Christmas In July

I sat around a craft table filled with my other 7 year old classmates. I vividly remember sitting around that crayon crusted table with Krista and Kenneth- mostly because Kenneth and I were vying for Krista’s affection. “I don’t believe in Santa Clause, do you?” Krista announced with an arrogant authority. If my mom and I wouldn’t have already had that talk, I would have never admitted it. It’s funny what you remember after more than 30 years. I was seven.

A couple of nights ago we sat around the dinner table. Brayden, without provocation asked, “Dad, tell me if you’re Santa Clause.” I’ve gotten pretty good over almost 20 years of youth ministry in not reacting to what people declare- you hear a lot. You can shut a teenager down in seconds with a furrowed brow.

“Where did this come from?” I deflected.

“Dad, are you Santa Clause? And I need to know about the Easter Bunny too.” My face had to alter. This is my last believer. My last dreamer.

“Buddy, don’t you want there to be a Santa Clause? I sure do?”

“I want the truth,” he demanded, his eager eyes boring a hole into my soul. My little Tom Cruise.

I fired back, “You can’t handle the truth! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.” Ok, I didn’t say that, but have I written about how much I love Aaron Sorkin?

“Buddy, I want there to be a Santa Clause. You don’t want it to be me, do you?” I said as I grasped for another ever-fraying strand to a former life. And with that, we moved on.

Later that night, upstairs in his room/guest room/play room/music room/where I hide to nap (third kid, tough luck) room, we sat on the couch playing guitar together. He’s learned seven chords in seven days and somewhere between D and A minor he stopped. “Is mom gonna die?” He stared at me with the same truth needy eyes. And he grew up. Just like that. You always hear how kids grow up in a flash, right before your eyes. But this lightning struck too precisely, too directly.

The girls have asked the same question and I’ve never had a good answer. Years to prepare, seconds to avoid. “I mean, we’re all going to die.” “No, of course not.” “Well, it’s complicated.” “You know, we’re going to keep praying and keep loving her no matter what.” “Look at me, I’m going to take care of your mom- don’t worry about her or me.” “They’re doing amazing Huntington’s research right now. I bet we’ll have a cure before long.”

So, I rifled through my bag of responses, situated somewhere between frets and strings, naiveté and candor, and shot something back to divert. Not because he doesn’t deserve an answer. And not even because he’s not ready for something. But because I’m not. And I taught him another chord. Anything to keep Santa alive.

26 Comments for “Christmas In July”

says:

Jeremy,

I’m so sorry. I know that doesn’t help or change a thing. But my gosh. I just can’t imagine. We’ll keep praying…and hoping for Santa, too.

Love you man,
Steve

says:

I have no idea how you do this, I know you have God, I know you lean on Him, I do too, but some things, even with Gods strength, just bring us to our knees. Praying for those babies to have comfort and peace with the situation.
Asking God for a special understanding for your children.
As always praying for healing for Tiffany and Stacey
Praying for you that God continues to sustain you
Thank you for sharing
God bless you, the children and Tiff

says:

And now I am in tears. I know you don’t mean to make me cry each week, but you do. I love you both so much! I cannot even begin to complain when I see you guys each week at church. Please know you are in my prayers. I have a sticky note on my monitor to remind me every time I look at it to pray for certain folks… Tiffi and Stacy are on it, along with all of you. XOXOXO <3 Love you.

says:

God is merciful in preparing us bit by bit for the hard things, letting us realize them gradually, when we’re ready for them. Sometimes the worst part of an inevitable change is the worry and dread of it. I guess that’s one reason why Jesus told us not to worry. But it’s almost impossible not to worry. I’m still working on trusting God enough that I just trust him to prepare me gradually for the most painful things, to have them happen at the time when I’ll be the most ready for them.
These are deeply thoughtful posts. You’re a very good writer, Jeremy.

Sharon

says:

Beautiful emotions displayed wonderfully for a life reality check under very complicated issues. My heart breaks for all that you are going through and yet delights in the wonderful way you trust God for everything. I am so thankful you are my nephew, wise, loving, caring, selfless, and genuine. Prayers for each of you especially your beautiful children. You are doing an unbelievable job day by day. By the way, just for your information, ‘that furrowed brow look’ is definitely a Sims trait. Love you so much!!! Keep these blogs coming. The world needs to know every knee will bow to the King of Kings & Lord of All!

