Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

Back in November, I was telling my friends how busy the month of December was going to be. Every weekend was crammed full of plans, parties, events, etc. There were cards to address, cookies to bake, and numerous church services to attend. 

An accident the night before Thanksgiving cleared my calender in an instant. I was going to attend church service Thanksgiving Eve when I slipped on snow-covered porch steps, broke my ankle, and severely damaged the ligaments in my right foot and leg. Instead of enjoying the church service, I was headed to the hospital by ambulance. Upon arrival at the ER, I was told I would need surgery Thanksgiving morning to repair the damage.

After five days in the hospital, I was discharged home to begin three months of recovery. I can't drive or bear weight on my leg for 12 weeks, so my main way to move around is by wheelchair. I have been housebound for the past month. It's a different kind of Christmas this year, but one that has been filled with more blessings than I can count. My children and family worked hard to get things set up so I could recover at home rather than in a rehab facility. In just a few days, they set my home up to be wheelchair friendly which included installing a bathroom downstairs. The offers of help, visits, and acts of kindness that have been lavished on me are too numerous to mention. I am blessed!

If I looked only at the external circumstances in my life at this time, this would be a dismal Christmas indeed. After another year of praying for my marriage to be healed, my husband continues to choose to live with his girlfriend in another state away from me, his children, and grandchildren. This is the fourth Christmas without him. It's always hard this time of the year, but I am still so incredibly blessed to have my children and grandchildren living nearby and to be able to spend time with them. I can't imagine life without them. Even more, I can't imagine life without God. Again, God has sustained me in ways too numerous to list.

Last week, exactly one week before Christmas, my pastor committed suicide which shocked our church congregation and those who knew him. Nobody saw it coming. He was 30 years old and left behind a wife and little daughter. It makes no sense, but is one of those things I need to leave in God's hands.  Again, this is hard stuff to cope with, but I was thinking about how fortunate I was to have known him during his short time here on this earth. His life impacted mine in a very positive way. I will never forget his kindness during my accident and recovery. He visited me in the hospital and at home, and during those times I was blessed by his encouragement and prayers.

The same day my pastor took his life, I received a letter from my place of employment  informing me that they will not hold my position after February 4th, even though my physician sent a note stating I cannot drive and need to be off work for 12 weeks. I need to have a second surgery on my foot mid February. A day later, I received two more opportunities for freelance writing to add to an already pretty full plate of writing opportunities. I've been praying about being able to transition to writing full time at home. Could this be God's open door for yet another blessing? God works in amazing and mysterious ways. I'm not sure how all of this will play out, but I'm going to trust God. 

In spite of all the changes in my life this Christmas season, I continue to be amazed at how much I have to be thankful for. God has allowed me to see life differently. I now know the importance of living one day at a time. We can plan for the future, but our plans can be changed in a second. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow it may be too late.

This Christmas I'm reflecting on the baby that was placed in a manager long ago. Immanuel, God with us. God is still with us. He is with us when life is filled with difficult circumstances. I find comfort in knowing that I'm never alone, no matter what. I've had more time this Christmas to reflect on the true meaning of the season. No hustle, no bustle, no rushing about shopping, no running from one event to the other, and I'm okay with that. It has been a different Christmas, but one I'm grateful to have experienced, because it has allowed me time to dwell on what really matters most.


Barb Lukies said...

Hey girlfriend,
Such a hard Christmas Season all round but I know God knows what you need and he does supply it all. Keep strong Joni and forever thankful which I know takes effort at times but you are so strong as always and a shining example to all of us to not give in despite what life throws our way. xxx

Joni said...


Thank you for your words of encouragement. I know you have been through many difficult times yourself in the past, and your strong and steadfast faith has been amazing! I have always admired your strength! I hope you had a nice Christmas, and I'm praying for a great new year for you and your family. Hugs across the miles my friend.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joni,

I was just reading over your blog this morning and happened to read this post. My Pastor also committed suicide this past May a year ago and it has been such a difficult thing to go through. He was a wonderful pastor and had a beautiful family. I think of him often and all that he taught us and we all miss him so very much. It is hard to process all of it but we leave these things that happen with the Lord and try to learn from all of it. We pray for his family and think of them every day! I know you have been through many trials and yet you offer such encouragement with your kind words of wisdom! I always look forward to reading your posts. Thank you for sharing and for the encouragement you give to all of us who enjoy your blog! I also love your pictures! May God shower you with Blessings always! Looking forward to meeting you in heaven someday! Until then I pray for you my friend!

Joni said...

Sue, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your pastor. As you said, it is a very difficult thing to grasp and try to understand. Our church was blessed recently by the addition of a wonderful new pastor. This young man was a close friend of our previous pastor. Our previous pastor's wife has been such a strong woman of faith and continues to bless all of us with her strength and courage. Thanks for you kind and thoughtful words. Blessings and prayers across the miles to you also!




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