| TSLN.com

Pastor in the Pasture: Making Ends Meet

On the ranch our feed wagon is a ‘97 Ford Powerstroke. It has a rattle trap flatbed and T&S Trip Hopper on it for feeding cattle. Let’s just say it’s seen its better days for sure. In our part of the country roads are rough and rocky and it doesn’t help not having equipment to maintain them. That equates to bald tires and pickup bodies that are barely holding together. The pickup noted above has a hood held down by a ratchet strap, the fender panel welds are busted at the cab, and it’s missing the plastic grill. It is rough looking and gets some looks going down the highway. We have done our fair share of mechanic work on it and had a local shop do some as well. However it keeps running so we keep using it…

Making ends meet sometimes involves using what you have. Sure you could say, “Well if I had a new one of this or a new one of those, then I could get more done.” However, the question to ask is how much of that is based on just a want instead of a need? We see that played out day in and day out on the ranch. Sure there needs to be new fences. Yep that windmill is about to go. That water trough has a crack in it. All of it could be replaced and be new but will it bust the budget? On top of that when we get a new one in a few months there’s something else bigger and better. It can be a never ending cycle if we aren’t careful.

In the end a whole heck of a lot of this is just based on contentment. Contentment can get you through envy or jealousy. Contentment can see you through a rough spot to the next shipping check. Contentment can keep your head up when you think you don’t have it good. Contentment can help when you look over the fence and think that the grass is greener on the other side.

Contentment was something that Paul dealt with in his life as he went around spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB)

What are some areas in life that you see yourself not being content? Is it material things? You know that those are usually just shiny things that break or are obsolete in just a matter of days, weeks, or short months. The newest pickup on the road can break down. The top of the line cell phone can drop out of a shirt pocket and be gone under a trailer tire. (Not that I would be speaking from any kind of experience.)

What about the things that you can work on in life? Do you find yourself not being content in your job? How about learning more or receiving the necessary training to move up or to another career? Is your marriage suffering or lacking? How about finding a resource to help you become a better husband, wife and couple?

The point being if you can do something about it and you’re following God’s lead then by all means do something. However if it is just envy, jealousy, or being mad at what someone else has then learn to be content. Paul learned the source to the secret of contentment. Drawing it from Jesus is the place to start…

I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!

The Cowboy Pastor’s Wife: The Bull That Know No Bounds

I should say, the bull that knows no BOUNDARIES! The boy did it again…made his way to the neighbors. He got busted a few days ago on one of his late afternoon escapades! He had no option but to face the consequence of horse and rider once again pushing him back to the boundary line of the ranch.

But this happens right? We’ve all been there. Well most of us have been there, if we have bulls on the honor system because of a strugglin’ fence line.

Fences define areas to which we want to keep something in. A place where livestock is protected, where our family is secure, where we understand what is under our care and how we will best take care of it. Fences are GOOD!

Boundaries are the fences in our lives. We decide who comes in and what decisions are in order, to good management decisions. Yes we all should have them if we want any ounce of sanity. Boundaries in marriage, with family, with friends, in our job. Really any place we live and breath.

When life gets out of whack..it’s usually goes back to unclear boundaries. These are the elements of our life based on where we are heading, what we are responsible for, and how to achieve what we believe to be most important to us.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering about the boundaries in your life.

1. Have you shared the vision? This is where expectations are voiced or even written down, so everyone is on the same page as to where you’re heading.

2. Have you engaged the right help for the task? This is evident when my husband hires day workers. He’s sure to get some young guys to flank, and those handy with a rope. But he also ask those who are dependable and hard workers to be part of the crew. Does everyone know what their task is in your family, your marriage, or even on the ranch?

3. Do you have a strategy? When cooking for a crew I engage the help of my daughter-in-law. We strategize by making a menu, shopping a few days before works begin. We make ahead anything to save time and we consider where we will be eating. The pens require a grill for hamburgers. The bunkhouse means I’m using a roaster and microwave. Strategy is our game plan. Your strategy in family boundaries may look like who you want your kids to hang out with? It might be a strategy to put them in a good school.

