Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Beauty of Imperfect Traditions

This morning I'm reflecting on family and tradition, something our family in particular thrives on!  There is something I find so comforting about a long standing tradition, because we grow to look forward to it and love it so.

A wonderful example is one we always had of worshipping God together at church every Sunday morning, followed by the big meal perhaps homemade or a favorite restaurant,  and then the glorious nap.  

The birthday celebrations with family or friends involving a favorite meal and dessert followed by a nap (just kidding), more like good conversations on the front porch swing while sipping coffee.

The most classic are the various holiday traditions customized to your own family's liking.  If your family is close in spirit as ours is, they usually include the most magical memories and are always oozing of cozy aromas in a bustling house, favorite movies, reminiscing, and excitement that brings you back to the good ole days of childhood!

I particularly thrive in this sort of thing!  I love wholesome traditions!

But, God is helping me to grasp not so tight on the same things that I see needing be perfectly predictable, because the past several years there have been many changes in our life.  

I'm learning that although usually uncomfortable in the beginning, change can be a wonderful thing!  

Comparing to an iconic literary character on this, I would be like Jo March from Little Women.  Growing up I always wanted to marry, but other than that I wanted a very consistent, change-free life for myself and siblings!  (That seems so naive and selfish, come to think of it.)


Excuse my chuckling, but that was before I really asked the Lord what He wanted from my life.  For me, that was indeed a big change!

Yes, I married the love of my life, which was answered prayer.

After just a few years we moved away from our entire family... to the city!   I'm a country mouse, remember?

Albeit, we stayed in Kentucky, but 3 1/2 hours away might as well have been halfway across the country!  No one in our family has ever moved away like this!

Of course that came with everything a big move involves: new church, friends, work, grocery shopping, zip code, neighborhood and insecurities.  This is the beginning of the real change God was doing.  The one inside myself!  My comfort zone had been obliterated, minus my husband by my side.

He was in medical school which meant I worked a lot to compensate to the investment my hubby was making.  My mom has always been blessed to be a "house wife", so me being the breadwinner for several years was a big difference.

Getting back to where we were...

These days, other than Christmas (praise God), our traditions have had to be much more flexible in order to remain.  I can't be at all my siblings and parent's birthdays or at every Easter and Fourth of July celebration, bonfire, or wedding, as much as that hurts.  One year, my husband worked on Thanksgiving so we didn't see family at all that year!  I wouldn't have dreamed such a thing 10 years ago.

Before this sounds like a pathetic pity party, let me explain.  It gets better! God always has worked things out for us to have our most important traditions, but we've learned to get creative and become flexible!  Any growing family understands this concept, but if you haven't just take it from me, it'll make life much easier!

That particular Thanksgiving, no we didn't go home, but the weekend before when Mr. Cozy had a day off, my family came in, and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time ever!  Mom helped by bringing some of the food, but I cooked a turkey for the first time among other new dishes.  It became a memorable celebration we'll always talk about!  On Thanksgiving day that year I decided to actually get out all my Christmas decor and decorate the house.  No reason to mope around!

This goes for many birthday celebrations, too.  The exact day doesn't matter a bit, and yes sometimes my brother (who now lives in Chicago) can't fly in, or Papa (who works out of town a lot) may not be able to make this time, but it's okay!  Life goes on, so I don't want to be left crying over all the "imperfect" traditions when there is still much to celebrate!

This brings me back to the present.  Last Sunday was Easter or Ressurection Sunday, and my groom had to work all day and night long on that particular day.   So on Friday night, our own family of four celebrated together at our house-- Easter egg hunt and all!  The day didn't matter a bit to the kids, and if anything it just extended the holiday.  That way as parents we could still have festivities in our own home!  It was great fun!
Mr. Cozy encouraged us to go back to my parents house for the rest of the weekend since he wouldn't be around anyways.  He didn't want for the children to miss out a thing.  (He's a wonderful Daddy!)  I decided to do that, and I'm so glad we did!  My brother and Papa (my dad) wasn't able to come in either, but it was me and the kids, my sister and Mom.  We had the best time!!!! Being our children's first Easter with us, it was a very special one!!!

We came in Saturday evening to find the front porch ready for a beautiful, country Easter dinner.  

Fried chicken, homemade coconut pie, and all!

My favorite kind of food!

Mom took the time to make the setting relaxing and casual, but oh-so beautiful and serene as we indulged in fresh cut corn, cheesy potatoes, rolls with strawberry butter, and the likes.

Sometimes with a sweet little pea on my lap!

Of course sweet tea with lemon was in order-- and the children just loved their little bunny mugs to drink from!   They were big stuff! Hehe

They had their own precious table and chairs set for them.  It's one my parents have had since I was 5 years old.  If only that small wooden table could talk!

The kids had fun playing with Grammy (Mom) while I caught up talking with my sis.

The next morning I woke up and went to relax with warm cinnamon coffee in my robe on the porch before the kids awoke.

breathed deep the fresh country air, hearing only birds chirping and the warm breeze blowing in the baby leafed trees.  

I can feel God more when I'm outside,  it's something about being surrounded by His creation that surrounds me with His love!  But especially on Easter morn.

What lovely memories we made, although not our usual Easter traditions with some family missing, it was the best celebration I could've asked for!  I am so in love with my children, and was so proud of them at church.  I wanted to stand us and praise him the "charismatic" way in that small, sweet Baptist church. ;)

never tire of hearing the gospel message and being surrounded by my family in the church pews.

The beauty of the day was birthed from the calm in my heart.  

The steadiness of our family remains despite distance.  

Tradition is all well and good, but true celebration and heartfelt love will run deep nonetheless!


elizabeth said...

You and your mama and sisters are all so lovely! And your kiddos just get cuter and cuter.

Maria said...

What a sweet post, Leslie! Looks like you had a wonderful Easter :) And I couldn't agree more... with both mine and my husband's families living thousands of miles away from us, and with my husband being a youth pastor we aren't usually able to travel away to be with family on the actual holiday, but it makes the time together and all the new traditions that we've made that much sweeter and more special! :)

Lois' Laughlines said...

What a sweet post. Always wonderful to celebrate our risen savior with those we love, no matter what day.
Blessings to you.

Coffee Mom said...

What a beautiful post! And beautiful family! And beautiful God!!