Tag Archive | Christmas

My Jingle Bells Miracle = Healing from Addiction

Last Sunday evening, seventeen people from my church gathered in a circle in the church’s basement to sing Christmas carols. There is nothing particularly extraordinary about that, except that one of them was my husband.

What makes that extraordinarily special is that three years ago, there would have been few instances that brought my husband into a church at all. And certainly not to sing. And even more certainly, not to sing with me, his wife.

Four Christmases ago, my husband did not believe in God. He also did not place much importance in his wedding vows and marriage. He was ensnared in his fantasy world of pornography and masturbation. There was no room for me.

My husband has always grudgingly attended Christmas Eve church services with me. For that I am grateful. It was a gift to me that our family was together, even though his heart was still far away. For that evening, his physical presence brought me the semblance of the regular loving family that my heart craved. I didn’t have to make any excuses for why he wasn’t with us. I could pretend we were happy. For this night, we were worth his time, and I clung to that offering.

Things have changed in the last few years. God revealed the extent of my husband’s sex addiction to both of us in the weeks before that Christmas three years ago. It was a Christmas of profound sadness, heavy hearts, and utter brokenness. He was a mess. My heart was shattered. We didn’t know how to clean any of it up. And I didn’t know if we could. He hadn’t valued my heart, and now that it was in little jagged pieces, I held the shards tightly in my hand.

In the following weeks, God gently unclenched my grasp. He tenderly took each precious fragment, began the process of restoration and gave me the strength to offer piece after piece to my husband. While this was happening, God was also doing a miraculous work in softening and mending my husband’s heart. God was making us a safe place for each other.

My husband regularly attends church with me. At my side. But not just physically. Also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That is my gift.

It is also my miracle. And his miracle. Because as he freely joined me in singing Christmas carols last weekend, my heart was full. For so many reasons. His recovery from sex addiction. My healing from sexual betrayal trauma and emotional abuse. The redemption of our marriage. The celebration of baby Jesus coming to earth so that one day I could gloriously have my sin and shame washed away.

Those are big things. Really big, significant things. But sometimes, when you are healing and recovering from addiction, abuse or betrayal, seemingly inconsequential incidents are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration too.

Like jingle bells. I wasn’t afraid to ring jingle bells that night. I wasn’t worried that I would shake them wrong. I wasn’t self conscious of looking or feeling foolish to my husband or others. The possibility of receiving disapproval did not fill me with anxiety and paralyze me like it would have in the past. I wanted to ring jingle bells, so I did. And it made me happy.

Standing beside my husband, united as a couple, singing and ringing bells with abandon. Freedom, joy, peace, and acceptance. Acceptance of each other. Acceptance of ourselves. Just as we were. And just as we are. My Christmas miracle.

These words were taken from my Jesus Calling devotional this morning: “As you persevere along the path I (Jesus) have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles – and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly.”

I can see my miracles clearly. Sometimes they sound just like jingle bells.

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:9

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Emmanuel~God with us!

God's lightI love Christmas! It is a season to celebrate but all too soon it ends and life goes on…..
I don’t know if you are like me but too often I go into the new year with resolutions and a resolve to do better, to improve myself and to make a difference. However, the road can become long, I grow tired and weary, and all my good intentions seem to fall by the wayside.

Life is a journey… perhaps it is just the anticipation of a new year but I find I get reflective and find myself asking; is God not bigger than the boxes I try to keep Him in…and life not larger than the labels I would paste on it.

I love it when the Holy Spirit gently whispers to my spirit that God is big, and although life is large if I look I will find surprises at every turn, unexpected mercy in times of need, unbridled grace when I surrender and the love of God at the end of every road.
He reminds me that a life of faith is not built on my own strength, but on the
strength and goodness of God.

This Christmas as I lit a solitary candle and took some time to rest in my heavenly Fathers presence, I realized that of all the awesome events in the story of Christ’s birth – the star, the angels, the shepherds, the wise men – the most remarkable is simply the fact that He came!

