Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014

usually look forward not back, but I simply cannot look ahead to 2014 without pausing to reflect on the year that draws to a close. 

As I type we are returning from a family vacation at the most magical place on earth. At least their slogan lives up to its promise. It was lights, parades, memories, Mickey and friends and so much more. This was a trip we won't soon forget. I can't think of a better way to close out the year then spending this time together as a family. 2013 is a year I want to memorialize. In the Old Testament there are references to altars built to stand as reminders for generations to come. 2013 stands as such a year for us. 

At the start of 2013 I was celebrating a quiet New Year's Eve at home while my little man was tucked snuggily into bed. I was a single mom with a house on the market and in the middle of a bitter custody battle. It would be a few months into the new year before some of those things would be finalized. Lots of chapters ended while others began in 2013. 

By the end of January the house would go under contract. In February I celebrated my 34th birthday surrounded by family and my Prince Charming. Most of the month would be spent packing and consolidating. E and I would move the majority of our things to storage and resume residence with mom and dad. It was a familiar and comfortable home for us and had been for the better part of three years. Nevertheless The Lord made it clear He was closing the door on 166 Addie Way. I can say with full confidence that throughout this year God has made it abundantly clear that the house that now stands was perfectly built for the family who now call it home.  I've been blessed to see the fruition of this God-sized plan. From broken dreams to heartache and tragedy, beauty from ashes is what that now represents. 

I hadn't been skiing in a decade but Prince Charming had a trip planned for us in March that would forever change our lives and our future. Atop the snow covered mountains after a fun-filled day gliding down the slopes, he shared his never ending love for me and his desire to serve me all the days of his life. I said yes to the most beautiful hand-crafted diamond ring...and the most amazing, gentle, kind-hearted, servant of a man I've ever met. 

By the end of the month we were not only planning a wedding, we were wondering what God was up to when Michael's house also went under contract after just 6 weeks on the market. House hunting and more dreaming began. 

April brought the celebration of Michael's birthday. We also settled on our lot in the cul de sac and chose plans for our new home. But April also brought the biggest career change of my life. I called LibertyUniversity  my place of employment even before I graduated. I changed positions over the years but never left campus. Until April 1, 2013, when I entered the world of restaurant marketing and never looked back. This was not only a leap of faith but as I reflect upon this career move these past 8 months, all I can be is blown away grateful. 


In May one very special little boy turned 5 and I was wondering where the time had gone. It also saw a lifelong dream come true for Michael as he received his degree after a 15 year much overdo, life got in the way, college career. They broke ground on our lot and we began the planning. 

June seems like a blur with final preparations for the wedding, family members packing and preparing for moves and new homes, and making all kinds of selections for the new house being built. 

The long awaited month of July had come. Family started to arrive and the day we had planned and prepared for was here. July 5, 2013. An altar upon that day is cemented in my mind, implanted in my heart. It is the day I married the love of my life. It is the day broken dreams and shattered hopes were mended as the presence of the Holy Spirit encircled us as we exchanged vows. We've both seen those vows broken. We've both experienced the pain and heartache of love lost. For us, 2013 became a long-awaited time of new life beginning. 


August brought another milestone. Kindergarten. This mama had a harder time than Eli did. Nevertheless we are halfway through the year and so far we've survived! 

The fall came closing in marked by the countdown of our house closing. October 24 sealed the deal and we began moving into yet another dream come true. 

We gave thanks with my immediate family gathered around the table at my sister and brother in law's new home. We celebrated Christmas wth family in our new home, a trip to see Michael's 85 and 84 year old parents, and now close the year with so much behind us and still so much more to come.

I admit at times I feel as though I'm living my fairytale. I can also look back at years gone by and recall the times when the future seemed bleak. There have certainly been years I've wanted to forget and leave behind. There have been new year's celebrations that have only marked the hope that the year to come would somehow be better than the one I was saying goodbye to. 

