My Fun Holiday Meltdown

Happy 2016 my friends!

The last time we were here, we were in the middle of all The Christmas, and we talked about making December meaningful vs. doing what was expected. I challenged us to make a list of those things that actually mattered when the holidays were over and done. My list included a date night, a really great advent book, and (for some crazy reason) the making and decorating of Christmas cookies.

What in the world.


If you spend any time with me at all, you know I’m not that girl. I’m not a baker, or a cook or a Pinterest mom of perfection. If I have frozen chicken in the crockpot by 9am I call that a win, because at least I’ve got a meat option by dinnertime.

However, I was determined to make it happen, so the cookies got made, the kids decorated them, the whole deal.  But true confession? There was a point in the middle of it all that I was literally locked away in my bedroom, in tears, having a total meltdown.

What in the world.

It was just one of those occasions where I just could not get it right. My intentions were so good, but the actual execution of every.single.thing. just seemed to go wrong.

  • I was stressed because I had so much on my plate that day.
  • I didn’t use the right sized bowls.
  • Because of that, at the mid-way point I had to switch all the ingredients into bigger bowls.
  • The dough would NOT come together and just crumbled.
  • I realized I hadn’t used enough butter.
  • Even after adding the right amount of butter, the dough continued to crumble.

And then this last one:

  • My mother-in-law sat at the island with me the whole time.

I say this not because she’s a bad mother-in-law, she’s actually amazing. I say this to make note of this: I had an audience taking in all the gloriousness that was my complete lack of baking skills.

The longer I tried to make it work, the more it didn’t. What made it worse was my inner dialogue, that was now ramping up to epic levels.

I can’t believe you can’t figure this out.
I can’t believe you waited until the day before Christmas Eve to do this.
Why in the world was this one of your “meaningful things?”
If she was making these cookies, they’d be amazing.
She thinks you’re a horrible cook.
It’s too bad her son and her grandchildren don’t have someone who can manage life better, who could maybe figure out Christmas cookies.

At one point, I announced that I was going to throw the whole thing out and start over, but my sweet MIL came over to help, adding additional eggs, and apparently drops of magic, because she soon had the rolling pin out and had cut-outs of stars and angels popped into the oven in no time.

I missed the “magic” of it all, and all I could see was this:  She made it work, and I couldn’t.

I started to shut down on the inside and didn’t say a word.  Instead, I wiped up some flour off the counter and headed upstairs, closed the door, and bawled.

I was so mad at myself, at how completely inadequate I was. I was so hurt, wanting to blame everyone and everything.  I wanted to just start over and make it all right. I wanted to yell at myself for all my obvious lack.

In all my frustration, though, I had a moment of wondering and decided to do something not typical.  I decided to take a step back.

Instead of internalizing it all and going down a big dramatic path filled with self-loathing (something I’m really great at), I stopped for a second and asked God a question:

What is going on? Why in the world am I this upset over Christmas cookies?

By taking a giant step back and asking why, I allowed myself the opportunity to hit pause and recognize some things. The more I leaned into that question, the better I began to see the real issues.  The truth.  Not my own made-up reality.

In those moments, I realized that I had some deep insecurities when it came to my mother-in-law. I want to be great for her. And for her son. I want to be the organized-put-together-amazing-daughter-in-law for her. My MIL is maybe one of the best out there, hands down.  She’s beautiful inside and out, loves and serves the Lord. On top of that, she’s organized, she has a plan, and she regularly wants to know what the plan is.  OH MY WORD.  I struggle with THE PLAN.  So in my eyes, I always seemed to not be enough, not organized, not planned out, not well prepared enough.

That was the truth of it all. It didn’t have anything to do with cookies. It was all about me thinking I’m the worst at it all. And that. is. a. lie.

How often do I live in the lie?

Here’s what happens when I live in the lie, rather than the truth:

My emotions come out sideways. 

I get angry at those around me who have done nothing wrong.

I try to take control of the situation because I want to show my worth.

I shut down.

I hide.

I create a story about it all that puts the blame on those around me.

Anyone else?

Girlfriends, for so many reasons, I don’t want to live a lie. I want to live and walk and speak in the truth. That’s where Romans 12:2 rolls in. These first few words of this amazing verse are so good:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

When I allow God to transform the way that I think, I can live in TRUTH. His Truth is love. And strength. And courage. When I’m filled up with His Truth, God becomes my compass, not my circumstances. When I’m filled up with truth, the lies of the enemy are replaced with God’s Word.

I love the NLT version of this verse, because the first part of the verse says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world.” The behavior of the world is to lash out, to blame, to throw our anger at anyone who’s near.  The behavior of the world is to get mad at your mother-in-law when she tries to help you, then blame her for your horrible mood.  

I want to walk in truth. 

