Hold Tight {it is worth the work}

{I surprised my family with a weekend in Denver…I didn’t even tell Kelly}

Sometimes I wish I could slip back into time and be a small child that can’t sleep on Christmas Eve with an excited heart.

As a child you are oblivious of other things going on around you.

{A night ice skating with my sister and her family}

I have said recently that the age I am now is very real.


You can’t turn your head and pretend not to see, hear or experience life or the pain of others.

{Larmier Square in Denver at night}

This Christmas felt different.

This was our second Christmas during my parent’s divorce.

I want to be honest and say that my parent’s divorce is still hard to believe.

I think that at holidays you can notice the change the most.

{Ready to see White Christmas in Denver}

I say this not because my parent’s had a good or easy marriage but because I thought they made it through in spite of the hard years.

Even with all the hardships over the years I was still so thankful I had my family together.

{Ice Skating with my boyfriend}

I honestly knew that forgiveness had been given and washed away over past hurts….and I couldn’t believe that those second, third, fourth chances were thrown away to hurt again.

With my whole heart I believed the past was behind us.

About three Christmas’ ago I was looking around my sister’s home on Christmas Eve and watching my whole family together.

My sister and brother-in-law had a new born little boy and their other two little girls around them.

My younger brother was by the fire with my three children swarming around him like usual.

My own husband not far from my side.

And my mom and dad.

I remember going up to both of them separately and thanking them for working to keep our family together.

I had expressed that there were many years that I had wanted them to be separate and I was now so thankful that my children could be with both of them together.

I had tears in my eyes as I thanked them for how much being together as a family meant to me.

{Our beautiful town}

I have hurt for my children.

Their relationship with my father was always different than the one he had with his own children.

I get little innocent questions while standing in line at the post office.

I catch little tears because they know they have lost something special but they don’t quite yet know what it is.

They know that something wrong happened but in the beautiful way that children can so easily see right from wrong.

They don’t know the details and they don’t have to.

They know that grandpa lives with someone else…and it is not grandma.

{Our own white Christmas}

I also know with my whole heart that this whole experience has made me cherish my own little family more.

Work harder.

Love more.

Forgive faster.

{Taking a break for hot cocoa and a candy cane}

What I love about my family is that we have found great joy through all of this.

We love each other even more.

We know what there is to lose.

I love the way we can laugh and see the good around us too.

Our glasses are half full…always!

It has shown me again and again that the Lord helps you forgive when you ask Him.

Working towards forgiveness has freed me from chains that I was never supposed to carry in the first place.

{Early Christmas morning}


This Christmas as I was making dinner for everyone I got a call.

A call from one of my dearest and closest friends.

Her grandma and grandpa had been traveling a short distance to their daughter’s home (my friend’s mom) and had been in an accident.

Her grandfather died instantly and the grandma is currently in critical but stable condition.

As her tears started to flow and her voice cracked …my heart broke.

Her family was broken that day too but for very different circumstances.

As soon as I got off of the phone my family prayed for her family.

Life is real.

It hurts, it brings joy, it brings pain and blessings.

It is work.

Hold on tight.

Love those around you as if there is no tomorrow.

{Making snowflakes for the school they are opening at Sandy Hook}

We are all broken… some a little and others a lot.

That is ok.

That is why we need each other.

{A fun afternoon with cousins}

So, maybe this Christmas felt a little different.

I think it felt different for lots of people.

Maybe we were all feeling what the Lord wants us to feel.

Maybe He was breaking our hearts for the things that break His.

What extravagant love could come out of a world that felt each other’s pain?

What kind of a world could be created?

I want to play a part in THAT world!

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  1. Kerri

    beautiful post. sometimes life is very unpredictable and I think we all have seen that in recent weeks. we want to feel JOY yet we know others are hurting more and it is so difficult. thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Ann-Margaret Arnold

    Such a beautiful post, Jeanne! Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us…I can relate to so much of what you said ~ it truly is about {and, needs to be} finding the beauty in loving more, letting go, laughing, and looking for the sunshine all around us…even on the cloudy days…and, then, spreading it!! 🙂 Hugs!!

  3. Kay Burnett

    what truth! life is hard but it is also so beautiful. the small moments. the bigger picture. family is what you make of it with all of the good and the bad mixed in. each day i am amazed at the things i have begun to notice. is it that i am older? no. it is because i know i am loved, forgiven, accepted, a child of God. thank you for sharing your beautiful Christmas story.

  4. Pam

    Jeanne as much as I love your beautiful creations and your artsy side….This post is why I truly love reading your blog. When you open up to us your words are so humble, inspiring, and honest, and when you are funny you are heeee-larious! I love that you give me something to think about when I come away from one of your posts like this. I also know it takes bravery to open up like this, but you have no idea how many people you may be helping by sharing those thoughts.It is so easy for people to look and see only perfection but I appreciate that you share with us your moments that make you one more mother trying her best to be herself and take care of her family. God Bless you for sharing.

