I have five grandchildren. Three live about 30 minutes away while the other two live with their parents in the apartment on the far side of my kitchen.
Other friends have grands who live hundreds or even thousands of miles away. To develop close relationships with their little ones, they have established very specific and deliberate ways of staying in touch, like regular Skype calls or recording readings of favorite children’s books. Those strategies are somewhat effective, but all ache for hugs and lap time.
On the other hand, my little darlings burst into my space off and on all day long. Their raucous laughter echoes through the house. Periodically I hear the pads of their little feet thundering down the hallway. And when their precious hearts are broken, sobs reach my ears instantly.
Our relationship is immediate and always. We never have to find the right time zone or settle for blown kisses. This precious intimacy is possible because I am WITH them.
When the angels declared to Joseph in a dream that “‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23 ESV), they were announcing that the God of heaven and earth would never again be far off. He would make His home among them and be WITH them.
Caring for our loved ones who live with mental illness can be a lonely and isolating journey. This Christmas let us rejoice in the truth that we are never alone, that God is always near. Let us celebrate the miracle of “Immanuel”—God WITH us.
I’m the first one awake in my household most mornings. I grope my way in the darkness to resurrect myself with a cup of coffee as I curl up in my favorite chair. In the stillness and silence I turn on one soft lamp and then begin to read, pray and mentally prepare for the day. Gradually dawn streams into the room. Once again the light overcomes the darkness and I can see beyond my book to the rest of the room and down the hallway.
For so many years we were lost in our journey amid the darkness of mental illness. There were so many days when we couldn’t see where to turn or how to find our way. At times we felt the darkness would overcome us and we would be swallowed by the uncertainty of it all. Continue reading
As a mother, I am drawn to Mary in the Christmas story, but I am also drawn to Mary in the story of Golgotha. I identify with her joy at the manger and grieve alongside her at the cross. From the beginning to the end, Mary is there, pondering the miracle of her baby’s birth, preparing for the burial of her Messiah’s body. What bewilderment must have danced in her head. What prayers must have crossed her lips. What tears must have carved her cheeks. What courage must have mounted in her heart. Continue reading
One of the holiday traditions we celebrate as a family is lighting candles on our Advent wreath while we sing the hymn, “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” We start with only the first stanza, then add another through the four weeks of Advent, so that during the week before Christmas the song is sung in its entirety* with meaningful reverence. I am glad, though, that my favorite lines are in the first stanza. That way they stay fresh on my mind for the full month as we sing the words over and over.