was baking sugar cookies with my mom. Every year, my siblings and I would clamor into the kitchen to help her, mainly for the opportunity to make a huge mess with the sprinkles.

Flour filled the air as my mom rolled out the cold dough on the counter and hummed along to Christmas carols. She used a family recipe for the kind of sugar cookies that are thin and have a bit of a crunch when you bite into them. These cookies take time and patience.

When I was young, I was mainly delegated to the task of sprinkling the colored sugar onto the cookies before they went into the oven. I would complete this task with utmost care. I sprinkled crooked red stripes on the candy canes and only allowed green sprinkles on the Christmas trees. Of course, more sprinkles ended up on the table and floor than anywhere else, but my mother never said a word.

As I got older, my mother taught me how to cut out the shapes. Her preferred shapes were the star and the bell because they were the most dough-efficient; very little dough was wasted between each cookie. These shapes also didn’t have small parts that made it difficult to transfer to the cookie sheet.

Of course, I preferred the most impractical of shapes, like the long and narrow candy cane or the angel with delicate wings. The reindeer was also a favorite; however, the antlers posed a problem, as they were narrow and cooked much faster than the rest of the cookie. Usually, they ended up slightly burnt.

One year, I distinctly remember slowly transferring prancing reindeer after reindeer onto the cookie sheet under my mother’s watchful eye. The dough was so thin you could almost see through it, and because of this, some reindeers lost limbs. I tried to smoosh them back onto the bodies, but they remained crooked.

My mother continued to roll dough as I set the timer and kept an eye on the cookies.  Although I was careful with the timing, all of the reindeer came out of the oven with the tips of their antlers and hooves singed brown.

I nervously waited for my mom to say something, maybe a comment about the impracticality of  the reindeer cookie cutter, or how I should have been more careful watching the oven.

Instead, as she slid them off of the cookie sheet to cool, she set aside a few on a small plate. “I’ll have these with my tea,” she decided.  I beamed with pride. Despite singed antlers, my reindeer were a success.  

Many years later, as I made my own tray of cookies to take to a holiday party, arranging them in a perfect spiral on the plate, I thought of those reindeer and finally understood my mother’s actions.

She didn’t want to break her daughter’s heart by throwing the ruined cookies in the trashcan, but she also didn’t want those burnt, crooked-limbed reindeer to end up on her tray of cookies she planned to take to my aunt’s Christmas party.

So, she just did what moms do. She ate the burnt cookies.

burntantlerssarahguest

After my mother passed away, the cookie cutters eventually made their way into my own kitchen. I now unpack them with the rest of the Christmas decorations stored in the attic. Some years, I simply set them aside because homemade sugar cookies involve so much time and patience.

This year, however, as I peeked into the bag and sorted through the various shapes, I thought of the reindeer and couldn’t wait to show the cookie cutters to my kids. At 4 and 6, this will be their first real introduction to sugar cookies that do not come in a slice-and-bake roll from the grocery store.

Although I love cooking with my kids, I find it a true test of patience. I struggle to bite my tongue when they drop an entire bottle of sprinkles on the floor. My initial reaction is to scold when I find them leaning over the bowl eating large chunks of raw dough. And that time when a bag of flour somehow ended up all over the floor? It nearly brought me to tears.

I know baking with my kids this holiday season will be a messy affair. They will want to use the impractical brachiosaurus cookie cutter I bought on a whim. I’m sure I will end up with plenty of broken dinosaur necks and scorched dinosaur tails. I’m sure there will be more green sprinkles on my floor than on the cookies.

But, I’m also sure that my children’s laughter will be louder than the Christmas carols playing in the background. Their smiles will be more delightful than a perfectly shaped cookie. And, the memories we create together will last much longer than the tray of cookies we offer to our guests on Christmas day.  It seems that these messy, less than perfect moments are usually the most memorable.

So, as I create these sprinkle-filled memories with my children, I will remember my mom. I will ignore the crunch of sprinkles on the floor, and I will look the other way when they sneak globs of dough from the mixing bowl.

