The Fudge is Gone

Well. The fudge is gone.

Yep. I ate the last piece yesterday, washed the Christmas tin, put it in the drain board…with a long sigh.

OK, some of you are thinking, so big deal. Well, it is kind of a big deal. And it’s not just about the fudge.

See, I make fudge every year about half way through December and eat 1 piece every day all throughout the holidays. OK. I cut it into small pieces and actually eat more than 1 piece a day, so sue me. Anyway, I make it last as long as I possibly can. Just like I do with the holidays.

See, I totally love Christmas! I mean, I love everything about it: the lights, the decorations, the tree, the beautifully colored wrapping paper and bows, the music, the fresh, clean smell of pine. And, I love the people – people everywhere, the shopping, looking for the perfect gift, gathering together, feasting together, enjoying family from out of town, neighbors from across the street, the smiles, the laughter, the sharing. And, obviously, I love celebrating the birth of Jesus: the absolute reason for my freedom, my forgiveness, my forbearance in this fraught-filled life.

But, there is a down-side to Christmas: it comes. And it goes. Just like that, after weeks of preparation, I go to bed late on Christmas Eve and, despite my excitement, one little defiant part of my heart can’t help but think, “It’s almost over.” And, then it is over and the hardest month of my life begins: the it’s-January-and-the-holidays-are-over grind. Oh, it’s a grind, my friends.

The out-of-town family leaves, the gorgeous wrapping paper is in shreds, the ready-made bows don’t stick anymore, the Christmas radio stations go back to playing regular music, I eat that last piece of fudge, the tree begins to wither and so does my spirit. But, why?

Songs have even been written about it, like “Why can’t we have Christmas all through the year,” etc. Why do we want Christmas all year? I mean, who can afford Christmas all year, right? But, I think it’s much deeper than that. We love the spirit of Christmas, don’t we? You know what I mean, that spirit of generosity to those in need, selflessness toward friends and family, kindness to strangers. We value time with family more, the sweetness of just being together.

But then Christmas comes and goes, reality sneaks back in, the house is put back in order and people like me are practically in tears by the time the tree is thrown to the curb.  And, unfortunately, joy is often replaced with sadness, time with family is exchanged for the busyness of life, kindness snuffed out by self-absorption. Yep. If December is “the most wonderful time of the year,” January must be “the most depressing time of the year.”

Maybe I’m all alone in my funk, but I doubt it. So, what do we do? How can we de-bunk the January funk? Here’s what I say: we need to remember that the spirit of Christmas is really the spirit of Christ, who actually lives INSIDE of us! Absolutely, yes! Right there with us, in the middle of this sadness, is Jesus, and guess what? He’s actually available after the Christmas tree dies and the black plastic bags filled with the wrapping paper are put out in the trash can! And, newsflash: He wants us to continue to be filled with joy, with wonder, with the simple kindness and compassion that our world desperately needs to see. He wants us to be filled with HIM.

Look, we’re only a few days into 2018 and it’s already very rudely pulled a few punches on me. Oh, yeah, I’m already licking some wounds, thinking, “Oh no! Easy, 2018, please be gentle, please play nice.” I suspect some of you feel the same. There are real needs, true trouble, the kinds that can make us lose our breath at times, let alone our footing. If we look around at our circumstances long enough, it’s easy to just settle into the blahs and blues of this after-Christmas-season. But I want more from 2018, don’t you! 2018 may try to play hard ball with me, but I’m going to keep my eyes, my ears, my heart and my mind on the One that has already conquered 2018 and its best shots. Why?

Because God loves me! He adores me! He has an amazing plan for me and as long as I stay with Him, He and all of His goodness will come out on top. Is it going to be all hot chocolate, snow and “chestnuts roasting on an open fire?” Heck, no! But, we are promised victory where it counts.

I don’t know if you saw the children’s movie, The Star, that came out around Thanksgiving? If not, try to see it, it was wonderful (good for you, Sony Pictures,) but Casting Crowns did a beautiful rendition of His Eye is on the Sparrow. Check out these words:

Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He. For I know His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me. HIs eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

‘Let not your heart be troubled,’ His tender words I hear. And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear. When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He. For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

And listen to this:

I sing because I’m happy! I sing because I’m free! His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me! His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me!