Eric Starling

says:

Jeremy, I sat and read this today at my desk and as I do with each of your posts, I reflected on similarities in my own life. Not the tragic parts but the daily family life parts. I remember the questions from 3 children as they came to question and especially the last one and how I didn’t want to let go of the magic and the dream. (He played along for probably 2 years without saying anything) However, I can’t reflect on the struggles and uncertainty that you face daily. I can’t imagine having to field those types of questions from a child about their mother. I can however join you in prayer, shed a tear and continue to lift your family up as we know who holds tomorrow!!

Cissy McNish

says:

I love you PJ…..
After reading your beautiful, and sometimes heart wrenching blog each week, I sit thinking and searching for the right words…Just the right comment or thoughtful response. One that might somehow ease your pain, or lighten your load, if only for a moment. So far, those words have completely alluded me.
Your precious, genuine and humble heart is amazing. You are a wonderful husband, a very wise and loving father and a precious blessing to all who know you.
I love you my dear friend. I love you very much…

Morgan Dudley

says:

Jeremy, we are studying about Huntingtons right now in school and I can’t make it through the section without my heart breaking. A family should never have to endure such heartache. I am always praying for you all. You are an inspiration to so many, and God is using you in the midst of it all. Your words reach people and they are touched by them. I know I am every week. Thank you for sharing your heart with us all.

Lisa Cooper

says:

Jeff and I are praying and believing! God is sovereign and He’s faithful even when He doesn’t answer the way we might want. I still think back to all the memories I have of Tiff at college and at Weatherly. God has called you to something I can’t imagine because you are strong enough and because your faith is steadfast… What an honor Jeremy! Thinking of you all often!

Heather Odom

says:

I’m sitting in the church parking lot reading your post, staring at the Legacy building knowing that you are inside pouring into these kids (our kids) and wondering how in the world you do it! I’m going to be 100% honest…I don’t understand it. I ask why her! I watch her in service and my heart breaks and then I just get all out mad at Satan! My love and respect for you and Tiff just grows every week. Please know that we won’t stop praying for any of you! We Love y’all!!

Judy Smith

says:

Jeremy, I am continuing to pray for you and Tiffani. I am so glad that these children who ask you all the hard questions are your children because you rely on God for the answers you give. There are many times I am sure that God allows His special children to deal with these extra hard circumstances because the unbelieving world around needs to see how we react in tough situations.

God bless you and your family as I know he does. I’m asking Him to hold all of you especially close today so that you really physically feel His embrace. Let His arms hold you whenever you feel like you can’t hold yourself any longer.

Roger Gaddis

says:

Jeremy I thank God for how He is helping you. My family was blessed to have your dad, Reverend Jerry Sims and your sweet mother, Pat, pastor us in Huntsville. What better examples than Jerry Sims and Ron Cox could anyone ask for? We love you and are praying for you, Tiffany and the children.

Carmine Loper

says:

Jeremy,

I know we don’t go to church together, we rarely see each other, and life is busy, but I pray for all of you constantly. I’ve wept on numerous occasions for you, for Tiff, for those sweet babies–for my mini me from camp 2 years ago (Carsyn decided I was what she’d look like when she grew up)… for Stacey and Jay and their girls…For Ron and Sus, for your sweet parents…
No only to do have a gift with words, you have a gift in touching hearts and souls with those words. You and Tiff are inspirations in your strength, your faith, your heartbeat to love the Father and love each other well. Jeremy, seriously, you are a hero to husbands everywhere. You are living out your vows. You are showing your girls and son what it means to be committed for life for better or for worse.
Please know that you’re being cried over and prayed for not just by your own church family, but also by so many of us who know and love you guys all over the state (and country, I’m sure). My heart loves every word you write–the rawness, the openness, the honesty, the REALNESS of it all. Thank you for sharing this journey with us and allowing us to know how to pray.

Amanda Malone Franklin

says:

My 7 year old was born with only 2 fully formed fingers on his right hand and will sometimes ask me such hard, sad questions about it. When he does it wrecks my emotions for days. I often struggle with how to respond and never feel like I have enough time to come up with a good answer….despite years of knowing the questions would come. The questions you are being asked are so much harder. I can’t imagine how you juggle knowing when to answer straightforward and when to try to help divert their worries. I’m praying right now for the Lord to give you wisdom and emotional strength during those moments and of course for your precious wife and children.

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