I want to post more. A lot of life is happening at our house. Some I can share and some I cannot. I wonder if I can post every day for the next few weeks? If I do, and I hope I will, my posts will probably contain meandering thoughts rather than anything coherent. Bear with me. :)
This morning we read Ann Voskamp's post, "When Your Christmas Stretches You". I highly recommend it. We generally do not have the hectic Christmas most people experience. Some of our family do not celebrate Christmas and most of them live far, far away. We visited them last year and this year will stay home.
Without going into much detail, I will say my family is dealing with hardship right now. I've been open on this blog about our debt, and thankfully we are pretty much finished paying it off. We have a few doctor bills and a family loan that should be done in a couple months, provided our income level stays the same.
Our income has been going down for the last couple years. It continues to slide. This is one sad thing that is happening to us. Dave Ramsey would say we have an income problem, not a budget problem. The amazing part is that we are still current on our bills. I don't know how long that will last, but I know who holds tomorrow.
The reason for the income problem is the Warrior Poet's health. He is a salesman and is struggling to sell while in pain from back problems. I have taken on quite a few piano students to offset the loss. I now teach every weekday afternoon but Friday. I love it. I can't believe I get to do something I love to help us through this tribulation. It feels like cheating to me.
This thought makes me realize that I do not really believe God delights in giving good gifts to his children. It isn't cheating that God gave me a love of music and parents that could afford to let me take piano lessons and who left me alone to develop my skill without a lot of nagging. It is a gift from God that I do not deserve but that he was delighted to give me. God is still giving to me and helping me give to my family in a way that expands my soul. Nurturing my students' love of music is a soul-expanding exercise as well as a discipline and I get to do it almost every day. How glorious.
Back to Christmas. I don't really know what is going to happen this year. My parents gave us a tree since we aren't going to visit the Christmas tree farm. They even gave us pine-scented air freshener so the house will smell right. No, I do not deserve it. That is why it is called a gift. Not cheating or being lazy. Why do I think like that?
I pray that the Lord will help me defeat this devilish thought and see his good gifts for what they are. Satan, get thee behind me. It is true that the life of grace stretches us, like Ann says. I don't feel like I am living all that graciously, but the Lord is stretching me, teaching me to give up expectations, to await his gifts with open hands and no requirements, either for my work or for his gifts. No deal-breakers, because I am not bargaining with God nor am I earning my way. My work should be my love for him manifest in action.
My dreams have to become his dreams, perhaps my dream of our life is not what he has for us. Like Heidi, I have to give up my hoarded basket of hard, stale bread and wait on the Lord, who brings fresh loaves, enough for today's meal and a promise of more tomorrow.
Another thing. Many people are dealing with worse problems than ours. I cannot tell you the hardships some of our close friends have to walk through. I feel guilty that I am so upset about our situation. We are all together. We are all healthy, except the Warrior Poet's back. Our family and friends are showing God's love to us, constantly helping us. I am a dramatic worrier, that is true. I need help replacing that worry and the guilty feeling that follows. It is true we will not be satisfied until we are in the presence of the Lord, but I want to take life minute by minute and rejoice in the Lord and the little things while working like anything to improve our lot. Lord, help me to do it, and not to glory in my work! But to glory in your provision. And help me to love my friends that are experiencing hardships, to be your hands and feet for them.