The Journey Through the Christmas Seasons of My Life

As a little girl, Christmas brought Santa, lots of shiny, new things and time spent with family.As I grew older, my Christmas presents grew more mature, but it was always a season of celebration. Santa faded away, and the story of Jesus came alive each year, as I began to understand a Creator God Who loves us and sent a Savior.
I began to realize that I need a Savior seeing that my life can sometimes, most of the time, be a hot mess. I am sure that my parents sometimes couldn’t quite figure out what to do with their curly-haired, freckle faced, prone to giggles daughter. It is easy to see that I need a Savior.
Learning the entire story of Jesus through our church, my journey of faith began, finding that I only needed to believe.
Adulthood came and brought marriage and two kids, again changing Christmas.
But later, Christmas was to become a very dark time for me. It was Christmas 2005.
Two Christmas parties, a massive stroke, days in the ICU, more days in the hospital, even more days in a transitional center, and finally, months later, home with life very different for my mom and dad. Love was personified for nearly twelve years, as my mom cared for my dependent dad. Then, my dad left us, finally to be free from the body that trapped him for his final years.
Christmas lost its joy, bringing painful memories of white lights making a huge Christmas tree on the outside of Jackson General Hospital.
A Savior is born…
“Save me, God. Bring back the joy of Christmas.”
And slowly, He did.


It’s Christmas-Time to Celebrate or Is It?

It’s December-can you believe it? This morning I have begun Christmas decorating. I turned on the Christmas music because it’s time to celebrate, but with the first song, I found myself crying. Not crying, squalling, big, ugly cry.”Why was I crying?”, you might ask. December 12, 2003, fifteen years ago this year, my mom and dad went to a Sunday School Christmas party. While there, my dad had a massive stroke. That year was a blur with days in the ICU followed by more days in transitional care only to be sent home that Spring with a whole new normal. My mom cared for my dad in their home for the next nearly twelve years until he passed away. Understand now why for years Christmas just literally turned my stomach?
Friends, God did so many miracles during that time.  The biggest one was to bring back the joy of Christmas for me.  Believe me, it is still difficult, but I choose joy.  Period.  Joy. Going to explode joy.  Unexplainable, only God can do that joyEvery Christmas I find myself at one point or another getting alone while I just lose it completely. It comes out of nowhere, but the dark sadness hits. It hit this morning as I started up the celebration.

Steps Toward a Merry Christmas When It is Looking Anything But Merry

As I was shopping for my items for our shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, tears came to my eyes. I thought of the kids of Haiti and how little they have and how spoiled I am. As Americans we are so amazingly blessed materially but forget to be grateful and give back. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; Luke 12:48

But there was another reason tears came to my eyes. The holiday season is difficult. It is for so many-I am one of them. Years ago, my father had a terrible stroke at a Sunday School Christmas party that changed everything. Since then I struggle with joy during this obvious season of joy. I am not alone.

Christmas Can Be A Time of Dread

“Join me this Christmas season every time things start to get stressed or loneliness and despair start to creep in and quietly, humbly, and slowly sing;

“Oh come let us adore Him,

Oh come let us adore Him,

Oh come let us adore Him

Christ the Lord.”

I Choose Joy

Every year, a meltdown is inevitable. I love Christmas, but memories come flooding back every year and I must deal with them. The pain never gets better. God’s grace and comfort seem to increase. I want to be happy and joyful in this season, but it no longer comes naturally. The enemy would have me to wallow in a pit of sorrow, but I will not. I choose joy.

Prescription for the Holiday Blues

You look around you and all the world is two by two. At Christmas everyone has a boyfriend or girlfriend, and guess what, they all got rings.

You want to go to church, but again everyone is in couples. You know that the minute you walk through those doors with two kids in tow and no spouse, you will start to see eyes that you interpret as judgmental. You certainly don’t venture into a small group class because they are all for couples. If you do find a good singles class, you are not sure that you want to go because you are not ready to discuss the whole situation.

Your good friend just got his or her Christmas bonus. Where’s yours? You are not sure how much longer the car will make it, so you certainly don’t have extra money for Christmas. It will be a strain for sure.

