As a kid, I remember my mom or dad would usually come to my bedroom to tuck me in at night. Then, before they would leave the room, I would often ask them to leave my bedroom door cracked open and the hallway light on. Like many kids, I was scared of the dark. In the dark, my imagination would run wild. Seeing that sliver of light from the hallway was enough to comfort me and enabled me to feel safe enough to fall asleep.
As I got older, the hallway light would be turned off, but we always had a night light plugged into the wall in the hallway. It’s amazing how a little glow of light can bring so much comfort.
Recently, Jennie Allen came to speak at my church’s annual Women’s Conference. Although I have heard Jennie speak through the IF: Gathering live streams, this was my first time hearing her speak in person.
This Is Us. Mention those 3 words in a group of people and you will probably see tears start to well up in someone’s eyes. Showing emotion does not come easily to me, but this is the one TV show that I find myself watching with a box of tissues nearby. Apparently this is true for millions of other viewers too.
Why do so many people get excited about watching a show that makes us cry? I thought about this recently as I was watching an episode about an event I knew was going to happen, yet I still found myself needing multiple tissues to dry all my tears.
I think the answer is - great storytelling.
Any great story is bound to captivate an audience.
On January 1st we have a tendency to reflect upon the previous year and think about what we can do differently to make the new year better. I used to be one of those people who made New Year's resolutions. I had a 0% success rate of keeping my resolutions, so 3 years ago, I decided to take the One Word Challenge.
For me, focusing on a single word has been much more effective than making resolutions. In the past, I have focused on words such as, Obey, Share, and Look.
Over the past 2 years, blogging has become a part of my life. As a blogger, you put your words out there, not knowing who will read them. This part is a little scary. And most of the time, you have no idea how your words impact someone, but you continue to write. You trust that the words you have been given are meant to be shared with others for a reason. This is the life of a blogger.
Once in awhile, someone might share with you how your words have helped or encouraged them. These moments are gifts….little reminders that your words are making a difference. It’s because of these moments that I continue to write.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. As a child, I have fond memories of going with my parents and younger brother to the Christmas tree farm. We would brave the cold and snow in search of the “perfect” Christmas tree. Once we got the tree back to our house, we would turn on Christmas music and decorate the tree as a family. I always looked forward to the Christmas season, and I loved putting up the Christmas tree.
Now, putting up the Christmas tree is bittersweet. While I still love the Christmas season, the holidays are very different. I no longer live at home with my parents, and my closest family members are hundreds of miles away. I’ve always envisioned myself being married with kids, but that hasn’t happened yet. So, instead of cutting down a real tree and decorating it with family, I find myself putting up an artificial pre-lit tree and decorating it by myself.
It would be easier to skip putting up a Christmas tree, but each year I choose to continue to do it because my Christmas tree is full of memories. Some ornaments were given to me by friends or students, but most of the ornaments are the same ones that hung on our family Christmas tree when I was a child. They remind me of Christmases full of excitement, happiness, and fun. This part is also bittersweet, because now Christmas (and all holidays) are a mixture of joy and grief.
The first time I remember grief slipping into the holidays is when my mom was initially diagnosed with breast cancer. With each holiday, I remember thinking, “Will this be our last one together?” Presents became less important to me, as I started to focus more on being present with the people around me. All I wanted was more time with those I loved.
Nine years after her diagnosis, my family and I experienced our first Christmas without my mom. Grief didn’t just slip in that Christmas, it seemed heavy, like a thick blanket of snow. But, just as the Christmas lights glimmered in the night, moments of joy pierced through the darkness. Sometimes you just need a little bit of light to give you hope.
Today, I don’t feel weighed down by grief, but it still lingers. And I’ve learned that’s ok. In order to grieve, you first have to experience love, and I’m thankful to have had a mom who showed me love.
As I look upon my decorated Christmas tree, memories fill my mind. The memories may be bittersweet, but at least I still have the memories.
My eyes always gravitate towards the top of my tree, though. There, underneath the angel, are ornaments that remind me of my mom. Even though it’s hard not having her here, I know she’s with the angels, celebrating the birth of our Savior in heaven, while I celebrate His birth here on earth. Some day we will once again celebrate together. Thinking about that always brings me joy.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.