We interrupt this Christmas celebration to bring you Joy…

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This last “interruption” post has been on my to-do list since the beginning of the week. A week which started with another dead car battery. (My car now has a brand new one, I am not going to play that morning guessing game anymore.) So this meant that my 8th grader was unexcused for the 40 min that he missed while I charged the battery and drove the 20 min to school and has to make up that time. I was at two different hospitals that day, once to visit Hannah who had to be intubated early Monday morning and then to pick up my 3 year old niece while my sister sat with another family member at the ER. Tuesday was the day I had slated to bake Christmas cookies and wrap presents until I received a mid-morning call that said 8th grader was vomiting and needed picked up. So needless to say, it’s been quite a week, (and it’s only barely half over.) Thankfully, aside from assorted practices, my fifth grader has remained healthy and even keeled this week.  Even still I have found myself  asking a very important question as  frustration begins creeping into my days.  “Tragedy or inconvenience?” Sometimes in the midst it is easy to confuse the two.

My segment on joy was actually planned to be a video clip from a women’s program that I took part in last Friday evening. But true to the way of the week, first I couldn’t find the cable for the video camera and then the sound was sub-par. Soooo…here goes joy, in written form. I hope it will have the same impact.
 

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:8-14)

So not only did angels proclaim peace that night, they also promised great joy. Joy to the world, right? Tis the season for joy. But the fact is it’s been a rough year for many and there’s not much joy in sight this Christmas. Sadness and hurt are all we see. I understand that. Many of you know my story, but for those of you who don’t let me share just a bit with you. When I was 23 years old, we experienced the death of our son at 32 weeks into my pregnancy. That was in October. Do the math and you will find that I was due in the middle of December. What most people don’t know is that my plans for our Christmas cards that year were birth announcements. I had visions of two little boys on Christmas morning in matching pajamas, the whole bit. So for me, that Christmas was like the back-handed slap of life. I had only barely begun to heal from our son’s death when the hole that was left became ever more pronounced when there was no baby at Christmas. I can remember telling my parents” I am just not feeling it this year. ” It felt like joy had given up on me. No matter how hard I tried, and pretended for the sake of those around me I just couldn’t convince myself deep down. Ten years later I spent the entire Christmas season undergoing a series of medical tests that continued to bring more questions than answers. That entire season was overshadowed by the cloud of fear, no terror. All I knew was the doctors were very concerned which in turn made me very concerned, and has ended in a diagnosis of an extremely rare and incurable autoimmune disease. I get it if you are sitting here tonight, humoring whoever it is that invited you. But I am so glad you are here because let me tell you today as I stand on the other side of that fear and joy-lessness, sometimes you just need time, sometimes you need to take the outstretched hand of someone else who loves you even when you don’t want to, but no matter what, if you are going to find your way out, it always takes God. The miracle of Christmas is that your story isn’t over. My story did not end there. God is not indifferent to your pain. In fact, He left eternity and came to earth to show how much he cares. He came to live with us and die for us. Your story of mistakes, sadness, shame, and hurt, my story of grief and fear, are erased and re-written by God’s unmerited love. This Christmas, if you are looking for peace, for joy, for love, you’ll find it in Jesus because He is the promise. I bring you good news of great joy. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, straight from Jesus himself. For God so loved you and me that He sent His son to be born and die in a world where the no vacancy sign was lit. There is hope and I would love nothing more than to share that hope with you this Christmas.

It starts with making room…

Read the entire interruption series beginning with Hannah’s story, then Hope, Comfort, and finally, Peace.

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