Field Notes From A Prayer Warrior

defiant: full of or showing a disposition to challenge or fight; boldly resisting

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

–Matthew 11:28

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

–Romans 15:13

November, 2015.

Every Christmas is different, and that year’s was going to be…a very “different different.”

My father had passed away that September after a long battle with cancer, the last two months in a hospital bed, our family sitting, day by day, helplessly, by his side. It would be our first Christmas without him.

On top of that, I (and two duffel bags) had recently fled my marital home of 25 years. The first session of mediation had taken place…the beginning of the end.

I was weary and burdened…

Broken.

Perched on a borrowed chair in a generic apartment in an unfamiliar town, I was having an inner debate…

To “tree” or not to “tree,” that is the question…

“Why even have a tree this year? What do I have to celebrate? And I’m not even going to be here, I’m flying back to North Dakota…”

A voice I hadn’t heard in a while, small but defiant, cut in…

“Oh, girl, NO. Uh uh. You are getting a tree. You are not honoring your father or what you’ve had to endure to get here…by shrinking. Get that coat on. Out, out, out! Don’t come back without one!”

And there it was, on a shelf in the big box store, boasting “a footprint designed for apartments and smaller dwellings!”

Once up, I stood back. Clearance for a tree topper…all lights working…

UNH!

I had no tree topper!

I. had. no. ornaments!

What was I THINKING?!

*hand smack to forehead*

God patted my back. “One step at a time…it’s okay.”

Snapping up my phone, I tapped out a “distress text” to Team Shelbo…

“Hey, everyone! I find myself with a Christmas tree and no ornaments…if you have any extras, or unwanted ones, seriously, the uglier the better…anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated! I love you all!! Thank you!!!”

And what happened next was the stuff of sappy Christmas movies…in the following week, envelopes and packages started arriving from all over the country…some hilarious “white elephant” offerings, but many (a glitter-encrusted Eiffel Tower, a hockey player, handmade crosses) clearly chosen for me…

And before I knew it, that little tree was full…

And so was my heart.

I sank to the floor, giving my thanks and praise for this outpouring of love and support from family and friends, from Him, in my season of sorrow and loss…

A star in the dark of night.

He tapped me on the shoulder and pointed…

“Hey! What’s that under the tree?”

“Woah! A present!! A BIG one!! Um, for ME?”

God smiled and handed it over…

Carefully, reverently, I uncovered it…

LIFE!!! Awesome, Lord, awesome!!!” I jumped up and down. “THANK YOU!”

Then I ran into His arms and gave Him a huge hug…”Thank you!! *sqeeeeeeze* Thank you sooo much for this gift of life!!”

He laughed and spun me around…

There was another present under the tree! This one was even bigger, all done up in shiny gold wrapping, glowing with its own inner light…

“But, Lord, You’ve already…really…I couldn’t…”

He grinned even wider…

“Shelbo, these are meant to be together…and, well, it’s Christmas.”

He held it out…

I accepted it…

Then tore it open with a mixture of excitement…and awe…and…

I was speechless.

It was the precious gift of Jesus.

He nudged me. “Read the card!”

I plucked it out…

John 3:16–For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

My Lord has given me life…and eternal life.

In every home, every Christmas, there they are, on top of the pile…

With tags that read…

“To:__________,

Love: God.”

Miraculous gifts to be gratefully received…and generously shared…

This Christmas and all the year.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

We can live a life overflowing with hope…

With peace…

With joy.

Defiant joy.

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