Merry Christmas from The Southern Lady Mama and her sweet babies (circa 2008) We tried to get our daschund to be a donkey…but that didn’t go too well 😉
Merry Christmas from The Southern Lady Mama and her sweet babies (circa 2008) We tried to get our daschund to be a donkey…but that didn’t go too well 😉
In Galatians 5:22 – 23, Paul tells us about the Fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
What if we thought about how we could embody the Fruit of the Spirit this Christmas season?
Love: God’s love for us is the heart of Christmas. He loves us, his children, so much that He sent Jesus to this world. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.” John 3:16. We can demonstrate our love this Christmas season by being present in our loved ones’ lives. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 5:19
Joy: Relish the beautiful Christmas music. Blast it. Sing It. Dance to it. Christmas can be a tough time for many; God will help you find joy when you seek it. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.” Phillipians 4:4.
Peace: In a time that seems anything but peaceful, we can rest in the truth that God is with us – Immanuel. He is the Prince of Peace and the battle is already won. Turn off the news for a little while and enjoy some peace and quiet with your family. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
Patience: The new clerk at Target that can’t figure out the cash register (who is working a 2nd job during the holidays to provide for her family), Aunt Mildred who always gets under your skin (who has a tough time in the holidays), your kids when they are constantly fighting on Day TWO of Christmas break (who are over tired from all the Christmas fun and are secretly missing the structure of their school days). There are a lot of opportunities to exercise patience during the Christmas season. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another with love.” Ephesians 4:2.
Kindness: The holidays can be very difficult for those who have lost loved ones or are going through a crisis. Being kind is being aware and having a genuine desire to treat these people gently. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” Hosiah 11:4
Goodness: Goodness is kindness in action. Send a card to someone going through a hard time. Make them some cookies. Sing carols in a nursing home. Serve a meal in a homeless shelter. Don’t just think about it… Do It. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Faithfulness: The Christmas Story needs to be told to our children as more than a story that falls between “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” As parents, it is our responsibility to really impress on our children that when we read about Christ’s birth in the book of Luke, it is fact. Don’t get me wrong, I love even the secular parts of Christmas; however, it is important that we instill in the next generation the certainty of Christ Jesus. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
Gentleness: In America we live in a nation that is quite diverse. Different cultures and religions are all around us. What a remarkable opportunity to share the true Christmas story. Bashing Red Coffee cups and “Happy Holidays” wishers doesn’t exactly demonstrate God’s love. Instead we can be respectful of others’ beliefs while we share our own. If we don’t respect others, how can we expect it in return? “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 2:24
Self-Control: Whether it is too much egg nog at the office Christmas party, cookies at Mimi’s house, or spoiling your adorable kids a bit too much, losing some of your self-control is all too easy. In fact, many may over indulge in the name of Christmas (myself included). While my self-control may falter at the dinner table (because how often do I get to eat Nana and Mimi’s food??), I am making it my goal to maintain my self-control and not slack on my workouts. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28
Eeeeks. Those are some tall orders. But that is why they are called the Fruit of the Spirit. As imperfect humans, we are incapable of these attributes on our own. Only by the Holy Spirit living within us, can we personify the Fruit of the Spirit.
While the rest of the world waits for New Years to make changes and start fresh, we can have a New Start any and every day of the year. When God sent His son on Christmas Day, we were given the gift to be redeemed and start a new life in Christ.
And all you have to do is receive His gift.
Merry Christmas, Sweet Friends.
I didn’t get my nickname, DJ Jazzy Steph, in the 90s in college by accident. Back in those days, there was no such thing as a “playlist.” It was a big, fat, black Case Logic CD case. Mine was decorated with puffy paint and alphabetized of course 😉
But I have evolved with the times.
190 songs. 12 hours and 19 minutes.
That is how big the Christmas Playlist is on 2015 DJ Jazzy Steph’s iPhone. Don’t talk to me about Pandora or Spotify. I want to pick my own tunes. I work hard to craft the perfect playlist.
And this perfect Christmas playlist has been playing continually since November 1st. Eric jokes that I can’t sneak up on anyone because my iPhone is always stuck in my back pocket with my Christmas music playing.
Every year I get a new Christmas album (are they still called that?) and sometimes two. Last year it was Lady Antebellum and the year before was Michael Buble’. This year my buddy, Patrick, gave me MercyMe “It’s Christmas!”
Guys. This seriously has moved to the coveted “repeat” position on DJ Jazzy Steph’s Christmas Playlist!! It is one that I can listen to til the cows come home. (Or in my case the kids, to which Matthew will ask, “Seriously? Still listening to this?”)
