When This Isn’t “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you were drawn in by the title, either because you are feeling bombarded with all the “cheer” while not feeling the happiness that others expect you to feel during this time of year, or because you are curious as to why anyone would not see this as the best month of all 12.

No matter which position I have found you in, I’m asking that you relinquish all expectation of what this post is about and be present as your eyes scroll the words and your brain processes the thoughts.
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It’s everywhere. The way we “should” be feeling. How we “should” be thinking. What we “should” be buying…

So what do we do when none of our feelings encompass all of the “should(s)” placed on us, and the last thing we feel is “cheerful“?

I have been given the gift of “burden bearing.” I haven’t always thought it a gift and at times tried to mask or ignore it all together. It has only been recently that I’m learning to embrace it and see it as a blessing rather than a curse.

The transformation started several years ago when Katie was 14 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child. Her baby was given the fatal diagnosis of Trisomy 13. On December 19, 2011, at 10:45 a.m., Hallie Lynn Green was born. Weighing in at 4 lbs.15 oz. and stretching 18.75 inches long.

On December 24, 2014, Hallie passed from her mama’s arms back into the arms of Jesus. Katie wrote on her blog that day, “Thank you, God, for allowing me to be Hallie’s mother. Although losing you, Hallie, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I would carry you and love you all over again in a heartbeat. I feel like the luckiest mom in the world. I love you.”

It is Hallie’s life and Katie’s willingness to learn how to walk in the dark that moved me from a place of empathy to action. In 2012 I began my journey, through my lens, into other people’s pain. That’s a strange way of wording it, I know, but it’s the only wording that makes sense to me.

I have been invited to document the sacred moments between life and death. There are days when I will experience the beauty of life and the gnawing sorrow of death, all within a matter of hours. I stand witness to a wide spectrum of emotions, at times, with people I’ve only just met.

The way to deal with painful emotions is not to get rid of them, it’s to sit with and in them, making the darkness conscious. Knowing that there will once again be light. Being able to experience emotion is key to paving a path to peace. To suppress it is toxic. The further we push it down, the more it festers until one day we can no longer bandage the gaping wound. Some cannot believe that the light will ever return. But it will. Healing is possible. I’ve watched it happen. However, to come to that place, one must be willing to wrestle the angel of darkness.

It is helpful to remember that grief is unpredictable. It shows up at the most inopportune times. It often comes without warning, when there are no Kleenex anywhere to be found and you didn’t apply waterproof mascara. It’s presence is often uncomfortable and frustrating. Even so, each time it appears there is something to be learned. Though the uninvited teacher, pain is not our enemy.

For those friends and family feeling helpless, may I offer some encouragement? There are 3 things you can do to help the one you love.
~ Be Present (Don’t avoid reaching out or taking something by and leaving it on their doorstep or in their mailbox)
~ Listen (I wish we could be more comfortable listening than speaking. It is a learned behavior. When wanting to make someone feel important, listen intently to them.)
~ Be okay with “uncomfortable silence.” (Silence is beautiful when we consciously befriend it.)

If you are currently learning to walk through the darkness, may I speak these truths into your heart?
~ You are not alone.
~ The Creator of the Universe knows you by name. He formed you, piece by piece and therefore sees you and hears your cries.
~ Jesus himself promises that those who mourn will be comforted. (Matthew 5:1-14)
~ You have permission to lower the bar.
If you don’t want to go to that holiday party, don’t go.
If you find your eyes welling with tears while walking down the grocery store isle, it’s okay to walk away from your cart and leave the store.

We must embrace the seasons of darkness just as we long for the seasons of light. To have one without the other leaves us lacking perspective and appreciation for either.

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Was this post helpful? Do you have anything to add about seasons of grief? How can we pray for you? How have you been encouraged through pain? Feel free to leave a comment and we will respond.

If you’re in need of encouragement, click here for a fantastic message from Joel Thomas.
To hear the song inspired by Hallie’s life, written by Casey Darnell, click here

3 Ways I’m Learning to Manage My Mania

manic |ˈmanik|
adjective
• showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy
• frenetically busy; frantic
• Psychiatry relating to or affected by mania
colorBeing manic is one color of my crazy. The onset is sudden and usually follows a series of events (bad or good) that require emotional processing. As I’ve mentioned before, food followed by purging has been my way of coping with seemingly overwhelming circumstances. I’m grateful to say that, though the struggle is persistent, I am learning other ways to deal. If bulimia and restricting calories is your vice of choice, I’m here to tell you, there are strategies that work better and longer than the momentary euphoria accompanying an eating disorder (or any self destructive behavior, for that matter).

Acknowledge It ~ It sounds simple, but it isn’t…always. In order to rectify anything we must first confront it. It’s best we do this before the one closest to us points it out. When I feel this wild energy bubbling up, I look at myself in the mirror and call it out. It usually sounds something like this, “Hey, crazy. Slow down. Take a step back. Wait to make any decisions until this chaos has calmed.” If Chris is the one pointing it out to me, for some reason, it is not well received.

Seek Wise Counsel ~ I have 3 advisers in my life. This week, I sought the direction of my spiritual adviser and counselor. I literally walked into her office blurting out the craziness swarming around in my brain. She listened and responded in a constructive and applicable way. The willingness to reach out and express my thoughts and compulsive behavior with someone who knows me and loves me anyway, is crucial to my wellness. Without it, keeping a clear and healthy approach to life is impossible.

Find a Quiet Space ~ I’ve said this before…when I need to “retreat” I sit on the floor of my closet with the door closed. It seems to be the only place I find stillness. There are times when I am in desperate need of divine direction and I can’t hear that direction if I don’t physically remove myself from all of the noise bombarding me every moment of every day. I close my eyes and breathe in a deep cleansing breath. As I slowly let it out, I envision myself physically exhaling the frantic and again, inhaling calm. This is surprisingly helpful. Just the mental image of the action, puts me at ease.
RetreatFor those of you reading and nodding your head, “Yep. That’s me. Uh huh. Me too! How’d she know that?!” I hope this is a source of encouragement and hope for you. We all have our experience. What good is it if we’re not sharing it to help others face challenges and overcome adversity? There is so much power in being able to relate to another human being. In doing so we’re saying, “You’re not alone. I get it.”

Does this resonate somewhere with you? Maybe you thought of someone you know? Talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking.

Screaming through closed lips

I have the answer to the question all of us wrestle in the depths of our soul. I’m walking around with the key to eternal life. I have the ability to provide hope to the hopeless and shine light in the darkness. How can I not tell absolutely everyone I meet about Jesus? How can I not share that this week symbolizes the entire purpose of my life as a follower of Christ? How can I not be joyful always?

IMG_1946May I be honest with you? Today…I wasn’t joyful. Today, I didn’t emanate the light of the world. Today, I kept to myself, annoyed by most everyone whom I felt got in my way. Today, I made excuses and rationalized my weaknesses.

Jeff Henderson made a statement in his message on Sunday that will forever stay with me, hopefully at the forefront of my mind. He said,
God is not your punisher, He’s your rescuer.
Don’t miss this. Read it out loud.

God is not your punisher
,
He’s your rescuer.

IMG_7819He went on to say, “If more people knew this truth not only would they not drift away from church or from Jesus, they would run to Jesus. They would run to their rescuer.”

Isn’t that a powerful word picture? Who came to mind when you pictured someone running into the shelter of the Savior?

This is big. Understanding of this one thing could change absolutely everything.

If I believe this, can I honestly look into the eyes of the postal worker stamping “certified mail” on my state tax return and not tell him about the peace that passes all understanding? When seeing the downcast demeanor of the girl behind the check out counter, how could I not tell her about my Jesus who rescued me from myself?

I keep within me this overwhelming gratitude for what my Savior did for me. Sometimes it’s so powerful I cannot contain it. I have to lift my hands or close my tear filled eyes and say out loud, “Thank you. Jesus. Thank you for saving me. I was lost, but now I’m found. Thank you for grace that saved a wretch like me.”

If grouped into categories, I would be with the worst kind of sinners. There are “Christians” I know who would not be associated with me in an effort to protect and promote their own reputation. And yet, the Savior of the world calls me by name and reminds me that I am his chosen one. Was I the only human being in need of saving, still he would have died the most gruesome of deaths to rescue me from eternal darkness.

It’s almost too much for my brain to comprehend. It certainly isn’t deserved or earned. I want everyone to know this God…the God of my rescue.

What if, just this week, we viewed him this way?
What if, just this week, we approached the throne of grace with a new-found hope and praise on our lips.
What if, just this week, we embraced the sacrifice and acknowledged that the maker of heaven and earth paid the ultimate price for our freedom because…He thinks we’re worth it.

