Monday, November 16, 2009

Perspective: Christmas and Cancer

How's that for a provocative title? But that's what I've been thinking about this week.

For starters, CANCER. It should be a bad word. It sure is an ugly word. It took Luke's birth mom, Matt's first wife. Among many others, it's tried to take my neighbor, and is currently doing it's best to take a friend, the husband of my dear friend, and father of 2, in College Station.

And now it's here again. A dear family member, Matt's uncle, and one of Luke's very favorite people in the world, found out he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer last week. It looks like it is already in his liver, and we're waiting to hear a prognosis and treatment options now.

So.... I kind of feel like once a family has lost someone to cancer, that should be the quota. We've paid our debt, leave us alone. But it doesn't work that way.

We find ourselves back at the only safe place - the Lord is our only hope. He holds all of life in His hands, and He cares for Uncle Jon, Aunt Terry, and the rest of our family MUCH more than even we do. And He knows Luke's heart, and is well able to comfort any fears or worries Luke has.

I'd love your prayers for our family, for Uncle Jon & Aunt Terry, and for our sweet Luke. We did go ahead and tell him - we thought he is old enough, and we didn't want to hide this from him, when he'd likely have to know soon enough. We also wanted to be able to pray about this with him. He's doing OK so far... He was pretty quiet at first, as we expected, and pretty sad. I can tell he's thinking about it, but he told me he's trying not to think about it until he has to. The only question he's asked is if he can tell his class (I told him he could tell anyone he wants to.)

You're probably wondering what this has to do with Christmas? Well, Uncle Jon & Aunt Terry live in Austin, so we only get to see them a couple of times a year, Christmas being one of them. About 2 weeks ago, my family (who are early shoppers, like I am - or at least like I try to be) started asking for Christmas gift ideas.

I absolutely LOVE Christmas, and I especially love celebrating Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. It's SO important to me that my little turkeys know that Christmas is about what God gave us in Jesus, not what we get, present-wise. It's why we don't do Santa (we have santa decorations, just no pretend), and it's the heart of most of the Christmas activities we do through the month of December. It's why we participate in things like City Impact's Gifts of Love, and Operation Christmas Child, because we want to remember that Christmas is about giving and Jesus, not about what we get (especially considering that we have SO much!)

Christmas lists are pretty complicated for us, since we have basically 5 families who buy gifts for us. I have to come up with ideas and then divvy them out so that we can avoid duplicates as much as possible. Takes a lot of thinking and planning.

So about a week and a half ago, I got my spreadsheets going, and I sent out 4 of the 5 lists. I've let the kids look around in Target and Wal-Mart, and they read the toy catalogs cover to cover for ideas. As hard as I try to make Christmas about people and Jesus, it's early November and I'm leading my family right to the capital of Materialism-land.

I sent those lists out on a Thursday, and the following Monday is when we got the call from Uncle Jon.

There's not very much about Cancer that is a gift. But I've decided to take what I can get - the gift of perspective. In that one phone call, my perspective about Christmas completely changed. What a wake up call. I pray that we have years and years with Uncle Jon. But with this hanging over us, who in the world cares about what we (or the boys) get for Christmas? We're just looking forward to the time with them - it feels so precious.

And isn't all of our time with those we love precious? Because not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. So we will celebrate Jesus, and we will enjoy the heck out of every moment we get with each of our families this Christmas. And in the meantime, I'm saying yes to my boys a lot more - when Luke wants me to read with him, or play a game, when Tobin wants me to do the same 3 puzzles or read the same book for the 18th time a day. Yes. Yes, I will. Because the laundry will always be here. (Help me Lord, the laundry never goes away.) And no one cares if dinner is 15 minutes late. And the floor ALWAYS needs to be vacuumed. Those things will still be here tomorrow, but each moment with our families is a GIFT. Thank You Jesus!

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17