Christmas, 2012, was the last time I helped decorate our tree. Since our 19 year old son, Jordan, died the following May, decorating the tree is something I/we have simply been unable to do.
Our tree is not a “decorative showpiece” like you see so beautifully decorated in some homes. Almost every ornament on our tree is something made by our three kids when they were in preschool or elementary, or else purchased by them over the past 20+ years. (We had a tradition of going to Holland Gardens here in Lubbock every December and each child would pick out an ornament to put on the tree.) So, as you can imagine, Jordan’s picture and “fingerprints” are everywhere. (See pic below)
The first Christmas without Jordan we had to call friends and ask them if they would decorate the tree for us. The following year, the same. Last year, we put up the tree at the beginning of December – and it simply sat there undecorated for two weeks. Then our daughter, Macy, came home from college and surprised us by decorating it herself. (I’ll never forget walking into the house, seeing the tree, and just weeping.)
Yesterday morning (12/2/16), I walked into our living room and there stood our tree. Once again, it had been up for a week. No decorations. I immediately was overcome with a crushing sense of sadness and wanted to leave the house and go anywhere else. But then, I felt a Presence. And something came to mind: “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” This one phrase from Nehemiah kept reverberating in my mind – like a Christmas miracle, the Holy Spirit was, right then and there, “renewing/strengthening my mind.” I felt like Rocky, somehow mustering the inner strength to get back up off the bloodied mat, after Apollo Creed beat his face in. 🙂) Christ was whispering to me, “I. Am. Here. I’ve got this.”
My wife, Michelle, was traveling home from a conference in Dallas. When she arrived home yesterday evening and walked into our house…..well, you’re getting ahead of me, aren’t you? 🙂 There stood our tree. Fully decorated. (See pic below)
When Michelle shared all of this with our daughter, Macy, she just wept and said, “Dad, it’s so good to have you back.” Joy has been is short supply since 2013. But, slowly, it is returning. Merry Christmas.
“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
Soli Deo Gloria, St. Nick