Jan 28, 2015

Pretty Little Lies....

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I love that we have landed right back in Genesis. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of your foundation. Genesis is a good reminder.

Without a solid foundation, we crumble. Without our beliefs built on the solid Rock of His Word, we fall apart.

This week, God made this crystal clear to me.

For the last few weeks, really since December, I have been in a weird place with my faith walk. The root of the weirdness was an internal struggle with fear that I was having.

Really, it should not have come as a surprise. Early December I spoke to a room full of women about the struggles I have had with fear and how I was able to have victory through God's Word.

I have been around long enough to know that when we share our hearts, encourage, and point others to Him, the enemy is on attack. In a big way.

I hit his radar.

Sometimes it's a subtle attack, so slow that it is almost impossible to detect. Other times it is so fast and furious that it knocks you to your knees before you know what hit you.

Mine was a knee-buckling fall.

It started with a pretty little lie. A lie that I should have known better to fall for. A lie about who I was.

Fearful.
Hopeless.
Doubtful.
Unusable.
Rejected.
Worthless.
Defeated.

I know these lies well. They are not new lies. They are old lies that I overcame years ago.

Until they come back to your doorstep and invite themselves in again.

My mind and heart had allowed a sliver of those lies back in. And boom. The bondage began.

The funny thing is, sometimes we can be in bondage and not realize that we are. We convince ourselves that this is just "how we are". We believe the lie that victory is for others and we are destined to struggle.

This is a lie.

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14

"In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" Ephesians 6:16

Why do we fall for lies? Why are we so quick to believe what the enemy says about us instead of what our Creator says?

"I am holy and without blame before Him in love" Ephesians 1:4

"I have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16

"I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good works" Ephesians 2:10

"I am the head and not the tail; I am above only and not beneath" Deuteronomy 28:13

"I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood" Ephesians 1:7

"For God has not given me a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind" 2 Timothy 1:7

"I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world"
 1 John 4:4

Recently, I cried out to God and spoke these scriptures back to Him. In the midst of my self-pity, self-loathing, and fearful state of mind, I clung to the Rock that is Higher than I. The Rock of His Word. The Rock of His Truth.

Here's the thing....

Those lies are not just going to disappear. Nope. They have to be obliterated with His Word. With Truth.

His Word is the ONLY weapon against the enemy and his lies.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12


"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
Jeremiah 23:29

Coming out of the fog of bondage is the most exhilarating thing on this Earth. It's like putting on glasses never knowing you were blind all along. Suddenly, you are able to see. 

I told the Lord that I was desperate to point the way for others living in bondage. I told Him that I was  desperate for His Peace to be a river overflowing out of your precious lives. I told Him that I wanted to help free the captives. Just as He freed me. 

And then I got mad at the relentless pursuit of the enemy for our hearts and minds. His relentless pursuit to steal our peace and our joy. 

Ahhhh, but  then I remembered this verse...

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20

What has the enemy intended for harm in your life that God will turn around and accomplish for His Goodness and the saving of many lives? 

Go claim your place, sweet girl. Remember who you are, and remember Whose you are. 

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" Psalm 139:14

"I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened." Ephesians 1:17-18

"I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me". 1 John 5:18

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-20


walking in Truth, 


jill


Jan 27, 2015

Pray for who??

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Oh, Job. Job, Job, Job.

You really need to make wiser choices in friendship, Job. However, I admire you for obeying the Lord in the end and praying for your foolish friends. You rock, Job. Peace out, friend.

If you have hung in here with us in this long book of Job, you just finished reading the part where God comes in and talks to Job and his mouthy friends.[Job 42]

Did any of you cringe a bit as well? I was biting my nails as the Lord spoke so Sovereign and Powerful to Job and his goofy friends.

I was just about to shut my eyes and quit reading until I got to this part...

"And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before." Job 42:10

Wait, what?

Ok, let's read this one more time.

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

So, let's get this straight.

Job lost everything. And I mean everything. His friends come by to comfort him, but end of throwing him under the bus. They told him that because of his many hidden sins, the Lord had punished him.

Job begged and pleaded for those mouthy men to let up in their rebuke, but they didn't.

We learned in the beginning of the book that Job was allowed to be tested because of his faithfulness and holiness. Let's say that again....Job was allowed to be tested because of his faithfulness and holiness. 

