Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Joyful Christmas

Recently at church our pastor preached on joy, the true meaning of it, and how easily it can be for our joy to be stolen by others or life circumstances if we allow it.  When I found out that we were going to be spending Christmas in Shreveport and that Ryan would be working, I was determined to make the best of it, have a good attitude and not let the circumstances steal my joy.  For us the work weekend began on Thursday which is when overnight call started.  No problem- I had all sorts of fun things planned and we were going to have a great holiday as a family of three.

Well Thursday morning I awoke to the sight (and smell) of a little boy who had come down with the stomach virus.  Needless to say the rest of the day was spent doing endless loads of laundry, multiple baths, and not so pleasant encounters with the stomach bug.  By 5:00 I was ready to drop and that’s when I got the phone call.  An emergency surgery had come in and it was going to be a late night. Fast forward a few hours and Ryan was home only to get another page: time to go back to work for the rest of the night.  Can you believe that this repeated itself the following night too??? I started the inner mind chant: have a good attitude, have a good attitude….

Late Saturday morning Ryan finally got home and things seemed to be looking up.  It was cold and raining, but we decided for Christmas Eve lunch to go the nontraditional route and eat some Mexican food at Trejos.  Afterward we decided we would brave the crowds and go hang out at Barnes and Noble.  We had a great time but unfortunately a diaper blow out ended our excursion a little early!

Chips and Salsa...yummy

Reading a story at Barnes and Noble

We came home in high spirits to take a little break before church and drove in to find this: 

Gallons and gallons of water, in our attic pouring through the ceiling.  As much as I was trying not to let my joy get stolen the $$$ signs began racing through my head as I contemplated how we were going to be paying for this and how to get it fixed.  We did the best we could with the roof and jumped in the car to go to church.  2 pages from the hospital into the service Ryan leans over and says that we have to leave because they need him in the ER.  So much for singing Silent Night…  We go on over to the LSU hospital and James and I spend some quality time alone in the cafeteria together. 

Finally home, ate leftovers for Christmas Eve dinner, the baby was in bed, cooking for the next day done, and still contemplating the roof situation.  At that point we hear a big crash.  A little more ceiling had fallen in. Nice. We also noticed that more water was creeping down the sides of the wall as well. More $$$ running through my mind.

Thankfully Lindsey offered her help and found a friend who was willing to come on Christmas day no later than 6 a.m.  to look at the roof. Praise Jesus!  Surely things were going to be a little smoother for the remainder of the weekend.  Santa came and put out the presents, and we went to bed.

1:00 a.m- page for Ryan to go look at a CT scan.  2 hours later we are both still awake. 4:15 a.m- page to come back to the hospital to admit a new patient.  5:15 a.m. – my alarm goes off so I can meet the roof man. 5:30 a.m- James wakes up, and I start hiding the Santa toys so he won’t see them before Ryan gets home.  

Hello Santa
Ryan was able to get home, Santa got the toys back out, and we were able to celebrate together for a little while.  Afterward we really wanted to go help at our church Love Feast which is a huge meal/outreach to the community on Christmas day.  Would you believe less than an hour after we got there Ryan got paged to go to the VA hospital?

Hanging out at the VA hospital

Helping daddy at work
The church Love Feast for the community

At this point I’m at the edge of a major pity-party and I prayed, “God, I’m trying so hard to remember the real meaning of Christmas and be joyful, but this just kind of stinks”.  And then slowly He brings things  into perspective for me.  Other various moments from the weekend are re-lived in my mind.  

Moments like when the lady beside me at church cried after telling me that it was the first Christmas since her mom died.  

This morning when Ryan told me about having to tell the patient that he was called in for that he has cancer…what a thing to find out on Christmas day.  Or the young guy who needed emergency surgery for cancer which was why he was so late the night James was sick.  That guy was younger than us. 

The friend from high-school who hasn’t seen her husband in 9 months while he has been in Afghanistan.  

The hundreds of homeless and low-income families that we were able to celebrate Christmas day with together at our church.  

Priceless, precious moments with my husband and son.

And I am reminded that we are so blessed. 

And then I gently hear God say, “Emily it’s not like the first Christmas was so picture perfect either”.  I’m sure Mary would have loved to have had all of her family celebrating with her and a great dinner after laboring somewhere warm and cozy.  Instead that first Christmas took place in less than ideal circumstances and harsh conditions.  Yet I’m sure that on that blessed first Christmas day Mary and Joesph were overwhelmed with all that the Lord had done for them, as I am on this Christmas day as well.  No we didn’t get to have our normal Christmas traditions, our family wasn’t with us, and things didn’t go as I had planned.  But we still received the peace from knowing that we were exactly where God wanted us to be, the reminders of His many blessings in our lives, and joy from the most perfect gift of all: Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!!!


  1. I love your positive outlook, it is a reminder for me to remember not to have a pity party for myself sometimes too! I am sorry that your holiday was not picture perfect, but I am so glad you got to spend it with your boys. Merry Christmas!

  2. Emily, This is a beautiful post with a great message for all of us! I remember those early days when I was learning how to spend Christmas in NC, and I was the one working on Christmas. And when the kids all got the stomach virus and Tommy was in the mountains working. And I am still learning that life changes and no matter what God is always with us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am amazed at all the things you did over this chaotic weekend. Safe travels and happy holidays.

  3. You are so beautiful, my friend. Thank you for the wonderful reminder of how amazing our sweet Savior is. I love you!!!

  4. Great perspective! I would have just sat around and cried through all of that. WAY TO GO EMILY! I love all of the sweet things that the LORD reminded you of...

    Did Jeff show up?