I can hardly believe it’s already time for our Sweet Shop Inspired Holiday Home Tour. I swear it feels like just yesterday I was writing our Little Sparkle Holiday Home Tour post!
If you’re new here, every year I use our holiday home tour to write words of encouragement for the Christmas season.
It’s one of the hardest posts to write because it requires a certain level of vulnerability that I have to physically, spiritually, and emotionally prepare weeks for.
Sometimes I chicken out and my bestie S who helps me run the website has to press publish on the post.
I know they’re one of your favorite posts of the entire year though and my only hope is that I can do this one justice.
I feel like I’ve shared parts of this story before but I know I haven’t shared the entire thing, so here goes…
Several years ago, S and I happily chatted without a care in the world as we headed to brunch under a gorgeous clear blue sky.
There is only one way on and off the island and on this particular day, we happened to be behind a horse trailer.
We were driving north at about 45 mph not too far into our journey when we saw the latch on the horse trailer start to give way.
Up ahead we saw a car driving south quickly approaching us.
S did everything she could to get the attention of both drivers to no avail.
In a matter of minutes, the door of the horse trailer flew wide open, and the horse walked out of the moving trailer and stumbled into our lane.
A few seconds later, we were so deep in the trees on the side of the road I could not get my car door open.
It took a while to get our bearings and to fully assess the situation.
But there is no doubt in my mind S and a million angels saved our lives and the life of the horse we came to know as Proud that day.
As I watched the driver load the battered horse onto the trailer for additional medical attention, I put all my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and anxieties related to the event in a mental box and placed it on a shelf in my mind.
I rarely spoke of the accident again despite it being one of the scariest experiences of my life.
And I all but stopped driving completely.
At first, it wasn’t a problem.
We were working from home and couldn’t really go anywhere anyway thanks to the pandemic.
Little by little though, I found myself struggling to even get in the car and as a result, my anxiety became debilitating.
Earlier this spring, I got a call my four-year-old cousin had passed away following a tragic horse accident.
The funerals were set to be held in two different cities on two different days.
Up to that point, I had a driver available any time I needed one.
But on this particular day, my only option was to make the hour-long drive to meet my middle sister and her family so we could then make the over five-hour journey to the funeral together.
Don’t get me wrong it was a huge blessing my brother-in-law was even willing to drive us all to the funeral.
But it also meant I would have to drive alone for the first time in two and a half years.
Despite the heartbreaking circumstances I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know if I had the courage to make myself do it.
The night before the funeral, I had a total meltdown and cried harder than I’d ever cried before.
In a weird way, I felt relieved I had finally allowed myself to grieve how scary the experience had been and how I had allowed it to affect my life.
The next day, I got into a car I’d never even turned on much less driven before and made the journey to meet my sister.
I wish I could say the trip was flawless.
But I thought about turning around at every single exit.
You know what kept me going? Celebrating little wins.
Getting off the island? Win
Driving across the scary bridge? Win
Passing the big mall? Win
Top Golf in the distance? Win
The road home? Win
Every time my thoughts said, “Turn around CoCo you’re too weak to pull this off!” I would say, “Is that true? Is that helpful? Is that kind,” repeatedly to help steel my nerves.
I made every landmark no matter how big or small a win.
It took me an hour and 20 minutes to make the hour-long drive.
And as I drove through the gates of my parent’s primary home affectionally known as Bliss Barracks, I cried happy tears of pure joy as I sat in the driveway collecting myself.
Moments later I heard a soft knock on the window.
It was my brother-in-law with a huge smile on his face, “I’m so proud of you. You made it!” he said as he pulled me in for a ginormous hug, tears still streaming down my face.
We made it to the funeral later that day and I’m incredibly thankful I was able to push my fears aside and show up for a family I dearly love.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
It’s not lost on me that another tragic horse accident was the catalyst for a significant breakthrough in my life, but I’ve long given up trying to explain His mysterious ways.
I wish I could tell you I started driving myself around town the day after the funeral but that did not happen.
The courage to work through a debilitating anxiety disorder and begin the healing journey in an effort to reclaim my independence took longer than I could have ever imagined.
I still have to work on it each and every day.
The thing I want you to know this holiday season is that just because something takes longer than you expect it will or it doesn’t happen in the timeframe you feel it should happen, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.
It just means, not yet.
Over the course of this year, I’ve learned to celebrate the big things and the little things in a truly intentional way.
The tiny moments of progress that never used to feel like progress, now feel sweeter than ever.
I’ve learned to wait in that uncomfortable space called the messy middle with grace, gratitude, and humble expectation.
I’ve also learned to look for landmarks so that any time I feel discouraged things aren’t happening quickly enough, I can physically see signs of slow growth and steady change.
It’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to have a sweet shop-themed holiday home this year.
We’ve grown so much both personally and professionally, I wanted to open the front door and feel the words “let your heart be light” from the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas wash over me immediately.
And I wanted anyone else we welcomed into our home who was celebrating big wins, and little wins this season to feel the same way.
About a month ago, I was driving my bestie S home from the hospital. The weeks and months leading up to surgery day had been long and at times scary.
Overcome with emotion, I felt a tear drop down my cheek as we finally made our way onto the interstate.
“You don’t have to do this I can call someone,” she said. “I know it’s really hard for you.”
It took a minute but when I finally found my voice again, I said, “These are happy tears. Three years ago, I would not have thought this was even possible.”
As we prepare to fully settle into the holiday season, I hope you’ll take time to celebrate all the magical things that have happened this year.
The time you rose to the occasion to achieve your goals and dreams.
The time you showed up for your family when you were so tired you didn’t think you had the energy to do so.
The time you stopped talking and really started listening.
The time you put down your phone and set aside your laptop to be fully present.
The time you chose healthy habits over convenient ones.
The time you looked at your bank account and realized you had managed to save more than you thought.
The time you spoke up for yourself, took time for yourself, or gave yourself exactly what you needed when you needed it.
The time you forgave.
The time you let it go.
The time you walked away, head held high, knowing you had freed yourself from something toxic.
The time you surprised someone with an unexpected blessing without an agenda.
The time you handled a situation in a completely different way and stopped to think, “This right here, right now, is lasting change.”
In our world today, celebrating extravagant achievements, milestone moments, movie stars, sports heroes, award winners, and epic adventures seem to get the most critical acclaim.
But I want you to know the work you’re doing at home, from the board room to the online group chat room, on the bus or the subway, in the checkout line, around the dinner table, at the dance studio or the soccer fields, in the hospital, in the coffee shop, the bookstore, on the street, in your living room, and while in your car is even more critical.
The magic you bring to each day is a gift only you can give.
So, my prayer for you this Christmas, is that you will fully know your gifts make a difference no matter how big or small.
For thousands of years ago, it was a simple yes from an innkeeper, a guiding star, devoted parents, three wise men, and a divine promise that helped to make this season possible.
And those humble gifts changed everything.
With love for all the gifts you continue to add to my life each day through kind words of encouragement and generous support,
PS: You can find more on our Sweet Shop Inspired entry here, our mantel here, and our Sweet Shop Inspired Christmas tree here which includes all the ornaments and gift tags we made this year. Plus, the pink gumball machines here!