4. Who’s accountable to who? When someone doesn’t show up to work, they probably won’t be asked to work again. Accountability comes in when someone misses cattle…”Who rode that country?” In our marriages we are accountable to each other. Whether it’s helping each other stick to a budget or telling friends not to drink around our children. Accountability is important for us to follow through and correct fixes along the way.

Boundaries are really just about what we stand for and how we are going to stick to the principles that define us. When we make our boundaries clear we invite others to be a part of them not us bending our values to make everyone else fit in to them.

“and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation..” Acts 17:26

If you’d like to know more about boundaries, check out this great read by Dr. Henry Cloud, titled…Boundaries

Thank you for reading….thecowboypastorswife

The Cowboy Pastor’s Wife: The Bull That Knows No Bounds

I should say, the bull that knows no BOUNDARIES! The boy did it again…made his way to the neighbors. He got busted a few days ago on one of his late afternoon escapades! He had no option but to face the consequence of horse and rider once again pushing him back to the boundary line of the ranch.

But this happens right? We’ve all been there. Well most of us have been there, if we have bulls on the honor system because of a strugglin’ fence line.

Fences define areas to which we want to keep something in. A place where livestock is protected, where our family is secure, where we understand what is under our care and how we will best take care of it. Fences are GOOD!

Boundaries are the fences in our lives. We decide who comes in and what decisions are in order, to good management decisions. Yes we all should have them if we want any ounce of sanity. Boundaries in marriage, with family, with friends, in our job. Really any place we live and breath.

When life gets out of whack..it’s usually goes back to unclear boundaries. These are the elements of our life based on where we are heading, what we are responsible for, and how to achieve what we believe to be most important to us.

Here’s some questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering about the boundaries in your life.

1. Have you shared the vision? This is where expectations are voiced or even written down, so everyone is on the same page as to where you’re heading.

2. Have you engaged the right help for the task? This is evident when my husband hires day workers. He’s sure to get some young guys to flank, and those handy with a rope. But he also ask those who are dependable and hard workers to be part of the crew. Does everyone know what their task is in your family, your marriage, or even on the ranch?

3. Do you have a strategy? When cooking for a crew I engage the help of my daughter-in-law. We strategize by making a menu, shopping a few days before works begin. We make ahead anything to save time and we consider where we will be eating. The pens require a grill for hamburgers. The bunkhouse means I’m using a roaster and microwave. Strategy is our game plan. Your strategy in family boundaries may look like who you want your kids to hang out with? It might be a strategy to put them in a good school.

4. Who’s accountable to who? When someone doesn’t show up to work, they probably won’t be asked to work again. Accountability comes in when someone misses cattle…”Who rode that country?” In our marriages we are accountable to each other. Whether it’s helping each other stick to a budget or telling friends not to drink around our children. Accountability is important for us to follow through and correct fixes along the way.

Boundaries are really just about what we stand for and how we are going to stick to the principles that define us. When we make our boundaries clear we invite others to be a part of them not us bending our values to make everyone else fit in to them.

“and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation..” Acts 17:26

If you’d like to know more about boundaries, check out this great read by Dr. Henry Cloud, titled…Boundaries

Thank you for reading….thecowboypastorswife

Pastor’s Wife by Normal Elliott: Things We Want Our Boys To Know

I recently came across this picture in my file and a document on my computer that made me smile. The title was, “Things We Want Our Boys to Know.” It was a list that my man and I came up with years ago. Our list was just a reminder that we didn’t want our boys to grow up and not know how to do certain things. We sat down at the table one evening, about the time our boys were in middle school, and sketched out a plan.

Although some of the things on the list they were already learning, we had met far to many young men who didn’t know how to do certain things. We both had grown up with dad’s who taught us so much and we wanted to pass that along to our boys. At times we forgot about “the list” but along the way, it reappeared reminding us of our quest.

I wanted to share this with you, exactly as we wrote it……..

Things We Want Our Boys To Know

1. The Lord

2. Value of Family

3. Choosing a Wife

4. Financial Responsibility: Earning a living through something they love, balancing a checkbook, marketing their God giving abilities and knowing their value is high and worth being paid well for their field.