And, the singed, broken-necked dinosaur cookies? I will simply put them aside on a special plate to enjoy with my cup of tea later.

Visit her site, One Mile Smile, or check out her Facebook or Instagram. Thanks so much for stopping by mamas to meet this special lady!

If you’re interested in guest posting, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at onlyaseasonblog@gmail.com. Check out other guest posts here.

Tips to Help You Reduce Stress During the Holidays

I find myself in a constant battle with time and stress. I know I know, we all get 24 hours in a day and many make it work for them, but as the holiday season is full fledge upon us, I am constantly checking my calendar and clock, shaking my head at how busy I let myself become. 

Ladies, why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we feel the need to say yes all the time?

You need an extra helper for the Christmas pageant at school? Sure! I’ll help you. You were wondering if I would host the block party this year? Yes, I can do that. It’s probably my turn anyways. I need to use my Shutterfly coupon code and get out those cards for once this year!

And the list goes on and on. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I let fear drive my decision to say yes. Fear that I will be judged. Fear that I will be looked down on. Fear that I’ll be viewed as inadequate. And THAT list could go on and on…

In attempt to shut down fear and make proactive decisions to maintain peace in the chaos of life, I have been making it a point to check my motives in saying yes and to lessen my stress for this time of year. Let me share with you tips that I have been using.

I would encourage you to look over what I’ve mentioned and see how you can tweak this to fit you and your needs.

(This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Full disclosure here.)

Tips to help you reduce stress during the holidays. Ideas to lessen your stress during the holidays.

Setting Boundaries
This seems like a no brainer, but I recently read this UH-MAZING book titled Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life and it has literally changed my life. I think a lot of us have different interpretations of what the word “boundaries” means and this book dives deep into the meaning of boundaries and how there are so many we have in our relationship with others that I just can’t help but pass it along to you moms out there. It’s not a light-hearted read, so be prepared for serious evaluation of how you view yourself and others if you decide to read it. Trust me though, you should.

Boundaries are complicated but shouldn’t be overlooked just because it’s “the holidays.” Take a look at the limits and dynamics you have created in your relationships. Do they become stressful during Christmas time?

Telling others it’s OK to say no to me
I have started this practice recently (partly from reading the above mentioned book) and this practice alone has done something to me. By reminding others they can say no to me 1) sets them free from the pressure to say yes! And 2) by speaking it out loud I am sort of ingraining in my brain that it IS OK to say no too. Try it sometime. You might be surprised the effect it has on you and others.

Giving a single gift to my family members
I had to mention this to guys. I am the youngest of six kids in my family and all my siblings have kids of their own. When we ALL get together for the holidays, it’s like 30 people! I used to buy everyone a book for Christmas but since becoming a SAHM, I have had to limit our Christmas budget. This year I have decided to use online photo printing and photo books with Amazon since I am a Prime member who gets free shipping! They always have great deals going with sale codes you can pick right up from their site so that’s always a bonus too! You’re welcome! 🙂

Just the decision to simplify gifts by giving each family a photo book of some of our childhood memories has simplified my holiday shopping significantly and reduced a great amount of stress. What about you? How could you simplify shopping for your family members?


 

Prioritizing relationships
This is a time of year when you can easily plan a lot of nights out and catch up with friends. I have realized that for me personally, it’s the quality of friendships that brings me energy, not quantity. With that being said, I realized that I can’t say yes to every invite for a gift exchange if it means missing an intimate dinner with one of my mama friends who’s part of my village.

This is where saying no can be hard for many of us. I think it’s important to look at your relationships and evaluate the ones you hold close and want to stay connected to. The PTA Christmas party may have to hear a no from you this year. Or maybe the office party isn’t a great idea this year. I can think of a million reasons (or can I?) how it helps build my relationships in that part of my life, but if I haven’t seen my husband in over a week because of travels for business, then this may be a time to practice saying no.

I would encourage you to take a hard look at where you divide your time in your relationships especially with how quickly it goes during December!

Guarding my Gate
I love the image of the phrase “guard your gate” creates. I believe that what we put into our lives is what we’ll reap as our days progress. If I am constantly looking to social media for engagement, then I am building a false foundation of security for myself. If I am looking to that group of ladies who are quick to judge my Christmas party for validation in my mom life, then I am setting myself up for a stressful season.

While I love eating all the sweets and delicious food this time of year, I easily start to feel like crap before it’s even Christmas morning. And mamas, trust me, this is especially hard being a big o’l pregnant lady this year. But the food I put into my body is just another facet of guarding my gate to keep myself feeling healthy. What else could we guard about what we put into our lives this time of year to help lessen the stress?

At the end of the day, we are left with ourselves. It’s just us looking in the mirror and when I reflect on the decisions I made and the relationships I cultivated, I want to smile back at myself, knowing I stayed true to who I am and kept my peace, while loving others too. What about you? What would you add?

Peace,
Glo

To Those Grieving This Holiday

, ,

This morning I woke at about  3:30 and just couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t wake thinking about food getting cooked, family gathering and laughing. I didn’t think about Black Friday shopping or the crazy chaos of the day.

I didn’t think about anything other than my mother.

My heart was so heavy I could hardly contain myself. I realized that I was starting to dread the start of the day. When Grief starts knocking, I find myself with one of two choices. Fling open the door and have some kind of party (which could be an ugly party, let me tell yah) or lean against that door with all my might, grunting and sweating, keeping my visitor out.

I have learned that Grief likes to especially whisper lies. Lies that I am learning come from the Father of Lies. He likes to whisper that you’re alone in what you’re feeling. He likes to make you think you’re the only who has felt this way. He tells you over and over that this holiday season without your mama will suck.

Honestly, I find myself believing these lies. I find myself wandering back to that empty grief where I push God out and fill up on nothing.

BUT today I just couldn’t. I couldn’t lay there in bed grieving over my family’s first round of holidays without our mom. My heart wasn’t just heavy for my loss.

My heart was heavy for the so many out there who have to go through this time of year without someone they love.

My heart IS heavy for all of us.

The biggest challenge I find for myself when I am wrestling with grief is the memories. Sometimes I want to walk through memory lane, stop and look at the intricacies of the whens and wheres I laughed with mom, cried with mom, and argued with mom. Sometimes I want to just stuff it all down and not deal with it on that particular day. It’s a constant pendulum that swings with my emotions and I just ride it whichever way it sways.

But through the swaying of emotions I have learned that I cannot allow myself to think God is void in these specific emotions.

And I cannot allow myself to think that I am alone in these emotions.

I just want to remind those of you today who have lost someone that you’re not alone today.

As your family gathers around their table and you get that pinch in your heart because there’s one less seat, know you are not alone.

As you load your children up in the car and think you should have one more car seat this year as the heart wrenching miscarriage you had a couple of years ago replays in your mind, know you are not alone.

If your heart is feeling heavy with grief, let me muster hope for you today. 

I don’t pretend to walk high on some mountain of faith. I’m not here to make you feel like your faith is slipped beyond reach.

I just want to come alongside you today and hold your hand with this gentle reminder:

God is with you in your grief. You are not alone today. You are not ever alone.

This morning at 3:30 when I couldn’t go back to sleep, I heard that Voice that rattles me awake. I heard the One who reminded we are not alone as we go through the times of such bittersweet emotions as we celebrate a joyous time of year with the holidays, yet feel the burden of our lost loved ones.

I kept hearing the word brokenhearted. I felt brokenhearted. I started mourning not just my mom, but the moms of many I know who are gone this year.

But then He came close and gently tugged on my heart reminding me that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). He sang a love song to me of the healing He brings to the brokenhearted and the binding up of their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

He picked up my broken heart this morning and we wrestled with the pieces for a bit. I thrashed in my bed not ready to receive my broken pieces, but He is faithful. He stayed with me. He told me it was OK. I didn’t have to take them yet if I wasn’t ready.

And you know, that act alone of reminding me of the choice I have opened the flood gates. I ran to Him with the most open heart, nodding my head with tears streaming down my face, ready for the pieces to come back together.