So, I’m going to dig into God’s Word, stay connected with friends and family, and believe for those dreams that God has given me to happen this year. I’m gonna go ahead and put that fudge tin away, for now, and believe that 2018 is going to go down in the books as a life-changing and fantastic year for me, no matter what happens! Who’s with me!

The After

There is something about vacations that no one ever really talks about. It’s a difficult subject, but, because I care about you, the reader, I’m going to talk about it. And, honestly, someone needs to.


AFTER the vacation is over, AFTER you get home with mounds of laundry, AFTER every minute is no longer consumed with fun, AFTER you have to tackle, or at least put on a list, all of the things you put off BEFORE the vacation, because you were busy getting ready for said vacation.

It’s the AFTER.

Now, this can be a very trying time, complete with exhaustion, disorientation, disillusionment. CRYING, even crying. It’s also a time when you feel that you need to make certain statements, to the NO ONE at your house who is listening, like,

“Why on earth were we gone so long? It’s not normal to be gone that long. We must be crazy…”


“Was that vacation worth all this work? Ha! I think not…”

and, finally…

“I’m NEVER taking another vacation as long as I live!”

And as the words are leaving your lips, you know in your heart, “Yes! I really will take another vacation, I want to take another vacation, I could be ready in 30 minutes…” It’s a real low.

Yep. AFTER a vacation can be a grueling time, and my AFTER has been just that. My AFTER has looked something like this:

  1. sick for a week
  2. contractors at my house daily working on our bathrooms
  3. unpacking all of said bathroom things and finding a new home for them
  4. deciding on/purchasing new items for said new bathrooms
  5. July 4th
  6. doctors appointments
  7. NORMAL LIFE, (which can be difficult enough)

Now, I don’t know about you, but I suffer from this condition called PERFECTIONISM, maybe you’ve heard of it? Perfectionism in my life strikes when I pound myself mentally because I only got 22 of the 23 things done on my “To Do” list. It pushes me to do more than I know I can do. It haunts my sleep, it causes me to go all day without resting or eating when I need to. It’s exhausting.

So, here I am, tired, stressed, irritated, which all lead to me being DISTRACTED. Distracted to the point to where I’m in the shower, thinking about the KA-ZILLION things on my “To Do” list, and I have this conversation with myself,

“Did I shave under my arms? I don’t know. I thought I did, but maybe I didn’t. Oh well, who cares? But, what if I wear a sleeveless shirt later? AM I wearing a sleeveless shirt later? If I am, I really need to shave under my arms. What’s happening later? What day is it? Oh, I’ve got so much to do, I need to shave under my arms and get going.”

So, I shave under my arms, only to realize about 30 seconds later, yes, I DID already shave under my arms. So, basically, I start my day with razor-burned under arms, and a razor that’s getting dull quicker, all because I’m so distracted.

Ever been there? Maybe so.

I finally get to the place where I have to ask, “Why am I pushing myself so hard? Is there a cash award waiting for me if I complete my “To Do” list? What’s going to happen if I DON’T complete my “To Do” list? Will my husband pin a badge on me that says, ‘World’s Worst Wife?’ Will the world come to an end, for crying out loud?”

No. None of these things will happen. Then why is it that I, and I suspect some of you, strive for perfection? The answers are hard to find sometimes. What I do know is that it’s not good for us and God never intended for us to strive at all. Look at His words in Psalm 46:10a,

“Cease striving and know that I am God” NASB

The truth is, trying to do anything in our own strength doesn’t go well. God is the one that accomplishes things through us and His word says that when we are WEAK, He is STRONG! And, us making ourselves crazy by trying to be perfect, doesn’t get us “brownie points” with Him. Why not? Because we don’t need them! He loves us just as much when we lay on the couch in our PJs all day, watching Hallmark Movie Channel, as He does when we complete our entire “To Do” list. Mind. Blown.

I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty sweet gig. And, my arm pits are so relieved…