Sunday, December 27, 2009
I wanted to share this video with my blogging family. This is Joshua's choir singing Carol of the Bells. Wishing you a very Merry Belated Christmas!!!
Be sure to turn off the music player at the bottom to listen.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
December has come and with her the greeting of winter. The snow has fallen; we have lit our candles, decorated our trees and turned on hundreds of tiny lights on our porch while basking in this magical season. We attend parties, we remember those we have lost and gather at the table of content. December always seems to bring us closer to those we love and hold close. It is a time for magic and memories and is the month blessings seem to come to us from all around. Life takes on a new meaning and we feel the love of both family and friends embracing us. We even find the answers to our prayers don't seem so far away even if they aren't the ones we were looking for.
If we take the time to look deeper, to look past the pretty paper and the twinkling lights we will see what the season is truly about. You see when it comes to the giving of gifts this Christmas do we not truly find ourselves in the gifts of friendship and love? Christmas is here and even if we are living in the darkest hour, those touched by the hand of the true Christmas spirit bring us hope, comforting our wounded hearts coming to us without thought of themselves to meet our most desperate needs. These are the angles who guide us through this season and into the rest of the year with tidings of joy. Grace overflows through them, teaching each one of us how to give without thought to ourselves. The true meaning of sacrifice takes on new meaning and the gift of love is received with humility and genuine thankfulness.
It is no secret life has not been kind to my family over these last four years but in all seriousness life has been the toughest we have ever seen these last six months. I say that after surviving breast cancer, chemo and the whole trip to the mad hatter’s tea party the beast brings with her following diagnosis. Sadly many have even been witness to my brokenness and I can say with certainty these last six month I have questioned every part of my faith. I have dropped to my knees asking God why while crying and with tears falling not just down my face but from my soul. Icy darkness has tried time and time again to cover me with doubt. I have even come close to feeling the total loss of hope as this cold wind has blown into and through our lives.
I have dropped to my knees so many times as I have watched my family struggle through the dark, cold nights of winter. Many nights I have wondered if we were living on the dark side of the moon night after night listening to my boys words of fear and uncertainty, feeling alone as if there was no sun to rise in the morning. BUT we all come out of the darkness, and the sun does rise. We have done without much, worried through these troubled times, been down on our knees traveling through moonless nights and down the rabbits hole yet the sun still rises day after day. I have sat here waiting silently, scared, fearful we are walking this journey alone. But then a phone call come through to say it will be OK, asking if we need anything, a card will show up with a just enough cash to pay a bill or put food on the table. It is then I realize how blessed we really are. I do not need material things, no; all I ask for is a full belly and blessing of my family around me.
Three years ago life was not a given, I did not know if I would live to see another Christmas and yet here I am! How can I ask for more? Material things are over rated are they not? Life is about the hope of things to come, the faith we hold in our hearts and the blessing of the family and friends who surround us each and every day. I have heard it said destinations are where we begin again. After all isn't death a journey we are walking together? No one is immune from her claws nor can we avoid death but we can share the journey together laughing, living and enjoying the wonders of what this life offers us along the way. There is no rescue from the darkness but there is the breaking light of a new day. Night must fall but the light of day must also rise. You see once you have faced death, looked her straight in the eyes and laughed your way through the darkness life takes on a whole new meaning. There is so much to celebrate with or without gifts under the tree. When hope is born during suffering then the idea of selling your wedding ring isn't so painful. After all isn't that what Christmas is all about? It is not about how many gifts you receive or how grand the meal upon your table is. No Christmas is about sharing, giving, spending time together and the sacrifice required to obtain those things. I tell you THIS is the greatest gift of the season. The cold winter will eventually melt into spring and so I challenge you to share this gift with those you love.
In the gift of winter's sufferings my heart has been filled with hope. I have indeed heard the call of Christmas joy. The touch of magic has touched my spirit as she has danced in the light for all of us to see. Christmas cheer is here and I ask you to allow it to fill the air and your heart as it has mine. So pull those you love close to you. Hold them tightly this year and lay down the trapping of making Christmas perfect instead forget the bows or the perfectly stuffed turkey and enjoy the movements you share together. Yes, my friend it's almost Christmas Eve and so I ask you do you hear the bells? Do you hear the peace they bring, the hope and the goodwill the bells sing? There is such power in the bells of Christmas as they call out to each of us. Yes, I have felt the beauty their song brings and the glad tiding they impart. Listen closely, I know you can hear them, let the song of the Christmas bells fill you. Ah I stand here feeling the winter breeze upon my face and I embrace it. The doors of discontent have been thrown open and the veil of fear is gone. Night to day the bells ring and they beckon me to the table of hope and the tree of giving.
