Where to Turn When Sorrow Suffocates Seasonal Joy

I remember my first holiday season as a single parent. Surrounded by ringing bells and colorful bows, the only box I wanted to open was a box of Kleenex. Ever been there?

Christmas Box
(Image from Unsplash)

You Are NOT Alone!

We desperately wish it were the most fun and festive time of the year, but some Christmases aren’t fun and festive at all.

Neighborhood lights are twinkling, kids are singing, Santas are ringing holiday bells, but these sights and sounds only magnify our pain.

Those who have faced loss or who live with unresolved family conflict or who are haunted by childhood physical or emotional trauma often dread the holidays.

Three Essentials That Will Revolutionize Your Holiday Season

Years ago, shortly after Thanksgiving, I learned my son had been horribly assaulted. Suddenly, all thoughts of a joyful holiday vanished. The last thing on my mind was giving thanks.

Family Eating Dinner
(Image from Pixabay)

Though the trees displayed the colors of autumn, my heart was the shade of deepest sorrow.

I remember two specific things about the holidays that year:

  1. It was the first holiday season my husband and I had shared as a married couple. With our new blended family of five kids, I wanted to make it super special . . . until I found out about my son’s assault. What timing!
  2. The deluge of police reports, doctor’s exams, new diagnoses of PTSD, moderate traumatic brain injury, tics, flashbacks, and nightmares smothered my ability to do more than show up and breathe.

My most beloved holiday season became scarred by an irreversible, deep wound that affected my whole family.

How Do We Move Forward?

How do we move forward when life hurts? That’s a question we all ask when life forces us to find a “new normal.” Some of us want to wait out the hard times because we’d like to believe that time heals all wounds.

Unfortunately, that’s a huge lie. Another way we try to move forward is by glossing over the pain with a thick coat of denial. We varnish over our pain by presenting behavior that appears happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes that looks like . . .

Seizing Life’s Shocking Surprises with Help and Hope

My son Jon let out a yell. Chairs tumbled over, and his cell phone slid across the wood floor. By the time I reached Jon, the grand mal seizure had started.

Mom and Son
(Image from Pixabay)

Without warning, Jon’s body was suddenly bombarded by legions of electrical and chemical blasts that slammed him like tidal waves of shock.

Let’s all be clear here; I’m not the “stay-calm-during-a-seizure” sort of person. That’s like saying, “just stay calm” to passengers on an airplane as it suddenly takes a nose dive directly toward earth.

Not gonna happen.

I did what we who live in the most insanely unpredictable space of seizure disorders have somehow fashioned into our second nature:

Life Can Be Hard and Full Also

Most parents cringe when the school principal calls you for a meeting about your child. However, the school principal pales in comparison to being called by a prison inmate . . . who is also your child.

The last place we expect or desire our child or loved one to live out his or her days is in prison.

Jason Kent, son of Carol and Gene Kent, was a parent’s dream to raise. Everything Jason did, he did with excellence.

From graduating at the top of his class from the U.S. Naval Academy to marrying a beautiful woman, life for the Kent family was ideal. Until . . . something snapped and Jason was arrested, then sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

What You Must Do to Live Fearlessly

My husband’s work hours have been crazy due to the recent natural disasters. He was called into work every Sunday in October. I had just returned from a speaking engagement.

Fearless
(Image by Samuel Foster on Unsplash)

I had yet to unpack . . . I was tired.

Church is often a struggle for me. It’s tragically amazing how creative my excuses can be for not going to church. (Notice I said “excuses” and not “reasons.”)

The Priceless Value of Shattered Things

It’s confession time: I have an addiction. It started years ago. Short on cash but high on creativity, secondhand stores and antique shops became my go-to spots for getting stuff.

Trust
(Image from Pixabay)

I figured someone’s trash could become my treasure, with the help of some power tools, paint, and my sewing machine. (Thanks to Pinterest and DIY Web sites, how-to videos are plentiful when I’m in a pinch.)

Over time, I’ve noticed a trend. A lot of great stuff gets tossed out because of a little chip or dent, a scratch here, a tear there. How quickly we tend to diminish an object’s value if there’s a slight imperfection. We want something . . .

Fearless Friendships: What You Must Remember

The offer was terrifying, but I couldn’t figure out why. My long-time friend told me years ago that I should meet her sister. Apparently, her sister and I have incredibly similar mannerisms and an outrageous sense of humor.

Friendship
(Image from Pixabay)

On many occasions my friend has said she thinks her sister and I may have been separated at birth. This has been an ongoing discussion for 18 years.

Time Marches On

Now, a lot happens in 18 years. Think of where you were 18 years ago. Most, if not all, of us were in a totally different stage of life then.

Looking back over the last 18 years of friendship, my friend and I have experienced many life changes and challenges. Some years we’ve lived close enough to provide hands-on support.

Colossal Walls We Must Conquer with Uncompromising Courage

We were going 80 miles an hour when I hit the wall. That collision shattered the left side of my face. Four surgeries and four months later, getting behind the wheel had a whole new meaning.

car-accident
(Image from Pixabay)

When we think of walls, most of us think of The Great Wall of China or walled cities of ancient times built to keep the city’s inhabitants safe from enemy invaders.

We also have physical walls in our homes and walls that fortify or create boundaries around the property and possessions we want to protect. These are helpful, necessary walls.

However, there are other kinds of walls that we may not know exist . . . until we slam into them. We build these invisible walls to protect our hearts from past pain or anticipated harm.

The Ultimate Game of Thrones

Epic. Unforgettable. Remarkable. It’s a writer’s dream to craft work so powerful it moves the human spirit. In the world of fiction and fantasy, George R. R. Martin has done that with his novel series, originally titled A Song of Ice and Fire.

Writer
(Image from Pixabay)

Producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss created from Martin’s work the internationally acclaimed series Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones and other fictional works such as The Lord of the Rings are indeed extraordinary in the compelling ways they portray good and evil.

Truth be told, humanity has been caught in a colossal combat between good and evil since the serpent chatted up Eve. When we watch the battles wage on-screen, we can relate them to our own personal struggle: Who reigns supreme in our lives?

We won’t encounter orcs and don’t possess magical powers, but we all must bow to someone or something. The big question: Do we bow to Jesus—the only one who sits upon the throne?

Where to Find Comfort When Disaster Strikes

Harvey. It hasn’t been a common name during my lifetime. Until now. Most of the country will remember the name Harvey and will relate it to one of our nation’s largest natural disasters.

(Image from Pixabay)

News outlets and social media run loops of countless scenes of devastation and loss. Homes filled with wonderful memories have been ripped apart, leaving millions without basic necessities.

I wept as I watched on TV small children being rescued from torrential rain and rising, rushing waters. Little innocent hands clinging to a single item . . .