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

 

Advertisements

Praying for our First Thanksgiving Without Mom

Abba Father,

My heart is heavy. Something about holidays this first year since Mama went home to You is heartbreaking. I’m not sure why, because the last few years of her life she wasn’t participating with us anyway. And she hadn’t really known me for long before that.

But even though that was hard, I could still bring Mama a Thanksgiving meal. I could feed her mashed potatoes and gravy. I could hold her soft hand. I could hope for a sweet word from her. Sometimes she’d say something that made me laugh. Sometimes she’d thrill me by saying my name.

And I could know that when I left, Mama had Daddy and Daddy had Mama. And Dad would tell Mom over and over how much he loved her. And Mom would flutter tap his back for hours as they snuggled in bed together.

Oh Abba Father, I know Mama is with you now. I know she will have the best Thanksgiving ever. And I’m so grateful for that and for You and for eternity. But I don’t know how to prepare for Thanksgiving on earth, when all I want to do is cry. I have so many blessings to be thankful for. SO MANY! And I am grateful, Lord, I truly am.

And yet the emotions and the tears keep coming. How can I honor You through this, Abba? What do You want me to do?

Help me Lord, please, to:

  • keep my focus on You and Your faithfulness and presence
  • continually give thanks
  • love and enjoy the people and moments you bless me with today
  • be faithful in the responsibilities You’ve given me right now 
  • let go of stress, worry, and perfection and trust that Thanksgiving, with all its details, is in Your hands
  • appreciate my family and not drive them crazy prepping for the day

Thank You, Abba Father, that You are merciful and good and so faithful! Thank You that Your mercies surround us, Your compassions are new every morning, and that Your love never fails.

Tuck me closely under Your wings when the tears need to fall. And then lift me up on wings like eagles when I need to get the work done. Thank You for your tenderness and gentleness with me, Lord.

And Jesus, would You please give Mama a big hug for me? Tell her I miss her and love her so much. And tell her I’ll try to make Thanksgiving as sweet and warm and fun and delicious as she did for us, for so many years.

10710971_760338060704093_869233536862130557_n

Mama’s First Birthday With Jesus

Mama’s first birthday in heaven is coming up in a couple days. I know it will be amazing for her! Back here on earth, I’m struggling and feeling emotional. These holidays seem to pull me from what I’ll call “adjusted mourning” back into deep mourning. I’m not crying, but I feel like it almost constantly.

I decided to spend some time on Ancestry.Com, to honor Mama and our heritage. So I’ve spent some hours delving into the past, learning things about great-great-great grandparents…imagining what life must have been like then. It intrigues me to think of this chain of people that were crucial to Mama being born. And to me being here now.

The DNA of people I’ve never met, are woven into who we are. I wonder how many of them Mama is meeting for the first time in heaven. I wonder how many of them knew Jesus and trusted in Him.

This will be my first time ever not celebrating Mama’s birthday with her. The last few years our celebrations have been “interesting”. I still smile when I think of the one in 2014…

I baked a cake for Mom and brought it to her house. She sat with me and I asked, “How’s my Mama?”
Mom answered, “I don’t know. I didn’t ask her. Ask her… Esther? Where’s Esther?”

She started shouting, “ESTHER!” (As far as I know Mom has never known an Esther.) Mom shouted, “CRAZY PEOPLE!” Then she started singing random words. 

“Mom,” I said, “It’s your birthday.”
“It is?”
“Yes… You’re 81.”
“Eighty-one?” She said some words I didn’t understand and ended with, “It’s possible.”

I started singing, “Happy Birthday to you…”
Mom shouted, “ME! NOT YOU!”
I started singing again, “Happy birthday to you…”
And Mom sang the next line in rhythm, “…said somebody but you don’t know who….” And we both started laughing. 
I started singing again, “Happy Birthday…”
And Mom jumped in with, “…to me, Happy Birthday to Nina Fay….” And then she kept singing but with different words and melody, “What a wonderful day…oh what a wonderful day…”

I wrote her name down for her and she said that it looked right. Then she suddenly burst out singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus…” and sang the whole chorus word for word!

We gathered around the kitchen table to have her blow her candles out. Dad says birthday candles have always been important to her, but she didn’t want to be at the table and she didn’t know how to blow out the candles. He kept trying to talk her into it.
Finally I said, “Mom, look at me, I’m going to blow out one candle and you blow out the other.” As she saw me blowing, I think it reminded her how to do it and she also blew one out. Hurrah!

She ate her cake, but was agitated and restless and wanted to leave the table. At one point she shouted, “Go home!”
“Do you want me to go home?” I asked.
Mom cleverly answers, “That’s a good way to get there.”

 

Oh, Mama! I never knew what I’d get from her in those years. But she made me laugh and cry and love her more. And I just miss her now.

I don’t know what I’ll do this year without her on her birthday. I’m thinking I may bake her a cake and bring it over to Daddy. I’m guessing I’ll cry, since I am right now just thinking about it.

But I can also rejoice. Because I know Mama will be having her best birthday ever, with her friend Jesus. And I can imaging many of these ancestors I’m researching now are gathering around her and finding out how warm and fun and sweet Mama is. And they are laughing with her and loving her more and more.

And for her it will be a wonderful day. Oh, what a wonderful day!

“And Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.'”

Luke 23:43 (NLT)

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor