Thanksgiving and Peace and Hope

Loveys, so the pie in the picture above was made by our friend Nathaniel and was eaten at my house on Thanksgiving day. Isn't it gorgeous? (Also, it was delicious! Many thanks to Nathaniel for sharing.)

How was your Thanksgiving, loveys? I hope it was wonderful and cozy, with good food and people you care about and all those things that make holidays special. My sister and brother-in-law came over, along with our friends Tammy and Nathaniel and their beautiful children, and I loved every part of the day (including crazy Black Friday shopping that night, with kids in tow! Fun!). Lots of food and conversation, kids thundering upstairs to play together, Baby Graham and Lily roaming around by our feet, football games on TV (then Harry Potter later), pie and whipped cream, family and friends--to me, this is what I love for holidays to look like. And I'm so, so thankful for all that we have and all we shared together.

Even amid a beautiful holiday with people I love, on my heart, I had thoughts of those for whom holidays are difficult, lonely, sad. You all know that I love the holiday season so much. I want twinkle lights, and the magic of Santa, and cookies, and romance and mistletoe.

But haven't we all experienced a holiday (or more) of loneliness? Of hurt? Maybe depression, maybe loss of a loved one, maybe distance from family, maybe fighting with a spouse....sometimes, it seems that holidays can exacerbate the hurt we're feeling. Intensify that loneliness. The stress of the day can weigh heavy on broken people. (And aren't we all broken sometimes?)

Yesterday, the kids and I were driving through the neighborhood and we prayed for a family we heard about who are grieving the loss of a wife and mother. I glanced in the rearview mirror at Ash and Linc as I prayed, their faces scrunched up and eyes squeezed tight during the prayer, and my heart just tugged. A few days ago, a trooper was accidentally hit and killed on the freeway not far from where we live. I saw the procession of police and firetrucks as they carried him back to town. Heartbreaking. I keep thinking of that family too. I've seen Facebook posts, people wanting to help however they can.

That part of the season--giving, loving, sharing, praying for the hurting--is just as important as the magic of the holidays. Maybe it is the magic.

Because holidays are hard for some people. Maybe they've been hard for us too so we know what it feels like. Even at our house, we've had holidays still affected by loss of loved ones. Or moments when our marriage was hard and we were trying to hold through and keep everyone happy.

There are holidays when we truly are so desperate for the hope and peace that we sing about in carols. We need it so much, and in this world, where every time you turn on the news you hear of catastrophes and pain and suffering and evil...well, we can all feel hopeless, can't we? I definitely do.

Even a little peace can make a difference to a hurting heart. Even just a glimpse of hope.

You can be that for someone, lovey. Someone can be that for you. A little love can keep a person going a while longer.

Being thankful keeps me from despairing about things I can't control. Big things like the injustice of this world, or regular (but also hurtful) things like maybe a spouse's words or being left out or feeling rejected. I know I have much to be thankful for. (I have things to fret over too.)

Something that's been on my mind this Thanksgiving is the idea of being to people what I want from them. (Which can be very hard.) I love the place where my family is currently. I love the ages of my children so much. It's a fun and magical time. I'm grateful for my marriage. I love Jeff very much. .... But for all of us, aren't there years where we crave love and affection, but feel too angry to give it (or maybe we feel as though the other person is undeserving)? Times where we crave friendship and acceptance, but don't offer it to anyone because we've experienced rejection (I definitely understand this feeling)? Years where we're lonely but feel too hurt or afraid to reach out or join others, or maybe we just lack motivation. Maybe we want a special holiday season, but we're honestly too tired to do much.

I know I've struggled with all those things. And here at the holidays, so many people are struggling with those same hurts and fears and isolation and pain. All around us. Despite the beauty of this season, let's keep engaging with the hurting people around us. For those who are joyful right now, and for those who are hurting, something about helping others clears our perspective and makes us better. Something about being thankful softens our heart and helps us face another day. It helps us focus, which can be hard, and fight off comparisons and self-criticism (even harder, loveys).

O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas carols. There's that one line: a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices--I keep singing it in my head. It's written on the chalkboard in my kitchen. I suppose this weary world--and all of us weary people--always need hope. People near and far need it.

Whether this is a loud, chaotic, family-and-friend filled holiday season for you, or a quiet, reflective, even lonely holiday--we are all needing the same things. Peace and hope. It's my wish for you this holiday season, loveys. It's my wish for me. It's my wish for everyone.

Peace and hope.

There is so much beauty around us. I live in Colorado, where nearly every day looks like a postcard from the viewpoint of my small town. There's that kind of beauty, and then the other kind. My kids eating oatmeal at the table are beautiful. Lily running from me and giggling is an adorable thing to see. Tonight, I just stared across the room at Lincoln curled up next to Jeff on the couch, because they are beautiful to me.

But there's pain too. Brokenness. I've experienced it. You have. We see it around us and on TV.

So we pray, loveys. For peace and hope for all of us. If even in some small way, we can be that source of Christmas hope to someone else this year, I hope we can do it. We're nearly to December. Which is crazy busy at my house, and yours too, probably.

But it all goes back to that thrill of hope.

The weary world rejoices.

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