Rejoicing always can be a challenge, but is important

In our church’s sermon yesterday, the pastor quoted from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “ Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  Powerful words, right?! (image from Power Point Clip Art) 

Jesus told us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything? Seriously Lord? You really want us to do this? You really expect us to do this? It is a challenge what we are called to do. Also, it can often be just what we need. After all, the Lord does work in mysterious ways. 

As hard as this year has been, there have been good points and times that I cherish. Extra time with my son to talk during breakfast, prayer group chats, time to watch a favorite show or movie, Zoom chats with family and friends, phone calls and texts, cards in the mail, and time to cook a few favorite meals. Also, I like that we don’t have to race out of the door each morning.

Still I miss seeing friends and my sister and brother and their families. It has been since last year that we saw them in person. Too long but we are all trying to be careful and listen to the doctors, researchers, scientists, and others who know how serious this pandemic really is. 

I also miss my friends, going to church, seeing people at Ian’s school and around town, eating at a favorite restaurant, and so much more. I am thankful that there are ways to handle that, just not the same as we are used to. We can Zoom or chat with our friends, see them outside with masks on, listen to an online church service singing the hymns at home, and getting take out food or going through the drive-thru. 

So there are things to rejoice about and to give thanks about. Just sometimes, we have to think about them. Sometimes they don’t come as easily since we can get bogged down in the bad stuff of life. I have learned through my struggles that having joy and positive things in my life made a big difference. It cannot be all bad to be able to heal from the pain and sadness. 

This year I am praying a lot – for family, friends, my son and his classmates, his teachers and all of the other teachers in our lives, his school administrators, other families at his school and those all over the world in this time of new education, college students, and those at other schools as well. 

We also pray for our loved ones’ health and the health of the nurses and doctors who are taking care of so many sick people, the first responders from many departments, all hospital staff, and the police officers. We pray for those in the military, in positions of leadership, and our elected officials. 

I know that this Christmas will be like one I have never seen.  We have always spent time with lots of family and friends — both on my side and on Kirk’s side. This year that is not possible. In my families, there will be no large gatherings — at least not in person.

As hard as that is, we know it is the right thing to do for this year. So much is still unknown about the virus that we need to be careful and mindful of keeping our loved ones healthy and safe. 

So this year will be quieter, smaller, and hopefully with some real quality time with those nearest and dearest to us. Sleeping in, games and chats, laughter, study, some time to work (but not much), songs, favorite movies, and reading of the story of Jesus’ birth. 

A few things I am thankful for: 

  • Despite not getting to sing “Silent Night” by candlelight at my church, we can sing it at home. Also, I recorded a TV special about this precious hymn. I look forward to watching that. 
  • Bible study in the evening with my son. This was his idea and for that, I am truly thankful. 
  • My family who I treasure so much and am enjoy shopping for. Secret Santa gifts are a great idea. 
  • Cards from loved ones about their year. We are sending one out as well. 
  • My friends near and far who are never more than a call, text, or Zoom away. 
  • Time with my son’s best friend and our families for their birthday celebrations. 
  • Plenty of time to watch some favorite movies and TV shows. 
  • Zoom chats with family and friends. 
  • Being able to sit under a blanket and read a book. 
  • Looking at my son’s art work and creativity and listening to him explain it. 
  • Our home with many memories with us and my late husband. We miss him but each day continue to heal. 
  • Listening to my son on a Zoom call with friends. They love to laugh and that is wonderful. 
  • Days off from work to enjoy the season of giving, loving, and peace. 

I hope and pray that you can find the blessings in your life, despite all of the hardships. I pray for peace and joy for you. I also pray that you will always, always love. 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…

Christmas.  It is certainly looking a lot like Christmas.  Decorations are up at stores, gifts are being purchased, music is on the radio including my favorite, Andy Williams — Happy Holidays and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year — and movies are playing often and have been since before Halloween.

