December of last year, 2012, looked like it was shaping up to be one of the best for our family in many years. After facing many tragedies that left our Christmas spirit fading, things were seemingly falling into place.
The house was decorated, we were beginning our 25 days ’til Christmas advent box, and picking out presents for our children. We were just so thankful for a year where we were going to have a “normal” Christmas.
But God had other plans.
On the morning of December 10th, my husband, Josh woke up to a huge pressure sore (side effects of quadriplegia). His nurse called me into our bedroom and after taking a peek, I knew this was not your average pressure sore.
We headed straight for the emergency room, afraid of what we were going to hear: bed rest, wound vacuums (a horrible contraption that seals around a pressure sore, runs on a battery making a disgusting sucking noise, and stores infectious fluids), antibiotics and many appointments to many doctors but ultimately- sent home.
I was wrong.
We were informed that Josh would be admitted that day and that we had a long road ahead of us.
The doctor sat next to Josh’s bed and explained the healing process, the numerous surgeries that would need to be performed, the mega amounts of antibiotics he would need to take intravenously, and very calmly said we were looking at approximately 3 months before Josh would be ready to come back home.
I believe I dropped an expletive.
I sat there in shock and flabbergasted. My only thought was, “There is no way I am going to be spending our holidays in a hospital.”
I had absolutely no desire to sit by my husband’s bedside, helping him, when our kids wanted us all home for Christmas.
Sometimes reality is ugly, but Jesus never is.
After surviving the death of a daughter, Josh’s accident, and infidelity in our marriage, Josh and I were still choosing to be together. God had blessed us through our ugly past and I knew He could (and would) bless this Christmas ~ I only needed to let Him.
When I stepped back, I had an opportunity to watch God work. People came around us and helped us financially, with child care and prayer. They prayed for Josh’s healing, for our hearts, and for our kids.
The holiday season was not the same. The stress seemed almost insurmountable at times, the heaviness I felt in my chest and heart was overwhelming, yet God was with us.
As difficult as it was to not wake up with our kids on Christmas morning, because I chose to stay with Josh at the hospital, it is one I will never forget.
Josh and I waited anxiously for our kids to arrive so we could celebrate together. We even drew a picture of a fireplace in the hospital room window because our youngest son was afraid Santa wouldn’t know where to leave the gifts!
When the kids arrived, we opened presents, quietly read the Christmas story then raucously watched Home Alone. Then the kids got antsy. Antsy children and a hospital floor do not go well together, so their grandparents took them home; we had to stay at the hospital.
It was then that I held Josh as he cried; cried that he couldn’t be home with his kids on the most meaningful day of the year or that he couldn’t be the dad he always imagined himself to be. Then Josh held me as I cried, worried that our children would always have terrible memories of this Christmas and that I wasn’t being the mom they needed right then.
Then came quiet grace and a gentle reminder that HE is my peace, my shalom, my quiet place even when the world around me continues to be chaotic. HE is my “go’el”, my Rescuer, the one who has saved me, rescued me from this pit of despair.
So this year I will remember and be consciously thankful for a time of normal. I will not take it for granted. I will be thankful for waking up together as a family of 5 on Christmas morning; to smiling faces, shouts of excitement, too much wrapping paper to pick up, too many toys to step on, time to just be together and ultimately remember the reason we celebrate…
This little Babe who was born in a manger, who came to save me, to save you, so that we may all live with Him someday.