5. Hard Work and Education: By combining the two through work experience and knowledge of their field they can excel. Being teachable, willing to learn and share with others.

6. Maintenance: Basic vehicle and home repairs, changing oil, tires, checking tire pressure, air filter, wiper blades, and fuses. Home Repairs: Basic electrical, plumbing, and building.

7. Horse Stuff: Ground Work, round pen, judging confirmation, feed & feeding, hoof care, shoeing, disease, what to watch for. Tack repair, leather work, and what to do in a bind.

8. On the ranch: Wind milling, water work, range management.

9. Hunting: Gun cleaning and safety, calls, leading hunts.

10. Knots: Different knots for all occasions. Loads, tying up horse, and misc.

And……..Driving, a standard!……

So, here we sit more than fifteen years later, our oldest Clay, 28, and youngest, Jake, 26. Both men, both good men and once again we look at the list. We slowly read over each one and ask ourselves, how did we do? We laugh at some of the things, such as home repair…….we had a little contracting business, the boys spent their summer working for us….they’d rather forget it! The next summer we made money cutting and baling hay…..the boys each drove a tractor, all times of the day and even at night. Our youngest son laughs at the vehicle repairs and remarks…”The kind of trucks we drive, we have to know that!”

Leather work? Two saddles, headstalls, bridles, and I have lost count of the leggins they have made.

Horse stuff? Both have shown horses, have trained and been many miles day working.

Since my original post five years ago…we now have a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Our youngest did an excellent job choosing a wife. The older one has a steady girlfriend and the future looks bright.

Some things on the list happened by accident, unintentional, while others we were quite deliberate about

……..like balancing a checkbook…..this wasn’t one of their favorite lessons, but we struggled through.

……..asked a saddle maker to teach them to make their own saddle. It’s amazing what people will help you with if you ask. It did take a little bit of cash as well, we saved some money and off they went to make their own saddle.

………a spur maker, in California, had them in his home for a week and taught them to make spurs……….

“We thank God for the opportunities that He made possible for our family….I can’t explain it any other way!!”

We also saw strengths and weaknesses in certain things. One of the boys is better at vehicle repair and the other a stickler for details.

What is it that you want to teach your children? It could be a basic list or a more detailed list. Look around and decide what it is that you want them to know. Even if you forget at times about your list, if you commit it to God and ask Him for help, you will be surprised each time the list reappears.

Psalm 37:5 NIV

“Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.”

Pastor in the Pasture Wendel Elliott: Position on a cow, position in Christ

The National Cutting Horse Association rule book states that a horse will be penalized, “when a horse loses his working advantage, misses a cow, or is working out of position;…” For those of you who may not have ridden in a cutting, you now know the definition of “to miss a cow” or “to be out of position.” However, you still might not fully understand what I’m talking about. You probably could gain a little more knowledge if I were to actually ride into a herd, separate a cow out, and show you by riding my horse to where he is out of position. I could walk you through things that might develop in the event of working a cow out of position. A rider might lose the cow or “back fence a cow” resulting in extra penalty points. Even then, the understanding of why wouldn’t fully be seen until you rode in and experienced it firsthand.

Likewise, if you have played linebacker you understand how that position is practiced and things to watch. You actually put the pads and helmet on and got in the game. You know what a linebacker is and put your position into practice. You’ve lived out what it was to be a linebacker. I on the other hand never have, so I wouldn’t know “come here” from “sic ‘em.”

As Christians we may get a little confused or unsure of exactly what our position is in Christ. Perhaps we’re a little overwhelmed, possibly that such a great salvation and love would save someone like ourselves. We know our skeletons in our closets. However, it becomes more clear what we have when we read the book of Ephesians in chapter 1:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… In love he predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ… In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ…

In Him we have obtained an inheritance… In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

That is quite a list of things we possess and our position in Jesus Christ. As believers we have:

● “Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”

● “Adoption as sons (and daughters)”

● “Redemption and forgiveness”

● “Knowledge of the mystery of His will, His purpose, in Christ”

● “An inheritance”

● “The Holy Spirit, as a guarantee of that inheritance”

● and we were “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world”

Look upon this list and reread Ephesians chapter 1 and see all the things which He has blessed us with as believers. When we see this and gain that knowledge of it then we can put it into practice, living it out. See this list as a launch pad for living out and understanding more and more what we have in Him.

