December 12, 2016

The Closest Thing I've Got to a Christmas Card

Doing the yearly Christmas card used to be my favorite thing. I never wrote a letter or poem or anything, but I loved getting our pictures taken and choosing a card to send to friends and family. 2015 was a long, hard year and Kevin didn't want to have his picture taken (mixed with the fact that he felt like no one cared about him anymore. I wish I could kick satan in the face for sending such lies Kevin's way), so we didn't take pictures and we didn't send cards. In fact, we had no family pictures taken at all in 2015. It just didn't feel right.

Feels the same way this year. Our family pictures would feel incomplete. And the one person I want to take them is in South Africa. (And I am praying hard that in the next two years all three of us will be in South Africa and she can take our pictures there!) And I don't have the energy or emotional bandwidth to sift through templates and pick just the perfect card with the perfect saying. It just won't happen this year.

I have gotten several beautiful family cards in the mail and I have loved each one. There have been tears at our loss when looking at their pictures. There have been tears when reading about their years and feeling like our is so empty in comparison. Yet, there is also joy as I see all the beautiful faces looking back at me from each card. Excitement as I see all the God is doing in and through these lovely families I am so blessed to know.

I've been trying to think of something to write to sum up our year. But, really, what is there left to say? I guess that's what happens when you have little to no filter and share everything on social media. As I am sure you are all well-aware, life changed drastically for us in March when my beloved Kevin (precious husband and wonderful father) passed away. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the nine months since that hard, horrible, long day.

God has been more real and more true and more deep than at any other time in my life. His word has uplifted me, encouraged me, and given me a voice on many days. I have come to see death in a whole new way, particularly for believers. I've learned that there is always grace and joy to be praised and celebrated, you just have to ask the Lord for the eyes to see them. Leaning on the Lord day by day, moment by moment, will help you keep putting one foot in front of the other on days when you don't even think you can get out of bed. Exercise is important. Fellowship is essential. Honesty with those who love you will keep you sane as they continue to point you to Christ and talk you off the emotional ledge.

Even in the midst of the deep grief we've been experiencing, we've managed to have a lot of fun this year. We spent the summer traveling and seeing friends and family we've been missing. We even got to do several fun field trips that we all enjoyed. School hasn't been as smooth as I would like, but the kids are doing well and I am trying (though often not succeeding) to give grace to all of us in that area. We've shared a lot of laughs as we've shared some of our favorite Kevin memories and looked through old pictures. We've shared some tears, too, but mostly laughter.

I've seen both kids become much more sensitive, especially to me. They are such good comforters. They can turn tears to laughter in no time at all. They've also both become more loving toward each other and more compassionate with others. Oh, how I pray this only continues to deepen over time.

I worry so much about them as they continue to grow up without their daddy. I pray that the love of their Heavenly Father will be all the more sweet because of the lack of an earthly father. I pray that He will prepare them for those hard moments when there are father/son or daddy/daughter things and there's no dad there for them. I pray for all those milestones they'll hit without their dad there to tell them he loves them and how proud he is of them. I am thankful the Lord always gives strength for the moment because I know there are many more hard moments to come.

I have no Christmas cards to give and I have no cute poem to share, but I thought I'd leave you with a few pictures of our year. Merry Christmas and may you feel the Lord near on your hardest days and your most joyous of days. May His praise be ever on your lips and in your heart.

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