Can we just park here for a second?

What if we viewed life in this way. What if we chose to believe that it wasn't because of our sinfulness and ugliness that bad things come our way, but out of our faithfulness.

I know this is not always the case. Sin does come with consequences.

However, what if we could wrap our brains around the fact that sometimes we jump to conclusions, judge others and ourselves, without knowing the full story.

We often condemn ourselves and others, when God alone is the Judge and Jury. Only He knows why He allows certain things to take place. He is Sovereign. We are not.

Can I get a hallelujah?

Soak on that thought. Let it resonate.

Okay, moving on.

Job prayed for his friends. Even after their wrongful accusations.

Job prayed for his friends. Even after they turned their backs on him.

Job prayed for his friends. Even after they mocked him and insulted him.

I'm struck by something here. As I type, I cannot help but to picture Jesus on the Cross. Hanging there, bloody and battered.

As He looks across the crowd that mocks Him and spews insults, this is what Jesus says, "Forgive them, Father. For they know not what they do." Luke 23:24

This is a huge teaching moment for us, friends. Huge.

Are we praying for those friends that hurt us? Are we praying for those that have turned their backs on us? Are we praying for those that have rejected us, used us, or gossiped about us? Are we praying for those that "know not what they do?"

If we are not, what would happen if we did.

I wonder what in the world God has in store for us when we can turn our hurts over to Him in prayer. Not only turning over our hurts, but those who have hurt us as well.

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44

I'm seeing a pattern here.


thank you Job,


jill




Jan 21, 2015

Friends in low places....

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As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

At the end of this month, I will be turning 40. GULP.

Actually, I am excited! My thirties have been good, but I am ready for something new. A new decade, here we come!

While we read in the book of Job, and listen to the incredible insensitive lectures by his friends, I am reminded of something. Friendship.

Friendship is important. Friendships are valuable. Friendships can breathe life into a weary heart.

On the contrary, they can steal life from a weary heart as well. As in the case of Job's friends. Sigh.

Turning 40 soon reminds me of the priceless gifts of true friendship. I believe good friends are a gift from the Lord.

In my thirties, friendship was important. However, raising kids, and the busyness [chaos!] of life in this season, caused friendships to often get the back burner.

Good friendships outlast the back burner. Good friendships know and believe that seasons soon change, and the back burner will get more attention sooner or later.

For many years, I have prayed for God to hand pick my friends. I have journaled notes to Him asking Him to please lead me to friends that He would want for me. Friendships that honor Him.

Not only this, but I often ask Him to help make me a good friend. If I am not a good friend, it will be hard to find a good friend.

I have failed miserably at times in the friendship department. Not intentionally, of course. But, I have failed none the less.

True friendships get past the mess ups. True friendships forgive. And forgive easily. True friendships believe the best. Even when it's hard.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

The Lord created us for fellowship. He created us to need each other. In His beautiful way, He created people to love each other. Encourage each other. Cheer for each other. Cry with each other. Laugh with each other.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The things about friendship is that we often emulate who we hang out with. I preach this to my children more times than they care to remember.

We must be wise in our friendships. We must seek Him for guidance in this area. He wants our friendships to thrive.

A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 
12:26


When my friend Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer this Summer, everything about friendship and my perspective on it changed. Drastically.

I was faced with guilt. Have I been a good friend? Am I a good friend to her? Have I shown her how much I appreciate her and enjoy her precious friendship?

When a friend's sickness knocks you in the face, suddenly you grow up. You forget about the dumb stuff. You put on your big girl panties whether you are ready or not.

Life is too short for holding onto grudges. Or guilt. Or unforgiveness.

Friendship is about showing love. Showing grace. Showing forgiveness. Showing gratitude. Showing up.

We shouldn't feel guilty about not being able to do "enough".  I have lived this over an over. 

"Am I doing enough? Am I being a good enough friend?Did I say too much? Did I say too little?"

Man, that kind of thinking will stress you out!

True friends don't measure "enough". They are just happy to see you when they can. They celebrate when you celebrate. They cry when you cry. They love you where you are--even if it's not a great place. They believe the best of the things that you said, or didn't say. They help others to believe the best of you as well.

