When Christmas Isn’t Merry

When Christmas Isn’t Merry

Two friends texted me last night asking their circles to pray for a woman named Molly Remmert Rossell. When Heather sent me Molly’s story, I cried in the parking lot of Hobby Lobby. She is my age with three little girls. My day had been hard with sick girls and a baby who has a nasty double ear infection. Heather’s son had flooded her house, once again, with a toilet mishap. But everything comes into perspective when you read Molly’s story. And while I was out trying to shop for a few last Christmas things, it was a sobering reminder that Christmas isn’t about presents. It’s about presence. Our presence with family, friends, and a world that needs to know Love. And His Presence coming down as a Baby to redeem this broken world. Hope isn’t the removal of our awful circumstances. Hope is the promise of our Savior’s return and His complete and victorious redemption of this world. Molly, this Bama girl is praying for you and your husband and for those three beautiful daughters.

Last year in the wee hours of the morning, I wrote the following post. I was feeding my one month old, and my heart was broken for several I loved who were walking through a very painful Christmas. I don’t know where you are today, but I hope these words encourage you.

When Christmas Isn’t Merry ~ Originally published December 23, 2014 

Right now someone is buying a sparkly ring and practicing dropping to one knee. Someone is getting in the car to head to the hospital to welcome a tiny newborn to the world. Someone is arriving home from college glad to be in the safe embrace of home with a home-cooked meal at last. Someone just got news that her loved one is in remission. Someone just got a job.

And at the same time someone is facing her first Christmas as a single mom. And someone is devastated because there isn’t a new stocking on the mantel this year just like last year and the year before that. Someone heads home from college to fighting and a tense home. Someone just heard there’s nothing more the doctors can do. Someone is facing her first Christmas without a parent. Someone just found out she’s been downsized and doesn’t know how she will pay the mortgage next month. Someone is stuck at home with sick littles or desperate for a good night’s sleep. Someone is worried and afraid. Someone feels lonely and forgotten.

We feel like if Christmas isn’t merry and bright, all smiles and good cheer, then we’ve somehow messed up and missed out. But we haven’t. My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til 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, O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine

There we are in all our brokenness pining for the Only One who can make us whole. But when He appears the soul feels its worth. At last. The thrill of Hope. Our weary heart rejoices.

The world tells us that our Christmas has to be merry and bright. But God whispers the truth. Fall on your knees, sweet child. I’ve got you. I know you’re broken and weary. I know your burdens. And I am shattering your darkness with the Light that brings Hope. I know you’re in the pitch-black of night right now, but I’m going to show you Divine.

God didn’t wait until morning. He didn’t wait until our circumstances were better or we had our act together because He knew that would never happen this side of Heaven. Instead, He comes to us in our weakest moment and brings the Light.

You don’t have to pretend your Christmas is merry if it isn’t. All you have to do is fall on your knees and hear the angels’ voices, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Fear not, weary one, your Savior has come.

When Christmas Isn’t Merry

When Christmas Isn’t Merry

Right now someone is buying a sparkly ring and practicing dropping to one knee. Someone is getting in the car to head to the hospital to welcome a tiny newborn to the world. Someone is arriving home from college glad to be in the safe embrace of home with a home-cooked meal at last. Someone just got news that her loved one is in remission. Someone just got a job.

And at the same time someone is facing her first Christmas as a single mom. And someone is devastated because there isn’t a new stocking on the mantel this year just like last year and the year before that. Someone heads home from college to fighting and a tense home. Someone just heard there’s nothing more the doctors can do. Someone is facing her first Christmas without a parent. Someone just found out she’s been downsized and doesn’t know how she will pay the mortgage next month. Someone is stuck at home with sick littles or desperate for a good night’s sleep. Someone is worried and afraid. Someone feels lonely and forgotten.

We feel like if Christmas isn’t merry and bright, all smiles and good cheer, then we’ve somehow messed up and missed out. But we haven’t. My favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til 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, O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night divine, O night, O night divine

There we are in all our brokenness pining for the Only One who can make us whole. But when He appears the soul feels its worth. At last. The thrill of Hope. Our weary heart rejoices.

The world tells us that our Christmas has to be merry and bright. But God whispers the truth. Fall on your knees, sweet child. I’ve got you. I know you’re broken and weary. I know your burdens. And I am shattering your darkness with the Light that brings Hope. I know you’re in the pitch-black of night right now, but I’m going to show you Divine.

God didn’t wait until morning. He didn’t wait until our circumstances were better or we had our act together because He knew that would never happen this side of Heaven. Instead, He comes to us in our weakest moment and brings the Light.

You don’t have to pretend your Christmas is merry if it isn’t. All you have to do is fall on your knees and hear the angels’ voices, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Fear not, weary one, your Savior has come.

