December 15

The Unexpected


No tree, no presents, no outdoor lights.

A few days ago I finally tossed the last of the heirloom pumpkins that have been taking up front porch space since October. Somehow, in all of my scurrying about, I missed a month and woke up suddenly aware that Christmas is only 10 days away.

I want it to be okay that my family gets Mason jars filled with perfectly cracked pecan halves. I want the thought to count.

Thankfully my brother doesn’t want a new toolset but instead asked me to bake him the Supreme Carrot Cake, a recipe from the Southern Living cookbook that has most of my five-star reviews, and makes all other carrot cake taste like tires.

I often make the Favorite Pecan Pie when I want to show love and thankfulness and received the kindest email ever from a recent recipient.

“I don’t know where you are from, but that superb pecan pie qualifies you as a “daughter of the South”.  Was as good as the pie my Alabama grandmother used to make!”

Reading that email, made my day and month. I’m a Midwest Iowa farm girl who has been in Texas a long time. I wonder if this is home now? She took the time to tell me my thought counted, and for a moment, I felt like a southern belle. Knowing I would never fit in at a DAR luncheon, and on the days I feel more like the beast, it was thoughtful and appreciated.

The snowfall last week was another unexpected gift that still makes me goosebump grateful! My 5th-grade friend and I were talking about my childhood and growing up with mounds and mounds of snow and the exciting but dangerous sport of sledding.

She said she’s never seen snow.

“You’ve never seen snow?”


“That’s crazy. I wish we could go somewhere to see snow, like take a trip. That would be fun. I guess we’ll just have to pray some in,” I said babbling excitedly, moving the barbecue baked chicken to one side of my mouth.

She looked at me with the same unbelief that settled over me as soon as I said it.


It was courteous but doubtful.

About a week later, after a few focused hours, I came out of my home office and was shocked to see snow-covered streets, frosted trees, and a white lawn.

I think I screamed with jolly joy, then leashed up the dogs and ran them across the field to the school to share the awesomeness of the unexpected.

This is the wonder that really means something.

Every once in a while, my daughters will call and ask me to pray for them. It’s one of the best kind of phone calls I can get.

I tell them, “I will.”

“I mean it. It’s super important.”

“I will. I promise. I’m not going to hang out on my knees in the closet all day with lit candles, but I’ll say a prayer.”

Steering Wheel prayers. Lots and lots of steering wheel prayers. When they are answered, it builds both their faith and mine.

If it’s the thought that counts, what kinds of things are we thinking?

Personally, I think I need to remember all of the reasons we have to celebrate this season. And go hang some lights already.





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