A Christmas Without

It was the tradition in my home growing up that a prayer be given before every meal. My father offered the same blessing every evening for (I suppose) the thousands of meals my mom prepared. It went like this: “Oh Lord we thank you for this day, for this food. Forgive us of our sins and watch over us throughout the night. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.”  I can close my eyes and still hear his voice decades following his passing as if he was still sitting at the table about to partake of my mom’s delicious fried chicken.  I never forgot his nightly prayer.  I suppose knowing how good the meal was going to taste made thanking God that much easier and although my dads prayer was simple, routine and somewhat stale, it taught me the importance of raising a Christian family that paused each evening at the table to thank our Lord for what we had.
We should always thank God for His providence, knowing it is by His good will and pleasure that we have the things we have. The scripture declares that God sends both the cloud and the rainbow. And though thanking God for the hardships of our lives may be difficult, thanking our sovereign God for the good things in our lives is so easy it seems like an almost natural, innate response.  How many times have we said or heard said, “Thank God!” when something good happens?  The most unbelieving of our society can find reason to say “Thank God!” when things go their way and just as easily curse Him or declare Him non-existent when things do not. I too am guilty of that behavior at times.

Today I considered all of these intricacies of prayer as Lisa went for her six month mammogram check-up following her bout with breast cancer two years ago.  The horror of hearing the words “breast cancer” was something neither of us wanted to endure again and it was with great joy and relief that we recieved the news that test results determined she remains cancer free.  Thank God!

There have been many life lessons learned through Lisa’s breast cancer experience.  We appreciate life a little more, we love our family and friends a little more intimately, we say, “I love you!” more often.  But another powerful learning has been to thank God for the things we don’t have.  To wake up in the morning cancer free is God’s gift to us and should be celebrated and prayed over and talked about and posted on Facebook and billboards.  God has done a great thing by not allowing into our lives those things that destroy us.   

At that first Christmas long ago, some probably questioned why God did not provide better accomodations for the Son of Man to be born. I probably would have been one of those.  I’m ashamed to admit that too often my evaluations of God’s blessings has more to do with my personal comforts and material possessions than the fact that He has prevented horrors from attacking my life that I hear about for so many.  With that in mind, I consider that first Christmas and then find myself wanting to thank God for the child – not complain about the conditions, for the joy of God becoming flesh – not bitch about a dirty, smelly animal stall.  On that first Christmas it became necessary to look way beyond an unsanitary stable and that which was lacking and thank God for the very things we did not have – namely, a world without grace, a life without hope, and someday – a wife having to hear again the word, “cancer”.  We should remember to thank God for not only the things He provides, but, also what He takes away. 

I’ve never been one to set New Years resolutions but I may consider this next year resolving to be more aware and more thankful for the things I don’t have rather than all the things I do.  Our God is a God who provides, but He is also a God who prevents – and that may be His greatest gift of all.  

So let me get the approaching new year started by saying, “Thank you God for the things I don’t have!”

Merry Christmas!


OMG! My Wife is in the Tub!

My wife Lisa is the best gift giver of anyone I have ever known. Her gifts are thoughtful expressions of knowing the people she is buying for and finding the perfect gifts to match.  Left to me, our Christmas shopping would take place around ten o’clock on Christmas Eve and everyone would get a gift card from the never closed gas station down the street.  Not my wife.  Lisa starts Christmas shopping as soon as the weather hits into the seventies, whether that be August or September. And by the time Christmas draws near, we have forgotten half of what has been purchased and must gather all the items from every nook and cranny of our home and start the process of sorting through the bounty.  

With the advances in online, free delivery commerce, Lisa’s shopping stamina and gift buying prowess have made Christmas shopping almost painless.  Almost.

There is just one problem.  When you combine smart phone technology, online buying options and ones love of soaking for hours in a tub, you have a problem.  Lisa’s long soaks are relaxing for her but can be expensive.  I estimate that during Christmas shopping season her long soaks cost me about a hundred bucks an hour.  While she is upstairs soak shopping, I’m down below moving what little money we have from one account to another trying to keep up.  It would benefit me to have multiple computer screens and turn my little man cave into something akin to the set up of a Dow Jones investor.  It would also help me to have a monitor set up so I can be alerted when Lisa is in the tub.  I better get home quick or else we may lose the house and the socks I’m wearing.

It has always been our set up that I take care of our bill paying and finances.  I know that for many families, the wife is the caretaker of everything to do with money.  Our arrangement works fine for us.  Recently. Lisa and I discussed our bills and she made a statement that may have been the most telling, honest comment of our 34 year marriage.  She said, “I can’t be worrying about the bills and shop too.”  

With that, she headed to the tub for another expensive soak and I started digging in the couch for lose change. 

Merry Christmas and happy soaking!