Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Letter From My Heart to You...

At the end of each year, generally in a Christmas card, you will often find the "Holiday Letter." You know the one, it updates everyone on the events of the year. Well this is kind of like that, and yet a bit different... after all with Facebook so many of us are keeping up with those events already, what this is, is a letter from my heart.

As most of you know, 2013 was an eventful year in my family. 

January begun filled with prayerful optimism, Glenn's battle against cancer had been going well and Christmas with the family was a joy, and Glenn had played percussion in the Candlelight service. Our precious Cecilia turned 3, so amazing!  We were making plans for the year ahead, and the scripture in my heart was Ecclesiastes 3 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. And I still stand on that. By the end of that month, the doctors reports were changing and the prognosis was not good, that however never changed our faith, God is a big God, and our trust has always been, and mine still is, in Him!

Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Psalms 46:10-11 Be still, and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

February came and we continued to make plans, plans for a garden and plans to meet our grandson that was to arrive in May. Jeremy and Whitney came to visit and we were blessed with a wonderful opportunity to have all the family together and get some family pictures done... Again, I am thankful for the timing of the Lord.

In March the challenges increased, but so did our faith. We continued to plan and enjoy life together, though our sense of humor some may have viewed as a bit weird, but it allowed us to laugh and keep positive through the tough moments. Psa 18:32 It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. We were keenly aware of what was going on in the physical, but our focus remained on the Lord during it all. My love and admiration for Glenn, as a husband, father and man of God continued to grow through every moment of the battle. His faith never wavered, he knew the God of his salvation. We followed the course that the Lord gave us and I continue trusting the Lord to guide my path still.

April brought us Easter, and the reminder of the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus, and the Salvation gift on the cross. It brought us time with family, and the girls Easter Egg Hunt, always fun to watch! Papa loved his grandbabies, even the one he had yet to see. Micah's dedication was in April and we were there, it brought joy to his heart to know that his grandchildren would be raised in the house of the Lord.

May was a month of tears, my heart broken at the loss of my best friend on earth, my lover, my husband, and at the same time tears of joy at the arrival of his namesake, Asher Glenn, who has his Papa's kind eyes. Though we didn't get the healing as we wanted it, the fact that we did get a miracle, became plain to my eyes, the doctors were talking weeks in March of 2012 but we were blessed with 14 months, and quite of few of them good ones! Glenn was able to teach, share and pray for others during that time, and this brought tears of happy memories. And now he is no longer in any pain, but doing what he loved most, worshiping in God's presence. We said 'good-bye' to him at the end of May, a hard time but a proud moment, my children are amazing and they they stepped up with so much strength. In addition to my children are my family and friends who stepped up and helped me through it.

The summer is somewhat of a blur, I began to move forward in a new chapter of life, beginning as I returned to the work-world as an employee, but have kept my business going, the Lord has given me provision to pay my bills each month and I am grateful for that. He is seeing me stretched in ways I am very uncomfortable with, but I trust He has a reason.

Fall arrived, over the months my heart is healing-- there are still some very raw parts but God's love is a balm of healing upon them. I think of the memories of last year and the good holiday season we had and the memories are happy and I will have them forever... that helps me through the low points.

As fall pushed into winter, and the holidays approached I began to reflect on things, and during the month of November I took the time to focus on the things I am thankful for, keeping a thankful heart is crucial to me... it keeps things in perspective, I really am blessed! From there I moved into sharing memories of holiday times, they add smiles to my spirit.

As I close, I would be amiss if I didn't mention one of the things that touched me most of all during this year of challenges- the amount of love shown to me by family, church family and friends from all over. Your prayers, words, thoughts, pictures, and deeds overwhelm me. You are God's hands whether you know it or not, you propped me up, picked me up and have helped me to move forward... And that is what I think of when I think of Christmas... Emanuel, Christ with us, those actions remind me of God's love for each of us, I was just in the position this year to see it, not necessarily more clearly, but in a new way from a different angle. Thank you all for this.

I am doing well, all things considered  though yes, I have moments, but the Strength I get from the Lord and the people he has placed in my life continue to help me walk forward. I know He has plans for me and I have faith that He will reveal them when the time is right. So I look to 2014 with optimism and joy in my heart anxious for the year ahead.

My prayers and best wishes for each of you to have an I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and you will have amazing and blessed 2014!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some Very Special Holiday Memories

Remember each and every day you have the opportunity to 'Make a Memory.'  Not only the over the top days, sometimes they are the ordinary things and yes, there are are those days you think you'd rather forget- in the long term you may smile at those crazy ones. I can just say that, know this, in the long run, it's the memory of all these things that you will have come to mind, and they can encourage you on darker days, just bringing a smile across your lips can change your day. Enjoy life, and each day take advantage of the moments that you can use to make memories for you and your family. 