So, as we move into this day, my prayer is that God will overwhelm you with sweet friendships. The kind that make you feel better and not worse. The kind that hold your arms up over your head for you when you are too weary to hold them up. Just like Aaron and Hur did for Moses.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up--one on one side, one on the other--so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Exodus 17:11-12

Oh, y'all! Who doesn't want an Aaron and a Hur holding our weary arms up when we grow tired?

It IS possible to have friends like these. Pray for them. Ask for them. He will answer you.

"When they call on me, I will answer them..." Psalm 91:15


your friend,


jill


Jan 15, 2015

Shut-up already....

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The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

Well, here we are. Smack dab in the middle of the book of Job. Not exactly the book I had planned on starting my New Year with. However....

God is showing me new things as I read each chapter in the woeful life of our friend Job.

After losing everything, and I mean everything, Job finds himself alone. Note, he still has his wife. However, she is not much help to Job. Talk about a Debbie downer. Goodness gracious.

With Job's horrible and devastating losses, his three friends decide to pay him a visit to comfort him.

Their names are Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest. Well, not really, but they may as well be.

These friends are not exactly the kind of people I would like in my corner on any given day.

We find these friends condemning Job, pointing their judgmental fingers at him, and tearing him apart with their harsh words.

I want to jump in the story and comfort poor Job. After losing everything, his friends are pouring alcohol on his festering wounds. I can feel the sting from here.

The Lord has shown me some things here as I read....

First, learn to keep my mouth shut. I mean sealed tight. Sometimes, I can speak before thinking and make a bigger mess of things. Sometimes, I really do think about what I am going to say, and then it still ends up being more hurtful then helpful.

As women, we like to be right. We like to tell the truth. We like to call things as they are. I get it.

However, sometimes we just need to SHUT UP. And listen. And listen some more.

Not just listen, but have some compassion. And a lot of it.

We want to often fix things. Instead, sometimes we need to just cry in the mess with our friend.

Our hearts are sincere on helping our friends, but somehow we can get off track. We want to pull them out of the mud too quickly. We want to "reason" with them instead of grieving with them. We want to pull them up by their darling little bootstraps and drag them to a happier place.

However, maybe we should just sit with them. Cry with them. Mourn with them. Grieve with them. Instead of throwing good advice their way, maybe we should glue our mouths shut and just be still with them.

As I type, I can think of a million times when I should have just SHUT MY MOUTH. I am a natural encourager, however, sometimes people just need some understanding. Sometimes people just need a silent "I hear ya."

Gosh, I gotta work on this.

Job's friends go on and on and on and on with their lengthy speeches. They seem to like to hear themselves talk even when their talk is cruel. Hurtful. And wrong.

Keep reading and you will find out what God has to say about all of this. He will be the last to speak, and He will set them all straight as an arrow.

Lord, set a guard over my mouth. Help me to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Forgive me when I have overstepped my boundaries with my words. I need Your compassion and wisdom to be a good friend to those around me. Please help me to love by listening. In Jesus Name, amen. 

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15


padlocking these lips,


jill


Jan 9, 2015

He sees you....

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As we read about Noah a few days ago in our reading plan, I realized something.

I read several times over about how God chose Noah. It wasn't because of what Noah did, his accomplishments, his job, or his money.....

God chose Noah because of this:

"Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God." Genesis 6:9

After reading this, I thought back to the other books of the Bible we have read. The people that God chose to do amazing things through....

David, Moses, Mary the Mother of Jesus....to name a few.

I remembered back to the way God described them...

He talked about their hearts. Their pure devotion to the Lord. Their faithfulness.

Their choosing was not based on their looks, their intelligence, or their accomplishments. They also were not chosen based on their past. Past mistakes OR past accolades.

All of them were chosen because of their hearts.

Y'all, this gives me so much hope. More than you can imagine.

God looks at our hearts. Nothing else.

The irony of this is how opposite this is of our world.

The world is looking for beauty, high intelligence, financial gain, perfection.....

God is looking for something the eyes of the world cannot see......

A heart that beats for Him.

In fact, I really believe that "nobody's" are His specialty. He seems to pick the ones that everyone else looks right past. Don't you just love that?

A couple of days ago, I was bent down on my kitchen floor cleaning up a spill. As I sat there scrubbing, I thought of my life as a stay at home mom. I thought of how for so many years I felt like I needed to "do something" to make my life more meaningful.

