Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Does Christmas seem off kilter this year?

Angie here: I know it's an exciting time of year for so many. We're all supposed to love Christmas and all the activities right? But what about those who are suffering, sad, lonely, going through hard times?

I'll be honest. I love Christmas. I love doing Christmas Tea and going to late night services. This year, however, things have felt a bit off kilter. I haven't even shopped yet for anyone and don't really feel a huge need to go. There have been so many other more important issues.

Has it felt like that to you?

It started with many in the family getting ill and dropping like flies for longer than the average cold. Mine lasted over 3 weeks. No matter, we'll get well, I told myself.

Then the cat was diagnosed with lung cancer. People lose pets. We can deal with it, though we will grieve for him.

Then my daughter had a sledding accident. Pretty serious. We feared a broken thigh. In we went to the hospital. Turns out she's doing very well a week later, but it was a really painful bruise with severe swelling.

Then my horse slipped on ice, broke her leg and I spent a long time holding her head above an ice melt pond that'd formed in our pasture. We had to put her down. I'm grieving the horse deeply. My muscles still burn and ache a day later from fighting for her life.

Oh, did I mention I couldn't call for further help because the phone was knocked from my hand and into the pond? So there I sat, alone, slimy wet, and freezing, trying to keep a huge horse from drowning.

In all that chaos, I really lost track of time. My sleep schedule turned upside down. My family has run hard through the last few weeks to catch up with work, college kids and their finals, ill and injured animals, and a few other odd happenings that caused deep stress with my finances. Who knew we'd have a major ER bill and two vet bills plus handling the unpleasant task of burying a horse?

But I started to think about people who'd lost a loved one, or were so lonely wishing they had a loved one, or just lost their job, or their health. I started to think about how off kilter they must feel while everyone else runs around like laughing elves.

I realized that a lot of people might feel out of synch and off kilter during what we expect is supposed to be such a joyous time of year, but circumstances don't lend themselves to being joyous when you're dealing with loss. Some people might even try to avoid any festivities out of embarrassment.

We hear a lot about the gift of Jesus birth. But I wonder how Mary felt on that day she delivered her son.

Did she feel joyous as she labored in an imposed march to fulfill some king's arrogant command?

Did she wonder how she'd keep going like I did while kneeling in ice water holding my mare's head while my arms throbbed?

Did she cry out for someone and feel lost without her mom to help?

Did she feel safe or scared with all the animal sounds and smells?

Imagine it: A woman goes into labor after traveling an extraordinary distance so close to her due date. She has a man with her, but no women who understand the birthing process. She had to be feeling miserable that heavily pregnant. She had little or no money, no bed to lie in, and likely gave birth in a cave with a bunch of stinky, dirty animals. I doubt her dreams and expectations for the birth of her first child included those specific details!

I think she was a very brave and faithful woman to battle against the odds to bring her son, God's son, Jesus, into the world. Did she have to walk through contractions?

So I've been worried about the health of my children, I've been stressed about money, and covered from head to toe in icy manure water while trying to save my horse. I know there is more heart ache to come as we will lose another pet, Ted E. Cat. But I like to think of Mary as an example of a woman who kept trying, kept on doing what she needed to do, against all expectations.

Have you ever thought about the ordeal the mother of Christ went through and how that applies to our lives?

This woman delivered a baby in the most lowly of circumstance, exhausted, and likely feeling stress and fear. She may have even grieved the loss of her expectations, after all an angel had mentioned something about giving birth to a holy child, the Son of God! Shouldn't he be born somewhere other than in an unsanitary animal shelter?

And yet, in all that pain, fatigue and chaos...

Mary kissed the cheek of God.

I am grateful for the birth of Jesus, my savior. This year, I'm also grateful for the courageous example set by his mother, Mary. I may not be able to physically kiss the cheek of God, but I believe He provided me the opportunity to understand the feeling through kissing my grandson's cheek tonight.

Angie and Jude napping

I wonder if God allowed Mary to be in those circumstances so her brave faith could encourage me? In the worst of circumstances, in an off kilter season, she brought forth a savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Does it encourage you?


  1. Angie,
    I'm sorry it has been so difficult lately, especially with the family members' illnesses and the loss of your horse. I have lost beloved pets so I understand your grief.

    This piece was beautifully written, made me thankful for my blessings and challenged me to be more like Mary - keep trusting God and moving forward.

    I pray you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year!

    P.S. - Your grandson is adorable!!

  2. I totally understand the off kilter. For the second Christmas w will be moving. Last year because our home and my home business was destroyed by Ike we moved to a new city the week before Christmas, this year (because of temporary housing)we'll be moving on Christmas Eve.
    We have gone through or tests and I thank God for Mary having Jesus to give me the faith to keep on going. Yesterday my middle daughter at 23 bought a house and is letting me and her sisters move in with her. When all seems hopeless, God always has a plan and most of the time peace comes with holding a child in your arms.

  3. Though not sad, yes, our Christmas has felt a bit off kilter. Life has encrouched too much, pushing the celebration aside. I have to remind myself that I can't let life override the joy I should be living every day. The joy that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When I am weak He is strong. And we are so very weak.

  4. Thank you all for your thoughts. I hope so much that you each feel wonderful joy even in the struggles.
    Much love,

  5. Angie, I'm so late to read your post. But I just had to say how much I love the photo of you and Jude napping!

  6. Thanks, Missy. My daughter-in-law snapped it. The couple after it are really funny expressions because the flash registered through my fog and I tried so hard to open my eyes and smile. I couldn't. We were both zonked as zonked could be!