There’s often a comparison made between readying our hearts for Christ and readying our physical homes for company at Christmas time. This year, I’ve had both on my plate at the same time.
Over the summer, my husband and I started a home renovation project, in large part because we knew we were expecting another child. We got some estimates, made a plan, signed a contract, and cleared a ton of stuff into a portable storage unit that had taken up residence in our driveway. We expected the project to be complete mid-October, right as my third trimester began.
Instead, we encountered hold-up after hold-up, delay after delay. The project would be done by Thanksgiving, we thought. Okay, maybe by the first week of December. Well, now they say they can start the second week of December. Or, no, wait, after Christmas.
I have not been patient with the process. I started out gracious, but the tides turned when things didn’t go according to my plan. I got angry. I was cranky when people asked about it. I rolled my eyes and sighed audibly—in sight of my children—when I got another disappointing text update. We’d planned to move toys into the newly finished space, thus clearing the way for big kid rooms to shift and creating an open space to welcome baby. Despite having a place to live and the means to get whatever I don’t already have for baby (this is our third boy, so he’s basically clothed in hand-me-downs until he’s five), I felt unprepared, like a mama bird without a nest.
A few weeks ago, I started noticing a pattern outside of the renovation project. For all this to make sense, you need to know that I’d been meaning to buy a new car seat for this baby and a new printer for the house, since ours quit earlier this year. When it snowed recently, we learned our middle kiddo had outgrown his boots. I also have a plan for our first family photo after the birth to involve us all wearing superhero shirts. These things may sound unrelated, but stay with me.
One day at pick-up, the mom of another kid in said big-footed child’s class asked me if he needed new boots. Her son had a pair he’d outgrown.
Um, yes, please.
A few days later, another friend asked if I needed a new car seat. She was about to give hers away, but would be happy to pass it along to me.
Then, desperate for mailing labels to facilitate card-sending (my handwriting isn’t fabulous), I finally plugged my computer into a printer that had been drifting from one side of the family to the other. I expected a prompt to download a driver that would probably give me a headache, but instead I got … mailing labels.
One by one, these things that we could afford but just hadn’t gotten around to purchasing yet were put into my lap. Piece by piece, God was showing me He was in charge. He knows my needs and desires. Even when I can do for myself, He’s still happy to help me out. I needed to get out of my own head about the project and be grateful for His love. God’s time, not mine.
You’re wondering about the superhero shirt?
The same day I heard about the car seat, yet another friend told me she had a couple bags of various items her kids were done with for me. There were games, backpacks, hangers, and clothes.
Among those clothes was the exact shirt I’d bought for my oldest son, but hadn’t taken the tags off of yet. A week or so later, I returned the one I’d bought and got a full refund for it.
I know that God’s providence is about more than material things, more than money. But these experiences went deeper than my bank account. They were God’s way of getting through to me. He knows what I need before I tell Him. He’ll answer in His own way, in His own time. I learned to trust in that again.
I didn’t expect all this. But then, no one expected a baby in a manger to save the world from sin, either.
How has God surprised you this Advent and Christmas? How has He used ordinary moments to reveal a greater truth about Himself and His love for you?
Copyright 2017 Lindsay Schlegel