Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas Miracle - 2013

The sweet smell of cedar wafts through the house as the colorful twinkling lights adorn the simple Christmas tree.  The stockings are hung by the chimney with care and the house gives evidence of the season of Christmas with carefully wrapped presents, festive decorations, and a bright cackling fire burning in the fireplace. It is Christmas morn and everyone is feeling merry!  Right?

Wrong!!!  It's 6:30 in the morning and Sylvia has been up since 1:30a.m. We struggled to keep her awake yesterday evening and finally gave in at 7:30 p.m. and put her to bed.  And as if on cue, as soon as we left the room, Sylvia was bright eyed and bushytailed and not very happy about being in bed.  After several rounds of pulling off the covers, taking off the clothes, yelling and crying, I finally got her up and  put her in her wheelchair at 9:00 p.m.  I left her in her room because, I'll admit, I was aggravated!  At some point, Rich went and sat with his mom and around 11:00p.m. when everything was strangely quiet, I peeked in Sylvia's room and Rich was asleep in a chair by his mom, holding her hand, and Sylvia still had her eyes opened but was caught between awake and asleep.  I put her to bed and she went to sleep immediately.....until 1:30 a.m. I toileted her at that time and put her back in bed hoping she would go back to sleep.   And that's when the covers on/covers off dance began again!  It is also when the clothes off/clothes on dance began....again!  It is also when the crying, yelling, and hollering began.....again!  I was determined not to get her out of bed but finally gave in at 6:30 a.m. when it was evident that she was NOT going to go to sleep.  AND....I am in a cheerful, festive Christmas spirit.....NOT!  It is Christmas morning and there is not one evidence in our house to show that we are celebrating Christmas.  There are no decorations, no Christmas tree, not one present, and no bright cackling fire burning in the fireplace.  There's no family at the house and no one expected.  It doesn't feel like Christmas at all and I am NOT happy!  I was OK not putting up a Christmas tree this year.  To be honest, I couldn't fathom adding another big item in the house since we have added two geriatric recliners, two wheelchairs, a shower chair, potty chair, hospital bed, etc.  With all this equipment taking up space, it was difficult to think about adding another item.  So I opted out of the Christmas tree.  And I didn't feel like searching in the attic for our Nativity set to display in the house.  Rich and I cannot go anywhere together, and to be honest, between caring for Sylvia and Richard, Sr., we just haven't been able to go Christmas shopping or anything else. Sometimes, I think we're too wore out by the end of the day to do anything but chill.   And still, I was OK with it all.  It's just our season of life. ......UNTIL this morning!  There is something about being sleep deprived when it is not your choice that brings on the crankiness.  And so, it's 6:30 in the morning and Sylvia is crying, she is fighting me, she needs a bath, she's hungry, and I'm cranky!  So when I'm cranky, I just don't talk to her.  She's carrying on and I'm quiet.  I want to cry but it's best to just be quiet and do what I have to do.  And inside, I am one giant BAH HUMBUG!!!  And happened.

All of sudden, Sylvia stops hollering and crying and starts singing, "Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm....."  that's all she can sing.  It's all she can put together in her jumbled, confused mind.  Then she starts over, "Silent Night, Holy Night."  She doesn't know it's Christmas.  How can she?  We haven't told her, not that she would understand or remember.  I haven't played one Christmas carol in the house this year.  But there it was.  My Christmas hug from God.   Oh how much God must love me to remind me this day is not about a tree or decorations or presents or how cranky I am.  It's about remembering a Silent Night over 2,000 years ago that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, a Holy infant so tender and mild, to be born into this old sinful world to make a way for me (and you!) to have eternal life in Heaven.  

Luke 2:11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  
John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.  
John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Thank you God for showing me your love today on this Christmas morn, December 25, 2013. Thank you God for using Sylvia to do it.  Thank you for the opportunity You gave me to celebrate Christmas with Rich's parents in a simple and quiet way.  But most of all, thank you God for the GIFT of your Son, Jesus!  The Christ in CHRISTmas.  

Merry Christmas family and friends.  God loves you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

20 Years In Heaven

Dear Steve,

December 18, 1993 --20 years ago today since you went to Heaven, Stephen Lee Douglas!  20 years you have had to be next to Jesus, to walk on streets of gold, to praise and worship our Lord and Saviour in a way that we cannot here on earth. 20 years of forever.  Are you having fun?

