Monday, July 18, 2011

All I Want For Christmas

The monster had been flushed out of hiding in the spring.  Our little family of 4 had celebrated the unexpected breakthrough with a re-wedding in the fall.  Christmas was looking happier than it had ever looked.  The promises of the Manger Child were everything I had ever dreamed of.  He had redeemed us and all the loss we had endured.  My faith would be redeemed both in the eyes of our oldest son as well as in those of the scoffing naysayers whose judgement had colored my days.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations

The night was warm and cozy despite the chill in the air outside. The 4 of us gathered in the peaceful haven of our little house in the garden neighborhood to discuss the ups and downs of the day and detail our lists of 'thankful things'.  Jeff nodded over at me. "Speaking of thankful things, whacha want for Christmas? Time to start making our lists...."  Mind you now, I have always been what I have called a 'cheap date'.  Most of my girlfriends think my husband will never understand how blessed he is by how easily satisfied I am.  Even total strangers have been known to acknowledge my easy to please ways.

Once upon a time when I was younger and skinny, we took a weekend trip to the mountains.  After we finished our supper, I realized I had a hankerin' for something a little bit chocolate. I know...shocking, but true.  Here's another shocking fact:  I like CHEAP chocolate.  No GO-DIva for me. No expensive European  Chocolate. Give me good old, high fructose infused cheap chocolate ANY old day.  Needless to say, what they had at the restaurant was a little too high-falutin' for my low-brow tastes.  So, we ambled on over to the mom and pop grocery next door.  They had a soda machine outside. We popped 50 cents in that sucker and out dropped my Coke....because everyone knows you can't have a candy bar without a Coke. (At least, if you grew up within a 3 state radius of my Mammaw you know this fact as incontrovertible.) From there we moseyed on into the grocery store for the prized Milky Way candy bar.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
A young stock boy was managing the counter.  I fleetingly remembered the love of my 1st grade life. "Wonder if this easy-come-easy-go-aired, mountain born fella might be the echo of what Weems would have  been like at this age?" I thought. I dropped my candy bar on the counter. He indicated he knew the Coke was from the outdoor machine.  He looked at me. He looked at Jeff.  He looked at or measly purchases.  He looked back at Jeff. "Cheap date, huh?" I like to think he said it with awed appreciation hoping he could luck up the way Jeff so obviously had. 

Needless to say, when Jeff asked about my holiday wishes for that year, I was no less easy to please.  The answer was easy that year.  It rolled off my tongue without any contemplation. "I have every thing I need. I honestly cannot think of a single thing I want."

What more could I have wanted than what I had already been blessed with that sweet, sweet year? My husband, after all the years of being held captive by a monster in the shadows, was fully present in our lives.  Our sons were flourishing in our homeschool community.  I had more friends to interact with than in anytime in my life other than college.  Jeff's health was still a thorn in our side, but he was not as violently ill as he had been at times. We were finally feeling some breathing room financially despite the medical bills. In fact, we had begun to save for a car to replace the ones that would no doubt be on the verge of failing when our Chapter 13 was discharged in 2007. We could go out to an occasional movie and eat out at places that did not involve drive thru 99 cent menus. My french-fried nerve endings were beginning to feel and act like they were no longer shocked and surprised by hum-drum days that bordered on boring.  Some days, I laughed to myself, "Boring and hum-drum...I'll take these days any old day. Keep 'em coming." 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
From time to time, I'd catch a glimpse of something in the shadows of life.  The glimpses were fleeting but would  flash freeze my heart.  Monsters that have hidden for a lifetime develop tentacles that wrap their way in and out of the minutia of life.  You get so used to their presence that you take them for granted without really noticing them.  Maybe it is more that the monstrous presence knows how to camouflage itself, so you question the reality of what you think you see. Whatever it was, it was gone in a flash leaving me to take a deep breath and reassure myself that the past was the past.

Christmas became spring again.  We had been renters for 3 years.  Our landlord was glad to have us. We paid early.  Police never came knocking on our door looking for one of us.  I'm guessing that had to be a relief for the fella that had taken what he thought was a big risk on us.  I met more than 1 deputy of the law at my door assuring him with my driver's license that we were not related to the family member in question. He came to trust that we would treat his property as carefully as we had treated our own lost home when we cleaned and weeded before we gave the key to the officer of the court. His risk-taking in renting to a family w/ a scarlet Chapter 13 stenciled on their heads turned out to have been a win-win for all of us. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
Our 4th year of rebuilding after those torturous years of loss dawned with much peace and hope.  We signed the new lease in May.  Our Chapter 13 would be discharged on July 3rd. How appropo...our independence just in time for Independence Day celebrations.  Jeff would turn 44 on July 15th.  We had not had the customary 40th birthday celebration unless you consider a trip to bankruptcy court an appropriate gathering for the occasion.  So, I was looking forward to a high old time -- just in time to celebrate the 4th anniversary of his entry into middle-aged milestones. Ignorance is bliss till ignorance gives way to stark reality.

I was sitting at the Bible school registration desk chatting pleasantly with my cohort while we waited on any stragglers.  My cell phone rang.  Not recognizing the number, I let it roll over to voice mail. Can't say I really expected a message tone to follow.  The tone came. I looked at my phone with mild shock wondering what stranger had what message.  I never expected the rug of my life to be yanked out from under me with such ferocity.  If you had asked me that night whether I would weather this new storm as well as I had weathered all the ones before, I would have assured you without hesitation that, indeed, I would.  Not only would I handle it just as well, I would handle it even better. After all, I was an old pro at navigating unexpected storms. 

Romans 4: 18-22 (NIV)  Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed....Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised.  This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness".

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