    1. Kathleen

      Pam… so well said… you are so right about only seeing “perfection” in others, when we have no clue that they could really be hurting. Part of dealing with life lessons, for me, (and maybe age, LOL!) is that I never judge anyone (never did), but now I see that no one’s life is perfect. So, I reach out even more to anyone and everyone! Thank YOU for sharing! xo Kathleen

  5. deb hosaflook

    Jeanne, I know how hard the divorce must be for you. And maybe not everyday you think about it, but then there comes those times that we are suppose to be together as a “family” or at least the idea of the Family that most people have. Though my parents were married for 58 years before my mom past a year ago, the father of my 4 sons and I have been divorced for 10 years. The Holidays are never the same anymore, for me or them. The years that I don’t have my boys with me on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning are AWFUL!!!! They are 21, 19, 17 and 15, but it is still AWFUL!!!!! Those first few Christmases were worse than AWFUL. Though I knew that Christmas was not about Santa and presents and all of that part of it, it is about having those you love closest to you and rejoicing in what we have. It is so hard when what I had wasn’t with me. I have now remarried and so has my boys’ father. So now we have two other sets of family to work into the equation and no one gets to spend the amount of time they want to with the boys. They don’t complain and when they were younger, said how cool it was to have two Christmases, but I wonder if that is really how they felt. I long for those Christmas Eve’s and Christmas mornings when we were ONE family. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe that getting divorced was the right thing for their dad and I, I just HATE what that does to the family core. My husband loves my boys as if they were his own, even more so because he does not have children of his own. But all of us want to be able to not have to worry about who had them last year for this or that, we all just want them with us. I pray your family will always remain in tact. I am sure your mom and your dad’s hearts break a little each Holiday too, because it is hard on everyone. We all want the same thing, but sometimes just can’t have it. Unfortunately in our society, Family looks very different from how it did when I was growing up ( I am 48). But in order to make it okay for our children, we have to show them that Family can look many different ways and still be a family, as long as there is love. But oh, it would be so nice if it were that picture pefect Norman Rockwell painting that we are all so familiar with.
    Thank you for sharing your happiness, sorrows, joy and pain with us. Happy New Year to you and your family.

    1. Kathleen

      Debbie, you said it perfectly. I went through the same thing… it’s so hard when you don’t get that “Norman Rockwell” painting and fully believe in that, but as you say, we are better off now, with wonderful people…. but… xo to you!!!! Kathleen

  6. Rose D. Frenchtown, NJ

    So many tears flow in my family…Though we may cry for different reasons I wish only joy and much happiness for you and your family. Wishing you the best this holiday season and throughout the new year!!!

  7. Stacey M. Curry

    Our prayers are with your friends family, my heart breaks for her. Thank you for reminding me just how blessed I am and for reminding me to forgive a little faster! Wishing you and yours a beautiful 2013 Jeanne!

  8. cathi

    Beautifully stated – I so agree with you. Six weeks ago I was having coffee with one of my best friends and this week she is fighting for her life with a rare aggressive incurable cancer. This Christmas my heart has been broken for her and her family knowing that there isn’t alot of time left for them. Enjoy each moment sometimes sounds so simplistic, but I can’t say it enough.
    Hold your loved ones close! xxoo

  9. paige

    i’ve so respected your transparent heart though all this jeanne. you know how to take a sad, heartbreaking situation and turn it around to aspire YOU to live differently and intentionally. i love that about you.
    you’re a good mama and good wifey
    happy new year friend….thank you for sharing your heart. even when its broken

  10. Jeanne

    What a beautifully touching post Jeanne. Family is so important and I agree with you whole-heartedly…treasure every minute with them because you never know when your last minute with them will be. I know, because I’ve been through that kind of loss.

  11. Angie H.

    Reading your story made me stop and think”. My husband just commented how bad my cookies I just made tasted. I was very sad, but in the big scheme of life, it doesn’t matter. Thank you for your words today, they were just what i needed. God bless

  12. songskatesang

    You amaze me. I truly believe that people who are able to forgive just have beauty flowing out of them. This is truly evident in your family, your friends and your art. Hugs and hugs.

  13. Lori

    So true, life can change in the blink of an eye. Divorce or death their is always the empty seat even though the table is full. God has given us the great gift of choice, its always up to us but what a challenge it can be. Thanks for being so raw about your family situation. It helps knowing that others have the same climb forward. xoxo

  14. Kathleen

    honest, heartfelt and made me cry… your post and all the others… Life is not what we expected, at times, but it can still be full of love. I think as we get older (yes, we do become that age after all…. I turned 50 in June… and love it) things become real and we realize the value of what we have… not the physical things, but all the love we can give and receive from those we love and even strangers. My kids are older and I’m an “empty nester”. I removed myself from that crazy hubbub of life up in the burbs (we lived in Parker) and we moved to Manitou Springs/Old Colorado City. I love the fact that there’s people in need and people who don’t adore “things” in life. Life, family and friends are so important… as we know, things can change in a heartbeat…. precious, precious life… savior it always. Thank you for reminding me to hold the ones I love even closer. Life has been way too stressful… hugs are needed!