The King has paid my ransom and by his wounds…I am healed.Face and Cross

To listen to Jeff’s message click HERE
To check out the entire series #WhyInTheWorld click HERE

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To my Beautiful Children

My Loves

It’s no secret that I have wrestled demons in the past. One of them being body image. As I read posts on social media raising awareness this week about eating disorders (ED), I cannot help but be grateful. It wasn’t too long ago that I was in the depths of my illness. In an effort to help others and avoid ever going back to that place, I cannot forget what that desperation and skewed sense of self felt like.

My body put up with 12 long years of abuse. Starvation, binging, purging, excessive use of diuretics, substances…many things that would cause bewilderment one day when looking back.

My relationship with food is still not one to be envied. It’s rather dysfunctional and requires much work on a daily basis. As with everything in my life, it’s about progress, not perfection. Someone once told me, “Even if everyday you take two steps forward and one step back, you’re still one step further than you would be.”

If you remember nothing else from these writings, please remember this, “Let go of perfection. It will ruin you.”

I bring you into this conversation to acknowledge the times when I will say silly things like,
“I wish my thighs still fit in those jeans.”
Or,
“I remember when my stomach was flat and toned…before babies”
Or,
“I don’t even tan the same after having children.”
And any number of other things that are disrespectful to this body that has housed me for over 30 years.

It’s true that I am a mere version of my former self. It’s true that my thighs are thicker, my belly softer, my arms looser, my backside…well, let’s just say, things don’t sit where they used to. It’s also true that pregnancy, nursing, lack of sleep, unnecessary worry, baby carriers, and bending over cribs as slowly as possibly in an effort not to wake you after finally rocking you to sleep, had something to do with it. Those are the beautiful reasons for my transformation. The not so beautiful and less mentioned reasons are the results of my lack of discipline in the areas of exercise, eating junk food, staying up too late, not enough water, and various other things.

My Darlings, when I look at you I know that you are my greatest investment.

When I stand naked and vulnerable in front of the mirror, surveying my body, familiarizing myself with the curves, lines and dimples that have claimed permanent residence on my frame, I run my finger along my cesarean scar reminding myself that just beneath the surface of this scar is a womb that cradled you until my arms would. Just below that layer is a vessel for life. How could I ever regret that?! When I turn sideways and see the pooch that has become a constant companion, I stand up a little straighter and remember how far my belly skin stretched as you grew into a living, breathing, human being. When shopping for the “perfect” fitting bra that eludes me, I am reminded that these breasts sustained three lives! How can I be upset by the inconvenience that I feel they sometimes cause me?

Depending on when you’re reading this, that last paragraph might make you cringe. I get it! I almost didn’t type it! But I’m not going to be a host for shame anymore. I’m not going to sit quietly while other women feel isolated in their thinking. I’m not going to allow anyone to tell me that I’m not okay the way I am.

The truth is my loves, I am more than okay. I’m fantastic. I’m better than I have ever been. This beautiful body has done more good than I ever would have given it credit for. After years of mistreatment by its tenant, it has been very forgiving.

If there was only one thing that I could tell you about body image it would be this, “When looking, thinking about and caring for your physique, remember to be grateful for its functions. There will always be something you wish you could change. Always. Why not focus on the miracle that is life? I think you will discover that you have everything you need to be an exceptional version of yourself.

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No quit Monday

Cherub statueDo you see it?
The smile I wear so big and bright.
Do you know I came home and collapsed in a pile on the bed
Tired of being tired.
Mentally drained.
Emotionally exhausted.
Spiritually hungry.

Of course you don’t.
How could you?
I would never say those words.

I wouldn’t tell you that I’m consumed with thoughts of motherless children, the homeless, forgotten, abused, discarded human beings and those plagued by addiction.
Little ones and big ones alike who cannot help themselves, overwhelm my longing to be the hands and feet of Christ.
There are too many, Lord.
Where do I even begin?

I don’t always want to live up to my name.
Sometimes I want to pass by without notice.
Sometimes I want to look down at my feet instead of making eye contact.
Sometimes I wish to blend into the background.

What?

It’s true.
Today.
I miss my friend who died last May, leaving two beautiful children and the man of her dreams behind.
My insides ache for my daughter imprisoned by her own mind.
I countdown to 2 weeks when I no longer have a steady paycheck.
I realize that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

What if I’m not good enough?
What if I fail?
What if I made a mistake thinking this could work?
What if I can’t do this?
What if it’s my will, not God’s?

I close the door to my closet,
Flip the light off,
Sit on the floor,
Wall against my back,
Listening to myself breathe.

Deep, calculated, cleansing breath in.
I fill up my lungs until the tingle runs down my scalp.
Slow breath out
the worry, stress, insecurity, doubt and any possible regret exit with it.

