I cranked my thermostat down to 60 degrees. It was a balmy day in Texas and I, frankly, wanted it to feel like December. I turned on my Christmas tree lights, switched on my propane fireplace and snuggled up on my sofa with my Kindle to read.
Okay, so the moment wasn’t exactly real. I didn’t have a real book or real fireplace. Even my tree was fake. I had barely lost myself in the fantasy adventure I was reading when the familiar sound of children fighting interrupted me.
“Mom. It’s my turn on the computer!” A tow-headed boy invaded my haven, standing defiantly with hands on hips, demanding justice.
His much taller, but only slightly older sister was close behind him and assumed a similar pose. “You’ve been on it for an hour.”
I rolled into the couch and my eyes didn’t leave my Kindle. “Work it out!”
Protests and whines from both made it clear I would have to get involved. Irritated, I tossed off the blanket. (It wasn’t quit cool enough for it yet.) “Both of you to your rooms. No computer for either one of you!”
“Silence!” This time I used my mean, mom’s-lost-it voice. They stopped and stared, but their eyes revealed they hadn’t given up.
“Will you play a game with us?” My son’s lip protruded profoundly. It was such a pathetic pout, I almost laughed. Almost.
“No! I’m enjoying a winter day reading a book in front of the fireplace. Now leave me alone.”
My preteen daughter rolled her eyes at me, then stomped out of the room. My son shuffled out slowly like a lost puppy.
I had just returned to my story when the phone rang. “Hello” I answered, sounding cheerful. Did I mention I was on the drama team in high school?
It was a friend from church. “Hey. What are you doing?” she asked.
“Just reading a book.”
“Really? Your kid will let you read? They’re so good. I’ve had to make cookies with mine all morning.” She quickly asked for a mutual friend’s phone number. “Well, I better get back to my kids before they burn down the house. Thanks!”
After we hung up, I looked at the family picture sitting the fireplace mantel. A stranger observing the four smiling faces standing in front of the Christmas tree would assume the camera had captured a happy family moment. I knew the truth. I had orchestrated and bribed my family for the picture. Actually, my daughter was mad that I wouldn’t let her call her friend on Christmas morning and my son was in trouble for shooting an ornament off the tree with his new air gun. My husband was grouchy at the amount we spent on Christmas, and I was feeling unappreciated.
I knew the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something. I felt Him pricking at my soul, but I picked up my kindle and escaped, ignoring his voice.
The next morning, excited, yelling voices woke me. I was accustomed to the yelling, but surprisingly these voices weren’t fighting. They sounded....happy?
My son barged into my room. “MOM! It’s snowing!”
“What? Did you make white confetti again? If you did, you’re cleaning it up!”
My daughter entered wearing a rare smile. “No, mom. It’s REAL.”
I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. Snow. Real snow in Texas.
“Can we go play?” Two sets of hopeful eyes pleaded with me.
This time I listened to the conviction the Lord put on my heart. I thought about all the pretending in my life. Yesterday I pretended it was winter when I tried to read my book. I pretended our family was getting along when I posed my family for a picture. I pretended to be a good mom. But today, God had given me something REAL. “Yes, WE can go outside and play!”
“You’re coming too?” My son looked shocked.
“I’m going to teach you how to build a snowman.” Okay, so I was pretending again. I had no idea how to build a snowman.
My kids smiled at me. Genuine, picture-perfect smiles. Where was my camera? Today was going to be REAL fun!
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