Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness


handling life changes with grace and humor

Nope, that’s not a typo in the title. It’s the ETV (Elizabeth Thompson Version) of 2 Peter 1:3: “His divine power has given you everything you need for life lice and godliness.” (Hey—I think my translation still suits the spirit of the scripture.)

I’ll take another liberty, this time with Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem:

‘Twas three days before Christmas, and all through my house, not a creature was stirring, except for a louse…

Yep. This Christmas, we got visited by more than just elves and Santa Claus.

It was December 22, 6:00 am. The night before, I had nearly killed myself to finish an intense editing job—I’d worked long hours for weeks on end, scrambling to finish with a few days to spare so I could shut down and spend time with my family for Christmas.

So there I was, the morning of December 22, finally free, and happy, happy, happy. For thirty-eight minutes, everything was perfect. I woke up before the rest of the family, smiling to myself in a dark and sleepy house. I brewed coffee, switched on peaceful music and the Christmas tree lights, and settled down on the couch with a mug and my Bible. Christmas had finally begun, and I was going to start it off right: alone with God.

A few minutes later, my daughter stumbled out, bleary-eyed and tousle-haired, and snuggled up beside me with her head in my lap. Happy, happy, happy, I sat there and prayed over her and stroked her hair.

And that’s when I saw it: a louse, scurrying across her head.

I should pause the story here to note that I am bug-ophobic in the extreme. And lice? My terror knows no bounds. (Don’t believe me? Read here: On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love.)

So you will be impressed—perhaps even amazed—to hear that I did not scream. I did not even gasp. But I felt my happy, happy, happy feeling skittering away, carried off by little louse feet.


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Within an hour, the whole house was awake and Kevin and I had kicked into Save-This-Christmas Mode. We called and made an appointment with the “Lice Lady” who had saved our vacation the last time the lice fairy paid our family a visit, when we were on vacation. Who cared if her office was a ninety-minute drive away? Christmas had to be saved. (I hereby pause this essay for a random proclamation: If your kid gets lice, hire a Lice Lady. Hock a family heirloom to pay for it if you have to. It will be the best money you have ever spent, except maybe for your epidural. Lice Ladies know what they are doing, and will help you get rid of evil bugs waaaaaaay faster than you could on your own. They will also help you retain your sanity, your spouse, and your salvation. Okay. Back to our story.)

So we stuck a shower cap on the Infected One, cancelled our big Star Wars plans with friends, loaded up the four Crazies in the minivan, packed enough snacks to survive a four-month covered wagon journey across the Oregon Trail, blasted Frank Sinatra Christmas carols, and trundled down the road to the Lice Lady. When we got there, our poor almost-three-year-old squealed with glee: “We going ice skating!” We had to break her heart and re-enunciate: “We are going to the LICE LADY, not ice skating. Instead of ice skating, you get to sit in a chair and let someone comb your hair looking for bugs! Woohoo!”

And so began the Great Christmas De-Lousing.

The first appointment was just the beginning. The afternoon at the Lice Lady’s office was followed by several days of laundry and hours of follow-up nit-picking, even as family members gradually filled our house for the holiday. (Paranoid family members, I might add, who were terrified—rightfully so, I’m not judging—of hugging us.)

But you know what’s great?

I didn’t lose it. I didn’t cry one self-pitying tear. Not even when my dryer decided not to help me dry the 4,000 loads of laundry I needed to do when we got home. I didn’t lose my temper, or snap at my husband or kids. I didn’t flip out, not even behind closed doors. I just rolled with it. I even laughed about it. I’m kind of gawking at the computer screen even as I type these words, because this is not normal for me.

Through the Christmas Lice Fairy Visit, I realized that by the grace of God I have grown this year. God has pounded a profound life lesson into my thick head (a louse-free head, in case you were wondering), and apparently, I have listened and started to learn:

I am beginning to accept that life is messy. Things do not go according to plan, pretty much ever. If we wait for our whole life to be perfect to be happy, we will be waiting forever. We will grit our teeth through a series of disappointments, and only find peace and joy when we make it to heaven. That’s not how God wants us to live.

The secret to a joyful life is appreciating what we have, when we have it, for as long as it lasts. Not placing rules or restrictions on our happiness—rules like: “I can’t be happy until…” or “I won’t be happy unless…”

Nope. That’s not how joy works. That’s just a recipe for disappointment, frustration, and unhappiness.


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We find joy in spite of the mess.

In the midst of the mess.

Sometimes even because of the mess.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 puts it, “Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I’ve come to accept that there will always be something wrong with our life. Something we wish was better, or different, or…whatever.

There was a day—two years and nine months’ worth of days, actually—when I couldn’t get pregnant, and I would have gladly given my right arm to have a house filled with lice-infested children. I never want to forget those lonely days.

If we can learn to roll with the unexpected, to adapt on the fly, to appreciate what we have even though there are things we lack, to “laugh at the days to come” instead of fearing them (Proverbs 31:25)—better yet, to laugh at the days that are, even when they go so completely wrong…then we can do more than just survive life. We can enjoy it. We can thank God for it. We can be a person we’re proud of being, in all kinds of circumstances.

So if I have a new year’s resolution this year, it’s this: To keep on rolling with the punches. To stop waiting for perfection. To stop expecting smooth sailing. To accept, embrace, and even laugh at the mayhem of the unexpected.  To be happy now—no asterisks, addendums, or alterations.

And to braid my daughters’ hair, and spray it with mint spray, every day from now until eternity.

Happy new year, y’all. Here’s to the madness.

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Have a “Mary” Christmas (More sitting, less stressing!)


how to relieve stress over the holidays

“Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42, emphasis added).

Welcome to my world. I’m hosting Christmas for oodles of beloved family members, and the Martha in me wants to show my love by making everyone else’s Christmas perfect: Decorations? Check. Clean house? Check. Gourmet food? Check. (“Sort of. Wait. Let me run into the kitchen to prep a few things . . . I’ll be back in five hours.”)

But you know . . . the clean house, and gourmet food, and Pinterest-worthy Christmas decorations, aren’t what’s most important for our family holiday. A great holiday is about time spent together, about laughing so hard you snort egg nog through your nose, about the light of magic shining in our children’s eyes. So I hope you’ll join me in taking Jesus’ gentle words to Martha to heart this holiday season. Let’s “choose what is better.”

And what did Mary choose? She chose to be present. To be engaged. To be with—fully with—the people who had come into her home. To spend time sitting at the feet of the Lord, listening and learning. That’s what makes the holidays great. That’s what is “better.” So won’t you join me?

Let the dishes soak a little longer.

Let the pine needles rest on the carpet a little longer.

Let the meals be a little simpler.

Let’s just be there with the people—and the Lord—we love.

That, my friends, is better. That’s BEST. And Jesus will not take it away from us!

Merry Christmas to you and yours, from the Thompson Crazies! (Here’s hoping we don’t actually GO crazy.)

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5 Questions to Ask About Your Kids’ Technology Use Over the Holidays


5 Questions that will help kids use technology wisely over the holiday break via @lizzylit

Ready for five questions that can make or break your holiday?

Okay, here’s the first one, and it’s a big one: How is your family going to handle technology during the holidays? (Insert Jaws theme music here. Or perhaps that screeching sound from the infamous Psycho scene . . . )

The technology issue over the holidays always seems to sneak up on me. Not this year. This year I plan to think ahead, and make sure Kevin and I are on the same page before the kids start their chorus of, “I’m bored! Can I pleeeeease have some extra game time? Can I pleeeeease watch more TV?”

The minute kids get done with school, they kick into chill-out mode. They want to turn off their brains, turn on the TV, and play games. And hey, maybe they do deserve a mental break, but it’s up to us to parent them into a healthy mental break. If we don’t want our kids to disappear into an iPad/video game/texting fog for the duration of the holidays, then now is the time to think this through. Don’t wait until your kids succumb to a Game-Induced Zombie Coma. Don’t wait until your teenagers begin texting you from across the room, because they’ve forgotten how to use their lips. Don’t wait until you’ve turned into the “Put-Away-that-Stupid-iPod” Police. Here are four simple questions about your family’s technology use to discuss before the school break begins:

What are your holiday technology guidelines going to be?

How much TV is okay to watch? (And what KIND?)

How much game time is allowed, and when?

When do the cell phones get put away so the family can look each other in the eye and just BE together? (And this includes the parents’ phones, too!)


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If we agree on a strategy ahead of time, and talk it through with our spouse and kids, our holidays will go so much better. Let’s not allow our precious family time to go to waste—let’s think. Let’s be proactive. Let’s parent on purpose. And let’s enjoy making meaningful memories—the kind involving eye contact and real conversation!—with the people we love.

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By This Time Next Year… A Christmas Miracle


A Christmas miracle about faith and the power of prayer through infertility, via @lizzylit

The Christmas chaos had finally died down.

My family members were lying around my parents’ living room on Christmas night, 2004—tinkering with new gadgets, trying on new clothes, laughing at the same old jokes that somehow never got old. Everyone was full of eggnog, fudge, and joy… well, everyone was happy except me.

The living room was crowded with the people I loved most, and yet in my mind, someone was missing— someone I had never met. My baby, the child I could not conceive, was not there, and that baby’s absence spoke louder than all the words of Christmas cheer.

Christmas miracle from @lizzylit

Christmas is about children, but there were no children in our family anymore. My three siblings and I had grown up, and now that I had been married to my college sweetheart for five years, a baby was long overdue.

thompson-155

But we couldn’t get pregnant, and no one knew why. As the lonely months stretched into years—two childless Christmases came and went, and our refrigerator was covered with photos of our friends’ babies wearing Santa hats—I sank into a deep sadness. I began to question everything, even my lifelong faith in God. Did he hear our prayers at all? How could he stand by silently while Kevin and I suffered?

As we faced that Christmas, I had vowed not to let my aching emptiness ruin our family festivities, and yet the loss cast a shadow over the whole day. As night fell, my father, who had been a preacher for more than forty years, gathered the family together, and we began to recount the blessings we’d been given over the past year. The talk turned to the future. What did we hope to see next year? What were our dreams?

Every family member wished for the same thing: a baby by the following Christmas. We shed tears, and as the hour grew late, Dad ended our Christmas by asking us all to pray for the coming year. Around the circle we went, each of us asking God the same thing: “Please give us a baby by this time next year.” We had prayed for a baby before—pleaded, cajoled, bargained—but never like this, never as a family, united in the same plea: “By this time next year…”

The next month, I began to see a new doctor, who had some fresh ideas for my treatment. And that spring, we received the news: I was pregnant! I embraced the months of exhaustion and nausea with ecstatic gratitude—every time I hung my head over the trashcan, I was singing inside.

The baby was due December 18. All through my pregnancy, people teased me: “A Christmas baby, how terrible!” But I, in my first-pregnancy naiveté, was convinced that the baby would come early, so that I could recover from the delivery in plenty of time for Christmas. We had waited so long to get pregnant, surely we wouldn’t have to wait past our due date to meet our child!

Christmas baby overdue

But December 18 came and went, and the baby only seemed to settle deeper into my womb. December 19, December 20, December 21… nothing. Not a single useful contraction. As Christmas day loomed, I began to despair.

I was never going to have this baby.

I had prayed for so long to get pregnant, now I’d be the only pregnant woman who stayed that way forever.


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When Kevin and I first awoke on the morning of Christmas Eve, we called to check in with our doctor. Minutes later, we were throwing suitcases into our car, rushing to the hospital to have labor induced. On the way to the hospital, we laughed and cried, terrified and giddy in equal measure, sure that our baby would arrive by that night. A Christmas Eve baby! Wouldn’t that be delightful?

But labor dragged on into the early hours of Christmas morning. Our families drifted in and out of the hospital’s waiting room all Christmas day, rushing through the morning gift-opening without us, eating Christmas dinner with cell phones by their plates, waiting for news.

Labor and Delivery 019

But the baby wouldn’t come, wouldn’t even move into the birth canal. Finally that night, it was clear that our baby was not coming without help. I would need a C-section.

That first wail—the cry I thought I’d never hear—was a foreign but familiar sound, the song my heart had been singing all those years. And what lungs she had! The baby cried angrily—after all, it hadn’t been her idea to come out—but the moment my husband spoke to her, saying, “Daddy’s here,” she quieted, calmed by the voice she had come to know from inside my womb.

And when the doctor held up a tiny head with chocolate eyes and a scrunchy nose, my brain tried to reconcile sight with faith. That squirming bundle was our baby! Cassidy Joy Thompson entered the world—seven pounds, five ounces of answered prayer—on Christmas night, 2005, at 9:46 p.m.

But we didn’t get it right away.

It was several weeks before my mother suddenly turned to me, tears filling her eyes, and breathed, “Do you remember our prayer last Christmas night?” And we realized that Cassidy Joy had been born, to the minute, one year after my family had begged God, “By this time next year, please give us a child…. ”

Now, whenever I am tempted to wonder if God remembers us, if he hears our prayers, I look at my daughter—our family’s Christmas miracle—and I know that he does.

miracle Christmas baby

Labor and Delivery 031

 

Christmas Card (2)

And here she is on her first birthday, Christmas 2006:

IMG_1537 - Version 2

And today, almost age ten:

Cassidy hugging apple tree

By God’s astounding grace, this is our family today:

Christian infertility

kids01

This story first appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: It’s Christmas!

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The Tradition that Teaches Kids to Give at Christmastime


how to teach kids to give at Christmas via @lizzylit

My favorite holiday tradition is the day we give our kids money and set them loose in a toy store.

They tear through the aisles, eyes glittering with desire, desperate to find the perfect toy. As they search, my husband and I watch them transform into the best versions of themselves. Compassionate, selfless versions. Big-hearted, open-handed versions that sometimes hibernate for weeks in normal life, but always wake up shining on this day.

Because on this day they aren’t shopping for a toy they want—they are choosing gifts for each other. This is Sibling Gift Day.

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I began searching for ways to build a spirit of giving and generosity into our Christmas traditions—singing in nursing homes, buying gifts for families in need, baking treats for friends—but Sibling Gift Day has become our most bonding holiday tradition. Not only does it teach our kids the joy of giving, it also builds connection and affection in our family. Here’s how we do it . . .

Click here to finish reading how we use Sibling Gift Day to teach our kids a spirit of giving, on BonBon Break!


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