In thinking about the challenges facing my family this year. I came across a blog I wrote during a season of struggle in Christmas 2005.

My husband had no income and we were forced to sell our home in Puyallup, WA. We couldn’t afford Christmas gifts and our toddlers knew that they wouldn’t be receiving anything from us. Without no Christmas shopping, baking or decorating on my to-do list I discovered a tremendous amount of peace and a lot less stress! It was quite refreshing and I learned some lessons.

The twist to this story is that a dear friend of mine found out this was happening and she decided to collect gifts from our MOPS group. I was given a love basket filled with gift cards, checks, tickets to Zoo Lights and much more. We were able to buy gifts for our children and even more importantly buy groceries because money was very tight. Just thinking of this beautiful expression of love brings tears to my eyes. I cried so hard when I received this gift. God did an amazing work through my friend and my MOPS group. He taught me three main things;

  1. How to humbly receive gifts,
  2. To trust in God no matter the circumstance, and
  3. To never forget Christ’s loving provision. God is such a faithful God and I am very thankful for the lessons He taught me.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of the season. Sadly enough, a large part of the stress is self-induced. We spend countless hours searching for that “perfect” gift, instead of spending more quality time with our children and families making memories.

It is important to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

I am so thankful that Jesus was born and that He came to bring us the gift of life filled with joy, peace, hope and purpose! My experience all those years ago gave me a renewed perspective of what the Christmas season is all about.

Now the irony of my story from 2005 is that this Christmas I find my family in another season of struggle. In 2011 when my husband was laid off, I thought to myself, “Here we go again, Lord please help me trust in You, no matter the cost!”

People often ask me, “how do you have so much joy amidst your struggles?”

Well, because now you know this is not the first time I have been in this difficult place and I have experienced God’s great blessings as He provided for my family! My faith was strengthened and I saw great things happen. At the end of our trial in 2006, my husband and I went on to plant a church, start a MOPS group in a new city, and make life-long friends… God was FAITHFUL!

So here I am again, in the past 13 months, I have been blown away by the love of our church family in San Diego. I have experienced tremendous blessing from the ladies in my bible study… yet it hasn’t been easy.  There are many days when I get discouraged and wonder why God hasn’t provided a full-time job for my husband with insurance for our children. But then I am reminded of what we experienced in the past and it gives me hope for the future!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  • How will you give a gift that makes a difference this Christmas season?
  • Will you lean on God and trust Him to get you through a difficult time?
  • In what way will you share the love of Jesus Christ?

Suzanne has been married to Joe (J.R.) since 1996. She is the mother of three spectacular boys. Suzanne is actively involved in her church by mentoring young women and moms.

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