Literally, every New Year that came, I would toss around the idea of going back to school to do something. Something that would give me more of an identity. [and more of an income] I even wrote a post about it this time last year.

However, this New Year, as I was bent over scrubbing that spill, I felt such a peace about my place in life. I felt such an awareness of my role as a wife and mother. [and crack filler]

I realize that nobody will ever really know the details that go into my day, or the millions of menial tasks it takes to keep this house rolling. And it doesn't matter. God knows. God sees.

I pictured Jesus right there beside of me as I was on my kitchen floor. I pictured Him smiling and telling me that what I was doing was important.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I told Him how much I loved this place. On the floor, cleaning up spills, with Him by my side.

I also repented to Him for always feeling like it wasn't enough....that I wasn't enough.

The little things are the big things.

The big things are made up of all of the million little things.

Once again, He reminded me of what He sees. He sees it all. Every second that ticks by, when I think no one else on the Earth notices, He is right there. Cheering me on. The Creator enjoying His Creation.

God noticed Noah. God noticed Moses. God noticed Mary. Even when nobody else seemed to.

Friend, He notices you. He doesn't just notice you, He delights in You. He watches you as you work. He watches you as you play. He watches you as you sleep.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17

He sees you.

You are enough for Him just the way you are.  More than enough.

Is He enough for you?

[Thank you, Erin Davis.]


cleaning up spills,


jill



Jan 6, 2015

Can I help you?

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"Your desire shall be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16

This verse in Genesis can cause some serious emotions. When God gave this command to Eve, He meant it for all of us married women. Not just ones with certain personalities.

I Googled to see if I could find any other translation of that verse....none. They all said the exact same thing. Hmmm.

God is serious about this one.

This is how it applies to me, my heart, and my marriage....

I have often put many other desires over the desire for my precious husband. For example, being a mother. This has many times become my most prominent desire. It can tend to overshadow any and all other desires. I can get way out of balance with the amount of time and attention I give my children, and end up leaving my groom in the dust--where he came from.[a little Genesis humor] ;)

As I read the verses in Genesis about how Eve was created, and why she was created, I felt a tiny little nudge on my heart. God was gently and sweetly reminding me where I came from, and where my purpose is found.

The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18

Ahhhhh. There it is. Once again. I was created to be my husband's helper. Not his commander. Not his conscience. Not his mother.

His helper.

As I look back over the course of my marriage, I wince. I have not always been Lem's helper. I have not always submitted to his desires for our family. I have been stubborn at times. [many times]. I have been demanding at times. I have been a nag at times.

When my desire is not for my husband, but for other things, I forget my role as his helper.

I forget why I was created.

I deny my purpose that God Himself designed me to be.

However, when I am reminded of God's plan in marriage.....

When my heart softens to His Word and His Command for me.....

I melt in peace.

Peace that surpasses all understanding.

How can being a helper to my husband, being his biggest fan [even when he doesn't deserve it], and letting him be my desire be beneficial to me?

Because it's God's Plan.

God gave us this command, and He knows what is best for us. He knows what works. And what doesn't work.

When we forget our God-given role as wives, we can find ourselves full of strife, discontentment, bitterness, anger, pride, and rebellion.

The struggle within our marriages can be difficult because submission goes against the grain of our very flesh nature. It is in direct opposition to our flesh. Submission requires meekness and humility. Two very lacking qualities in our world.

Here is the battle within my head: "I don't want to submit. I don't want to honor him. I don't want to help my husband. Why can't he help me?"

However, when I remember my purpose and submit to my husband's authority, the strife melts away. The heavy weight of being out of God's will for my marriage crumbles.

Then, I can breathe.

His plan is so much better than mine.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9-10



a content helper,


jill


Jan 1, 2015

A New Year, A New Plan....

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Happy New Year, SHINE!

As the New Year rings in, we start a new path.

Don't you just love fresh starts? A new calendar, a new plan, a new outlook.

For the last month or so, my heart has been in heavy prayer over the direction of SHINE for this year. I was feeling the nudge for change, just not sure where God was leading.

Sometimes, He doesn't let you know the plan until the very last hour. Can you relate?

Most New Years I am determined to get healthier, learn more, do more, blah blah blah.

