My Christmas Battle

Typical. Just typical. The power would go out on Christmas Eve. This is the one week we have to relax and just be a family.

The dangerous thoughts spread through my mind like poison as we sat there in the darkness.

So much for getting the boys to sleep. No fan to muffle the Christmas celebrations outside. And no blanket for Noah since the washer’s locked. This should be fun.

Leyton’s whimpering snapped me out of my selfish, gloomy reverie for a moment.

“Don’t cry, buddy – Daddy bought some new candles. We’ll be able to see in no time.”

Seriously. No electricity – tonight of all nights?! And right when I’m heating up dinner…

I listened as Scott fumbled in the drawer for the matches. And the guilt settled in.

C’mon, Ang. What a horrible attitude. You’re going to be mad about a simple power outage? This happens all the time. It’s Christmas Eve. Take advantage of these moments with your babies.

The match striking against the box brought me back from my raging, internal mind battle. A small light stabbed out into the night. I paused to stare at the tiny, flickering flame in front of me.

What verse have you been drilling into your kindergartners over the last month, Ang? Could you really have forgotten so quickly?

Then I almost heard the little batey voices shouting out in unison.

Luke 2:11. For unto you is born this day…

Scott lit another candle. Light radiated throughout the kitchen.

… in the city of David…

A third flame. More darkness obliterated.

… a Savior which is Christ the Lord.

Another shining candle. Each new light drowned out more of the shadows that had been lurking in the dining room – and in my heart.

The tea lights in the living room were glowing. I looked around at the bits of brightness that had collectively served to remedy my negative thoughts. My heart was humble and full. My eyes locked on my babies sitting patiently at the table.

“Wow, boys! Look at all the candles! Now we can see!”

“See!” Leyton repeated perfectly in his sweet, high-pitched voice.

“OK – sit tight! Dinner’s coming soon.”

My leftovers-in-the-microwave-for-dinner game plan changed to a gas-stove strategy. As I continued preparing the food, I was left to my thoughts once again.

Lord, are you really trying to teach me this simple lesson? Surely I’ve learned it by now. I know Christmas isn’t about the turkey dinners and the lights and the perfectly planned parties and the presents. I know tonight isn’t about my Christmas Eve plans complete with electricity. Or… do I?

The candlelight danced across the oven backsplash as visions of a tiny Baby in a dingy, dirty manger waltzed through my mind. And I thanked my Savior anew for setting aside His throne, putting on flesh, and willingly laying down His life. For me.

Anticipating Thanksgiving and Learning to Let Go

The pumpkin roll is in the oven. The pasta salad and guacamole are both chilling. The veggies are cut, and the potatoes are ready to be peeled and mashed in the morning. The pumpkin layer cheesecakes are cooling on the stove. The deluge of food held at bay in the refrigerator will undoubtedly flood the kitchen if I dare open the door. (Before you go thinking WonderAng made all that food by herself, accolades must go to Katie, Scott, and Yuleisy for their hard work prepping this overabundance of pumpkin-y goodness. I sure hope “accolades” and “sharing-my-turkey-and-stuffing” aren’t synonyms in the thesaurus…)

For the record, I am super-duper excited about Thanksgiving. I love food (see above paragraph). And games. And laughing. And getting an extended weekend to mentally recharge my brain-dead self.

But one of the things I’m most looking forward to is simply spending some time with my babies.

I don’t think I truly understood the plight of the working mom before becoming one. Since moving to the Dominican, I have added the role of teacher to my repertoire (yes, I did just say “repertoire”, and yes, I do think I deserve a cookie for saying it). In all seriousness, one of my biggest struggles has been figuring out how to balance work and family. There are days I can’t seem to cast off the guilt that comes with not accomplishing everything on my daily docket. I just want to cook dinner for my family and clean my house and keep up with the laundry and spend time with my husband and bathe my kids and have perfectly planned kindergarten lessons and exciting activities and a seamless curriculum and…

Then reality hits. And I realize that where I want to be and where I actually am as a wife, mother, and teacher are on completely opposite ends of this spectrum that I call my life.

I look at the Proverbs 31 woman and then look in the mirror and think, “There is no way I’ll ever be that.” I fall so short. When I get to the end of the day, absolutely exhausted and with so little crossed off my to-do list, I can’t help but let the frustration and apprehension and worry take reign for those last few moments before I drift off to sleep.

But thankfully, God’s been sharpening me and growing me over the last few months. He’s been showing me that my mind’s dial has been turned to the “wrong-thinking” position and that my perspective has been bent. I’ve recently been learning how to release the insecurities and regrets and feelings of not measuring up. I’ve been challenged to quit comparing myself to others and to just complete the tasks God has for me each day instead of looking to finish the jobs I’ve assigned myself. Some days I do better than others at finding this mental balance. I hate that I often give certain situations over to my Savior, only to later take them right back out of His hands – as if I know how to better handle them than He does. It’s been painful, this chiseling process. Letting go is a hard lesson to learn, and I don’t think I’ve aced it yet.

I know that I want to let the Lord have control of every area in my life – even in this battle of the mind. I’m praying that this Thanksgiving weekend allows me some moments to just reflect. Maybe while I’m scarfing down a second third piece of pumpkin pie, I can remember once again the amazing blessings I have in my family and in the opportunity to work here in the Dominican. I want to be able to share the testimony Jesus gave of His time spent in this world: “[Father,] I have glorified thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4, KJV).