Does she know I would be there if I could?
Does she know how hard I fight for her?
I am no longer in the circle of decision.
Doesn’t she know, had I not placed distance there, I could not have recovered?
No.
She doesn’t know.
She shouldn’t know.

It’s okay.
I tell myself…again.
But it isn’t, is it?
Not today.
Today it stings like the hornet.
Today I wallow in mental despondency.
Today I long for sleep and nothing else.

Today is almost gone.
What will I show for it when looking back?
I kept breathing.
In and out.
I got up and put one foot in front of the other.
I kept breathing.

God, please don’t allow me to stay here, in this place, for very long.
Darkness tries to hide you,
But your presence is fierce.
Words try to mask your message
But you cannot be silenced.
Time tries to deflect your promises
But to you, what is time?

Pull me from my melancholy stance.
My inner rantings.
My futile attempts at peace.

No… Don’t.
Stay here with me while the pain escapes through salty tears and silent screams.
Stay here. In the anguish. Until it has all been felt and I can turn towards your cleansing light.

What am I to you, God of the universe.
A mere mortal whose time is comparable to dust.
Who’s life is but a vapor.
Who am I to you?
Whisper the answer to my impatient soul.

Stay with me in the stillness.
Stay until dawn breaks the thickness of night.
Stay until silence is replaced with singing.
Stay.
With me here.
Until I can get up off this floor
And stand on my own two feet.

Then will I know the storm has passed.

“To know him is to love him”

The title of this post is taken from Caden Beggan’s community facebook page. Unlike I, you have probably been following his story. I just read about Caden today. It is always gut wrenching to read of a child and family enduring something like this, but what caught my eye was his name. Caden Riley Beggan. His first and middle name being the names and exact spelling of each of my sons. He is 6 years old, just as my Riley is.

This is a lengthy post. I have copied excerpts from posts written by his father on his community page. I am astounded by the faith of this man. The purpose of this precious ones struggle falls under one of those things that we spoke about several days ago that I just don’t understand and wouldn’t be able to change even if I did.

I am forever changed after reading this family’s journey.

November 9
“Dear friends,

Friday. Some 17 days after contracting a highly virulent infection (meningococcal septicaemia), Caden is alive.

Its malignancy, its utter loathing and disrespect for life knows no bounds. It is a mephitic organism whose stench will forever pervade my future; a poisonous and offensive bug whose sole purpose, it’s very reason for existing, seems to have been for the ruin of my son.

But, Caden . . . my champion, my hero, that tough little warrior fights on with the heart of a lion and continues to defy the odds. *His* existence will forever be a credit to him, a badge of honour, a praise to his Father in Heaven.

Let the Angels sing, Caden is alive!
Dance on your tears, Caden is alive!

I have not really seen the sun much these past two weeks, but a friend persuaded me to take a walk yesterday, and perhaps even consider a haircut (I’m assured that one was long overdue). So I did, and I did. A very kind hairdresser listened while I shared a little heartache and peppered it with a little hope. I even stopped by a clothes shop on the way back to the hospital and purchased something warm for the winter.

Daylight. Haircut. Shopping. Caden.

The streets were crowded, people everywhere busying themselves with their daily concerns, and then there was Caden. People talking, and Caden. People walking, and Caden. In every phone conversation as people raced to their destination, Caden. In every shop window, in every Christmas decoration, Caden. Then, the sun, in the last few minutes before retiring for the evening; so conspicuously absent from the dark shadows of the last 17 days, opened my eyes.

Caden was still alive; is still alive and lying in a hospital bed some five hundred yards from where I was standing. Right there, in that bustling sidewalk, I lifted my voice to the heavens, and declared that day a good day. How can I mourn the loss of a son who is still very much alive?…

I pray and I hope as one walking on thin ice, afraid to move this way or that for fear of plunging into a black abyss of despair. Last night, I fell asleep on my knees. I had few, if any words, but I held on to every ounce of faith I had and this morning I came to Caden’s bedside with a steely determination. My son lives. My son wants to live, of that there’s no doubt, and for as long as I am his father, I will fight with him and for him using everything I can. I cannot *make* him better, but I can pray. I cannot fix him, but I can share his remarkable story.

…I have begun work on a storybook that we hope will help Caden understand what has happened to him while he’s “been asleep.” It began with a dream that his Mum had. In the story, our intrepid hero (Caden) has to battle a very vicious and wicked monster. In the end, Caden defeats his foe, but with a heavy price. He then spends some time being transformed into a superhero who in turn helps others to fight their demons.

