Sunday, December 27, 2009

christmas is over

My family makes fun of me because I start lamenting “Christmas is over!” almost as it has just begun. They are puzzled by it, and I really hadn’t thought it through until recently.

I think the real enjoyment I have of Christmas is in the anticipation of Christmas… the decorating, the planning, the cooking, the music, and the waiting for the family to arrive. I love the process of giving a gift … acquiring it, wrapping it, and looking forward to the pleasure I hope it will give the recipient.

When it is all over, a let-down occurs because the exhilaration of anticipation is over, and there is an awareness that very few moments actually lived up to the dream. Exhaustion sets in… it takes a lot of work to make a family holiday happen. And, before you know it, “Christmas is over!”

I’m thinking about heaven, today, as I often do lately. I think that in heaven we will exist in a perpetual state of anticipation. The excitement will not fade, and the moments we actually live will be greater than anything we could ever imagine. It won’t be too crowded, or too loud, or too hot, or too cold. There will always be enough time, enough energy, and enough understanding. The gifts will be just right (and I think we’ll be surprised at what “just right” is). And, best of all, we will never have to say goodbye.

The true meaning and intention of Christmas will go on for eternity, and it will be exactly what we were created for…Christmas will never be over, and we’ll savor every moment of it. I can hardly wait!


Sunday, December 13, 2009


I am looking at our beautiful Christmas tree right now…at least, I think it is beautiful. It is both beautiful and precious to me.

When Loyd and I got ready to decorate our first tree, years ago, we had nothing to decorate with. We bought lights and glass ornaments from Wal-Mart (there were no Hobby Lobby’s, way back when), and we started making ornaments. I think we actually got better and better with every year. I was determined that our children would have a collection of ornaments when they got ready to decorate their trees.

After a while, we had so many ornaments, that we decided to just get something when we went on a trip. At times, there are no ornaments to be bought, so we improvise…we have name tags, key chains, a water park bracelet, and even fishing lures we found on beach walks…all of which have been fashioned into something to hang on our tree. The result has been a sort of family scrapbook, which we put up every Christmas season. Every piece tells part of our story.

After the people and cat, I would try to get the box of ornaments out if we had a fire in our house. But even if they all went up in smoke, the real beauty and worth that they hold are the memories they evoke and the relationships they represent, which have been knit together during the times of our lives.

And that’s why I think our tree is beautiful…it is full of reminders of how full and wonderful our life, as a family, has been. These reminders are precious to me.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

i will carry you

…thinking of another song on the new Selah CD. This song was written by Todd and Angie Smith about the birth (and death within a few hours) of their baby girl, Audrey. This song brings numerous pictures to my mind…a picture of a mother carrying a baby to term …a picture of the way we frequently carried around our younger siblings (with our little hips jutted out) when we were children…. how we have a family “tradition” of carrying each other through times of need….how we are still helping carry some of Kathy’s earthly responsibilities…how God carries us every day of our lives. The words, “I will carry you,” are the sweetest words on earth when we are exhausted and at the end of our resources.

Deb has a photograph of her and Kathy (they were about six and two). Kathy is in a wheelbarrow, and Deb is holding the wheelbarrow upright. Deb says that she always thought she was merely keeping the wheelbarrow from falling over…but when one looks closely at the photograph, it is obvious that she was actually grabbing onto Kathy to keep her in the wheelbarrow.

That is a good picture of our relationship with Kathy. Kathy had a brilliant, quick mind. She was usually a step or two ahead of us. We have a funny family remembrance of her. We’d put her in her crib, each evening, when it was time for her to go to bed, and she would beat us back to the den…running ahead, looking at us, over her shoulder, laughing and smiling.

Our Deb was with Kathy when she left us. She was the only one there. It has been traumatic for her on many levels…but what a blessing it has been to me. Just knowing that Kathy was not alone… knowing exactly what happened in the last hours of her life…knowing that Kathy didn’t have to worry about her children, who were at home, with us…knowing that Kathy was aware that her big sister was there caring for her….knowing that she knew that we were carrying her.

I Will Carry You (Audrey’s Song)

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says ...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

Thank you, Lord, that in the silence of abandonment, betrayal, isolation and even the absolute silence of death…you will carry us.