Well, I better saddle up and get back in the practice pen. I got a whole lot more to learn about my position, understand it more, and put into practice.

I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!

The Pastor’s Wife Norma Elliott: How Simple Courtship Can Revive Marriage

The simplicity of new love. I’d watch him for hours riding a colt in the round pen, or knocking the fresh off a horse before heading out to gather cattle on an early morning. I’d watch him until he disappeared into the scenery. And I’d wait for his arrival, peering out into the pasture for a rider, while doing chores or cooking lunch. I’d meet him at the gate and love to hear the sound his spurs made as he stepped off a colt. I’d walk beside him and talk while he unsaddled…I’d say, I was hooked. The crush was mutual! It still is.

Years later I think to myself about those days and smile. I’m thankful God gave us our memory to recall those “first love” feelings. It prompts me to continue to do those things for my spouse that I used to. Who doesn’t like to be admired? Who doesn’t like a little ranch romance?

This time of year is a good time to knock down the cobwebs in our relationship and bring back the simplicity of courtship. Not only because February is the month we celebrate Valentines but because within simple courtship we practice habits for a good marriage.

Here’s a few simple things we did while dating and the ones we bring back when we need to fan those flames into a blazing fire.

● Write love letters.

● Spend time together…and more time…and more time…..

● Do something for her…look out for her.

● Think you know everything about them? Maybe not, ask them questions to find out new interest? Where they’d like to visit? Even what job they would do if they weren’t currently doing this one? We’re always changing and growing so keep current with questions.

● Surprise him with his favorite meal.

● Open doors for her, if you’ve let that habit slide.

● Grab ahold of his hand.

● Dress up for a night on the town.

● Tell him what you admire most about him.

● Tell her why she’s still your beauty.

● Compliment genuine character qualities.

● Be romantic.

● Anticipate doing for one another. Saddle her horse…even though she can, it’s nice to do.

● Be a little unpredictable by doing something out of the ordinary.

● Play a fun practical joke.

● Surprise her with a gift she’s been wanting.

● Write a poem…even if it’s silly.

● Play loud music and two step in the kitchen.

● Take a trip and explore someplace new.

● Say I love you often and really mean it.

● Lay in the back of the pick up and gaze at the stars.

● Take a picnic along while checking waters.

● Call them and tell them you’re thinking about them.

● Tape a note to the steering wheel or bathroom mirror. Not one that says, “check the heifers”…but one that says, “You amaze me,” “You’re smokin’ hot,” or anything that has meaning for the two of you.

All of these things are simple. Kind of like that love that you had at first, when it was new. It’s doing the things you use to do that bring back that courtship to marriage. It’s about admiring each other and anticipating each other. Showing manners to one another and loving one another well.

We are reminded of this “new love” or rather “First Love” in Rev. 2. This time it is the love we have for Christ. The love and excitement when we first came to know Him. He tells us to do the former things. I like to think it’s…. admiration, sitting beside, loving Him. Learn more about Him, study Him. All those things we did at the beginning of our relationship with Him.

I think you’d agree these are simple things. So simple that we actually forget about them but why not try a few today just to see what happens. I bet it will even take you back to your dating days.

Thank you for reading!

I hope you’ll check out my blog at www.thecowboypastorswife.com

If you’d like to read more…please visit me at www.thecowboypastorswife.com

Pastor in the Pasture: Serve & Grow

Let’s face it, you and I both know there are things on the ranch you wish were not on the list of “duties”. I mean when you took that dream ranch job you had visions of riding good horses over gentle rolling hills. The cattle were fat and knee deep in good grass. It was picturesque and should be something used in an opening scene on “Lonesome Dove” or “Chisum”. Then reality set in and you knew your were a camp man because there were fences to be fixed, floats that were broke, and pipe to be wrapped. Those seemingly normal everyday things on the ranch sometimes leave you wishing you could be out with the wagon, horse back every morning, and making a big wide circle.

