Today has been a day filled with boxes, boxes and more boxes. I have heard grumbling from three children and the fact that we have SOOO many boxes of Christmas decorations. The results thus far is the front porch is decorated and the rest of the first floor is dressed except the kitchen and I haven't even begun on the trees. My house was in such disorder today that even my bassett hound looked at me in disgust and followed me for awhile...(you see her bed was by a ton of boxes and she was just wondering what was going on?) Finally in disgust she lay down under the dining room table and even she rolled her eyes at me!
As I continued to dig through the boxes I found more and more decorations that I don't use any more but for whatever reason can't bring myself to even let go of. They remind me of places I've been, memories I've made, milestones that I've crossed. You can't just throw those things away can you? Well, maybe the ugly cookie plate somebody gave us a million years ago...some things are better left forgotten.
I continued to decorate this entire day and as the day went by and I listened to my children playing outside I remembered how far we have come and how lucky we are. I remember the first Christmas that I learned to RECEIVE.
Receiving a gift for me was always easy because it came from someone that loved me, or liked me...and usually I had one sitting there beside me to give back to them. However, when I was a single Mom and I came back from living with my sister in Michigan I learned how hard receiving can be. The first realization came to me standing in a Target line with my parents. You see, I no longer had a car...couldn't afford one and was saving up money to get one but I had to find a job first and it took me TWO very long weeks. In the meantime I had very little left in my savings to buy diapers or food and was eeking by on "gas fumes." Still, I had my pride...generic diapers, some baby food and deoderant and razors is what I had on the belt ready to be rung up. My parents were in front of me and my father asked me quietly how much I had...I told him, I had enough to cover it but after that? Well, then I would be living on "fumes" My Dad took the divider and held it...he paid my bill....I bit my lip to fight back the tears...knowing I was proud my Dad said.."Don't worry, when you get your job you can pay me back." I nodded, bit my lip harder and told him thank you...by the way I did pay him back and he knew I would. There was also the apartment that he built for me and Trey to live in...yeah...that's a pretty big one to swallow...and there were the people from the church that I attended who brought cookie supplies for me to make cookies with Trey for Christmas. They knew I probably didn't feel like celebrating that year but what two year old doesn't love making cookies?
Those are memories that will stay with me forever. Those are hard times that not many people know about. Those at the time were hard for me to take, here I was trying to hold it all together and here were people meeting my needs. At first I felt embarrassed....I felt that everyone now KNEW what a loser I was and here was the proof! However, at the same time the burden that was lifted because I knew I was doing all that I could physically do and it wasn't enough to provide for my child and the frustration that came with that! To have your brother n law buy formula, diapers for your baby, to give you a job at his grocery store even though banking was what I knew and truth be told I was a HORRIBLE grocery cashier....so confusing the fruit, the tobacco and I NEVER drank alcohol so why in the world would I know the difference between hard liquor and wine coolers??? This was a world that I knew nothing of! I didn't want to know anything about it!
I can't even begin to tell you the people that have lifted me up in prayer, in monetary gifts, in babysitting my son and taking him to a pumpkin patch because I never would get the time to do that because I was working. THOSE are the things that are life changing! I will never forget those that helped us during those rough three years. I hope that I will never quit looking for those that are need that were like me....I will never forget!
I pray I will always give with a heart of love and knowing how hard it is to be on the other side of that gift. May we always love one another with a perfect love and when we see a need may we "meet" it without a second thought for that is what God has called us to do.
May His name be praised!