ALL IS CALM, ALL IS BRIGHT

By Lisa Huddleston

12375960_10208124649220690_5675405771665034409_nChristmas Day was special for me this year. In fact, the whole holiday season has been. Truly, nothing extraordinary happened–unless you want to count that in spite of hosting Thanksgiving for 28, having our younger son’s wedding and Christmas less than a week apart, and having lots of company in our home, I have kept a calm spirit and a happy heart throughout. Oh, how extraordinary that is!

I’m a little hesitant to write about depression again when we are only one day from Christmas, but as my past experiences have taught, many of you are likely to be coming undone just about now. You may regret arguments you had with family or feel as though your dreams of a perfect holiday were not realized or just be completely exhausted by smiling through the stress. And because I remember many years just like that, I want to encourage you to keep seeking the help you need. There is another way to live–you don’t have to keep beating yourself up!

1617126_10208140611339733_6942468301860626981_oThis year, I let a lot of “musts” go. I did not decorate Christmas cookies. I did not buy many presents. I did not set out all the Santas and past photos with said Jolly Elf. I didn’t even cook Christmas dinner.

I did fill stockings with lots of hand-picked little items. I did take a yummy ham to brunch at my in-law’s. I did enjoy conversations with nieces and nephews and my children and their spouses and brothers and sisters and all varieties of extended and ever-growing family. And I didn’t have to be perfect. And that is shocking.

10298043_10208141109232180_4662432374080879601_oOf course, I wonder which reality is really real–this peace I feel or the past stress and anxiety? But then I have to ask if that even matters? I definitely prefer peace–even though I still struggle some with the fact that it probably has to be attributed to my medications and the mental health help I have received. Why does that bother me? Because I am a prideful old thang. But I am learning that help is good, that reality is what I am present for, and that peace really is possible.

And that is my message for you today. What you believe is the most important thing. You are not alone. It’s okay to need help and even to ask for it. And you do not have to be perfect–in fact, that’s the most unrealistic expectation you could ever have.

So I sit here a thankful, hopefully more realistic woman. I am thankful for the blessings of the past few weeks, months, and year. I am grateful for the help I have received, I am thankful for the hope I have, and my friends, family and Savior, and I’d love to pass it all on to you. Just don’t give up!

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me … 

NO GUILT SERVED HERE

1By Lisa Huddleston

The menu is ready, most of the grocery shopping is done, and the out-of-town guests will be arriving on the farm sometime Wednesday. Yes, the holidays are fast upon us, and with the food, family, and large gatherings often comes guilt. Some want dinner at noon, but others can’t come until evening. Young couples have to juggle two or more family gatherings and stretch their stomachs to eat multiple meals.  And some family members can’t come at all, because they live far away or even have to work.

It can be hard, but one thing I hereby declare–no guilt will be served for the holidays here at Hudfarm!

I remember what it’s like to balance family gatherings and am thankful to be in the happy situation of having folks come here to our house to celebrate.  Yes, I truly will miss those who won’t be around our tables this Thanksgiving, but I understand and rejoice that they feel free to do whatever they need to–completely guilt free–and I’ll look forward to the next holiday when it will be our turn to have them here.

Yes, the planning for our feast is almost finished: turkey, ham, green beans, carrots, cranberries, potatoes, Yankee and Rebel dressings, pickles, and sweet potato pies.  Hmmm … I still need Panko bread crumbs to top the mashed potato casserole along with a few other random items. But absolutely, positively, guilt is one item that will not be on my list. Today, on Thanksgiving, and for the rest of this holiday season–no guilt served here.

Now go be thankful and make merry!

Baruch haShem. 

AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF

By Lisa Huddleston

I have learned a great deal about listening to my body over the past few years.  A serious bout with depression will do that for a person.  Happily, and thanks to those who love me, I won that battle; but the dragon still breathes smoke and there are times when I struggle to clear the air.  As one would expect, the holidays and all the activity that accompanies them can be a very smoky time.  It is important for me to pace myself, to schedule alone time, to think and to write.

I know.  I know.  I have not been doing these things very well lately.  But some much needed time in the Word opened my eyes.  “For the commandments … are all summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  If I were to try that lately, my neighbor wouldn’t be very happy with me.  What if I paid no attention to my neighbor’s schedule, her needs, her wants, her passions and just ran in and out of her life whenever I chose?  I don’t think she would want to be my neighbor for very long.  One of us would have to go!

This greatest commandment is predicated on the assumption that we love ourselves well.  Yet, how many of us are doing that?  Are you making time to keep your body healthy by eating well and exercising?  Are you keeping your mind engaged in challenging thoughts and deep discussions?  Are you allowing yourself the privilege of rest?  Are you treating yourself as you would a much loved friend?

I tend to push too hard.  I push myself, and I want to push others.  Goals beckon me like the star called the wise men.  But wisdom is not always involved in my choices.  I am learning though.  I need peace.  I need rest.  In order to love my neighbor as myself and have it be a good thing, I must learn to love myself.

Choices.  It is all about choice.  I will not add another day to my volunteer job—yet.  I will allow myself an occasional nap—even though I feel guilty taking it.  I will write—there are thoughts I need to think.  I will make time for friends—not hoards but a few special ones.  I will listen to music and look at paintings and ponder poetry.  I will call for help when the smoke sends its sneaky tendrils into the corners of my mind and let others open the windows to the crisp, clear air of winter.

And I will love my neighbor as myself.