This Christmas has been a new normal for my family and me. With my mom's illness and passing in the summer, our hearts have been heavy with grief. Then I became ill around Thanksgiving and just couldn't shake it for weeks which made preparing for the season even more difficult.
But God . . .
He makes all things new . . .
All four of our children were in a beautiful CHRISTmas musical at our church. Even our littlest got in on the action and practiced his songs for all he was worth! In the last few weeks leading up to the production, we spent a great deal of time and energy on the musical. It was exhausting, but in a good way. We were extremely busy, but ALL of the practices and preparation were centered on Christ.
That turned out to be an amazingly awesome thing! Suddenly we found that JOY began to find a spot in our hearts where only deep sadness had been living. Christ's birth, life, and resurrection certainly takes on new meaning whenever you lose a loved one. Suddenly we could once again begin to experience that JOY and peace that really does pass all understanding.
In fact, one morning Kevin and I realized that our children hadn't seen a smiling face from us in a long, long time. Too long. We were missing the treasure that they are to us and only focusing on our deep sadness over Mom's illness and death. We stopped right then and there and prayed that God would return JOY to our hearts despite our immense grief.
He did just that as we moved toward celebrating the Christmas holiday. The musical began our change of heart, and it continued throughout the holiday. Now, I am not saying our intense grief is gone. There were moments in the past week where our grief brought us to our knees as we would remember all that we have lost (three of our four beloved parents/grandparents are no longer on earth). But I am saying that JOY in Christ has come again, and we can rejoice in that even in the times of great sorrow.
And looking back on all of the festivities of the last few weeks, our hearts can smile with the JOY that we experienced.
The Christmas musical was truly breathtakingly beautiful in presenting the CHRISTmas story
Spending Christmas Eve at my brother's home has begun a new family tradition. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew worked so hard to make this a special time, incorporating so many special touches of Mom throughout the evening. Even though each of our hearts was deeply longing to have Mom and Dad once again be with us for that special night, we were able to find JOY and happiness in the celebration of Christ and our love for each other.
Christmas morning came, and our little family of six (plus cute puppy) thoroughly enJOYED our time of celebration with reading the CHRISTmas story and opening the special gifts we had picked out for each other. We all are looking forward to Grace being a part of our Christmas next year! There was even a gift for her that morning.
Christmas evening was spent with our neighbor Dottie (who adopted us long ago as part of her family and vice versa for us) and Gram (Kevin's mom). They came for dinner and for the annual decorating of the gingerbread houses with our family.
Kevin and I have had our parents over for a special dinner for Christmas (not always on the day but close to it) since our early years of marriage. The decorating of the gingerbread houses began four years ago. We were so very blessed to once again have Carolyn (Gram) and Dottie join us.
And lastly, we joined Kevin's family for another Christmas celebration the day after Christmas. It was a sweet night and great way to end our Christmas holiday surrounded by so many people we love.
Before we knew it, Christmas had come and gone. The holiday we had all been dreading going through without my mom had actually turned out to be filled with so much JOY that it left our hearts smiling long after the last bite of food, the last gift opened, the last Christmas song sung, and the last hug from our loved ones. God was surely in the details of this season of REJOICING.