Since the day after Thanksgiving I have been sharing some memories of the holiday season. There is something so magical about those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, whether you are a child or an adult you know it's true.

Some memories are from my childhood and youth and others since I was married, I am going to share a couple here that are different from what I've put on Facebook, they have a special place among all my memories for one reason or another as you will see. 

Christmas mornings with our kids, it's so hard to pinpoint one, you see each one has moments that are engraved on my heart. Generally I was pretty tired when they started... due to the fact that I was the one who wrapped the gifts and it usually took place after the kids were asleep on Christmas Eve. 

We would start the mornings with cinnamon rolls, the store bought, orange kind, they were baked before the turkey went in. After the rapid elimination of them the kids were allowed their stockings, for gifts, they had to wait until Glenn was ready... I think he stalled at times just to drive them nuts!

Once they were old enough to read names on packages I had to get creative with identifying the gifts so that they didn't guess everything ahead... Amber was a master guesser! This was done in a variety of ways, different every year; bow color, paper, reindeer names, numbers- that was the hardest for them, because I simply wrote a list with the numbers and who the gift was for, in no real order. The game then became, 'What system is mom using this year?'

The delight on the kids faces always warmed my heart, even in the toughest of years, they were always grateful for what they got, and we had some very lean years as well as some very abundant ones. I think those hard ones were harder on me than the kids... very hard, but God has worked on that part of me too.

Grandad & Santa Rosa- The year after my mom passed away,  we were in Santa Rosa and couldn't afford to come to Oregon and visit family, it was a very lean year. But God found a way to make it a very memorable Christmas for us. My brother had arranged for my dad to fly down and be with us for Christmas. The kids were so excited that he was coming, and some neighbors of ours had invited us to join them for Christmas, and blessed the kids with some gifts too. It was a wonderful time and very special to my heart.

Something the kids did that year still makes me smile, they have always been creative, and that year they took it upon themselves to put things under the tree, they regifted toys to each other and made necklaces of beads and buttons, though I don't have them, I can still see them in my mind's eye.

My Coat - When I was in high school there was one year that all I really wanted was a specific coat, it was a long coat, knee length like everyone was wearing that year. I had my heart set on it and was so sure I was going to get it, we unwrapped all the presents and it wasn't there, I don't remember what all I got, and I didn't say anything about it, but about a half an hour after the gift mess was all cleaned up, my mom asked if I was okay... I guess my face said what my mouth didn't. I said yes, she pressed me, I fessed up that I had been hoping for the coat  we had looked at. Well, the look that came over her face--- "Uh Oh" could only kind of describe it, she made a dash for her closet and brought out a package, that hadn't made it under the tree. (Easy to happen with 5 kids.) And it was my coat! She was so sorry for forgetting it, but I was so elated for it's arrival that it being late, really didn't matter.

Following Nana's gift advice- I think I was about 8 or so, and my grandmother, "Nana," had taken me Christmas shopping, I was absolutely stumped on what to get one of my brothers, Brent must have been about 13 and in Jr High, and those big kids were hard to shop for. So Nana offered a suggestion that she thought Brent would appreciate because he was always so aware of his appearance. She had me get him some Head and Shoulder's shampoo.... LOL, it seemed like good advice at the time, and the people that used it in the commercials were all so amazing and popular... yeah Gift FAIL!  I never followed her gift advice again.

Oh Holy Night- The final one that I will mention is so precious to me- it is about the first Christmas after Glenn got saved, and our hearts were turning toward the Lordship of Christ in our lives, we weren't fully there yet but the shift had begun. It was before we were married, we had been at his parents for Christmas eve and we decided to go over to St. Anne's for the Christmas Eve Mass. This is the church that he had served in as an (ornery) alter boy when he was in grade school. We went and as the traditional carols were sung, Glenn did something that turned a few heads, he put up his hands in worship during those carols (not normally done there at that time, drew a couple looks, oh well, lol). They were no longer just 'songs,' the meaning of them had taken up new significance. Even though it was some months late,r that we really began to make the changes in our lives that we would carry into our adulthood and 99% of our married life, it was evident to both of us that something had changed in us that night.

Take some time in this crazy season to make a memory, freeze a moment of time in your mind, as I know from experience, they can, and will help you to smile and get through the toughest of moments that may come. Above all, remember the reason for the season is the celebration of the arrival of the Greatest Gift the world will ever know- the gift that brought us everlasting life, it arrived in the form of a small baby, Jesus.

May you have a blessed and joyous Christmas Season, don't let it overwhelm you, let it warm you.