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I sat down to pay bills today.  Generally, I like paying bills.  I’m weird like that.  It feels good to have the needs covered and see where the money goes.  I’m the “nerd” in our relationship, if you’re a Dave Ramsey fan.  I pray as I pay and cry out to God when the money doesn’t quite stretch far enough.

But in the last several weeks, we’ve had some expenses come up that sucked the money right out of the Christmas budget.  Being a parent, you feel the pressure to give good gifts to your kids, not necessarily things they need.  You want to shower them with toys and special, personal gifts that will make their faces light up.  You feel bad when you can’t surprise them with something wonderful.

I think of this wet and warmer December we’ve had so far.  I’ve been able to run outside more.  My leg is slowly healing.  Mornings have been (mostly) dry.  We have our utilities covered.  Heat, water and electricity for all!  Zac got new contacts and my cavities are filled. My teeth no longer ache or suffer from  sensitivity to hot and cold.  We’re all healthy and we have enough to eat and creativity and stamina and resources to replenish what we consume.  It seems ungrateful to want more.  Our hearts are to bless our family and friends, but sometimes the finances just aren’t there.  Oh, we’ll be creative and come up with something for everyone.  And yet, we would love to be extravagant and give liberally, with no penny-pinching, to those whom we hold dear.

It forces me to look beyond our circumstances to what we already have.  We’ve been given baked goods and cards from church friends.  We are part of a loving, faith-filled church. We’ve gotten a few small checks in the mail from relatives.  Hey, we *have* friends!    I especially love receiving cards from my long-lost friends, namely one who is notoriously bad about staying in touch. We haven’t spoken in years.  I’m glad she’s still walking this ol’ orb.

Then I think of the Father.  He gave the ultimate gift:  His only son, Jesus. He gave extravagantly.   I wonder if God ever felt the pressure to see the Jews’ faces light up.  Angels announced the birth; perhaps God hoped that would do the trick.  “Look!  I’ve sent the Messiah!  Now we can be together forever.”  Christ came in humility and vulnerability.  His heart was love.  And, after a time, He died for us.  He was and still is something wonderful.  Thanks be to God!

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