Christmas Heart Ache

One of the things I love about Christmas is the lights.  I love the colors, the twinkle and the beams that bounce off the shiny ornaments.  As a little girl I would sit in the dark living room with only the tree lit. The bulbs were big and bright. Tinsel covered the tree. Bulbs hung along side hand-made ornaments my sister and I had made with our mom or in school.  My mother and father worked at the General Electric Lamp Plant in St. Louis.  Mom had brought some clear light bulbs home without the innards. Only the bulb and the metal end.  She put us at the table and showed us how to apply glue and glitter to the inside of the bulb.  Then we took a small picture she had cut out of us into the shape of an oval and we taped a string to the back side of it.  My mother put the picture and string inside the bulb and attached it to the metal part which she glued onto the end of the bulb. Viola! A beautiful light bulb ornament. I still have it today and it hangs on my tree.

1967 Shell GE light bulb ornament

1967 Shell GE light bulb ornament

When I left home to go into the Air Force, my mother began to send me an ornament every year.  Some were bought and some were hand-made.  All were a memorial to the year being given.  I kept every one of them and have hung them on my tree each year.  I even began making some of my own to commemorate some major events of the year. But I still continue to add them to mark a specific family event.  For example this year my son and his wife gave birth to a baby girl, Ann Marie.  My daughter got married and my third child, though now a man, graduated from high school and then 6 months later graduated Army Basic Training.  All very proud moments for me.  So I plan to hang three plus one for my fathers’ passing in remembrance.

This is the 1st Christmas without him.  It is surreal to come home and find him not here. I am staying in his house. The house he and his wife bought several years ago.  A beautiful Victorian style home.  It is in the center of the town off the main street.  I sense him all around us.  The ache in my heart of missing him but knowing he is celebrating this season in heaven with my sister.  What a thought, worshiping Jesus on His birthday in Heaven. Wow!

It is more difficult for his wife, my step-mom.  She sees him everywhere she turns.  He loved her so much and she knew it.  He took care of her and she misses that. Being taken care of and loved by a man who had searched for love his whole life.  The coolest part of their relationship was that not only did they both find a special love, he found Christ through her love.  I can not begin to tell you how special that is to me.  An answer to a 20 year prayer.  In her grief she is comforted by the fact she knows where he is but the ache is more real in the absence of his touch and his daily concern for her. Grief does not have a calendar or clock.  It knows no boundaries. It takes its time in the humdrum days of loneliness! I pray she finds healing in moving forward and focus on Christ who fills the emptiness left by my dad. I am glad I was here to share these days with her.  I believe it brought some ease to both of our hearts.

I did go to the cemetery to put flowers on my sister’s grave and my fathers’. He has no headstone yet but the grass has grown over him. The small blades of grass resemble moss, revealing to those who come to visit a fresh grave.  There is always a breeze there when I visit.  A warm, hot breeze on the day of his funeral.  But today very cold and brisk, making my eyes sting with tears.  Memories are a funny thing. Standing there I remembered I was the last to leave his casket waiting to go down into the ground.  I almost could not leave him.  I knew it was just his body, not him.  Something in me wanted to stay. I guess it was the finality of it all. I think that is why 1st anniversaries after a loved one passing on is so difficult.  It is the final remembrance of all the years you spent before.  Everything reminds you of what they did the last time you opened presents or sang Happy Birthday. The end of their living life.  The beginning of recalling every last word spoken.

I have noticed that there are memories that do not really come alive until your loved one is gone.  Is that what ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ means? The memories are more vivid and emotional.  I guess it is the heart and the mind that bring them together much like a photo album with dates and places written underneath the pictures. A slide show perhaps.  I like to make memorial videos of people and their moments. I have made several for myself, friends and family of special events we have shared.  I load all the pictures, put them in sequential order and then add music.  I try to add music that speaks to their life, their memory.  It is amazing how it all comes together when it is completed.  I watch them over and over. They make me smile.

I did that for my father.  I enjoyed looking at all his earlier pictures.  When it was finished and I watched it all the way through I realized how adventurous he was.  Motorcycles, boats and hobbies he had throughout the years.  He smiled a lot when he held his children and grandchildren. That was very cool to see.  The end was harder to watch because the pictures were more recent.  Even so he ended well.

I am wondering what the memory of this Christmas will be in a few months.  It was full of what is important.  Family.  Loving one another unconditionally and cherishing each precious moment the Lord allows us to share with those who make our lives full and rich.  Never mind the junk because really the junk is the reason Christ came. To take away the junk and replace it with gems.  His precious gift of a redeemed and restored life! And that is what I remember today of my dad. A gift from God. Redeemed, restored and at peace!  Thank you Lord for filling our minds with memories and hearts with love!!! Thank you for turning heartache into joy when we turn our hearts toward you!

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:26

Grace to you

Shell

In Perfect Submission!

Psalm 119

35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

The words will not come.  But they are there.  Stuck inside my heart.  My mind can not see them or form them. But they are there.  My heart is heavy with them. Circumstances compel me to try.  Memories urge me to free them from their confined space in the deep recesses.  The Spirit groans from within my soul to intercede on my behalf.  The knowledge that God is with me, ever-present but somewhat silent keeps me sensitive to His movement at any moment.  I am at the edge of my seat. Waiting.

36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

Waiting on God.  Perhaps He is waiting on me.  Now wouldn’t that be something, each of us waiting on the other to move.  Somehow I am certain that God will not wait long.  He has a plan and nothing hinders Him from executing it with perfect timing and precision.  I see some things ahead in my life that must happen.  The opening of wounds, cleansing of  infections.  Minister and a healing.

37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Healing of fear.  The kind of fear that becomes an obstacle.   Fear, as an obstacle, becomes an emotion that binds up.  It keeps you boxed in.  It keeps you from standing up for what is right.  It keeps you from stepping out in faith.  It keeps you from speaking truth in love.  It keeps you from enjoying life.  Ultimately it may keep you from allowing God’s treatment causing greater sickness or pain.  It keeps you hostage.

38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

Hostage to anxiety.  Anxiety is the opposite of peace.  True peace is only given by God.  He says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee..”  Focusing on Jesus, God’s Son, who came to ‘give us peace’ keeps your mind from wandering to painful memories of the past, from dwelling on current heartaches and trials, from taking in all the world chaos or carrying the burden of responsibility for everyone’s failures. Trusting Him gives you hope that all will be well in His hands.  In His hands there is life.

39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

Life more abundantly.  The sky is more blue.  The music is sweeter.  Your loved ones more dear.  The time you spend with family and friends becomes more precious.  Keeping your eyes on Him, keeps you moving forward.  It keeps you faithful.  It keeps you wanting more of Him.  You do not settle for comfortable, you desire to see His glory.  Seeing His glory means walking through fire.  Fire comes it brings heat.  Heat brings pain but sometimes it brings comfort when the cold winds blow.  Cold winds of death.

40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Death to self.  Dying to self is perhaps the one thing that we humans can not do consistently.  We try and we fail.  We fall.  We get up and try to die again.  He knows of our frailty but always looks down in love upon us, being patient with us.  He is jealous for us.  We wants our love and devotion. He wants us to fear Him. Fear the Lord. The kind of fear that shows a reverence or great respect of Him. This fear says you know of God’s mighty power.  You know His limitlessness and you do not challenge Him, you trust Him.  You know of his wrath you do not blaspheme Him, you praise Him.  You know of His judgement but you seek and accept His willingness to  forgive, you confess. You repent.  You turn from your sin, your flesh.  And He saves you.  Again, He gives grace.

41 Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

Grace falls on you like a spring rain falling on freshly opened flowers.  You accept it and walk in it.  Looking up and giving thanks.  Your heart is overwhelmed by His mercy.  You sing praise with a louder voice.  You raise your open hands to Him giving Him all that was in your heart.  Your broken life, your pieces of burdens, your ignorant decisions, your rash actions, your hurtful words spewed out at others, your molested innocence, your regretful waste of time,  your lustful desires, your shattered dreams.  They are burnt up by His consuming fire.  His consuming love.  He takes the offering of ashes and replaces them with beauty.

The words came.

                   Perfect Submission

        Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! 
	O what a foretaste of glory divine! 
	Heir of salvation, purchase of God, 
	born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. 

        Refrain:
	This is my story, this is my song, 
	praising my Savior all the day long; 
	this is my story, this is my song, 
	praising my Savior all the day long. 

        Perfect submission, perfect delight, 
	visions of rapture now burst on my sight 
	angels descending bring from above 
	echoes of mercy, whispers of love. 
	(Refrain) 

        Perfect submission, all is at rest; 
	I in my Savior am happy and blest, 
	watching and waiting, looking above, 
	filled with his goodness, lost in his love. 
	(Refrain)