By Ashley Butler
When I first began to write the column for this issue, I had one topic up front and center in my mind and on my thoughts. The thoughts and topic were smothered with Hot Chocolate, cozy blankets, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jack frost nipping at my nose and the faint sound of sleigh bells ringing in the snow. Then, something happened. Every thought changed when my husband looked at me and said, "this is just peace."
It's October as I write this. It's 90 degrees in Northern Mississippi and I'm sitting at a picnic table in the dusk of the evening alone. My boys have gone fishing again and left me and my thoughts all alone. Me and my thoughts of Christmas in the dead of a Southern Fall Heat Wave! Super Merry and Bright, right?
We decided to take a few days to enjoy the Fall Break that the school gave us. We shot up to Hernando, MS to enjoy the sights and then ride a little further and let little Easton experience the lovely home of Elvis. For the record, Easton is not the least bit interested at this point. The only thing he remembers is that Black Leather Elvis is mommy's favorite Elvis. Ha!
Earlier today, we had taken a walk through the woods. Let me be clear, this would be my first real walk through the woods. I was raised in Randolph County and I love to explore all areas of it...on an ATV, with my feet raised high and nowhere near the ground or in grass where I cannot fully examine the grounds around me. I fish from the back of a truck that is backed as close to the water as possible or from an ATV that has positioned me perfectly on the bank. I don't do the outdoors very well. Anyway, my husband looked at me as we sat on the shore and as he and I talked, he looked at me and said, "it's just peace here".
It was. Water clears my soul. Sometimes I can't get close enough to it. For some reason, every single thing about this trip had been simply, peace. The ride to the campground. The area in which we camped. The funny stories. The loud singing. The silly dances. Every ounce of it was peace. It. Was. Peace.
After the boys left back out to do a little late evening fishing, I began to think about all the things we expect Christmas to be. One word came in my mind over and over. That word was PEACE.
It's peaceful to think about the birth of Jesus. It's peaceful to think about what He brought to this world: the salvation for any and all who call upon His name.
We want to think of our Christmas gatherings filled with peace. We want that perfect Holiday photo of everyone enjoying their evening with good eats and surrounded by an army of family and friends with large smiles plastered on their faces. We want the magazine picture perfect Holiday portrait.
Would you love to ask me how this ties into my peaceful October, Mississippi getaway? I would love to answer that for you. Follow me for a few moments, won't you?
If you could take a sneak peek into my secret journals, you would find that I began praying for this trip weeks ago. I'm the most uptight human when it comes to family trips. I am a horrible packer. I can't stand unexpected things on a trip. I hate making 24 trips to Walmart for things I forgot, because it makes me feel like a failure. I'm usually very ill and snippy the entire time because I can't stand for the room or the camper to be unorganized or messy. I spend a ton of time picking up and then as I'm doing that I'm griping that, "this is my vacation too", "I can't believe I left home just to clean up after everyone somewhere else". I am the world's most horrible trip mom. I own it. I totally own it. (And all my boys said "AMEN")
I prayed in advance for the most peaceful trip. I truly wanted this for my husband and my children, well child that’s not in college. I truly wanted a beautiful and peaceful trip for everyone. Did you notice what the first sentence of this paragraph said? I said, I prayed for a peaceful trip.
As we sat on the beautiful shore, when my husband turned to me and said, "It’s just peace here", I began to thank God for answering my prayer for it being a truly joy filled event for all of us. Also, I said to myself, "Self, why don't you pray about all of your uptight moments?"
I joke often that there isn't enough Xanax in the South to help me through the Holidays. Ok, I joke, but I kind of mean it a little, or a lot. Because I know you fit into one of those categories. I'm just as bad of a Holiday mom as I am a trip mom. Maybe worse.
Holidays mean, at least for me if I'm being honest, lots of peeps we would rather not see, buying gifts for tiny humans we don't know, and fake smiles as we receive gifts that will be tossed in the trash. At some point, while you are making your 27th batch of sausage balls for the season, you slip out words or entertain thoughts about it all being too busy or you gripe about how much you don't want to go to the place where said 27th batch of sausage balls is to make an appearance.
Have you ever prayed about the Holiday Season before it approached?
Well, I haven't. I just did the things that were on the check list to be done because "mama said," and when "mama says," then....well, you do!!! The end. That is the rule of the SOUTH.
When my husband looked at me and said the exact same words back to me that I had prayed that would cover my trip, I was shook. I froze.
Every year, at some point, I become Monster Holiday Mom. I rarely ever enjoy the Holidays in real time. It's always days or weeks after, when I'm surfing through my memory bank, that I begin to slow down enough to cherish moments, smiles, laughs and stories. I really don't want to be Monster Holiday Mom. I do believe this year, it will all be different.
The scripture that will change it all is found in Philippians 4:6-7. "Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then because you belong to Christ Jesus God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel."
Just as my husband slipped the words "this is just peace" out of his mouth, my entire Holiday Season will be covered in a peace that I can't completely understand.
This trip was dramatically altered because of prayer. I got specific with the details of my prayer. God hears us when we pray. He cares deeply about our details. He answered in His always perfect and beautiful timing. No request made in the Throne Room is taken lightly. There isn't such a thing as "to little for God". He takes great pleasure in hearing our true hearts desires. So, go ahead and take your requests to Him. He is eagerly waiting to hear from you.
Have a deeply beautiful and Monster Holiday Mom free Thanksgiving and Christmas. See you all in 2019.