Friday, December 09, 2011

sharing christmas :: stephanie

happy friday!
my dear friend stephanie is joining us today.
stephanie is one of those unexpected friends i've found through blogging.
she's a southerner, so that's the main thing she's got goin' for her, you know:)
her smile is contagious, i'm certain i could see it even if she didn't post photos of the pretty thing.
i'm so grateful for stephanie.
her love for the lord and her perspective on loving her family blesses me all the time.
you're really gonna love the special christmas she's sharing today!

***

Hi. I'm Stephanie.

I am so honored and humbled that Hannah asked me to share something on her blog today.
I always leave any encounter with Hannah encouraged or challenged. Either way...I leave blessed.
I blog over at The Honey Pot. I'm a momma to three daughters.
One is married, one is engaged and our "baby" graduates this year.
I'm a grandma to three crazy-fun grand kids who call me "Honey".
And I'm married to my high school sweetheart.
Now on to my post...

 I know everyone has those special ornaments that are rich with memories that you reminisce about as you hang them on your tree. I am an ultra sentimental girl and I get all teary eyed every year as I unwrap each ornament...especially the ones from when my girls were little.

I have so many favorites...

My tree is covered in joy ornaments.
You can read about why the word joy is so special to me {here}.


My husband is a pastor and this ornament was from a dear church member
several years back thanking him for being such a caring shepherd to the flock the Lord had given him.
It means a lot.


I love this ornament...I often refer to my girls as my "chicks" and this one reminds me of them.
Even though they are flying my nest they will always be my babies.


But there is one ornament that I always anticipate unwrapping and hanging on the tree each year..
It's kind of an "Ebeneezer" for me.. that stone of memorial that scripture talks of.. ( 1 Samuel 7:12)
When I see it....I remember.

It's my 1991 Christmas ornament.
Nothing special to look at. It's not the prettiest ornament on my tree..
in fact unless you were looking for it, you would probably not even notice it.
But it's there to remind me.


You see, in 1991 my husband was in the Navy. He was deployed on a 6 month Med-cruise.
He, like so many of our men and women serving our country,
was thousands of miles away and would not be spending the holidays with his family.
And this was the first time in my life to ever spend Christmas apart from my family.
Our family lived in Louisiana and we were in Virginia.

Growing up we celebrated big time at Christmas...
Everybody would get together at my Aunt's house on Christmas eve.
We ate gumbo and opened presents. It was loud and it was festive and it was always fun.
I lived too far away to travel alone with two small children
and had just moved only two months before, so our finances were depleted.
The only two friends I had met since moving there had gone home to be with their families for Christmas.
I wasn't involved in a church family at that time in my life so there was no support there.
It was just me and my two girls.
I felt completely alone and was missing my husband and family terribly.

On top of that, our daughter Lydia got sick and began to projectile vomit across the room which meant a trip to the Naval hospital...on Christmas day. The base housing we lived in at the time was prim-i-tive. They looked like little square houses made of cinder blocks. We had one bathroom with a sink that had all the plumbing exposed....no vanity or cabinets underneath.. just a sink. So its Christmas day and I have a baby throwing up everywhere and I'm frantically trying to get dressed with her on my hip. I put my leg on the sink while holding her and trying to put on a little makeup, when suddenly the sink detached from the wall and water began to spray everywhere!! Now... getting a maintenance man to come out on Christmas day is near to impossible and at that point I felt like I was in a episode of I Love Lucy. I can laugh about it now but at the time... all I could do was cry. The maintenance man (my hero) eventually did come. He was actually very kind..I think he felt sorry for me. I then spent the rest of the day and most of the night sitting in the waiting room at the hospital. My mom later tells me that the few times I called home to see what they were doing, she would make everyone hush in the background so I couldn't hear all the fun going on and then she would say
"Oh..We're not doing a thing...in fact it's really kind of boring this year."
Moms...you gotta love em for trying!

I know in comparison to many of you who have experienced great losses, my 1991 Christmas isn't anything to lose sleep over. But for that 20 year old me with a 3 year old and 5 month old baby spending her first Christmas away from her husband and family, well..it's a Christmas I will never forget.

And when I look at that ornament on my tree each year,
I remember those military families who will be spending Christmas apart from the ones they love.
I remember the sacrifices they and their families are making.
I remember.

***
thanks, sweet stephanie! such a beautiful post!
be sure to visit stephanie's blog and say hello.
{pssst. she also has a fun little handmade shop!}


oh, and have you seen this yet?

9 comments:

  1. What a lovely lady! :) She is too sweet. I love ornaments that truly mean something to us!

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  2. two of my favorite girls on one blog!

    thanks for sharing, Steph. wow! what a holiday THAT one was.

    i so love you and your whole family.

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  3. First of all, you and your husband are one GOOD lookin' couple :) And your Christmas memory sounds familiar to me... we've had some of those not so fantastic moments as well and for some reason they always happen around Christmas time!

    Here is to a peaceful Christmas this year!

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  4. Beautiful post, Stephanie. I always leave your posts feeling touched.

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  5. Thank you again Hannah for having me today! xo

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  6. Every Christmas I'm reminded of the Christmas my husband was deployed to Iraq and how it didn't feel like Christmas at all. I sort of went through the motions wishing Christmas was over, but now I'm so appreciative for that time in our lives and how much we grew as people and as a couple.

    Great post!

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  7. that story was just as beautiful as she is. there's no way i would guess her a grandma! none!

    thank you both & happy friday!

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  8. I am so very thankful for military families like Stephanie's. They sacrifice so much to serve us and keep us safe, fighting for our freedoms. Thank you for the reminder to remember them and keep them in my prayers.

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