Let me draw you with me -

We were washing our hands in the restaurant bathroom, laughing and joking and just like that, we slid into the topic that was underneath it all. She says "This is my funeral blouse." and I say "I know."... I had seen it and I had known, because I was with her when she bought it. When I'd met them at Target hours after their sister had died, and we hyped up on caffeine to buy clothes we didn't want, but suddenly needed. 

And I'm hugging her goodbye, one of our long, wonderful hugs that few people allow me to give. I'm pulling out all the stops on tenderness and comfort, and I ask her how she is, and then I pull a "Tricia" on her, and ask how she REALLY is. Everything drops away and in her eyes is the same look I saw 2 years ago. The look when I walked into that building, straight home from Colorado the night before and they weren't expecting me. That shattered look right before we fell into each others arms in tears. She tells me the next two days will be hard, and that's an understatement. She moves her hands and tries to put it into other words and completely fails....she can't even say how hard it will be to miss the mother they've adored and missed for 2 years. 

and I say "I know". Because words never cover loss like we think they will. 

But I tell her I'm praying, will be praying, and she says it means so much, and we hold back the tears even though our voices have dropped to that hallowed whisper where we know we can't let go in a restaurant full of people no matter how much we hurt. 

And I never stop aching for them. Yesterday I ached so much my skin felt bruised with hurt. 
Getting a bad cancer report on a friend was the exactly wrong day to hear it. I couldn't stop crying all day, and into today too. It seems like cancer is following me around and taking out people I love.

On December 9th, I woke up at Molly's and knew something was horribly wrong. I could just feel it, and I couldn't stop thinking about Abby Smith. I got on Facebook, and there it was....she died the morning of Dec.7th. You can watch the video of her HERE. I sat there and cried. A few hours later, I realized it was the 9th, the day Barbara went to Heaven, and I cried all over again that night.

Some things you never want to hear, you don't want to know how bad it is. 

But there it is. Christmas seems pushed aside by grief, and yet the carols march on, and so does life, and years go by.

Photo taken the morning of Dec. 18, 2011. Monument, CO. 

We sing how Love came down, how Glory filled the night, how JOY was present, how Grace was given. 
We sing and we hold on, we rejoice and we pray, we laugh and love, and then we go to bed and weep for those we miss.

We want it to be perfect and beautiful and "all is calm and all is bright...." and when the calm and the quiet
is broken by sobs and brokenhearted cries and unspoken prayers, we think something is wrong. 

It is. And It's not

"It was not a silent night, there was blood on the ground. 
You could hear a woman cry in the alleyway that night on the streets of David's town.
And the stable was not clean, and the cobblestones were cold. 
And little Mary full of grace, with the tears upon her face and no mother's hand to hold." 
~ Andrew Peterson ~

How have we forgotten that the Lord of all was born in a manger with nothing, because no one had room for them? Have we been so quick to move on that His kingdom is coming that we've forgotten it came once in a brilliant shining splendor, in a glory wrapped up in a baby who would die to break our death and bring us LIFE? Have we hurried too soon from the stumbling shepherds with nothing to give, but amazed hearts and tear filled eyes?

There is Mary, in exhilarated pain and love, there is Joseph, in tender protectiveness and care, there is the Christ, the promised Savior, the One Whom multitudes of angels sang of His glory, the One who was Lord of all, the One Who was promised was HERE.

But did we think that when Jesus came into our world, He would not know pain? Or did we think that once we knew Him we would not know pain.....or perhaps that our broken world would cease to break? Our tears, our aching, our pain, He understands all this. He knows this. He walks with us in this. He did not tell us we would be unbroken in our world, but to look to the eternal world as our Home. 

We are not Home yet. 

"Noble Joseph by her side, calloused hands and weary eyes. 
There were no midwives to be found on the streets of David's town in the middle of the night. 
So he held her and he prayed; shafts of moonlight on his face, but the Baby in her womb, He was 
the Maker of the Moon, He was the Author of the Faith that could make the mountains move!" 

Photo taken Dec. 19, 2011, Monument, CO. - Snow clouds hanging low over the mountains.

And it was not just 8 or 9 months and the days accomplished that she should be delivered, it was years and years and years of aching and longing and "How long, o Lord?!" prayers from His broken people, desperate to SEE and KNOW the Savior promised to them from time before. 

It was not a birth to make them a family, the three of them - Joseph, Mary and Jesus...
No, it was a birth to graft the Gentiles into the Jews birthright. It was a birth to bring all the nations to Himself. 
It was a birth to adopt millions of sons and daughters to be heirs and beloved and redeemed by God. 
It was a birth to claim us all as His own; It was realms of endless days born into human flesh, so we might know Who loves us with everlasting love. 

It's so beautiful it makes me ache....and well it should. 

"For everyone who's been left standing on the outside looking in, everyone with dreams that will never come true;
and when the story of your life gets re-written overnight, well this is all part of the Christmas story too.
And I believe God knows and He is right there with you!" ~ Steven Curtis Chapman

Because if your parents are going through a divorce and a custody battle and you don't know how it will all turn out ...
If you just got bad news right before Christmas and you are devastated this might be your last one....
If you are missing your Mom, your Dad, your grandparents, your baby boy, your little girl, your brother, your sister, your friends....
If you've seen more funerals lately than you want, if you hate the feeling of helplessness like I do....
If "holly, jolly" and "sleighbells ringing" and "mistletoe" and "snowflakes and snowmen" just seem to fall short this year, and your desires for a great Christmas aren't turning out the way you'd dreamed....
If prayers for healing seem like they are going unanswered and you've prayed so, so long....

Come here. Take my hand. Let me hold you in a hug for a little while. Let me draw you with me, as He draws me. 

Turn your eyes from what is SEEN, and look to what is UNSEEN. Turn your face from this dying earth and look to the Heavenly glories. Take your eyes from all that will not be here and look to what WILL be, and what will be soon. Here there is life quickly fading, with Him there is life that will never die. Here there is memories that won't bring enough back, with Him there is promise of an unfading Forever.

Take your eyes from the flowers upon the graves in the cemetery and look up toward Heaven in anticipation to one day see their faces, whole and new. Look to the cross to see where it was determined and finished. Look to the resurrection to see what He started and will do in all of us. And this Christmas look with thankfulness to the manger to see the One Who made all of it true for all of us. 

I promise you that you will not look back at the grave again in the same way. Jesus changes all our tears.

Photo taken the morning of Dec. 18, 2011. Monument, CO. 

"Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh, 
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory." 
~ 1 Timothy 3:16 ~ 

Amen and Amen. Be glorified in our pain and in our joy and in our brokenness, O Lord, we pray.

To everyone who mourns .... I love you, dear friends. I'm praying for you this Christmas. 

With much love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 


  1. Well said, my dear.
    The longer I live, the more tragedies and sorrows I meet, and the more I understand what others have gone through.

    Love you.

    (and love the last photo, like, a lot.... like, I want it framed)


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