Sunday, November 26, 2006

'Tis the season...officially!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!! With Thanksgiving come and gone, we now officially begin the countdown to Christmas day. Even better, though, is the spirit that settles over us in the weeks between now and Christmas. I just love it...24/7 Christmas carols on any number of radio stations...Shiny, sparkly decorations everywhere you look...Peace and love abound, and, if for only a few weeks, people are not only able but are more than willing to put others before themselves.

Yes...this thing called "the holiday season" seems to make the garbage that has accumulated throughout the year seem almost worth it. I cannot say it enough...I LOVE this time of year!!!

As with last year, I am facing the realization that I won't be able to dole out Christmas presents to those that are dearest to me. This is not easy for me, as one of my favorite ways to express love is through giving that perfect gift. One of my favorite parts of this season is taking the time to find the perfect gift...not the biggest or most expensive or the one with the most bells and whistles, but the one that is perfect for the one I am buying it for. One of my favorite parts of Christmas morning is watching others open the gifts I've chosen for them, and seeing their joy as the wrapping paper is torn away and the gift is revealed. It is difficult for me to be comfortable with not being able to do any of this.

Yet, this is just one more opportunity for me to shift my focus to what is most important.

Over the last few months, I've had to grow accustomed to living without a lot of things that bring me moments of happiness. The things I used to take for granted...being able to go to a movie without creating a budget crisis, being able to go to Borders and enjoy a cup of coffee without having to sacrifice a meal later in the week to pay for it, or being able to buy the basic necessities without giving much thought to the cost of these things...all of those things have become points of concern. It is not comfortable, and certainly not something I would have chosen for myself, but it is where I am for now.

Through these struggles, I am learning what it is to be content, regardless of how much or how little I have. I am learning that there is something to be treasured in the simple, every day pleasures...the sunshine, clean air, being able to walk, hear, talk, see...And that I am incredibly wealthy because I have amazing friends who love me and support me through everything.

I know I've said all of this before, and it may sound hollow by now. But believe me when I tell you, the longer I am in this place, the more real these things become to me. Certainly, I am hopeful that my situation will change, and things will become easier. But, for as long as I'm here, it is my prayer that God will teach me through these struggles. I choose to believe that God is using all of this to prepare me for whatever is next in my life. I am a firm believer that nothing in our lives is wasted, and if we will let Him, God uses everything in our lives to further His kingdom through us. I want God to have His way in my life, and if this struggling is one way He is accomplishing that, then so be it.

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