What if we were to tell the boss, “That camp man stuff ain’t for me. I have too much tied up in leather and horse flesh to be doing that kind of work.” You and I would probably be looking for another job.

What if we saw our work and service to the Lord with that kind of mindset? “Oh they’re having an arena event at the cowboy church this weekend? Sounds like fun…I’ll take my horse and see if I can help.”

“Wait, they want me to drive the tractor and plow the arena, instead? I think I’ll pass.” Or, “You mean they want me to help out cooking the barbecue and serve food at the concession stand? No, thanks.”

“They asked me last time and I went and helped, but I didn’t get any kind of thank you or appreciation!”

“What was that Lord? You want me to go by and visit Slim? You know how he goes on and on about those old stories! He’s always belly aching about something, too. If I go by, I’ll be there for 2 or 3 hours, maybe more. I think I’ll go by sometime next week.”

Yes, believe me I hear you. However, we see this attitude in the Bible and those it was associated with and we know some people that fit the bill.

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach….

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see:…

11 The greatest among you will be your servant.12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

(Matthew 25:1-2,5,11-12 NIV)

Instead we should have the mindset of Jesus when it comes to service although I know it may be hard sometimes. Jesus said, “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28 NASB)

Where is the Lord asking you to serve? As you do so and follow His lead you will find yourself growing and walking even closer with Him.

Well, I better go, I have an appointment with ol’ Slim.

I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!

Pastor in the pasture: Short Term Growth Is Hard To See

As a rancher and producer of beef it’s good to see calves growing and putting on weight. We see them hit the ground and before we know it we’re at branding season. Another blink of the eye, it seems, and you’re watching semi trucks strain under the weight they are carrying during shipping season. Yes, it’s good to see calves growing. However, if you took a look at a calf today and came back tomorrow to gauge his growth you wouldn’t notice a big change. If you put him on the scale you might see a difference between yesterday and today. Even that would be minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

Watching our children grow we can see a little of the same. There was an exposed 2×4 on the end of the wall at a house we used to own. On that 2×4 were marks of our sons growth over the years. It wouldn’t be very noticeable to have a mark today and one tomorrow. However, over time you can see the definite change. You compare that 3 year old mark with that 14 year old mark and you’ll notice a big difference!

Sometimes we measure our own spiritual growth in Christ in too short of a time frame. A good example might be to look at today. You were doing good this morning by getting up early, reading God’s Word, and spending some time in prayer. Then it happened, somebody left the gate open to the horse corral and the horses are no where in sight. You read this morning: “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” in Colossians 3:8. Now as you’re cussing and kicking the dirt about not having horses up you wonder what happened.

Or, you walked through the door at work and the boss put that extra load on you. You remember reading this morning, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23. Now it just seems like the weight of the load is starting to wear on you. You see this as one more failed attempt to grow in Christ.

So what can we do as we start a new year and wanting to see our growth in Christ?

The first and most important thing is to see spiritual growth as we would gauge those calves’ or our kids’ growth. We must see spiritual growth over some time not only in the immediate.

Secondly ask ourselves some real questions like, “Am I sinning less and less over time?”, “Am I winning in areas that were nothing but defeat in the past?” or “Is the Holy Spirit showing me new areas that might become a danger of temptation and possible sin?”

Third thing to do is watch out for these dangers:

A.) Don’t be a recluse – it’s easy to do in our way of life. (“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV)

B.) Bad habits are nothing but bad masters – You may say well I won’t become addicted or I can handle it. However that can become a bad master. (“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV)

C.) Temptation isn’t from God – “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” James 1:13-14 NIV

I hope that you will see and gauge your spiritual growth in Christ over time gaining ground in a consistent and long term view. As you go into 2019 I pray that you will see a new, life long journey and growth in Christ.

I’ll see y’all out in the pasture!

Check out www.pastorinthepasture.com and www.marriagewithgrit.com

The Cowboy Pastor’s Wife: How To Finally Quit Procrastinating

The neighbor called last week and said a couple of our bulls were in his pasture…but he added, “no hurry.” Oh no,don’t say that…he shouldn’t have!

