I sit here thinking back on year 2013, staring at our Christmas tree. This year’s tree finally made it up four days before the grand day. While I had other decorations around the house a week earlier, I just couldn’t seem to get the tree and ornaments done. The Friday before Christmas I managed to hull the tree downstairs where it sat until Saturday when my husband and I put it up. It was pre-lit, so I didn’t have to bother with light strands. I couldn’t bring forth the energy to stumble down the attic stairs with a bunch of ornaments. I added some crystal icicles and few other sparkly sprays. I put two ornaments on and Wah-lah that was as good as it got. It didn’t look too bad. It was just different than usual. But what is usual anymore? The holidays are usually unusual the past few years.

This is the third Christmas without our youngest child. The first year was actually the easiest in figuring out how we wanted to decorate the tree. I had this tradition of getting a new ornament for each of the children every year for Christmas. Jim and I would put quite a bit of thought into the purchases. It was fun and memorable, plus when they were married and out on their own they wouldn’t have a bare tree. So the first year we had the “Evan Tree”.  It was a small tree our grandson helped us cut down with only Evan’s ornaments on it. It was very special, but not something I wanted every year. We knew we didn’t want to be stuck in the negative past, so we needed to change it up going forward. The “we” really means me, and unfortunately I haven’t been overly happy with the outcome since. Well, maybe next year.

Christmas 2013

I am very ready for a new year. I am ready to get another year away from the pain of grief. Not only our own, but also grief from losing friends and family. People who we anticipated passing from old age, but especially those who died from cancer or bizarre issues all too soon, leaving behind younger children. I know time won’t take it all away, but I know time does help it get easier. Time helps us to figure out ways to “deal with” various situations. I am ready to move ahead in the heartache of estranged relationships. God only knows when, and if, they will be repaired. I want to move forward from pain of a young girl’s murder, and others suicides. I also want to put the frustration of my daughter’s Caesarian birth complications behind me. I am thankful after eleven weeks she is healed and enjoying her healthy baby and new family life, but disappointed with the loss of special moments I hoped for with her. God has been with us through all the heartache.

As I flip through pictures from the last year, I am reminded of the many, many blessings. Glimpses jump off the screen of so much fun. Fun birthday parties (a big one for me), trips, and numerous events with family and friends. Fun times with Sunday School classmates, Internationals, and groups from church. Exhilarating outreaches to those in need. Exciting times supporting our eldest grandchild in his many activities -sports, scouts, soap box derby. Lively baby showers, colorful fireworks, and beautiful summer flowers. New hair cuts, training opportunities, and new jobs. New hopes started and dreams anticipated. Blessed Christmas gatherings and of course beautiful new babies. Hours and days of memories that I don’t want to forget and been so enjoyable. God was with us, shining into our lives in every moment.

I guess all in all it wasn’t such a bad year. The valleys have been low and the peaks high. Maybe in 2014 we can be a bit more boring and avoid the deep pits, although I know I have learned a tremendous amount in the deep dark. I continue to gain strength in the knowledge that God is always with me. Immanuel (or Emmanuel) has been my word for this Christmas season.

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).Isaiah 7:14 (and Matt 1:23)

As I continue to strive to lay down my selfish desires and look to the One who has brought me through this far, I am excited to see how God will work in this year to come! I have to believe in the future. My hope is to see Jesus in the mornings when I awake, and I pray you do to.

Happy and Joyful New Year Everyone!