Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hard Times Don't Take a Christmas Vacation

Hard times don't take a Christmas vacation. Illnesses, job loss, a budget stretched so far that buying a gift or a special meal makes it snap are all cold realities for many families.

A lady in our church was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I know at least two people battling dark depression. A sweet friend went in for a routine surgery and ended up in ICU. She's home, but her recovery is slow. Another friend's husband is fighting for his life with blood clots in his lungs.

Yet another dear friend's husband just lost his high level position, because the company went bankrupt. My husband and I will close our restaurant this weekend— leaving our family without income.

I know several people who really stretch their money to make ends meet. There's only so much elastic in a dollar bill you know. I've been testing that stretch capacity full-time for nearly ten years now.

Maybe you're like one of us. Perhaps you have another problem. Most likely you know someone who's struggling. Our families will be affected differently by these situations, but it will be a challenging season for all of us.

Sometimes, in our desperation, we give up to despair.
Sometimes, in our desperation, we give in to God and
he takes over. He comes in and saves us... maybe not
from the circumstances...but always from the despair.

Give in and find hope, peace, love, healing, and provision.
God's arm is not too short. Nothing is impossible with God.

Please enjoy this story that I share each year....
Amy Lane Photography 
A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

     I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was. My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re-patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

     The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.
Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer. 

     My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

     I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

     That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

     Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

     I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

     There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.”
There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

     Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

     “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

     We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

     There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

     In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

     At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

     You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

     “Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since. 

     Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

~~~~~




Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem.


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May I suggest?
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28 comments:

  1. Yes, friend...that was beautiful and bought tears to my eyes. Times are tough for a lot of people, including you and me/us. God always provides...that is a promise HE gives.

    Many Holiday Blessings to you sweet friend.

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  2. I enjoy reading that every year. I especially needed it this year. Things are changing for us and a little uncertain. I know that no matter how things turn out that my little family will be fine. Sometimes it is just hard to see the big picture.

    Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

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  3. Laura, (my sister is named Laura for our grandmother) I am so sorry to hear about your restaurant closing. My granddaughter and her boyfriend opened one recently and I know what you might be experiencing there. Your faith is strong, your love for Jesus is real, and He will get you through. I am sorry you have had so many years of struggling and you have certainly tried to provide and do for others at the same time. If you have to let your blog go we understand that also. God bless you and I will be praying that his provision comes through for you and your family. My love and compassion, Helen

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  4. Oh my Laura you got me crying! What a sweet story. Merry Christmas!

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  5. Thank you for the story, I loved reading it. There has also much illness and a couple of friends have recently passes away. This has been a sad few months. I hope for you and your family a fresh and better new year. Merry Christmas. Hugs,

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  6. Dear Laura,

    This is the first time I have read this. It spoke so much to me about hope. Hoping now matter what. I think I feel guilty for hoping in His provision because I know some of the reason we are where we are financially is because of poor choices we make. So, I steer from praying or hoping for provision because I feel it is our foolish mistakes that has led us to be where we are and we are paying the consequences. I loved this and I thank you so much for sharing this.

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    1. Dear Mrs. Chrissy,
      I am reading back through my blog and saw this comment. When we repent, he's quick to forgive. He'll help us even if we've made messes ourselves. Yes, there are consequences, but he will help us through them. I hope things are better for you now. God bless you dearie!

      Sincerely,
      Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

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  7. Thank you for sharing that story, It is beautiful and sad.
    I am so sorry about your husbands restaurant closing. Praying for employment for him.know this is stressful for each of you. Know you will be in my prayers.

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  8. Thank you so much, Judy. You're always so kind. I am strangely calm about it. I think it's a bit of that peace that passeth all understanding.

    Be present in the moment this Christmas and enjoy!

    Sincerely,
    Laura

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  9. Dear Laura ... I am so blessed to have met you. I want you to know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and in my prayers. It seems times are tough for so many. I am so thankful that we live simply and are content with what we have. We try to keep things simple and old fashioned in our little home. I have never heard A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier. It is very heartwarming. It surely makes me even more thankful for what we have. Faith is so important as we face struggles in our life. I pray that you have a blessed evening with your family. Warmest Hugs ♥ Teri

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  10. Dear Laura! I am so sorry to hear that your restaurant is going to close! That made me feel so sad...I can only imagine how it is making you feel. May God, in His infinite mercy and love, reach down and bless you and comfort you during this difficult time. Surely He has something even better for you! Sending you much love and many hugs.

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  11. Hugs, I remember the story from before, so very touching!
    "I will lift up mine eyes..." praying for all and your family esp.

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  12. Hi Annie,
    I'm glad this story has blessed you.
    Have a wonderful Christmas!
    Laura

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  13. Dear Laura,

    I just wanted you to know that I shared this with my mom because my Step father lost his job last week. She loved it and said it encouraged her so much. :) Thanks again for sharing.

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  14. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! I hope things go better for you in the coming year. You will be in my prayers! Merry Christmas!

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  15. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!

    Jennifer

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  16. Thank you Deb. We're blessed to be a blessing!
    Happy Christmas!
    Laura

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  17. Good evening Laura,
    I've read this story before but it is always comforting and inspiring.
    The Oklahoma economy was booming but the low gas prices are really shutting down the oilfield boom.

    Will your family reopen the restaurant in the spring?

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  18. Oh Laura, I am sorry to hear that your are closing your restaurant. I am sending prayers and positive thoughts that the next door will open for you and your family very, very soon. You have shared a lovely story of faith and hope, thank you. :)

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  19. Laura, I'm sorry to hear about your restaurant closing. I know that must make for some worrisome times. I pray and hope that your able to find a great job soon. I'll be praying.

    Have a Merry Christmas
    Vickie

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  20. Yes, hard times hit even at Christmas. I personally know several families right now getting hit hard and I have been praying diligently for awhile now.
    That is such a good story and such a great reminder to all!
    I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas, Laura.
    Hugs to you, Amy

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  21. Hi Amy,
    Happy Christmas to you. I hope yours is peaceful and full of happy memories.
    Laura

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  22. Hi Amy,
    Happy Christmas to you. I hope yours is peaceful and full of happy memories.
    Laura

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  23. Tough times make or break us. You are strong, I know I can tell. :)
    Happy Christmas still. :)

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  24. Thank you, Kim. I trust God will start things moving for us soon. Blessings! Laura

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  25. So true Laura! It's important for us to remember that and keep others in our prayers and do what we can to help! Hope you had a joyous Christmas! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  26. Happy New Year, Angela. I'm so sorry I missed this comment. Do you have a blog?
    Blessings,
    Laura

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Hello! I love it when y'all talk back!

I read all the comments I receive. I answer as many as I can.

Right now, I'm healing from breast cancer surgery on October 20th and dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy. Please understand if I don't answer. This is all new to me.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR PRAYING FOR ME!!!
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Be blessed!
Laura