You know what triggered in my procrastinating mind? It means… “at my leisure, at our convenience, whenever, when the weather is warmer…three weeks from now”….you see what I mean?

Here it is a week later and we saw them yesterday from the highway. They were standing right there, smokin’ a cigarette, lounging by the water trough with the cows. “Guys…the gig is up!” Plus we noticed on caller ID the neighbor called again. UUGGHH!

Now we’re playing roulette with our “neighborly” duties….and urgency has now set in!

Have you ever done this? You have that thing to get done, the appointment you need to make,phone call you’ve put off, the place you know you need to be or that chore that is way past due and now it’s urgent?

Welcome to January! The pressing urgency to make those goals or complete what you failed to do in November and December.

But here it is! How do we just get things done, despite short days, hectic schedules, slopping the hog…you know… a million other things. How do we keep from saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow?”

By this one thing… THE PROCRASTINATION LIST. This one is not so easy because first of all you have to admit you’re a procrastinator. “Hello my name is Norma and I’m a procrastinator” and everyone says…. “Hello Norma!”

Next, schedule one a day for the next 30 days. When you’re usually on social media or watching the “ole tube and try this instead….turn to “the list”.

1. What one thing on the list can I complete in 30 minutes?

2. What one thing is more urgent than the others?

3. What one thing do I have the means to do in this moment?

For example, if It’s 9 P.M. you probably can’t see the bulls in the neighbor’s pasture unless he’s trained to a horn and you have a spotlight.

Finally, complete said “list” item and reward yourself. Now here’s some ideas for that sweet reward…just in case you’re looking. Read a book, watch your favorite western, pop some corn, call a friend, look thru pictures, play music…I can go on and on…did I forget to say…”chocolate”? Always a good time for chocolate.

You see sometimes we just need to start something we’ve been putting off in order to complete it. Actually starting is the hardest part.

I’ve been doing my list for a few days now. My family doesn’t even recognize me.

They’re like, “Who’s that girl in the work gloves and cap, running around getting things done? Did we hire a new hand?”

As for the the bulls- they will be home today!

So how about you? What would be the first thing on your procrastination list? If you’re like me you could list more than 30. Now schedule these things on your calendar or simply pick one item a day and see if your family wonders what on earth happened. It sure helped me.

Thank ya’ll for reading. You can find me at thecowboypastorswife.com

The Pastor’s Wife: I’m A Kid At Christmas

It’s 6:45 a.m. and I am brushing my teeth. I am brushing my teeth with my two sisters and my brothers are standing in the hall teasing us. It will be there turn next. Mom hollers from the kitchen to hurry us up so we have time to gather our stuff and head out the door.

We’re more restless now than ever. We have a few days left before Christmas break so we are feeling a little fearless along with it. Daring, I mean…trying mom’s patience is on the top of our list so we tarry a little more. We hope she has enough Christmas Spirit to let us get away with it. And she does…she hasn’t paddled our backside or hasn’t called out everyone of my siblings name before she got to mine…it’s a win.

Out the door and on our way to school. It’s only a couple of blocks up the street and with the mild weather I’m wearing a light sweater and sneakers without socks. I will pay for that later as the sand from the playground makes it way into the cracks of my toes rubbing blisters. But for now I’m good and have not a worry in the world.

I’m early as usual. Not too early that I’m the lone girl on the monkey bars but not too late that I miss the golden opportunity to run amuck with all the others before the teacher blows her whistle.

I never understood why we didn’t just stay here…I mean outside that is….the last week before Christmas break. We did nothing anyways except color sheets of Santa Claus and toss some glitter on a glue blob. Usually underneath that blob was a half colored picture of a reindeer. Half colored because nobody wants to miss the glitter. They ration that stuff.

Nevertheless we are here and it is the last week. The last week before freedom! The last week before Santa Claus comes! The last week before we go to my uncle’s house for dinner and eat way too much dessert! It’s the last week and for me it seems like a year.

The school day goes by rather quickly and I even see my teacher looking anxious. I don’t know, you suppose she’d like a break from us hoodlums? Nah….she loves children, I couldn’t dream such a thing. But I suppose she is looking forward to Santa just as much as we are.

Mom baked some cookies this weekend and arranged them in a cute cardboard box with Christmas trees and gingerbread men on it. I’m particularly drawn to the little gingerbread men with the frosted piping and the candy buttons. Are those red hots? I love those! They’re my favorite!

And then I remember I must snap out of it and give the box to my teacher, as ordered by my mother. So I do! She hugs me and says, “thank you.” She adds it to the tower of cookie boxes on her desk and instructs me to go sit down. She probably saw I was already in a daze or a sugar coma from just thinking about what it would be like to eat so many cookies.

Every day seems pretty much the same for the rest of the week until Friday comes.

That was just a blur! I remember there was a party and running around! And pretty sure my teacher was huddled in the corner praying. I may have heard her ask God for it to be over. And then…and then…the glorious sound of the bell! I can picture its rhythmic hand tapping celebratory on the hard metal dome and like a dam that breaks loose…kids spilled out from doors into the outside corridors of the building.

The monitors outside have a big job and whistles are blown right and left. Something about the last day before Christmas break. It’s like the passage to doing the unimaginable. Always wanted to slap that boy who has teased me all year! Well, here’s my chance and I dart his direction and before I know it…it’s done. I look back to catch him looking around for the culprit and our eyes lock. OH NO…he knows it’s me and I power down my sockless sneakers and make my best strides towards a teacher. It’s Christmas, I’ve so got this…A boy chancing a girl…I’ll win every time! She hollers out his name and he shouts..”BUT TEACHER SHE DID IT!!!”…but that doesn’t matter as she has already decided her case and I’m off the hook to go home.

Outside the school block I take a moment to celebrate my victory with a little dance to which I care less if anyone is watching. I’m a kid…It’s all about the dance and it’s all about the taste of the oh so sweet victory. Today I will chalk it up to success and when school starts back up I will have a pit in my stomach for the pay back. But for today I will dance the dance of victory!

Now to get home and rattle those presents! I must work steadily on my guesses and I don’t have time to tarry to long on unimportant things. If I hurry I may even beat my siblings to the pie hidden behind last night casserole in the fridge. I try not to get my mouth set on it’s deliciousness just in case but it’s been a good day so I speed up and hope for sweetness!

I am just a kid and it’s the little things in life that excite me. Waiting is always an eternity when it comes to Christmas and patience does wear a bit thin but I shall take in its memory now…in my adult years for just a moment later. Perhaps to remember what it was like to wait, to having so much excitement that you want to bust! To looking forward to what’s in the package. To squeezing my grandparents’ necks so hard I thought they’d pop. Or burying my nose into the folds of my grandfathers shirt, the sweet tones of his pipe tobacco in his pressed shirt pocket intoxicated me and still floods my memory today.

Maybe I wish for a moment for that childlike faith to be stronger in my life. Stronger in my faith. Even as a cowboy pastor’s wife I long for that childlike freedom I once experienced as life’s harshness has worked away at it like sandpaper. I then remember that this is it…the time to grab hold of it once again, to be captured in the innocence of childhood and to that child born to us in Bethlehem. OH those familiar words leap into my memory… “unto us a child is born” and I try to imagine what Christ was like as a child.

Did he run and play? Was it hard for Him to wait? I imagine so…but unlike me, he had no flaws. Unlike me had perfect faith even upon temptation. He had perfect faith even when He struggled.

He was touched by life’s harshness but always held unto His childlike faith, even unto death.

I am not strange to need to remember what it was like to be a child, it would do us all some good to reminiscence once again. It would do us more good to ask once again for that childlike faith. To let this time of year be the catalyst to a fresh faith that will carry us through the waiting. And us…for His people to have the type of excitement that makes us want to bust as we wait for Him to come again.

This is the time of year to be restored and to celebrate once again as if you were a child. It’s the time again to remember the simplicity of faith. And once again to hold tightly to whom we are waiting on. Don’t lose faith my friends… “unto us a child is born.”

Merry Christmas