My faith has been challenged, strengthened, rocked to its core and built back up again. My life has followed the same progression. When I tell you I'm a living, breathing exams of God's grace, goodness, forgiveness, redemption and mercy, I more than mean it. When I share about the blessings, they are not separated from the steps a battered heart has taken on this journey to arrive at this point. I'm also well aware the final destination is still yet to come. 

It may sound selfish for me to say, but I'm believing God for even more in the coming year. We are praying about big things. There are opportunities before us that we must seek His will to know the steps to take. There are situations out of our control that require us to walk and live by faith. There are inevitably unforeseen circumstances we don't even know about that will cause us to trust Him. 

I'm well aware that 2013 marks the close of a year many would rather soon forget. I'm also well aware of the fulfilled promises of a sovereign God to complete the good work He's started in each of us. I'm living proof of the plans He has to prosper us and give us a future we couldn't have dreamed of on our own. I'm witnessing His mercies made new to us each morning. Everyday. 

With a grateful and overflowing heart I wish you more than a Happy New Year. I wish for His presence to be near you, His blessings abundant and His grace evident to you. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Empty House

It's the night before Christmas and all through the house, there's not a creature stirring. All's quiet at home, no sound to be heard. Not even the excitement of a little boy who won't go to bed as he anxiously awaits the dawn of Christmas. That's because he's not here. Not tonight. It's quiet. Too quiet. I'm painfully aware of his absence on this night, moreso than other nights. 

I set out cookies for Santa. I promised him I would. I left Jokey by the plate and I included his photo. Through the power of technology and the blessing of Facetime, I showed him the display and assured him Santa would still bring gifts, along with the rest of the family, even if he wasn't here tonight. There's a certain magic of kids bounding out of bed to race downstairs to see the presents under the tree. Somehow I've come to peace with the fact that our presents will be opened later in the day. They're just as much a surprise in the afternoon as they are in the morning. 


Please don't feel sorry for me. Please don't judge. I'm sharing a very real experience. Wednesday is the worst day of my week. Every week. Not because it's "hump day," whatever that means, but because it's the day I drop him off at school but I do not pick him up. It's called shared custody and it's a reality I've had to learn to deal with. Some days hurt more than others. NEVER does a day go by when he's not constantly in my thoughts and prayers. And truly, if I've learned anything, I've learned how to pray for him. I pray so much more for him, much more diligently, especially when he's not with me. There's a certain appreciation of how precious the time is when he is present. I find that on days when my arms are empty, my prayers are fuller, more frequent. When the sound of his sweet high pitched voice may not be echoing through the halls of our home, the whispers of a mother's prayers can be heard soaring toward heaven. On nights I may not get to tuck him into bed, before I lay my head down to sleep I pray The Lord his soul to keep. I may not be there to give him his bath, but I most certainly am bathing him in prayer. 

I am always his mother, even if he's not with me. So the real lesson I'm learning is what God requires of me as his mother. The 'letting go' part. The part where I have to surrender him....all the days of his life. I've shared it before, just not in this realm. Tonight I am reminded that one day he'll be grown, he'll have a family of his own, and he may not always come home for Christmas. None of that stops me from being his mother. None of that changes my privilege to pray for him. None of that takes away my responsibility of loving and caring for him, wherever he is, whatever he does. 

Please know I'm not sad. I have peace and strength from The Lord knowing Whose care he is truly in. Just don't take for granted the chance to tuck your babies into bed. Don't miss the magic of the children bounding out of bed tomorrow. Don't forget the precious moments we waste doing futile things when right before our very eyes our children are growing up. With each passing day, they're one day closer to being on their own. And even when that happens, they'll still be your babies. 

Merry Christmas everyone. Wherever you are.

