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Monday, December 29, 2014

‘Tis the season


Thank you all for your ongoing prayers! It has been some time since I last posted, we have definitely been staying busy during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Many of you have asked how I am doing during this time of the year. The time from Kelsey’s birthday on, along with the last couple weeks of Alexa’s hunger strike, have been the two toughest periods since the loss of Kelsey. As Alexa and I were flying out to California on Christmas Eve, I had a chance to finish a book I was given recently. The book is Lament for a Son, by Nicholas Wolterstorff (thanks Kenneth Merrill for sharing it with me). It is a profound book (I am sure I will share more thoughts from it in the days to come), which certainly speaks in many ways to the craziness of the road of grief. While Wolterstorff experienced a different loss (his 25 year old son died in a climbing accident), there is a universality to many of the thoughts he expresses. Here is what he says about holidays:

“The worst days now are holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, birthdays, weddings, January 31 – days meant as festivals of happiness and joy are now days of tears. The gap is too great between day and heart. Days of routine I can manage; no songs are expected. But how am I to sing in this desolate land, when there’s always one too few?”

They are days of heartache in many senses. As I hear Christmas carols proclaiming the joy of family, “the most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t always seem so wonderful because there is a gaping hole in our family. Many of you who know Kelsey well know how much she enjoyed the entire season from her birthday on. She had such fun decorating the house for Thanksgiving, then getting all of the Christmas décor put up. She loved getting together with friends and family. She loved the joy of figuring out perfect gifts for those around her. She loved giving gifts – it always pained her a bit because we had a gift budget, she sometimes felt a bit constrained. She delighted in watching Alexa experience the joys of the season: advent calendars and devotions, “dancing lights” (what Alexa used to call Christmas light shows), time with family, snow, and opening gifts. She enjoyed reflecting on the prior year and determining how with God’s help she would face the new year. If you missed the post last year, or just want to be reminded of how much she loved this time of year, check out this post from December 24th, 2013:

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas has done the same. The new year is fast approaching. The days march relentlessly on, the same as they have each year before, but there is something different. There is an absence. To quote Wolterstorff again, “There’s a hole in the world now. … A person, an irreplaceable person, is gone. … Only a hole remains, a void, a gap, never to be filled.”

Yet, there still is a sweetness to the season, albeit tempered by the stark reality of Kelsey’s absence. We are blessed. Here are two examples of the unexpected blessings. Every year, we decorate the inside of our house for Christmas. This year was no exception. Alexa was thrilled to help decorating our tree (she got to help several people decorate this year and loved it) and loved to see the final product come together (LED candles, Christmas tree, greenery). I hung our lit outdoor wreath and set up the two small Christmas trees outside our door. Alexa decided they weren’t up to her standard, “Dad, can we have more lights?” I said something lame and moved on. Alexa didn’t move on, but come to find out, there were some “Christmas elves” who came to decorate our house. Alexa was thrilled to see the new décor which now graces our house.

Another friend got Alexa and me tickets to the Nutcracker ballet at the Oklahoma City Civic Center. Alexa thought it was fantastic. She spent a good percentage of the ballet dancing in our aisle (there were a few open seats next to us). Afterward, this same friend helped us get backstage to see the set. Alexa actually got to hold the nutcracker which was in the ballet, got to ride the toy horse, walk down the stairs Clara used to enter the room, and meet the “princesses” (as she called them: the sugar plum fairy and Clara). She was on cloud nine!





It has been fun to go to see Christmas light shows with Alexa, to hear her singing “Mary Did You Know?” loudly and proudly (she is enamored with the Pentatonix – we have listened to their newest album multiple times), to watch the joy on her face as she spends time with family, and to see her face light up as she opens a present.


In the midst of grief, there is joy in the Christmas season. God’s plan to rescue us from our separation from Him due to our incredible shortcomings in living up to His holy standard became tangible through the birth of a baby in the little town of Bethlehem. As Christ lived a sinless, perfect, holy life, obediently went to the cross where he was crucified and died like a common criminal – taking the punishment for our sins, then rose again, he set the stage for the day death will ultimately be conquered. The day we hear of in Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.” The salvation I have through Christ ensures I will see Kelsey again. So, in the midst of pain, still, ‘tis the season. Maybe not a season when I am feeling “jolly” (as in happy and cheerful), but a season of joy in knowing there is a day coming soon when death is no more. A season of reflecting on the pain of our Father God who sent His beloved Son to be condemned to death. A season of rejoicing in God’s love for us – a love which chose incredible grief for Himself to ensure one day, we who trust in Him will never have another moment of grief.


  1. Thanks for the update/post. The Lord brought you to my mind a couple of days ago in a roundabout way and I was reflecting on how unimaginably difficult some of your days must be… know that we are in your corner and continue to intercede as the Lord brings you all to mind. Praying you continue to feel the presence of your 'village' around you!

  2. You've been on my mind almost constantly this season! Praying for you!