This has been a rough month.
It's bad enough that the budget in our household is tighter than an acrobats undies during the Christmas season, but with all the other wonderfulness on top of it ("wonderfulness" being the epitome of irony at this point), I have to admit- the Devil is wearing cleats and jumping on us with both feet.
In the beginning of the month, my husband had a bout of severe exhaustion and was out of work for almost a week. So when the plant shuts down between Christmas and New Years, he has to work part of the week because he used all of his allotted days off.
I had pain in my right shoulder for a long time and was told over and over again that it was tendinitis, so no lifting for me with that arm, lest I rip something important and need surgery. So I overcompensated and wound up spraining my left forearm. When the MRI results came back for my shoulder, I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis. So I didn't need to overdo my ding-dang forearm. It was going to hurt anyway, dagnabbit.
It wasn't all bad, however. We prayed for blessings and got them- God let the money stretch so I found some great stuff for Christmas at the thrift store, and then my husband was getting a Christmas bonus! YAY!
The next day, the car died.
When I say died, I mean died. Dead as a doornail. Kaput. The timing belt broke and decided to shred the engine. The family that does all the running-around for ministry was now stuck. How was my husband going to get to work? How would we go food shopping?
I know I prayed to God about the need to walk more, but this was not what I meant!
Normally news like this would send me into a panic. Yes, I only got the car once a week to go food shopping, but this was our only car, and we've been living paycheck to paycheck- so it's not like we can just go to Bubba's Auto Mart and pick up a couple more Hyundais.
That night, I was lying next to my husband and something occurred to me. "I don't remember when the Devil had jumped on us so fast after being blessed," I said. "We must be doing something really right."
He chuckled and held me closer.
I sighed. "Remember that movie, Facing the Giants? The guy said 'in the good times I will praise You, and in the bad times I will still praise You.' Let's do that right now."
And we did. We praised Him for the peace we felt in this mess, We praised Him for the blessings of being able to work during the holidays when the company could have said "No" and suffer the loss of income, We praised Him for the Christmas bonus, the fact that I got the gifts before the car died, and all of the little things God does for us each day.
Then we went to sleep.
I'm going to confess something. As true as this story is, That doesn't mean I'm happy about it. I'm so not happy. I really liked that little Hyundai wagon, and they don't make them anymore. I run a bread ministry and I'm the main driver for picking up the bread. Our church and the local families need that bread. I cried when I was praising Him because my husband works so hard just to keep our heads above water and doesn't need anymore stress.
I'm hating the situation, but I'm not going to hate God for it. The Devil would be dancing in his cleats if I did that. I'm not a perfect Christian- I'm not even a fantastic Christian. I'm just your semi-normal calorically-challenged individual that loves God and needs Him on a daily basis, or I'll fall apart.
This has been a rough month. If I wasn't leaning on God, I'd be a hot mess right now. Trust me.
When I told a family member about my situation, she asked "Are you sure you're doing things right? Maybe God is telling you you're doing things wrong by letting all this bad stuff happen."
I gave that some thought. Was he trying to punish us? I didn't think so- if He'd wanted to punish us, why were we feeling so peaceful, like God was smiling on us? I think if God was upset with us, we'd know it- big time.
There's good news though! When my church heard about all this, someone lent us his truck for the weekend so we could get our food shopping done. Because of my husband's bonus we could buy enough food for several weeks (since we don't know when we can go shopping again). People offered to do some bread pick-ups for my ministry until we can wrangle up another vehicle- and my husband found that he can get a ride to work and take a train home, so he can work those overtime hours during the holiday.
The devil wear cleats. But God's cleats are bigger and have the devil's name on each spike.
God is indeed good. And I praise Him for it.
Happy Birthday Jesus! And thank You for all the gifts!