When the Shepherd’s Already Drunk

I’m scurrying this morning. I’ve been preoccupied with Christmas decorating, amongst other things Christmas,  all week.  We’re still at the point when things look worse than when I started. Boxes are all over the floor. Last night’s dishes still aren’t taken care of, and they’re paper. The bare branches of the bottom of the Christmas tree look a little dejected. Since the kids have grown, all the ornaments go front and center. I fill in the sides and top, but I’m too lazy to bend down and fix the lower quarter. 

Jason’s coming home after being gone this week. I thought I’d surprise him with a nice, clean and decorated house. (He’s not a fan of decorating, but isn’t everybody a fan of decoration?)

Trying to make everything look good I decided to try to sew a button on my red and black flannel shirt 

  1. Because it’s Christmas-y (and it’s missing a button)
  2. Because apparently I’ve gone into  “Fake Martha” mode where I pretend to have an interest in being busy all things home. 

I enlisted the kids’ help this time. Our youngest is the only one who volunteers. I bribed one with food and Christmas money giving her various tasks, one being the task of setting up our dollar store nativity set. Not only did she not dust the table that it goes on (like I told her), she didn’t place the characters the way they go. Joseph isn’t looking at Baby Jesus like he’s supposed to. He’s looking at the shepherd. Here’s why. 

The shepherd looks drunk. 

He’s fallen back on two of the wisemen. They hardly look strong enough to hold him up. 

Christmas almost always gets out of hand. 

 If things are going well we’re busy purchasing presents and figuring how to split our time to be a part of all the festivities. We’re reminded, even if tired and rushed, that we have financial means and we have “people”. 

There are those out there who can’t wait for this season to be over already. Christmas is a dark time for those who are suffering hardship. There are those who are concerned with how they’ll pay the bills and put gifts under the tree. Others have scary medical results hanging over their heads. Still others will face Christmas without loved ones for the first time because of distance, divorce and death.  I still carry with me some of the darkness that can surround the holiday. My family suffered a major loss when I was sixteen. Not one Christmas since then has been the same even though I love Christmas and still experience an unexplainable joy. 

For some, these days are merry and bright. For others the dark is darker. 

Here a few obvious things I’m remembering this Christmas. There’s not one of these things we aren’t aware of, only some we could use a little more practice in. 

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Shattered ornaments and back orders shouldn’t rate high on our list of grievances. Keep the trivial, trivial. 
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many obligations. We have a tendency to pack our schedule so tightly that enjoyment battles fatigue. 
  • Be mindful of the lost. Pray that the message of salvation would find its way to their hearts. Provide plenty of opportunity through living out the gospel and by extending invitations to your church and Christmas functions. 
  • Be mindful of those who are hurting. There are so many friends who will spend their first Christmas without their parents, a spouse, a sibling or a child. Pray for them. Visit them. Love on them. 
  • If you are “the hurting”, keep hope at the forefront. The first Christmas isn’t set in sunshine and jolly. Night and uncertainty shrouded the coming of Christ. 

But the darkness was overcome. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised…

…my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

    and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:25-32

That’s good news for drunken shepherds, fake Marthas and anyone else facing December. 

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The Christmas Fudge

Her name was Mrs. Fellers. I wasn’t crazy about meeting her. Not only did I not want to take piano lessons all that much,  a friend named Jesse who was already taking lessons from her told me that she would hit you with a fishing rod if you missed your notes. My brother got to take art lessons. How was that fair? 

I vividly remember the house where I took lessons. My mom, always early, would pull into the little driveway where we’d wait until the the girl before me finished with her time slot. Wait my in the car, I’d look out of the window to the house on the left, Mrs. Feller’s neighbor. Three kids lived there who always seemed to be playing outside; taunting me from the other side of the chainlink fence. 

