Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Missing Those Who Are Missing This Christmas, GIVEAWAY Reminder, & A Special Recipe

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

I’ve been missing Mom and Dad an awful lot lately. Thinking of years gone by and the many loved ones who would regularly gather in our home and around our table. Experiencing a sense of nostalgia-induced melancholy. Sensing my age and all the ramifications those feelings bring to the surface. While Christmas has always been and will always be my favorite time of the year, it can also be one of the most reflective, and those reflections can create a deep sense of sadness as they vividly remind us of dear ones who are no longer here and just how much life has changed. This year, in particular, our lives and world are turned completely upside down, we find ourselves out of our element and comfort zone, and I am finding it especially difficult to find the deep sense of joy I always feel during this special time of year. Please don’t misunderstand my heart—I am deeply grateful for every, single blessing, and oh, my, I am abundantly blessed far beyond what I will ever deserve. I will never be able to thank God enough for what makes up “normal life” for my precious little family of three. Truly, the moments of sadness have nothing in the world to do with my gratitude to God for life as we know it, nor do I ever, for one second, take one blessing for granted. I’ve lived long enough to know that life can change in an instant—the way it has for so many this year.

I have several friends who have lost mothers in 2018 and are facing their first Christmas without them. Those “firsts” are the hardest. The first birthday not baking their favorite cake. The first Mother’s Day not shopping for just the perfect card. The first Christmas not seated at their table or smelling the familiar aromas of their signature home cooking wafting from an old familiar stove. Walking into their home for the first time without being greeted by the tenderness of their voice or feeling the embrace of loving arms. Seeing the table and old, familiar stove missing from their usual spot and knowing she will never stand there again to cook another meal or ask, “Are you sure had enough to eat?” Not that the “seconds” and “thirds” and all subsequent times of facing special occasions will be much easier but those “firsts” are the absolute worst.

This is Dad’s 18th Christmas in Heaven, and I still long to hear him pick up his five-string banjo, turn to me, call me by his favorite nickname of me, and say, “You feel like doin’ a little pickin’?” Oh, what I would give to hear those words coming from his voice and do that one more time! I lost my dear Mom in 2012, and I still long to pick up the phone and hear her sweet voice say, “Cheryl, the Lord gave me a Scripture for you.” I miss praying with them, singing together, having family gatherings, and enjoying the things we used to do. Those memories are made, and there will never be any more this side of Heaven. The starkness of that reality is never more pronounced than during the Christmas season each year. 

I think often of all of the military men and women who are deployed, sacrificing their lives and time with their loved ones just so you and I can stay safe.  It breaks my heart to think of how lonely they must feel at this time of year and how difficult it is for their families here at home.

If we have lived for very long at all, there’s a good chance each one of us is missing someone this Christmas, and life is full of many other reasons that can cause sadness at this joyful time of year. Marital unrest, divorce, longing for what might have been, hoping for wayward children to see the light and come home—not only to yours but to the fold of God, heartbreak, illness, the weight of the care and looming demise of elderly parents, financial distress, failure, wishing to be home and/or with faraway loved ones, hurt, betrayal, abuse, and a plethora of other causes for distress.

Christmas can be downright sad and depressing and that is just a fact of life. The fact that you are a Christian does not negate the fact that you are human. Yes, Christians do struggle with depression—just like everyone else in the world. To say we don’t or that we are exempt from the human condition is to refuse to face reality.

But, how blessed the thought to know that we do not face our battles alone. The Captain of our army is none other than Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the One who died to give us abundant life. Jesus experienced and understands depression. He knows sadness better than any of us ever will. The Bible describes Him as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Turning to Him in our moments of despair is one of the wisest things we could ever do, for only in Him can we find the deep solace we all need.

Whatever you may be going through this Christmas, I hope you will find the strength to lift your head and look to the One from whom comes all help. He loves you so dearly. He cares about the tiniest thing that touches your life. He sees your tears, hears the times your heart silently breaks, and is aware of every moment of anguish. When no one else cares, He does. When your feelings are disregarded, you are despitefully used, and you are beyond weary in well-doing, He will rise up in your defense. He is your Champion, your Rescuer, and your Prince of Peace. He will never stop loving you, no matter what. I have to remind myself of these truths often, as my family and I face unusual challenges and new levels of required trust.

Though Christmas may be different for many of us this year, each one of our hearts can find comfort in the universal, unchanging, timeless message of what this season really means. Our Savior left Heaven to come down to this sin-defiled world because He knew that was the only way any of us would ever have hope of redemption. He was willing to pay the price for our salvation, even though it cost Him absolutely everything. Despite all, this precious, beautiful season, I find that I have never loved Him more.

This isn’t a Christmas song, but it is my favorite song by Third Day and has been such a blessing to me as I prove again and again that all I have to do is call His name, and He is there. I hope you have time to listen, and after you do, please keep reading to find an amazing recipe and special reminder about our giveaway that is soon coming to an end!  There’s still time to enter, so please, please do! I will tell you how below.


