Monday, December 24, 2007

My Favorite Gift

This Christmas season seems to have barrelled through my life, challenging me to keep my focus on the birth of my Savior, on love, and on family and friends. It started with my father-in-law being diagnosed with cancer just days after the Thanksgiving holiday. My husband has had to travel back and forth to Tulsa, our hometown, to help with care giving and to spend time with his father. His absence has been difficult for him and for me, but an absolute necessity in regards to love and responsibility. We traveled to Virginia for our son's graduation right after Fred's dad's surgery and right before he began his chemotherapy treatments. It was stressful to leave at such a crucial time and then the traveling weather was horrible due to the winter storms that were making their way across the nation at the time we were driving. The graduation was fabulous, and it was great to bring our son home for the holiday season, but it was difficult to focus on the peace of the season.

Important to this story is that I asked my mother to come to our home from Tulsa to stay with our other two children while my husband and I were away. Some of my friends wondered why I felt this was necessary since the two children we were leaving at home are ages 20 and nearly 14, but those who know these two children well also know that the two of them get on each other's nerves quite seriously. Sadly, I did not trust them to be left alone for 5 days without fearing that a fight might break out. Their relationship has been a concern of mine for going on 10 years...about the time that my middle son lost his admiration for his little sister and viewed her as a...well, let me just say that he didn't find her as cute as he did when she was a baby. So, my mom came to monitor any conflicts that might occur and it worked out very well until...

My mother and I decided that we would go and have our hair done for the holidays. (My husband was traveling for work) While we were at the salon, I received desperate phone calls from all of my children. The two youngest had actually done it...they actually went to ages 20 and 14! What is a mother to do? My own mother was as bewildered as I was. We decided to let things calm down and carry on with the daily and celebratory activities with each having received a "talking to". I was hoping that they would come to their senses and reconciliation would come quickly and easily. Days went by. The feud continued. My husband, my mother, and me all seemed to shake our heads in confusion and disbelief over their behavior.

As Christmas approached, I realized that if something didn't happen, that stress would take over the atmosphere of our family celebration. I began to pray. As we prepared for our entire family to attend the Christmas services at our church, I wondered aloud to God..."Is there any way that what we hear at this service might speak to our family...especially the two that are fighting?" I was just wondering, praying and hoping that the reminder of what God did for us by sending His son would touch the hearts of my children in a way that would encourage them to make amends. It seemed like a long shot in my mind.

Arriving at the service, I was expecting a traditional production telling the story of the birth of Christ in some creative know, the usual Christmas Eve type of thing. The service started out that way but somehow the atmosphere was a little different. Our pastor came out and he started to tell a story. He told the story of his family's Christmas Eve last year and it was in his words, "The Christmas from hell." He described a family situation that involved lying and stealing (really) that happened in his family the days prior to and peaked on Christmas eve after our church's final service. Two of his four children were in the middle of a pretty nasty feud and it was hitting home with me and what our family was experiencing. I sat in the congregation, listening to this story and realized that God had absolutely, without a question, answered my prayer. Were my angry children listening to this message with the same ears? Our pastor's family experienced grace, love, and forgiveness by the end of his story, would mine?

We went to eat as a family, not a word being said about the service. We arrived home and quietly went our separate ways. Late in the afternoon, the conversation started...first between my daughter and her father. Then our middle son happened to walk into the room (no coincidence, I am sure) and the conversation continued. Apologies were made. Agreements were made. Healing was taking place.

And was I ever glad. I sat there and thanked God for the best gift that I was to receive this particular Christmas. I was amazed and overwhelmed with knowing that He loves me enough to arrange that very message by my pastor, on that very day. He loves me that much. He loves my kids that much!

What a great gift!

PS And the service was one of the best Christmas Eve services that I have attended! I loved it!

Luke 12:7
Even the hairs on your head are counted. So, don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows!

1 comment:

Pam said...

You experienced a Christmas very much like many of us who went through
raising teenagers. Some do not always get settled that quickly but I am so
thankful that it did for you.