Just as clear is the memory of my first day of lessons. The studio where I’d play, which was attached to Mrs. Feller’s house, was plain and small with not much more than a piano and a chair. Mrs. Fellers, an older woman who wasn’t much taller than I was, wore bright lipstick and slacks and had hair that didn’t move. In the corner, propped up against the piano was a fishing rod. It was missing a reel and string. Clearly it wasn’t for fishing. 

The few years I took lessons, I showed up weekly to Mrs. Feller’s studio with my bag in tow containing my two piano books. Every Tuesday afternoon she had me take out my books and play for her what she had assigned as homework. At first I didn’t do so bad even though I rarely practiced. I’d learned to play by ear. I was a pro at memorizing the music without really realizing the notes I was playing. 

Time would tell that I wasn’t a pianist even though I faked recitals well, carefully tapping the keys I’d put to memory while really getting down on the pedal. 


I guess I should mention that even though I didn’t embrace piano, I never got whacked with the fishing rod. She used it to point out the notes that I neglectfully ignored. 

Mrs. Fellers was truthfully a nice lady. Not only did she patiently model the music for me when I forgot the notes, she made Christmas fudge for her students.   I looked forward to that gift every year. It came in a plastic tub, always with a metallic bow on top. 

I didn’t get the full experience of piano because I lacked passion and because I wasn’t prepared. 

The fudge was sweet, but I missed out on something sweeter…learning to play the music. 

Christmas is upon us.  Are you prepared? Not your house and shopping (those motions we go through like toy soldiers). The celebration of Jesus birth is near. Emmmanuel. God, with us. Are you anticipating his coming? Will he see your passion for him play out in notes that aren’t memorized, but fully known? 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

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About those Selfies…

You walked into the party

Like you were walking on to a yacht

Your hat strategically dipped below one eye

Your scarf, it was apricot (I never knew that line) 

You had one eye on the mirror…

Carly Simon

Last night I watched my daughter sit on the couch trying to capture the perfect selfie. She was having a little trouble. What I observed was a pattern. She would cock her head, just so, flashing a brilliant smile and then she’d click. Then she’d check her selfie and grimace, unsatisfied. Then she’d repeat. She grew disturbed. The funny thing is, she pretty much kept doing the same thing, but couldn’t understand why the results were the same. 

(…doing the same thing and expecting different results)

Isn’t that the definition of insanity or something? 

My older daughter could write the book on selfies. She knows about angles, filters and  natural light. If you’re her friend on Instagram, you know she’s pretty proud of her selfies, even the old “duck face” ones that I consistently tried to convince her are ridiculous. I think those are gone though, thank goodness. They’ve been replaced with the “fish gape” face. You can’t make this stuff up. 

This… is “fish gaping”

Me? I’ve never taken one. Well, scratch that. I think I’ve tried taking a selfie. It’s just that if I have, you certainly couldn’t prove it. Anytime I have tried,  I’ve deleted the sucker before anybody else could see it. I only know two angles.  One makes my chin look huge, the other makes my forehead huge…think Megamind.

You think it’s my age? 

All I know is that when I was my girl’s age, I can’t imagine that I would have been a selfie queen then either, even if I’d had the luxury of a phone and those special Snapchat filters. 

When I was their age, I hid from the camera. I think many of us did even if we’d spent two hours mastering Bop magazine worthy hair with the use of Rave Extra Hold Hairspray. What was the psychology of that? 

…I’ll tell you. 

Even if we weren’t  “selfie stars” or masters at strutting our stuff, many of us were still obsessed with 

  1. The way we looked
  2. The way we perceived others felt about how we looked. 

Did anybody else have a stage where they obsessively “checked themself out” in every mirror and at every. single. window, but dreaded the thought of someone capturing a candid pose of you?  Every year I dreaded school pictures and the day when yearbooks came out. The nonsense. 

  • The constant thinking that you look good and want other people to have the opportunity to be reminded that you look good is unhealthy. (Take that, selfie queens). 
  • The overthinking on your appearance (to the point of having a complex), that you aren’t pretty enough/thin enough/youthful enough is unhealthy. 

