The Men of Christmas Shopping

For years I managed shopping centers. From Black Friday through December 24th, the stores are packed with shoppers looking for deals and gifts. Nothing you didn’t know, right? But what you may not know is what the men of the Christmas shopping season look like. And it’s hilarious.

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These poor guys. From the onset of the holiday shopping season through about Dec 23rd, this is the role of the guys pulled away from their tvs, recliners and snacks and drug to the mall. They become the guards of the bags. The keepers of the purses. The placeholders in lines from store to store. And then it gets worse.

Come the evening of Dec 23rd, a bell rings somewhere and the guys start to think about their own shopping. By Christmas eve the malls are packed with men walking aimlessly in search of something they either think will make “her” happy or they were instructed to find weeks ago. The forlorn looks on their faces are magnified by slumped shoulders and shuffling feet. It’s both hilarious and sad.

As a mall manager, my job was to help them. I would hire greeters to direct them to the right stores. I would walk around myself answering questions and providing encouragement. Guidance is what they needed and a lot of it. Don’t we all. As much as our mall team tried to help, there was only so much we could do. We could point, usher, answer and guide, but ultimately the guy had to complete the task himself.

It’s the same as when we talk to people about Jesus. We can point, usher, answer and guide, but ultimately the person has to make the choice on their own. This Christmas season, point people to Jesus. When they find Him, it will be the greatest gift they’ve ever received.

Merry Christmas.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 

Hooker Heels and a Hess Station

The things we do for our kids.

I have always enjoyed helping my daughter get ready for the prom or homecoming or cotillion or the annual pig festival dance or whatever formal occasion we had next on the calendar. There’s a lot that goes in to preparing for these events… that is if you have a girl. Boys take about 27 minutes. Girls? 27 hours. But I love it. I love it until I find myself in hooker heels in a Hess station.

It was prom night. Her hair was done in a beautiful up-do. She had a french manicure and pedicure. Her makeup was just right. She had the perfect yellow dress acquired after days of shopping. Subsequent to the selection of that dress, I had purchased a 100 ft roll of “flash tape” to ensure the dress stayed in all the right places. She had 4 inch high silver heels that accented the dress perfectly.  Once the earrings and bracelet were added, she was ready to head to the marathon photo session at a downtown park.

Of course I took all the photos she wanted. Standing. Sitting. On the stairs. Near the water. With the boy. With the group. With the boy and the group.

Hundreds of photos later, the happy couple got in the back of my limo and I chauffeured them to the glitzy and glamorous hotel in Orlando. Yes, I know. How painful that mom had to drive them. But their real limo plans fell through and neither was allowed to drive that far just yet so here is mom to save the day. They actually didn’t mind since I let them play the music as loud as they wanted. And told them jokes. Ok maybe I went overboard with that, but I laugh at myself so I was entertained. Heck, I’m driving. And I had worked hard to get to this point. There was a lot invested in this evening. She was gorgeous. I was proud.

I dropped them off at the door. As they strolled in to Prom Night 2014, I zoomed off to kill time for two hours until my next assignment – get them to the afterparty. I proceed to review the 500 photos we just took.

When I arrived to retrieve the happy couple, half of the happy couple did not look so happy. My daughter proclaimed her shoes to be the absolute spawns of satan, adding that she could no longer wear them or it would make the evening unbearable. “OK just change into your flats you brought.” What flats?  You mean you forgot your flats? I saw my evening going a lot differently as I slipped off my flat sandals and handed them over.

10155559_10152448583601995_1290038631909199581_nBut what was I to do. I’m a mom. I wanted her to have a fun time. As she goes on to the post Prom celebration now able to walk again,  I knew this was going to be a late night.  I settled into the car with my computer, a book, snacks, drink and my heated seats. Party time for mom. Continue reading

Paper, Plastic or Jesus?

It’s Encore Week! In looking back over this blog, I decided I wanted to highlight the top posts…the posts with the most views and comments. This one was the most popular and it’s also one of my favorite stories. Enjoy…

Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, my son had attracted an audience. Proudly I watched his little arms strain to reach the butter and cheese in the bottom of the cart. With each item he placed on the belt, he was building a leaning tower of dairy products, toilet paper and juice. Maybe he’ll be an engineer one day, I thought as he added the eggs to the top of the pile. Before I could panic, I heard his little voice.

Continue reading

Paper, Plastic or Jesus?

It’s Encore Week! In looking back over this blog, I decided I wanted to highlight the top posts…the posts with the most views and comments. This one was the most popular and it’s also one of my favorite stories. Enjoy…

Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, my son had attracted an audience. Proudly I watched his little arms strain to reach the butter and cheese in the bottom of the cart. With each item he placed on the belt, he was building a leaning tower of dairy products, toilet paper and juice. Maybe he’ll be an engineer one day, I thought as he added the eggs to the top of the pile. Before I could panic, I heard his little voice.

Continue reading

A Different Voice Can Make a Difference

Though it has been years since he was in her class, my son has always looked up to his kindergarten teacher. Mrs. B became his favorite person of all time during the first week of kindergarten. It started with small things like an extra hug when he was crying for mommy or when she just smiled at him when he ate the goldfish that were supposed to be used for a math assignment. (In his defense, who gives a hungry boy food to learn math? He thought it was snack time.)

In his eyes, she is a saint and anything she tells him is the gospel. She could tell him the sky was red and he’d likely believe it. His eternal adoration was solidified when she told the class about Jesus and salvation. She explained how they needed to ask Him into their hearts to be saved and go to heaven. My little one knelt right there in class and gave his life to Christ.

Strangely enough it was as if my sweet little boy had never heard about the cross, Jesus or eternal life before. We’d read him Christian story books since birth. We’d taken him to church his entire young life. We’d talked to him about Jesus. We sang songs about God. We watched Christian stories on television and had bibles throughout the house. Yet, when he heard the message of Jesus from his revered kindergarten teacher, it affected him like never before. The same message but in a different voice made all the difference.

Since giving his life to Christ my son received a boldness to witness to others. He has talked to people about Jesus on airplanes, in the grocery store, on the ball field and even led a little boy to Christ during his sister’s dance recital. He continues to pray for the salvation of those he has witnessed to but weren’t receptive to the message at that time.

We may never know how the words we say may impact another person. There are times that we are placed in the path of another person for the purpose of speaking into their life. God may use us to answer a person’s prayer, ease a fear, confirm a direction, or plant a seed. There are times when we may feel led to witness to another person and our voice may be the one that makes the difference in that person’s life. Our words can make a difference!

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NIV)