The song, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now,” has been running through my mind, over and over.

Last week (Dec. 11) I signed a contract to rent an apartment, and learned that the landlord was very happy to think I might stay at least five years, if not longer! And I was happy to discover that the land in front of the entrance to the apartment belongs to the apartment: In other words, I am free to plant flowers or trees, or vines there, as long as it is nice and doesn’t disturb the neighbors. What fun!

The day after signing the contract, I went out to get some much needed errands done. While between stores, I couldn’t shake the thought to visit a store where I had started to buy a set of dishes, only to learn a few pieces in that the pattern was sold out and there were no plans to bring in more. Well, the thought wouldn’t go away, and I went, and lo and behold, I found the missing soup bowls for the set! I went to the checkout, and asked if by any chance they had any more dinner plates. I only needed one more to finish service for six, but wanted an extra, just in case. The clerks actually argued over whether or not to take my request, so certain was one that they were not to be found in the country! The other clerk won out though. She said, it won’t hurt to ask, and she took my name and phone number. And I didn’t here from them. But I was thankful for my soup bowls!

Still, despite so much to be thankful for, I’ve found myself hit with the holiday blues. Missing Rich, the kids, and struggling with a pain in my ankle that won’t go away. A couple of days ago I found myself again counting my alters, and wondering, “Lord, am I really where you want me? Has it really been You leading me all this way, including to marry Rich, or am I just deceiving myself.”

As I prayed, I felt the Lord reassuring me, and yet, in my fear of self, I said, “I just need a sign, something I can look at.” The thought entered my mind, “Lord, give me two plates to finish my set. I know I only need one, but please give me two.” And then I felt stupid asking even that… you know how it goes. Prayed a bit longer, read more in my Bible, and went to sleep.

The next day (yesterday, Dec. 21), I got a phone call at work. It was the store that I had visited. They had received exactly TWO of the plates I needed. Did I still want them?

And I am awestruck again, at what an amazing God I serve. How much He loves me, in the little things and in the big things. Carrying me through the dark times, and giving me visible encouragements to keep me on track!

And as I consider Christmas, I am reminded again, that THIS is the message of Christmas, not just “love” but God’s love poured out on man: God limiting Himself into human flesh for you and me–not to give us a set of dishes–but to restore our relationship with God and bring us forgiveness of sins.

Christmas is meaningless without an empty grave. But with it? What a wonderful reason to again sing with the hymn writer, “If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.”

May you, my friends and readers, have a blessed Christmas, rejoicing in our Savior’s birth, that we might be born again!