Where did we get the idea that our appearance (and people’s thoughts on it) is of such importance? 

Yeah, I know. The world tells us. But I thought we were smarter than that. The world lies. 

It wishes that we’d waste our time focusing on our own beauty, or the deception that we’re not beautiful. It wishes that we’d fret and spend time and money trying to convince others that we’re pretty. That way, in our obsession, we’re distracted from all the beauty that God has placed in us like purity and unselfishness. We’re distracted from the beauty he’s placed around us in sunrises, and in people beating cancer and through a weed that (against the odds) pushes its way through the sidewalk.

If insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results, then I’m teaching my girls to be insane. 

The madness has to stop. 

If we’re not content with our own beauty, how can we teach our daughters to be simply delighted in their own?

 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes {or selfies thereof}. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 

1 Peter 3:4

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The Day None of My Kids Believed

These were the days
We all, in part, want our kids to stay little.  As time passes, we sorrow in our decreasing ability to love and protect in the form of a hug or a bandaid. Magic dims. The stories we told our sons and daughters that  helped them brave “Wild Things” in distant lands now collect dust on some oft-forgotten shelf deep within their hearts. 

We lament the passing of innocence. 

Innocence as we once knew it, died in the Burden house yesterday. And it was completely my doing. 

Rylie, our youngest, was our last link to magical beings. The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and to a lesser extent the Easter Bunny, though never formally invited, made their existence known in our house. The Elf on the Shelf, who was initially rather unwelcome, came to us a few years ago after Rylie put her as the one and only item on the Christmas wish list. 

These characters provided our home with years of imagination (in the form of planning and execution), anticipation and spine-tingling joy. More times than not, these added guests were well worth their trouble.

Until two months ago when Rylie, now a fifth grader had questions about the tooth fairy 

Next came a talk, where I went into “truth-telling” with much caution and tenderness. I kept the conversation purposefully guided in  hopes to mercy-kill all magical beings in a single blow. 

Bad news is best administered , I would assume, like vaccinations. Give what you have to give as humanely and quickly as possible. 

I was so clear and intentional (in my mind) that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Elf on the Shelf would have no doubt that they’d been evicted. I also felt confident that Rylie, even if she was a little sad, would move forward in her more grown-up thinking. 

I was wrong. 

It took only weeks, after the Tooth Fairy died, for Rylie’s attention to be turned to Santa.  She told me she couldn’t wait for him and “Jingle Belle” to come back; instantly making me realize that she wasn’t connecting the dots. 

I walked into her room to find a carefully constructed penthouse (complete with decorative pillows, pets and pet bowls) for “Jingle Belle” when she comes back to visit after Thanksgiving. 

Jingle’s Penthouse; In case you’re wondering Jingle’s slept in Rylie’s room last night (in her penthouse)
Then on a shopping trip, came questions about why “Elves” were literally on the “Shelves” in Target. Weren’t they supposed to come from the North Pole? (How has she missed them every other year?)

That’s when I decided I had to tell her the truth. 

Truths are better lovingly told by parents than by random children, whose words can be less guided by compassion and good intentions. 

I took the coward’s way out and wrote her a letter, leaving it on her desk. Before sending her to read it, I told her that yesterday was one of those important days (where growing up is concerned). I instructed her to read the note and then get ready to go on a trip with me. 

With her newfound knowledge that magic can come through you rather than simply for you, we headed to the mall as new partners in “magic-making”. 

We chose someone special to make magic for. We shopped, filling the basket. We made a sneaky stop at our friends house and left a gift at her door. 

We did sneak in a little fun for her

It wasn’t the most fun day ever, but we survived; her being reminded that she was loved. She was also reminded that a sad heart can be lightened by showing love to another. 

Our kids won’t always be little, so we must focus on the job of making sure they’re not small. We teach them to join in the larger work of making magic and sharing joy. 

