The Dressy Debacle

By Terri Porta © 2012

It’s late, too late to be looking for a fancy dress for my husband’s company Christmas party, but I had put it off for long enough. Why do I do this every time? I think that if I miss one more meal a new size will slip down over my waist like a loose breezy joy. At that point I can break out in self-congratulatory dance moves kept only for this moment. I won’t deny it, I have been dreaming of going to the party in my yoga pants. The dressy black ones that don’t have dried blue paint on them from my foray into art a few months back. My husband thinks I look hot in yoga pants.

Finally, I settle into the reality that I need a dress and it will probably be a bigger size than last year’s.

My two-year-old son and I muck through the sale racks at the mall together. The clerk, with Brittany on her badge, must have recognized the panic-stricken glaze in my eyes. “Do you have any nice evening dresses?”

“You might try the Clothes Barn,” she offered.

“Okay, thanks.” I pluck at the bejeweled, embroidered jeans, size “tiny” on the rack in front of me, and sigh. I don’t need another pair of jeans; I need a dress. My son yanks on my arm, his other arm stretches out, and like a yo-yo he pulls bracelets, earrings and then a box of perfume from the shelf. Brittany glares. I flee.

At the next shop, I wait for a dressing room while two teenage girls try on bikinis. When I noticed four young men standing around gawking at them, I put my stuff back on the rack and walk out.

Why didn’t I bring a stroller? Christmas shoppers crowd around me. I carry my son till my arms fall asleep as I browse the next store. Finally, I sit him on the bench in the fitting room with a dress that might work and strip down to the bare minimums. I needed a dose of fashion. Their clearance rack was full of it. I sumo-wrestling move into the latex brief first. Now I just resemble the Michelin Man. With the dress over my arms and head, I pull. Grunt. Then pull again. Dread sets in as I wiggle. There is no light breezy joy here. It’s tight. Too tight! Suddenly, I hear a startled cry, and then the bang of the door to my dressing room straining open on its hinges.


I peek out from the material and a teenage boy stares at me. My son is half way to the register and heading for the food court. My phone rings with a hilarious high-pitched squeal that squawks out, “Hey you, it’s me answer the phone!” I’ve been meaning to change it for weeks. The crowded store falls silent except for Jingle Bells playing in the background. Every head swivels to me.

Ten minutes later, Chelsea hands me my son. Her pursed lips and squinting eyes study me.

“Honey, that is just not your color,” she says and swivels away.

At the next store, my son is minutes from meltdown. I’m past it. Do I really need a dress? The yoga pants are looking pretty good. I could wear a bejeweled top and hang out with the grannies at the party. Is it that important to be dolled up for my husband’s boss?

Just one more try at finding a dress in the next store, which looks like a cupcake frosting factory on steroids. White, glitter and ruffles hang from ceiling to floor. I grab something loose off the rack and march to the dressing rooms. My son is snot-covered and smelling of something that should be changed. His diaper looks like a grenade went off. I pull out his wet wipes--they’re dried out.

I’ve become one of those moms. You know the kind. The offensive, strung-out mother, whose kid runs through the stores with just a diaper on, while she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and begging God to give her one more chance tomorrow. Tears run down both our cheeks.

Later we sit in the car. I look at my son whose curls frame his angelic sleeping face. He is smiling and his fingers cling to his sippy cup. I don’t have a dress. I don’t want one. A verse comes to mind, "For this child I prayed" (1 Samuel 1:27a). All is well.

The moments of our lives, and theirs, are forever bound in our hearts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Where can you find Terri Porta? Her book “5 Basics for Growth, Part 1 of the High-Octane Christian Series,” is available on her website or anywhere digital books are sold. Catch up with her on her daily blog, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

A New Journey

As you have no doubt noticed, posts this month have been minimal. I've been in change mode and winter mode (when I'd prefer to hibernate than work).

Change. That's supposed to happen in January when we make resolutions and decisions to change bad habits. But for me, change seems to hit in October. And it isn't about changing bad habits. It's about adding good things to my life. I begin to think back over my year. Have I accomplished my goals? If not, why not? I spend the next three months evaluating and praying and seeking direction for the next year.

Invariably, I question whether to continue Glory and Strength. Often throughout the year, I get caught up in the hype of tribe building and discouraged by the low numbers who visit these pages. I wage battles with fear of failure and inadequacy. Worse yet, I lose sight of God's purpose for Glory and Strength: to minister to those who are hurting. When I remember I write to encourage others with God's Word, I find the courage and strength to continue.

In the coming weeks, I am going to be redesigning this website and moving it to a new host. I am also taking Glory and Strength in a new direction. Our new tag line is "Be Bold, Be Radiant, Be You." My desire is to help you to step out in your uniqueness, rather than follow the trends. To swim upstream. To walk into the wind. To face the storm. To soar like an eagle as you embrace the person God designed you to be.

No, I don't have all the answers. God is still showing me the way. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to take this journey together with you. You each have something to share, and together we can encourage one another in this journey.

Thank you for your patience as I seek God's face and follow his leading. I hope you'll make the journey with me.

Do you have any plans for changes in your life for next year? Leave your comments below.

Debra L. Butterfield. Copyright 2012.

“Fear Not!”

By Kristi Bothur © 2012

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

As I write this, I am anticipating a medical test that is scheduled within the next week. Nearly four years ago, I had a cancer scare that turned my life upside down. This Christmas marks my three-year anniversary of my final all-clear when I felt like life could get back to normal. Twice-yearly follow-up visits always confirmed that everything was fine, and since then, I have even been pregnant and given birth to a healthy baby boy. Life has been normal and wonderful.

But my last oncology appointment revealed a possible problem – a painful spot where there was no pain before. Hence the scheduled test, to make sure it is nothing to worry about.

My doctor is not worried, reassuring me that in all likelihood it is nothing. But in a moment, I was catapulted back into the uncertainties and fears of three years ago, wondering if this test will, again, turn my world upside down.

And with Christmas upon us, I am again reminded of one of the most repeated phrases in the Christmas story, “Do not be afraid.” Each of the main characters was told this – Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, the shepherds. But the command to not fear was not followed by what I would love to hear right now, a reassurance that “everything will be all right.” Instead, they are told not to fear because the Creator God was intimately involved with their situation, and He could be trusted. The prophet Isaiah recorded something similar in his command to Israel, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

My four-year-old daughter had a bad dream a couple of weeks ago. As I held her close and tried to calm her fears, the phrase I kept uttering was, “Don’t worry, Mama’s here.” No reassurances that the substance of her dream wasn’t real or that everything would look better in the morning. What she needed to know was that I had her and I wouldn’t leave her. In the same way, God tells us not to fear because He is with us. We know His presence and we know His character, that He can be trusted. And what does He promise to do? Not always to rescue us from our circumstances the way we would prefer, but to strengthen us, help us, and uphold us. We are not just a victim of circumstances, but children of the sovereign God whose plans are always for our ultimate good and His glory.

As I await my test and the news to follow, this is what I am focusing on. I need not fear because whatever the results, God is with me. He is already there, as intimately involved in my life circumstances as He was in the events leading up to the first Christmas. He promises to be with me, to strengthen me, to help me, to uphold me – not because of my righteousness, but because of His. I pray that whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, you also will be able to “fear not” this Christmas season, and to trust God to carry you through.

Father, I confess that I often fear what the future holds. Help me to trust in your love and your presence to carry me through. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristi Bothur is a pastor's wife, teacher, and mother of five - two on earth and three in heaven. She has a heart for other women who have experienced the loss of children during pregnancy or in early infancy, and she has a passion for sharing the truth of God's word in a way that makes sense in everyday life. She and her husband are the founders of "Naomi's Circle", a ministry for parents of babies in heaven ( You are welcome to contact her at Kristi lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and son.