Sunday, December 21, 2008

Safe Place of Comfort

December 23. We’re following the advice of those who have walked this pathway before us, and we’re changing our traditions. When friends realized I did not have the energy or desire to prepare a Christmas Eve buffet, they asked if they could prepare and serve all the food so that we could still gather together on such and important night. I am looking forward to being with the larger group tomorrow evening, but a dinner tonight will be my private gift to my family.

Lord, in answer to my plea to help me experience the joy of Christmas your way, you opened my eyes to treasures I can give to each one of my precious children and husband – the pictures, the story Sean wrote, the birthday letter Mark wrote to Chuck. You are leading me to sue some traditions to create a safe place of comfort and to feely let go of other traditions without fear. Today I wept as I prepared all of Mark’s favorite foods but smiled through tears as I remembered him coming in the back door, stretching his long arms to hang on the entry to the kitchen, and grinning with anticipation of eating hot Syrian bread, dripping with butter. I wished I could see him digging into the stuffed grape leaves one more time. Then I chose to imagine Mark at the banquet table in heaven with you. So, Lord, I’m preparing a special Christmas dinner with all of Mark’s favorite foods, and we’ll think of him enjoying the bounty of your grace while we enjoy the bounty of our Christmas table.

We had read that the anticipation of a holiday, anniversary, or birthday was often worse than the actual event, so one purpose of our family dinner was to create new traditions before Christmas day, hoping to ease in to the pain of Christmas. But my family didn’t know that I had planned a few small surprised for each of them. After dinner chuck asked the kids to join us in the family room in front of our glowing fireplace. I explained that our friend had written a story about our family and that I wanted to share it with them. We laughed and cried together as Sean’s words poignantly and sometimes comically described our family experiencing the second coming of Christ during a future Christmas season.

After the story I gave each of the kids framed pictures of Mark, each one captured a treasured memory with his siblings. I gave Chuck a plaque with the words, “Thanks, Dad, for always being there.” And then I gave him the priceless gift of Mark’s letter that I had found buried in my memories drawer.

Tears streamed down Chuck’s cheeks as he read the framed words:


In all the years that you have been my father there has not been a time when you failed to come through for me. There has not been a time when you failed to encourage me. You have always seen through me and my secretive ways and have not failed to counsel me when I need it most. The words “You’re wrong and I’m right” are the words that I hate to hear the most but I thank you for them. You are a dad that many kids only dream of having, and I look up to you for all the knowledge that God has given you. I am proud to be called the “pastor’s kid,” because I believe it is worth dealing with all of the expectations that many people put on me. I thank God for you and the family he has given me each day. Any question that I ask you, you have never failed to answer it. Any problem that I bring to you, you never failed to help me through it. You have made sure that I am always happy and have never left me disappointed. Having you as my father is one for the best things God has given me. If I could repay you, I would, but I know that that is impossible. However, I can afford to tell you that I love you, and that I care about you very much.


December 24, Well, Lord, here I am. Christmas Eve. Running until I drop. Trying not to think. But I feel this might be the most important Christmas of my life. Mark’s first Christmas in heaven. Our first Christmas without our child.

Note from Liza: The last 3 entries on this blog are excerpts from the book titled "Treasures In Darkness - A Grieving Mother Shares Her Heart" written by Sharon W. Betters. I bought this book for Karen about 2 months ago and somehow I did not get a chance to give it to her. I know now why. I believe God wanted this book to be with me so that I can post these words of encouragement here on the blog for them on Christmastime. Had she gotten this book, I would not have had the words to put on this blog for this season. I believe God wanted to comfort Karen and Joe through this book. If you missed the other 2 entries, click here and all the 3 posts will come up. Aloha.


Joe and Karen said...

Thanks for the posts Liza. I really loved them and she expresses my feelings so well. Love you and thank you for everything you do for us.