Thursday December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas Eve, my friends!!
As we’d say when I was little, “only one more sleep until Christmas!”
I hope your preparations are joyful and your festivities are blessed.
The Lord be with you, and may He give you great joy!

From Heaven above to earth I come,
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing.

To you, this night, is born a Child
Of Mary, chosen mother mild;
This tender Child of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all your earth.

’Tis Christ our God, who far on high
Had heard your sad and bitter cry;
Himself will your Salvation be,
Himself from sin will make you free.

He brings those blessings long ago
Prepared by God for all below;
That in His heavenly kingdom blest
You may with us forever rest.

These are the tokens ye shall mark,
The swaddling clothes and manger dark;
There shall ye find the young Child laid,
By Whom the heavens and earth were made.

Now let us all, with gladsome cheer,
Follow the shepherds, and draw near
To see this wondrous Gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.

Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this Child, so young and fair?
The blessèd Christ Child lieth there!

Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through Whom e’en wicked men are blest!
Thou com’st to share our misery,
What can we render, Lord, to Thee!

Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How hast Thou made Thee weak and small,
To lie upon the coarse dry grass,
The food of humble ox and ass.

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
She yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou King, so rich and great,
As ’twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.

Thus hath it pleased Thee to make plain
The truth to us, poor fools and vain,
That this world’s honor, wealth and might
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Here in my poor heart’s inmost shrine,
That I may evermore be Thine.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song.

Glory to God in highest Heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given,
While angels sing, with pious mirth,
A glad New Year to all the earth.

~Martin Luther

I don’t know if any of you do much blog-hopping – I do.
Especially to blogs of mommies who have lost children – through miscarriage, stillbirth, or later deaths. It simultaneously makes my heart ache and encourages me. I am not alone. I am not weird. My heart is doing what it should do – no matter what anyone may tell me about getting over it, moving on, or being ‘happy’ regardless of circumstances.

So anyway…

Yesterday I went to one of my favorites.
And she had a post about True Joy.
This is coming from a young woman whose only child, a precious & beautiful 11 month old girl, died last February.
She is expecting another baby any day.
And you can try to imagine the mix of emotions they are enduring this Christmas season.
I must admit that I don’t have to imagine very hard – I know all too well that line between grief & hope.

She refers to the One Year Book of Hope I have recommended, too.
And I hope it will bless you to read what she says, and quotes from that book.
I know it blessed me.

Regardless of our state of happiness this Christmas, even WE CAN BE JOYFUL.
So without further ado, here is what Jess wrote (in case you’re afraid to click on links)….

“The truth is, it is possible to be filled with joy and still not be described as “happy.” Sometimes we’re just plain sad, not only down in our hearts, but down to our toes…

…The Bible says, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).  As we savor the joy we have in Christ, we feel the healing power of that medicine.  In fact, our joy should be as consistent as God is.  It doesn’t have to be tied to the turbulent conditions of our feelings and moods.  Our joy is grounded in God.  It flows from him and back to him.  Joy is not something we can generate with positive thinking or a bit of humor.  It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our inner lives.  Joy shines forth from the life of the true believer, no matter how dark the circumstances.  Joy in God deserves our constant, courageous pursuit.” -Nancy Guthrie

How reassuring is it to know that our joy isn’t tied to the sometimes turbulent conditions around us?

It isn’t tied to how sad I am feeling as we prepare to celebrate this first Christmas without Cora. It isn’t tied to how my heart hurts when I see all these happy Christmas cards and realize again that there will be no family pictures with Cora this year. It isn’t tied to how sad I am that Cora won’t be here to welcome her new brother or sister with us. It isn’t even tied to how much love we will feel when we meet Baby Mac any day now. True joy does not necessarily equal happiness.

My joy is grounded in Christ.
And I can experience deep joy, even in the midst of sorrow,
because my hope is in Christ.
That doesn’t mean we won’t have any tears or sadness.
But, I pray that this true joy is what others see shining from my life and family,
even during this first Christmas without Cora.

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