The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

I have an issue of having romantic notions of things more lofty than what they can possibly deliver.

Take Christmas Eve morning for example. Dan and Holly were making Graham cracker fluff in their kitchen- together.

Did you catch that together part?

Granted Dan was doing most of the whipping and stirring and double broiling and folding and recipe following— but Holly was right there with him.

I want that! Oh yes ma’am, a romantic notion was born.

I suddenly wanted my husband and I to stand in the kitchen and make graham cracker fluff- together.

Then I wanted us to cheerfully take the kids with us and get swallowed up in the massive crowds of last minute, impatient shoppers- together.

Then I wanted us to go do a family Christmas Eve service project- together.

After that we’d go to the dinner we’d been invited to where we’d sing Christmas carols on key- together.

Finally we’d come home, tuck the kids into bed and settle down to watch a movie I’d rented called “A Christmas Cottage.” A movie every squirrel hunter loves to watch with his wife about a man named Thomas Kinkade. You know… the artist that makes light come alive in every painting. We’d do this while snuggling and reflecting on all things swell- together.

All those togetherness thoughts of how our day should be just swept over me and made me feel like I was starring in my own version of a Hallmark movie. One where Karen Carpenter is in the background singing, “Why do birds suddenly appear…every time… you are near? Dun, dun, dee- dun, dun, dee do- close to you.”


Everything was just like I’d hoped it would be until my Mr. got up and started getting ready for work.


I’d had several hours of early morning visions of sugar plum togetherness dancing in my head and he’s putting on his Chick-fil-A tie and heading out to encourage people to eat more chicken?

Skooos me?

Then we may or may not have had a little Christmas Eve brawl. Complete with the same ol’ blah, blah blah, who is more selfish than who talk. We call these growth opportunities in our home.


I was grumpy. He was grumpy. We were just one big ‘ol grumpy mess.

Eventually, some compromises were made. He did some chicken flipping while the kids and I braved the crowds of oh-so-happy-probably-had-their-own-growth-opportunity-at-home-this-morning-fellow shoppers.

I had to kill the whole standing in the kitchen making Graham cracker fluff with Karen Carpenter singing in the background- notion. He had to take off work earlier than he wanted and kill a few meetings he’d planned.

And somehow we still made “together” happen.

I think this is my Christmas message this year—Making together happen despite the messy imperfections.

Our pastor recently challenged us with this thought: Is the birth of Christ to you a story or a message?

I loved this question and all the introspection it invited me to do. A story is something that has a beginning, climax, and an end. You walk away feeling inspired for the moment but all too soon tuck that inspiration away and wait for the next story to come along.

A message is something entirely different. A message carries with it a nugget of truth that strikes a chord in your heart so deeply you’re compelled to change. Long after the details of the message fades, its affect on you lingers in the best kind of way.

So this year, Christ’s birth was no longer just a beautiful, traditional story. Suddenly it has become the catalyst that prompts my soul to find a message- wrapped among the swaddling clothes lying in a manger. A personal, prayerful, soul-rattling message for me.

This year it’s to see, look for, discover, embrace and appreciate the beautiful imperfection I call life.

There is beauty in every imperfect aspect of my life, if only I’ll make the choice to see it.

So, we may never make graham cracker fluff together on Christmas morning.

And he’d rather (have needles jammed into his finger nails) not watch a movie about Thomas Kinkade’s illuminating paintings.

And he’s going to return all those hip and happenin’ clothes from Old Navy I bought him in favor of camouflage flannel shirts and cargo pants he found at the Costco. The Costco that sells food y’all.

I love him all the same.

I really love him.

I love this beautiful imperfection we call life.

Our life.



  1. says

    A beautiful postscript to the Christmas message. “Making together happen…”

    I like that. And yes, it rarely happens by accident. We have to sometimes grunt it out and choose the deliberate route to get there. Christ’s message is meant to be our life-message. May we all take the pause of the manger and carry it with us into the new year.

    Love this post.

    PS: Romance was out at Christmas. Here’s hoping for a re-visit on New Year’s.

  2. says

    I’m so with ya! I didn’t have the hallmark Christmas either. After opening presents and fighting over the remote with my son (4-year-old) my loving hubby went deer hunting and left me to deal with the ‘strong willed’ child the rest of the day on my own.

