Last night I saw one of my dearest friend's precious (and pretty perfect looking) family pics on my Facebook feed, and my heart for the teensy-eensiest second felt a twinge of jealousy.
Now this is a friend I know well, whom I completely adore, and I quickly remembered there's more on her heart than that perfect pic could tell.
It was a huge wake up call for me, and I was reminded that as I scroll through Facebook seeing gorgeous families and wonder why their lives look so perfect . . .
when mine just doesn't . . .
that sometimes those perfect pictures don't tell the whole truth.
And that when we open gorgeous Christmas cards where children smile radiantly in clothes so perfectly coordinated ~ well, that doesn't always tell the full story either.
2016 has been quite a year in our home, but it hasn't felt anywhere near as perfect as our Christmas card might just portray.
PPP has grown more than I could have ever imagined.
(That is completely because of YOU. You have no idea how much that means to me!)
We've doubled our email subscribers.
Grown a few hundred thousand folks on Facebook.
Earned a few new Instagram and Pinterest followers too.
And I feel like I've hung out with a bundle of you a little more in “real life” by cooking, baking, and DIY'ing over on Facebook live.
(For any of you who don't know me well, Facebook live is VERY uncomfortable for me, and I have to completely gear myself up for it every single day. I have notes reminding me to smile, stand up straight, and talk a little slower. Yikes.)
In fact, if you're looking from the outside-in, you might just for a second think this girl has got her act together.
In real life though, my heart's been heavy.
My husband had a heart attack back in April. (Yes, that cute one right there ~ that was him a few months before his heart attack. He's only 45. Read more HERE ~ if you've been through this my heart goes out to you because I had no idea what an emotional roller coaster this would be.)
We've had a few other not so easy things creep up throughout the year too.
We've had some extended family worries that just make life a little more difficult some days.
We're still adjusting to life in Ohio.
(Y'all, I wish I could just get. over. that. ugh. If the sweet folks down in Alabama hadn't been just so sweet it might have made this move a wee bit easier! It is getting MUCH better just still hard some days ~ I've heard 3 years is the magic mark, so crossing my fingers on that.) 🙂
We're raising two teenagers at the same time. (Clearly that makes us superheroes, right?)
To top it all off we've got one way-too-confident-God-bless-this-kid-we're-going-to-have-to-hold-on-tight-for-the-next-ten-years-nine-year-old.
But looking from the outside-in, it would be easy for someone to look at our Christmas card (in black and white to hide the wrinkles, mind you), and think our mess of our family has our act together too.
But here's the truth.
We're a mess.
We have bad days. We get tired. We holler sometimes. We get plain old g.r.o.u.c.h.y.
but from our pretty Christmas card pic and what you see online, you might just think our life looks okay.
While we have some really hard things surrounding us right now, we are crazily blessed with an abundant life I never even imagined I'd see.
But some days life is just hard.
And oh so messy.
And not as perfect as
we (ummm, I) might like to portray.
Here's what we so easily forget . . .
No matter how cute someone looks on Facebook . . .
No matter how incredibly their Christmas card arrives at your door . . .
No matter how darling that friend's home is over on Instagram . . .
They likely have struggles too you'll never know from this side of the screen.
Remember this today.
Right this very minute.
The one you're living right now today.
It's the most perfect gift you've ever been given.
Take this Christmas.
Choose to make it beautiful and memorable and perfect ~ with whatever cards you've been dealt, and exactly the people you're with,
and don't compare yourself to anyone else even one last time.
And whatever mess you're in.
Whatever struggle that's covering you up and maybe just clouding your vision from how wondrous this Christmas season is,
know that it it's in His hands (thank. heavens.) today.