Christmas Lessons

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I've got my candycane earrings complemented by my red snowflake accented nails. Of course I'm wearing all my Merry Christmas shirt. And it's all topped off with a new gift I just received. It's one of the most important accessories, and now one of my favorites, a Santa Claus hat complete with a little rhinestone crown. For those of you who know me well you realize why there is not only irony in this gift but also how ridiculously appropriate it is. I've been called the queen, a diva, former pageant has-been, you name it. Either way it somehow seems a little bit fitting that there is a princess crown combined with my Santa hat. Yes I am wearing it all today and I am also wearing a genuine grin comimg from the joy and Christmas cheer that I feel. 

It's going to be an insanely busy day. The traffic yesterday was only a small indication of all of the plans and preparations that are being made for this holiday. I'm not used to working on Christmas Eve but Ive quickly discovered the life in retail and restaurant business involves this as one of the busiest days of the year. So it is my hope to be able to spread some Christmas cheer with my coworkers and with all of the guests who will be by today.

It was yesterday when that joy was spread to me. When a six-year-old boy showed me the meaning of Christmas. He was waiting in line to see Santa and it was my job to bring along the Chick-fil-A cow to greet those who were standing in the line. Guests were pleased to see the cow although it was truly the man in red they were waiting for.  

The excitement and anticipation on the faces of these children was evident as they were fidgeting and restless waiting for the iconic image of Christmas. The Cow dressed in his elf costume provided a little bit of a distraction as I encouraged conversation by asking them what they wanted for Christmas.

There was a sweet little family sitting down in line eating their Chick-fil-A lunch.
Of course I greeted them and thanked them for their patronage. I asked how their lunch was and they were more than obliged to shake hands with the cow. But when I asked what it was they wanted for Christmas, I was not prepared for the shock that I would receive from the mouth of the six-year-old boy. 

"I'm not asking for any presents," he said. Truthfully the response took me off guard to the point that I was actually speechless. His mother obviously saw my reaction and encouraged him to explain. He continued that it had been his wish for Christmas to give up all of his presents so that he could help others in need. His older sister was nodding her head in agreement, but then she was quick to add that it had all been his idea. At first I wondered if she was upset about it but she seemed to be completely in agreement with the plan. Their mother further explained that it was their desire to make sure that the money that would have been spent on their presents was instead going to be sent to the tornado victims who still were without homes and many of the necessary items that they need to live on a daily basis.

The entire story brought me to tears. I not only thank them for their generosity and for such kind hearts but I thanked them for sharing their story with me. 

Suddenly I was painfully aware of the money that I have spent on presents. I was aware of all of the good intentions that I had meant to fulfill and had frivolously worried about. There's not a single thing that I need or want under the Christmas tree this year, but I know for certain there will be presents addressed to me. What if I had given up all of my gifts and instead sent the money to those who needed it more than me?

Once again I was reminded that Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree or the cards sent in the mail. Christmas is about the heart of the giver. Even the most lavish and extravagant gift, even the most expensive item that money could buy, cannot replace the gift that was given to each of us to ensure that our hearts are with Christ in eternity. It cost Him everything. He left nothing out. He gave it all up. For you. For me. 

The heart that seeks to celebrate the birth of our Savior this year is the heart that gives a gift with the intent of impacting a life. Random acts of kindness and intentional acts of serving are given with such a heart.

My outfit today may be a little bit ridiculous. My combustion of Christmas carols and exuberant holiday joy may be over-the-top. But yesterday a little boy taught me the true meaning of Christmas and giving and today it is my intent to share the joy of the season and the birth of our Savior with everyone I come in contact with. Merry Christmas. Jesus is born!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrate Christ

To the cashier who checked me out while I busily stood there and never spoke, how rude of me. 

To the kid checking receipts at the door who asked me how I was and I barely responded, I apologize. 

To the woman ringing the bell at the red kettle and singing your heart out in baritone versions of Christmas carols, thank you. 

