Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Rainy Christmas Eve Morn Moarn

It's been about a month since my grandmother passed away. This has been a busy month filled with errands and sickness and wrapping up jewelry making. It's just how Decembers are. I have set limits on how much I was willing to do, and took on things that I wanted to do. A good balance of busy was maintained- though I have been weary.

But this week my littlest has really been suffering from a severe cold. She can't breathe well. Her nose is so snotty, and I can tell she's just miserable, and she has shared her misery with her daddy and I as we have had to lose sleep rocking and comforting her in the wee hours of the morning.

Last night was no different than the pattern that she has established with this bear of a cold, but it was her worst night yet. I held her for over an hour as she just cried and whined. I think it was simply that she felt rotten and couldn't sleep. Honestly, I feel like behaving that way when I have a cold such as what she has!

So from about 4:30 in the morning until nearly 6:00 we had our own storm inside our home as the rain beat down on the walls and roof of our house.

That gives a lot of time for my mind to wander from subject to subject.

I knew that it was Christmas Eve, and I started thinking about what December 23rd was often like for me- torture. You see, Christmas Eve was more Christmas than Christmas was because that's when we would have my grandmother over. We would have some sort of meal (it always changed), and it was her greatest delight to celebrate our Savior's birth with giving gifts. I have yet to meet another person who takes such delight in gift giving, and she was good at it! My sister and I would get completely spoiled on Christmas Eve- as I believe all grandchildren should be. (I completely intend to spoil my grandchildren to the best of my ability and to God's glory.) So December 23rd was torturous, and then to top it off. Christmas Eve day was an absolute nightmare. To wait for that glorious moment when there would be a knock on the door and my grandmother, gifts in hand (or arms, or however she hauled in the loot) would arrive. That meant we could eat, and then we could open presents!

Every year, throughout my life this is what would happen on Christmas Eve. Even in my adult life, we would all gather at my mother's home for Christmas Eve and celebrate together. There are a few exceptions like when we lived out of state or when my grandmother was in Idaho when her mother died, but overall, I can count the number times when we weren't together on December 24th on one hand.

Today is another to add to the hand count, and that's why it's an exceptionally difficult day that I have not looked forward to. Circumstances this year are such that we will celebrate with my side of the family the day after Christmas, and I'm so grateful to still get together.

But it isn't the same.

At the early morning hours it hit me like the pounding rain outside, that it will never ever be the same. My grandmother will never be with me again for another Christmas Eve.

So I laid my sleeping daughter in her crib, and walked to the living room and let tears flow.

I guess this is how mourning is. Sometimes I will be fine, and other times I will just cry.

As I wept, I thought of how ugly this moment was. It was also sweet though. In the darkness of the early morning, with the rain pounding, I got a faint whiff of the delicious scent of our Christmas tree. As a tree is in your home, you get used to the smell so that you really don't smell it anymore, but every once in a while you get that breeze of subtle fragrance, and in that moment it came.

I was reminded of the season. I remembered my Savior born in to this world with pain and grief and loss. I breathed in both the sweet evergreen scent and that blessed truth and let it wash over me bringing comfort and joy.

Tidings of comfort and joy.

Christ's first advent gives me hope because my grandmother believed in him. I believe in him. That means that though she and I won't be together again on any more Christmas Eves, I will be together with her again in the presence of our Savior. Because he came, he made a way for us to be with him.

So I will go through the day today carrying grief in my heart marbled with comfort and joy. I made a special breakfast, and we will have a delicious late lunch. I will try to muster up some energy to do something semi-memorable with my big kids (I. Am. So. Tired.), and in the evening we will join our church family and worship our Lord. After the service, we will go out to dinner, and then at home, after we have read Twas the Night Before Christmas and our advent reading, my husband and I will have a quiet busy time after the kids are in bed. We will play the part of elves as we stuff our children's stockings and place presents under the tree.

