This is Kyle Kenneth our first grandson at candlelight service in Indiana tonight. I attached it to this story because I love it and I wanted an excuse to use it.
And now for the story:
In the fall of 1990 a group of families were led of the Lord to start a church in beautiful Knox County, Ohio. I was their pastor. Christmas of 1991 things were thin. The church was healthy but small and made up of mostly young families. Few of us had any extra money. Our pay was faithful but modest. People were doing what they could and taking care of us, but there was never any extra.
God supplied in beautiful ways…ways that we will cherish and remember for years—ways that taught our whole family lessons of faith and humility. We drove Amish friends, sold crafts, wrote book reviews, and tried to live frugally. People would often give us gifts, especially at Christmastime.
The week before Christmas that year things were thin for us. We were waiting for payday, looking forward to getting some food in the house. We had so little.
I always tried to temper the children’s expectations at Christmastime. I would tell them, quite honestly, not to expect this year what we’ve had in past years. “Things are thin,” I would say. “We don’t have much this year. We have bills to pay. We should be grateful for what we have and don’t expect a lot of big things. Let’s concentrate on what we can do for others.”
Though I have done this every year I don’t think I have ever successfully dampened their enthusiasm or quelled their expectations. To this day they tease me about my annual predictions of doom around the first of December. That year the children were small. Our oldest was only ten. There were six of them. They were good about it but you could see the worn-out toy catalogs laying around and catch snatches of expectation in their childish chatter.
On this particular day we had stretched our few dollars so far in trying to get presents for the children and cover travel costs to see our family, and pay for a dryer repair, that we had emptied the cupboard of food.
We all got in the family van that winter morning and drove toward town to get our check and buy some groceries. It was a beautiful morning in the Ohio countryside. There was a layer of snow in the ground, and bright sun in the sky.
Lois said, “Before we go to town, Leanna wanted us to stop buy. She said she had something for us.” Leanna and Dave were dear Christian friends. They were helping us for a time in our church. Leanna helped us teach our children and they all loved her.
The trip to their quaint home was beautiful, but we didn’t linger because we could almost hear the children’s stomach’s growling. We pulled in the drive and I stayed in the car with Kyle, Holly, Heidi, Charles, Hannah, and baby Daniel listening to Christmas music.
In a few minutes Lois came out laughing with Leanna and laden with a beautiful huge tray of a variety of Christmas cookies and pastries. She said her goodbyes and got in the car. We drove out of sight toward town. Almost before we reached the end of the road each of us had eaten three or four of the cookies and pastries and the plate was empty down to the crumbs.
Leannas treats were sweet and delicious, but not nearly as sweet as the memory of it now when I think of our friends and our God who so sweetly has supplied all we have need for all the children he had given us for all these years and all these Christmases.
Thank you Dave and Leanna. “…we have not forgotten your labor of love…” (1 Thess. 1:3)
Thank you all who have loved and shared so kindly.
Thank you, Jesus. You inspire such beautiful things in your children.
I think it’s gonna’ be a good Christmas this year again. I really do.
December 24, 2009