I have officially achieved my goal for the day and it's only 11:30 in the morning! I've waited all year to tap the LAZY button on my calendar and today is the day.
I'm sitting in the recliner, favorite lap quilt, cup of tea, Christmas music playing. Gracie flanks me on the right, tucked as tightly as a little Shih Tzu possibly can. Bella has flopped down to warm my feet; occasionally rolling over for a belly scratch. Vegetable soup is ready to warm up; the washer and dryer are humming in harmony.
I AM EXPERIENCING - LAZINESS! And it is indeed delicious!
While Christmas plans were being made, we knew that a visit to Mom and Dad Hawley was a non-negotiable. But I just didn't have one more road trip in me this year. So Frank flew.
And although I hate not having time with my dear family in NC and although all our children are traveling or working and although I'm rarely alone like this.......I'm doing just fine.
A dear friend of ours once said he didn't feel like he was truly on vacation until he hit the point were he was bored. Well Bill, I'm not bored but I do feel wonderfully lazy!
I had promised you another Christmas Miracle story from the Hawley Archives. Because so many of you are experiencing snow storms right now, this one seemed most appropriate -
Christmas Kiss from Heaven
In June of 1993, we left Asheville, NC (our home of twelve years) and moved to Brunswick County to pioneer a church. The fledgling congregation of twelve people had contacted our state office and asked that someone be sent to oversee the work.
It took a lot of courage and a definite call to uproot our family and move to that rural community on the coast. When friends would ask where Ocean Isle Beach was we responded truthfully, "Go to the edge of the earth and take a left!"
We left behind the team we'd been part of for nine years. All three girls had been born in Asheville. We loved the city, the people, the mountains, the weather, the events, the church family!
So why move? Because we sensed God's quiet whisper that the next chapter of our life story was to be written six hours away from what had become our safety net.
So we moved.
We included the girls in our plans from the earliest possible moment. (Kristin, who was only ten, actually knew first and kept it a secret for a month! Not many adults can claim that level of confidence keeping.)
Our senior pastor supported the move. He facilitated lavish encouragement given by the congregation we'd served for nine years. After parties and dinners and play-dates and a massive reception, we tearfully bade farewell.
(The greatest comfort afforded us was the incredible act of courage displayed by two dear friends. The Sheppards quit their jobs and moved with us to help launch this pioneer effort! A year later they moved on to Nashville, TN. But those twelve months kept us on course! Without their help, the church probably wouldn't have made it. I know I wouldn't have!)
The girls worked hard at adapting. They too left behind friends, a great school, a church that offered the very BEST in children's ministry. People that had known and loved them since they were first born. We were thankful that they had one another!
Frank went to work growing a congregation; I went to work trying to learn how to home school. We all had to work at being okay with the barest of necessities!
There was no guaranteed salary with this pioneer work. Church bills came first, of course. Then a stipend for the pastor if anything was left over.
Don't you have parts of your life where you look back and think, "HOW in the world did we make it?!"
Yep, us too!
But with God's grace, many unexpected offerings in the mail and a great knowledge of how to prepare tuna, we kept afloat.
As that first Christmas rolled around, we found ourselves lonely and discouraged. The church had only grown to about sixty people. We felt very isolated. We knew the parties and plays and festivities we were missing in Asheville. And mostly, it was just too warm at the beach for Christmas.
Meagan was only five and worried aloud about how it would ever snow in this place. "Well, Sweetheart, it doesn't snow here. Remember, we talked about that before we moved? But we get to enjoy the beach any time we want."
"Mama!" Her little girl voice held the sound of a reprimand. "The beach is where you take a vacation. It isn't where you LIVE!" (Meagan has never had trouble expressing her mind!)
"Well, Baby, it's where we live now." I couldn't come up with anything more eloquent that the plain 'ol facts.
December 25th rapidly approached and our hearts grew heavier with each passing day. Resources were so limited! The girls would have had almost NO Christmas that year if it hadn't been for a wonderful group of ladies in New Bern, NC.
Those church ladies "adopted" our precious girls and sent two boxes loaded with school supplies and treats. Frank and I quickly wrapped each item and placed them all under the tree. Such an answer to prayer!
Our Christmas would take place about three days early as we were traveling to my parents' home that year. So on the appointed evening, we marked Christmas Eve with all our regular traditions. Each girl opened one preselected gift, we sang, we told stories, we watched a Christmas movie, then put our angels to bed.
Frank and I stepped out on to the porch for a minute. The overcast skies foretold that our Christmas morning would probably be a rainy one.
"Well, great!" I thought. "Now they won't even be able to enjoy being outside tomorrow! No snow, no friends, no play time! Just rain! Lord, do you remember that YOU sent us here?!"
I didn't really expect a response.
Three tousled heads peeked into our room very early the next morning. "Merry Christmas!!!" The drizzling outside didn't dampen their spirits. There were presents to unwrap and they were ready to get to it!
The rain did bring in some colder air, at least, making a fire in the fireplace possible. Everyone got quiet while Frank read the Christmas Story from Luke 2 one more time. We thanked the Lord for the gift of His Son, for our fireplace, for the gifts the women's group had sent and for the great cinnamon buns we had waiting. (Children are thankful for all sorts of things.)
And that's when it happened.
"LOOK!!" Frank startled me with his loud command. "Girls, look outside! Quick! Everybody grab a jacket!! Hurry, it won't last long!!"
Instead of the rain, huge white flakes were pouring down in our front yard! We all rushed outside with our mouths hanging open in surprise. The girls squealing with delight! Our dog jumping and barking!
It was snowing at the beach!
The ground soon looked like powdered sugar. And the flakes were big enough to be caught on little tongues of excited little girls.
Now it really felt like Christmas!
We hustled back in to the living room to open the packages under the tree. More squealing and laughter! We drank apple cider and ate cinnamon buns. And just as our festivities concluded, the snow stopped.
Someone immediately said, "Look how much God loves us! He sent snow to the beach just for us! Just for our Christmas!"
I couldn't testify to that in a court of law. But the facts are as follows:
- My babies were really missing their mountain home that Christmas.
- It really did snow at the beach on the morning we were celebrating.
- It really didn't snow another time during our six years in Ocean Isle.
- God really does love all His children just that much.