This morning my babe was able to load a bus with her very healthy, happy, rambunctious, precious 4th grade class to attend the Nutcrakcer. I was able to afford a $30 dress from Amazon that she twirled in all morning. I put a big ole red bow in her hair, took her picture by our glowing tree and sent her on her way. Tears. I am not much of a crier. I think over the years, I have become somewhat desensitized and I just don’t cry very often. Not at funerals or weddings or sappy movies or baptisms or award ceremonies. But this Christmas season I have shed many a tear. Tears of gratitude. Tears that can only come from someone who has had one heckuva year, one heckuva life. In spite of being a smidge broken and a tad ‘minus’ this year, my heart is so full of thankfulness, I cry at a moment’s notice. Thankful that my bed is warm. Thankful that my children are healthy. Thankful for our little shop on the corner. Thankful for this man who is by my side no matter what. Thankful for cheap poofy twirl dresses.
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 it's worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
FALL ON YOUR KNEES.
Since I last posted, I have thought of a time not so long ago when I went into my church of 30 something years and fell on my knees at the altar. It was about this time of year and it was dark and empty and I sort of just dropped to my knees. Privately, desperately and quietly. Before I knew I would find Ashley Pshigoda again. Before I knew of a brown eyed boy that would steal my heart 1,000 times over. Before I knew that you could love a 9 year old so boldly and deeply you almost forget how much you loved her at two. Before so many things, I fell to my knees that night.
The past 7 weeks have been a physical test I was not prepared to endure. My body is trickling, TRICKELINGGGGGGGGGGG, back to normal. I have been angry enough to throw a glass on the floor. I have been numb. I have been doubtful. I have been small. I have put my husband through hormone hell and I honestly have no idea when it will really just all be over. But, I have also fallen to my knees…..in gratitude. In gratitude because I will never be able to explain how the stories shared with me have touched my heart. Thankful because I have been reminded that my situation could be 1,000 times worse. Grateful because I was able to share in some heart ache but more importantly, I was able to share in some JOY. Thankful because smack dab in the middle of typing this, I received a call from a sister whose story is finally over and I also believe, just beginning. Grateful that people would actually call me to share the deepest parts of their hearts.
We all fall to our knees don’t we? We are all, at some point, aching and grieving and at an altar in our lives. Just asking WHAT? WHAT LORD DO I DO? But then we are also allowed to bow and thank God for such a magnitude of blessings. For so much favor it hurts. For red bows and holding hands in bed and even for heaping piles of clean laundry.
This Christmas I have been given the greatest gift of all: perspective. I have been reminded that NOTHING, nothing wrapped in a package really matters. I have thought so much about Mary and how she must have wanted to cry out WHAT DO I DO???. How dismayed she must have been but instead chose acceptance and reverence with a grateful heart.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Matthew 2:11
As I read this verse I felt moved beyond tears. I have looked at each and every nativity scene with a new appreciation for Joseph and Mary on their knees before that tiny baby, for the wise men who traveled well past the day of His birth to bow before him and worship him. I have been keenly aware of the many ways we serve our God from our knees. And that all of it, all of it is really about serving. I was fortunate enough to watch the rehearsal of our daughter’s Christmas pageant from a back pew in our church. As the final song came to an end, the music leader gathered the children, bowed to her knees and prayed over them. I realized then, that bowing is surely in gratitude as much as it is in pining. Joy finds joy. Happiness creates happiness. I have been blessed enough to hear true miracles over the past month. I have been reminded that God is always at work. In our own homes, at treatment programs, under downtown bridges, by weekly Sunday flowers to remember a baby boy lost, in our churches, in our crying out and in our tears, He is always at work.
These stories of loss and heartache and holidays missed and bridges near burned and fires almost being snuffed out…..of tiny embers that are fanned into an enormous flame of compassion and understanding and forgiveness and joy and gratitude. These instances where despair gets all mixed up inside of us and shoots out as new promise, as new faith, as new belief. This Christmas season, I have been convinced of one thing, our stories open the door to bear much fruit. Our suffering is Christ-like and paves the way for us to help others. Our suffering teaches us to be more understanding. It teaches us to cry more tears. To look back in reflection and know that we have so much to be grateful for, we have so many abundant blessings, we have so many opportunities to share hope.
This Christmas I ask you to find someone who may not see the light. I ask you to seek out the oppressed and the forgotten and take one minute, one minute, to pray over them and with them, to remind them of the good in this life. I ask you to take that thing, that one thing that almost destroyed you and turn it into a sliver of hope. What has made you better? What is your message of hope? What has rocked your core? What has strengthened your faith? There is someone out there going through the same thing, someone in sin and error pining, someone lonely or sad, someone who cannot even find the tears, someone who just needs a tiny breath added to their ember and there is someone like you who can show them how to
fall on their knees.