Uplifting in Discouragement Part 4: Final

During the conference, after I had begun to feel the healing process take place in my soul and body, I can honestly tell you that the spiritual warfare began immediately. All of the sudden, I found myself being so distracted, especially during the worship times. I began judging women, which honestly is one thing that I pride myself in not doing. I asked for God to help keep my attention on Him, on worshiping Him and thanking Him for what He was doing.

I could hear things in my brain that are things the real me would never think about. In the middle of a Christian conference. But that just goes to show that God was doing amazing things not just for me, but for hundreds of women. The devil was feeling threatened.

While that’s a great thing, it can also be dangerous if you don’t put your guard up. I had visions of the next week, and saw Satan slowly taking away everything I learned and me spiraling down into my dark place that I so often used to go. I did not want that.

When I felt like I was being healed, I thought to myself, “Wow, God is moving in me and soon, I won’t have to deal with this thing that has plagued me for eight years!” Then I thought about cancelling my therapy appointment because I knew God was going to heal me. But then when I felt that spiritual warfare, I knew that I couldn’t count on myself to keep moving forward. Especially since it had been eight years. I believe that God made therapists and counselors for a reason and so even if it was just for the first appointment, I would go.

And I did. And I love her. She is a Christian counselor who understands how big of a role my faith plays in my healing.

So, me writing all of this down is for me to never forget. Ever. I can say that even since the conference less than two weeks ago, I have had to reread in times of despair. Even just on Saturday, Husband had to help me consciously stop saying terrible things about myself that I didn’t even realize I was. And if someone gains something from this story, well, that’s even better.

I am still constantly a work in progress, but I believe in a God who heals.

Healing

This Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and this one will be a little different.

Gone are the days of three tiny girls waking each other up, one after the other, followed by their parents and then giggling blissfully down the stairs. Our eyes colliding with the glowing Christmas tree, feeling the relief of the long and patiently awaited reward of being good all year. Decorated with each girls name hung pretty little stockings, and pretty little packages adorned with ribbons and bows tucked underneath that tree.

This is my second Christmas as a wife, and while I love the opportunity to wake up next to my better half on the most jubilant day of the year and the chance to start new traditions, I will always miss the Christmas mornings in my parents home with my sisters.

My older sister, Kassi, her hubby and baby moved to Minnesota in April. This will be the second Christmas our family has spent without her, the first being in 2010 when they moved to Utah. This will be my first Christmas without my little sister, Jo, who will be going out to Minnesota to join them.

I don’t really know what to expect on Tuesday morning. I know it will be a joyful day with Husband and the boys, and seeing their faces as they hurriedly tear open their gifts, but part of me is anticipating a little bit of emptiness. As I write this, tears well up in my eyes thinking of my parents waking up to an empty house, their little girls all grown up. But also, I feel a sense of happiness for them, that they are able to put all their attention on each other, being able to solely focus on the love they have for one another for the first time.

That sort of thing is what Christmas is really all about. Finding the happiest things, regardless of the circumstance, rejoicing on the day that our Savior was born.

Last night, Silent Night came on and all I could picture was Jesus, our King, as an infant. How precious He must have been, how much His mother must have loved him, and how much He humbled himself so that someday we could join Him. Just a baby.

So while there may be a little tinge of sadness in my heart, Christmas is still Christmas, no matter what. If I am rich or poor, happy or sad, alone or surrounded, we celebrate that Jesus was still born on that day, and nothing will ever change that.

I wanted to say a few things that I love about the only ones who know and truly understand how magical those Christmas mornings were growing up.

My Mom. My mom is responsible for providing us the entire experience, the memories, the real feeling that Christmas was magical. The day after thanksgiving, our house always turned into a true winter wonderland, hours of detailed work showed up throughout our home, and none of it went unnoticed. Christmas music was the only thing we listened to for those 4 or so weeks. Baking cookies, watching Santa make his trek round the world here {we have continued this tradition with our boys, and highly recommend it} and Christmas stories galore. Putting that manger scene together is one of my fondest memories. If it wasn’t for this woman, my love for this day would be far less. She has often told me that her daughters are the reason she still felt that Christmas was magical. And she loves us so much – this time of year truly magnified just how much.

My Dad. My Dad is the quiet type, but with few words, somehow you just knew his love for all of us. His sacrifice of working so hard for us, making our Christmases possible and allowing our mom to stay home and raise us the way they thought best. I remember how as a little girl, my dad could make me laugh more than anyone in this whole wide world. His sense of humor is very dry, and even as young as I was, I still understood it. He made us all giggle, that little girl, deep belly, infectious giggle – only he could make us laugh like that.

Kassi. Kassi {who has the cutest little blog here} is 6 years older than me, so growing up, there was a large gap – but if it weren’t for that age gap, I don’t think I would have looked up to her so much. No matter what she did {like chopping off her hair and wearing knee socks with Doc Martens}, I thought everything she did was cool. When I was 5 or 6, she cut off her hair above her shoulders {we all had hair to our waists, mind you}, and I wanted my hair just like hers. My mom did the best to cut as little off as possible, while still convincing me it looked just like Kassi’s. Now, seeing her accomplishments, I have even more of a reason to look up to her; she’s kind, thoughtful, generous, successful and still cool as ever.

Jo. Jo and I are only 16 months apart. We fought like cats and dogs, then turned around and stood up for each other to bullies far older than us. Then, in high school, we shared the same friends, and went almost everywhere together. Jo is a special breed of person. She cares so much for people, and you can see it when she tells you a story that breaks her heart, and she can’t help but cry for them. She went to Youth With a Mission in Australia and New Zealand a few years back, and came back with new glasses to view the world with. Then, she went to Haiti to work in an orphanage. These experiences have made her grow so much, and her wisdom is far beyond her young years.

I love my family, and I will miss having them all together dearly this Christmas. While these memories will never be replaced, I now have a new family to make new memories with and I’m thrilled to see what the future holds for each one us, separately and together.

Born is the King of Israel

This ChristmasThis Christmas 2This Christmas 3This Christmas 1

Jacob

Today, Jacob turns 7.

I love his heart. I love how he cares about others more than himself. I love his longing to be a hero. I love how he looks up to his daddy. I love how he wants to teach his brother everything. I love that his main concern is making Jesus happy and that worship music brings him to tears.

I love him.

Here are some pictures through the years.

*

Happy birthday, big boy. We love you more than you will know.

(**This picture and all our other Christmas 2011 pictures were taken by my amazing sister/photographer Mary Jo Aguilera. Click here to visit her photography Facebook page.)