Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas? We Can't Even Afford Groceries!

I read an awesome post on one of my favorite marriage blogs, the Romantic Vineyard about Christmas during a season of lack. They are going through a series on hindrances at Christmas and shared really openly about their own season of lack and God's provision for them in it.

It was so sweet for me, because I know Christmas when money is tight or when we have no paychecks. We have had many of them. In fact, our last 4 years have almost always included short or no paychecks in October/November. This year, though we are able to pay our bills, we are once again in a season of financial lack as we look right past Christmas and anticipate paying for my csection and the arrival of our precious third son a week or so later.

God has met me in such incredible ways and lavished His grace on me as I've confessed my fear (that it'll become more than a season and could lead to debt) and my dependence and trust in man (we receive any pay based on churches and individuals who give- so I've been associating their generosity or lack of giving with our provision) rather than Him, our sure and faithful Provider.

This week, God brought three things to comfort me:

1) Friends who shared timely reminders of God's constant and specific provision- including today in The Romantic Vineyard blog post

2) A fresh vision of His provision through Scripture:
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"- Romans 8:32
As I read this week of His incarnation (mainly Luke 1-2), I was reminded that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and ALL the promises of God find their yes in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Reflecting on Him coming as a baby and fulfilling all the Old testament promises God made (from Abraham in Genesis to prophets like Isaiah) has been such a sweet reminder that ALL God's promises are true. I can trust that He will continue to provide all of our needs because God promises that He gives generously beyond salvation to us and Jesus coming proved that His promises are right and true ALWAYS.

3) Time to reflect on some of the MANY times and ways He has provided in our lack and continues to keep us debt free and able to give to others, though that seems impossible to me.

Here's one story that came to mind- from Christmas 2008:
We had just gone through 2 months of no paycheck and spent most of our savings to pay our bills. We were several weeks away from Christmas with no money to even buy groceries. We were actually finding the food in our cupboards sufficient (gosh, we have so much), but we were without variety and fresh things to eat and drink.

Two different friends asked me to come to events that I did not want to attend because I was embarassed by my lack of funds, but came to anyway. The first was a baby shower. I couldn't afford a gift, but humbled, I came anyway, and brought a card. It snowed that morning, so a lot of people didn't come. My friend was so thankful I cared enough to come and I realized how silly it had been to even consider not coming and missing that chance to share in her joy and excitement. THEN the crazy stuff happened...

As we were leaving, the host asked if I wanted to take leftovers (Um... YES!!!!) and then handed me several grocery bags to take to my car since so few people came which left lots of unused food. It included yummy homemade goodies, fresh fruit, two loaves of bread, croissants, uncooked sausage, 2 gallons of milk, 1 pretty full orange juice container, chicken salad (my favorite), and store bought cookies.  I cried the whole way home at how tangibly God met our needs. Andy laughingly said: "Wow. Everything but eggs. Isn't that just like God?"

The next event was a week later at a friend's church and she had neglected to tell me it was an exchange. Ugh. Here I was again with nothing to offer. But the ladies encouraged me that they were glad to give and wanted me to be blessed to receive. So, after all ladies went through toys and clothes, I went through- and came out with tons of kid clothes, some clothes for me, and brand new (still in packaging) Cars themed toys for my son. God gave us Christmas presents for our son! They also offered "leftovers" of fruit, breads, bagels (Andy's favorite), homemade goodies, juices, more milk, and even fresh farm eggs for us all. I couldn't wait to get home and show Andy the 2 dozen fresh eggs God gave us! Ha!

God met us in our need so tangibly and then lavished us way beyond needs with sweet gifts, because He loves us. He's a loving Father who gives good gifts to His kids... He actually provides like that a lot- a check in the mail from random people, our gas tank lasting entire trips when math would say that's impossible, free seminary classes, free cleaning supplies, and an annual family pass to Disney with spare gift card for park food, are all examples from this year alone!

I'm refreshed today in joyful hope that Jesus is most certainly the true treasure my heart longs for (not the comfort of "healthy" finances) and that God is so loving and generous. He provides all our needs and then gives richly and lavishly above that because of His great love. So I'm filled again with excitement as I read the anticipation of Jesus coming and know that His coming provided my salvation... and serves to daily remind me that ALL the promises of God are true and find their "yes" in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20).


Megan said...

Thank you for the tangible reminder that God is the God who provides! :o)

Debi - The Romantic Vineayrd said...

Thank you for the link - and we're so glad you have been encouraged by how God helped us. This is what the life we're called to is all about - encouraging one another as long as it is called today!
May your Christmas be full of God's abundant provision!