“You are the most of every situation.” I laughed when I read the fortune. Indeed I had been “the most” over the past few weeks after finding “Rhonda” (not her real name) slumped over half-dead on the floor from near septicemia. After a 911 call, a late night in the emergency room, neuro-intensive care, another week in the hospital, and an extended rehabilitation for Rhonda, I was feeling rather “equipped.” I knew God was giving me strength; it wasn’t just my adrenaline. I knew God was infusing me with wisdom beyond my feeble senses.
Rhonda’s situation was far from over. Her house had been sorely neglected. The open wound on her foot along with her incessant pain kept her from living life fully. I shouldn’t have been surprised when the rehab called and deemed Rhonda ineligible to return home without 24-hour care but I was. I knew I had to convince her she would have to leave her independent life and the only home she had ever owned to go to assisted living. When I contacted her family in south Alabama, there was no hint of offering to help. It was all up to me.
As if that were not enough, my husband came home from work one day with the shocking news he had the coronavirus. I was forced into quarantine. How would I find an affordable assisted living facility within a few days before Rhonda was to be discharged? Thanksgiving was just days away! How rude and untimely of COVID.
I kept thinking about how Rhonda’s life was being upheaved – my friend for 35+ years. The friend I had shared my job woes, my life’s experiences, my personal highs. The friend I had sat next to in church choir and spent vacations on the beach with laughing and eating crab legs. I leaned upon the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 that the Lord had a plan for Rhonda’s life and it was good. With the incredible help from my precious friend Sharon, we found the perfect assisted living facility in the perfect location with all the right amenities at a special discounted rate.
Soon after, I caught a cold with a slight cough. I chalked it up to all the dust in the Rhonda’s house and no heat. I finally decided to get tested again when I lost my taste and smell. I was positive, but I didn’t want to believe it. Another quarantine.
I told Parky we would keep things simple for Christmas. Decorations stayed in the barn attic; the Christmas tree never got purchased; the wreath never got hung; the Christmas wrapping party was canceled; the 4-piano Christmas program would not be attended; organ responsibilities would have to wait; and Christmas cards sporting the annual Allen letter were not sent.
If ever there were a different Christmas for me, this year takes the prize! Nothing about it is normal. There have been a few others that rival this one like the Christmas when my husband and I decided to stay in Louisiana and not drive back home to Alabama. I worked in a hospital laboratory and didn’t have much time off. It was one of the most miserable and lonely Christmases I can remember. And then there was the Christmas when we were driving back to Louisiana late Christmas night. My husband turned in front of a car that hit us on the gas tank. The car spun around throwing our newly unwrapped Christmas presents all over the highway. Fire ignited from the gas tank. Fortunately, we had just filled the car. Otherwise, the car would have exploded. No one was hurt. Still, it was a sad journey home the next day with our few salvaged gifts excluding my new coat and the handmade bell pull from my mother-in-law.
i am thankful that even though this Christmas has been devoid of glitter, chocolate, and lights, the meaning has not changed. Its purpose remains intact. There is nothing that can change the joy of the Baby Jesus born in a manger those many years ago when angels sang “glory to God in the Highest.” There is nothing to distract from the Son of Man who became flesh and came to earth to save us from our sin. There is no virus that can destroy the healing of souls who are willing to commit and believe in the One and Only. And there is no other birthday for whom I am more delighted to celebrate than that of the Shepherd, the Great I AM, the Sovereign Lord, and Master of Creation. I may not have chosen to shine lights on my shrubs this year, but I will always, always choose to shine the Light of Jesus in my heart. Happy Birthday, Jesus; and Merry Christmas to you, my gracious friends.