Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I realize how tough this time of year can be for some.
I remember the times Christmas was so very hard for me; when I didn't want to celebrate, when I just wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there.

It was Christmas in 1973. My mom had died unexpectedly two months before. 
"How do we do Christmas without mom?"
"What do we even do?"

It wasn't very fun. Who cared about the tree? The decorations?
But it was to be the last Christmas we would celebrate in the home we grew up in. So we did it. My sister and her family came from Mexico. My older brother came from Oregon. My younger brother and I were home.
We bought the tree. We decorated it. And we did it just to "do it" the one last time.
Vividly, I remember saying I would cook the turkey. I was sure I remember how my parents did it. In a greased bag at a high temp for an hour and then a lower temp for another hour and a half. We all thought that was how it was done.

We had a pink turkey. It wasn't cooked all the way through. I cried again.

My grandmother was there. She had lost her only child. She wanted to be with us. We tried to make it special for her. I'm sure we failed there too. I remember flying to Los Angeles to take my grandmother home. She got sick and I had to call 911. I remember kneeling on the floor of her living room in her small apartment begging God not to take her. I couldn't handle another loss. Thankfully, He didn't.
But it was in the words of Alexander, a "no good, terrible, awful Christmas".

The other Christmas that was very hard happened in the mid 80's. I was a NICU nurse and was taking care of a sweet sweet baby named David who had Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type II. It is a brittle bone disease and he was born with over 200 fractures over his tiny little body. David was never expected to live through his delivery, but he did.
David lived for ten days. I was his primary care nurse and I did everything I could to make him comfortable and help his parents endure this tragedy. David died on Christmas Eve. It was a very emotional day for me. I had three healthy children and this couple had just lost their son. I had to "rally" for my kids sake, but my sorrow was immense that year.

I have several friends that will spend their first Christmas without their loved one. It will be hard. It will be different. It will be sad.
The second Christmas for me without my mom was harder than the first because I realized how immense the loss was: I never again would have Christmas with her. So already I am praying for my best friend and her family as they will have another Christmas without their son and brother.

The good thing is: we have our memories and they can be such gifts; such blessings.
I still make every year the brownies my mom made at Christmas and gave away. Those were the brownies we always left for Santa. Those brownies were my grandmother's recipe, and I very rarely give that recipe away. It's one of the few things I have left of my mom and Honey (my gram) that no one can take away.

IF this Christmas is one you are dreading, please try and remember the blessings and the gifts you have been given.
It is a gift to mourn the loss of someone you will miss, that person was a treasured gift of love, and how blessed are we to have known and received love.
Remember the person with fondness.
How they made you laugh.
The silly, quirky things they did.
The things that drove you crazy.
The fun times you had in different places.
The sweet moments that you treasure.
The words you remember spoken to you.

BE THANKFUL for how your life was enriched by that person.
How your life won't be the same again, and you don't have to try and make it be, but the ONE THING NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM YOU IS YOUR MEMORIES of your dear loved one.

In the midst of the sadness, your grief, realize that you are not alone.
There is someone who understands.
Someone too, who lost a dearly loved son.
Someone who understands your grief and cries with you.
Someone who will be there in the darkest, scariest moments you endure.
Someone who longs to cradle you and whisper to you:

" I know. I understand. I love you. I am here with you."

This is the GOD who made you, who created you, who loves you. Who blessed your life be giving you people to love, to share your grief and joys.
GOD cries with you. He knows and feels your loss.

Try each day to find one or two or even five things to be thankful for. Gifts you have been given. Blessings you have experienced.

This won't make the holidays easier.
But it might make you more aware that there are things we take so often for granted, that are meant to bless us.
Sometimes, for me at least, it is good to have something else to do besides cry.

May you find the HOPE that Christmas really is.

Friday, December 12, 2014


The Christmas Season.
That sentence alone can either send us into a state of giddiness or into the abyss of despondency.

How can something so celebrated by some be to others, something they want to avoid altogether?
When life is good, when we are coasting along and everything seems right, Christmas is anticipated with glee and gaiety.
When life seems awful, when you are despairing, Christmas is the time when you wish everyone would quit being so happy.

This Christmas, can we try and remember that there are those we love, who are dreading this season? There are those we don't know who wish more than anything they could celebrate right now, but due to circumstances, they are in a place of despair. There are some who have no idea what Christmas is all about, who if they did know,  might again be able to hope. 

HOPE that life could get better.
That life could be lived without fear. 
Without thinking they could be beaten and killed because of the color of their skin. 
That all of us could see we are family; we might look different from each other, we might believe different things, but we all are brothers and sisters in the human race.

This Christmas season,  called Advent, by Christians everywhere, is a season of waiting. Waiting for the birth of the baby who would forever change the world. Waiting with expectation and urgency, for God above,  to make everything right again. It is the time to focus on where we are and where we desire to be.  Not in the physical mindset, or the place where are dreams might be, but where we want to be in relationship with a GOD who desperately woos us. One who wants the very best for us. One who longs for us to know Him and understand the significance of sending His Son to earth to navigate the way for us to return.

To return to the ONE who has given us life. Who has given us the very breath we each are taking this very minute. The ONE who gave us a heartbeat to align with how His heart beats for us.

To return to where we were meant to be.

To the place where we have always wanted to be.
The place of contentment. The place that we know is our home, the real home, the one we long for.
The place where we feel safe.
Even when we are deeply grieving the loss of a loved one who we miss dearly.
Or when certain dreams of ours have been shattered.
Or when we have been wronged and hurt and need to be loved and nurtured.
To return to the place where we should have been all along.

In this season of hurrying to get everything done, checking off our lists, baking our goods, going to parties, worrying about how our families will interact, can we return to the place where we know is the right place to be?

To the place GOD always intended for us to be.
In a relationship with Him. So that in the great moments of our life, we know His blessings, and in the most horrific moments of our lives, we can experience His presence and His Peace.

None of us were ever meant to live life independently.

Why do we think we can?
And then when things go wrong, we blame God.
Why God? Because we think if He really loved and cared for us, none of the bad things would happen. So when they do we blame Him.
But it is not His fault. It is our own. We were meant to live with GOD, not trying to be our own god.

That is the reason Jesus Christ came to earth.
read an abridged version her of the true meaning of Christmas. 

Everything about the real meaning of Christmas points to Our God who pursues us relentlessly. Over and over again. When we continually turn our backs on Him.
But to be real, even when we do seek Him, when we try and be who He desires us to be, things can go terribly wrong.
We still can lose our jobs. We still have racism. We still have poverty. And slavery. And discrimination that is often rampant, whether it be because of our race, our religion, our sexual orientation. We can still have loved ones die. We can still have cancer ravage our bodies. We can still be lonely and afraid. We can still suffer from mental illness and have loved ones who suffer.

Being where we were meant to be, means returning to a God who desperately wants us to call him Papa. To go to the FATHER who wants to hold us, comfort us, encourage us, and mostly love us. Even when we might not have a good earthly example of a father. Even when we could be afraid of a man called father.
GOD is the FATHER we all need. The true meaning of the word Father. HE is the ONE who loves us unconditionally; no matter what we might have done. The ONE who forgives us and pursues us. Don't we all need that? To feel loved and pursued?

So yes, this might be the time of year when we dread Christmas and wish it would go away because of our own heartache. But we can go to a FATHER who knows us intimately, who wants to love and care for us, and wants us to feel safe with Him. 
Because that is the place we were always meant to be.

Here are links to 2 of my blogs also about Christmas.