It's coming on Christmas and I'm usually the one spreading the cheer. Yet I found myself dreadfully overwhelmed, exhausted and truthfully just flat-out stressed! All the good intentions, cards I meant to send, gifts I intended to buy, crafts I'd hoped to make, goodies I wanted to bake and everything that remains undone seemed to be looming over me. It's not like it snuck up on me. It's always December 25. In fact, Christmas keeps coming earlier and earlier based upon when the stores put things out. So why am I not prepared? Why were feelings of weariness and stress taking over where I should be joyful and cheerful and celebrating?

It took a humbling trip to Wal-mart and the wise words of my husband to help set me straight. All of a sudden I realized I was the grinch. I was the one stealing the joy out of Christmas. During the one time of year when the rest of the world seems to jump on the bandwagon of cheer, I was now the one throwing a sopping wet blanket on everyone's Christmas spirit. 

Thankfully it didn't take the ghost of Christmas past, present or future to set me straight. Rather it was the Christmas carol of a joyful soul as I wearily left the store, pushing my cart in the rain, trying to find room for all the bags amidst the packages and work supplies that were already crowding the vehicle. While I sulked and huffed and had my own little pity party, the echo of Christmas carols carried through the parking lot, with an off-rhythm bell chiming in. By the time I got home, I still managed to complain, but patiently and lovingly I was reminded this wasn't what Christmas was about. He was right. I was missing it. Big time. 

Christmas isn't about all the stuff I meant to buy, do, send, package, wrap, give or any other good intention. It doesn't have to be on December 25th when I send a card to family to tell them how meaningful they are. There's no reason December 25th is the only day of the year when I can prepare homemade goodies for friends. It's not the Christmas tree beckoning more gifts to be neatly wrapped and placed under it. 

Christmas is just the beginning. The manger isn't where it ends. We celebrate the birth of our Savior but the purpose in His coming was to fulfill the cross. To bring salvation to us. He came as a babe and occupied a manger, but He left an empty tomb before it was all said and done.

There's still a million things on my "to do" list... And you know what?? Many of them may remain "unchecked." But it doesn't take Christmas cards, perfectly wrapped packages, carefully selected presents or handcrafted goodies to bring about the celebration of Christmas. The true celebration of Christ's birth and the joy it brings comes from the heart of Christmas - my heart's willingness to rejoice instead of stress. My heart's decision to celebrate Christ rather than worry about what I have left to do. My heart's decision to honor Him as Lord rather than elevate all the other non-priorities that can consume me. My heart's decision to let the celebration of the season be about the simple way in which He came and not the pomp and circumstance I'm trying to make it. My heart's decision is to celebrate Christ. 

Whatever remains undone on your list, leave it. Let's choose to celebrate Christ. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Disappointed

Did God disappoint me?

I'm ashamed to admit it. It seems so vulgar to even think. How dare I say such a thing. Worse, how foolish of me to feel this way!

I knew this was one of those requests that seemed "unlikely."  It's not that He can't or won't. It would just mean a near miracle experience would need to happen. But isn't that just like God?! Of course! Which is why I also admit that while tempering thoughts of excitement and anticipation, I was still entertaining the hope that it would be just like God to do this in the back of my mind. 

It was there. Mixed with a dose of reality along with the cruelty I felt in trying to convince myself not to get ahead of myself...or God.

Here is my struggle. You know me - I'm being gut-level honest. How exactly is one supposed to go through the Christian life living on faith? We express our prayers, concerns, hopes and the desire of our hearts to the God who asks us to make our requests known, and yet we must remain grounded and expectant only of His will and not ours alone. How is one meant to balance this dichotomy of emotion? If I'm being honest, it seems like an oxymoron at times. 

If I have faith the size of a mustard seed, and truly that's not requiring much of me at all, then my faith is credited to me as righteousness. That doesn't necessarily mean I get my way. That doesn't mean I get everything I ask for, everything I pray about, every single thing I seek from God. But if I pray and seek God's will - not my own - then I must surrender my desire for what He chooses for me. 

