How was your Christmas and New Years?
Did everything go off without a hitch?
Or did things go differently than planned?
Last year, Christmas Eve 2013, I was rounding up my children for bed. The clock said 10:30 p.m. and we had spent the evening opening our presents and having a family night together. The next morning we would be headed off bright and early to my in-laws house. My then eight-year-old daughter asked if she could open her Legos. I had said “no”, but my husband had said “yes”, so she proceeded to take my sharp kitchen scissors without supervision to open the box.
Both my husband and I were upstairs packing for the trip, when we heard blood-curdling screams from our other daughter, Danika. We ran downstairs to see what was the matter. Not only did my daughter, Emmi, cut the Lego box, but had also cut her thumb to the bone. Our staircase, entryway and kitchen looked like a crime scene with blood everywhere – splattering 7 feet high on the walls and all over the presents at the front door. My husband and I were out the door rushing to the ER in a matter of seconds. Most of us in our pajamas, we literally raced to the hospital through at least 6 red lights.
We left our older son, Christian, unaware in the bathroom and our other two children in shock in the kitchen. As the night progressed, the children left behind began to clean up the blood awaiting the news of their sister when more chaos hit our house. Christian found himself in charge of a brother who got terrible hives and a sister who got the stomach flu at midnight. He recalls the events, “I was standing there with a bloody rag, a bag of ice for Kenton’s face and the throw up bowl in my hand, and I thought to myself, this Christmas is not starting off the way I expected.”
Christmas 2013 did not end there. Emmi got six stitches (they saved her thumb) and two of the kids got the flu at Grandmas house. My husband threw out his back so badly that he had to be wheeled around in a desk chair from the hotel to his parents’ house. We were definitely a sight to see!
And we had a story to tell!
While the events of that fateful Christmas happened one right after the other, God knew that all these things were part of the Young’s family plan for the end of 2013. He used them. While the events were occurring, we were just trying to make it through. And in the end, we just had to laugh at the list of “tragedies” that we lived through and the lessons God had taught us.
This verse comes to mind: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” James 1:1,2
You see, Christmas 2013 will live on in infamy because each person remembers it differently and learned something different from it. My daughter, Emmi, was the “star” of that infamous day; she learned a little about bravery as she faced struggles previously unknown to her in the ER. My husband was humbled by his aging self and even wrote about the story in our Christmas card for 2014. My son, Christian, has told a humorous version of the story from his perspective in his Speech and Debate tournament this year and has confessed to learning much about God from the experience. My daughter, Danika, remembers that her mom stayed home from Christmas to nurse her, teaching her that she is not too old for the much needed Mommy-time she craved. My son Kenton remembers how his big brother took care of him when Mom and Dad were gone and learned that his brother is trustworthy in times of trial. All in all, our family is definitely closer and more mature because of that crazy week!
I learned that trials don’t always have to be big (like cancer or miscarriages) to teach us the things God wants. There are trials of many kinds, each has it’s own purpose no matter how small.
So Christmas 2014, in comparison, went off without a hitch. We celebrated Advent, had family time, opened presents, had many guests, and we laughed a lot. While Christmas this year was a blessed time, it will go down in the books as “forgettable”.
Yet 2013 will live on in our minds because it was different. It was hard. But God used it to draw us closer and build our character. I bet if you look in my journal for 2013, you will find I prayed for those exact things for my family!
What ways has God answered your prayers unexpectedly this past year?