Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Blessing . . .

A Christmas Blessing . . .

And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

(Luke 2: 18 & 19)

As I sit here, there are only 3 more days until “Christmas”. I have to admit, this Christmas is not quite how I imagined it to be. Some things are more wonderful than anything I could have imagined - - - but some are just a bit more difficult. But as I think on this, I realize how many times our Christmases, or even our lives, have not gone quite how we thought they would . . .

Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things . . .
(Psalm 119: 18)

My children were so little; Mike was 5 and Jenny had just turned 1 that summer. I adored them both, and like most mothers - I wanted them to have a wonderful Christmas. But as Thanksgiving came along, I started to get sick. I started running high fevers and my chest hurt from coughing. When I finally went to the doctor that early December day, I found out I had pneumonia. “I should put you in the hospital” he told me. But I begged him not to. “Please, I have 2 little ones at home” I told him. “My husband needs to work, and I want to be home” I continued. He finally relented, but gave me strict orders to rest and come back in a few days so he could check me. As I left the office that day and walked across the street to my in-laws house, I couldn’t help but wonder how I would do Christmas. As I told my mother-in-law what the doctor had said, she told me not to worry - she would help me.

Twice a week, for over a month, my mother-in-law would come and pick me and my children up. She would take us to her house and watch the kids, as I walked over to the doctor’s office. When I wasn’t at her house - or the doctor’s , I was home on my couch. Somehow I would get up every morning and help get the kids and my husband ready for the day. I would get Mikey on the bus for kindergarten, and then I would watch Jenny play on the living room floor. I somehow changed diapers, and took care of what I absolutely needed to - while being so sick! But Christmas? I couldn’t imagine how that day would even come! But of course, it did!

Christmas came with the help of so many people in my life. My husband took lists to the stores, buying all the Christmas presents. When I couldn’t shop for him, my mother-in-law helped me. Friends and family would bring over soups and food, and somehow we got through the days. But as Christmas Eve approached, I couldn’t help but wonder how it had even gotten there. A few weeks earlier, I had pleaded and begged, asking God to help me get better for Christmas. But of course, I didn’t get better. Then I started wishing that it wouldn’t come at all. But here it was, the day of Christmas Eve, and I was heading back to the doctor’s office. As Mikey and Jenny ran into their Gramma’s house to play, I started walking over to the doctor’s office. I signed the sign-in sheet and sat down to wait. But just as quickly, I could feel myself getting light headed and dizzy. I carefully walked outside the office, hoping the cold air would help. But instead, I found myself getting even sicker as I sat on the steps. Somehow I made it across the street, pale and shaking with the fever, my stomach unable to hold anything down at that moment. My mother-in-law took one look at me and sent “Buppa” (my father-in-law) over to wait for my appointment. I laid down for a bit on her couch, and when it was time, headed back over to see the doctor.

I have to admit, that Christmas was somewhat of a blur for me. But I remember my two little ones eyes that morning. They were so excited! It didn’t matter that I was sick - they were so happy! Jenny was just able to understand the idea of opening presents, and she played with boxes and ribbons and laughed so much. Mike was so excited over something called “He-Men”! They were super-heroes who fought bad guys - and he loved them! As I sat in my rocking chair with a cup of coffee, I couldn’t help but thank God for this Christmas with my family!

Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things . . .

Through the years, so many Christmases have come along - not quite the way I planned them to. I learned that even when “I” couldn’t make things happen the way I wanted them to go - the joy of Christmas still found it’s way into my life.

And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
(Luke 2: 6 & 7)

This Christmas is again not quite how I had planned it to go. I got sick again, making it difficult to get to the places I needed to be. It was right after we celebrated “Thanksgiving” with a special dinner to thank the Lord for our new home. That day was such a wonderful celebration! But as everyone left our home that Sunday evening, I could feel myself getting sick. As Monday rolled around, I made an appointment at the doctor’s - finding out I had another respiratory infection. Over the next few days, I called my mom - telling her I was sick and would need to wait to visit. “But I don’t have any decorations for Christmas!” she told me. I tried to reassure her, but she didn’t seem able to understand why I couldn’t visit. I had left her a box of Christmas cards, and reminded her that they were there in her desk. “Why don’t you write your Christmas cards” I told her. She seemed a bit confused, but then told me she had found them! She sounded so happy, and I hung up a little less worried about her.