By taking a step back, by asking God to speak reality into my circumstance, I opened up my heart for His response. I open up my heart to His Truth. And ultimately, I opened myself up to His love…a love that transforms me from the inside out. 

God help us to see the reality of our circumstances, help us to see it with Your eyes. When life goes sideways, establish us in your Truth so that we don’t believe and go with the lie. Renew us from the inside out so that we walk in Your Truth and Love.  




  1. Kerrie Green on January 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Oh Julie how I needed this today as I look around my disaster of a kitchen and the mountains of laundry piling up on my couch waiting to be folded and I am doing giving myself the talk that you described so well. Why do we put such lofty expectations on ourselves? Thank you for your encouraging words today my friend!! 🙂

  2. Kim Ellingson on January 14, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Oh yes! Many,many times I have caused myself to be spun-up in a whirlwind of anxiety and stress over the unrealistic expectations I’ve laid out for myself in order to make something perfect – rather than truly enjoying the situation, experience, moment.

  3. Cathy Burbury on January 14, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    So funny how I saw myself in your break down. So true that we blame others for our short comings. But what a beautiful God we serve when we cry out to him and he so profoundly and gently shows us a better way of seeing our situation, and guides us in His direction, not ours. When your day pulls you in so many directions , stop, call out his name, and wait for him to turn you towards him again. “Be still and know I am with you.” Jesus reminds us. You are off to a great year because you are faithful. PS your cookies looked wonderful.

  4. Michelle on January 14, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Amen Julie!!

  5. Colleen on January 15, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Thank you!!

  6. Wendy Thomas on January 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Well maybe I should first state that this comment is gonna be long winded! Lol! With that said…..
    Julie my love…u are so imperfectly PERFECT!!!! And u may loathe that side of yourself. However my dear, it is what the rest of us love and admire most about u!!! True story!

    I had a real Shazaam moment a while back that maybe I should share with u. Because it was a direct rest of YOU!!! I was reading that book u sent me “30 Days Of Praise”. And as usual was loathing my imperfect self. Then I came upon the day about how God made us just the way he wanted us! And how we should embrace these imperfections. Because that is exactly what he intended us to be! Now I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t try and improve on our imperfect self. However, so many of these things that we see as inadaquate about ourselves are exactly what he intended for us. I mean really. If we were all perfect what would be the purpose of this journey we call life???? NOTHING!!! That’s what!

    Now to address the MIL part of your post. Yes! She sure does seem to be rather perfectly put together. But the truth is…she has just had more time in her journey to build on her strengths. And she had weaknesses just like the rest of us. And when it comes to u feeling like somehow u don’t measure up as a wife to her son, mother to her grandkids, and daughter to her… Let me just say this. That woman worships the ground u walk on! She finds u to be absolutely perfect in everyone of those catahories. She goes on and on about how differently u perform in these capacities than she ever did or does. But she also says that your approach is so perfect for your family and marriage. It blows her away just how awesome u are! And how doing things differently than her can still be perfect!! True story! And let me also add… What would the woman have to do with her life if she didn’t have her children to hen peck and fawn over!! Lol!! She would be so bored! It makes her feel useful to offer help and advice. So that is a gift u give to her! Well and then there is me and my hot mess of a life!!!! I keep her plenty busy too with my imperfect self! Lol! I mean what would the woman have to pray about if she didn’t have her sinning, imperfect, unorganized daughter to pray about. And I’m glad to provide that service to society!!! Bahahaha!!

    Oh yes…and about the cookies. If everything had gone perfectly when u made them what would be the point?? If u think about your own childhood memories. U will see that the best ones u remember were the crazy ones!! Not the Martha Stewart moments! 😜

    Did I mention this was gonna be long winded!!!! Lol. Ok I’m done. Just know that u are absolutely loved to the moon and back just the way u are!!! 💕💕💕😘😘😘

  7. Sue Umberger on January 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I’ve been thinking about your story all day today. I have so many memories of similar happenings in my long life. My kids are grown now; married, and gone, and no grandkids on the horizon yet, and all my mother-in-laws are long gone. I had hoped by now I would have my kit in a kaboodle. However, I still have that awful need to be good enough for others to admire me and like me, and the mere thought that someone may judge me just sends me back to my childhood years of struggling to fit in and being bullied sometimes.

    Even in my sixties I am learning from God to let go of that need for approval and am still being healed from past hurts at the same time.

    I was fired from a job a couple days ago that I had had for four months. FIRED! Dear Lord!

    I’ve worked forty years in various professions and I had never been fired before! It was a terrible environment and I’m happy I don’t have to go back, but that experience brought back that hurt and need to be approved. I asked God what the root hurt was and several came to my mind. I asked for healing and forgave my employer and started praising The Lord. It helped so much to be on day 14 of the Thirty Day Praise Challenge! I love Becky’s book and it’s format for praising our Awesome God.

    So let us pray for each other in this journey to enjoy every single day no matter what happens.

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