Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Very Different Christmas

Steve, his mom and his sister took his dad to the doctor on Monday. After examining him, the doctor told them that she was sorry that there was nothing else she could do for him and she would have Hospice start coming to their house the day after Christmas. The first thing that Steve’s dad said when he heard the news was that it was going to ruin Christmas.

I know that a lot of people are praying for our family because I could feel it on Christmas. There were a lot of tears but there was also such a sweetness in the mist of the sadness. Everyone was at their house: the 5 kids, their spouses, 12 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. Everyone was together at the same time. With 24 people all in one room, the love and unity that everyone shared was a beautiful gift to experience on Christmas. No one wanted to leave or for the day to end.

My son summed it up on the way home from their house on Christmas:
He said, “Usually when Christmas day is over, I am sad that I am not getting anymore presents. This year, I don’t care about the presents; I must be maturing.”

I told him that I thought PawPaw was helping us all keep Christmas in the right perspective this year and he agreed.

Today (Saturday), the Hospice nurse told us that she did not think that he had very long and it could be any time. Please continue to pray for Steve’s Dad, his mom and our whole family.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Perfect Christmas???

Sometimes my perfectionism gets the best of me. Christmas is one of those times. Of course, I want to have the perfect Christmas—who doesn’t?

I want to buy the perfect gift for those on my list. I want everyone who opens a gift from me to love it, even though I have some hard-to-please-people on my list.

I want my kids to have the “best Christmas ever” every year.

I want all the food that I make on Christmas to melt in your mouth.

I want to send out Christmas cards with the perfect picture and poem that cause the recipients to reflect on the meaning of Christmas.

I want my house to look perfectly festive. I want every light to shine on my tree and every present to be perfectly wrapped (no Christmas bags).

I want a CLEAN house on Christmas morning.

Every year I really attempt to meet all those goals. The problem is that in trying to have the perfect Christmas, I usually end up driving those around me crazy. By the time Christmas rolls around, I am a stressed out, sleep deprived, overextended ball of nerves. Isn’t it ironic? In an attempt to give my family the best, they end up getting the worst side of me.

Why do I feel that my Christmas needs to be perfect? Was the original day that we celebrate a perfect one for those involved? Was Jesus born in a perfectly decorated place? No. He was born in a stable because there was “no room” for him in the inn. If Jesus’ surroundings were not perfect on that day, why do I feel mine should be? In my quest for the perfect Christmas, I lose focus. I focus on the petty things and leave “no room” for Jesus in the celebration of His day.

I want things to be perfect, but that is not what the Lord requires from us. What does the Lord want? In Micah 6:8, He tells us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

That is why I want a different Christmas this year. I am wishing this year for an “unperfect” Christmas, and I am wishing one for you too. I’ll bet you have never received that wish in a Christmas card before. When my house ends up looking more like a stable than Martha Stewart’s home; when I burn Christmas breakfast for the third year in a row; when my kids ask, “Is this alllll you got me for Christmas?”; when those on my Christmas list ask for the receipt to return that perfect gift; and when I feel guilt for not sending out Christmas cards; I want those times to help me remember the real meaning of Christmas.

This year, let the imperfect events of the day draw your attention to the reason we celebrate. I am wishing that you and I both share love with others this Christmas. I hope you take the time to sit down in the middle of all the rush of the day and enjoy the time with your family and friends. I feel a real urgency to slow down this Christmas and enjoy the day. Steve’s dad is very sick this Christmas. He has bone tumors that are causing him a tremendous amount of pain. I don’t want to rush past this special day with him. I don’t know what the future holds; it may be his last Christmas. It could be the last Christmas for any of us. Think about your loved ones who have passed away. When you celebrated that last Christmas with them, did you realize that it was their last Christmas on Earth? I never realized that the last Christmas that I had with my family members who have died would be our last. All their deaths came unexpectedly. How different those Christmases would have been if I had known. How different the focus and moments shared would have been. This Christmas, my prayer for you is that you ignore the stress, family annoyances, and rushing around to sit down and share His love. Please pray the same for my family.