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Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Different Kind of Christmas...

Sometimes a song says it all.

Cherish the message, may it minister to your heart...


Blessings this Christmas!

May Love and Laughter Ring Your Table
and Peace Reign in Your Life...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Grief and the Holidays...

Everyone that has lost a loved one knows the pain of journeying through the holidays... there is no easy answer to the grief that tears the heart.  Facing the empty place at each festive table, missing the cherished smile and laughter that accompanied each treasured tradition, hurting through a time that once was joyous but now only emphasizes the sorrow of our loss...

No easy answer.

And no right answer...

For our family, we have found that meshing new traditions with favored past-times has eased us through the grief that threatens to overwhelm at this most Holy time of year.

We miss mom every day, and so much more even, if that is possible, during this special season of Christmas.

Mom loved Christmas.  As a matter of fact, 3 years ago, as she faced her 1st Year Canciversary, she insisted on decorating the house before Thanksgiving ... which was early even by her standards!  She said she just wanted to enjoy the season as long as possible... I wonder if she knew down deep that her days were dwindling.

It puts an ache in my heart to remember walking back into their home the Sunday she passed away, December 4th, to see the Christmas lights twinkling and the ornaments hanging just the way she had placed them... for us.  I know that if she hadn't decorated that tree when she did, we would never have had the strength to do it... But each day of that first December, as we planned a funeral and wrote her obituary, and accepted flowers and food and sweet hugs, the house sparkled with her special touch.  It was small, but it was the nudge I believe she knew we would need...

Keep on Living, Don't Forget to Celebrate...Make. Every. Day. Count...

And so... that cruise we had planned to celebrate her 1st Year Canciversary... well, it never happened.  Bruised our spirits hard, it did.  She so wanted to go.  God had other plans.  And we grieved.  And walked through dark days.  And even in that grief, Dad talked about their cruise...  And we planned... And we went... in honor of mom.


And we found that the cruise gave us leave to celebrate what we thought we had lost...
Life and Love and Laughter.

And so cruising has become our new Christmas tradition.  One the whole family embraced this past week...

All 23 of us!  We filled up 10 cabins on the NCL Jewel.  Yes we did!   And had so much fun that it was almost illegal... We ate, we laughed, we swam, we relaxed, we loved, we lived... such Grace that brought us to this place.  Mom is surely smiling her approval... Words cannot express the treasure... perhaps a few pictures??

 Formal night... in Black and White!

 And Crazy Fun... in Belize and the Sun!


We ate...

And we played...

And played...

 And played... Scavenger Hunt, Cruise Style, Don't Ask!

Poppy got hugs! Lots of hugs!

 And learned all about selfies!

We played on the beaches of Honduras...

And chased the surf in Trujillo!

Cozumel Cliff-side Paradise...

to Rooftop Beach Bungalows...
the views were awesome!

But best of all, we were all together...

Poppy and all his grands and great-grands!

It just doesn't get much sweeter!
Mom would be so proud...

This past week has filled our hearts to overflowing,
and made this Christmas one to treasure.


New Christmas Traditions for our Family to Celebrate...

Might it be that God in His infinite wisdom has placed such a sweet desire in our hearts to draw us closer to family... and closer to Him.

So whether it's an Old Tradition that we do to preserve sacred memories,
or New Traditions that embrace a life so well lived...
we can allow Christmas to be the Gift it was always meant to be.

for Christmas is the Christ-child,
born to reunite the lost...
drawing us into family, to a deeper love
thru a Grace we can only begin to fathom...

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,
May the Blessings of this Holy Day fill your hearts all year long...

My Love Always,
                                                                                Jane
 
 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Christmas Traditions!

Tomorrow we set sail on another Family Cruise!

It seems to have become our New Family Christmas Tradition... a tradition we'd sure like to continue!

Each year since mom has passed, we gather Dad together and find our way to the sea to celebrate her life and find ways to reconnect as a family and embrace our new normal.

The first cruise without her was so very, very hard... But it led us back to places of pure grace and joy.  Mom loved cruising and visiting distant ports of call...



We felt her blessing keenly through-out the healing journey and vowed to continue the cruising tradition...

