The holiday season carries all kinds of emotions for many of us. As children, it was mostly excitement about gifts and being with relatives. As we grow and life happens, sadness, pain, and anxiety seem to get mixed in there and can mess with our joy. Many of you know that my personal story has a lot of loss - much of it in the month of December. For a while, it was hard for me to see Christmas lights without returning to the sadness in my childhood of driving to my mom's hospital bed and, a couple years later, her funeral while passing lots of beautiful Christmas lights. I'd mostly gotten past that as an adult when, in another December, I rushed to Florida to be by my precious sister's side as she passed from this life. As I was in a sad fog catching flights back home, Christmas music was blaring, people were snatching up gifts in the airport shops, and I felt like I just couldn't feel happy or want to celebrate Christmas. But you know what? Emanuel - the God With Us, whispered in my ear. He reminded me that the night He came into the world it was full of chaos, full of despair, full of hustle and bustle. And He came gently into that world to bring us hope, to be God With Us. That's what Christmas is about. It's not about all the stuff we've made it. It's about being able to have joy in the midst of whatever it is that we're going through because a baby was born who came to walk with us through it.
If you're struggling to find happiness this year, I hope you'll think about this and call on Him. He will take your hand and help you through if you ask Him to. If you're enjoying all that comes with this season, that's great! I hope you'll take time to think about the reason for this wonderful season and be grateful. We all have a reason to celebrate, and joy is deeper than surface happiness. I hope you have it. I'm truly happy to talk with you about it - please feel free to get in touch.
The Image Above
If you're wondering about the picture at the top, I have a client who loves Camp Brookside and wanted to use my painting for her Christmas cards this year. She asked me if I could add a red bow to the cabin or the water tower to make it Christmassy. What fun! I love this peaceful scene in nostalgic Camp Brookside that is now a part of the New River Gorge National Park. I thought it was appropriate for this blog, because it's a story of redemption. Camp Brookside was a much-loved camp in its day, but was neglected for years and had fallen into disrepair. Our National Parks purchased it and, with the help of The Friends of the New River Gorge National River, it was renovated. Ray, my husband, was on the board and we had the privilege of being among the first to stay there before it was totally ready. That's when I fell in love with this little island in the New River. It's now used as an environmental education center and is once again full of cheer.
See more about Camp Brookside here:
If you want to know more about the story behind the painting, I included a little about it in a blog I wrote a couple of years ago that also includes another painting I did there. You can read it by clicking the button below.