Praying God's peace, rest, and hope for you this Christmas day.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
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I can’t even get to the point of doing Christmas cards. My dad died two years ago on Christmas Morning. Cancer. The last 4 years have been a whirlwind of screaming and sleep deprivation with my “spirited” middle child, and trying to find balance as a mother of three who is in the thick of grief. Part of that balance includes connecting those lines between what I see online with what I know the truth to be about social media’s veil of filtered content. Sometimes I am so thankful to mother – and homeschool! – in an age of so many reasources… and other times I think of how much harder it is to be a mother who can’t help but compare, feel like we are falling short, or even receive some unsolicited criticism from others about how we could or should be doing better.
Thank you for your post! This Christmas was definitely a harder one for me.
Sharon Renegar says
Thank you so much for sharing this. Exactly what I need to read this morning. This year has been full of struggle’s. I find myself wondering how are we going to get through. In January I was in the hospital and had surger, didn’t have insurance. It took a good 4 months to recoup from that. In June my husband had a stroke and can no longer work, but don’t get me wrong we are so blessed the affects aren’t any worse and I’m thankful he is still here with me. Then of course Covid-19. I find myself just being afraid I’m going to drop the ball. Reading your story and watching your live post I always feel a little better. I apologize for the rambling. You know how heavy your heart can feel and that’s where I am today, trying to make it through the month.
I love your post.
Prayers for you and your family.
Denise Shultz says
Wow! Here it is 3 yrs later at 3:20 am and this was exactly what God wanted me to remember. Just finished going through Facebook and Instagram- looking at all the fun our friends were having and I’m feeling sad that our life isn’t like that. Instead of being thankful for our children and grandchildren I keep wanting better relationships- and instead of spending these hours awake wishing, I need to be praying for them and trusting that God gave us exactly the family we have and He is in charge. Thank you for this Christmas gift.
Merry Christmas- gotta start praying ❤️
Hugs Denise – thank you for taking a minute to share – praying an amazing year for you and your sweet family!
Thanks for this reminder, Laurie. We were hit hard the last day before Christmas vacation-I lost my job. This put everything back in perspective.
Yohana Munson says
Thank you Laurie for being so transparent and for posting this. This Christmas I’m feeling a bit heavy hearted due to my brother has to start dyalisis and non of my 5 young adult kids will spending Christmas with us here in Texas. To be totally hones Laurie the nothing that is up in my home that recenble Christmas is the Christmas tree. I haven’t even bought a shirt for it yet. There is only 1 gift under it for husband VS many that would already be overflowing if the kids where here. I’m having to learn to enjoy the silence and loneliness that is something so loud in my heart. Learning to find joy and enjoy all the different things of being an empty nester has been an emotional roller-coaster. But it’s also fun at times. I’m so thankful to be walking hand in hand with God through this and it has made me be so thankful for the moments I do get with my kids. Thank you Laurie for being such a wonderful person.
Oh Yohana – sending hugs and prayers to you right now! Maybe you could make a few yummy treats and take them to a local nursing home or food pantry (or even your local fire department?) I cannot even imagine what that must feel like but my heart is heavy for you today – praying a beautiful silver lining in your Christmas season right now!
Hey there! Don’t sweat some of these people they have issues and try and take
It out in others . You will always have haters especially if you have a nice life as they are missable with there own life. Also I can relate we moved from NC to PA going on 4 years and neither of us have adjusted, southerners are so nice ! Northern seem to have additudes and we are from PA, we have a wonderful house and live good and we too have a lot of haters because of it ! Stay strong girl
Kristin S. says
I really enjoy your blog and Facebook Live videos (keep confident when filming, you are doing great) I’m so sorry to read that your husband had a heart in April, but very glad he is doing well. My father passed away in 2009 at the age of 44 of a massive heart attack, and it’s still as diffucult today as it was the day it happened. I myself am a stay at home mom with an almost 2 year old little girl, and I sometimes find myself second guessing everything I do simply because of how my friends or random strangers seem to have everything figured out. I have to literally stop and focus on all the good in my life, and remember that each person’s life or situation is only as “perfect” as they make it. I feel extremely blessed that my husband has a great job that allows me to be home with my little girl, and I feel our family as a whole works better because of it. It’s nice to read that I’m not the only one out there that sometimes second guesses themselves or thinks “if only my family were as perfect as that one”. Thank you for your constant encouraging words, and may this next year be full of good health and happiness.
So blessed by this post… exactly what my heart needed reminding of today. Thank you, God Bless, and Merry Christmas!
Sherrie Roderick says
What a wonderful ministry (hard work) God has blessed you with. If it was easy, you would know that it wasn’t God. Thank you for pointing us to Christ. For stepping out of your comfort zone. Teaching by walking out your faith is a great gift. Keep giving. Thank you for encouraging me, and share your life.
I so wish I had seen this two days ago. You have no idea how you have validated my thoughts, my feelings, my hurt. I struggle through the holidays. This year more than most and I’ve no idea why. We lost our first daughter 25 years ago this year. In my mind’s eye this was a landmark year for some wonky reason and I have really struggled. God has blessed and I am the mother of two wonderful young adults (you will survive the teen years……I promise) and the grand mother of two beautiful little girls. But there will forever be someone missing from my family. I had the not so brilliant idea to open an embroidery/vinyl business this year without a clue of what I was doing. Needless to say, I got overwhelmed during the holidays with a lot of orders whose owners depended on me to make it happen in time for Christmas. Between working a full-time job, working the embroidery business and trying to have a good Christmas for my family, I spiraled into a deeper depression that I fight every day. My tree made it up last weekend but has no decorations. My home, which typically is decorated, never saw a shred of tinsel, no Hobby Lobby decor, no nothing. Gifts were hurriedly tossed into gift bags with no name tags. I felt as if I was hanging on by a thread. Last night I felt like an absolute failure because I didn’t get the chance to make my daughter a pile of gluten-free things for our Christmas dinner. I absolutely love your posts and your transparency. You have made me feel hope this morning. Hope that I am not alone. Hope for the oncoming days that things will get better.
P.S. I ran up on you the The Money Saving Mom at the Business Boutique in Nashville, TN but was intimidated to say “hi”. Love both your blogs.
Oh Denise – I’m soooooo sorry you’ve gone through this (work is such a gift and I’m so impressed that you’ve done so much with your embroidery business, but I SOOOOOOO understand what it’s like to feel exactly the way you do over the holidays, I love my job but Christmas is tough!) Thank you so much for your kind words ~ praying rest for you the next few days (and please, always feel like you can come up and see me or really any blogger – most of us are just so humbled that anyone really knows who we are!) 🙂 Blessings to you this Christmas!
Wendy Briscoe says
Your post was written and as a daughter who has seen her father suffer two heart attacks they are scary ordeals, and trials during that time. As a family member you have to figure out a new normal for your family and your loved one. Diets change, rest becomes a priority, as well as exercise. I so enjoy your blog, and I’m thankful that you don’t have it all together because your just like me. REAL! Your a mom trying to work hard and take care of her family, and do the best you can do each and every day. So, thank you for not having it all together. 🙂 You are human! I hope 2017 brings better health, and more deeper friendships, and joys. I so enjoy your blog. Thanks for the honesty. It is refreshing. Happy New Year!
This just hit home as I was reading this and then I had to go back and read about your husbands heart attack. I just went through the same thing on November 5 with my husband that is 42 had a heart attack. He too had one artery that was 100% blocked but no blockage in any others. I have those same fears as you it’s so hard. I have to ask you what kind of food have you been fixing that is family friendly? This is our hardest part. Has your husband been sluggish and tired with the meds. My husband has been really discouraged because of his meds he can’t do what he normally could do cause he gets too tired. My heart hurt for you that you have had to go through that.
Oh Tia – I’m sending oodles of hugs and prayers your way right now! Undoubtedly the medicine is so much the hardest part (we are really struggling with that), and I wish I could tell you that’s gotten easier, but he feels lethargic most of the time due to all of them which just makes it tougher. I feel like getting through this first year will hopefully make a difference (and possibly a few med changes at the end of the year), so clinging to that right now. As far as food – ugh – my kids are NOT happy with this diet but I keep telling them in the long run it’s so much better for them too. For the most part we do lots of grilled chicken and salmon, he’s really careful about getting healthier options when we eat, and he almost completely stays away from sweet stuff. He’s lost 40 pounds and kept it off since April, but it’s been HARD – please tell your husband he’s not alone and we’re praying for him!
Connie Banaska says
Thank you for sharing your heart. I have heard of people saying that Christmas letters that I right or perhaps FB posts are a way to brag or make others jealous. I choose to share things about my family as a remembrance for me and my family to look back on and an encouragement to others. When I post I’m not saying we’re perfect “at all.” We’ve had huge changes as well, with one daughter 22 and on her own and another son 19 just moved out of state. I have one 11yr old blessings that’s going to give me a run for our money as well, but I have grown to treasure each family “crazy life” ups and downs. Enjoy your family everyday even when you don’t “have it all together”, it’s ok, we don’t either. Just keep motivating us and doing your best.
Judie Dobson says
We have 3 grown kids, 4 grands and 6 greats. My husband was in the Navy for 20 years and we moved 18 times so our kids attended many different schools. They were adaptable kids. I am so proud of them. We had many Christmases and various holidays without their dad. As adults we have also endured many family and friends deaths which have made us so thankful for the memories and value those alive
I so needed to read this tonight. I am praying that 2017 is better for all of us.
Thank you so much for this post. I was thinking many of the same exact things tonight while looking at facebook and all the “perfect” family portraits. My family isn’t perfect- but they’re perfect for me. And it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of that every now and then. Merry Christmas and thanks for feeling like my friend when we’ve never even met.
Lisa Rance says
We also are starting anew in a new state, once again and have in the past had to move teenagers to a new school as well. When I recently found you on my Facebook page, I so enjoyed your upbeat, fun, and real personality. For me it was like making a friend who encourages me to think more positive and makes me laugh. I’ve shared your site with my family in Indiana, made a couple of your 12 days of baking recipes and shopped for cute packing at Hobby Lobby as you suggested.
I believe God has a plan even when life feels scary, your overwhelmed and not sure what to do espiecally with teenagers. Please know I will lift you, your children and husband in pray . . . be encouraged that you are touching lives in a positive way. I look forward to seeing you in YouTube land! Gods blessings, Merry “Christ”mas
Thanks so much for sharing. Your story touched my heart as I’ve had the worst year ever. Without Jesus and my husband, I would have given up and just pulled the covers over my head. Your story reminded me that I am not alone. I pray God continues to guide you and bless you and your family.
OHIO. My husband was just transferred there, his company uprooting our picture perfect Florida lives and turning it into the Nightmare before Christmas. I wish you much luck, and more positivity than we have about this venture. He moved to test the waters, and so far Daytona’s waters are a little brighter than Lake Erie. Facebook either shows extreme good, or the depressing whoa is me attention seekers. Life is what’s off the wall. 😉
Oh. So. Feel. You. Sister!
And we moved from Alabama to New York this fall- let me know if you need sweet tea and a hug!❤
I happened up on your you tube and i was impressed. I thought she is cute as a button and looks like she has her act together. I like your penny pinching ideas. I am all about getting more bang for our buck. I am sorry to hear about your health troubles with you Husband. God bless you. Sometimes what does not kills us makes us stronger. Sometimes we wonder! Stay strong healthy happy and safe!!
Becky Pierce says
Thanks for keeping it real….there is always something to be thankful for even in the rough times.
Wow. I really needed to read this post today. I,too, was looking through my Facebook feed thinking everyone else’s life is so perfect while I’m having lots of struggles. Instead of my whole family gathering at my moms, we were visiting with her in the nursing home where she has been a resident for the past 7 weeks. Lots of decisions to be made and I’m just feeling so overwhelmed. Thank goodness I have two sisters to lean on. Sorry to ramble, but thanks for putting yourself out there and posting this today. Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!!