And so it was that the following year, mom's memorial cruise became a way to move forward thru the grief and truly it was a time to slow down and honor her memory in the most perfect way possible.

Tomorrow, we gather the whole family together at the Port of Houston and begin a week-long celebration that has us too excited to sleep!

And so it is Bon Voyage until next week... There will surely be pictures a'plenty to share... and stories too... Always!

Praying for Grace to meet you where you are.
Whether it's fighting the fight or embracing the cherished memories,
Pancreatic Cancer has a way of wreaking havoc with
treasured traditions.
Might you find your heart eased into this holiday season,
wrapped in the holiness of His Gift.

My Love Always,
                    Jane




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Moving Forward thru Grief


 

 
 

It's been 3 years since mom passed away.  3 years living with a grief that has been almost a physical presence in our lives... its mood changing with the memories, or a smell, even a song...

At times swamping with powerful pain, but then easing with blessed relief as love grabs hold and pulls us in close...

Our move from the farm took me to places unexpected in the grief journey.
 

As we packed our things and prepared for the move, I felt again the pain of her loss with a sharpness that cut deep. Everywhere around the farm were moments captured in my heart of her presence...

At the Thanksgiving table...



Here laughing around the living room...

  



Leaning on the fence to watch the goat kids play... Sitting on the back deck cheering on the grandkid's easter egg hunt...And the hike one fall to play paint ball games...

Mom's memory left a mark on the farm.  And, with sudden clarity, I realized that she would never walk the new woods, nor gather around for Thanksgiving in our new home... She would never stand on the banks of our lake, or wrap her arms around us to share in our happiness...

Heart cracks at the leaving.  Unexpected.  Moving forward means leaving the past... and mom... to these sacred memories alone...

The leaving was an emotional pain that caught me unprepared.

For while time has eased the intense ache of her loss, and the grief has lessened, it hasn't disappeared. I am more aware than ever before that while the Grief will never end, it will change. 

Grief is a passage,
not a place to stay...  
 
 
And when the heart hurts over the missing, I can understand that it is the price of love.  A price gladly paid.  Mom poured her life into us with a richness that continues on.
 
It is with a conscious, intentional effort that we move forward... walking straight into a journey that would delight her to no end.
 
Living life well is one of the best ways
to honor a memory so beloved.
 
And her memory wraps us in love always...
 
 
Always.
 
Graced to have been loved so very, very well...
Moving forward thru the grief because of that love.

 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Living out the Thanks...

So, when the  Thanks-giving gets hard...

Perhaps we just get on with the Giving.  And we find to our amazement that the Thanks flows Abundant.

Anger and Bitterness.  They just melt under the heat.

Truly... It was a gift we gave this past weekend that had our hearts overflowing.  In God's gracious upside down kingdom... this is truth.

Several months ago, one of our dear friends lost her father.  Grief.  It ran hard and deep. 

Her mother, widowed and now alone on the family farm... Keeping it together, praying through the tough, walking the journey.

And there was this dry creek on the farm.





Swollen wide when the rains came thru in season, it had become bogged in with broken branches and twisted roots and sodden leaves.  Each rain bringing more messy burden to the tiny creek.

It needed help.



And so we gathered.  Friends with saws and pruners.  Gloved hands and welcome wheelbarrows.



It was a gift to fellowship together as we made light of the work.



As the day meandered past noon, the little creek began to smile.  Shaggy limbs were trimmed back, dead growth whittled away, rotting leaf litter raked clean...


The tiny footbridge made whole again...firewood stacked for the coming winter...
 

We laughed through water and brownie breaks...


And enjoyed the warmth and love of lunch prepared by the sweetest of souls.


The Giving turned to Thanks.

It is not a hard thing to
"Carry one another's burdens"
                                Galatians 6:2

It is a glorious gift to share in one another's journeys... even the most difficult.
God knew.

He knew we'd need each other.
And out of our obedience to His call,
He blesses with a Giving of Thanks.

Hearts tendered to Him,
Souls ministered to out of infinite Grace.



Learning to Live out the Thanks,
Day by Day
Moment by Moment...

Graced with Thanksgiving.  Truly!