Monday, December 26, 2011

Little reminders from the Lord in every day happenings

For me, Christmas this year was different from any other. Or, I should also say, The Christmas Season.

In years past, I've been on top of gift buying and trying to think about the perfect gift for everyone in my family (& myself!). I usually help coordinate it for others in my family as well.

But, this year was different.

My mom's health has been on a slightly rapid decline since the middle to end of October. It's been difficult and heart-breaking on many different levels. So, this holiday season, my thoughts and energy have been mostly directed towards that and keeping my own life running as usual. I have found a lot of hope and strength in holiday music and thinking about Christ. I have made sure I took part in some of the joyous events of the season and embracing as much of the spirit of it as I could, while staying away from the commercial aspect as much as possible.

But, that doesn't mean there were times of personal pity parties. I'll not deny that it is hard to be single during the holidays. It's also been hard for me this season to see my siblings and friends get together with in-laws or their own families and celebrate the holiday. I have fond memories of Christmas past when my family would gather at my grandparents and all my cousins/aunt/uncles would be together. It was so much fun! And, even though numbers have varied over the years, it has always been a time of gathering. For me, Christmas has always been about the people you spend it with... and the more, the merrier!

Well, this year, with my mom's health and her being unable to travel, I knew it would just be me and her for the holiday.... knowing she was so sick...

Then, when she went in to the hospital last week and was then transferred to a hospital about 90 minutes north of our house, I knew that would mean for me waking up on Christmas in a hotel room and spending the day in the hospital. Sadly, I let myself wallow in this for a bit last week... until I was reminded to maybe think of someone else for a change?! Maybe my mom? Imagine that. Thinking of someone else for a change.

Did my mom really want to be in such poor health? Did she want to be the one in a hospital bed on Christmas when she is usually doing all the work to make Christmas special for her children? ABSOLUTELY NOT. So, I worked on an attitude adjustment and tried to make Christmas nice for her. I brought some of our family traditions to her!

It was an enjoyable day. Would I rather have been with family, and not have my mom so sick. YES. But, the Lord reminded me and helped me see that trials can give us strength and new perspective, that it's always better to focus on others, and that Christ is there to help support us when life gets hard. My mom made me laugh and smile yesterday, even though I know the challenges she is facing could bring her to tears at any moment. But, I learned in a new way that Christmas isn't just about the actual day and what you do on that day... it's more about how you live your life, how you treat others, and really just being a disciple of Christ as best you can.

I was also reminded how blessed I was to have always had the day off in order to celebrate the holiday with my family. In the hospital, every one of my mom's doctors came in to see her (even though it was a Sunday and Christmas) and there were many other staff there who were happy to be there helping patients, when their own family members were at home.

Later that night, I was reading "Little Women". (It's the book my book club is reading for January) and I just so happened to read this last night amidst my contemplating the gentle reminders the Lord had given me recently...

(Mrs. March is sharing a story with her 4 girls)

"Once upon a time, there were four girls, who had enough to eat and drink and wear, a good many comforts and pleasures, kind friends and parents who loved them dearly, and yet they were not contented.... (They) were constantly saying, 'If only we had this,' or 'If we could only do that,' quite forgetting how much they already had, and how many things they could actually do. So they asked an old woman what spell they could use to make them happy, and she said, 'When you feel discontented, think over your blessings, and be grateful. ...

Being sensible girls, they decided to try her advice, and soon were surprised to see how well off they were. ... So they agreed to stop complaining, to enjoy the blessings they already possessed, and try to deserve them, lest they should be taken away entirely, instead of increased, and I believe they were never disappointed or sorry that they took the old woman's advice."

Coincidence in my reading that Christmas night? I think not. The Lord had another reminder for me and that is to focus on my blessings... because one day they might be "taken away entirely". I know I have been so blessed and there is no reason for me to have pity parties for myself. I am grateful to the Lord for this reminder, grateful for the things He continues to teach me, and grateful for the opportunity I have to study the life of Christ and try to follow in his footsteps.


Drew and Jenny said...

So sorry to hear about your mom! I hope she does better and I'll be praying for her!

Laura said...

Ahh... this post made me cry. Hugs and love to you and your mom - your attitude is amazing.