December 05, 2014

Family, Friends, and the Spirit of Christmas

My last post I talked about how we have all we need - family, friends, and the spirit of Christmas.  In my patriarchal blessing it talks about receiving great blessings by coming to recognize those blessings.  It was always a confusing sentence to me.  But I have seen it happen recently. As I have contemplated the blessings of family and friends and the meaning of the season I have received such blessings, and I am recognizing just how much a blessing it is to have amazing family and friends around me.  My heart is warm with a testimony of how much my savior loves each of us and what a gift He is to all of us not just at Christmas, but always.

When I was a kid, we hit a rough patch and we had a neighbor give us milk from his dairy for a while.  I don't remember how long it was, but until we were back on our feet.  I don't remember thinking much of it as a child, I was just happy to go pick up milk, fascinated at the whole milking process, and enjoying fresh whole milk on my cereal and in my glass.  Now as an adult, I have a whole new perspective on what that must have taken for my parents to accept that gift, knowing that they may never be able to pay that neighbor back.  Through the years we as a family have tried to pay it forward to those in need at any time of the year, but especially through the holidays.  I have always felt special blessings come from being able to serve and help others and have pleaded with people to accept service not just for themselves, but for the people who serve, that they can receive those blessings that come from helping others.

Now, I find myself on the receiving end.  I find myself wanting to say, No No, we are okay, we (I) can handle it.  A lot of times I do and we muddle through somehow or people step in an bless us anyway.  This week I needed to run an errand that I knew was going to be a hassle with a toddler and a baby, but I felt like I had already accepted so much help that I didn't want to burden anyone by asking them to take care of my kids while I went and ran the errand.  But even then, I ended up taken care of.  When I got where I was going, a friend was there and kindly offered to watch my kids while I got what I needed to done.  It made what would have been a very frustrating trip into an enjoyable one.

I have a neighbor a couple houses down who has been taking my boys to school in the morning with hers so that I don't have to pack up the girls early in the morning to get out of the house.  I don't know that I can ever repay her for how kind that is of her.  It is a blessing I think of every morning when I don't have to wake up two little girls before they are ready.

A couple weeks ago, my kids were sick with the flu and then I got sick too.  My visiting teacher texted to ask how I was doing and when I replied we were all sick, she was at my house within ten minutes with a ton of supplies from soda and crackers, to Clorox wipes, to chicken noodle soup.  She stayed with my kids while I picked up my oldest from school so I didn't have to pack everyone up, and then she got dinner warming and stayed until my husband got home to take over.  All of this with two kids of her own at home who each have special needs and them just having gotten over the flu themselves.  She deserves sainthood for all she does.  She also let me bake my rolls at her house the day our oven broke down so they wouldn't go to waste.  Amazing woman!

And now with Christmas time we have had people ask how they can help us and my heart is so full of gratitude. With Adam losing his job and now working out of town, our finances got unexpectedly tight rather quickly at the worst time of the year for that to happen. While I wanted to say 'No no, we are alright, we can handle it', I knew that I needed to let our loved ones help us, and pray that they receive all the blessings they can handle in return with my gratitude. I don't feel particularly worthy to receive such love and blessings, but I will do my best to pay it forward with my family, just as my parents taught us to do years ago. 

So many things in the last four months since Adam started working out of town could have been so difficult.  With four kids, just running errands can take up all my patience for a day.  But we have been blessed time and time again and I am recognizing just how blessed we are every day when people have stepped in to make my life a little easier, to make what was very daunting become doable.  I could not be a single parent during the week without all the support I have gotten from those around me.

And the Lord has smoothed the way for us in other ways as well.  When the water started backing up through our drains, we worried it was our main line and was going to be not only a hassle, but really expensive to fix.  Thankfully it was easily fixable and while not cheap, we were able to take care of it.  And both that and our oven break down happened on a weekend when Adam was home and I didn't have to deal with it on my own.  Not only that, but it happened on a weekend when ovens were deeply discounted for Black Friday, so if it had to break down, it was the best weekend for it to happen.

I have always told people when they hesitate to accept service that everyone goes through hard times.  Life is a roller coaster and we all have our dips.  I have had dips before and will have dips again.  When I help others, I am only paying forward what someone has already done for me.  I hope to be able to teach my children that service goes both ways, both giving and receiving.  When we are able to serve, we jump in and do it with all our hearts, in whatever way we can.  Hopefully soon, we will be in a position to be able to do more.

Our bank account may not be at its best, but our cup of blessings is spilling over.  Thank you to all who have touched our lives for good in one way or another.  We thank you with our hearts and will thank you with our deeds to the next person in need.