My son is convinced that one, just one, of his nightmares was real. When the night spills over the blue sky, and the house creeks to the tune of the witching hour, he remembers it. “Do demons look like aliens?”

The same question, always. “They can, but Jesus will make them go away.”

“I know, but He took a long time to make them go away.”

We discuss the settling of houses, and how they have to get comfortable at night just like we do. I remind him that shadows often look like scary things just like clouds can resemble bunnies. These conversations almost convince him it was just a dream. Was it?

But, the dark haunts all of us, morphing worries into nightmares. Failures are monsters. Most people in my line of work experience so many failures, they often lose sight of their purpose underneath all the wounds. Success is intangible; a ghost, and sometimes is takes a very long time to get a clear look at it.

I worry about my little guy and the scars he’s developing at such a young age. But as we talk about shadows and monsters, holy week creeps by us and taps me on the shoulder, “Remember the curtain torn in two, the earthquake, rocks splitting open…the bodies of holy people rising from their tombs and appearing to many people? (Matthew 27).”

They weren’t the monsters—they weren’t aliens, or zombies, or anything that dwells in the dark splatter of night. They were spirits of victory. It took a lot of pain and blood for them to rise…it took a moment at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when God stepped away…and oh, did it seem like he was gone too long; utter forsaken agony, when all seemed lost…

…for Jesus to slay the nightmares. We must remember the nightmares have already been defeated.

As we carry our own crosses with monsters dumping humiliation after fear after pain upon us, and God seems so far away—we can take faith steps. We can breathe in faith and blow away the impossibilities, nodding our heads at the scary things rising, that are, in fact, signposts to victory.

The Candy Cane Battle

Candy canes are essential. Their presence in Chloe’s stocking validates the holiday. She knows if her stocking is blessed by them, Santa and his Manager have delivered on their promise. They’ve brought the magic.

“I know it’s Jesus’ Birthday Mommy.” She brings home two candy canes from her Wednesday night church group and works on the red stripes. “When these are gone, Jesus has washed us clean. It’s his blood, Mommy.”

Noah gets one too. Crunch, lick, crunch and his stripes are devoured together in all 100_3165the sugary glory. Mmmmm. He’s off to don his spider man costume to destroy the bad guys with his sugar-powered web. He finds the magic in superheroes. Daniel in the lions den is his favorite story. The bad guys always lose to goodness, but there’s no time to be meticulous. It’s on.

The red stripes fade to white and Chloe announces the world white as snow.

She favors Noah’s style (the biblical one). She likes to line up her animals two by two, and haul them onto her pillowy soft ark. She even grabs her dollies so there is human representation.

Either way, the kids know that goodness in magical because no matter how the war of good and evil is fought, Jesus wins. And that means his friends win too.

So this is really for the grownups. Because when we lose the magic of Santa, and Christmas becomes more commercial, we feel the war something crazy. We have visions of heartaches, screw-ups, and impossibilities dancing in our heads, and have forgotten about the superheroes and the sweet taste of victory.

Focus on the candy cane. It’s victory made in pure truth, all the way through.

All of us, the tall and the small, can rest easy because we are powered by the stripes, not by our own strength.

That’s some beautiful sweetness.