You know that excitement that starts to build in a child once the tinsel hits the nearest store, or when the first advertisement of the greatest toy shows, or the first hint that Christmas is near? We all know a little about that excitement... well... not ALL of us... but the ones lucky enough to have been born into a privileged lifestyle. (never mind me seeing 2 boys i love dearly planting their garden on Christmas... just another day)
Its so easy for me to have certain expectations of Christmas... even in the middle of Africa. I know what I want it to be like for my kids, how I want the house to smell... the things I want to bake, the gifts I want to give... the anticipated laughter.
But, yesterday was Christmas... and it couldn't have been further from my childhood memories... or my expectations. I found myself spinning in pain, high fevers, and difficulty even staying "present" (no pun intended) So I said "Shane we have to let the kids open presents so I can go to the hospital." Because of course I didn't want to miss the joy on their faces. Half way through, I couldn't do it anymore and a sweet friend, Kristie drove me to the hospital (at 9 am) while Shane tried to make Christmas as wonderful as possible for the kids. (and you were awesome as usual)
After getting there and settled, it was decided that I would be admitted. On Christmas Day. sigh. AFter an amazing show of affection from my friend, I sent her home... after all, who in the world wants to be in a hospital on Christmas?
I laid there drifting in and out of sleep... there wasn't a sound but the creaking ceiling fan. (because of course there is no AC) I started to let my mind wonder "What are the kids doing right now?" "Are they going to be sad I'm not there?" "How is Shane going to cook dinner?" "I wish I was home (like home home... you know where I could dig into some Christmas goodness with my mom, grandmother, aunt, and 2 something like sisters)" and I really wanted to cry. I glanced over and stared at the empty chair near my bed... and this is what happened: HE WHISPERED "IMMANUEL...I AM with YOU." Then I felt like the grinch's heart growing and growing. Christmas isn't found around a table full of food, or a tree full of presents... or all the many other things we want to make it. Christmas is about ONE THING: God becoming our Immanuel.
Because of Christmas, I can be in a hospital half way around the world on the best holiday ever... away from ALL my family... and still have Christmas. Because He is with me. He is with you. He is ours. And what else could I ever want?
So then... I began to cry... not out of sadness, but out of gratefulness that my present came from HIM yesterday... He spoke to me... the most comforting words "I'm with you" and just the right time... and just the right place. So, despite the fact that I type this with an IV remaining in my hand and my fever starting to spike once again... it's ok, because of Immanuel. Oh how HE LOVES ME.