So much has happened in the 20 years since you've been gone.  The kids are all grown now and have lives of their own.  Half of them are married. That half has made you a grandpa and a great-grandpa!  Can you believe it?!  Can you look down from Heaven and see them all?   Can you see Jamie and "Flipper"?   They just celebrated 19 years of marriage and have three children, Kole, Kylee, and Kaden.  I can see you giving Kole a hard time being a teenager and all and having that awkward Bieber phase. Kylee inherited her mother's aptitude for sports but thankfully makes a beautiful ballerina.  I know you would love tormenting her until she whispered a secret to you.  Kaden would just make you laugh at how much he loves life and his funny sayings. He is a ball of energy! Skip is such a patient husband and father and such a perfect match for Jamie. Jamie still cries when she gets out of sorts but she's a great mom and wife and aspires to write books some day--all with "Suck It Up" in the title!!!  And Jared...he's the preacher boy!  I know you would be proud of your preaching marine!  I am so glad you knew about Amy.  I just wish you could have met her.  She's a jewel, for sure. They've spent their whole 19 years of married life serving the Lord in full time ministry.  They have two precious girls, Jayden and Allie.  Oh the fun you would have playing with these children!   Jayden has no fear, and acts like her daddy who acts like his daddy!  And Allie is just the cutest 3 year old ever!  And Jana.  She's one tough cookie, that one!  She's worked hard at life and worked hard to be a successful business woman.  She's known love and known the heartbreak of losing love to death.  Her loss is still fresh so she doesn't understand it all but she has shown grace in the shadow of grief. She makes us all stand a little taller.  Little Lukas, who was just a wee baby when you left us, is all grown up and now a father himself to a little boy of his own, Anthony. Can you imagine Jana as a grandma?  Not a title she's ready to wear but she makes a great Mimi.  Jana also gave us Riley.  What a cutie she is.  She is just as athletic as her mother and has such a sweet spirit! You would love her! And then there's Matthew.   He was just 7 when he had to say goodbye to you.   He looks like you, acts like you, writes like you and has the same hairline as you.  There's never a dull moment when he's around. He's a lover of life and a (dangerous) thrill seeker.  He's a great mechanic and a teddy bear at heart. He is your "mini me".  Justin is a sweetheart of a guy.  He inherited your romantic nature and your giving spirit.  He loves family, cooking, friends, and being a protective watchdog over his little sister.  He's head over heels in love right now but only time will tell if she is "THE ONE".  If she is, she is a sweetie!  And last, but not least, is baby Kimberlee.  Only she's not a baby anymore.  She grew up and learned to talk and make decisions on her own. She is a beautiful but stubborn soul and doesn't like her brothers to watch over her.  She loves children and is an excellent school teacher.  She inherited your eyes, your sense of humor, and your "suck it up" philosophy of life. She really stepped up to the plate in caring for and loving sweet Gankie in the last days of her life. You would have been proud!  BUT the most important thing that all these children and grandchildren share with you is their gift of eternal life.  They have all (except for little Allie and baby Anthony), accepted Christ in their heart.  Can you look down from Heaven and see all that you started in these children.  Can you see all that WE started?  I wonder what 20 years from now will hold?  Sometimes, I just wish you could be here for a day......

There's been alot of additions to Heaven over these last 20 years.  Do you know when people close to us join you up there?  Like Mark, Dwight, Preacher, Hank, Debby, and Pami? Do you know all the precious angel babies from our family? Do you know people you didn't know here on earth that are special to us like Jana's Gary?  Do you know Warren, the man who received your heart when you died.  5 and a half years you gave him so he could make his life right with God and find happiness in marriage.  And finally, where you there waiting with Jesus when Pops and Gankie made their way to Heaven?  That's a reunion I would have loved to see!

20 years!  It makes me go, Hmmmm.  Time has a funny way of blurring the lines of perception.  It doesn't seem possible that you've been gone for 20 years and yet I look at our children (and in the mirror) and I see that indeed there has been some space since we said goodbye.  But it also makes me think of all the many blessings that God has added to my life in 20 years.  They are too many to list here but God has shown Himself to be a faithful father to the fatherless and a faithful husband maker to the widow.  God was there in the midst when you died and He kept His promise to never leave nor forsake us.   He has added blessings to our family and sustained us physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Speaking of added blessings, God has taken care of your girl!  8 years ago He brought a great man to watch over me.  Richard is a kind soul, a patient husband, and a man who loves God.  He keeps me straight and loves me unconditionally and with purpose.  I am sure you would approve.  

Well, I'm gonna go now.  We miss you here on earth, Stephen Lee Douglas.  But today, I'm gonna remember you with a smile on my face because that was just what you did--make me smile.  Tell Jesus I said "hey"!