However, it doesn’t quite look like it at our house.  How about at your house?  It is amazing that we are two weeks from this holiday.  I don’t know about you but I am so not ready and the crazy thing is that I am not panicked or worried about it. I am doing a little bit at a time and hope I get there in time.

I seem to be more interested in being with my loved ones, rather than thinking through the gifts, cards, food, etc.  So far, I am not very worked up about being so behind.  I wonder if that will change as the date gets closer.  After all in the last year, just functioning and getting out of the house on some days was a major effort.

We do have our advent calendars up, some festive mugs, and a few other things, but not the tree yet (these photos are from previous years).  Last year, the tree was up but we never decorated it.  I just couldn’t bring myself to after losing my husband.  This year, Ian wants to decorate it and continue our traditions that didn’t happen last year.  So, we will work on it this week.

Both of us are wanting to do our traditions again this year and that feels good.  Our church recently presented a children’s program that was a lot of fun and Ian enjoyed it.  Then lunch afterwards and a visit from Santa.  A nice tradition that we have enjoyed for quite a while.

Over the weekend, I was thinking about writing about something other than just my grief and that felt good and at the same time, very strange.  Even though I am writing about a few other subjects, it is still there and still here in this blog.

I am starting to feel more like myself again. Part of me feels guilty about that but I realize that I have to keep moving forward. My son needs me and I most certainly need him.

Although I feel like myself again, part of me is missing.  Loss and grief are tough that way.  I am healing but know that I will never be the same.  I have learned a lot about myself, my loved ones, and what is most important.  Those who have also lost loved ones can relate.

I also know that there is much to be thankful for and much to live for.  Yet, some days, that is hard to remember and hard to accept. The grief and pain often finds a way to seep into the day, into our thoughts, and into what we are doing. The ups and downs continue and seem to be the new normal.

So, I decided it might be fun to share some random thoughts and items about myself. They may be trivial but I am okay with that and welcome it.  Enjoy.

  • Fuzzy socks make me happy and are things that I regularly wear at this time of year. I am normally a flip-flop person but with the colder weather, I do have to wear flat shoes and my socks. The softer and fluffier the better for me.  I am not a high-heeled person.
  • For my birthday, my cousin gave me a lovely plush blanket. It is soft and wonderful to sit under. Perfect for this time of year. I have it while reading a book, watching television, and taking a nap.
  • Peppermint, mint chocolate, pumpkin, and gingerbread are some of my favorite flavors this time of year. I am trying to be careful to not overdo it but do enjoy a candy cane or two most days.
  • Soups with bread or crackers are a regular staple at this time of year.  I like a variety of them — tomato, chicken and rice, lentil, and more, and enjoy using large mugs for them.
  • Pictures of my family and friends are some of my greatest treasures.  I like to give them as gifts. A special memory means a lot to people.
  • Comfort is very important to me and these things are helping to have that.  During the winter, there is not much better than a warm drink, my warm socks, warm blanket, a tasty food or treat, and a favorite movie, book, or chat with Ian or another loved one. Perhaps the occasional glass of wine is also nice and sparkling water.
  • I do like all of this warmth, unless I am having a hot flash and then it is a different story.  Ha, ha, ha!!  I am after all of a certain age.
  • Simple things are what make me happy and I need down time and time to rest and just be.  Ian and I both are homebodies and enjoy being there. We do also enjoy being with our loved ones and having overnight visits and special times with them.
  • Music is also important to me. I have many favorite Christmas songs and other special music that I always want to listen to each year. Hymns and songs at our church are also very special. I often will sing along with the radio and enjoy them very much.
  • My thoughts and prayers are with our family and friends.  We want the best for them, want them to be healthy, to heal if hurting, and to know they are loved and appreciated.
  • And finally, I do want peace on earth, really I do. I want us to be kinder to each other, to talk not yell, to listen without judgement, to love not hate, and to live peacefully together.  And to treat one another with kindness.

Blessings to you and yours.