This morning one of my first thoughts was about friends of mine who have lost husbands and parents this year. I know the pain they are feeling, and I know how difficult the holidays are, especially the “firsts”. The picture attached to this post is a cross stitch I made for my mother well over 25 years ago. When she died, I took this back.

Honestly, I couldn’t even look at it for quite some time. I have been grieving her for almost four years. But the other day I took this out and placed it at my desk/craft space, and it now makes me smile. What has been so difficult about grieving my mother especially is what the cancer and cancer drugs and pain medication did to her mind in the last several years of her life. The pain I have felt around that (she just wasn’t the same loving, generous and Christ-centered woman who raised me) has kept me burdened. But praise Jesus, I do not have to hold on to those burdens. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) I have finally been able to put aside the painful times, and remember who she was before illness. And I thank my Lord for giving her to me. I choose to remember the love and the joy!

While I have been holding onto the pain, I haven’t rejoiced. The Lord has allowed me to go through a lot this year so that my thick head would finally understand that I don’t have to hold onto my burdens, Jesus wants to do that for me. And that no matter what, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:16-18)

This Christmas season I have been very intentional about doing things that I love, putting my focus on Jesus, and truly loving others and sharing my joy with them. What I haven’t done is stress over presents (buying or wrapping). I have purposely found moments to share fun times with people that I love. Although I haven’t been able to do that with everyone I love, I’m choosing not to stress over it. Instead, Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” (Ps 95:2) (This picture shows a sign on my bulletin board that a friend gave me for my birthday.)

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but Jesus does. I am so thankful that He humbled Himself in a human body so that He truly understands what we go through. Joy to the world; the Lord has come; Let earth receive her king; Let every heart prepare Him room; and heaven and nature sing!…He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.