Yesterday was the first day that none of my kids believed in magical beings. I wiped my own misty eyes and then set them on clearer and more important things like 

Teaching  my kids to “value others above themselves,” (Philippians 2:3) 

Showing them that it’s not only important to be loved, but to show love

That it’s not only good to have friends but to be a true friend

That it’s not so important that we believe in magic as it is for us to mature to a point of being the magic

Note to reader: Kids are different. Santa wasn’t such a big figure in our other two kids’ lives. Our other daughter found out about Santa in second grade from a kid at church and our son found out through snooping around for Christmas gifts. I read him a book we had that tells about the real St. Nick. 

Our youngest is our most sensitive and mystical. She tells me now that she’d rather have heard the truth from her friends because she’d rather be hurt by them than me. Goodness. (You win some, you lose some). She did tell me she was glad I wrote her a letter so she could have time to herself, and that she enjoyed the “magic-making” shopping trip. Her sister told me the whole exchange was the corniest thing she’d ever heard. She’s always been our skeptic. 

Probably more important than how they find out is what happens after they find out. Then again, this may all soon be a distant memory and not something to tell Dr. Phil about. (Love all the stages.)

Here’s a copy of the letter I gave her (and am sharing with her permission)

Everybody loves magic. 

Snow is magic. 

Whipped cream in a can is magic. 

Babies are magic too. You were. You could blink and yawn, sneeze and hiccup without thinking about it, and without being taught when you were born. 

These things probably weren’t on your list of “all things magical”. 

Books are magical. You get that right? 

When kids usually think of magic they think of things like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa and the Elf on the Shelf. 

Some of the best memories of childhood come from the magic found in those guys. 

Until you grow into a new age of magic. 

Here’s how it works. 

When you’re young all the magic happens to you and for you. Kind of like when you were a baby, you were spoon-fed mashed bananas and ice cream. It’s all good until you get old enough to hold the spoon (or grab that delicious ice cream cone) yourself. Your parents, in good time, hand over the things you’re ready for. 

Not everything you’re handed will make you instantly happy; you may even be sad and wish that you could turn back the clock to when you were younger again. 

Today may mark one of those times. 

Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Elf on the Shelf (and other mysterious friends) are not real beings. They’re stories. They’re characters used in making magic. 

True magic is made by eager and kind moms and dads and kids who have grown old enough. 

Today is the day when you’re handed the keys to magic. This is your commission to be a “Magic Maker”. It’s a responsibility that will bring joy to those whom you will make magic for. But even better, you’ll come to learn that making magic will bring you happiness that will surprise you. 

Get started. 

Who needs a little magic?

Maybe your sister or brother could use a surprise breakfast in bed. Knock on their door, leave the breakfast and run. How about leaving a gift on your neighbor’s porch or writing a note (that you don’t sign) and sending it to someone who needs encouragement? Can you get a candy bar to your favorite teacher (or better yet the teacher or custodian nobody does anything for) without them knowing it’s from you? 

You can help Jingles pull shenanigans while everybody else is asleep. 

Magic doesn’t die if you don’t let it. Once magic was for you. Now it lives in you. Share it. 

You were meant to make magic! 

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Why I’ve Decided to Start Making My Bed 

I’ve decided to start making my bed on Saturdays. Like I just now decided it. Whether or not I stick with it, who knows. 

Some research shows that it can take 21 days to make a habit. Other research says that it can take an average of 66 days. I lean toward the 66 day figure because habits are harder for me to form on account of distraction, impulsivity and my sometimes lack of motivation. 

According to the second figure, it should take me roughly a year and a few months to habitually make my bed on Saturdays. (Do I have to add days if I’m only doing it once a week?)

 I don’t regularly make it any other day. Its a rare occasion when I do make the bed; when company’s coming that might go in (or walk by) my room. 

