Christmas Echoes

I was reading this morning in one of my all-time favorite devotionals, Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman, and was so touched by the words of a song printed there. I don’t recall reading it before, but maybe it just wasn’t meaningful to me when I did.

Now it reveals heart truth to me. And I realize again how every generation struggles through these changes. Every family will at some point have a Christmas that echoes with the memory of those no longer there.  For some of us, we are missing loved ones, even while they are still with us in body.

And whether we are missing our dear ones in spirit or in actuality, all of the traditions stir memories of more joyful days.

We are not alone. Every generation has been here before us. And many are struggling alongside us now. Jesus knows. He is our comfort. He brings “holy gladness still”.

And the story has a happy ending for all who believe in Him. One day all who trust in Jesus will be singing together again, and there will be no tears to hide…

Bells Across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    Is it really come again,
With its memories and greetings,
    With its joy and with its pain?
There’s a minor in the carol,
    And a shadow in the light,
And a spray of cypress twining
    With the holly wreath to-night.
And the hush is never broken
    By laughter light and low,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    ‘Tis not so very long
Since other voices blended
    With the carol and the song!
If we could but hear them singing
    As they are singing now,
If we could but see the radiance
    Of the crown on each dear brow;
There would be no sigh to smother,
    No hidden tear to flow,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the “bells across the snow.”

O Christmas, merry Christmas!
    This never more can be;
We cannot bring again the days
    Of our unshadowed glee.
But Christmas, happy Christmas,
    Sweet herald of good-will,
With holy songs of glory
    Brings holy gladness still.
For peace and hope may brighten,
    And patient love may glow,
As we listen in the starlight
    To the “bells across the snow.”

by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) Public Domain


My beautiful picture

Christmas memories



To Everything There is a Season

The Bible tells us that there is a time to be born, and a time to die. A year ago this very day, our family felt the ecstacy and grief of both.

As Mama’s youngest great-grandson was struggling to come into this world, Mama was struggling to leave it. I remember praying for my great-nephew’s birth, even as I sat vigil over Mama, holding her hand and agonizing over her labored breathing.

I told Mama the news when her great-grandson was born. She didn’t respond. I don’t think she could have. But I was relieved when she was still breathing after midnight. I didn’t want them to share the same day. I didn’t want the joy of birth shadowed by death. Somehow a few hours difference and separate numbers on the calendar made me feel better.

Mama lingered with us until seven the next morning. And then she left us quietly, with an incredibly peaceful look on her face and even a hint of a smile.

It’s strange to think it’s been a whole year since that evening of life and death. Mama’s great-grandson is toddling around on sturdy legs these days, charming everyone around him. Mama is even getting three more great-grandchildren this coming year, as her legacy grows.

And Mama’s youngest grandchild was born to my baby brother in July. James brings her to see Dad every week.

Dad can’t see little Emma’s face because of his blindness, but she holds onto his finger snuggly while he sings “Edelweiss” over and over to her. And he marvels over her soft little hand. He says it reminds him of Mama’s hands. Because they were so soft.

We all think about Mama and how much she adored babies. We wish she was here with us sharing these joys. But I don’t doubt that there are some babies in heaven who are getting some exceptional grandma loving.

And there is a peace, through the pain of all the grief, in knowing that Mama is in paradise with Jesus.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die… A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2,4. (NKJV)

It’s surprising how these times can intertwine. The tears and heaviness of missing and mourning mama mingle and mix with the warmth and joy of grandchildren and holidays and family.

His grace covers us. He knows we may weep, but He is with us. He holds us close in His love and reminds us of eternity with Him for all who believe in Jesus. He whispers tenderly and reassures me of His presence.

And I realize more clearly than before, that there are times when you weep and laugh in the same hour. In the same moment even. There are hours when you mourn as you dance.

This is the season we are in. And I know He will give grace.