I will choose to carry Christ's comfort with me as it carries me through today and always.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Thrill of Hope

I am weary.

My housework to-do list is longer than the time I have to complete it.

I am weary.

My daughter doesn't sleep through the night, and she is ten months old.

I am weary.

Cold and flu season has been cruel to our household.

I am weary.

Less than a week before Thanksgiving, I lost my grandmother suddenly- though expected.

I am weary.

Are you weary this Christmas season? I am. I am tired, grumpy, worn out, and grieving. I have lost my temper too easily, and have felt quite selfish at times. I have been overwhelmed by the tasks that have laid in front of me and the failures that have laid behind me.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining... 

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4)

...till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Sometimes it feels like I can't take much more, like my heart, head, or soul might explode from the tension of battling weariness, sin, and discouragement. Then I remember truth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Christ came. He was born through labor- hard labor- with manure, sweat, hay, livestock to season the sweetness of his newborn cry. He came in to our ugly, sinful, wretched world under the law, born through the pain of childbirth, a symptom of the curse that is on all mankind since the fall in Eden.

He came to redeem it all. He came to break the yolk of the law and set us free as sons and daughters. He came to ransom me. He came to ransom you. He came to make us his own.

Truth gives me a thrill of hope. Though weary, my soul sings for joy at the hope this truth gives. So I can rejoice through pain and loss, frustration and being overwhelmed. 

Christ came! He came so that I can be free! And because I am his, I can look forward to that glorious future when he returns to make everything right. Every tear wiped away. Every hurt made right. Every injustice. Every way that I have hurt and been hurt will be reconciled. 

Even in this fallen world as we wait his second advent, I can rejoice in his first. It gives me the thrill of hope. 

Fall on your knees! Oh hear the angels' voices!

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!
(Luke 2:14)

Monday, November 3, 2014

What I Shared On Orphan Sunday

I was an orphan.

I have never known the details of the circumstances surrounding my birth, but I do know that I was born with a need to be redeemed, taken in to a family, and given my best chance. There was nothing that I could do for myself to remedy it.

But God was working in the hearts of my soon-to-be-family. He led my father to start up a conversation with one of his clients that led him to find out about my birth mother's situation. He led my mother to be ready to open her life and heart to another child, and he was moving in my sister's heart. Every night she would pray, “Dear Jesus, please give me a sister just like me.”

Praise the Lord he chose to answer her prayer! On April 15, 1981, after years of waiting, I came home at 2 days old. I'm told that my sister raced to the door- she had to to beat my mother to it.

That day, I ceased being an orphan. I had a family. I was theirs and they were mine. I had a place to belong. I had a hope and a future. My past was erased, and I was given a new name, a new identity, and my best chance. I was fatherless no more. I was adopted.

I wish everything was rosy from that time on, but my family went through some very difficult times. My father chose to walk away from me, my sister, and my mother. He stepped out of our lives and left me with a broken and angry heart.

I went to church, and a private Christian school where I learned about Jesus and his love for me. I believed in Him, his death on the cross and his resurrection, but it wasn't until I was 9 years old that I saw how my sin was keeping me from knowing Christ as my friend. I saw that I was lost, without hope, and needed redeemed. Because of my horizontal adoption, I realized that I needed a vertical adoption because just as my earthly father had turned his back on me, so had I turned my back on my Heavenly Father- making me fatherless.

I was an orphan.

But God reached down and answered my prayer and forgave me. He washed me clean, gave me a new hope and a new future. He was my very best chance. God gave me a new identity in him. I was fatherless no more. I was adopted.

I was adopted- twice.

These two acts have been two of the most defining things of my life. Because of God's great love in providing a future for me through adoption, it was evident that I needed to do the same. This past year Casey and I had the honor of adopting our youngest daughter. It was costly. It required sacrifice, and love, and faith.

It has become another defining moment in my life pointing me back to my Heavenly Father and his great sacrifice and love that give me faith in Him, to make me his child.