I’m sitting here thinking how this will be my last day ‘off’ without all four kids in the house for the next three weeks. Here I am, getting more and more frustrated because this is the last day I will have the freedom to openly wrap Christmas gifts without my kids around. I would much rather do it out on the kitchen table then hiding in my bedroom, trying to wrap, on the carpeted floor late at night after they’re asleep.
I don’t want to spend the whole day wrapping, I want to write! My LAST DAY OF FREEDOM FOR THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!
So here I am, pouting because I’ll have to spend my day wrapping instead of writing when it hits me.
I have a ton of gifts to wrap.
And I mean a ton, and we are able to afford that stuff this year. I will still be ordering a few more after I look through them to make sure all my kids have a somewhat ‘equal’ number of gifts. And I can do this without batting an eye this year. What a humongous blessing!
With each passing year, God has given us a little more. With each new baby that came into our lives, God upped our income a little bit more to meet that need. He never failed. Four babies later, he has done some marvelous things with our income since my husband got this last job. We’re comfortable and content. We’re not scared anymore. We’re not freaking out because of the holidays. There is no massive lump in my gut threatening to steal the joy of Christmas this year. There is PEACE.
Yet, looking back, there’s always been a peace. Sometimes it was harder to find than others, but it always showed up at our doorstep. Literally, at our doorstep. Diapers, clothes, money. No joke. God always took care of us. And when we had faith he WOULD, He always DID. Even when our faith faltered and stuttered, He was faithful to provide. My husband and I are constantly shaking our heads, saying, what did we do to deserve this? How can God be so merciful and good to such rotten sinners such as us? When I look back on where we’ve been and where we are, all I can say is WOW, what a difference.
Our first few Christmases with our one little guy were pretty easy. We didn’t have much to give and he was too young to know any better.
I would hide and save all the toys that would come in a kids Happy Meal and save them to give him for Christmas. (I don’t think he even realized Happy Meals came with toys until he was five!) These were meals I couldn’t even afford. Anytime we went out it was usually my parents paying or someone else paying. We didn’t have the money. So, all these little ‘throw-away’ toys would be saved for Christmas.
I remember one particularly hard year when we had nothing for him and my husband had gotten a free hat and mug from work. Well, that would have to do. It sucked, but it was all we had. He also brought home this muddy, filthy rag and showed it to me.
“What in the world is that?”
He stretched it out. A boy’s hoodie caked in mud. It looked like it might be a tad too big for him. He found it on the side of the road. I was repulsed. I wasn’t about to give my son that thing. But my husband asked me to wash it and see what happened. I washed it, and sure enough, under all that mud there were dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were his favorite thing. It was perfect.
I may have washed it a couple more times to get it as clean as possible. Then it got wrapped and put under the tree. Our son never once complained about not having lots of amazing gifts. He never once said, “Mommy, Daddy, this isn’t enough. You didn’t buy enough toys this year.” He just smiled and said thanks. And guess what? That hoodie sweatshirt became his favorite piece of clothing. He wore it as much as he could for the next few years. When he finally couldn’t fit into it any longer we gave it to his younger brother.
Even if all these silly gifts I have to wrap, were not here, my kids could still have joy in knowing there is love in our family. The Christmas spirit would prevail. And material possessions mean nothing when you have the peace and love our Lord Jesus provides. Sometimes I even miss those hard years. When I HAD to cling to the Lord. When I fell at his feet continually and His presence and comfort were so real and near. It was such a beautiful gift…his closeness, his abundant love wrapping me up when I was at my lowest, crying out to Him. He answered me in His sweet and gentle way. Through love from others, through joy, peace, and laughter. Through strength.
I would not be the person today that I am, stronger than I’ve ever been, more firm in my faith and my convictions if I hadn’t been through the fire, only to come out the other side refined. God sure has more refining he needs to put me though, but for now, I’m glad for the respite. As tough as those times were, God never failed me. Even when it felt like he was gone, he never left me. He watched over my family and loved us through it, each and every step of the way.
I’m thankful for a loving God and Savior, full of mercy and grace who came to this earth as a babe, so that someday, he would offer himself up to be hung on a cross, to take away the sins of the world through his overwhelming sacrifice of love. I’m thankful for a God who loves us when times are good and when times are hard.
I know a lot of folks who are going to have a hard Christmas this year. Let’s pray for them, give them our ‘extras.’ Give them more than our extras. Sacrifice. Give and love. And thank JESUS even in the hard times. Merry Christmas everyone.