The day I finally got up to visit, mom was so excited! “Look, look!” she said. “See all my decorations!” As I looked around her room, I saw beautiful Christmas cards all around her room on her walls. “I decorated!” she said. And she had - with the cards I had left her. “It is beautiful!” I told her. As I sat down with her, I found a few more cards and asked her if she wanted to write some while I was there. “You have some really good friends to send cards to” I told her. She told me she did, and then she said: “And Debbie too - she is sick and I miss her!” I looked at my mom and swallowed hard. “I know I have been sick, but I am here now” I said. She nodded her head and smiled at me - “But Debbie . . .” she continued, and I just nodded my head.

I decided that day that I would visit a little more often. But again - - - I got sick. I was able to see my mom for her birthday, but she was again a little further away from us all. She was so happy to see all the family, but also so confused. Her old friends from years earlier stopped in, and she couldn’t let go of her friend’s sweater as she tried to leave. “No, don’t leave my party” she begged. As I took her hands and helped her to let go, I realized just how much she really is losing. We made our way back up to her room, and she played all her singing Christmas decorations for us. She danced and laughed, and I wondered just how long I would have this mom before me . . .

Again, this Christmas is not so easy. I am again very sick, and the doctors have told me I can’t get out of the house. So here I am, having to rely on others to prepare for Christmas. I have so many emotions that have been running through me. I am so happy as I wander through my home. It is warm and safe, and such a beautiful gift. I am sad when I think about my mom, and the changes that she is going through. And I am just plain in wonderment of how the years have gone by - and my life has been so full and blessed. The other day I was doing my dishes in the kitchen when I heard a few notes of a Christmas carol. I started humming along, and the words sank deep into my being. This is the song that has been in my head - - - and my heart lately:

“I Wonder as I Wander”
Originally written by John Jacob Niles - 1933

I wonder, as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Savior had come for to die
For poor ornery creatures like you and like I
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

When Mary birthed Jesus, ‘twas in a cow’s stall
With wisemen and shepherds and farmers and all
And high in the heavens a star’s light did fall
‘twas the promise of the ages, it then did recall

I wonder, as I wander out under the sky . . .

These are just a few of the words of that old Christmas hymn. It touches on my thoughts about Christmas and about life. There are so many times when I feel like that person wandering out in the dark - looking for the light to show me the way.

For me, Christmas is that promise - the light that shows us God’s love for us - no matter what we are going through in our lives. This Christmas is full of so many changes in my life. I want to help my mom to stop this awful disease - but I can’t. But I sure have laughed more with her these past few months - than just about any in my life with her. She is like that wide eyed child who first sees Christmas and wonders about it all. She laughs and plays like a child, and yet I know that is how God sees her and loves her - like a child of God.

Changes? There are many of them! This year I am living in a brand new house that I didn’t even know I would ever have. I wasn’t sure how to decorate it, and I truly wasn’t sure how to have Christmas in it. But Christmas is here, and Christmas songs and decorations surround me - everywhere! My children and grandchildren are growing and changing - and yet they still surprise me with their lives and who they are! I am so glad for the gifts they are in my life. And then there is my husband Ted - who has had to fill in this Christmas, as I have been sick. He has driven me back and forth to the doctor’s, done the shopping and cooking, and even done some of the laundry (trying to keep me out of the cold basement!). My husband amazes me every single day, as I realize he is sharing his life with me. And for that, I thank God!

Christmas is not just a day, or a season, it is something that fills our hearts - all year long! It is the people and the gifts of love in our lives that we celebrate each day. And it is the birth of hope in each and every one of us - as we face a changing world . . .

And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it - wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
(Luke 2: 10 - 19)

“Do not be afraid” - As we come to this Christmas Day, with every worry and every change in our lives, that is what we are to remember. For on this day, we celebrate that greatest gift we could ever imagine. We celebrate the gift of Hope for always - Hope in believing in God’s gift to us all - His Son in our very lives. As we share the joy of this Christmas Day - may we be like Mary, treasuring these things up in our own hearts - always pondering on what God has given to each of us.

God bless you as we celebrate this wonderful Christmas before us!

In His Amazing Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers