Of course it is! This is an exciting time of year, full of eager anticipation for kids and adults alike. It's a cheerful time of year - who in the world couldn't possibly have cheer in their hearts with all of the lights, decorations, parties, and happy tunes pouring out lyrics such as "It's the most wonderful time of the year" and "It's the hap-happiest season of all."
The answer is: a lot of people. The reason? Life. Life doesn't go on vacation just because we do. It causes a powerful chain reaction: "life" happens (death, illness, divorce, financial struggles, etc.), that leads to the inevitable change in holiday traditions and rituals, and the leads to the feelings of loneliness, despair, maybe anger or other feelings of hurt and anguish. The question, "Why can't it be like it was back when . . . ?" I think can be the most damaging one to ponder and yet most of us can't help but ask it occasionally.
I ask it. Not a lot, but every now and then, I remember the magic Christmas held for me when I was about my girls' age. Then again, sometimes I just wish I could go back 9 years and enjoy that particular Christmas a little more. Why 9? Because this year on December 23rd (yes, two days before Christmas) it will have been 8 years since my daddy went to celebrate Christmas with Jesus Himself.
Now, I don't mean to drag you down or make you not want to come back to visit because I'm blogging about gloomy topics. I certainly don't want you to feel bad for me because one thing I've learned is that there IS hope and that Christmas IS hope. I LOVE the hope that came to us that first Christmas! I also know that time has a certain way of taking situations and putting them on the other end a kaleidoscope. Have you ever looked through a toy kaleidoscope? The image on the other end fades slightly as these beautiful stain glass-type patterns form, changing with the twist of the end, each uniquely beautiful. With time (sometimes a whole, whole lot!) the initial heartache fades as you enjoy beautiful new creations. My beautiful new creations? Alison and Olivia, of course. They are so much fun and I've found that some of that child-like Christmas magic comes back to me as I watch them every year. I have many, many other blessings, too. My life is very good. The same as it was 9 years ago? No, and it won't ever be that way again. And for me, personally, that is what will sometimes catch me off guard in my weak moments - the ever again part.
This Christmas is shaping up to be one of the "hap-happiest" that we've had in our household for, well, 9 years. But my heart is terribly burdened this year for those who are hurting. You all know someone. Maybe it's you. The loneliness at this time of year can just become unbearable and my heart is so heavy for the lonely. Maybe it's because my main character, Kate, in The Heart's Journey Home, is going through this very thing and I'm just so saddened for her. Please, keep those that are hurting this holiday season on the top of your prayer lists. Pray for supernatural joy and peace to fill their hearts. Oh, and if you have time (I know everyone is super busy during this time of year with Christmas programs and parties) visit someone who might be alone during the holidays. I promise that they won't be the only one whose day is brightened! :)
PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: Many of these requests and updates are of people who are hurting and it is because of them that I wanted to blog on the "holiday hurting". Deb Clay and her family recently lost her seventeen-year-old daughter, Krista, in a car accident. Krista was not driving - her boyfriend was and he survived. Unfortunately, I don't know his name, but he desperately needs prayer as does Deb. I could not imagine tuying to make it through one day, let alone the holidays, without both of my girls. Please cover her family and this young man in your prayers for peace, comfort, and supernatural strength for the days ahead. Also, please pray for Jen Morris, who just lost her husband. He apparently had medical issues regarding his heart and was on a transplant list, but didn't get a new heart in time. He left Jen and their three young children. Pray for this young family. Please pray for strength for Jen to be everything to her three children that they will now need and to have enough left over to get her through each day. Please pray for peace and comfort to fall on them like a warm and fuzzy blanket in the days, weeks, and months ahead. This is a prayer request AND an update: Phyllis Gentry has been on our list of prayer concerns because of an injury to her back. Fortunately, her back is much better, but unfortunately she just unexpectedly lost her husband. He had been suffering with MS, but no one expected that he would be taken so quickly, least of all Phyllis and she is taking this loss extremely hard. She needs prayer for strength to make it through each day until this shock wears off. Then she will need prayer for peace and comfort, for the companionship of the Lord to sustain her during her lonely times. Also, I want to add my step-dad, Tom Otto, who has not been feeling well. Please pray for healing for him and pray for the doctors that he will be seeing to have wisdom that comes from the Lord, that they will treat him effectively and efficiently. More updates: My grandma, Angela Dominick, who fell and broke her hip several moths ago, is doing much, much better! Praise the Lord! She is actually gone back to work at ToysRUs for a few hours a couple days a week. Of course, that has helped her a lot because she doesn't like to sit still for too long! :) Please pray for continues healing and a full recovery for Grandma! Kelly M., the daughter of a fellow author with the publishing company who is putting out The Heart's Journey Home, had gall bladder surgery today. I haven't heard an update from her mother yet, but Kelly has been very ill for a very long time, so please pray that this surgery was successful and that this poor young woman can finally have some relief! My dear friend from high school, Patty Smith is going in for another round of chemo tomorrow. Please pray for her for strength - physical and mental. She has been very strong through this (that I've seen anyway), but I'm sure she has her moments as I'm sure any wife and mama would. I just pray healing over her body and strength for her spirit. Kim Baird, is a single mother of two teenage boys who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Just a few days ago, she was informed that genetically she has a certain chromosome that would make chemo ineffective and actually harmful so it is NOT an option. She will have to undergo surgery and then they will go from there. Please pray for the supernatural healing of Kim. No chemo or medicine or doctor can even come close to the mighty work that the Lord can do! Pray for Kim to have the strength she needs to take care of her boys and most of all herself in the days ahead. Pray for peace and joy for Kim and her family this holiday season as they look forward to the miracles the Lord has in store for her. Robin Baughman, the 40-year-old mother of 4 who was diagnosed several months ago with stage four cancer in her brain, breast, and lung, is responding to treatment! Her brain has healed enough after emergency surgery to start chemo for the spots in her breasts and lungs and those spots are responding to the chemo! Please pray mightily that the Lord will heal her completely and restore her health. I am praising the Lord right now for the healing that has already taken place in Robin's body! It has been three months since Larry Harris checked into the hospital to have his bypass surgery and about ten weeks since he's been home. While he's obviously still not 100%, he has not had a major problem since coming home. He has a lot of restrictions—and a huge deficit of energy—not to mention a very weak immune system, but he and his lovely wife, Kathy, are adjusting to this new life style. He began cardiac rehab two weeks ago so please pray in the weeks to come that the rehab will continue to strengthen his heart and that his health will be restored. As always, if you or someone you know is in need of prayer, email me personally through my profile and I will be happy to add them to our list of prayer concerns. There IS power in prayer!