Of course my head knows all these things. So, then, why does my heart feel disappointed? Why did I dare ask God "Why not? Why didn't you answer? Why didn't you do this?" How could I even approach Him in question and wonder about His plan for me? How dare I doubt His goodness and grace at work in my life? I honestly don't. But that doesn't take away this feeling of sadness or disappointment. And genuinely I can admit my failure in my own self for feeling this way. I'm such a mixed-up mess of emotions, I don't know what to feel!

It was the kind of request that would have just allowed God to show off. Let God be God. Only something He could do. People would have had to rejoice. People would have had to seen Him at work. People would have surely given Him all the glory. If He had answered... I was just convinced of the glorious miracle this would have been. But it's not. Does that make Him any less God? Heavens no!

Let me make sure this is clear. I am not mad at God. I am not upset with Him. I'm not angry in the least. Do I feel hurt? Yes. Was it disappointing? Surely. Is it still an unfulfilled longing in my heart? I admit it is. But none of those feelings make me doubt God. None of that causes me to wonder if He truly is good, or if He really does want what is best for me. It is precisely in His goodness that He chose this answer at this time, despite it being different than what I prayed for, because of His love and goodness toward me and because of the plan HE has for my life. 

God knows. He knows my feelings of sadness and disappointment. He knows what my heart wants and seeks. He knows the plans He has for me. He knows the plans that will prosper me and not harm me. He knew, even when He knit me together and was planning all the days of my life before one of them came to be, that we would reach today - this day - where I would feel this way. He knows. He also knows what the future holds and that requires me to have faith in an all-knowing God who is working out plan for me until the day of completion. 


So I surrender it all. Even my disappointment. Because it is in those emotions that I find Him, even more so than in my rejoicing if He had answered. In this state He comes to comfort me and hold me, He causes me to rest upon Him even when I don't understand. Even when I hurt. Even when I'm disappointed. Because He's God. He's still at work, even if it's not the way I asked Him to move. He's still navigating the details of my life, even if it's not the direction I sought. Here He reminds me to keep my eyes on Him. To seek Him for who He is and not for what I'd hoped He would do. To love Him for being God, my God. He reminds me what I ask is not wrong. He allows me the freedom to ask again. Yet He re-directs my attention to Him and not what I desire.

Make no mistake. I'm processing feelings of disappointment, but God has never disappointed me. He can't. He's God. What I feel is purely my own reaction to the expectation of what I wanted Him to do. Not my reaction to HIM or who He is. He's God and there is never anything disappointing about Him. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Heart of Christmas

I love Christmas! I love celebrating! I love the thrill in the air. The magic. The wonder. The excitment and joy. I love all the festivities. Breakfast with Santa, train rides, a visit with Santa, fun times with friends and family, the movie Frozen, Christmas cookies with Nana, Christmas shopping for the family, and a day to just rest and be at home and enjoy our own familiy time. It causes me to pause and give thanks. The blessings abound and my heart is full, and I'm thankful.

There's a certain joy in the air and I wonder about this. The other day someone told me her daughter asked if she believed in Santa. Her response was that she believes Santa is the spirit of Christmas. I understand the wonder from a child's point of view, but her response got me thinking. Is jolly ol' Saint Nick the embodiment of Christmas joy and cheer? Can one man be the cause for peace on earth and goodwill toward men? I believe so...but I don't believe it's Santa.

The truth is I never believed in Santa so the "magic" has always been something different for me. I don't have a devastating story to tell about the year I found out the whole thing was a lie, or the trauma I endured when I caught my parents slipping the presents under the tree. There are no pictures of me with Santa. I'm not kidding.

You see, I was the kid who was scared of Santa. Petrified. Not just the kids you see screaming in photos. Worse. I HATED SANTA. I know this is blasphemy to some of you but please don't judge. I laugh in the face of spiders. I rather enjoy public speaking. But Santa...just the thought brings a shudder.  I was so scared that when we went to the mall my parents had to avoid any part that would include the monster in red so as to prevent a meltdown that would inevitably occur. So, they did what any normal parents would do. They told me he wasn't real. That was it. That was all I needed to hear to overcome my fear of the jolly bearded giant who used to torment me. It was powerful knowledge, really, because it armed me with the confidence to boldly walk by Santa and his set and exclaim, "I'm not scared of you, I know you're fake." Nevermind me dashing the hopes and dreams of any unsuspecting child who might be waiting in line for their beloved turn on his lap. 