With the ringing of the Christmas bells I am healed, my heart is not left broken or shattered. So just as others have brought us hope and promise I gladly give to the same table. I may not be able to bring material things but I bring thankfulness and gratitude. I offer my love and devotion as a friend and as a member of this human race. I give my hope, my faith and offer the ringing of my own Christmas bell to light the way of anyone in struggling through their own darkness. For my reward is not in the bright shiny packages under the tree, no, my reward is in the giving of hope and light to others. True it may still be winter in our wonderland but we have been given a beautiful tree of giving to gather around. This tree, this giving tree grows, more beautiful as each day passes. No matter how big or small these precious gifts under the giving tree are they have brought hope and joy into our home. Truly the gift of hope is the greatest gift we can receive or we can give to one another. So my friend I have wrapped her beautiful, warm light around our tree this year. The heavens may open up, the skies may pour down upon us but the gift of hope will continue to grow within us.
As I bring what may be my last post of the year to a close I ask you to let the magic of this wondrous season fill you. Believe in the angel sitting on top of your tree or the star shining brightly. Believe in the hope she brings and the power a simple prayer can unleash. So please play me your Christmas pipes, may the bells ring loudly across this blessed morning and bring the peace of Christmas into each of our lives. May we gather with our families and feel the blessing of Winter's Solstice. If you listen closely you will hear near or far the miracle of the Christmas pipes as she calls each one of us home. May you and yours know peace on earth and the goodwill this season brings to us all.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
For months now my life and the lives of my family has seemed to fall apart despite all our attempts to super glue it back together again. Almost like a crazy scene out of the old Hollywood screwball movies you know? Gluing everything but the vase which needs fixing right? Ironic isn’t it? In spite of the seriousness of our situation life seems to be rewriting this tragedy into some sort of comical drama. A clear contradiction in words I would say! Crying and laughing, laughing and crying, coming, going, to be, not to be…oh I give up already which is it?
Six months ago life came to a dramatic holt for us. Everything in life we knew or felt was solid secure came crashing down, pulled apart by the seams. And I mean everything! I am not embarrassed to admit I have had a few moments when I have asked myself what God’s purpose in all this misery could possibly be. No I haven’t yelled and screamed at Him and I haven’t lost my faith BUT I have come close if I am to be completely honest. I have fallen to my knees, paced the floors in the middle of the night calling His name, and still on most days I hear nothing but silence, almost as if He can’t hear me.
Seriously to think as my body has grown weaker the storm above us has grown stronger. Almost as if the surge hitting my body bounces back up toward the dark sky drawing each and every storm within a 100 mile radius down on top of us day in and day out. You would think enough is enough right? I mean our troubles have multiplied from the loss of a job to the loss of our health insurance but still the rains come. Every day is a struggle and every day I still lift my eyes to the heavens searching, praying for some peace from the storm above us. I am seriously ready for the Maker of Heaven and Earth to stretch out His hands and say” Peace be still!”
I would say there are times things seem almost hysterically funny when I think how twisted and out of control life seems right now. Life following the aftershock can sometimes be worse than the first strike itself I believe. Cancer taught me that one for sure. Hum… maybe this is a missing piece to ‘Christina’s Topsy Turvry Jigsaw Puzzle’. Maybe I am to draw from my experience with cancer in order to pull us through this struggle?
OK I can live with that. After all I have lived through breast cancer and lived to tell the tale. I am here today among the living, able to pace the floors and cry out to the heavens right? Yes indeed I am alive and every day I am thankful for this blessing because there is none greater than the gift of life.
So I will learn to dance in the rain, no matter how hard it may come down hitting my head time and time again. The storm may rage above us, the rains may fall, the winds may blow and the surge may even over take us but the one truth I know for certain is the sun will shine again…eventually anyway.
The truth is this: the sky is always above us and once the sunlight breaks through the storm clouds will pass. Maybe right now I can’t hear God speaking to me just yet because He is not ready to reveal what is held in the calm after the storm has passed. No, I don’t yet understand why we have suffered so much but I do know this: just as I had to come to terms with breast cancer, dancing day in and day out with the beast, I now too need to learn to dance in the rain.
Gene Kelley sang of singing in the rain, what was it he said? Oh yes, “I'm laughing at clouds so dark up above the suns in my heart and I'm ready for love. Let the stormy clouds chase everyone from the place come on with the rain I've a smile on my face.” So I say go ahead let the rain pour down, wash over my face, because I will not be left empty handed when this storm passes. No this journey is not an easy one, rocky at best but it is our journey for better or worse, rich or for poor, in sickness in health.
This is our dance, even if it is here in the falling rain. Bitterness may try to push in around us but I promise you no matter how beat down we may become grace and love continues to hold us together as a family even if we are left holding a broken vase and super glued to the chair.
Sure the path of least resistant may look tempting, but then where would we be? I don’t understand why life brings pain and uncertainty but I do know this: While it is true pain holds no mercy sometimes the pain does hold grace. Maybe, just maybe, the pain life brings each of us isn’t so much about the hurt as much as it is about the journey, the dance and the beauty inside the clearing just ahead of us beyond the trees. Maybe it’s about overcoming the struggles, finding the victory in life’s everyday joys before we come out of the darkness and into the sun!
Listen… do you hear the music playing? Listen carefully and I think you may just hear the beauty of the rain in your ear. Yes, even as one door closes my friend, I know another one will open again. But until then we have this dance for another day and so we will continue to dance in the rain! After all Tiffany Wilson (2007 It's My Life conference ) is right, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain."