Sunday night our church held the traditional Hanging of the Green service where church members help decorate the church with Christmas trees, lights, bows, poinsettias, etc. while worshiping through song and testimony. Our new worship minister who arrived in the spring really helped put together a warm, homey service with our large church family. The whole thing was quite emotional and very moving. All age ranges of choirs sang something along with different prayers, Scripture reading and a short testimony by yours truly.
Our worship minister asked me a couple of days prior if I'd like to share a favorite Christmas memory. Ya know, 3-5 minute kinda thing. He thought I might be freaked out by getting up in front of people to talk.
Bless his heart. He really doesn't know PandaMom that well yet. LOL!! Anyone who knows me in real life knows that getting up in front of people to talk is no problem. Getting me to shut up? That's a different animal altogether. ; )
Anyhoo--I really didn't know what I was going to say because I don't have a magnificent memory to tell, because really, all my Christmases growing up were consistently happy. I told PandaGirl what I was asked to do and that I couldn't pick out any one event or gift. She reminded me (thanks, PG) about the time I peeked at some fluffy pink house-shoes in my mom's room and spoiled my own surprise.
Hmmmm.....that seemed sorta blah. I needed something wonderful and great, but I just couldn't think of something. I kept putting it out of my mind, getting busy and distracted until, whatdayaknow---it was about 30 minutes before the service and I really needed to think of something to say!
As I was sitting and listening to PG's choir do a quick practice run of their song I noticed that the name of it was "Joy". You've got to be kidding me, right?! Boy that word just keeps on popping up this season. My lack of it and search for it after such a crazy loss of "our son" and the dream.
It immediately came together in my mind!! I do believe the Lord allowed me to think of all of these things and worked them together for His good. By the way, I thought I would be one of several people sharing a little favorite memory until I read the printed program in those minutes prior to the service. NUH-UH---I was the only one. Oh my. I felt like I really had to have something to "say"!! Here's how it went:
First I promised the congregation that I no idea the kids were singing a song named "Joy". Then I told of my Spoiled Joy when peeking at the house shoes as a kid. My own fault.
Next I fast forwarded to Christmas 2003 when I carried around a picture all month of a precious little girl who was waiting for us to come get her in China. That was Expectant Joy.
Finally, I share how I had Lost my Joy in the past several weeks due to the devastating experiences with our little boy coming and going out of our life in such a bizarre manner and how all three of us were heartbroken. Of course, my voice cracked and I teared up and forced my way through the words during this part. Saw several of my close friends in the congregation all teared up and I just had to move through it!!
Then, here's where the Lord really did a number and wrapped it all up to make sense in a way that could only be Him. This past Friday night my wild and precious friend bought me a beautiful pendant for a necklace that said "JOY" on it. She has walked this ugly road with us and new that Joy was my theme for the time being while I try to get back to a normal state of heart. We were at the children's party that PandaPop leads and were busy going and getting pizza and getting ready for the night. Not thirty minutes after she gave me my Joy necklace I had lost it. We searched EVERYwhere for that thing!!! I just couldn't believe how it just flew off my neck without me knowing it. It was quite large and I would have heard it if it fell.
I felt so badly because she had JUST given it to me and it was such a personal, well-thought out gift with a sensitive meaning.
NO LIE----four hours later my friend goes back to the pizza place and FOUND it in the parking lot under a car!!! She texted me and said, "Found your joy. It's a bit scratched, but it's here!"
Tell me, how incredibly PROFOUND is THAT????!!!!
I lost my JOY, but found it again though it's SCRATCHED.
That was my Favorite Christmas Memory little testimony. I ended with the truth that our JOY doesn't come from circumstances, but rather from God and his grace alone.
I was shaking a bit knowing that whatever had just come from my mouth was not me, but the Lord allowing my brokeness to speak to someone. Even PandaPop was wiping away his tears. Apparently I was right. Sooo many people had such sweet things to say to me and to PP about it. I didn't say anything for any kind of praise or pity, but I do believe that all of us have losses that steal the Joy away and then think everyone else has it all together.
No one has "it" together.
That's exactly why we need a Savior.
The Savior that was born for us and died for us and lives for us.
The whole purpose for CHRISTmas.
Trust Him for your JOY.
Trust Him for your JOY.