The whole idea of Santa was never something I encouraged or discouraged with E. I decided to let him  decide on his own. Of course you know, not only does he believe in Santa but also his elf Jokey. Let me also add - Jokey has safely made his way to our new home, albeit a little bigger, more plush version that had to be re-bought, um, sent, from Hallmark - a.k.a. the North Pole. Somehow he's none the wiser because Jokey is R.E.A.L. to him. And he takes him EVERYWHERE. Not kidding. In fact, he even took him to see Santa. 
I admit, this world of belief is a little new to me but witnessing the wonderment from a child's point of view does have its element of mystery and magic...

At the end of everyday I ask E some version of "What was your favorite part about today?" or "What was something you're thankful for today?" So in the midst of ALL THIS CELEBRATING I wanted to make sure we hadn't missed it. I decided to ask a new question, "Why do we celebrate Christmas?" He never looked up from twirling Jokey around the banister but firmly answered, "Because of Jesus." <Heartmelt> 

It's more than a cliche. It's more than just a phrase. It's more than just the "appropriate" answer. It's the truth. It is the absolute ONLY reason for this season. It's the only reason we can have hope, joy, excitement, or anything that comes close to peace and goodwill. Even more, GOD'S will and all that He wants to bless us with in our lives. 

There IS One responsible for the Spirit of Christmas, and I'm sorry to unravel your belief in Santa, but it's not him. The iconic image of Christmas isn't a rosy-cheeked snow-white bearded man. It's the beginning of the story that brought salvation; crimson red that flowed from the cross to wash us white as snow. The decorated branches with glistening lights, the reminder of the rugged tree trunks nailed together, the cross. The magic of Christmas is the miracle that came to earth - the miracle of a virgin birth. The celebration should be in light of the eternal gift we've been given. 

What is it about trimming the tree, decking the halls, and the hustle and bustle? What is the mystery this season brings about? What's more, how can someone go full-throttle into celebrating the season and yet miss it? Miss Him? There's a wonder...

No matter how much we decorate, celebrate, wrap, trim, splurge or enjoy, I want to make sure the answer to "Why we celebrate Christmas" is always "Because of Jesus." Because truthfully, without Him, celebrating is the least of our worries. There would be no reason for life itself aside for the gift of eternal life He came to give. The Word became flesh. Every aspect of God-ness wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Taking the very form of man and becoming like us in human form to ultimately save our eternal souls. 

Because of Jesus. Only Jesus. The magic of Christmas. The heartbeat of One who came to save the world. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LOST: Elf on a Shelf

LOST: Elf on a Shelf. Pointy Red Hat and Red and White Elf Suit. Stands about 12" tall. Last seen getting into mischief before heading back to the North Pole on December 24, 2012. In our house, he is known by the name "Jokey."

Between selling a house, renting a house, then building a house, moving three times from three different locations along with three storage units, Jokey is lost. I've looked everywhere. We spent 8 hours on Saturday going through every. single. box in the basement (no small task) but he's no where to be found.

Part of me didn't think it would be a big deal. The fun and mystery of the elf to a 4 year old had certainly lost its magic for a more mature and more aware 5 year old... Or had it?!

One of my friends several years into the tradition admitted she's struggling to come up with new ideas each night - sometimes in the morning, because she'd forgotten the night before. I've been guilty of that as well. Just yesterday I saw a post from another friend who had decided NOT to bring back the elf this year...until their first grader announced that every child in class had an elf except their family. 