  15. Suzen

    Dear Jeanne, I am 63 and still learning. God has put people and things in my path and I have, at times, actually paid attention. When I do, things get easier. I just know that I am not the architect of anything except my own attitude. In accepting everything that is in my life, I feel I am accepting God’s path for me. I am learning to appreciate everything as God’s plan. Which, let me just say, is really not easy. Just yesterday I got mad at the post delivery woman because she snarked at me. This is a very little thing and still it upset me. I am learning my own need to decide what others “should” do and how painful that attitude is for me. I am learning to accept life on its own terms. Man, is this hard! In retrospect, (one of the blessings of age) I see how what happened in my life was there to teach me and how I was never alone. I’m still working on it. I always love your writing and photos and your dear family. I wish every blessing for you, even the ones you don’t want. XOXOX PS What a nice vacation for you for the holiday surprise!

  16. Teri

    Sometimes, even though we put in a smile and seem to have moved past the hurt in a marriage, it doesn’t truly go away. And we have to start again in order to trust the person we’re with.

    Give it time, Jeanne. You will see that a new normal emerges that will be something different, but still good. This has happened with my ex husband and me. Together with our new spouses, we all spent Christmas Eve with our children and new grandson.

  17. Sheila Rumney

    Thank you for your heartfelt post. My twin sister and I have lived with my parents divorce for most of our lives. At 46 it still hurts us both, but I am reminded of all the blessings that came from this divorce… 3 sisters and so more family after each remarried. Life isn’t the Normal Rockwell, it is so much better… May God continue to bless you and your family.

  18. Lynne

    I seek beauty through tears of sadness. It’s always there. This post is pretty beautiful, Jeanne!

    I am one of your students! (I didn’t miss a class!) Thank you for enriching this sixty year old creative heart and soul,

  19. Lori

    What a beautiful post Jeanne ~ my heart is breaking for your friend ~ it is never a good time to lose someone that you love but to have such a tragedy happen around the holidays makes it harder.

  20. Jo

    I cried reading this post. My heart breaks for you. It’s so hard to see anyone in pain. In his defense, your dad must have had a lot of internal pain for years probably, to leave the family. It’s just very hard for everyone. My brother and his wife, whose marriage I idolized and thought was perfect, left his family for the same reasons last year. I’m going to share a story with you that might help ease your pain. On Feb. 26, 2011, after finding out 80 days earlier that my dear husband had stage 4 cancer, he was taken to Heaven. He was my world. He still is. I cry as I am typing this. He means the world to me. Needless to say, I was completely devastated. We have a little hobby farm in MN. There are so many things outside that he did to keep up with things. Most of them, I couldn’t do – I either didn’t know how or it was “man’s work”. I wasn’t strong enough, didn’t know how to use certain pieces of equipment, etc. I was lucky because he was able to tell me how to take care of a lot of things, but that spring it seemed like a lot was going wrong and I didn’t know where to turn. I was at a very low point and sinking fast. One particular Sunday, our pastor told the story of an old Indian talking to his little grandson. He told the boy he didn’t feel well. The boy asked, “Why?” The old grampa replied, “Well, I have two wolves fighting inside me. One is good; one is evil.” The boy asked which one would win. The grampa replied, “The one that you feed.” That simple five word sentence changed me. I realized right then and there I’d been feeding the wrong wolf. To make this long story short, I immediately decided the way I was living wasn’t going to work. I started concentrating on the positive, and things have been so much better. I am sad, I am broken-hearted, but I go on. God gave me this life for a reason and it’s up to me to figure out what I’m supposed to do. I know He’s beside me, leading me, helping me, carrying me at times, and I will get through this. But just remember to always try to feed the right wolf. God bless you and your family.

  21. Kristiana

    This is so incredibly beautiful! I think the last part was my favorite because that’s what I’ve been feeling in my heart as well….”Maybe He was breaking our hearts for the things that break His.” God bless you and your wonderful family. Praying for comfort for y’all through such a difficult time.

  22. Anne

    I am so sorry I know how hurtful it is when family’s break apart.My husband went through this as a child. Sadly I have a dysfunctional family so gatherings are always strange.But it has made me closer to my husband and daughter.We laugh,we live,we love! We cherish every single minute together! My husband took time off for her Christmas break and it has been the best time just being together!
    Best wishes to you and your family in the coming year!

  23. jessica

    amazing truth written here, beautifully…thank you for sharing these intimate thoughts and feelings. xo

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