She hates you. You know that a certain coworker thinks you are an idiot. Let’s face it: you have said so many things that you wish you could take back. So many times you say the wrong thing. At the top of your prayer list is learning how and when to stop talking.

You really hate this job. You want another job, are looking for another job, but so far, God hasn’t released you from this one. A sense of dread overwhelms you around Sunday each week.

A loved one is dying. A loved one recently died, or you are experiencing chronic health problems. As you see everyone enjoying the holiday season, all the decorations seem to do nothing more than cause knots in your stomach.

Quite frankly, you are staring at a battlefield without the courage to go on it. But, you have no choice.

This is in my field of expertise, this thing called the blues. I am well acquainted with so many of the above situations–that’s why I can talk about them so easily. Been there, done that. If you read some of my other blog posts, you will see some stories from my life. Christmas is definitely a challenge for my family but God has laid on my heart today to share hope. It seems that this is timely. As I was starting to type this, I received a text informing me that a good friend is dying. Unbelievable. My pastor’s sermon this morning hit upon this same subject.

But Christmas is about hope and hope we shall now pursue. Good thing is that in Christ Jesus, we just have to rest and let Him do all the work. He is ready, but are we? Are we ready to let it go and let God take it, never grabbing it back like a mad two year old?

Here are some things that God has taught me in the valley, lessons learned and basically a prescription for the blues.

Do the hard things. Whatever God is calling you to do, whether it is apologize, pay that bill, get another job to pay those bills or grade those papers and plan for the week, do it. Nothing makes you feel better than just tackling it and doing it.
Grieve. Give yourself a break. Let it out. In our former house, Robert and I had an amazing closet that I could shut the door, curl up in the floor and cry, or pray or cry and pray. Sometimes I do this best in my car while driving. You must take it to Jesus. Don’t expect that He knows already, which He does, but you must verbalize all that is in your heart. It will do a world of good.
Don’t fall for the enemy’s pride trap. It’s big, it’s easy to fall into, but don’t. So many things that we don’t remedy have to do with our silly pride. You may have acted a fool, you need to apologize. Do it. You may have done all the right things and looked a fool, so you feel bad. That’s silly pride. Don’t fall for that trap.
Don’t dig up bones. Randy Travis has an old song called “Digging Up Bones”. Do you know how many times I have woke up feeling awful about something that happened years ago that I can do nothing about. Another Satan trap.
During the darkest of valleys, surround yourself with godly counsel. Let them think and pray you through. There are times when you can’t believe you are still breathing, but you are. The pain is too much. Our Christian brothers and sisters will carry you through. They will intercede for you; just ask.
Don’t give up. All things take time. When the money is lean, buying something that I don’t need never seems more tempting, but that is a form of giving up. Stay the course.

Consider this word from God:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:3-9

Our hardships can be a great tool to comfort others. I know that this is no comfort to us sometimes, but sometimes it is. God has a plan, and we must trust Him. Somedays, I so wish that I knew what that plan was, but we must commit to trust.

Christmas is the season of hope. A child came to save the world. So all the things that our modern day world has made Christmas and many things that may make us sad are not what Christmas is about. A Savior came. I needed saving. What a reason to celebrate.

So turn up the music. The enemy wants you defeated. He loves to see a Christian suffering, but God wants to turn that mourning into gladness. He can. I can testify that when I thought I would never smile again, God brought my smile back. My situation didn’t change, but God did what only God can do and returned to me hope and joy.

Let us strive to be a testimony to only what God can do. Let’s embrace this verse:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Also we need some Christmas music and my friend Travis Cottrell is the best. So turn this up loud:

[caption id="attachment_1020" align="alignright" width="132"]IMG_1330 These are for sale on Amazon. “And This Ain’t Hollywood Either” is a 30 day devo written during the season when my dad experienced a bad stroke during Christmas & I talk about that. Check past blog posts for some of those stories & save ordering it.[/caption]
Travis Cottrell “Ring The Bells”

I love helping with women’s events at churches anytime I can, so check my calendar and contact me if I can help.

Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen! Revelation 7:12