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Look Up. Find Hope.

An ambulance at my neighbor’s house in the middle of the night. Coffee with a friend whose husband had moved out. A relative becoming a widow at the young age of 36. While I’m grateful none of these events actually happened to me, I took them as a warning to slow down and adjust my focus.

I’d been struggling with headaches for weeks.  They were beginning to overshadow everything – work, family, Christmas quickly approaching. During this season of peace, I was feeling far from it. Overwhelmed by what my eyes could see in front of me. Caught up in busy. Caught up in my own little world. And feeling pretty crummy in the midst of it!

Then a series of events occurred.

First it was flashing lights. They lit up my bedroom at 4 am. I was frustrated because sleep was a precious getaway from my headaches. But as I looked out the window, I realized I didn’t even know the neighbor who lived catty corner from me with an ambulance in front of her house. How could that be? I’d seen her mowing her yard. Teenaged kids in the driveway from time to time. I assumed she was a single mom. But I’d never taken the 20 some steps to cross the street and just say hello. I tried to a few days later. When she didn’t answer, I left banana bread and a note hanging in a bag on her front door. Was she ok? Was she alone? I offered a helping hand and let her know I’d be praying.

Next, it was a conversation over coffee with one of my childhood friends. We’d been rescheduling our date for weeks.  I’d noticed pictures on Facebook lately were only her and her two boys, but hadn’t put two and two together. As we sat and sipped, she shared her new reality. She didn’t focus on why but what she’s doing now. And told how she was learning “single” doesn’t mean “alone” and is embracing love from moms in similar situations. While I admired her strength, my heart broke for her. I listened and prayed.

Then it was a phone call. Unfortunately, I recognized the tone in my sister-in-law’s voice immediately. Her extended family had seen much sadness over the past year and a half, and I knew it was more of the same. This time it was about her 36-year-old nephew. He had unexpectedly passed away after being in the hospital for two weeks with pancreatitis. A condition he was expected to recover from, but didn’t. Now his wife was left to raise two young boys on her own.  Thankful for a loving family, but still heartbroken.  When I saw her on that day no wife ever wants to go through, I hugged her and told her I’d pray.

I can easily be tempted to slip into busy, but going through that visitation line. . . listening to heartbreak over coffee. . .hearing the siren in the night. . . reminded me to try and see the good in little things. Enjoy who and what I have in my life while I have them.

Three separate situations, but when pieced together serve as one big warning.  Slow down and enjoy the people and circumstances God has put in my life.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us… So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

No matter what’s tempting you to miss the joy of the Christmas season, God provides a way out.

Lift your eyes above what’s in front of you.

Look up, and see hope.