Monday, December 17, 2012


"Music is medicine for the soul."  That's what they say.

So this morning I turned on Pandora right after Mike and Jack left for school and work.  Christmas music would cheer me up and help my grieving soul, I thought. 

Our normally healthy home has had sickness work it's way through for the last two weeks.  RSV and the flu (I think) have pounded us.  I've logged hours of baby holding.  Every time I would get up, Austin would say: "I need you.  Mama I need you."  The look in Brady's matted eyes told me the same thing.

Sickness has made my body weary.  Friday's tragedy made my soul weary.

I turned on the music. It began to play.   As I clean the kitchen, I hear lines like:
 "Christmas won't be Christmas without you"
and "I'll be home for Christmas"
and "It's a beautiful sight, we're happy tonight."

I stop.

This isn't working.

My mind cannot get away from the families whose babies "won't be home for Christmas."  The families who aren't "Happy tonight."

For the first time, I am able to see a huge contrast between the happy, fun, "merry" Christmas songs and the ones that sing about the birth of Jesus.

Right now, I don't want to hear about winter wonderlands, because winter wonderlands don't comfort.   The holidays are only merry and bright when everything around us is right.  When the finances are stable, when the body is healthy, when the ones we love are close...

But what about when they aren't?

What about when someone takes your baby from you?  What about when your marriage is falling apart?  What about when your husband is deployed?

Sleigh rides and a crackling fire can't fix it.

I walked over and changed the music.

I want real hope.

A couple weeks ago an idea popped into my head. I had just about finished decorating the house for Christmas.  The wreath was over the mantle, the lights on the house, the nutcrackers standing guard and the mistletoe hung.   I was excited to decorate this year as we had spent the last two Decembers moving.  Instead of twinkle lights, our walls had been lined with boxes labeled "attic" or "hall closet" or "extra blankets."   Our late nights were the result of organizing and cleaning instead of fun holiday parties .  This year we would be in the same home for the entire month of December.  I was excited.

Everything was going up.  Along with the decorations we'd had for years, I wanted something else.  I wanted words on our wall.  Words that meant something.

A phrase came to mind and stayed there for several days before I knew what to do with it.

The words?

"Hope has come"

Then came the idea.  I'll buy a jigsaw and cut the words out of a sheet of some sort of plywood!  I excitedly shared my plan with a couple people who I didn't think would discourage it.

Then I went to Home Depot, bought the thinnest sheet of wood I could find.  My Christmas money from my Grandmother bought the jig.

The next few nights, after the children went to bed, I found the font I wanted to copy, sketched the letters on my canvas and carefully cut them out.  

I finished the three words, but felt something was missing. "Of course!" An exclamation point was needed. These words aren't words you mumble under your breath as you finally make it out of the line at the post office. They aren't words you casually bring up in the middle of a conversation about the recent rain. These are words that burst out of the mouths of the angels.  These are exciting words  --they need an exclamation point.
I finally got them on the wall.  Projects take a while when your babies are sick.

Now the words are there.  Words that I had no idea would mean so much to me on December 17, 2012.  I turn and look at them moments after sending my oldest son out the door to go to school.  I am sad.  I am so sad for the families who lost their babies and, for most of them, have lost their hope.  In those homes there will be no excited faces opening presents this year --maybe there will never be joy at Christmas time again for them. 
How do you keep going when you have no hope?
I have no answer.
How wonderful it is, in the midst of tragedy, to know there is hope.  Sadness surrounds, but there is hope.  People waited with expectation for hundreds of years for something to happen or someone to come to bring peace, contentment, love, fulfillment to their lives.  Someone to fix our messes.  
Then it came.  It came as God in the form of a baby.  "His name is Emmanuel."  --God with us. 
Hope has come. He came to give life to the fullest.  He came to heal.  He came to offer help.  He came to rescue.   And he does. 
Maybe music is medicine for the soul.  If so, right now I want the kind that isn't conditional of your circumstances.  I want music that speaks of the hope for all mankind.
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ, our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
--"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
Light and life to all He brings,
risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth
--"Hark the Herald Angels Sing" by Charles Wesley
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
--"I heard the Bells on Christmas Day"  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
O ye, beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
--"It Came Upon The Midnight Clear"  by Edmund H. Sears
Hope has come!

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