Have I missed it? No. I missed the memories of the years leading up to that Christmas, but not that Christmas or any Christmas since. Fact is, I wouldn't have a Christmas Tree this year had my mom not ordered me one online (see picture) and had it shipped to my house!
I spent the night with her for the Thanksgiving holiday this year and she said, "It's time to put up a Christmas tree, Sandy." I didn't respond because I knew she was right but, selfishly, I didn't want to do it. I knew when I opened that box of ornaments that I'd be faced with the memories of 18 Christmases leading up to 2013, and I didn't want to face them. I didn't want to be reminded of the lost innocence or think about the memories we weren't allowed to make in the following years, let alone remember the actual years. I didn't want to admit how much it hurt - still hurts - and how much I miss what the enemy has stolen from me. Actually, even more than any of that, I ache for what it has stolen from my Nellie.
I say 'stolen' and some may debate that since a great deal of it was by choice; however, it was choices made under the influence of lies and manipulations of his wickedness. For me, it was John 10:10, "the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy..." and that he did.
Oh, but beauty instead of ashes is what my Father so is so tenderly showing me! (Isaiah 61:3) As His Word holds ever true, He lovingly and faithfully continues to work in the heart and lives of his children by healing, restoring, comforting, and bringing peace in the wildest storms. Hands raised high in surrender, Praise God, I am one of His children! I know He was always with me. I know He never left my side! I know, too, because of His love and protection, I will have the opportunity to spend future Christmases with my girl. I never doubted His love for me; I just didn't want to let go of this particular hurt. He allowed me to grieve because His timing is perfect.
Over the past several months, long before the "Christmas" season started according to the calendar, I've been hearing little whispers of "CHRIST-mas is coming" during my quiet time; in my prayer time; throughout my Bible reading and devotions - "CHRIST-mas is coming."
Yes, my momma was correct. It was time for me to put up a CHRIST-mas tree because the time has come for me to live in the second and most important part of that same verse, "I came that they may have life and have it in abundance."
As I unwrapped those delicate ornaments, tears flowed freely. Like ripping a band aid off an open wound, it hurt. Each ornament brought a smile through the tears. Beauty from ashes. The enemy would try to thwart the healing with a piercing flash in my mind, but my God would not let him overtake me! This was my healing! This was for God's glory!
I have not spent a Christmas with my Nellie since 2013. I may not spend it with her this year ... or any other year the Lord allows me to bear witness to ... but whether I do or whether I don't, I will not take for granted the joy of celebrating the birth of my Savior for another second! It is true, the holidays are not easy for a lot of us. The more important truth remains ... He is worthy of my praise no matter what!
For unto us a Child is born,