Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Post Christmas Blues...

The anticipation, the hype, the presents, and the day has gone and in it's absence is left a feeling not so 'red and green', but blue. The reality is that Christ's birth and gift of life and salvation is not saved for one day, so why do I feel so blue? I call it the post-Christmas let-down. Newton's third law of motion describes it as follows "for every action there is always and equal and opposite reaction." So as the high of Christmas ends, the pendulum then swings the other way and so comes the low. We over-eat and indulge, then we feel bad about ourselves. We don't exercise as there is no time between the holiday parties and rigorous schedules, leaving our bodies feeling exhausted. We spend too much money, then worry ourselves sick about it. We celebrate Christ's birth, but as we shelf the nativity and put away the tree, we also stuff away our devotion for another year.

Christmas this year was in some ways beautiful and special as it was our first Christmas in our new home and we also welcomed our new puppy, Lucy. She is such a sweetie and the joy she brings to our kids and to our home is wonderful. Spending time with family and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas was so beautiful. Yet, Christmas for me this year was also heart-wrenching as I missed my sweet baby Grace. The balance of enjoying the holidays, while trying to cope with the pain and loss is not an easy feat. I made it through the parties, the dinners, the stockings, and the gifts. With some cherished people, I could show my true emotions and feelings, and with others I put on the brave face. Some asked how I was, allowing me to share, cry and thus granting me the joy and freedom to feel the pain.

I don't want the pendulum of emotions to be stuck on the after-Christmas 'blues,' I want to look to the New Year with hope and renewed peace. I don't want to get stuck in the rut of the blues and blahs of January. The New Year is daunting as it brings with it Gracie's birthday and anniversary, yet it also brings joys unknown. I want to walk into this New Year with strength and be clothed in His grace. So today I am making a shift of heart and choosing not to dwell on the 'lows,' but rather am shifting my gaze upwards, to the only One who can take despair and transform it into joy; to the One who can balance the pendulum of extremities; to the One who can lift me from the blues and into the light. Lord, may I be able to look to tomorrow with joy in my step, hope in my heart, and a smile on my face.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Prov.31:26

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Indicative Pain, Infinite Joy!

It is nearly Christmas, and with songs like 'it's the most wonderful time of the year,' I can't help but wonder is it really?

This time of year is bittersweet for many. For some - it very well may be the joyous occasion of the 'first' Christmas milestone of marriage, birth of a baby, new home etc. For others, it may be anything but wonderful as they look to this Christmas as potentially the 'last' Christmas with a loved one. Still others remember, with joy coupled with pain, as thoughts drift back to a Christmas of old that included a beloved family member.

Joy to the world the Lord has come...the earth rejoiced, and received her King. How beautiful that night must have been!!! Surely all of nature was at it's finest as it welcomed the Creator! We hear of the phenomenon of the bright star - so bright that it marked a place in history. Creation joined in the chorus of the angels. Oh holy night indeed.

In this most jubilant of nights however, there was a sobering reality. The birth of Jesus was surrounded with infinite joy, but this joy lead to indicative pain. His birth was, and will always be linked to His death. Jesus came to the world He created, and we celebrate it just as did the shepherds long ago. Yet, we often focus on merely the fact that He came, and can miss out as to why He came. Joy and pain - such opposing words and emotions. Often our greatest joys lead to our greatest pain, and in turn our most ardent pain may lead us to a deeper joy. Losing a child is the greatest, most ardent pain I have ever experienced, but that pain was equally if not more so matched by the unsurpassed joy that filled my life because of Gracie.

So as you celebrate the coming of our Lord, remember to thank Him not only for clothing Himself in humanity in the form of a baby, but for choosing to stay and grow into the perfect lamb, the sacrifice for us all! And that is what is on my heart this Christmas...indicative pain of infinite JOY!

Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here The silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh,The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Back to the Basics...

The holiday rush is upon us! I love the holidays, but like most, feel the stress of all it brings. Decorations, baking, parties, practices, concerts, banquets, shopping (and who can forget the joys of finding parking) in over-crowded malls, can bring out the 'humbug' in us all. So as I enter this season, I can't help but wonder - how do I find balance? I love blessing my kids with gifts, I love the twinkling lights, Christmas trees, carols and the beauty that Christmas brings. Yet, finding that delicate balance between enjoying the holidays while NOT forgetting the true meaning in it all is a challenge. do I get back to meaning of it all? Back to the dirt floor of a stable, and the chorus of barnyard animals. Back to the shepherds abiding in the fields and the phenomenon of a curious, bright shining star. Back to a young girl harboring the greatest secret of all time. Back to the place where it all began - when the greatest became the least, when the King became the servant, when the Saviour became the Sacrifice.

I love that the story of Jesus' birth is filled with mystery, wonder and awe. I delight in the fact that the history of Christ goes beyond human logic and scientific calculations. Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies of old, He was the Rescuer the world had been waiting for. It is mind-boggling to think that this tiny baby had spun the world into existence with just a word. It is a wonder that this tiny little babe - helpless to survive without His mother - would one day save the world from all darkness, hurt, illness, and death. This incredible and momentous hope, rested solely on the tiny shoulders of a newborn baby boy. This is the wonder of Christmas - so complex, yet so simple. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but have eternal life. (Jn3:16) Eternal LIFE!

So profound - yet so simple. God loved us, so He sent us Jesus to save us. We can't think of Christ's birth without linking it to His death. His purpose was clear - He came to die for us. My sweet beautiful baby girl never experienced a moment without the love and presence of Jesus - because of His great sacrificial love. The ruler of the world came to this broken and sinful world with the intent purpose to die for me, for Gracie, for you. Is there a greater sacrifice than this? Can jolly old saint Nic and his magical reindeer even come close to such a love?

So as you are busily shopping for gifts, or being cut-off in holiday traffic; or when the commercialism and selfishness of this world is dragging you down; or when you feel like the humbug of Christmas is stealing your joy - I encourage you to get back to the basics. Back to the stable, back to a rude and lowly manger, back to Jesus.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices.
O Night divine, O night when Christ was born.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Beautiful Dreamer....

Some people have vivid dreams and can remember it the next day. I haven't remembered a dream for a quite some time. Yet, as I was getting the kid's breakfast ready, a picture of Gracie flashed in my mind's eye that I didn't recognize as a memory. I stopped, closed my eyes and waited. The dream re-surfaced and flooded my thoughts, and tears filled my eyes to the brim.

I could 'see' her. I could see my sweet baby Grace. She was in hospital, but was doing well. I was coming around the hall, turning the corner into her room, it was dimly lit. I saw her, and thought she was sleeping and didn't want to wake her but everything in me wanted to pick her up and hug and kiss that sweet little angel. As I walked closer, she turned and smiled at me. I ran to her, picked her up and held her and she snuggled in. She never spoke, but in her eyes I could see and hear what her heart was saying. Holding her felt so real, seeing her beautiful face was like seeing the most precious and long awaited gift. I gave her a bath, dressed her in a cute little outfit and we 'chatted,' not it words but in a shared love. It was beautiful.

I used to be very shaken after I would dream of Gracie. It would send me into a whirlwind of memories, and of sadness and loss. My grief counsellor suggested that I think of these dreams as a 'visit' with Gracie. Even though I know she is in heaven, dreaming allowed me a sneak peak of her again. It allowed me the luxury of imagining her presence and feeling her in my arms. I remember in my early days of grief, I would have to pretend that Gracie was in the bed next to me in order to fall asleep - I would hug her blanket and even though I knew it was ridiculous, I would convince my mind that she was there with me - allowing me a few hours of precious sleep. Dreaming allows for the same kind of luxury. Gracie's days were often difficult for her, but when she slept, she was at total peace. She was our beautiful dreamer. We often wondered what she would dream about, for it brought such a sweet countenance to her face. Perhaps she, our sleeping princess, was dreaming of the Prince of Peace that would soon awake her? Our beautiful I miss you.

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day,
Lull'd by the moonlight have all pass'd away.
Stephen Foster