Christmas and Painful Memories

Four years ago I spent Christmas morning in the emergency room with my parents.

Presents and stockings, a hearty breakfast and time of rest with family usually characterize Christmas morning.

But a few days before Christmas I began to have a sharp pain in my lower back.  And then I woke up on Christmas in an extraordinary amount of pain.  As the oldest child that hardly ever complained, my parents knew it was serious. They drove me to the e.r. and we waited to hear what was going on.  The doctor immediately said it was a pilonidal cyst.  None of us had ever heard of that before, so we didn’t know what was to follow.  That initial procedure in the e.r. was excruciatingly painful.

One of the hardest things about it all was seeing my parents hurt for me.  Having to watch them watch me in such pain was so very hard.  They wanted to take away the pain.  They wanted to jump across the table and take it for me.  They wanted to make it all just go away.  But they couldn’t.  At 21 years old I was still their little girl.  Thus we suffered together.   I couldn’t have had imagined how much more my mom and I would face as I healed.

I vividly remember that morning.

It led to two surgeries, great amounts of pain, a home nurse, hundreds of doctor visits, and an entire year of healing.

What should have taken a month ended up taking a year.  2008 will never be forgotten.

It will forever remind me that my God is my Healer.  He is good and faithful.  He always walks with me through the valley of the shadow of death.  His presence can comfort me when I feel alone.  His Word can give me strength when I don’t have the energy to press on through the pain.  His grace is always sufficient and His power is indeed made perfect through my weaknesses.

Every Christmas morning since then I can’t help but praise God for healing me and sustaining me.  Jesus is Emmanuel.  He is with us.  That offers the ultimate hope, peace, and joy.

Christmas might be hard because of the reminder of certain loss or pain.  But it also should be the perfect reminder of our God being with us.  (I talk more about that in this post: https://spencerandsarahc.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/third-advent-candle-joy/)  He never leaves.  He knows our pain, weaknesses, hardships.  He sees our tears. The Father never forgets His children.

May we hold fast to Emmanuel after all the decorations are put away and family returns home.  May we always remember that God came down, dwelt among us, and can sympathize with us. May we not let pain rob of us the joy of our Savior’s birth, which led to His death on the cross, which in turn led to His glorious resurrection from the grave and ascension into heaven.  The gospel should take us from complaining to gratitude and from mourning to rejoicing.

God is good and faithful.  No matter the pain and loss that might be associated with it, Christmas is the perfect reminder of that.

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Our First Christmas Tree

It is always exciting to experience the “firsts” in our marriage!  There seem to be a whole lot since we are in the advent season and are approaching Christmas.

We ventured out to the Home Depot last weekend and bought our first Christmas tree!  We had a blast picking out our tree and sharing Christmas memories.

Picking out a Christmas tree was always a big ordeal for my family growing up.  We would look at dozens of trees until we found the right one.  Once we brought it home, my mom meticulously placed lights on practically every branch.  After the many hours it took her to put the lights on, we were able to put on the ornaments.  We had to make sure each spot was filled with a glittering globe or heralding angel, old-fashioned airplane or handmade wonder.  Once we were all finished, the angel was placed on top.  Every year we alternated who would be lifted up by Dad to put the angel in her place.  It was always a big deal.  It’s funny to see how certain traditions have kept up through the years.  The Christmas traditions seem to stand first in line in importance.

Spencer and I get excited starting our own traditions, adding on to ones we grew up with and beginning our own.

We wanted to make something to remember it by when we put our ornaments up on the tree each year.  So when they cut the tree at the store, we had them cut a small bit off the bottom so we could turn it into an ornament.

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It’s simple.  But it’s special.

Much like our Christmas tree.  It is simple.  Just 5 feet tall.  It is eclectic with a wide variety of ornaments ranging from olive wood ones I got in Israel to Harry Potter to crosses my mom gave me over the years to “our first Christmas” ornaments we’ve received as gifts to a hedgehog.  And we don’t have a tree topper or tree skirt (hopefully I’ll be able to make those at some point).  We are using colored lights because we hung out clear lights out on our back patio.  But it is our first tree and we love it!  It smells lovely and it makes us smile!

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