Saturday, March 17, 2018

HONORABLE MENTION: All We Have To Do by Kristine Lowder

Place-HMBills were piled high. The cash my husband and I had squirreled away for Christmas went toward emergency car repairs, a trip to the E.R., and replacing a dead fridge. December 25 loomed on the calendar like a dreaded neon sign. Full to the brim with frustration and fretting, there was little room in my wintry heart for Jesus.

My internal frost came to a head a few days before Christmas. My family of six was down to a quart of milk and a few slices of bread.  When our four little boys inquired what we were going to eat, my reply was as thin as my wallet: “I don’t know.”

We turned to Matthew 6:25-34. After reading the Scriptures, six year-old Daniel responded, “Let’s ask God for our breakfast!” He proceeded to ask for corn flakes and grape jelly. Four year-old Nathan added, “And candy, too, please God!” Taking a cue from my boys, I half-heartedly asked the One who “loves the little children” to do for my boys at Christmas what husband Chris and I couldn’t.

And the One who parted the Red Sea began to arrange dry land.

A large box arrived on December 20 from Texas friends with pharmaceutical supplies, diapers, vitamins, soothing lotions and fragrant bath oils. A local church invited us to shop at its Christmas store for brand new, off-the-rack clothes – at 85% off retail prices.  Chris’s colleagues delivered minor Matterhorns of Christmas candy and treats. A local community council we’d never heard of showed up on our door step with a huge box of food and goodies, as well as a Rhode Island-sized sack of toys.

Moseying my southern California alma mater on December 22, we parked at a spot on campus near one of the dorms. Daniel spotted a dumpster housing what looked like a discarded Christmas tree. It was a seven foot Douglas fir. Still green, fresh, and fragrant. We asked for and received permission to haul it home, where the boys delightedly decorated the biggest live tree we ever had.

The next day volunteers from another charity appeared at our door. Decked out in jingle bells and red Santa hats, their cheery “Merry Christmases” thawed our frigid porch where they dropped off two boxes. An enormous turkey peeked out of one box. Trimmings and a pumpkin pie peered out of another. The volunteers brought toys by later. And not the tattered, discarded cast-offs that no one else would want. The items were brand new, dressed in their original wrappings. (To this day, I have no idea who or how they heard about our needs. We didn’t tell a soul.)

Banishing the yuletide gloom, gifts poured in like a tsunami of amazing grace. Surprise boxes, letters, parcels and packages from a dear Ohio uncle. Longtime friends in San Jose, CA. A homeschooling family in New York we’d never met. Missionary friends in Kenya. Every box, parcel and letter an unexpected present. A divine surprise.

But Outrageous Grace wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.

“Merry Christmas!” began the letter that arrived via certified mail on December 23. “KKLA Radio-99.5FM received a very heartfelt letter from a friend of yours. They wanted to so something special for you and your family this Christmas season… enclosed is $250 in gift certificates good at any Target department store for you to use as you wish…”

I nearly fainted. Again. I lifted tear-streaked eyes heavenward and whispered, “Enough, Lord Jesus. Enough.”

But the Great Gift Giver wasn’t out of room yet. The day after Daniel asked God for breakfast, a church friend stood on our porch with five bags of groceries. I’ll never forget Daniel’s delight as he pulled out a box of corn flakes followed by a jar of grape jelly. Nathan hugged a package of Werther’s candies and said matter-of-factly, “Here are my candies from God!”

Several Decembers have come and gone. None have been as remarkable as that needy, hungry Christmas when I learned that “preparing Him room” means opening my heart to His. Taking down the “No Vacancy” sign. Being empty in order to become full. And that the Lord of Christmas is more than a match for my sin-soaked self. In fact, He delights in cleansing and filling every heart and home with His amazing grace, all year long. All we have to do is ask.



LowderA native San Diegan transplanted to the soggy Northwest, Kristine Lowder is a multi-published author and a graduate of Biola University. She and her husband, Chris, enjoy hiking and exploring the Cascades with their four boys. The Lowders never cease to be amazed by grace.

 She blogs at: Roads Diverged. Find her on Facebook at Kristine Lowder, Writer. Twitter at: Road Diverged.


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