Women ponder. Women store those images of special moments in their hearts. Take Mary, the mother of Jesus—how silently she tucked away for all time what God was doing through her son. Not that men don’t too; it’s just that women seem created to do that. Nothing makes us ladies happier than making an art form of memory keeping, whether it is beautifully decorated scrapbooks or written journals.
The other evening at a ladies’ Christmas ‘do’ at the church we talked about Christmas memories. This year I'm pondering things too. But I’ve always been a forward thinker, and I found myself thinking—like Mary—about what God is doing in my life. Perhaps it’s because a lot of my early Christmas memories weren’t all that great that I prefer to think ahead. It was lonely growing up as an immigrant in a new land—grandparents and most of our aunties and uncles were back in the old country.
Although our few Canadian relatives made up for a lot of what was missing. For past happy memories in Canada, I’ll never forget the feel of my great-aunt Myrtle’s fur collar on her coat when she entered our house from the cold outside. As a child I’d reach up to hug her and kiss her and feel the cold soft fur of that collar against my cheek.
Nor will I ever forget my great-aunt Wilma’s soft round form and gentle face with her gray hair rolled up in a style from the 1940’s. She’d bustled around her home baking, cooking, and creating the warmest and most inviting of homes for relatives and anyone she thought was lonely. I learned about Christ from my aunt Wilma.
My mum did so much with a few dollars. She created magical Christmas’s for us kids on a shoestring. The most surprising feat of all—hiding the worst of my father’s drinking from us, although she couldn’t hide it completely. These are the memories of Christmases past that I keep and ponder. But it wasn’t just my mum that kept me from dwelling on what my childhood Christmas’s lacked. From an early age I learned about Christ—that’s when the forward pondering began. It began with the simple wonderment as a child of what the baby born in a manger was all about. As I matured and learned the reason for Jesus coming to this world as a small human being, I began to wonder each Christmas—what is God going to do in our lives this coming year? That’s why this year as I go about the usual happy gatherings at church and with family I’m not just thinking about Christmas.
As I sat beside the ladies at church last Thursday night at the Christmas tea, stuffing my face with cream puffs and fruit-filled tarts, I was struck with awe over a box of 500 white envelopes at home. Two or three packages of thank you cards sitting on my desk created a stir of excitement more than any expensive gift anyone could give me.
What was even more astonishing was that these items were given to me as a gift back in November. The box of envelopes came from my two young nieces. Their mum works for a large stationary company, and this particular box had been damaged. The envelopes were fine, but for some reason the stores couldn’t use it. These 500 envelopes were destined for the garbage. My nieces brought the box out to me, with the question in their eyes—Could I use them?
At the time I couldn’t imagine how I’d ever use 500 envelopes. Around the same time another friend who had a relative work for a different stationary story had other items also bound for the garbage. That day I received—among other things—two packages of Thank You cards.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I discovered God was sending me as a part-time missionary to India. Then I understood the need for those envelopes and cards. My prayer and support letters which couldn’t be sent out via email needed envelopes. As the Lord moves on people’s hearts to pray for this mission’s trip and support me financially, I find myself in need of those thank you cards.
How marvelous that God had put those small things in place even before I knew I would need them. But that’s what pondering is all about. We don’t always recognize God’s provision until later. Then with hindsight, we can see that He was taking care of us all along. Providing what we need.
Looking back, I see God’s hand in my childhood memories—in those who were around to love me and make my Christmas’s special. I thank Him for those people. Most of all I thank Him for sending His son in human form to be my saviour, Jesus.
And this year—with a secretive little smile—I thank the Lord for 500 envelopes and stashes of thank you cards.