However, this year it's different.

Yes, I want to be healthier. Yes, I want to learn more. Yes, I want to do more.

However, that's not my goal for this season in life.

Let me explain...

God created SHINE in January of 2012. It was an awakening for me. I was awakened to God's glorious Word.

The entire year of 2012 was exciting, adventurous, and very much full of ups and down, turns and spins. Our family changed drastically that year. The Rock that held us together was His Word. His Truth. He pointed the way so clearly for us. I look back on that year and envision the title of my life story being, "Part Two."

When I began to read His Word, everything changed. Everything.

As 2013 rolled in, things were starting to settle. The newness of the changes started to wear off, and I felt a deep peace about where I was spiritually for the first time in my entire life.

I envision 2013 as a time of consistency and deep dependency on Him. I anchored down with Him, and floated freely and peacefully on the waves of His plan for me that year. Many times He asked me to trust Him in what He was doing. I didn't always understand or agree, but I took His hand and followed. Oh, I am so glad I did!

At the end of that year, I felt a spiritual exhaustion. Although, I had such a peace in His Presence, I felt burnt out. I was absolutely worn slap out.

I took a break from everything at the end of that year. Teaching, writing, mentoring...all of it. I was tired. I had nothing else to give.

I remember thinking I had done something wrong, or that I was out of His will for me to be so exhausted. Many days I cried out to Him asking Him if He was disappointed in me.

He gently reminded me that He wanted me to "be still." He reminded me that I had followed His leading, and now it was time to rest.

As 2014 rolled in, I felt an excitement I had not felt before. I had such a deep passion and craving to know Him more.

The stillness and the rest brought on the greatest spiritual awakening to His Word that I had ever known.

Looking back,  I see His plan so clearly. If I would not have rested, I never would have been in a place of refreshment, revival, and renewal.

Oh, how He knows what we need.

I dove deep into His Word, studying, praying, devouring His Holy Word like never before. If I had a word picture for this past year, it would be sitting under a huge gigantic oak tree at the feet of Jesus. Soaking up His Word and His teaching. Scribbling notes as fast as possible as He showed me day by day the hidden treasures of His word.

Which brings me to this year, 2015.

Going back to the beginning of this post about my plans for this year....

Yes, I want to be healthy. However, the reasons are different this year. I want to be healthy so that I will wake up and feel refreshed and revived to benefit those around me. I want to have the energy and the stamina to life joyfully with a spring in my step every single day. It's not about being a certain size this year, or a certain weight. It's about taking care of my temple so that I can have the stamina to serve others.

Yes, I want to learn more. However, the reasons are different this year. I want to use what He has taught me this past year. I want to pour out what He has so gracefully poured in. It's not about being puffed up with knowledge, but about being poured out by His Grace.

Yes, I want to do more. However, the reasons are different this year. I want to pour out into others lives to help them to do more. I want to do more by helping others, encouraging others, serving others. I want my "do more" to not be about me, but about helping others "do more".

Lastly, I want to be present. I want to live this precious life full in each moment. I have a tendency to think too much. I over-think and then I lose the enjoyment of the present.

The verse the Lord keeps bringing to my attention is this:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4: 4

I want to live this.

I want to rejoice in Him every single moment.

I want to pour out praise for ALL that He has poured into me these last 3 years.

How about you? What is He whispering to your heart today?

Your journey is probably different than mine. Oh, but how precious and unique is His plan for you!

Open His Word, and ask Him to speak.

When He does, rejoice! And follow.

On to the new reading plan...

We will be reading the Bible chronologically. This is a two year plan. It is very doable and requires only about 2 chapters a day of reading. You can download the plan into your IBooks, as an app, bookmark it, or use as a PDF to print out and check off each day....you choose!

Here is the link to our new plan....

 http://www.ppcnet.net/files/BibleRead2-chronos.pdf

Grab a friend and read it together. At the end of 2 years, you will be so glad you did!

Ready? The plan starts today. Go, read.


rejoicing.



jill




Dec 24, 2014

A Christmas Story--well, kind of......

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. James 1:26

This time of year holds many special traditions for our family.

One of them being Santa Claus pictures. Since my children were birthed, we have taken them to see Santa Claus at a local mall. I have 13 pictures proudly displayed on my kitchen counter representing each year the kids saw Santa. Until this year.