My first introduction to MercyMe was actually a few Christmases ago. The local Christian station (94 FM the Fish) plays Christmas music 24/7 in December, so we started listening to it on the way to school. I had grown up in church, but had not ever really given Contemporary Christian music a fair shake. Turns out a lot has changed in the Contemporary Music industry since the 80s!
I think that is part of what I love about the music so much. MercyMe weaves their unique style through traditional and contemporary music.
From the very first words sung … “Hallalujah. The newborn is come” … one word immediately comes to my mind … worship. Yes. This is what Christmas is all about. Worshiping the newborn king that came to save us. The first song, “Newborn,” is a compilation of some traditional Christmas hymns that is arranged in a fresh, upbeat song. I am not a hand raiser, but this song brought me pretty close!
Hands down (no pun intended) my favorite song is “Our Lullaby.” Literally, I put it on repeat for an hour straight. This tender lullaby is written for Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and us. The lyrics are beautiful, and the acoustic guitar is out of this world.
I love that they included fun, secular songs too. Who doesn’t love “Sleigh Ride” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas?” They even wrote a couple that could become instant classics. “Christmastime Again” may be my own personal soundtrack. It reminds me to slow down, enjoy this season because it will be over before I know it. It is the perfect song to keep me grounded as I rush from shop to shop getting ready for Christmas parties, Santa Claus, making cookies, and stuffing stockings. Listen to it and I dare you to not get up and dance. And just in case I need another reminder, “Hold On Christmas” emphasizes that Christmas waits for no one. I have nine days before Christmas now. Am I going to make them count? Or rush them away?
I know you are wondering, how can I get my copy??
Merry Christmas, friends. I hope you take time this Christmas season to slow down, enjoy some good music, snuggle with your loved ones, and remember why we celebrate this wonderful season.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV)
Immanuel, God with us.
Saturday night my family went to a Christmas party at our good friend’s house. I love me a good Christmas party. Get dressed up. Talk to adults. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
When we got there, the kids rushed to the basement to play with the other kids. Eric and I mingled between the eclectic group of his, hers and their friends at the party. I found myself standing at the kitchen island talking to a guy having the standard get to know you chit-chat.
Where are you from?
Do you have kids?
What do you do?
I am finally able to say “Writer” with a straight face. Instantly, I was the most interesting woman in the world. We had a good conversation about blogging and the publishing process. Then came the question. “So what is your book about? Is it a novel? Mystery? Thriller?”
“No. Actually, I wrote a book about infertility. It is about my battle with it, how I overcame it and what I learned along the way.”
His eyes instantly started darting around the room searching for his wife, his buddy, anyone that he could rush to talk to instead of me.
As Matthew would say, Seriously??
Grow. A. Pair. My Infertility isn’t catching. Your swimmers will keep on swimming in spite of your proximity to an infertile person. That’s not how it works. And remember the first part of our conversation? I have three kids. Obviously I overcame infertility and am not going to turn into a babbling pile of hormonal tears on you.
As Eric likes to say, “We kicked infertility’s a$$.”
I remember when I was younger and in the trenches with infertility, I felt the same way. I only told a hand full of people because it is such a private struggle. Some were supportive but some avoided me like the plague.
If someone is brave enough to share their struggle with you, then reciprocate that bravery. Be there for them. Don’t avoid them. You can’t catch Infertility.
Nothing you can say will magically make things better. You aren’t expected to fix things. We, of all people, know that there are no easy fixes. And as hard as it is for you, it is a million times harder for them. A hug, an “I love you,” and “I’m praying for you” go a long way.
Then don’t just say you will pray. Do it. Pray for peace for them. Pray for the strength of their marriage. Pray for them to be surrounded by supportive people. And pray for God to give you comforting words for them when they need them.
This is totally written tongue and cheek. Had we not gone through the experience with our own battle, we could have had the same reaction. Alas, that is why I write – to help raise what I like to call your C.Q. – Compassion Quotient.
And because we could all use a laugh….check out these “Most Interesting Man in the World” quotes. Hysterical. Oh gosh. It is toss up which one is my favorite. The Weeping Willow, the Holy Grail and Russian all had me in tears.
Happy Monday. Just eleven days till Christmas!
“Mama, please don’t let me watch another movie that will make my nose burn!” Matthew said with tears in his eyes. We had just watched E.T. for the first time, and my sweet sensitive son was overcome with sadness.
I thought his description of how you feel when tears are starting to form was quite accurate. My nose burns as I feel my eyes start to well with tears. Unfortunately, that has been a daily feeling for me the last couple of weeks.
