If I start feeling depressed, it’s a big red flag that I need to crawl up into my heavenly Daddy’s lap and let him talk to me. I needed to hear him in a big way this Saturday morning. “God, I don’t like this feeling of insignificance. I know it’s not from you, but I don’t know what to do about it!” I sat there for the longest time just feeling God wrap his arms around me and then I heard him say to my heart, “Merry, just do the next thing right in front of you that delights you...and then the next thing...and the next thing...and every little thing after that.” I sat there for a bit just rolling that thought around in my head. Finally, I got in the shower because Caleb and I were headed to the city to buy our first Christmas tree. And even though I scorned the spelling of my Christmas name, I LOVED Christmas!
Caleb and I were trying to decide on the perfect shape of our artificial tree when I heard someone shouting my name. I turned and saw Hallie. She was all smiles and her voice was eager as she said, “Merry! I’m so glad I ran into you. Sam and Lynn were just telling me that they’re opening a new coffee shop and they don’t know the first thing about how to get the word out on social media—and I thought of you! Would you be interested in helping them? It pays!” I turned to Caleb and saw a sparkle in his eyes and I thought, “This delights me and it’s the next thing in front of me!” “YES!! I’ll give them a call on my way home. Thank you so much for telling me about it.” We hugged Hallie and hauled our new tree to the check-out counter. Life was looking up!
I began advertising for A Lotta Latte on Monday. We created accounts on every social media outlet and began giving things away as the opening of their coffee shop drew near. Taking a break, I ran over to the church to help Caleb bring down the Christmas decorations from the church attic. After that dusty job, I walked down the long hallway and noticed the sad looking bulletin board which obviously hadn’t been used in years. “This is such a poor representation of who we are,” I thought. And I slowed my step. I could do that! My creative juices began to flow and I ran to the children’s storage room to find some supplies. An hour later, the old bulletin board had been given new Christmas life. It might not matter to anyone else, but I felt like I’d contributed something. And then I began laughing. “Just do the next thing right in front of you that delights you.” This had definitely brought me pleasure.
Caleb’s work in the field was slowing down—the harvest was almost in. So we celebrated that night by putting up our new Christmas tree. We were stringing popcorn (since we had so few decorations) when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. He was silent for a bit and then said, “Man! I can’t think of anything. But I could use some new sock and handkerchiefs!” I fell in the floor laughing. Who used handkerchiefs anymore? I guess farmers who were constantly wiping chaff off their necks and faces.
Socks and handkerchiefs. Bleh! Even though my new A Lotta Latte job didn’t pay much, I knew I’d have enough Christmas money to do better than that! My mind went into full-blown creative mode. I really don’t consider myself artististic—just highly resourceful. A smile began to crack on my face as the idea grew in my mind. “Twelve Days of Christmas! I’ll buy or create twelve gifts and start by giving one now and give the grand finale on Christmas Day!” I sat down and started making a list and created a giving calendar.
That night when Caleb came to dinner, an envelope was laying on his plate with a handwritten note on the front, “On the first Day of Christmas, I gave my true love a date with me.” He looked at me quizzically but grinned as he tore the envelope open. “Tickets to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas program in the city? Wow! You were really listening, babe. I’ve always wanted to do this.” I was so excited! And I knew in that moment that I might change some of my gift ideas to include more special time with my husband.
And something began to shift in me. I was no longer thinking about my adjustment as a new pastor’s wife. I was having FUN! I was focused on my husband and finding gifts which would delight him. And then an extraordinary thought crossed my mind, “Why not do Twelve Days of Christmas with God? I wonder what he’d like for Christmas?” And then I began laughing with God as this thought floated through my mind, “I’d never be able to surprise him—he knows everything!” So I just asked him, “God, would you act surprised every time I give you a gift?” And that made me think of the number of times my own parents had to do that very thing—acting surprised when they’d helped me shop and pay for their own gift from me. “This is going to be fun, God!”