Let me explain...

Monday of this week rolled around and I gasped. Literally, out loud, I gasped.

"We haven't had our annual Santa pictures taken! We must get to the mall now!"

The kids and I jumped into the car and drove the 45 minute drive to the mall.

My thirteen year old son was less than thrilled. I can't imagine why.

We walked right up to the picture line for Santa. I squealed because there was NO one in line. NO one. God had shone His favor all over us!! I just knew it!!

I proudly stood there with my children in tow ready for our annual Santa picture.

The [not so kind] elf man said, "I am sorry, ma'am, but Santa is going on an hour break."

In the sweetest voice I could find I replied, "Oh, sir, but this will only take a second. My kids are big, they smile easily, and they will be done in just a few minutes. Simple!"

The elf man replied, "Umm, no, I am sorry. You will have to come back, Ma'am."

My face started to get flushed. The back of my neck was starting to feel prickly. I could feel my emotions rising a little too quickly.

"Sir, I will buy the biggest package you offer if you will just let us get one quick picture!"

The elf man looked at me like I had totally insulted him. Well, I suppose I did.

"Ma'am, we only have one size package. That's the only package you will be able to get. Now, I am sorry. Come back later."

I felt like I was in a bad Christmas movie. You know, the ones where the Mother goes nuts over the smallest thing going awry? Well, yeah, that was me. The nutty, Christmas sweater wearing, Mother.

My thirteen year old son took my arm and said, "Mom, let's go. Please."

I lingered for a moment, hoping to catch Santa's eye. Surely if he saw how distraught I was he would offer to stay another minute and have one last picture with my oh-so-darling-children.

For a moment, I wished that I had re-applied my lip gloss and combed through my wind-blown hair. Maybe then I could have caught Santa's eye. [terrible, I know]

Santa wasn't budging. Neither was his elf man.

Off we walked into the bleak blur of hustle and bustle. Tears stung my tired eyes. I couldn't keep them from running down my face.

I failed. No Santa picture. No nothing.

I wasn't sure if I was more upset about not having the picture with Santa, or embarrassing myself trying to bribe the elf man. Ugh.

Eventually, I succumbed to the fact that this year we would have no Santa picture. Oh well. The world would not end.

Until the next day...

I had a revelation! There was another mall! I could take the kids to see Santa there! This time, I called the mall. They assured me that Santa would be there ALL day.

He was. Until it was time for his break. The minute we walked up to see him. I am NOT kidding. The little elf girl told me to come back in an hour and a half.

WHAT?!!!!

I prayed for Jesus to take the wheel of my tongue. I had to bite my tongue down hard, and I mean hard.

I walked off with the kids with my head bowed down in despair. With each step, praying fervently that I could make it to the car before having my melt down.

We got half way to the car and I had an idea. A smile crossed my praying lips.

We went right back to the Santa picture line where everyone had left for their hour and a half break. [good grief]  I told my kids to sit right down in Santa's chair and I would take their picture. [I thought this was a brilliant idea!]

However, my kids were too scared to sit in Santa's chair without him there. [ohhh, so NOW you become rule followers!!]

Biting my tongue, yet rolling my eyes,  I replied, "Fine. Just stand there and I will take your picture."

"But Mom, what if they see us and we get in trouble?"

I responded in a [scary] calm voice, "I DARE them to say something."

The kids smiled. The crazy momma [me] took the picture. And off we went.

We got our picture. Just without Santa. [picture at bottom of post]

I was happy. They were happy. It was a wrap.

So, I learned a few things these last couple of days.

One...take the kids to see Santa earlier!

Two...I have issues.

Three...I really should have better control over my flesh in times like these.

Four....Praying saved me from making front page of the local newspaper for not controlling my tongue.

Five.... the world will not end if things don't go exactly like I plan. In fact, it just makes for a better story to talk about next year.

We will laugh about this, life will go on, and I will have a picture to frame for my kitchen counter. It will just be Santa-less.

That's okay. Christmas is about Jesus. The Joy He brings. The Peace He brings. Especially to a distraught Christmas-sweater wearing momma.

Merry Christmas, friends!

 May His Love surround you and may His Peace cover you.


But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11


Santa-less 2014