Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas is Just Around the Corner and I'm...Excited???

We're already just about two weeks into December and, in typical Christmastime fashion, I have: a sinus infection that turned into a raging ear infection--complete with fluid behind my right eardrum that refuses to drain, leading to about a 30% temporary loss of hearing; kids--including the baby--with sinus infections and very hot pink eyes; a broken washing machine; a broken vacuum cleaner; a broken oven; my wonderful pre-lit SPNCT upon which entire sections of lights keep blowing out, branch by branch--I am afraid by Christmas it will be a pre-delit tree; a misplaced (read "lost") check; and, oh, and absolutely still no clue how we're going to survive this month financially and make Christmas happen to boot.

And yet, I find that I am actually kind of excited about Christmas this year.

*screech* "What the...???"

I know it's kind of strange considering the past few Christmases one can typically find me grumbling and complaining in the Bah-Humbug Lot along with Charlie Brown, the Grinch and ol' Uncle Ebenezer. And this year, as I look at the aforementioned circumstances and forward to our impending Christmas doom, I realize that the forecast isn't much brighter than it has been in previous yuletide seasons. In fact, I would say that things seem even tighter this year as we still have two hideously ugly vacant rental homes tied to our backs, which do not look like they're going to sell any time this century.

This time of year, I always find myself wishing that we could simply call the powers that be and, in the spirit of Christmas and holiday cheer, say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" and they be okay with that.

But, alas, that's not the world in which we live.

So, why on earth am I excited?

I am excited about the potential we have here. The opportunity. I am excited about what I get to see God do this year. I believe our circumstances are so shoddy that only God can help us. We have no where to look but up. No where to turn to but Him. In fact, I believe that we have all the necessary ingredients for a true Christmas miracle. Like, straight out of a movie. Let's examine them, shall we?

A decent family down on their luck? Check.

A plethora of tiny urchins?

A man who has a positive attitude, generous heart, and could be mistaken for George Bailey? Check.

A curmudgeonly, bitter, angry character who's in desperate need of a heart transplant? Meh. Check.

I jest. But I am actually looking forward to trading in all my stodgy, stale, and materialistic Christmas traditions in order to give God the opportunity to truly move. Listen, I'm certainly not expecting a bail-out. I don't deserve it. We've made our beds. God owes us no favors. I guess I just realize that if we are going to be able to pay our bills AND give the kids at least a gift or two under the tree, that we are going to have to witness a true Christmas miracle. I never thought I'd feel this way, but it truly is a blessed place to be when you have no where to go, but God.

And to top it all off, in the midst of these cruddy circumstances, I feel like my heart may actually be growing a size or two. In each of the aforementioned scenarios, I find myself thankful for God's provision. I am thankful that my washing machine broke AFTER I extended the warranty, thus making the repair completely no charge. I am thankful for friends and family, who are completely willing and able to loan us their vacuum cleaners until we can afford to buy a new one of our own. I am so very thankful that I am able to stay home with my children and take care of them while they are sick, that I am not working and leaving them in the care of someone else. I am thankful that, even though my oven may be broken, at least the stove top still works. I am thankful that, even though things have been tight, we've never missed a meal. And for a self-professed foodie, that is quite a big deal.

And about those houses...Hey, at least we can give our first two daughters homes as wedding gifts. In 20 or so years.

I am able to see God's provision in all of this junk. It may not be exactly what I want or how I want it. But it's there. I can't deny it. God is providing. I'm finding that it really is true that God is in even the worst of circumstances. On my way to the urgent care facility the other morning, my ear on fire, I found myself praising God that I even had a facility like this to go. It was affordable, in close proximity, and clean. I mean, what do people do who don't have access to such common things to us as antibiotics? Seriously. Things that I take for granted. Things I think I am entitled to.

My blasted sense of entitlement has taken a bloody beating this year. I'm not looking to Him for what I feel He owes me. For what I feel I deserve. I don't deserve jack. Everything I have is a gift. I call upon His help because of Who He is. Because of His great love. His eternal mercy.

God, thank You for saving a wretch like me.

And that, my friends, is why I am excited. I want to encourage any of you who might be stressing out over the holidays, worrying about money, and presents, and such. I may not be able to send out fancy Christmas cards this year. I may not be able to do all the festive things that are supposed to boost my Christmas Spirit, yet do nothing but merely end up draining our wallets. But maybe this year, instead of complaining about all the things I don't have, and all the things I wish I had, and all the things I didn't get...maybe, just maybe, for once, I will be completely content, satisfied...even happy...with a roof over our heads, food on the table, friends and family by my side, and our health and sanity intact. Maybe even this year, a true Christmas miracle has already occurred.

A changed heart.

What more could anyone ever need?

Isn't that what this time of year is all about anyway???

God bless us. Everyone.