I could tell you (at length) the reasons I don’t make the bed everyday, but that would make today’s point mute. 

Instead, I’ll list my “just thought up” reasons for making the bed once a week. 

  • I’ll be able to more honestly say “I make my bed sometimes.”
  • I can feel accomplished. It’s something easy and uncomplicated that I can do (unlike my sometimes difficult and time consuming projects like that chicken suit I made this week, straightening the wheel on the dishwasher rack or shopping for water chesnuts). 
  • It’ll make my room look nice and welcoming (on Saturdays).
  • Maybe it will remind me how grateful I am to have a warm bed to sleep in. 
  • It’ll be a good example for my kids (who have to make their beds already on Saturdays).
  • It’s nice to crawl into a bed that’s been made. 
  • I’ll be able to make use of those decorative pillows that lay purposeless on the floor. 

What menial job do you usually guiltlessly skip at your house? 
What’s something easy you can start doing (that you don’t usually do) that has purpose (if even small purpose)?

Do you make your bed? 

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. Psalm 3:5

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Dear Engaged/Newly Married Couple,

Welp. I’ve been triggered. 
An old student of mine posted a wedding proposal on Facebook that halted my morning routine. 

How was I triggered, you ask? 

The proposal, which was featured on “howheasked.com”, was indeed sweet and perfect. A handsome young gentleman named Jacob executed a plan to “pop the question” to his girlfriend, Gracie Hope in a forest. He walked her to a carefully constructed clothesline that held pictures of them throughout their relationship. He had a beautiful engagement ring.

 To top it off he walked her to a picture of her grandfather who had just passed away. He talked about the love and devotion evident in her grandparents marriage, then presented her with a document bearing a reservation for them to be wed on her late grandpa’s anniversary. 

Gracie Hope was tan and thin and beautiful. He was the kind of mushy, most girls hope for in a proposal. He even had a romantic speech written up that both made me my roll my eyes and wipe the tears that were coming out of my nose in the form of emotional snot. 
His speech included a bunch of sweet stuff about commitment; how we was going to always hold her and make her feel safe. They were great promises. Then he said something that made me decide I just couldn’t keep quiet. 

  “I will pursue you everyday.”

That’s when I think I was triggered. I wasn’t angry or jealous (well maybe a little). I was more concerned. Does this guy know what he’s promising?
 I thought about warning him to add a few protective clauses to his “For the Rest of Our Life” speech. Instead I’ve decided to say a few things to his beautiful fiancé as well as others who are engaged or married. 

Dear Gracie Hope,

What an incredible proposal. I know you’re proud, grateful, and excited! 

Your guy gets you. He gets women. We do all want to be pursued on a daily basis. I’ve been married for twenty-one years and I still like to be sought after. My husband, like the next, does his best to chase after my needs and desires. He makes an effort to put me first (after his relationship with God). In spite of all that, I’m slowly coming to learn that my need to be pursued daily is a lofty request. My husband to whom I so often look to fill that requirement, needs not only some direction, but a whole lot of grace. 

I’m slowly coming to recognize those things which can interfere with a husband’s ability to successfully pursue us each day. Interferences include 

  • Kids-with moods, troubles, health issues and their own need to be chased after
  • Schedules– We have to be mindful of the life demands he can’t escape; those obligations which refuse to have mercy on his “to-do list”
  • Troubles– in the form of financial stress, work-related problems, health and other stressors
  • His sometimes being so bone-tired that the only thing he can sensibly pursue is his pillow
  • When we’re scary moody – This could be because of an argument the two of you have had or a time when your hormones or pre-menopausal tendencies are showing (in which case you might allow him to hide, if only for a bit). 

Note that there will be times when he will also pursue you in a way not according to your idea of what pursual looks like. He may send you flowers when you’d rather have a long talk. He may give in to you when you were really wanting to fight. He may compliment you when you were honestly just looking for pity. 

Don’t be afraid to tell him when you need him and exactly how you need him without being demanding. Be understanding when his emotional and physical bank account is running low and he needs time and encouragement of his own. 

Marriage is give and take. Marriage is extending grace when we get it wrong and taking joy in those times we get it right. 

One of the first pictures taken after we got engaged

Don’t forget that God is the only true being that has the fortitude, capacity and unselfish love needed to pursue hearts like ours. Pursue God in your marriage and he will help you to more properly pursue one another. 

From what is shown in your video, it appears that the two of you will be happy together.  If names mean anything at all, and I know they do, with a name like Gracie Hope, this has got to be good!

Blessings on your upcoming marriage,

Kristi 

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To My Average Daughter

We crowded around the table this morning. My husband Jason gifted us with West kolaches last night as he got back from the Baptist convention. As you can imagine, we were all smiles for breakfast. 

Always fond of a bit of trivia, Hallie, our middle, posed the question 

“What is the average shoe size for women?”

“Seven”, I guessed. 

“No.  It’s actually size eight to nine”, she told us. 

Our youngest, Rylie,  gave a triumphant fist pump toward heaven. 

“Yes! I’m average!”, she shouted. 

Like I do dozens of times weekly, I internally shook my head at my kid. She wants to be average. 

She’s only eleven, but her foot is two sizes larger than both my fifteen year old’s and mine. Even though she was thrilled to be growing at an unreal rate six months ago, she’s now under the impression that her size (which could be considered above average) is a terrible thing.  The age of around “eleven” (or maybe it’s middle school) teaches that being average is safe. Blending in is best. 

Years ago, when I started my “mom journey” I imagined in my head what my “good kids” would be like. They would be an equal measure of intelligent kind and beautiful; no characteristic out shining another, no characteristic lacking. 

In parenting, as time goes on, I treasure each of my kid’s uniqueness. One has a distinct ability to make me laugh, even when I don’t want to.   Another has a fierce strength, that I both admire and even try to emulate. My other kid has a gift for making me (and others she comes into contact with) feel most special. They each have their weaknesses too; a place where God’s grace teaches them and carries them through. 

I’m grateful that God gave me more than I asked when he created them with dynamic personalities and gifts. I’m thankful he has used them to teach me things I need to be reminded about myself. 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Where did my kids ever get the idea that they were meant to be so-so?  (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

I live to be average; to achieve “all things woman” at a mediocre level even though there’s knowledge deep within me that I was created for more. Too often I teach (and model for my children) that life is lived according to a common blueprint the world has created. 

Look like this. 

Be like this…

We’re each created to be one of a kind. 

It’s up to us to identify how we’ve been uniquely equipped.  Has God given you a voice that you’re afraid to use, a platform that you’re too busy to serve? 

 May God grant you the courage to desert your goal of being like “the next girl” making space for the special thing God is calling you to do whether it’s to support your teenager who’s in a particularly difficult rut, standing up for a cause that’s on your heart or serving your lonely neighbor using that great gift of relating that God has given you. 

You’re not just an average daughter. 


It’s also our job to encourage our children in those areas which God has gifted them. Create opportunity for them to use their gifts. 

1 Peter 4:10-11 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Come out of hiding.  Let go of that effort you’ve been making to blend in. Put down those things you’ve been made to think you have to do.  You have your own “not-so-average” God-given glass slipper. And it fits. Find it and wear it to God’s glory. 

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When Being Thankful Isn’t Easy

Sticking with calendar establishment, I feel the duty to write a post on thankfulness. 

My friend Nena and I switch out teaching Sunday school to third and fourth graders. Yesterday she taught and I filled out records (and the kids bellies with donuts). 

It came time for the opening question. 

Is it easy to be thankful?

I was dying to interject. 

I know this one!!!!”

Sometimes. Yes…

But my final answer would be nope. Being thankful isn’t always easy. Not for me anyway. 