    But, like you I do love my camo wearing, deer huntin’ man! And, more importantly I love my Jesus! Yes Mam, I do! So, I was able to look past hubby to see Jesus standing behind him and not make a case over the “left me at home on Christmas day” issue. And, we had one more special evening enjoying some family time together.

    May we never forget the message and the reason for the season.

  3. says

    Ha! Sounds like our house-cooking on Christmas day, you’d have thought we were a step away from divorce court. So far from it! The grumbles get the best of all of us from time to time-I’m happy that we have Jesus to remind us of what’s truly important!

  4. says

    Such a great, and real, post. I don’t think I’d like you very much if you had had that saccharine Christmas Eve! But I so relate to this one!

    Merry Christmas weekend, Lysa!

  5. says

    Gotta love a man who is happy with his camo from Cosco…or in my family’s case… our sons. Yes, they decided all they wanted to do was hunt at 5 am on Christmas morning…in our woods. Did I mention that they have never hunted in their lives, but now declare they have officially crossed the line into red-neckville, and are quite fine with it?;)Gotta love us some NC, and this beautiful thing we call the imperfect life.
    Saw your comment about a girls’ get together with Emily and the N.
    Fun, fun…hope it happened – they’re the best! 🙂

  6. says

    I have to share your post with my husband as it is so true and it helps me realize that so many others are like me. I too have all these visions of these “fairytale” days and oh how quickly they can come crashinig down. But at the end of the day you just have to laugh and thank God for the abundant blessings we have and the reminder that we are not in control but He is and we just have to trust him in all situations.

  7. says

    Did you sneak into our home on Christmas Eve–or any other “big event Eve” of years past? I have found in nearly 24 years of marriage that when either of our expectations get way out of control (sorry, friend, yours were a bit lofty!) then we’re headed for disaster–one of those huge blow-ups. When I expect (or even hope) that my husband will be someone I want him to be rather than the person he really is, those blow-ups are bound to happen. And they have, in our marriage, over and over again. I just had to laugh at your scenario because it’s ours too.

    Thanks for always being so real!

  8. says

    We had the same growth opportunity at our house– only ours was from Christmas Eve all the way through til yesterday morning. Merry, merry!

    We also debated the age old question of who is more selfish than who? A question which has, I have come to understand, no good answer. Turns out, we are both selfish, selfish, selfish to the core. And humbling oneself and submitting to the other person is part of the growth.

    I am still recovering from the growing pains… ugh! But the best part is, I am recovering… and so is he… and while it was tempting to throw in the towel, we fought the good fight, identified our real enemy, and lived to tell the tale.

  9. says

    I'm grinning from ear to ear! Sounds like my notions…and my man's response! We all have this "Hallmark" unrealistic expectations. My life will never be like the text in a Hallmark card, no matter how hard I try. More like a romantic comedy. What can you do? Just live, love & laugh.

  10. says

    Oooh, we had some serious growth “opportunities” on Christmas Eve, at our house. It happened in the parking lot at SB, right after church and the whole Christmas message verses the Christmas story, I tell ya! I am still recovering and it’s not helping that I am PMSing and all. I need a girls night!!


  11. says

    Ah yes!! Life does get messy. And we all need “Growth opportunities”. Yep. It’s a NEED. And they come at the most inopportune moments. Like Christmas Eve. Thanks for the reminder…I’m sure I’ll have one coming up soon!!

  12. says

    Why do we try to have those Hallmark moments and then get disappointed? I love to watch shows like the Waltons and my hubby rolls his eyes. But at least we were together on Christmas Eve and Day. Merry Christmas to you Lysa.

  13. says

    I think we had one of those "growth opportunities" this morning before we went to visit the church bus route! Hubby was trying to turn the juice bottle sideways to get it off the top shelf of the fridge (we had too many leftovers sitting in front of juice)when I said..Be careful. Just about that time several things right on the front of the shelf fell in the floor….one of them being a half-full creamer of half½!(which I had bought especially for Christmas company!!) He was aggravated that I had so much crammed in the fridge….I was aggravated that he would not take the time to move the stuff from in front of the juice! But we managed to both pretty much bite our tongues. I did say "pretty much". ha

    Glad you let us in on some of your Christmas happenings!

