Home for Christmas

cmastree

Willow Tree figures stand sentinel over the Christmas tree like they know she’s missing. My mama, represented by the soft-edged wooden figure of a woman holding a rose, beauty who embodied everything Christmas, has been gone eight Christmases now. It doesn’t get easier to fill the empty she left here.

It’s a beautiful season, Christmas. Not easy, but immensely beautiful. It holds all the heartache and remembering and promise and hope of God as a baby come to earth to save us all. And we know what a gift that was, know how none of these temporal things matter in the big picture, but we still hurt because this frail human flesh hasn’t fallen off yet and we can’t see as He sees.

One day we will.

I think of my friend preparing for a surgery that will deliver a pair of sweet boys, her scared and clinging to God knowing He’s got her and those babies in the palm of His hand even while she hopes for a home for her family and their two little miracles swaddled in Christmas.

I think of my friend spending her first holiday season with her beloved husband behind tall prison bars for maybe the next ten Christmases, marvel at how she sets her jaw strong against the tears that threaten and watch her eyes twinkle with hope that can only come to one through a cradle and a cross and a promise of life and freedom that nothing can take away.

Because the Enemy, he would steal all this if he could. He would thieve it all, this joy in the middle of pain and hope in deep sadness and peace in unwordable loss. But he can’t, because it comes from the Father of Lights and darkness can’t open its squinty eyes against such brilliance. Despair has no place here.

We long for loved ones lost or away, and we wish they could all come home for Christmas. We grieve lost relationship and long for days gone by and we fight those momentary battles with regret. None of it goes away while we celebrate the Christ Child. But just like we don’t mourn like those who have no hope, we also don’t celebrate like those with only shallow understanding of what this is all about. We hold a hope no thief can steal.

No decoration can outshine it, no ribbons can tie it in, and no song can set it quite to music. But we try, feeble as we are, to swipe at salty tears and swallow these sorrows we know won’t last forever and whisper thank you to Heaven because we know this isn’t all there is.

We are pensive but for a short season, and then comes the morning where His mercies are new and everything is made right and the figure of the Creator stands sentinel over all He has made and reaches out with a warm smile and a welcoming hand to all who come home for Christmas.

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A Beautiful Life

ABLbookcoverFREE for Kindle this weekend

It’s a lot like giving birth, this book releasing thing, like holding a newborn out to the waiting world and whispering, “Please love it?” Makes me a little queasy, if I’m completely honest, and I admit moments of wondering what in the world I was thinking taking this on. But I did, and here it is, and I really do hope you love it.

I’ve been writing my whole life, and it’s no secret that I have a particular passion for using words to build into people–especially other women–and offer them courage and hope. I’ve had bits and pieces of books written and stored for a long time, but it wasn’t until Brian Williams’ book writing class that the motivation and accountability teamed up with my love for writing and resulted in a finished work.

My first book. As I consider how many women have received it since it went live yesterday, the thought of that many people holding a me-shaped piece of hope is both terrifying and exhilarating at once. Deep down I am awed by God’s grace that I get to be a part of something this lovely, this inviting of others to remember what it was like to dream.

I won a writing contest in fifth grade, and from the moment I read my story aloud and saw the wonder on my classmates’ faces, I was hooked. With a million butterflies dancing around in my tummy, I was overcome by an excitement I couldn’t word. I had a feeling that was just the beginning, and I was right. There is no feeling quite like having someone walk up to me and say, “I read your book, and I love it! Thank you for being real on the page and putting it out here for all of us.” That happened this morning, and I’m pretty sure it will never get old.

So here’s my baby, and I offer it out to you, my sweet friend. Because it’s you I pictured sitting across the table from me as I wrote. You, with your questions and your exhaustion and your wondering if you can keep going one more single minute. You can, and I’m going to be here cheering you on. You aren’t alone, and don’t you forget it. We’re in this together, and I can’t wait to meet you on the page.

My heart to yours, I wish you an ever-increasingly beautiful life.