Thankyou for a honest blog about a real family life. I struggle with thinking that I don’t have it all together and my children will be disappointed because I failed somehow at being the best Mom. Our family is just like everyone else’s and it’s so refreshing to know that we all have issues. Thank the Good Lord we have Him Jesus to Trust that throughout our lives he will sustain us and get us through. Even when we didn’t think we make it! I’ve raised 4 kids and have been through the wringer more than once. Still drying out Lol
Well put. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Elizabeth Maendel says
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HONESTY!!!!!!! AND SHARING IT! I’m going to share it. It’s exactly the same way with me. This year, we didn’t even get ornaments on the tree. But, it’s still beautiful lit up with just lights at night!and celebrating Jesus is the reason!! We might decorate the tree & keep it up all January to enjoy!
As I’m scrolling through Christmas Eve posts…and starting to feel like we haven’t done enough for our kids…I read this from you. You are absolutely right. Thank you for the reminder. So appreciate you taking the time to be transparent and share.
Oh my goodness. Am I blessed. I just started following you a couple of weeks ago and enjoy your tips, but more I was taken by you. A lovely, intelligent, down to earth lady. I enjoyed your live video for the …oh geez… the machine like a cricut that am saving for ages. Sorry that is tacky, forgot the brand. However I am hooked on your brand now. Then I saw a clip with your family making some treats and you were so excited because you were saying you could not believe it because this was the first time your hubby came on camera. You were so excited and he was calm as could be. Another example of seeing this lively family and being new had no idea what you went thru. Sorry wordy. Hard to type thru tears. You are blessed. You have your family, a career and beautiful home. Lots going for you. You understand that many of us have had our pain and sorrow. So glad to have met you and will be following you as the Good Lord watches over you and yours.
I needed this!! I keep reminding myself to stop comparing my “insides” to everyones’ “outside” but ..it.is.HARD! It’s nice to hear that others struggle too 🙂
I have thoroughly enjoyed your fb live videos and your recipes are Amazing…..here’s to a fabulous 2017 celebrating all that God has blessed us with even if we are a big ol’ mess! ❤
Thank you so much for this article! I NEEDED to read this tonight!
karen b says
I used to get jealous of other peoples “perfect” families but don’t anymore because I realized that no family can be perfect all the time. Our cards are never picture perfect but they are ours & perfect for us. You are now my favorite blogger because you have stayed honest & down to earth even though you are probably making more money with more followers. I just love how in every thing you still put God there. I have enjoyed the bible verses in your last couple “cookbooks”.
We are in the middle of the-way-to-confident-God-bless-this-child-we’re-going-to-have-to-hold-on-tight-15-year-old. And YES it started around 9-10 years old so I totally know how you are feeling & he is our youngest also 🙂 We had 3 teenagers at one time but oh so much fun it can be if you let it. Now we have 2 adult children still living at home which brings a whole different set of challenges but we are enjoying it 🙂 Blessings to you & your family this CHRISTmas
Karen that means so much to me – I’m trying to remind myself that what’s around the corner for us is going to be fun too as I really do love these kids and can’t wait to see who they become, even though my heart’s aching a wee bit with that too! Thank you for your sweet encouragement and kind words – they mean more than you know. Merry Christmas!
Karen Bowman says
5 years later I’m rereading this post, and reading comments I found mine those 3 beautiful kids of mine are thriving and I survived all the teenage years and looking back I think those were some of the best years. AS someone told me years ago enjoy all stages, and we tried to even in the rough patches. And all of them being young adults working & thriving is special to watch also. Again thank you!