Emmanuel-God with us….long after the celebration is over, the Christmas tree is taken down and the decorations are put away may we remember that we are no longer alone, the Prince of Peace has come to tell us how much we are loved by the Father.

And as I bundled up on a crisp, winter evening and stepped outside to view the magnificence of the stars in a cloudless, night sky I was reminded that God is guiding all of us just as He did the wise men who sought the child….if we will take the time to listen and to follow.

Emmanuel- God with us. My prayer is that we will always remember that the presence and mercy of our Heavenly Father is with us at all times, that the light of Christ’s love surround us…May grace and gratitude overflow…and may the joy of Christmas live in your heart all year round.

The Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give
you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This Christmas season I will light a candle….

All too often it is at the holiday season WHEN THE PAST AND THE PRESENT COLLIDE. Whether through loss, divorce or estrangement we try to capture what we once had or we try and blot out bad memories. We try to ignore the empty chair and we try to ignore the pain and emptiness in our soul.

While most of the world seems to be addressing holiday greeting cards and planning holiday menus, those who have lost someone or a relationship are struggling with other concerns: How long does the grief last? Will the holidays always be this dreadful? What do we do with the empty place at the table? What is there to be thankful for this year?

 It’s difficult to get that place in our hearts when we can admit that nothing seems quite right in our house or in our heart this season. We may ask ourselves if we can ever be happy again? Will the sights and sounds of the holiday season ever touch us again? Will there ever be LIGHT again?

Maybe we hold our breath and hope the holidays go quickly. We doubt we can endure too long. We sit in the dark, because we think we have forgotten the light.

We wish for some sign of hope in the season of icicles, some magical sign that will keep us going until the warmth of spring arrives. We turn on all the lights in an attempt to chase away the pain, grief or loneliness.

We have EXPECTATIONS of the season, for each other and for ourselves. All too often we have a mental picture of how things ought to be. And perhaps all too often we have to admit that those expectations are based more on fantasy than reality. Or perhaps we measure success and happiness on how close we come to those expectations.

Handling the holidays may not be so much a question of how to eliminate pain and grief from our lives, but how we can learn to live with the hurt and grief rather than be consumed by it.

Yes, celebration is the theme of this season, and real life, with all its blemishes and pains, is brushed away into the dark corners of silence. However, if we chose to peek into the shadows, we will see the harsh realities that exist and are even magnified during the Christmas season. All too often the desired “peace on Earth” is disrupted by intrusive circumstances such as difficult family members, the death of a loved one, financial strain, isolation, and loneliness.

And if we ignore those visited by such unwelcome strangers is to fail in living out the very spirit of this sacred season.

And so today, as your sister in Christ, I desire to be present with you and to listen to your hearts, and to pray with you. Although I haven’t all the answers I can go to the One who does, the One who offers hope and healing.

Today I will light a candle, and as I do I will send up a prayer…..lighting a candle is a way of remembering, a way of healing, and a way of bringing hope.

A solitary candle brings light to the darkness and serves as a reminder of the power of the human spirit. The flickering flame ignites something deep inside us that connects us to each other.

As Erasmus noted; if we give light, and share light we can watch the darkness disappear.

 Lighting a candle begins by taking a moment to slow down, to focus on our intention and decide on the reason we are lighting our candle.

I invite you to light one with me, either for yourself or for those who are struggling this Christmas season…. light a candle to remember a loved one, a past relationship, or whatever other significant loss or losses that you or someone may currently be experiencing.

There is a soothing, healing effect in lighting a candle. A solitary candle brings light in the darkness; it is also a symbol of the human spirit.

The hope is that when we light a candle, it’s a reminder that Christ is alive and is the light of the world. And as we sing the Christmas carols it’s a reminder that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, not because we have to be cheery and merry, but because we don’t. God still comes to be with us. It’s OK to acknowledge loss and sadness. That’s why Jesus came – for the lonely. He came to minister to people who are hurting.

I am reminded of the words to a song by Kathy Troccoli-Go Light Your Candle;

We are a family, who hearts are blazing

So let’s raise our candles light up the sky

Praying to our Father, in the name of Jesus,

Make us a beacon in darkest time