Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Holidays... With a Heavy Heart

I love the holidays!  I love that all my kids come home.  I love that they remember things from their childhood about the holidays.  I love that there are certain things, foods, etc. that they associate with each holiday.  All of those things have created many memories that I hold close to my heart.

But holidays can also be for some, a time when your heart is breaking.  A time when you are having to relearn how to live, to relearn how to be happy or to relearn how to just breathe because you've lost someone close to you.  Losing someone is never easy, when it happens around the holidays it's even harder.  Because you almost feel like your holidays have been tainted.  I lost my dad to cancer in November of 1973 just 2 weeks before Thanksgiving.  I was almost 12 years old.  And to this day, 40 years later, I still miss him.  Yes, it's been long enough that it's not the focus of my holidays, but I still think of him none the less.  But now, I remember more about all the fun we used to have and the things we used to do and I don't focus as much on the loss. But the loss is still there nonetheless.  I still miss him when I hear my granddaughter say or do funny things, because I know he would have adored her and would be teaching her all kinds of mischief!  I missed him especially when I got married and when my kids were born.  He would have taught them so many things.  Things I still tried to teach them, but it wasn't the same as having him here.  I still remember seeing my mom break down that first Christmas he wasn't there.  Knowing how much I love Chris, I cannot imagine that kind of pain.

And it's because of all of these things that my heart is so heavy.  Our church has been hit hard this year with loss, with grief and with tragedy.  We lost a great man to cancer who was a great friend, father, husband and son.  We have a member who lost 2 members of their family to cancer within a couple of weeks time and he himself has battled cancer but is in remission, Praise God!  We have lost several of our older members in the last year.  We have members who have lost children unexpectedly. And I know people who have lost moms, dads, brothers, sisters and other extended family. There has just been so much loss. 

It breaks my heart and weighs me down to know what the holidays will be like this year for those families.  And then my heart is full of joy and praise because we have also had numerous members who have battled cancer and praise God are now cancer free! We also have some members who are finishing their cancer treatments and we continue to praise God for the healing He is doing in them.  We even have one member who had an aorta rupture and she survived to tell about it! In fact, she was dead for 10 minutes and came back!  That doesn't happen, so God has big plans for her!

I write all of this to say, be aware of those around you who are hurting.  Whether it's because they've lost loved ones or it's because of another reason you cannot even fathom.  Don't offer them advice just let them know that you there, that you care.  Wrap your arms around them and remind them that they are loved.  And wrap your arms around those who have fought the battle and are winning.  Remind them that God has a purpose for them.  Remind them that it's ok to be joyful and to praise God for "their" healing.  Because deep down it's hard for them when they know others have lost the battle.

May God wrap His arms around each of this holiday season.  May He fill your heart with love and thankfulness for the journey He is bringing you through.  And for those who are suffering loss, may He wrap His arms around you and fill your heart with wonderful memories, may you feel the presence of your loved ones in the traditions you keep and in the laughter of your children and grandchildren.  And may we all remember that He is risen and the tomb is empty and we will see them all again!  Praise God!

"but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

"The Lord bless youand keep you; 
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;"
Numbers 6:24-25 


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