#KeepOnPinking
#PrayForCaden

Caden’s Dad — with Angela Beggan and Rachel Catherine Pattison in Linthouse.”

November 10
Day 18.
“Caden is alive.

…More upsetting was having to break the news of Caden’s hand to his elder brother, Declan. Declan is strong though, and through tears, he spent time with his brother, talking to him and asking many questions about Caden’s future. Even Ethan was excited to we Caden today. “I want to get closer daddy,” he insisted. I am greatly encouraged by this, since I really believe healing is beginning in their hearts also.

Declan’s grief was a stark reminder of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. My heart once again echoed his sorrow, “It is NOT fair!”

In truth, it is nothing short of an atrocity for which no one will be held accountable. There will be no court of arbitration, no sentence passed, or day of recompense. A merciless pestilence has perpetrated its appalling crime and I am condemned to watch my son’s slow demise as piece by piece he is stripped of his dignity, and I feel powerless to affect the final outcome.

Where is the outcry? Where are the mourners? Why aren’t you wearing black when you show up with your platitudes? Let the laughter cease and the wailing commence, for my precious Caden lies bruised and battered, slain in effect; cut down and trampled underfoot.

My heart bleeds, “It is not fair!”

And yet . . . There is so much suffering in the world, suffering that until recently, has been kept at bay, and has kindly observed a safe distance from my front door. Everyday, on the way to see Caden, I pass numerous sick children whose parents’ faces are painted with desperate anguish; desperate to have their pleas heard by some Higher Power capable of doing what they wish they could do for their own child. All around us, children are dying. So with all this suffering, can I really yell, “Foul!”? Who am I that I should be exempt from these miseries? Who am I that I should be spared this horror? Who am I to question why it did not happen to a nameless other?

I am persuaded that no matter how horrific my affliction, there will always be someone worse off than I. Can I really compare my personal grief to that of another? Isn’t their suffering just as valid as my own? Even if, unlike my Caden, their offspring still looks like their child. Even with a valid claim to pain, such as the agony I feel right now, can any of us ever truly understand what it is like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? The cry, “Unfair!” may very well itself be unfair.

However, I have observed something else alongside the suffering. In the midst of the worst, the very best has come to light. From all over the world, near and far, angels of mercy bear witness to grace and share their compassion. They come with love and with gifts, with consolation and comfort. And the grace that they attest to falls upon my brow to soothe my aching. What started as a trickle is becoming a flood, a wave of mercy bringing its relief.

In the shade of my Father’s covering, I will rest a short while and gather my strength. I will let him tell me of his great love. Let him convince me that he has not abandoned me. Let him show his loving-kindness greater than any other. Let it be so. Let it be so.”

Excerpt taken from post on November 11
“Another Sunday. Another day. Another hour. Another minute.

Every day an anniversary; a landmark celebration of Caden’s life, of Caden’s struggle, of Caden’s victories. Every day a memorial; a tearful reminder of the life Caden once had, of Caden’s losses. Every day is a thousand years. Every day is a fleeting instant. Every day an angry shout. Every day a tender whisper. Every day a mournful procession. Every day an adrenaline shot. Every day a troubadour’s song. Every day a dumbstruck tongue. Every day an isolation. Every day a crowd of comforters. Every day alone, but never alone.

Always whimpering, always smiling. Always down, always up. Cursing and blessing. Hating and loving. Agonising and hoping. Lying and promising. Fearing and trusting.

I crave the crags in the caves where the light does not disturb my lament or the saltwater waves irritate my wounds. I long for the mirth of pastoral country; simple and serene and seeded with brighter tomorrows. I am one day this, and one day that, but I am always these: Caden’s dad and my Father’s son.

I am not here to talk about me though I am deeply grateful for this space, for this community of compassion, where weary pilgrims, such as I, may share their story. I am here to talk to you about my dear six-year old son, Caden Riley Beggan.

He is my waking, my morning; my sleeping, my yawning. His smile shifts even the darkest clouds. His rantings and ramblings, his playing and his mischief are staple foods in my daily diet, and each aspect of his beautiful self is as nourishing as the next. I have placed, at times, such hopes in him; dreamt of futures and possibilities that every father would do for their own child. I suppose the truth is I see so much of myself in Caden. I have talked to God a thousand times in terms of my past, wishing my son(s) would repeat none of my mistakes, and do everything I wished that I could have, that I should have.