Call My Name by Third Day

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Apple Dumplings

4 apples, peeled and diced
 2 sticks butter, melted
1 ½ cup sugar 
2 cans crescent rolls
1 Tbsp. cinnamon 
12 ounces of apple juice

Mix sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle some over the apples. Toss to coat the apples. Melt butter and mix in the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll diced apples in the triangle dough, and place in a 9x13 inch baking pan. Pour butter, cinnamon, and sugar mixture over rolls. Pour apple juice over all the rolls and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 12.

These are AMAZING and would go great with a hot cup of coffee!!
Speaking of coffee...

Here's that COFFEE GIVEAWAY reminder!!

Matthew and Preslee Gooch of Solid Ground Coffee are giving away a bag of their new Ethiopian coffee beans! This is a $21.00 value! To enter, all you need to do is click HERE and leave a comment. We will do the drawing sometime after church this coming Sunday, 12/16/2018!! You don’t want to miss entering this. Seriously, it is my absolute favorite coffee!! Click HERE, then leave a comment for a chance to win!!!

God bless you, dear readers!

22 comments:

  1. I'm missing my parents too. And Tim's parents. My dad passed in 1984. My mom in 2008. Tim's mom passed away in 2001 and his dad in 2015 two weeks before Christmas. We have Christmas ornaments and decorations that his parents had that are from the 40s through the 60s so they are special. I miss being able to ask a question about an ornament. I know this Christmas will be hard. Please know I will be praying.

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    1. Bless your hearts, Regina. I am so sorry for the enormous amount of grief you have had to walk through. This is a hard stage of life in so many ways. May the Lord bless you all and hold you close in every moment of heartache. Your prayers mean SO much to us, my friend.

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  2. Cheryl, this post hits home to me in many ways. This Christmas marks the fact that I have lived exactly half of my life without my mother. She died when I was 29 and this Christmas I will be 58. I can still hear her laughter and I still miss her every day. My dad has been gone many years too, although all of us kids had a very complicated relationship with him, by his choice. As you know, none of our children live close by and we will spend Christmas alone just as we did Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for my wonderful husband and I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be without him. Thank you for the words you shared with us today. Much love to you my dear sister. Blessings, Betsy

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    1. Oh, Betsy! That is so young to lose one's mother! I know you miss her terribly. YES, I am so thankful you have such a loving, wonderful husband. The two of you were meant to be and you are such a shining example of what a true Christian marriage should look like. I admire you both so much and send my love to you this Christmas. SO very thankful to have you in my life.

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  3. Hello Cheryl, Oh how I needed every word you said here..I am so lonely and sad..I miss Mom more this year than I did first Christmas I guess because then I was still in a lot of shock..I have cried so much..My life will never be the same again.I have been so sick since Friday after Thanksgiving and so much pain in my back I can hardly breathe.Then we had 18 inches of snow and I can not get out have been without power some and now they say an inch of rain is on the way and we will be flooded..I have a lot I need to do and stuck here..Sat. night the power kept going on and off and around 5 or 6 in the morning Randy and I started smelling hot wires bad in our living room and I knew we were blocked inside with heavy deep snow..I was scared we would all die in house fire before daylight..I said God I am helpless now will you send angels and put out any fire that maybe ready to break out.After a little over an hour it all stopped and I went to sleep..God is good to me but I still feel heartache and pain..Pray for Me when you have time and know I will read this over and over..So glad we can call on Jesus anytime..Have a blessed Christmas Season and I would send you a card if I had an address..Again know you give courage,strength and blessings to many people through your words of wisdom..Keep up the good work and God hug you close each day..Through your battles may you always have the ones to hold up your hands to win the fight..Love Loads,Elaine

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    1. Oh, no, you are so right that your life will never be the same. There is this deep, aching void within, and only Jesus can fill it with His tenderness and love. I am so sorry to hear you are in such back pain! Oh, my, that is just awful. I trust your weather has cleared and things are looking brighter for you now, my friend. I am so thankful you did not have a fire and were able to get some sleep. May the dear Lord Jesus wrap you in His loving arms and hold you close this Christmas. I know you miss your dear Mom, and the pain will never go away. Lean hard on God and know that you are so loved by Him and by me, too. Sending many hugs your way. Keep encouraged!

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  4. I so hear you, Cheryl. My father, who passed in 2014, is still sorely missed; this makes Christmas difficult, especially since it marks my Dad's birthday. Danny I still have our mothers, but mine is 90 and his is 87. We know there will come those Christmases when they will no longer be with us, so we are doing everything we can to treasure this season while they are still this side of heaven.
    I pray that Christmas for you this year will bring you much joy, even in those moments when memories surface.
    Blessings!

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    1. I am SO sorry you are going through such grief and missing your dear father. And to think Christmas was his birthday, too, just makes it so much more difficult. You are so wise to treasure every moment and realize just how precious they are. Sending much love and many hugs your way, my sweet friend!

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  5. Oh, dear, Cheryl what a profound post. I, of course, needed to read it as my sweet mother went to heaven in 2016. The fact that it was just my mother and myself makes all subsequent holidays very bittersweet now that I am alone. Please know that I am praying for you, Kevin and Zach at this holiday as well and pray that there will be many moments of peace and love in your holiday celebrations.

