Life is getting a bit hectic round here and the Christmas festivities and all that goes with it are upon us. There are cards to be written, packages to be posted, gifts to be wrapped, shopping expeditions to be planned, children's pageants to be attended, cookies to be baked, cakes to be iced, homes to be decorated.... the list goes on seemingly endlessly.
In amongst all of this, I find myself wanting to simply slow things down, take notice of what's going on around me. With a pause, comes reflection and conflicting emotions wrestle for first place.
I want to rest in the holiday season and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas. Celebrate the birth of a Savior - the God child who came to save us - save us from this broken world.
I want to do that, but this morning I found myself shedding fresh tears of grief for another child who lost her battle to cancer. And I'm mad - because why should a child have to have this battle? We don't send our children to war, but for those given a cancer diagnosis, we expect them to step up and have the fight of their lives. For their lives...
Jasmine's journey is not over. And as I wanted to write about her journey here and update all our supporters who want news of her, I realise that Jasmine's journey documented here is rather a mum's journey. Christmas being a season for peace, joy, gratitude, I wonder what "God with us" does with all the pain and brokenness during this season? Do we just shelve it for a while and manufacture a bit of joy with the tinsel and fake tree?
Does God really come when we ask to heal the hurt?
When I became a mum, life changed forever. Something happens and there is no going back to the thoughts, feelings and way we lived before children. When I became a mum of a daughter with cancer, the same happened. Life just changed forever. Maybe we shouldn't wish to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. But sometimes I don't want to walk another mile in my shoes either.
In the last week, I have had my check up for my skin cancer and talked to my mum who is getting ready for round two of chemo. Jasmine is in between MRI's and other follow up appointments and I just wonder what on earth? Sometimes it seems like this wretched disease isn't going to rest until it takes one of us. It's taken another mum's daughter this week. And sadly she's not the only one as one of our Boston family friends start grieving a child in their circle of friends too. And how many more who we don't hear about and don't know?
I went to my children's bedsides and watched them sleep awhile this morning - just wanting to watch their rhythmic breathing and touch the warmth and life in their skin. Reflecting on this great big year we've had, I think about what Christmas looks like for me this year. I think about having BOTH of my children. Here. With. Me.
I'll rest on that truth for a while. And while I rest there, I can't help but be grateful to God, for delivering my baby girl back to me. She was held a while between the two worlds and only God knew if He was calling her home. Saying I'm grateful to still have her with us, is the biggest understatement I just might ever make. So I will pause a while in His presence this year and ponder what it is to have Christ born, Immanuel, God with us.
For me, "God with us" is a miracle who walks and talks and breathes and laughs her days away with us - she completes the family four. She is eating more, participating more, has a skip in her step, a ready smile and gets the giggles - they're infectious. It is a son, strong and brave who has a deeper knowledge and understanding of things, who can shoulder a year that only adults should endure, yet remain grounded in love and childhood and be a 9 year old boy. It is a return to better health. And it means perhaps there is a way forward for us, even though I often can't see one. It is trusting His outcome when we are struck in ongoing adversity. When I can't take one more difficult piece of news or hit to our lives,when all seems too big and overwhelming. it is taking a moment to pause. Pause and notice the small things. Pause and really take notice. Pause and be thankful for right here, right now. Because my here and now in all it's messy circumstances isn't a given - but it is what is given.