Then it hit me. Has our Elf on a Shelf game become a fad? In the Pinterest/Facebook era we live in where everything is posted, it seems only fitting that even this silly and fun little game has turned into every mom's worst nightmare of beating out one another's creativity with her perfectly posed elf scene only to see how "popular" the photo will be - determined, of course, by likes and comments. 

Are the virtual accolades what we are striving to receive? Or is it the amazement of the child(ren) waking up to discover the scene? I wonder... 

Now, before you think I'm bashing Pinterest or Facebook or even Elf on a Shelf, let me add some clarification. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love everything about Christmas! I love decorating, I love celebrating, I love the fun and wonder, I love the advent calendars, the games, even the elf. I have an outlet right now in which to blog away my own personal thoughts (and remember, that is all they are). I posted my own gingerbread house disaster last night - why? For laughs mostly. I was so frustrated by the whole project and they looked like a preschooler had put them together I thought others might enjoy laughing at my predicament. Was it for likes? Was it for comments? Let's get back to that.

I also love Pinterest. In fact, as I type at 6 a.m. there is a new recipe that has simmered in the crock pot all night long so we can enjoy a hot breakfast.

Back to the elf. I thought it would be a fun game but had no idea of the "magic" behind the story. The elf comes to life at night (that's how he ends up in different scenes all throughout your house) but you can't touch him or he loses his magic, yadda, yadda. I didn't want this to take over the real joy of the season and the birth of our Savior, so our elf wasn't "untouchable." Gasp, I know. But you try explaining to a curious 4 year old he can't touch something that looks like a toy. Jokey wasn't here to spy and report to Santa. He was actually here as one of Santa's helpers and a house guest and it was our responsibility to teach him our house rules (especially when he made a mess), but most importantly, teach him the real reason of Christmas. Jokey made several appearances in the Nativity scene as this was further opportunity to read the Christmas story to the elf...and Eli. (This was our Elf story last year.)

I'm not casting judgment on anyone posting Elf on a Shelf photos. The heart of this entire matter is what is at the heart. Truly. What was my motive in posting my elf scenes? Was it for fun? Was it for likes? What about the gingerbread houses? What about this blog? What about anything I post? Certainly I'm hoping someone will read it. But why? Do I need approval? Credit? Security? Friends?

I've come to the conclusion that 98% of what is posted is what I call the Facebook Facade. It's the illusion of the life we want, or the life we want others to believe we have. It's all the "pretty" - the new car, new phone, new this, new that. It's "likeable" stuff. Literally. I'm preaching to myself here, I promise. I've been weirded out recently by people following me on Facebook - and they're not even my friend. I didn't even know that was a setting or option. Regardless, when you post it, you let people into your life so naturally you only want them to see the "good", the "likeable" stuff. But that's not real. That's not always life. Life isn't always Facebook-post-worthy. In many ways, that's why I started this blog some two+ years ago.

I was discouraged to see all the banter that seemed to turn "unfriendly" as people were posting photos of Christmas trees and decorations only to spark debates and arguments over it being before Thanksgiving. Where's the "like" in that?! So what if someone wants to put up their tree before - or after - and take a picture of it?! I enjoy seeing all the photos of beautiful Christmas decorations. I promise, I'm not trying to zap the magic out of the elf or Christmas. I'm just evaluating.

Maybe we share Elf on a Shelf scenes so we can use them as our own when we've run out of creative ideas of our own. Maybe we share them looking for some sort of affirmation that we had a good idea. Maybe we share them because the kid(s) didn't get the same thrill or humor as our peers might.



Here's why I will be buying a new Elf on a Shelf since Jokey is lost. In case you can't read 5-year-old, that says "Dear Jokey, Dear Santa, I love you.) You can hear it in his own words here.

That is the beauty of sharing things on Facebook and Blogs and posting. To share the magic; to share the wonder. To remember that it's not about ME. It's not about how creative I can be with my elf, or how good my decorations turned out, or how awful my gingerbread houses look. 

And, in case this happens to go viral and you see a lost little elf in a red elf suit, please send him home!