I saw the pieces of my ratted heart, the pieces of tape and glue from the times I tried putting it back. I saw the pieces in his hands, fully mended, with no traces of my shoddy handiwork.

I saw a heart that was whole in His hands. I saw a broken heart that was healed.

Not only did I see my heart being healed, I saw many grief-stricken hearts that have been healed. I saw the promise of healing to come for many hearts. I saw hearts still not ready, but needing more time.

I saw the hope of healing.

And that my friends is what I want you to remember this holiday season.

The Hope that comes.

The real, in your gut, deep in our hearts Hope.

Peace to you,
Glo

Are you grieving this holiday? You are not alone. Read about my experience with grief and losing my mother and getting through the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

Mistakes to Avoid This Thanksgiving

,

Ladies, as the holidays approach, I can’t help but have the biggest bag of mixed emotions stirring around. I absolutely love this time of year and will admit that I struggle to keep the Christmas decorations put away until after Thanksgiving! Ah!

In fact, sometimes I get so excited thinking about Christmas and the family traditions that I let Thanksgiving creep up on me. I find that I let myself get easily stressed or overworked and feel just plain exhausted when I hit the mattress after a day full of turkey and family.

This year I plan to be proactive and self-aware of what stresses me out or what might bring conflict about this time of year. Here are my quick, some serious and some fun tips for you to avoid.

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and end up buying something, I get a small small commission to keep up my coffee and writing addiction. Thanks Mama!

 

mistakesthanksgivingpin

Keep Talk about Politics at Bay (if it’s going to cause strife, for sure!)
I have had several friends mention to me that they are worried about Thanksgiving this year because they know political beliefs are at what seem to be an all time clash this election. If you know that one mention of the election will send your Uncle Bob into a frenzy and possibly ruin the day, then leave the strife stirrer at the door and focus on connecting with your family on a deeper level. Is it really worth it?

Don’t Turn Into a Martha Too Much
I can’t help but think of Martha this time of year. If you’re unfamiliar with who she was, then take a quick look in the Bible in the book of Luke, chapter 10. Martha was so worried about cooking, keeping things in order and running that she overlooked the powerful affect of just relaxing as the hostess and connecting with her guests (particularly Jesus!). It’s a powerful story about not letting the stress of hostess take away the joy that can be found this time of year and by fellowshipping with your guests.

If Grief is knocking, don’t be afraid to let it flow and have grace with others.
This will be our first series of holidays without our mother this year. I am part of a big family with six kids total and my mother had 14 grandchildren. It will be impossible not to think of Mama and all the memories around this time of year. Shoot, I’ve been thinking about it already. One thing I’ve learned with my family through our grieving process is that we all grieve in different ways and at a different pace. Remember to stay sensitive to each other’s needs and don’t be afraid to remember together either, no matter the loss you’ve experienced. Sometimes remembering brings healing.

When Hosting, Devise a Plan for Leftovers
I think more often than not, we overcook for Thanksgiving and then have an abundance of leftovers. If this seems to be the case for you, take a quick minute and do a Pinterest search on how to make more meals out of Thanksgiving leftovers. Or better yet, buy some easy aluminum foil pans and send home food with your family and friends. OR EVEN BETTER, if ya’ll hang around the rest of day, have it for more eating later in the day! Whatever the case, don’t forget about this part of the day and take a few minutes to plan it out so you can have one less thing to worry about as the day settles down.

Better yet, when hosting, don’t be afraid to let go of some control…eeeek!
This might mean using paper plates! Or maybe delegating who brings what. With my big family we delegate who makes what dish and then everyone chips in. Or maybe you have family who love to help in the kitchen. If you’re like me and you like to control everything (Yes, Hello, I’m Gloryanna and I’m a Controller) then use this as an opportunity to let go of that control and let others help and participate in the day with you. It might not look like how you would’ve have done it, but you also may find you’re less exhausted and tired and stressed during the day! Tap into other strengths in your family and friends and let them operate in those as they help with the day!