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    1. Oh, how I understand your heart, my friend, and your loss is still so fresh and hard to bear. You will never know how much we appreciate your prayers for us. I got your dear email and will respond just as soon as I can. It was such a bright spot and encouragement, and I can't thank you enough for your constant support and friendship. May Jesus hold you extra close this Christmas!

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  6. What a beautiful heartfelt post dear Cheryl . Yes the “firsts” are the hardest it seems . Loosing both grandparents that i treasured and loved so much and then my motherinlove that was so very near and dear to my heart, those “first”s” were hard . I have a friend that just lost her in dad and this Christmas will her “first”. God has surely given me doors of opportunity to minister to her . But she knows where her strength comes from and that’s Jesus . My heart cries out for those in military that can’t be home this season . God has us in the palm of His mighty hand there is no doubt . Praying for you dear lady and wishing you a merry Christmas . Hugs and blessings , Cindy

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    1. Yes, sweet friend, God surely is holding us all in His mighty hand. What would we do without Him and His precious Spirit to comfort and guide us? I don't want to imagine life without Him in it. He is everything to me, as I know He is to you, too. May He bless you and comfort you as you miss your departed loved ones this Christmas!

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  7. This is the second Christmas we will spend without my husband's father, and he is missed... it seems the holidays do bring out such loss because it is a time to gather and see everyone. Your sweet family will be in my prayers, as I know this holiday season is such a difficult time this year in so many ways. So thankful that we can just call on the Lord and know that He is always there, love the song you shared! Blessings and hugs sweet friend :)

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    1. Oh, I surely understand how much you miss your dear father-in-law, dear friend. Your prayers for us this season of life mean more to me than I could ever put into words. I can't tell you the times it comes to my mind that you are praying for me during your daily walks and it just brings such a deep down comfort in difficult moments. Your prayers and friendship are precious gifts, and I am so grateful to God. May He bless you and your family and comfort you in your times missing your father-in-law. Much love to you today!

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  8. Dear Cheryl,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart of compassion, and deep openness before the Lord with all of us here. There are so many that I am missing this Christmas also, with the most recent loss having been just a few months ago with a dear friend. I am so very thankful for that song you shared, and the precious reminder that we are never alone through all of the dark valleys we might walk through. He is here, and every time we call out to Him, He is so close! May you feel His closeness and comfort, even as you have shared such precious comfort with all of us. Love and Prayers for you tonight.

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    1. Dear Bettie! I was so moved by the loss of your dear friend, and I know that wound is very fresh this Christmas. I trust God will hold you and comfort you in special ways as you grieve. Yes, praise His name, He IS so close, even though sometimes it feels like He is afar off. Your kind words and support and friendship mean so much to me. I am so grateful for you and your precious email and will respond as soon as I can. Much love to you today, sweet friend!

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  9. Cheryl, I needed to read this post this morning. I have those same melancholy thoughts this year. My Mom passed away in 2007, how I miss her. Recently, I just started crying for no obvious reason, I felt a huge sadness come over me. I still have my sweet 88 year old Dad, and what a blessing he is. You summed up my emotions perfectly sweet friend. I am so grateful and thankful for God’s amazing grace and forgiveness. His mercies are new every morning! Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    With love,
    Pam

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    1. Oh, sweet friend! I know you must miss your dear Mom so much, and I can surely relate to the crying and not knowing why. I cried so hard last night, I thought my heart would break. I trust Jesus will hold you and comfort you in every moment of sadness. I am so thankful you still have your dear Dad, and I trust God will bless the two of you with many more happy years together in good health. He is able! You are such a blessing to me and so many, and I am so grateful to call you friend. Merry Christmas to you and your family, too, with much love.

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  10. You summed up my sentiments perfectly here, Cheryl.

    Even knowing the Truth doesn't change our human emotion, as you so well explained. This fallen world is sad. We have hope, but we know that pain is part of this life.

    We're kindred spirits, sister. It's good to know others share your same thoughts and feelings.

    Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.

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    1. Yes, we are surely kindred spirits, brother, and I am so thankful for your kind and understanding words. Surely God is with all of us and meets us at our points of pain. I am SO grateful for the Comforter and how He knows just what we need the most. This Christmas, I praise God for friends like you and hope you and your family are blessed with a wonderful time together. Thank you ever so much for your support and encouragement.

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  11. Oh Cheryl, you certainly touched my heart with this post. We never get over losing our loved ones, do we? Some loved ones choose to stay away, which is ever so sad.
    God bless you and your family.

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  12. Cheryl, Thank you for sharing this poignant and touching post. The Lord has blessed you with such a tender heart, one that touches and encourages the rest of us who can feel the same way.

    Thank you for the reminders of the Hope and Grace we have in Christ Jesus.

    Thank you for sharing that song from Third Day. They have so many powerful songs.

    Praying God's peace over you and your family for 2019.

    Blessings sweet friend.

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