    God bless,

  14. says

    My husband and I have both had our share of “growth opportunities”…together :o)

    Reminded me of the lyrics to this song:
    “Wherever we go, whatever we do,
    we’re gonna go through it together.
    We may not go far, but sure as a star, wherever we are, it’s together.
    Wherever I go I know he goes.
    Wherever I go I know she goes.
    No fits, no fights, no feuds
    and no egos, Amigos, together!
    Through thick and through thin,
    all out or all in.
    And whether it’s win, place or show.
    With you for me and me for you,
    we’ll muddle through whatever we do.
    Together, wherever we go.”

    Wanting the Hallmark, but more often we’d be categorized as an Animated Drama!

    On a mission to know and live the message,
    Happy New Year,

  15. says

    wow. we had a night like that. I had this picture perfect date night. drop teh kids off at granny’s. go out to eat, me and him, enjoying a nice long dinner. then going shopping together and joyfully selecting our kids’ stocking stuffers. well….
    grand-dad did not show up til an hour after we expected him, leaving us to grab a quick bite to eat, because we had to be home by a certain time so I could nurse the youngest, and we get to the store and I have to select all the stuff, though there really wasn’t much left to select. I am talking MAJOR empty shelves.

    but in the end, we just let go of the stress and this is not working and just enjoyed the time we did have together.

  16. Encourager says

    Good Morning Lysa, Thanks for sharing and being real, for opening your heart. Yes, we are all growing,changing. Different phases, places, times in our hearts. Praise God he doesn’t pull the veil off all at once, or show us how long all the lint has been in the trap. How we could have a fire, but he gave us GRACE. His Word to Wash us, and renew us and Is this Graham Cracker Fluff real? Is it different in every heart and home? Merry Christmas Lysa late! Wishing us More of HIM for 2009 and what he wants for our lives, hearts, and changes. Praise him all our days!

  17. says

    Oh my…how I can relate to your scenario. And from the comments before mine, this must be the REAL NORMAL…not the idealistic Hallmark movie.

  18. says

    Oh the joys of unrealistic expectations. Sister, you were singing my song!

    I am learning to keep my ideals from ruining my reality, but like in your house, I have growth opportunities along the way.

  19. says

    Expectations…I had them for our 20th wedding anniversary on the 27th (yesterday!) Instead, we spent the day at HIS parents house playing WII and had dinner with them instead of the date I thought we were going to have!!!

    Oh, well, today we are still married and starting on #21 so I will choose to love hime all the more! Because I can!!!

    Pamela in TX

  20. says

    I appreciate you sharing the reality that is a messy, sometimes grumpy, yet still lovely life together. No picture-perfect postcards necessary.

    The Lord bless you and your family with a peaceful and prosperous 2009.

  21. Wendi says

    LOL! Love it! I had my hubby read your post as well and he loved it too. He not only agreed, he spoke about it in Sunday school today. It helped us communicate many things that happen in our life that we can’t seem to get across on our own. Thanks!

  22. says

    As always, I love, love, love your authenticity and the way you write so candidly. Like David, you whine a little, then you always bring the focus back onto God, and off of yourself. I can’t even imagine how many people your writing touches, and I am glad you don’t “fake” your way through your blogs. Praise God for the Hallmark moments we have to look forward to in eternity- (Better than we can even imagine!)

    In Christ! Heaven

  23. says

    LOL We had a very “together” kind of Christmas…in some not so together kind of ways. My husband works graveyard shift and had to work Christmas eve night into Christmas day. When he got off work at 7am, I met him at the airport with his two kids so he could fly them back to their mom. With our weather, it was the first flight they could all get on in almost five days!

    He made it there safely only to get a flight delay of three hours due to…wouldn’t you know it…more snow! He finally arrived back here at the airport at 4:15pm. We drove home in the foot of snow that had fallen overnight, and he took a 45 minute nap before we (me, hubby, and baby) had our Christmas time together.

    But…and here is why I love my husband…he texted me throughout the day. At the end of each text was a line from a Christmas carol or song.

    He’s on the roof attempting to save our cars and house by shoveling the three feet of snow off. And I’m here typing as I pray trying not to panic and worry too much! (The center support in the carport is already starting to buckle and bend significantly, and there’s lots of winter left in this part of town!)

  24. says

    And oh how very imperfect I am learning it can be my friend, so very imperfect. Thank you for your transparency, we see it so seldom in the Christian community, and it is a breath of fresh air!

  25. says

    Such a good post! My hubby and I had one of those nights on Christmas Eve, too. Am still learning the difference between expectations and demands… and grace, lots and lots of grace… for myself and for my hubby. God is so good isn’t He?