Last but not least–Tight Pants
This may seem like a no brainer and silly to mention but SERIOUSLY, more times than I not, I have this cute pair of pants that would look great with this festive top I have and I talk myself into wearing those cute pants that aren’t the most comfortable. You don’t have to leave fashion at the door to be comfortable. Just think twice before you pack your bags or travel to see family. I’m going with the big, chunky sweater and leggings (after all, this is the pregnant mom’s staple fashion trend 😉 ) If you’re comfortable, then you can spend less time thinking about how uncomfortable you are and be present with those around you.

Alrighty, what do you think? What would you add to our list? I know there are so many things we could have also covered here.

Let us know below in the comments! And don’t forget to pass the word along if you want to remind others too!
Peace,
Glo

Reasons to Get Excited about Christmas Ornaments in November

I don’t know about you but when I walk through Walmart and they have the Halloween and fall stuff starting to fill the shelves in August, I begin to get anxiety. I get anxious because then I start thinking about everything that I will eventually need to do to get ready for the upcoming holidays. Honestly, I can’t think of many reasons to celebrate the holidays so early just yet.

And then I get that little flair in my heart… There’s excitement in the holidays too, not just stress. The holidays can be a time full of mixed emotions. Happiness to be with those you love. Sadness over the ones you’ve lost. Anxiety for the gifts you still have to buy.

But I can’t ignore the beautiful fall colors that adorn the shelves in Wal-Mart. They beckon me. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes after Labor Day are my jam. So instead of rolling my eyes when I see Christmas ornaments out at Hobby Lobby in November scratch that, July, I can think a few reasons why getting ready for the holidays early in the year ain’t too shabby of an idea.

Five Reasons why getting ready for the holidays early is a good idea.

You Start Thinking about What Gifts to Get Sooner.
Some people *cough cough* that would be me, start buying Christmas gifts during the summer. If you’re not that crazy and tend to lean towards normal, then seeing the change in the seasons that bring the fall and winter holidays can spark your mind. When you see something you think someone close to you might like, snatch it up and save it as their gift for the holiday office party.

You Can Get Gifts for a Good Bargain during the End-of-the-Season Sales.
August and October are notorious for seasonal sales. August for end of summer and October as most stores transition to winter. Want to get your husband that camping gear he’s always wanted? Look for it in October and November. Know your son will have another class party next October for Halloween? Go to Walmart, Kohl’s or Target the first week after Halloween and you’ll see all those holiday prices slashed in nearly half.

You May Start Setting Aside Time to Spend with Your Family Ahead of Time.
All my family (and Husband’s) live in a different town. When it comes time for the holidays, we start gearing up to make the rounds to see everyone. I enjoy the holidays because I know this will be a time that I will see my family, when otherwise, I may not have seen them so much during the rest of the year. We have Black Friday traditions that we do every year. We have Christmas jokes we say every year. We know who’s going to bring what food to our family meals. It’s fun to start thinking about them and plan a good time to reconnect. I start looking at my calendar in September to get ready for the weekends and weeks we’ll be away to visit family.

Black Friday
OK, my family bonds over Black Friday when I know this shopping can easily bring a wedge for some. Let’s face it–we all want a good bargain and the bargains on Black Friday can be hard to pass up. Now that Black Friday is happening on Thanksgiving and during the day nonetheless, I see Black Friday becoming more and more of a tradition for families and being incorporated in their holiday. Personally, when I start thinking about those gifts in October, I am on the lookout for them on Black Friday.

It’s a Great Time to Budgeting Money for Your Holiday Expenses
If you’re like most Americans who spend A LOT during the holidays, then you may be interested in finding ways to start preparing for the holidays NOW. Some great resources are available online. I especially like these tips and advice from the Penny Hoarder. We are big Dave Ramsey fans, so we have a Holidays envelope that we start putting money in at the beginning of the year in January! But it’s never too late and you can start budgeting money now!

Oh, and don’t forget about those Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. 🙂 Cheers!

What about you? Can you think of other reasons that seeing Christmas decorations out so early might not be such a bad idea?

Peace,
Glo