The post-holiday slump. I’m feeling it. You?
It’s always odd trying to ramp myself up for the holidays because it takes a lot of effort. You may understand. There aren’t carols playing in every store. Or, if there is, it’s Jingle Bells. On repeat. Blaring. There isn’t family to travel and see or wait impatiently until they arrive. There isn’t the pressure of consumerism making you wonder if you bought everyone enough gifts. (Ok, not surprisingly, I don’t actually miss this, but it’s still part of feeling the holiday, no?) There isn’t the Christmas Eve service where you find yourself in awe, surrounded by hundreds of lit candles.
No, there are not these things. But there is the wonderful internet that can play endless hours of Christmas music in my home. Not blaring. There are teammates and other Family members to celebrate with—and that’s a beautiful picture of heaven right there. There can be a candlelight service, complete with candles stuck in dixie cups, that can still bring a since of awe in our little corner of the world.
Ok, so I kinda sorta got ramped up for Christmas. The traditional foods, gift exchanges, games, and pajama-wearing fun. We do the best we can, right?
And then it’s over. In our particular job and country, we just go right back to work on the 26th. No extended time off—back at it. Back to teaching, responding to emails, and putting out fires (thankfully, not literal ones). It’s a rough jerk back to reality, when for several decades we lived it a different way.
Then the kids realize the hype is over and no, toddler, there are no more presents to open!
My lovely offspring have been hard lately. My two oldest boys attended a small international school for the semester, but are back to homeschooling for the unforeseen future due to hiring difficulties. Talk about a jerk back to reality! It’s been a rough road to figure out what curriculum they had been using (not my first choices) and how to teach it. To go along with it, the dive back into Teacher Mama and demanding respect for both roles hasn’t been so smooth. My most-often used phrase recently is: “Did you say/do/act that way to your teacher? Then why to me?” And let’s not forget the toddler roaming around asking a thousand questions a minute—mostly about when her next snack will be.
I’m fresh out of patience.
As I reflect on the year, though, I realize I’ve been here before. The times of feeling done, ready to throw in the towel on a certain area. When I get to this point, my anger flares up faster. My fuse much, much shorter. Then I read a Bible story to the kids about the Israelites, and there I am, a wandering, complaining, disobedient “chosen one” in a colorful caricature on the page. I like to joke that my kids are exactly like the Israelites, but I can’t ignore myself. So am I. When things get a little tough—especially when it comes to raising these little ones—I’m so, so quick to just give up and give in to my anger.
But God never did. Sure, He had righteous anger—and rightly so—with His wayward children, but He never once gave up on His promise. Those stories get me every time. They hit home, reminding me of my sin and humble me to my knees, begging for forgiveness and a fresh start. If only I could learn this lesson better and faster!
“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” –Luke 17:4
I’m going to post this in my room so that when the oldest is teasing the younger ones for the millionth time, and the youngers are screaming “STOP!” at him after being told repeatedly that’s not how we handle things, and when the mischievous toddler steals candy and hides to eat it for the nth time, well, let me remember just how many times God forgave His children. And half the time, they weren’t even truly sorry.
Grace upon grace. That’s what He gives; so should I…especially since I tend to lean more towards truth and justice.
Maybe you’re with me in some way. Whether you’re feeling the weight of sadness of yet another holiday spent alone or away from loved ones, or you just can’t dig out of a rut of a repeated sin issue, let me be the first to say you’re not alone! Sister, we are in this together. I pray you have the eyes to see what He has in store for you during this valley time, because His promises are true: He loves you deeply, cares about all of your pain, and won’t leave you. We all just read about how He sent part of Himself to be with us. Cling to that Love and press on! There are sure to be great things ahead!
How were your holidays? If they were joyful, share so we can rejoice with you! If they were difficult, share so we can encourage you! Are you fresh out of anything as the year closes?
I know the season is almost over for gingerbread, but whatever. I don’t like to be put in boxes, if you hadn’t noticed! And, I know, I know, gingerSNAPS are supposed to snap, but I much prefer a chewy cookie over one that might break a tooth. Personal preference. This is probably my favorite cookie of all time–yes, even better than chocolate chip. Soft, chewy, slightly sweet, with a punch of ginger. So, so good!
The dry ingredients are simple enough–look at all that ginger!
These are unique in that they involve browning butter. Don’t be scared! You’ll love that nutty flavor added in!
Butter does super weird things during this process: stay close and watch like a hawk so you don’t burn it!
Browned butter! See? Not hard.
See that orange zest?! Yum!
Perfect little things with a dust o’ sugar, ready to bake into perfection.
I mean, come on!! Their soft chewy goodness is calling your name!
Soft & Chewy Gingersnaps
Makes: 2 dozen cookies
Slightly adapted from: Baker By Nature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, browned and brought back to room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar (I put less since my sweet tooth isn’t as strong these days), plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
How to Brown Butter:
Cut the butter in tablespoons and place them in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, until the solids sink to the bottom of the pan and turn golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat, pour browned butter into a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until solidified, about 2 hours. (I have also done the speedy way via freezer, but just check often to make sure it’s not frozen!)
To make the Dough:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Remove the brown butter from the refrigerator. Microwave the butter on low power, for 10 to 15 seconds, or until it’s just softened, but not melted.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the softened butter until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Add in both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the molasses and orange zest and beat until combined.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients, beating just until combined.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour (or up to one day).
When ready to Bake:
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mat and set them aside.
Scoop out 2 tablespoon sized mounds of cookie dough and roll them into evenly round balls. Set on baking sheet about 2 inches apart, then press down slightly. Sprinkle a little sugar on top, if desired.
Bake cookies for 9 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and lightly golden. Cool cookies on the baking sheet, set on a wire rack, for 10 minutes before serving warm or transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store leftover cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days.