This time last year, my mom was living at an assisted living facility, fell and shattered her shoulder and broke several ribs. We didn’t even know it for a couple of days, but just said her side hurt. We aren’t sure how she fell, nor could she tell us because of her dementia. After an x-ray, she was hospitalized for about a week. When she returned to her home, she never fully regained her strength. 

We celebrated Christmas in her room last year since she was unable to come to our house. After our kids and grandkids opened presents and ate lunch at our house, one daughter decided to visit my mom. She felt compelled to tell her husband to go on home and leave her there to visit longer. 

Someone had brought a litter of puppies to the home and my daughter got one for mom to hold. My mom loved dogs and always had one until she moved into The Terrace. That puppy slept for hours by my mom’s side while my daughter sat and watched. 

I arrived later to bring my mom presents and Christmas dinner. She didn’t have a lot of interest in either. But she knew that puppy was there. 

Because she got out of the hospital so quickly and did not develop pneumonia, we were sure she was on the road to recovery. We were not prepared when her caretakers called one Sunday morning as we were returning from church that she was not responsive. We arrived 5 minutes later but she had already gone on to the Father’s arms. 

This year will be different for us. Mentally, we lost the mom I knew about 3 years before she died, but physically it’s only been less than a year. The joy I find even as I weep knowing this year, she celebrates with Jesus face to face. You can’t beat that!

Our LifeWay Christmas Chapel was yesterday. The story was about a family who had lost their mom the past year and they would be trying to figure out how to “do it” without her. I held it together till the last song, Christmas in Heaven. Without a tissue, and with a friend weeping in sympathy, I lost it. But the message of hope in this song is what makes this Christmas wonderful, even though Mom is not here with us in the flesh.

If you are experiencing a first Christmas following the death of a loved one, or even a divorce or other broken relationship, pray for the peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7) . Rejoice that He is faithful no matter what we are facing this year (Heb. 10:23). Allow others to minister to you and hold on to the hope that is within! He will not fail you or me, and for that we love and adore Him!"

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