I wasn’t particularly thankful this morning when a stray cat left a smelly pile of autumn, fruity pebbles-looking poop on our sidewalk as a Monday morning offering. 

I’m not thankful when I get stopped for speeding or when I find a large roach in the middle of the night when I just want to go to the bathroom. 

I don’t remember being thankful when I look under my kids’ beds or the time when one of my kids just as much as said they hated me. 

I wasn’t bubbling with thankfulness recently when I received a medical bill that was much higher than the doctor promised. 

I could go on. 

  • Being thankful for some of our circumstances can feel just plain difficult if not nearly impossible. 

Being thankful can be difficult when we are

  1. Heavy-burdened
  2. Small-minded (that darn cat)
  3. Short-sighted
  • Looking outside, beyond, our circumstances and being thankful is doable. It’s even commanded. 

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It doesn’t suggest we be thankful for all of our circumstances, just that we be thankful in them. 


I’m thinking of a friend whose husband is my age. He went in to the doctor last weekend for what he thought was a virus. He now has a port set up for chemo treatments as cancer has been found. I doubt she’s thankful that he has cancer. But she told me she’s thankful for their insurance. She’s thankful that he went in for “that virus” and that the cancer was found and is now being aggressively treated. She’s thankful for the meals her coworkers have already bombarded them with.  

I’m not thankful that the next two months will drain my energy and bank account. But I’m thankful that we’re in a season of giving; a time when there’s a more felt spirit of loving one another. 

I’m thankful the stray cat that left that gift this morning is not my cat. (Did I go too far?)

We have much to be thankful for. Our tough circumstances can either be a distraction from being thankful or a reminder to look beyond our pain or the hard (or to a lesser degree, the annoying) thing we’re going through. We’ve ALWAYS a reason to be thankful. 

To be full of thanks is to be full of God. 

We’re a saved people. God is always with us. And he’s always good. 

What are you going through today that you need holy perspective to see beyond? 

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What This Election Has Taught Me; A Letter to Michelle

Update: I’m happy to say I’ve received a letter from the White House.  It’s included at the bottom of the post. But first, lets back up. 

I wrote a letter to Melania Trump a few days after the election declaring a promise to pray for her. As she walked onto the stage for her husband’s acceptance speech as president, she clearly looked burdened and anxious even though she wore that bright smile. 
I highly doubt Melania will see my letter. I mainly wanted to express the compassion that I had which increased upon hearing some of the awful things the public has said and further, things that have been done (think death threats and setting Trump dolls on fire) toward the Trump family. 

Some of us haven’t been on our best behavior. 

This election has made me ponder two important questions. 

  1. Why do people act so crazy when things don’t go their way? 
  2. In past elections, when I haven’t gotten my way, has my response been appropriate? 

I was reading a post on Facebook the day after the election where someone had mentioned that we should pray for the Trumps. A lady, who I adore, asked if the same people who are promoting prayer support for the Trumps, prayed for the Obamas. 

Gulp. 

I prayed for them only a handful of times. 

I disagreed with them on many viewpoints and thus, honestly, had little desire to see them succeed. Nevermind that they’re human beings with feelings. Forget that they have had the weight of the world on their shoulders. 

They’ve  needed our prayer just like the Trumps will. 

You see, prayer is hardly ever about whether or not you believe the person your praying for is deserving of prayer. We pray for people because people need prayer. 

I’ve been convicted. 

So yes, my great idea to stay in prayer for Mrs. Trump when I indeed didn’t extend such kindness to Mrs. Obama exposes my late act of grace, if not my hypocrisy. 
It’s never too late to try and do better. 

I had a lady comment on my letter to Melania. She asked to see the same nice letter I’d written to Michelle. 

Of course I hadn’t written one. 

In my regret and in the spirit of second chances here’s what I’d say to Michelle Obama. 


Dear Michelle,

Thank you for dutifully serving our country for eight years as First Lady of the United States. 
Your work through the “Let’s Move” program was a needed reminder to get kids off the couch. 