I am in one of those seasons where there has been tragic event after tragic event in my little community. I feel like my heart is being held together by a very thin thread. One more thing and it will just fall apart.
This morning I sat in my Sunday School class and asked for prayers for each of these heartbreaking situations. Just one of these would have been tough to bear. My nose burned and my eyes watered as I asked for prayers for my friends, my family, and myself.
Our lesson was in the 1st chapter of Matthew as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas.
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means “God with us.” Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
God whispered to my heart, “Immanuel – God is with you. I am holding your heart together.”
Unfortunately, we will all go through seasons where we feel like we are dealt blow after emotional blow. I am so thankful for Immanuel, God with Us.
God is with YOU.
The SLM blog has been an unexpected blessing to me. At first it was a means to an end…building my platform. However, it has evolved into a place for me to encourage, inform and just laugh. I am also blessed to have some of the most amazing women as friends. Women with inspirational stories and motivating messages. I love that my blog has allowed me to marry the two, so that I can share my platform with some of these fascinating women so they can touch more lives.
When I started asking some friends to contribute, Beth was at the top of the list. She is another one of my girls in my “book” club that doesn’t read books 😉 She is a mother of FOUR boys. When she was faced with adversity, she not only faced it, she took the bull by the horns…
A few years ago, I was a stay at home mother of four young boys. Life was crazy and hard. At that time, my boys were 6, 4.5, and my twins were 18 month olds. My job consisted of countless diaper changes, feedings, and messes. Just to keep my mind from melting to mush, I tried to keep up a blog. There is one particular entry that I posted when my husband was on a business trip.
My dear sweet husband went away on a business trip last week. While I do understand that he was working, I still can’t help from being a little envious. The thought of leaving my house and all the work that goes along with it, just to go to an interesting place, stay in a hotel, be around adults and have adult conversation. To worry about just me, for a change. To get myself ready for the day, to watch what I want on TV, and to have some peace and quiet.
–From If SAHMs Went on Business Trips
What I didn’t know at the time was that a year later, my life would become much more complicated and stressful. That is when I went from being that mom of four, to adding “special needs mom” to my résumé. About a year after I wrote that post, one of my twins was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. It was the hardest thing I had ever been through in my (early) 30 years of life. Being a pediatric nurse, I knew what Autism was. Since it had been 10 years since I was in nursing school, my information was outdated. I had worked with patients at various ends of the spectrum, but it is so different when you are looking at your own child. Your hopes and possibilities about their future begin to blur. I guess if you want to get honest, that really is how it is with all children and their futures. We really have no control over how their lives will be. There was just something so humbling about looking at my young son, who was then only 2.5 years old. He wasn’t talking, he wasn’t communicating, he had serious fits (beyond regular toddler tantrums), and he did all of these behaviors that I just didn’t understand. It felt like the uphill climb you take while raising your kids, just became a very steep and slippery hike. I had worked with families who received life-altering diagnoses. I knew that I wanted to be the type of a family that circles around my son and grows stronger while supporting him. You know, the kind of stories that you read about in “Upworthy” or “The Mighty.” The thing about striving for that is that it takes a lot of work, a lot of faith, and an unwavering commitment to achieve it. I have come to realize that even then, there is no “happy ending.” We are just making that decision everyday to stay strong. It is out of this realization that I became my son’s advocate.
Over the last two years, I have done a lot of research, talked to therapists and special education teachers, read books, and participated with my son in a research study. All of this was in an effort to understand him so that I could understand his needs. the psychologist that diagnosed him prescribed for him ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. Even though it is the most effective, evidenced-based treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders, I have avoided it.
The reason I haven’t sought this treatment for him is because it is very expensive and my insurance doesn’t cover it. I was very shocked to find that out when my son was denied. For me, it was like denying anyone the medication or therapy that would help any diagnosis. The most simple way to explain this is to say that medical science is further ahead than the rest of the systems. Essentially, the laws need updating to include Autism. Most states have started recognizing that, and consequently, have passed laws to mandate the coverage.
Unfortunately, my state, Tennessee, is not among the 43 that have done this. I recently attended a conference about Autism Law, to learn more about advocating for these changes in my state. The insurance is just the starting point for a long list of needs for the Autistic community. It is a good place to start because if more children were diagnosed earlier and had access to these therapies, then they would be better prepared to enter schools in Kindergarten ready to learn. If they were able to learn language and social skills around the same time that their peers are naturally picking up on them, then they wouldn’t be as far behind other children in developing these skills. The goal isn’t to “cure” children of Autism, but to give them the opportunity to learn how to calm their minds so they can learn and express themselves.
