We had a very nice Christmas. The girls were overjoyed with their Christmas present -- a surprise trip to Disney -- and we all look forward to heading to Florida in a few days.
As if I need to say this, but faith is everything.
I struggled this Christmas. I have learned enough about what to expect from the holidays that I know how to manage them for myself. And that makes a huge difference. We keep busy at the right times and I adjust expectations at other times and that really helps.
In addition, thanks to the Christmas chain, we just kept enjoying Christmas no matter how many errands were calling my name. (The Christmas Chain is my family's tradition -- one Christmas activity for each day. The girls and I are faithful to the Chain and we did all kinds of fun things together each day of December)
But the joy of the season was a struggle for me. To quote the lyrics of my favorite Christmas song Oh Holy Night, I really felt more the "weary world" than the "thrill of hope."
Even Disney. As glad as I am to go for the girls sake, I know it will be difficult, thinking of our last time there, just before Ray got sick, and wishing he could be there now.
But God is faithful. I was teaching Religious Ed a few weeks ago for Nora's class and I was reminded of one of the great truths from Ray's funeral. Thinking of what I had to do, bury Ray, I just thought, I can't do it! But when Father Brankin started the prayers and the liturgy, focusing on Christ, I knew I could do it. Likewise. When teaching Nora's class my mind was off of what I had to do, and focused on my source of strength. And I knew I could do it.
But far more than that. Through a variety of events over the season, God has shown me that he cares not just that I can do it. But how I feel doing it. Just, a reminder that he has joy for me. Not everyday!! There's been a long dry spell! But some days! And some moments!
My joy at this recollection is great.
I want to thank all of you who we heard from this Christmas and Thanksgiving. We love and adore all of our friends and we are tremendously thankful for you. You are part of the joy in our lives.
not alone and not afraid --
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."