Thank you for your involvement in the “Joining Forces” program supporting military families across the country. 

I have admired the ease with which you speak in front of a crowd. You’re confident, something I’m not. 

I certainly haven’t  lifted you and your family up in prayer as often as I should have during your stay in the Whitehouse. I know you’ve needed it. What an enormous amount of pressure you’ve been under. And I know many people were unkind. 

I pray for the chapter your family is approaching. I pray first, that you will be able to experience rest that is unencumbered by a strangling schedule. 

I pray that you will be able to enjoy a date with your husband without paparazzi. 

I hope that you’ll be able to better soak up Sasha’s last years at home before she spreads her wings. I know that time must have evaporated with Malia. 

I pray that you’ll find more time to pursue those things which you are passionate about and not just be busy completing a list that has been formulated by staff. 

Maybe most important, I pray that you will forgive those of us who were confused. We could have easily supported you in prayer without having to agree with you on the issues that we face as a country. 

Praying bright days are ahead. 

Kindest regards, 

Kristi Burden

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This Election Has Made Me Think; A Letter to Michelle

I wrote a letter to Melania Trump a few days ago declaring a promise to pray for her. As she walked onto the stage for her husband’s acceptance speech as president, she clearly looked burdened and anxious even though she wore that bright smile. 

I highly doubt Melania will see my letter. I mainly wanted to express the compassion that I had that increased upon hearing some of the awful things the public has said and further, things that have been done (think death threats and setting Trump dolls on fire)  toward the Trump family. 

Some of us haven’t been on our best behavior. 

This election week has made me ponder two important questions. 

  1. Why do people act so crazy? 
  2. In past elections, when I haven’t gotten my way, has my response been appropriate? 

I was reading a post on Facebook the day after the election where someone had mentioned that we should pray for the Trumps. A lady, who I adore, asked if the same people who are promoting prayer support for the Trumps, prayed for the Obamas. 

Gulp. 

I prayed for them maybe twice. 

I disagreed with them on many viewpoints and thus had little desire to see them succeed. Nevermind that they’re human beings with feelings.  Forget that they have had the weight of the world on their shoulders. 

They needed our prayer just like the Trumps will. 

You see, prayer is hardly ever about the person your praying for being deserving of the prayer. We pray for people because people need prayer. 

I’ve been convicted. 

So yes, my great idea to pray for Mrs. Trump when I indeed didn’t extend such kindness to Mrs. Obama exposes my late act of grace, if not my hypocrisy. 

It’s never too late to try and do better. 

I had a lady comment on my letter to Melania. She asked to see the same nice letter I’d written to Michelle. 

In my regret and in the spirit of second chances here’s what I’d say to Michelle Obama. 

Photo Credit: History.com

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for dutifully serving our country for eight years. 

Your work through the “Let’s Move” program  was a needed reminder to get kids off the couch. 

Thank you for your involvement in the  “Joining Forces” program helping military families across the country. 

I have admired the ease with which you speak in front of a crowd. You’re confident, something I’m not. 

I certainly didn’t lift you and your family up in prayer as I should have during your stay in the Whitehouse. I know you needed it. What an enormous amount of pressure you’ve been under. And I know many people were unkind. 

I pray for the chapter your family is approaching. I pray first, that you will be able to experience rest that is unencumbered by a strangling schedule. 

I pray that you will be able to enjoy  a date with your husband without paparazzi. 

I hope that you’ll be able to better soak up Sasha’s last years at home before she spreads her wings. I know that time must have evaporated with Malia. 

I pray that you’ll find more time to pursue those things which you are passionate about and not just be busy completing a list that has been formulated by staff. 

Maybe most important, I pray that you will forgive those of us who were confused. We could have easily supported you in prayer without having to agree with you. 

Praying bright days are ahead. 

Kindest regards, 

Kristi 

A reformed pray-er

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