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the gray coat

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose…” Raegan’s favorite song to listen to right now plays through the house several times each day. I admit we played Christmas music beginning in September. There’s just something that feels homey about it. We have not, however, decorated for Christmas. We will keep the pumpkins out until the day after Thanksgiving and hit the Christmas decorations the day after! We enjoyed carving pumpkins this fall and collecting leaves outside.

We are taking a break from school ALL week long. I might be more excited than Linley, Ella Kate, and Jenna. I want to do some sewing and baking and some Christmas movies. I have worked extra hard this weekend conquering the laundry baskets so we can start the week without a load.

In school, the girls have been learning about the pilgrims travel to America, their tough first winter, help from Squanto, and their first Thanksgiving. I cannot imagine the first winter they experienced with sickness, lack of food, bitter cold, and loss. I wonder if they questioned the goodness of God or whether He was with them or not. Perhaps they questioned their decision to travel to a new place. I also imagine their gratitude the next year after God provided friends who helped them learn to plant food. After so much darkness, cold, and loss the year before, they were probably full of joy and celebration the year of the first Thanksgiving.

We have this gray coat in the coat closet. It originally belonged to Linley, the oldest. We always have dress coats for Sunday morning and dress-up occasions. Now, years later, everyone including me, has a black dress coat with a ruffle skirt. This gray coat, which happens to be a size 6 was before the black dress coats with skirts. It is still around though, because it does the job of keeping someone warm, and it was paid for. Like every good mom, I pass the clothes down to whomever needs that particular size. It never fails, that whoever is in the size the gray coat fits, without a skirt or ruffle I must add, cries every Sunday they wear it. Everybody knows your dress coat MUST have a twirly skirt and ruffles. Each Sunday, I can guarantee pouting and that gray coat might even be thrown on the floor. Ella Kate and Jenna can both wear it, so they alternate weeks and take turns wearing the “pretty coat” with the skirt versus the plain gray coat.

Do you have a gray coat situation in your life? If we are totally open, most of us have gray coats in our lives. This time of year, we celebrate our gratitude for all the goodness of God and all He provides for us. It should bring out the best, but it often highlights our weakness and humanity that desires more and better. Yep, it’s true of me too. We all hate to wait.

I do my best to demonstrate gratitude and teach all the children how we can be thankful for what we have and focus on that instead of things we want. Sometimes, though, I want to stomp my feet and demand what I want and get it right then. I cannot be the only one, right? If it were socially acceptable, I might actually stomp my foot and throw myself on the floor and roll around and scream.

I have seen God provide for many needs in my life, from tangible objects to finding places to belong. If I have seen Him provide before, I know He will continue. The thing is, sometimes we might have a gray coat, but we do not want it. It does the job, it was paid for, it is useful, but we would rather have something else or something more.

Most people recount how God has provided when it was difficult and how God has rescued them in the past. I can definitely speak of God’s goodness and how He always provides for all our needs in the past. I have never not had what I really needed.

I can also speak for right now, when money is currently tight. A lot of people will not talk about current events and prayers they are praying right now. They might wait until they have been rescued to talk about God's goodness. Even in the waiting, God is good. Many people in our country are struggling. For our home, this Christmas will not be a fantastic show of “packages, boxes, and bags (The Grinch cartoon anyone?).” Deacon needed a coat this year and it was a stretch to get him that. We might ask questions like, "Why can I not go through the Starbucks line every day like everyone else?” "Why can I not have a job like her?" "Why is my marriage not like that one?" This is when it gets tough to truly feel gratitude. I can be confident that God loves me even when I get annoyed with that “gray coat.” I am glad He is patient with me when I am frustrated with stuff I want. Through the waiting, we also realize that God is Who brings the good stuff in life. We can stop struggling so much and rest in Him. God does not waste our waiting. It forces us to go to Him, depend on Him, and make us more like Jesus. You might want a better marriage, a fulfilling career, more friends, better health, less stress, bigger house, better vehicle. Whatever your gray coat is, God knows and He is patient with you.

Elisabeth Elliott said, “He makes us wait. He keeps us on purpose in the dark. He makes us walk when we want to run, sit still when we want to walk, for He has things to do in our souls that we are not interested in.”

This quote speaks to me as a strong-willed child now adult. I naturally want what I want, how I want it, when I want it. I often want God to fix my situation as soon as my prayer is over! There is something truly freeing, though, about surrender to God’s wants instead of my own. Freedom is truly found in letting God know my wants and needs and letting Him provide how He wants instead of struggling and fighting for it myself. I am thankful God is compassionate through my tantrums and patient with my attitude.

We have a Thankful Tree every year that we post to the wall and everyone can write what they are thankful for on their handprint "leaves." When I get started thinking, there are many ways I see God’s goodness and provision that I had not thought of before. He does not promise us perfect health, financial success, or a smooth life. He does promise Himself, though. In His will is the safest place to be. Despite the gray coat, this Thanksgiving season, remember God’s love and patience with you.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.

Psalm 103:8

In it with you,


What We're Loving:

The boys are wearing shirts embroidered by my special friend and neighbor who lived next door to us for four years. For more information on her beautiful work, visit her website here!

Pic(k) of the Week:

Jenna's beeming smile on her Sunday to wear the "pretty coat."


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