Okay, I thought I was finished with my Christmas Past series, but last night I remembered that I have one more story to tell. And I really do have to share it, because it involves cute pictures of my kids, and since I am still suffering from guilt that I didn't get pictures of my little girl in her various Christmas dresses (I picked up several at a yard sale), I feel that I must show these shots to compensate.
The story: I wanted to have a special picture of Meg and Matthew to give to our family members at Christmastime. I contemplated taking the kids to a department store and having professional shots taken, but between budget limitations and Matthew's very brief happy-and-awake-between-naps times, I decided against it. Finally, just a few days before Christmas, I set up a little "studio" in our master bedroom, where the light is best. I got out coordinating outfits for the kids. And during one of the rare moments when both kids were awake and had full tummies and clean diapers, I rushed them into the room, threw on their clean clothes, and plopped them down in front of my makeshift backdrop. It was already too late. Before I even turned on the camera, Matthew was screaming his "I-need-to-go-to-bed-right-now" scream. I sighed, vowed to try again that afternoon, and put him in his crib.
The afternoon rolls around. Meg finally wakes up from a long nap. (Normally long naps are fabulous, but that day I wanted pictures more than quiet.) I change her clothes again, do her hair, and again plop the kids down in front of the backdrop. And this time, it is Meg who goes absolutely ballistic. She is sobbing, unresponsive to my inquiries of why. The sun is starting to set; I am losing my light. I try to move ahead, thinking maybe if I just act normal, Meg will too. It works, sort of. She stops sobbing, but when I attempt a pose with the kids seated together, she won't even sit up. Okay... maybe they can both lie down together. At this new angle, without the little remaining light right on their faces, I have to use a flash. Click, click. Meg can't handle the flash in her watery little eyes. She loses it again. And so does Mommy.
I won't describe the next few minutes in great detail, but they were not pretty. Meg, watching me storm around the room, must have thought I was nuts. I wanted these pictures so badly. I had even prayed that God would give me at least one really good shot! And now I would have nothing to give our relatives and they would be disappointed in me and think I was a lousy mom. I knew this was irrational. Through the whole thing, I could see the sin in my heart clearly: I had made an idol out of getting a good picture, I was extremely angry with God for thwarting my plans, I was fearing man and being anxious about not having a gift for my family members. I could see the sin, no problem; I just couldn't stop sinning.
I locked myself in the bathroom and prayed, trying to repent. It wasn't happening. All I could do was rehearse my grievances and fears to the Lord. I was still angry, and I was still trying desperately to think of a way to get that coveted picture. I went back into the bedroom, picked up the phone and called a friend. I explained the situation and confessed what was going on in my heart, through tears. (The mere act of talking out loud about my sin began to soften my heart.) My friend prayed for me. We hung up the phone... and suddenly I was able to let it all go. I put the camera away for good, changed the kids back into their play clothes and went on with the regular activities of the day. We ended up getting prints made of a picture I had already taken--not what I had hoped for, but very cute nonetheless. And the family didn't seem to mind.
In retrospect, I can only guess that God created this whole scenario just for the purpose of letting me see my sin--for the purpose of disciplining me. And although "no discipline is pleasant at the time, but painful," I am very grateful now for my heavenly Father's gift of a fresh example of my own sinfulness. Especially at Christmastime. Because if there was no sin in my heart, I wouldn't need Jesus, and the Christmas story of His incarnation and advent would be just a sentimental fairytale. But there is sin in my heart. And I do need a Savior. And that Savior has and is come--He is Emmanuel, God with us.
Epilogue (and pictures):
After all of our Christmas festivities were over and I uploaded our pictures, I finally got to see exactly what came of our doomed photo shoot. Most of it was as bad as I remembered: