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






Dec 18, 2014

Help me....

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28


I have to be honest about something. In the last post I wrote to you, I encouraged you to rest. To soak up the quiet of Christmas. To surrender to the Peace that the season offers.

Well, I have not been doing that. It's just so hard. So many parties, so many gifts to buy, so many cards to send, so many....everything.

It makes me tired just to write all of that. Goodness gracious.

However, yesterday, God made sure I that I would partake in His Peace. In His Quiet. In His Rest.

I woke up just as I have been, with my head spinning of things that need to be done. This particular day was going to be a doozie. So many things to check off the list. A meeting at school smack dab in the middle of my afternoon. An after school activity, and many errands to run. Ugh.

As I sat in the quiet of the morning, guzzling my liquid consciousness [coffee], I stared at my Christmas tree and took a deep breath in.

Lord, I need you today, I need you right now. Please talk to me. Speak to me. I miss you. I feel so disconnected from You lately. The irony is that this season is all about You, yet, I feel so far from You. Please help me. I need to re-focus. Talk to me, Lord. Please. 

Reading my devotional, I felt a little peace. I felt a little more connected. However, that quickly ended. The clock struck 6:30 am and it was GO-time. Y'all know what I mean. Kids up! Kids eat! Kids dressed! Kids in car!

The morning routine was a blur. Moving at break-neck speed, we got in the car to head to school. I was DETERMINED to get my middle schooler to school on time. I was late one day this week already, and I was not about to have to get out of my car, sans make-up, and sign him in....again. 

We are half-way into our 17 mile drive to school, when we realize that my daughter has left her project at home.

Okay, here's where Momma's head spins and her eyes pop out of her ever-lovin' head.

My poor kids. They were at the mercy of a rushed, hurried, stressed-out, left-project-at-home, mother. They had no chance.

By the time we got to my son's school, my daughter was crying her eyes out. I had pretty much yelled at her the entire way to school. NOT proud.

[on the positive side, my son was on time! barely.]

As we turned the corner to head to her school, I felt a nudge to just drive back home. With my daughter with me.

I said a quick, "I need to know what to do, Lord" prayer

It was like the car just started driving itself home. Not kidding.

Before I knew it, my daughter and I were home. I had decided on that 17 mile drive home,  that she needed to stay home with me today. Our morning had been beyond rough, and I needed to ease my guilty conscious and love on her today.

Well, as soon as we arrived home, she plopped on the couch. She then told me that she didn't feel good. Uh-oh.

This never happens. This little girl has the energy of a bunny rabbit. Never sitting. Ever.

I knew she must be sick.

I took her temperature, and it showed what I already knew.

Plopping down next to her, I exhaled.

Okay, Lord, this is why we came back home. My baby girl is sick. She needs to rest. I need to rest. We need to rest. 

I sent a couple of emails to people I was supposed to meet up with that day, and felt the hugest rush of peace and relief.

My baby girl and I were having a home day, and I could not be happier.

Of course, I was not glad she was sick. However, I was glad to have the time with her. To snuggle with her. To watch a Christmas movie with her. To love on her.

In between snuggles, I got caught up on the laundry.  Y'all would have fainted at the laundry baskets that were overflowing. Even my son said this week, "Mom, please wash my clothes." Oops. That's embarrassing.

God was Present in the sweetest ways yesterday. As I was folding laundry in the laundry room, a big beautiful red bird caught my eye through the window. It landed on a tree right outside of the window. If you know me, you know that red birds are a reminder from Jesus that He is with me.

I thanked Him over and over for reminding me of this.

At the end of that day, I was full. Full of peace. Full of refreshment. Full of Him.

He had answered my prayer so sweetly, and in such unexpected ways. Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I ponder His tenderness and faithfulness.

Once again, I am in complete and utter awe of Him.

He never ceases to go over and beyond showing His love. He meets every need, even the ones we are unaware that we need met.

Do you need a breather? Do you need a little peace today?

Oh, sweet friend, go to Him. Talk to Him. Pour your little heart out to Him. He will answer. He is faithful in every detail of your precious life.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24


exhaling,


jill








Dec 9, 2014

Surrender to Silence....

"Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11


Last week was a roller coaster. To say the least.

On Sunday, I could feel my body coming down with something. Something yucky.

My throat hurt, my muscles ached, and I was just dog-tired.

By the next day, I was full-blown sick. Sigh.

I rested, because, honestly, I didn't feel like doing anything else. It was a chore just to take my kids to school.

By Wednesday, I was still in the same condition, yet now, I had completely lost my voice.

My throat felt like glass shards were burrowing deep into my tonsils each time I swallowed. Nice.

I was so frustrated. Of all the weeks this whole year, why did THIS have to be the week I was sick?

My daughter's birthday was this week. I had a to-do list a mile and a half long. And, to top it off, I was scheduled to speak at a women's Christmas dinner that Friday night.

I had stuff to do!

Getting sick was not in my schedule.

My speech was already prepared, thank goodness, but I had planned on going over it each day just to make sure I had it nailed.

Well, that surely didn't happen. I had no voice. No energy, and no motivation.

On Thursday, I was still not getting much better.

Okay, God...what in the world is happening? You know that I have to speak tomorrow night. You know that I need to be well. You know that I have not had any time to go over my speech this week because of my physical condition....

What's going on??

I remember specifically asking Him if I had done something wrong? Do you not want me to speak on Friday, Lord? I need to know what's happening here. I trust You to make me better, but will you make me better? Or do you want me to not speak? I need an answer, and quickly.

All day long on Thursday I prayed.

I felt the Lord telling me to rest. Rest. Rest.

But, I don't want to rest, Lord, I have things to do!

I heard Him speak to my heart, "Trust me, Jill. Rest. I have a plan in this." 

I finally surrendered and told Him I trusted Him completely. There was nothing I could do to make myself better, my health was completely in His Big, Capable Hands.

Friday morning, I woke up and felt like a new person. Not a hint of tiredness, in fact, I had a spring in my step.

I couldn't believe it. Suddenly, I was absolutely healed.

Not even an ounce of a sore throat. Or achy muscles.

I was able to walk on that stage Friday night and talk to those women completely well.

Here is what God taught me last week...

He is in control. 

When He says "rest",  He means it. 

He knows what He is doing. 

When I surrender to Him, His plan begins to unfold. 

He had already planned what would happen that Friday night, and He needed my spirit and body to be refreshed. 

God reminded me of something He taught me two years ago.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I came down with the flu.

I was so mad, because I still had so much to do. However, after a week and a half of being down and out, and I mean down and out, I saw what was happening.

My body was resting. Although my immune system was fighting this nasty flu, my spirit was getting some much needed rest and refreshment.

That Christmas, the  Lord showed me what Christmas was really about. Being home. Being surrounded by my precious family, watching corny Christmas movies (which I LOVE!), and being completely surrendered to His Mercy.

Since that Christmas two years ago, I have a new perspective on Christmas. Instead of rushing here and there, spending too much money, and being in a mad dash, I want to slow down. I want to soak in every Christmas light, reminiscence about every homemade ornament, and focus on Jesus.

When I want to over-do-it, spend more money than I have, stress out about decorating, or just doing too much...

I think about that stable that Jesus was born in . I think about the simplicity of His birth. No big hospital. No red carpet entrance. Just a mom, a dad, and the birth of The Savior.

God wants my heart surrendered to Him, not to being busy. He is found in the quiet moments In the smiles of my children. In the glow of our colored Christmas tree lights. In the sound of hearing my momma's voice on the other end of the phone. In the joy and excitement of my nephew, who is serving in the Navy in Hawaii, coming home for Christmas. In the Christmas eve service at our church.

He is found.

So, as I rest this Christmas season, I pray that you will too. I pray that we won't get caught up with celebrating as the world celebrates, but celebrate as He would have us celebrate. With a surrendered heart, and a spirit at peace.

Each day is a gift. Unwrap it, and see the absolute wonder in what His Hands have provided. He is our daily bread. We don't need to worry about tomorrow, He has that taken care of already.


unwrapping the gift of this day,



jill