Wow...I have really dropped the ball when it comes to blogging! Even though Christmas break officially began last Friday, I have literally been too busy to sit down and write. And I really don't like to write just for the sake of writing. There have been several times that I've done that, and I'm never happy with the results. My posts usually begin with a "seed"...something that's planted in my mind that often takes time to grow. If I rush it along, it just doesn't turn out well.
Anyway, enough excuses. I'm hopeful that Christmas break will afford me the opportunity to share some of what's been on my heart over the last few weeks.
Tonight, my thoughts are full of families who are preparing to spend their first Christmas without one of their precious children. The second and third (and so on) Christmases are difficult, but nothing compares to the deep grief families experience on that first Christmas without their child. And it seems there has been so much loss this year. As I write this, I see face after face passing through my mind...all children now living in Heaven with Jesus. And their parents are left here trying to learn how to just keep breathing without them.
I'm here by myself tonight...Brad and Bethany are at the deer camp, doing some duck and squirrel hunting for the next couple of days. I love evenings like this, when I have the house to myself. I've got a Christmas candle burning, my iPod in the stereo on shuffle, Lacee piled up next to me sound asleep, and I may even get the fireplace going after while. The living room is lit up by our "JOY" tree...a Christmas tree with nothing on it but JOY ornaments. I love this tree...every ornament on it is special to me for one reason or another.
But I can't help thinking about all of these broken-hearted families...how physically heavy their grief is...all of them wondering if they will ever have JOY again. I know that's how they feel, because I've been there. Christmas of 2008 was filled with pain. Even though Hannah was still here with us, we knew that without a miracle, it would be her last Christmas with us. And we could see her body and mind deteriorating, bit by bit, right in front of us. Christmas of 2009 was equally joyless as we tried to go through the motions of celebrating, but with our hearts so heavy, it was pretty much impossible.
But now, as we approach Christmas 2011, we are gradually finding our JOY again. Not that we don't take steps backwards sometimes, but overall, we find ourselves moving forward. And where does this JOY come from? How can we have JOY when our family still has such a gaping hole in it?
The answer is simple, yet profound. We have JOY because we have HOPE. And isn't that what Christmas is all about really? The Son of God coming to earth as a baby, living as a man, dying as a criminal, and rising again as a Savior ... all to bring us HOPE. HOPE of forgiveness, HOPE of relationship with Him, and HOPE of Heaven when we die. HOPE of being reunited with our children one day. After all, He is the God of HOPE!
"May the God of HOPE fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE." Romans 15:13