2016 has been one of the most trying years I have endured.We are told that we are never given more than we can handle yet I wonder about the cost? I hope that you and your family have found a way to deal with your husband’s health issue. It can be something that hangs in the back of your mind and clouds your days otherwise. I am hopeful for a better year in 2017. It doesn’t even have to be a fabulous year, mediocre would be an improvement. I wish the best for you and your family.
Oh Portia – my heart goes out to you tonight! Praying God’s peace for you this year as I know so many things are so incredibly hard some days. Blessings to you right now where you’re at – praying an incredible 2017 for you. (Hugs!)
Merry Christmas Stacy! I’m a new Facebook follower but I love your posts, videos and deals. May God bless you all. We too struggle and while we have a very good life there is always something new to deal with. Thank you for this post!
So glad you’ve taken the time to read PPP Lisa – that means so much to me. Merry Christmas!!!
Susan Summerlin says
Your are such a blessing to so many people! Because of you I stepped out of my comfort zone and made an ornament wreath for Christmas! Mine is different, but everyone says that it looks professional. I would not have gained this experience and confidence if not for you!
Thank you for the inspiration you give us “wanna be’s!”
Oh Susan – I just love that! Thank you for taking the time to share (so fun!!) Merry Christmas 🙂
Thank you for sharing. It has been a hard year. We lost our home and cat to a fire the day before thanksgiving. But we are ok for the most part. Trying to be positive. Merry Christmas and a better year ahead, right? Dale
I’m so so sorry Dale and can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through this last month – my heart aches for you. It sound s like you’re handling things incredibly well – praying for your continued strength over the next few months as you all continue to recover. Sending hugs your way!
I love that you share your heart with us. That you admit that life isn’t perfect, but that you point us to Him! You as impacting people for the kingdom and helping people live within their means! I hope you feel blessed about that. I saw a Christmas card with a picture perfect family. The inside read: this picture does not represent our family ever! Merry Christmas!!
I LOVE that Sherry ~ we may need to use that on our Christmas card next year! Thank you for your kind words today!!! 🙂
Thank you for being honest. I so needed this today. I feel like everyone has a perfect life but me.
Jennifer – I’m pretty sure we’re all a mess, you are sooooo not alone. Praying a wonderful Christmas for you right now (blessings!)
I couldn’t ❤ this post anymore! Thank you for sharing! Have a Merry Christmas!!
Merry Christmas to you too Sandy! 🙂
Amen to that Laurie!
Life is not perfect but is an adventure that changes daily – good with the not so good – if you believe , it will always turn out the way it should
Thank you for this post and for grounding us all today on this Christmas Eve
God Bless and Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family 🙂
Merry Christmas to you too Sue!
Thank you for sharing this Laurie. I needed this reminder today.
You’re so welcome Susan. Merry Christmas!
You are so sweet. No one really knows what goes on inside a family. They have trials you might not believe, some you wouldn’t want. We’re told we won’t be given more than we can bear. Trials and tribulations do make us stronger, speaking from experience. We have a kind and loving Heavenly Father who will always be there for us just keep the line open. Not just in bad times but in good, be thankful.
You are so right Pamela – we only have a glimpse into things and don’t always know the full truth. Thank you for the reminder that ultimately He holds us in His hands – so very blessed by that!
Thanks for sharing this today. I, for one, needed to hear it. Thanks for all you do, and Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to you too Janelle – goodness, you’re not alone (we all needed to hear it I think!)
“To top it all off we’ve got one way-too-confident-God-bless-this-kid-we’re-going-to-have-to-hold-on-tight-for-the-next-ten-years-nine-year-old.”
Totally have one of these, but a ten year old boy!
Bless your heart Stacy – we are not alone! 🙂 We SURELY can survive, but WOW it’s gonna be a wild ride. 🙂
Thanks for making it real. It’s been a very hard year for me this year. Looking forward to 2017. Thanks for sharing with us. Your a awesome lady.Thank you so much.
Thank you so so much for your kind words Jackie – they mean so much to me! Merry Christmas! 🙂