Christmas was quieter for us this year, much like the rest of you. Normally, I feel overwhelmed trying to juggle four different Christmas family gatherings, a school play, and busyness of our family store. But with my new job, work was steady and consistent. All but one of the family gatherings were canceled. And the one that wasn’t only had five of the ten of us together. As much as we missed everyone and the excitement of the season, the Lord gave us blessings of a different kind.
Michael and I decided not to make a budget for our own Christmas gifts this year. If we wanted to get anything for each other, it was going to come from our allowance or getting creative with what we had. We did this because we really wanted to focus on getting our mortgage under $20,000 left owing, so we used whatever we could to achieve that goal.
Our first Christmas gift came on Wednesday, December 16. I met with my neuro-ophthalmologist (vision therapy doctor). He told me that he was graduating me from the program! He saw great progress with me and was encouraged I was headed in the right direction. He scheduled me to see an audiologist in January for my next phase of recovery. Thankfully that’ll only be a few visits versus a year more of therapy. There are a few symptoms I’m still dealing with, which he thinks the audiologist will be able to solve for me. Aside from that, majority of my symptoms have reduced significantly and I am on my way to a full recovery.
Michael and I are praising God for this good news! Thanks again to all of you who have prayed for us and donated to supporting my vision therapy costs. We still have some money left over which will help cover the audiologist appts and any other needed expenses to finish this recovery.
Our second blessing came on Christmas day. Michael and I were able to save up enough and we did it. We got under $20,000 left owing on our mortgage!
As we coloured in three more lines on our mortgage chart and looked at how much we have left to go, we praised the Lord for His faithfulness and provisions. He helped us greatly this year to reach our limit in what extras we could pay down through our mortgage brokers. We rejoiced thinking about how He gave when we didn’t think we’d come close to our goal this year.
First it was my vision therapy. It was going to cost around $10,000 for the year. But friends of ours started a Go Fund me account and collected $5,000 to apply towards it for us. We had no idea. Then COVID hit and all the therapy moved to online sessions instead of having to drive to Guelph (three-hour drive) every week. That saved in gas and greatly reduced the amount it was going to cost. We are still using some of the money that is left from that to help with my medical expenses. God was so good.
Then it was losing my job. I didn’t have a paycheck for a month and a half. But shockingly, neither one of us was worried about it. I had applied to jobs and we trusted that the Lord would provide, and He did. We were able to start up with the mortgage payments once again.
We’ve been using a budget for our money for about three and a half years now. Even though we said we’d always try to live off of one income, we seemed to blend our expenses into both. When I lost my job, we had to fall back onto just Michael’s income. What we thought was impossible to live off one suddenly became possible. It showed us that we could manage it and didn’t need more. So, when I got my new job, we decided to only use it to help pay down the mortgage. Our goal became even more focused and achievable. We got down to the “bare bones” of our budget and were doing just fine. We’ve sacrificed, but it doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice because we’re learning to be satisfied with what we have while achieving our big vision goal.
Because we minimized our presents this year, we were creative with our gifts. We truly listened to what each other wanted and were able to give that at no monetary expense. Even though it was simple, it ended up being a great morning, treasuring time together and giving something that we both loved.
God also blessed us with another gift. A beautiful white Christmas. Until the afternoon of Christmas Eve, it was pretty drab here. It was rainy a fair amount causing a grey sky and muddy brownish-green ground. Then the snow started Christmas Eve in the afternoon and carried until Boxing Day morning. Everywhere we looked was filled with white beauty. A true winter wonderland.
We went for a walk at a local trail and were mesmerized at the beauty that surrounded us. Everywhere I looked seemed like a painting I’d find in an art gallery. Trees weighed down by heavy untampered snow. A lovely bright red male cardinal landed on a branch. Michael caught a picture of it that helped capture the stunning moment. The forest made me feel like I was in the middle of a storybook. It gave the essence like I was walking through Narnia.
There were special moments of connecting with family through Face Time, the telephone, and one set of parents in person. There were text messages and greeting cards to open. I felt the love of family and friends, and most importantly, God Himself.
I was able to take some time in worship and reading the Scriptures. I marveled at the gift the Lord gave us and that I am counted in His family. I felt privileged to be able to participate in sharing some of my viewpoints on how the story captivated me anew this year.
There were moments that I felt my heart was a bit weary. I felt sad that I couldn’t celebrate with my family. I had a couple instants where I ached for children to make memories with. But each time I had these experiences, I gave them over to the Lord and spoke truth to myself. I will “rejoice always”. “By prayer and supplications, with thanksgiving, give your requests to God”. “The Lord is my strength”. “Satan, you don’t own me, nor can you conquer me. I know that you’re trying to steal my joy this Christmas, but you can’t have it. It’s not yours. It’s God’s. This is His celebration and so I will cling to His joy and His strength, and I will enjoy it!”
As each moment presented itself, and I prayed and gave thanks to God, I could feel joy return. I felt thankful for the day and all these blessings He gave us. I counted myself blessed for all who are in my life, for all that I have, and for the focus He’s given me to endure. The enemy wasn’t going to ruin my Christmas, and he didn’t!
And so, this is why I’m sharing it all with you. I’m rejoicing at the surprises God brought to us this Christmas. I trust He brought some to you as well. As we start into this New Year, reflect and hold onto the goodness He gave you this Christmas and the joy and hope that we can look forward to in 2021. Regardless of what lies ahead this year for each one of us, we have much to be thankful for, and much to look forward to. I’m excited to hear what He does in your life this year as well.