Posted in Christmas, friendship, Life

A gift for Christmas

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“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ~ Roy L. Smith 

I have this life-long friend. She’s been in my closest circle of cherished ones from way back when.

We played Barbies and a myriad of other pretend games together as children; lounged by her folks’ swimming pool and dreamed of our weddings as teenagers; were actually in each other’s weddings as young adults, and laughed and cried together as we have matured into older adults.

If I could give her the best gift ever this Christmas, I would give her a do-over of this stressful year she’s experienced all wrapped up in gold, glittering paper and tied with an enormous red fluffy bow. Because as crazy as my year has been, hers has been a doozy.

Not only has she endured surgery, chemo, and radiation in her battle against that dreaded disease – cancer – this year, she also lost her father just a few weeks ago. Her husband is still recovering himself from some orthopedic surgery.  Her grown children live hours away from her. And now, she’s hospitalized in excruciating pain from a complication that she never saw coming.

Sometimes this life on earth is just… Too. Much.  And I cry for my friend because I do understand. Often we face the proverbial straw that breaks that camel’s back, the one that breaks our will, breaks our hearts, breaks just about everything in us.  And we truly have to fight the hardest battle ever just to overcome our brokenness.

And on top of everything else, it’s Christmas. Ho. Ho. Ho. The most wonderful time of the year. Joy to the world.

Christmas, when there is so much to do in preparation. Cards to send. Gift shopping and wrapping to be done. Decorating. Baking. The list goes on….and on….and on.

And accomplishing those things are just a few of the holiday preparations that my friend truly enjoys. Christmas makes her happy.  But not this year.

This year, she lies in a hospital, a good hour and a half away from her home, in pain and fretting over all the things she hasn’t been able to do.  And yes, by her own words, having herself “a pity party.”

As her lifelong friend, I wish I could make it all better for her. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make her pain disappear but even the doctors can’t do that – they’ve cautioned her that recovery will take time.

I wish I could sprinkle magic fairy dust over her home, quite a distance from mine, and all her decorating and holiday preparations would be complete.

I wish I could say some magic words that would conjure up a Christmas elf to buy and wrap all the gifts she wants to give her family.

But I cannot. I am only human. I have no magic powers or instruments. I can’t even visit her in the hospital because the flu has infiltrated my home and I don’t want to be the bearer of bad viruses and compromise her already delicate immune system, so I must visit with her via cell phone.

So I do the only thing I can do.  I listen. I let her vent her frustrations, her sadness, her disappointment, and yes, even her anger at this latest attack on her health. I tell her through my own tears that I’m sorry, that I hate that she has to go through this time.

I tell her not to fret, not to worry about what doesn’t get accomplished in time for Christmas. I encourage her to just concentrate on getting well and being able to go home soon.

But I don’t tell her the words she doesn’t want to hear, even though they are right there on the tip of my tongue.

“Don’t tell me things will get better,” she says. “I don’t want to hear that.”

So I close my mouth and swallow down those words, those words of platitude that we so often use, when honestly, we don’t really know what else to say.

And then I do the only other thing that comes to my mind, to my heart, to my soul. I ask her if I can pray with her right here, right now on this wireless device that connects us audibly even though our hearts are and always will be connected by friendship and love.

And she says yes.

And I hope and I pray that for just those few moments of prayer, Christmas – the one without all the preparation and fuss – flourished in her heart as it did mine.

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” ~ Dale Evans

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Correcting blurred vision

blogIMG_3541 (2)Sidetracked.  Have you felt like that every once in awhile?  Happens to me fairly often. 

It reminds me of that old saying, “can’t see the forest for the trees.”  In the past, I’ve found myself so fixated on a problem that had arisen, that I didn’t stop to consider what impact, if any, it might have for the future.

Usually, the problem really isn’t something that will matter five or ten years from now or even 20.  Over the last few years, I’ve finally learned not to sweat the small stuff. 

Call it maturing, call it getting older, call it wisdom.  I don’t know what eventually caused me to realize that, but I’m ever so glad I learned to let go of trivial matters and consider what’s truly important for eternity.

A situation has been bothering me for some time now, soon it will be an entire year.  And I’ve still not muddled my way through it nor ended the feelings it provokes.  It’s time.  It’s past time.  Will it alter the future?  Yes.  But it’s something I have to learn to live with.

As always, I turn to prayer when problems surface.  I also usually ask friends who are steadfast prayer warriors to join me in praying over the issue. I just recently enlisted their aid once again when anger, frustration, worry, great concern, and hurt threatened to overwhelm me.  I’m thankful for the many friends who jumped on my prayer wagon to storm the gates of heaven.  

Some of my far-away friends sent me encouraging private messages on Facebook. Others texted me with words that proved to be exactly what I needed to hear and needed to focus on – words like, “It doesn’t get easier. You just have to live through it. You will get through this even when you think you can’t, you will. You are a strong woman of God and He is right by your side.”

See, sometimes my vision gets clouded.  Clouded by trouble.  Obscured by emotions.  Blurred by things I cannot change.  Veiled by worries.  Overshadowed by situations that cause me distress. Eclipsed by circumstances beyond my control.

And that’s when I must stop being sidetracked.  Stop letting the trees prevent me from seeing the forest.  Stop focusing on how I feel and instead turn my attention to all the many blessings I have for which to be thankful.

I am blessed that my friends help me remember that – they keep me on track. They help me see clearly and I’m so grateful that God provided these friends just for me.  

As always, I return again to a passage of Scripture that I’ve embraced and embedded in my heart and mind. 

And I like this translation of that passage in The Message: “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Some concerns, no matter how urgent or difficult they seem, should be left in God’s strong and capable hands. What I do, how I react, and what impact I make on others is what truly counts for what lies in the future – for eternity.

It’s a lesson I continue to be taught, to re-learn, to completely understand and absorb.  I’m hopeful that I will allow God to correct my blurred vision. In this new year of new beginnings, are you like me?  Does your vision need corrected? 

“Like steam from a cup of hot tea that fogs our glasses, false urgency of matters at hand blurs our vision to important things in the distance.” ~ Terri Guillemets

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com