This Christmas morning I will wake to a quiet house instead of excited children piling on my bed because it's their dad's year to have them on Christmas morning.
This Christmas morning she will sit with the one she loves, the one she's named after, knowing his health is failing and their remaining time together is short, too short.
This Christmas morning their daughter will be in another country, legally theirs but not yet in their arms. Amidst the gifts and giggles their hearts will ache for one more stocking hung by the fire.
This Christmas morning her kids won't have gifts to unwrap, or a feast on the table. And even though she is an amazing mom, she will question whether she's doing all she can for them.
This Christmas morning he will think of the presents he would have bought for his son, had the adoption not fallen through. And dream of what his face would have looked like playing with his new truck by the lights of the tree.
It's not supposed to be like this. It's supposed to be beauty and joy and wonder. Homes filled with laughter not longing.
But then again... isn't that why He came? Because this world leaves us tired and weary and oh so hungry for more?
The Babe in the manger came because it's not supposed to be like this. He came to show us a new and better way. He came to bring light to the darkness, hope to despair, and presence to the loneliness.
It's been a hard year for me personally. One of the darkest I've ever faced. There have been tears and anger and questions. I wondered if I would ever make it through. I wondered if I would ever be okay again. If I would ever laugh and feel joy again.
And here we are at the end of 2012. I survived. I have some scars and battle wounds. Parts of my life will never be the same again. But I am so glad. Glad that God stepped in to my "it's not supposed to be this way" and rescued me. I'm glad that my God is bigger than divorce and depression and darkness and despair.
If I learned anything in the course of the last year it is this... God is faithful! And He is faithful through the church. Not the brick walled, steepled church, but the walking, talking, breathing church. He is faithful through prayers for you when you're too tired to pray for yourself. He is faithful through friends answering your random, crazy, and often nonsensical text messages. He is faithful through checks and cash and gift cards and groceries given at the hand of those who love in tangible ways. He is faithful through cards and notes and hugs and Kleenex and chips and salsa and chocolate and long hot baths. He is faithful when kids are hurting and mommies are tired and dinner is burned and homework is undone. He is faithful when cars break down and friends steal them from you and get them fixed. He is faithful when shoes are outgrown and new ones show up at your doorstep. He is faithful at 2am when sleep won't come but a message from a friend does. He is faithful.
Hands extended, hearts opened, Heaven come down. This is Christmas:
That in the journey there would be companions.
That in the darkness there would be light.
That in the suffering there would be hope.
Today I am thankful. For all of those who have walked beside me. For the One who carried me. For the hope of Christmas.
Today I pray for you, that your eyes would be open to see His faithfulness to you. In all the small and big ways He provides. Even if it's not supposed to be like this. He is the God who brings beauty from ashes.
This is the hope of Christmas.