AS MISERABLE AS YOU MAKE IT                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 12-25-16

That may seem like a strange title to a post that is supposed to be encouraging but that is the thought that was on my mind. While most of us are trying to be festive and more cheerful and patient and in good spirits, I realize that there are those that struggle greatly around holidays and especially at Christmas. Christmas of ’95 brought joy and elation at the prospect of our family finally having a new addition in mid July 1997. We got the good news just before Thanksgiving but was floored with a drastic change of events only a few days after Christmas. My wife suffered a miscarriage and our world instantly crumbled. We tried a long time to have a family and now it was suddenly gone. I don’t want to dwell on the despair that my wife and I went through especially by having to wait those 4 days till after New Years day to have anything done. That was almost twenty years ago and it is true it is something you never get over but you learn to live with it. You hold onto your faith at times like that because that is really all you have got.

I also know there are folks reading this that may have lost a spouse or a parent near the holidays just as I did. My dad and best friend passed on October 9th, 2007. That close in the fall to Thanksgiving and Christmas I remember friends telling me that the holidays would be hard from now on. That wasn’t very encouraging and I am thankful that proved to not be the case. I remember sitting in moms living room looking at dad’s chair that Christmas and thinking to myself; “You know, this is a lot different and feels weird but it is still good. I still have mom and all my siblings, my son, my wife and nieces and nephews and in-laws. This ain’t what it used to be but it ain’t bad.” Maybe I have a tendency to over-analyze stuff but that’s just the way I am. I figured out that year that what we had was not something miserable but a “new normal”. For the foreseeable future that was how things were going to be. It changed again last year because my baby sister had moved to the Outer Banks and that was two more missing. It will change again after this year because their son is moving down with them next week. The days will come that nieces and nephews will go off to school or maybe move away and start families of their own and more spots will be empty. Death will at some point invade our family again as it did my wife’s just a couple years ago. It is all part of living. Change is inevitable and you can’t turn back the hands of time but you can travel back there in your mind. I have thought a lot about all my family and how things used to be but I have also looked around and seen how that God has blessed tremendously beyond measure. I will always cherish the past but there is a reason that today is called the present. It is a gift of God to be enjoyed with those we love. Don’t waste the present trying to live in the past. I have got a lot of treasure in the form of family waiting for me one day but I have a greater treasure with those I still have to love. I still look at the ultrasound picture from ’95 and think about my little one but I don’t dwell on him or her. I have a 19-year-old son that is the absolute joy of my life and a good home and family and relatively good health. Why should I make myself miserable over things I cannot change?

As you go through this day, look around you at the gifts God has given you. As long as there is breath there is life. Cherish the past but live for the present because next year it will be the past. Time marches on as the old saying goes. I will admit I have teared up a little writing this and I have exposed some real personal feelings. If it can help someone to get through the day and really see the blessings God has still let you keep for another year, aren’t they worth celebrating? Make yourself dwell on the goodness of God and before you realize it, you will have made it through the day. I will apologize now to anyone that I may have brought down a little. That is not my intent at all. If you can dwell in the past and make yourself sad, you can dwell in the present and make yourself glad. It is now officially Christmas Day 2016. From my family to yours, I would like to wish each and every one of you a very merry and Christ-filled Christmas! May His peace and joy reign in your hearts on this special day. As always; Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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