So a year after I wrote my post about business trips for moms, I found myself on one to help myself, and other parents in my state, to advocate for our children. Of course, I still did manage to enjoy some of the things I mentioned from that post, because none of my children came with me!
What can you do to help? Pay attention when you hear about these needs in your state by going to Autism Speaks and sign up to receive emails. You can also inform others about the need and have them sign up as well. If you are in my state of Tennessee, feel free to contact me to get more involved in making this change. The truth is, everyone will be touched by someone on the Autism Spectrum. Your children will be in class with them, your coworker may be taking care of a family member on the spectrum, you will be among them in everyday society. You will be fortunate to know these remarkable people, so let’s help them and their families get them the treatment they need.
Then they can learn to share themselves with the world too.
I absolutely love the “On this Day” feature on Facebook. I can’t help it. I am hopelessly nostalgic and love to see where I was last year and the year before and so on. I mean look at yesterday’s memory. Who wouldn’t want to re-live that?? When I shared the picture, it made so many people laugh at the “Greerswalds.” Nothing makes me happier than to put a smile on other people’s faces.
Who knew that God would use this little feature to give me the encouragement I so desperately needed today…
You see I started this blog in May with a primary goal – to increase my online presence (aka my platform), so that I could publish my book with a major publishing house. That is what everyone says you have to do. Seriously. I have attended seminars, read articles, watched YouTube videos. They all say it.
I am happy with what God has help me accomplished through self-publishing my book “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice,” but if God has a wider audience for me out there then I have to at least try.
But no one told me that trying would be so hard. This morning I was so discouraged. I realized that it has been well over four months since my book proposal was taken by a publisher to be reviewed. I was told that it was a long process, so I hadn’t even let myself think about it until recently. As my calendar drifts towards the fifth month of waiting, my fiery passion I felt months ago has simmered down to a flicker.
And the doubting voices in my head have gotten louder and louder. Your book proposal that you worked so hard on is just a coaster for someone’s coffee mug. That is if isn’t sitting in the REJECTION file, and they just haven’t gotten around to contacting you. What is the point of this whole “platform” thing anyway? Who cares what a 30-something-stay-at-home mom has to say? Your own kids don’t really listen to what you say. You really are just wasting your time.
So with tears in my eyes and a defeated heart, I sat down to pray. I have been so busy that I am ashamed to say that I haven’t taken the time to have a true quiet time in a while. (And I wonder why I was so defeated? 😉 I am not talking about nightly prayers with the kids, prayers for needs of loved ones, or even Hallelujah prayers for life’s little blessings. I am talking the sitting down with God and letting it all hang out. All the fears. All the questions. The pleading for something…anything to keep me going in the right direction.
After I dried my tears, I went to my mission control – the kitchen island. I started assembling breakfasts, lunches, and unloading the dishwasher all while listening to my Christmas playlist. As I waited for my Eggo to pop out of the toaster, I clicked on Facebook and immediately saw this memory:
Tears immediately filled my eyes. I knew this was encouragement from God. December 2, 2014 was one of the best days of my life. It was the day that I got my proof copy of my book. It was my rainbow at the end of a storm. I finally got to see that by sharing my pain, I would help countless others find healing. And it healed me.
I don’t know if I will ever see my book on the shelves of Lifeway or Barnes & Noble (However, you can find it here 😉 But I do know that with God’s help, I have made a difference. I have a file of letters I have received from women who have been touched by my journey. If sharing my story with those women is the extent of His plan is for me, then I feel blessed to be a part of it.
And this blog? I never in a million years would have thought I had anything “worth” writing. If I hadn’t written my book, I would never have started the SLM blog. Seems as though I can write about a lot more than Infertility and people enjoy it.
Whether I am helping people who are struggling with Infertility, encouraging Mamas, or just making someone laugh, I feel so blessed that God has brought me on this journey.
The only thing I am going to try to do is stay on God’s path for me. And as long as I stay close to Him, He will keep me between the lines.
I am not sure if my youngest, Matthew, is actually related to me. I mean I look at him and see that he is the perfect combination of Eric and me, but there is something that is just off about him.
He hates football. Seriously. Hates it. He can’t honestly be a Greer and hate football. I mean it is our family tradition.
We can usually convince him to go to the first few games, but I never make it to a game past mid-October. Eric still goes with Ethan and Ella rallies sometimes too. I stay home with the Grinch who hates football.
Yesterday on the way home from our trip, I asked Matthew why he hated football. Without skipping a beat he growled (just like the Grinch)…
When they get in the stadium it is filled with that
Noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise!
Then they Feast!
Feast! Feast! Feast! Feast!
They feast on popcorn and nachos and hot dogs
And they Sing!
Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!
They Sing Rocky Top every time they score!
I cannot take it any more!!!
Drop the freakin mic.
I am just passing the MacBook on to him.
I hope y’all have a blessed Thanksgiving. I am thoroughly enjoying spending some time off with my family this week.
This verse is near and dear to my heart. I am reminded daily of God’s grace and my three blessings.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Full of happiness, cheer and all that jazz….
It wasn’t until I was struggling with infertility that the “most wonderful time of the year” turned into the worst. It was a time when I would want to go to bed and wake up after the New Year. Why is that, you wonder?? Similar to how someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, people who are infertile are grieving the child that they want desperately in their life. If you are blessed enough to not have even had to deal with infertility, then this will help you have some insight into how hard the holidays are for infertile people. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are about increase what I like to call your CQ – Compassion Quotient 😉
Thanksgiving. A time when you, hopefully, are able to sit around the table with your family. It is a day that you can focus on all the many blessings that you have in your life. But what if the one thing that your heart desires most is out of your reach? What if you are at the adult table staring at the kid table wondering, “When is it my turn?” Ironically, the main topic of conversation at said adult table is….kids. What can you add to the conversation? The failed cycles? The horrible side effects from the evil fertility drugs? The nights you spend crying yourself to sleep? Sure. Go ahead and put on that “Hello My Name is: WET BLANKET” sticker on your shirt! There will be updates on friends and family. Judy is pregnant. Susie just had a baby. And Lisa just had her 5th baby!! Each one is like a dagger to your aching heart. You may even hear one of your family members saying how thankful they are to be able to send their kids to another table so they can have some peace and quiet. (Believe me as a mother of three now…I GET IT!! But it still hurts to hear.) Your heart breaks because you would give anything to have every second of your day consumed with a precious child. Do they realize what a blessing they have? You try hard to focus on the blessings you have in your life. However, the hole in your heart that only a child can fill, feels so hollow today. Will it be filled by next Thanksgiving?
Christmas. In 2013, it started before the holiday. I was ordering my Christmas cards. I had it all planned out. The cute Christmas card with a clever pregnancy announcement all in one. It was going to be so precious. But things didn’t go according to my plan. After nearly a year of fertility treatments, there was no announcement to be made. I just had a broken heart that no one even knew about because infertility just isn’t something that you talk about openly.
As much as this holiday should be focused on Jesus’ birth, it is still very much centered around Santa and children. I am blessed to have a close knit family and love to be around them. I am proud to call myself Aunt Teppie to six nieces and nephews. As much as I love them, it wasn’t always easy to be around them. I would spend all day with my game face on. My smile plastered on my face and ready to play. I would fight the thoughts about wishing I had one of my own. I would smile and give a trite answer when asked when Eric and I were going to have one of our own. “Our kids are going to be so far apart in age that they won’t be close!!” “I’m trying the best I can!!” I would scream in my head as I smiled and shrugged.
At night, I would be exhausted from playing the happy Aunt Teppie all day. I was emotionally drained. How long would I just be Aunt Teppie? When would it be my turn to be Mommy? I wanted to be up late at night wrapping baby dolls and toy cars. I wanted to have silly fights with Eric about how to put together the $@$% play kitchen. I wanted to have my baby on my knee reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the umpteenth time. Would it be different next Christmas? Last Christmas I was sure I would have a baby by now. Will it ever happen?
Oh then New Years. Did I even want to reflect on the last year? Failed cycle after failed cycle. Ups and downs. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for an appointment. Waiting for another cycle. Hadn’t I wished away the better part of the last year? Would next year be any different?
When I think back a few years ago to New Year’s, Eric and I were energized. We were about to start fertility treatments with our frozen embryos affectionately called our “totsicles.” We couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for us because in our mind it meant a baby or even babies!! Unfortunately, instead of a baby it was a year of pain and sadness. By the time New Year’s rolled around again, we were ready to throw a party to declare “So long 2013. Don’t let the door hit you in the …”
Now I look back to last year’s New Years Eve when I was celebrating publishing my book about what I learned on my journey through Infertility. I feel that same energy I felt a couple of years ago but about a completely different journey. God did have a plan for me. I never in a million years would have dreamed two years ago that this would be His plan for me.
So my message for you is to stay strong. When you go to bed feeling emotionally drained, pray. Pray for strength. Pray for patience. Pray for clarity about all the choices you are faced with every day. God loves you and hears you. He will give you the strength that you need.
You may not find out what the plan is for you and your family as quickly as you want to, but there is a plan for you. You may be celebrating New Year’s in a year or two and have a better reality than you could have ever dreamed of…