When You Don’t Know What to Say

When You Don’t Know What to Say

photo (56)If I’m being honest, writing has been very hard recently. Maybe it’s the heat or the sheer exhaustion from the second half of pregnancy. But really I think it’s that I have several people I love whose hearts are smashed wide open right now. And my heart is broken for them. I shared with Matt the other night that I just feel so inadequate. I’m at a loss for what to say or what to do to help them. A simple meal and my scribbled out prayers seem so vastly insufficient to the depth of pain they are swimming through right now.

Yesterday, we were at the zoo, and the otters weren’t in the water like they normally are. It was an overcast day, and they were all nestled together in the basin of a bed of rocks, heads flopped on top of one another making it difficult to tell where one otter ended and another began. That’s what I wish I could do with my hurting friends. I wish I could tuck them in to a safe place where they didn’t feel alone or rejected or broken. I wish I could snuggle them in and give them a long nap, the peaceful sleep that’s been evasive recently. I wish they could feel surrounded until the intense loneliness subsides.

I wish I could say or do something that would make them feel all better, but I can’t. The best I can offer is a safe place to share a broken heart, a warm meal to replace an empty fridge, and the fervent prayers of a soul who knows God is faithful even when the days seem as dark as a moonless night. If you are hurting today, please reach out to someone. Please forgive those someones if we say or do the wrong thing because we probably will. But know that we love you, and we are working hard to carve a little nook in the rocks so you can have a safe place to rest your broken heart.

To the Mom Who Doesn’t Feel Deserving

To the Mom Who Doesn’t Feel Deserving

I received several responses to my post about The Other Mother with ladies asking for prayer. I’m honored to pray with you. In the wee hours of Sunday morning I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I checked my email and found these words from a reader, a grace-covered sister, who vulnerably shared a little of her story.

I am one that probably doesn’t deserve to be a momma….but every Mother’s Day hurts the same. You see, I had an abortion…because my husband is older and never wanted children….it was convenience. And at the time, (30 years ago) I never knew it was wrong…but every day since then for years and years, I felt the pain and loss and shame…until I realized Jesus forgave me. Now it’s not every day, but every Mother’s Day hurts. It doesn’t seem fair to even ask you to pray for me…I killed a baby I had….you lost yours. I am so, so sorry. I will pray for you – and for other mothers who have lost their babies, or their children to accidents or war or illness. Yes, there are a bunch of us out there.

I read her words and sobbed. I loved where she said, “until I realized Jesus forgave me.” Because really that’s all that matters. It seems every mom I talk to feels inadequate, ill-equipped and even undeserving. But that’s why grace matters so much in parenting. It’s grace that makes us a parent, and it’s grace that shows us how to parent. I’m learning my mistakes are just as big an opportunity to train my children as my successes. I love this quote from Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly.

The real questions for parents should be: “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?” If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.

We all come into this parenting thing in need of buckets of grace. Gratefully, Jesus has all we need. Because of His grace, I can be a great mom–not a perfect mom but a vulnerable, grace-giving, compassionate, hopeful mom. If you’re carrying around shame today, I invite you to lay it down at the foot of the cross with the rest of us imperfect moms. You are forgiven and made whole by Jesus.

Several years ago, a precious friend Chariti made this video telling her story to share with our church. Her story is beautiful and painted with grace and redemption. If you have been through the pain of abortion or loss, I hope her story will encourage you. The part where my story changes, the part where our sister’s story changes and the part where your story changes happens here–and then I realized Jesus forgave me. 

A Letter to Sutton

A Letter to Sutton

Dear Sutton,

Today you took your first breath, and you met you first hero. Of course, you already know her because she has carried you for nine months–your mom. I have known your mom for two decades, but to know her now is to know a hero. A warrior. Sutton, most moms would have given up before now. Having been through a fraction of the pain and loss your mom has, they would have surrendered to the fear. But not your mom. She’s a hero. A warrior.

She continues to put her heart out there, a heart that has been gingerly pieced back together, pieces that are held together with a special brand of Scotch tape. She is a wounded warrior, but I think those are the bravest of all. For they know not to take victory for granted. They have seen the other side but choose to fight another day anyway. She is a hero, and now that you’ve looked into her eyes I know you’ve seen it too. Sutton, you are a miracle, but you’re a miracle in the arms of a hero. A woman who would not give up believing, praying and begging the Lord to give her a child to hold. He has heard her cry, and as He was through every loss and every dark day, He is faithful.

Sutton, you and your big sister are so blessed. For every day you get to do life with a warrior. She isn’t perfect. No mommy is. But she is brave. The bravest kind of mom I know. And if you watch her she will show you how to be a warrior. How to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. How to believe and hope when your heart is smashed. How to hold on to the Faithful One during the darkest of days. How to be brave.

If you’re holding on today to a desperate prayer, don’t give up. You aren’t alone. And God is always faithful. In the dark days where hope seems far away and on days like today–when a million prayers are answered in the single sound of a baby’s first cry. Happy birthday, Sutton. I pray you’ll be a brave warrior who dares to believe that with God nothing is impossible. Just like your mom.