I’d think nothing of spending hours watching him as he etches with his pencil his fantastical worlds – a resplendent imagination. In spite of the fact that most of Christmas Days or Birthdays consisted of co-building Lego kits (though he needed no help), I wouldn’t trade one father-son play-date for any kind of treasure you’d care to mention.

As I sit and watch his fragile body, some foot and a half shorter than it should be, dressed in black scars and plastic, I still marvel at the beauty of this exceptional piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps, God’s finest moment.

It is as tragic as the rip of a saw through the Mona Lisa. No! Even more so, but I’m still compelled to laud his life; to lionise my son; to glorify my Father in my admiration of Caden’s true beauty.

The true beauty of the Mona Lisa is not in the painting itself, but in the mind of the one who created it. The true value of such a priceless work of art lies not in the single view of any critic, but the admiration of the many. And there is much to admire about my son, not least of all his courage.”

Excerpt taken from a post on November 18
“…We are not who we were, as Caden himself is not who he was. We are the first words in a new chapter, and writer’s block seeks to rob us of our imagination for the future. We are at the edge of an abyss, blindly groping our way around for a footbridge. We will not fall victim to despair. We will give no quarter to the sorrow that would inhabit our lives. We grieve, but with hope, and for many tomorrows, as many as God sees fit to grant us.

You may pity my misfortune and together we will mourn our losses, but if you cry with me, then you must also laugh with me on that glorious day when together we pen the words, “Caden is awake!”

November 20, 2012

“Dear friends,

Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.

Thank you for all your support.

Caden is alive forevermore . . .”

If you would like to send cards to the family, please feel free to send to the family home.
David and Angela
1 Wishaw Low Road
Cleland
ML1 5QU

‘Tis the Season to…

stop judging.
Fah-lah-lah-lah-lah
la-lah-lah-lah

I mean it. Stop it!

For many of us the holidays are a wonderful time of the year.
It’s a time for celebration and togetherness.
For others of us it’s a time of survival.
A time of trying to get out of bed in the morning and put one foot in front of the other.
A time that we long to end.

I don’t know what place you are in today.
I know where I am. I know from whence I came.
Therefore I can tell you that I have experienced both extremes.
The pain of uncertainty and the joy of security.

My prayer for you today is peace and rest, contentment and delight, meet you right where you are. For an overwhelming sense of well-being to fill your soul. Tangible evidence of love so deep and wide and unconditional that you can’t help but give thanks for the moment.

For my friend who is facing the holidays without her mother for the first time, I pray for the kind of comfort that only a mother can give. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to document a day in the last few weeks of her life. What an incredible honor.

For my friend who’s husband left her a single mother by choice, I pray for God’s provision and protection in the coming year in a way that no earthly man could provide. Thank you for sharing your story with others in hopes of being a light in a dark time. I know that in time, your heart will heal.

For my friend who is explaining thankfulness to his two children who lost their mother six months ago, I pray for words of wisdom to flow from your lips into little ears of understanding. Thank you for accepting “Happy’s” from me wrapped in crazy patterned duct tape and filled with things like “happy hearts” with arms for hugging. I will never forget how during one of the darkest moments in your life, you took the time to tell me about her love of the clinging cross, helping me feel like I was there with her during the agonizing pain even when my physical presence was not.

For my friend who would be less than a month away from celebrating her baby girl’s 1st birthday, I pray for peace as memories of the days that she had in your arms are relived. Thank you for allowing me to be one of the incredibly fortunate ones who got to meet her during her short time on earth. What a gift!

For my friend with a heart aching for the man she loves who was taken too soon. My prayer for you, dearly loved, is that you will dream big! That the purpose in your sorrow would be made known as I believe it is unfolding before us now. I pray that your story would impact others in a way that no one else can. I pray that you will love again and have a long, passion filled, beautiful life. Thank you for letting me come alongside you on this journey. You are teaching me so much about what true strength is and what faith really means.

There are more of you. Please know that you are loved. You are prayed over, you are lifted up, you are thought of.

For those who will be making mad dashes to cash in on the black Friday sales, good luck.
For each of us, may we remember to stop and think before cutting our eyes at the lady with the screaming child or cutting in front of the driver going too seemingly slow. This is a time of reflection. It’s a time to look to the left and the right and ask what we can do for someone other than ourselves. In the end Darling, it’s really all that matters anyway. What we do for others, I mean. Next year you won’t remember what you purchased at the “sale.” For me, I always remember the feeling of doing something for someone else. There is nothing better.

Blessings to you in this coming season and the new year that will follow. May all that is good and true and beautiful be yours.