I am sitting at the local Starbucks accessing the Internet for the first time since Wednesday (we tried the library first, but they are closed for Christmas). Our phone and DSL went out that afternoon, and probably will not be restored until next week. This has been a blessing in my opinion-- Wednesday night we sat in the living room and read aloud to one another while putting together a puzzle and wrapping Christmas gifts. We haven't done that in an age!
We read _The Best Christmas Pageant Ever_ in its entirety. That story illustrates the blessing that can come from embracing what we perceive as problems (rather than attempting to engineer or manipulate them away), and learning the lessons that God has for us.
Our family has experienced some little issues in the past month-- the day before Thanksgiving our checking account was robbed by someone who stole my check card number and used it to set up a Paypal account. Around half of our Christmas gift money was taken, as well as Mr. Honey's gas money for the pay period. We survived the few days before being reimbursed by using two checks that I had intended to deposit a couple of days before the theft (thankfully, I had left them at home on the day I went to town), and seriously curtailed our Christmas shopping, although we did manage to purchase the two big ticket items we had been saving for-- a flat screen TV* and a 14-foot trampoline-- as well as do our charitable giving (which I don't like to post about, as, to my mind, that kind of thing should be done in private). The theft upset the automatic payments we make to the Toll Authority as well, and we are still straightening that out. (The tolltags are necessary for Mr. Honey's job, which requires a lot of windshield time.)
*(Just a note on the flat-screen, which is a big extravagance, I know: we have been saving for this TV since mid-summer, and it is a combination anniversary-birthday-Christmas gift for both Mr. Honey and I. We paid cash for it.)
A few days after being reimbursed for the checking account breach, our van's brake pads went out (which, according to our mechanic, was the fault of our previous mechanic, who installed the brake pads without applying the requisite grease that keeps the pads in working order), so most of the reimbursement went toward vehicle repair. We could have spent an additional $400 and had the heating/air conditioning fan repaired, but since the heat still works (although it doesn't blow into the interior of the vehicle unless we are driving at least 40 mph), we decided to forgo that repair. Our vehicle has got over 130,000 miles on it, and we are still making payments. We will be finished paying it off by this summer, and plan to drive this van into the ground.
On Christmas Eve, a beautiful snowstorm swept through our area. We had planned for Mr. Honey and Goggy to set up the trampoline while Grammy and I took the girls on a pleasure excursion to a local mall. We ladies did get to go to the mall and heard the most incredible electric string quartet! But the men were prevented in their manly-man tool escapade by the cold, blustery wind and snowy weather. As of this moment, the tramp sits in its box in our living room, a promise of fitness and fun yet unfulfilled. We have high hopes of installation today or tomorrow. "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley," you know.
We went to Grammy and Goggy's house Christmas Eve afternoon and evening, and never once thought about the roads. When we left around 8:45 pm, we realized our mistake: wind, snow flurries and black ice awaited us. We drove home averaging 5-10 mph in our determination *not* to be one of the statistics stranded in ditches along the winding country road. We had come in separate vehicles, and I was driving the good ol' van without adequate defrosting capability. I drove with the window open part of the time to increase visibility. It took us over an hour to drive fifteen miles. Thankfully, we had fleece blankets in the van for the kiddoes. It took me a couple of hours, once we got home, to recover from the adrenaline of driving on ice. I didn't get into bed until almost 1 AM. I watched one of the Bourne movies with Mr. Honey, and it exactly fit my mood. ;o)
Christmas Day was spent relaxing and watching movies, the girls alternately sledding down icy north-facing driveways and roller skating on south-facing sidewalks. Still no Internet, which increased our family level of interpersonal communication. Perhaps we should institute a regular family sabbatical from the Internet.
Anyway, here I sit at the Starbucks, ice on the ground in shady spots, and family waiting around for me to return to real life. I will return to them, and I pray that the Lord will continue to guide our mixture of joy and sorrow, and that we will have the wisdom to distinguish between the two, while accepting both.