My husband of two months got me Christmas cookie-cutters on Halloween.
They were in a brown paper bag on our table as I limped through the door, gripping unbalanced bags of lumpy groceries. But the heart I was carrying was the heaviest.
The day before was a spooky Halloween party with our friends and I went to bed crying in Winnie the Pooh’s arms. After an emotional truck ride home, I laid in bed deathly quiet. AJ met me nose to nose on the pillow and said the opposite to everything I wasn’t saying out loud.
God made you the way you are for a reason. You are not a mistake.
Truth hurts, but there is something especially painful about hearing truth you know you should believe. Like a crisp dollar bill spitting out from a vending machine—why am I not accepting this? I cried to the point of puffy eyes. Eventually I couldn’t keep them open, so I just closed them and fell asleep to the familiar lullabies of,
I don’t have any friends. No one likes me. No one cared I was there. I’m not worth anything to anyone. No one really knows me and no one wants to anyways.
It’s like I’ve been wearing costume after costume my whole life and I don’t remember who I am underneath and no one else does either. Now I am wearing the costume of “wife” with the tags still on and I don’t know if it fits me right.
I woke up lifeless. The ghost of that night haunted me into the next morning. Hollow. Yes, perfect. I felt hollow on actual Halloween. How festive. Not even the huge bear-hugs from my husband could fill me.
After Goodwill, (thrifting didn’t fill me either) I backed my car out of the parking lot to cross the highway to the grocery store. AJ called me then to tell me he had a surprise for me when I got home. I asked him to come with me to get groceries and still felt rejected when he hesitated because I knew it was a ‘no’ before I asked.
Grocery stores have a way of making a bad day officially a bad day. It was annoying in every aisle. The frozen chicken I grabbed was leaking and the self checkout line was so long I didn’t think it was legal for self-check out lines to be that long.
My cart wheels vibrated on the pavement, weighed down with a 20-pack Diet Dr. Pepper case. I don’t know what it was about that moment that possessed me, but I asked to see God right there outside the grocery store.
God, show me you are here.
Kid-you-not in that second I saw a cross in the sky. Okay, no way. I stared harder. Two bold, brown lines against the blue. No way. News flash: There is a church across the street, surrounded by trees and I’d never seen until then.
I loaded my Toyota in disbelief. God just showed me he was here. That was too easy though, right? I don’t know. Was it you, God? Are you that fast?
The cross. I felt like that was significant. I drove home in silence, turning from Steck to Shoal Creek. Show me again, God. On that familiar road home, I scanned again for a cross in the sky or a church I hadn’t noticed before. Nothing. I felt dumb.
So there I was with my hands trying their hardest to make it in the house in one trip. I set the bags down, heavy. AJ hugged when he heard.
“Do you want to open your surprise?” AJ a kid now, eager and eying the little package he put on our wooden table.
I answered with a half smile and I went to open it. One thing I have learned wearing this costume called being a wife is that you get pretty good at predicting your husband, but I had literally no clue what was in this brown paper bag.
Silver, tin shapes. Cookie-cutters. As I pulled them out one by one I could see which objects AJ personally picked out as our first ever Christmas cookie-cutters.
A cactus. Outline of Texas. Cowboy hat and boot. An “S” for my new last name. A cross.
A cookie-cutter cross.
Like the one I had growing up. Knees on chair, butterknife (but mostly finger) in frosting, dozens of cookie crosses on the table to choose from.
It was minutes into rambling to AJ about those childhood memories that I realized it was a CROSS. In shock I covered a full smile. God had answered my prayer. And before I even prayed it—the bag was waiting for me before I was even at the grocery store.
Jesus came to me in a cookie-cutter cross and it changed me that day. Halloween night I went to bed actually happy. Not because all of my scary issues vanished, but because I knew Jesus was here. He saw me.
My friend Caroline always says that the Lord will fill your cup with exactly what you need for each day. Somehow Jesus and my rookie husband knew Christmas cookie-cutters on Halloween would fill me with hope.
Suddenly, it was a crisp Saturday in early December and I was making ‘Seely’ sugar cookies for the first time. Zooming in to read the recipe through my flour-dusted cracked phone screen. Christmas music floated like the snowy flour throughout the kitchen I was failing to clean as I went. I rolled, rolled, rolled out the dough until it smoothed into a sheet of khaki paper, the crumpled bag of tin shapes on standby.
Cookie-cutters turn nothing into something, I thought as I pressed and wiggled the dough into a puzzle.
On Halloween it was hope. In December it was dough. The sugar-butter canvas was the reminder that I am rolled out cookie dough, ready to be shaped and made into something sweet in 18-20 minutes. I couldn’t help but flashback to the time I got those cookie-cutters, thinking I was nothing more than plain, purposeless dough ball.
That day Jesus showed up for me like he did on Christmas. In a manager. At the grocery store. Something small and seemingly insignificant. Christmas cookie cutters on Halloween. Not the way I’d ever guess. A little town of Bethlehem. But he was here where I was and that changed everything.
I’m writing this and Christmas is over now. My radio doesn’t repeat Christmas-Christmas-Christmas songs, I’m hunting in our house for a spot to hide rolls of wrapping paper, and I grit my teeth thinking about when we should throw away our first little Frasier tree (maybe we shouldn’t??).
I thought I would get this written before the holidays were over. When people would be hanging ornaments and eating the frosted cookies they made too. I started getting frustrated with myself, Dang it, Molly. Why are you like this? But I realized it makes the purpose of this sugar cookie saga even more clear:
Jesus doesn’t just come on Christmas.
He comes on Halloween. And on the 31st of July. He arrives when your Amazon package does and the day you finally decide to take down your decorations. Jesus comes on the 27th day of your new job and in the 27 thousandth dish you’ve washed.
He comes the day you’re reading this.
For me, our Christmas is forever shaped by these cookie-cutters. Taking them out each December will be a reminder that Jesus shows up—for the world on Christmas 2000 years ago and for a girl coming home from the grocery store on a Halloween afternoon in 2021.
All the love,
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13 NIV
Something to think about: Maybe what made them wise men was because they were wise to go looking for Jesus. Have you looked for him today? Seek and you will find. ♡
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