As we near the end of 2018, I wanted to send you each love and gratefulness for sharing your light and kindness with us throughout this year. I also can’t help but reflect upon the last twelve months and to be honest sometimes it felt as though the valleys were deeper than the mountains were tall. Perhaps some of you can relate?
For me, this year has been challenging, filled with personal heartache and loss as well as truly traumatic events in our community. Losing my brother this fall broke my heart and I still feel waves of grief wash over me even as I write. Then several weeks ago we got an urgent call to evacuate our home due to rapidly approaching, out of control wildfires.
After weeks of evacuation, uncertainty and anxiety we are finally back in our home. We are more fortunate than many families here in our hometown of Malibu as at least we have a home to return to. For this we are truly grateful and holding tight to God’s unwavering goodness, even though the grief feels too great at times. And as I turn my mind to preparation for the holiday season, it feels strangely bittersweet and out of place given all that has happened this year for me, my family and so many others.
I know that bad things happen to people all the time, we get knocked down and we have to find our way back up, trusting that there is purpose in the pain—that good can and will come of it, by His grace and radical ability to work all things for good.
But the truth yet remains, I have struggled this year more than any year in my life. I sit here feeling the weight of loss bound up in this year and know how easy it would be to tumble into a well of sorrow. But for every blow I have felt, I am reminded evermore of the need to be grateful as I trust in His ability to uphold me. And it is there, in the safety of His presence, with gratitude, that I find freedom from the pain of loss.
I love the saying, “when you feel stressed remember you are blessed.” So, today I am counting my blessings afresh and thanking God for every single one of them. Even the pain. For in the pain I am given another opportunity to grieve in the safest hands; the hands that uphold me, will never disappoint and from which all blessings have and will forevermore come.
So, as I put up my Christmas tree, I am reminded of all the joy and love in my life. As I unpack my Christmas dishes and my old Santa collection and all the tree decorations, I remember the gift of this season. Each ornament, each tradition, holding the sweetness of something remembered and these memories are my true treasures.
I know for certain love never dies, and isn’t love the real gift of the season after all? This will be the first Christmas without my dear brother, and although I feel the pain of his loss, I am also overwhelmed with joyful memories tumbling through my mind, memories from our childhood that will live forever in my heart. Memories that will continue to grow as they are shared with my family.
I know for certain love never dies, and isn’t love the real gift of the season after all? It is in these moments where love is felt the strongest, even in the moments of overwhelmingly pain at love lost, that grace and hope envelope my heart.
As we prepare our hearts and our home to celebrate this holiday season, let’s remember the greatest gift there ever was, God’s own son coming to earth to be our Prince of Peace and our hope for heaven. Through heartache and joy, Christmas has become not only a day to rejoice, but a day to remember that He came, He overcame death and through Him, pain has no hold over us.
I love Christmas and am encouraged, as I hope you are, that the birth of Jesus was the birth of hope Himself. I pray that our God of Hope would fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him this Christmas! Hold tight to the word of God in your heart, for His faithfulness is true, His goodness is a gift and His hope is ever present. Know today that this Christmas can be a Christmas unlike any other, a Christmas where joy is unstoppable and peace is unbreakable.
Through my loss and through my tragedies, hear my testimony—hope was born into this world, and hope is here to stay. Commit yourself to love, honor your neighbors through generosity, serve one another with joyful hearts and be a shining light in this world so that all may know the hope you hold in your heart through your faith.
With all my love,
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