Decorating {& a much-needed heart lesson}

Graham crawled into our bed sometime last night. I really don’t even remember when…I had fallen asleep on the living room floor and drooled on the carpet. It is probably the cleanest thing to hit our carpet in several months. I also realized that the pee spot I had ‘cleaned’ last week was, well, I need to try again on that spot. At some point, I did end up in my bed. I wanted to stay up and decorate, but my body wouldn’t allow it. I pulled the covers up over my head and fell into a defeated sleep.

I wanted Christmas decorations finished on Friday. I needed the house decorated this weekend.

When I was a kid, we always decorated the weekend after Thanksgiving. Always. It was a tradition. Hot cocoa. Christmas movies. Decorations. Nativities everywhere. I looked forward to it for months. I was never disappointed. Even working Black Fridays through college, I would decorate. Mental Note: It was probably how I recovered from working Black Fridays in college. Even after I was married, I would decorate with my mom and sister. Then, I would come home and decorate our house. Then, we had a child.

Graham was born in October, but I didn’t think it would keep me from decorating.

But he was what they call a ‘frequent cluster’ nurser. Graham nursed every hour for more than 4 months. If you do the math, I was constantly nursing until February (when he switched to every 2 hours). I helped my mom decorate. By help, I mean I watched her while I nursed.  I don’t even remember decorating our house, but I did it overnight. I know that I did, because the decorations were still up after Easter…and Graham was still nursing every 3 hours when I took them down.

When Graham was just 14 months old, I went to the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Denver. I was focused on pumping enough for my trip. Graham was still nursing and I needed to leave a freezer supply for my mother-in-law. I put up decorations overnight. It was not Friday, but I don’t remember the day. I did set a “Valentine’s Day Takedown” deadline for myself. Which I met. Graham had self-weaned at 14 months while I was in Colorado, so it was a bit easier to pack everything up.

In 2012, Graham was newly 2 and I was hugely pregnant with Adelaide. I was determined to get everything decorated before my c-section. I purchased Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands on Black Friday. I decorated December 1st. Overnight. Adelaide was born December 5th.  I cut it close that year.

But this year, this was going to be the year! Hot cocoa! Christmas music! Decorations! Nativities everywhere!

I was going to decorate with my babies on Friday. I was going to make some memories! Tradition!

The Reality of yesterday was this: It was just a regular day. The kids still needed my constant attention. Graham was upset that his cousins were on their way back home. Adelaide still needed to nurse. 11 times. And she still needed her daily physical therapy sessions. I did two loads of urine laundry from a few days before. I did two other loads of spit-up laundry. Thank you, Hypotonia. And I started, but didn’t finish, putting Adelaide’s laundry in her drawers and organizing her changing table. {Even though she doesn’t have a nursery, she does have furniture.} I went to bed feeling like a failure. I had one goal yesterday: Decorate with Graham and have fun.

This morning, I woke up covered in Graham’s urine. With an undecorated house. In a funk.

That was when I realized what I had done.

I had placed my high, unrealistic expectations of a perfect scenario on my family. I had attempted to squeeze us into some idealistic picture of decorating joy. Then, I realized that I hadn’t even done my Bible Study yesterday. I was so ready to get our house decorated with Baby Jesus figurines all over the place, that I had forgotten to spend time with the actual Jesus!

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. Mark 7:31-37 (ESV)

This is what I would have read…if I had started my day in God’s Word.

I completely lost focus yesterday. Look at this Jesus! He is healing people. Loving people. Focusing on people. I didn’t fail yesterday by going to bed with undecorated house. I failed by going to bed with an angry heart. A heart filled with pride. I had been  determined to get something done yesterday, but hadn’t even consulted the God of the Universe about my little plans. What was His plan for my day? What was His plan for my heart? For their hearts?

5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)

I need to teach my babies that the little one in the manger came to heal. Bodies, minds, and hearts.  If my house is decorated for Christmas, with Baby Jesus figurines in every room, but my children do not see God’s love, then what am I teaching them?

But, God knows my heart. He wants to forgive me of my sin. The sin of seeking perfection. The sin of choosing traditions and expectations over people. The very people he has entrusted into my care. There is no condemnation, but forgiveness and healing. Today is a new day.

16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:16-20 (ESV)

Here is ANOTHER reality of yesterday.

“Mine Baby Jesus and Cape”


“Mine Baby Jesus Picture”


“Mine Papa Bob Orndaments”


“Mine Daddy’s Chwismas Pwanes”


“Mine Favewit Daddy’s Chwismas Pwanes”


“Mine Daddy’s Baby Jesus”


“Mine Baby Jesus Picture”


“Mine Chwismas Toys”


Graham and I did decorate his room and we did have fun. But, if I just say, “See, I did accomplish my goal yesterday!” then I have missed the entire heart lesson God is trying to teach me this morning. My goals and achievement are not evil, but I cannot place them above doing what God has called me to do. I cannot expect my family to meet my frivolous expectations. It is not wrong to want our little house in the city decorated for Christmas. But, my heart behind the why and how makes all the difference. It matters.

Maybe we will finish decorating today. Maybe we won’t. Maybe I will continue my tradition of decorating overnight and surprising Graham. I just don’t know. I do know that I have a precious baby, who needs to nurse, and a load of urine-soaked laundry waiting on me… :)

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4 thoughts on “Decorating {& a much-needed heart lesson}

  1. […] I will NOT neglect my Bible Study. See my post about Decorating for Christmas. […]


  2. […] toddler. I have totally missed the mark in both the priorities and motivation arenas. (Remember the Christmas Decorations?) I have actually exercised and thought, “Graham is going to have such a thin mom. He won’t ask […]


  3. […] still have up all our Christmas decorations. I am pretty sure they will still be up come Valentine’s Day. We even have a Christmas tree […]


  4. […] Is A {Fill-in-the-blank} Day. Christmas is about Jesus. But let’s talk about all the times I placed expectations on people thinking about me and what I thought I needed on that day. Easter is about Jesus. How can I still have expectations for that day? Oh, it’s […]


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