Friday, January 4, 2008

December

December of 2007 was nothing like what we expected. A season that is usually filled with tremendous excitement and anticipation met us, this year, with a bit of hardship. There was my grandmother's passing. And the sudden death of an acquaintance our family visited weekly. Two potential adoptions we learned would not come through for us. A family member with five young children lost his job. And there seemed a plethora of minor things - among them a car accident, sickness all around, a flat tire on Christmas Eve, my losing patience on several occasions, and much more - small things, but adding moments of stress nonetheless. And we were given a burden of the heavier weight, but at this time I cannot post about it for various reasons.

But as the Lord always reassures with His infinite love, beauty and joy revealed themselves amidst the chaos. Christmas carols were sung every day, all throughout the day in this house. The girls executed many sweet acts of love, adding straw to our empty manger. We enjoyed a beautiful and much-needed family retreat in the mountains, where we reveled in the goodness of winter and snow. I was blessed with the company of all my brothers at once-a great rarity-during the days surrounding my grandmother's funeral. Preparing Christmas dinner for my grandfather and extended family was a huge and happy reward for me. And embracing my good grandfather while he broke down in tears on Christmas day was a marvelous and incredible honor.

It was made very clear to me early in Advent that it would be a time of emptying, not only of unnecessary attachments, but even of good and beautiful things.....for something better. For when the Infant came on Christmas day I realized I had more room for Him in my small "inn" than I had in years past. Not a substantial amount more, but enough to notice a difference. That extra space, carved out lovingly and gently by the Divine Hand of Providence, reminded me yet again, that the best things in life are obtained not with the filling up of desires, pleasures and earthly happiness, but with the stripping away of those very things.

How good it is that Christmas is still here. Before we head into the regular rhythm of Ordinary time, we can bake the cookies we had no time for in December. We can still fill the house with the music of Christmas carols. We can huddle under blankets in our living room and enjoy the light of the Christmas tree. And we can kiss the head of the Babe of Bethlehem, lying in the soft bed created for him as often as we desire, noticing the open arms with which He greets us-in good times and in hardship-every moment He holds us in existence.

25 comments:

Eileen said...

Kristen,
I am new to your blog, and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how wonderfully beautiful this is--as are so many others you have posted. Thank you for being open in your heart to such a profound and special perspective...and even more, for sharing it with me today.

I look forward to coming back here often.

Warmly,
Eileen

Meredith said...

Oh Kristen, big hugs to you. What a beautiful and real reflection. Our Year was nothing like we had planned, but God is constantly at work in our lives and you are one wise women to be open to his call. Many more blessings in this new year and enjoy these last days of Christmas magic with your lovely family, God Bless!

Hallie said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. The grace with which you bear suffering is truly inspirational. I pray your New Year is filled with much joy and the fulfillment of many dreams.

Cheryl M. said...

Kristen, my eyes are teary - this is a beautiful post. Prayers for you and your family.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

How I've missed you.

Love to all the Lawrences but especially to you, my dear friend of the heart who continues to teach me so much about selflessness and courage.

Happy Feast of the Epiphany, Honey! (2 days early but you know.)

Frances said...

If anyone can bear a burden with grace and a smile, I know you can, Kristen! My prayers are with you and your family, and my gratitude goes to God for the blessing your writing is. Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart with us.

Beck said...

This post - and your spirit - is beautiful. Praying that happier days are ahead for you and your family.

Mimi said...

I think that often fast times are very trying, as we slough off the worldy us and focus on the divine.

Hugs to you, I'm sorry it was so difficult. And, your Grandmother continues to be in my morning prayers for her Eternal Memory.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reassurance (divinely inspired). I needed to hear that sometimes God takes away the GOOD, so that we might have more room for Him. Blessings to you, dear lady.

Blair said...

Beautiful post, Kristen. Your family is in my prayers.

Cay said...

Yes, Kristen, hugs and a big kudo to you for a lovely post.

scmom (Barbara) said...

You see God's presence so clearly in your life Kristen. God bless you and prayers to all.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog a few months ago and have enjoyed reading it as I have two girls 3.5 and 1.5 years. My condolescences go out to your family for all the hardships, but I wanted to post to encourage you to offer up your sufferings if you haven't already. This is something that I forget very often and just wanted to remind you and other posters to do so as well with their struggles. -kristin

stephanie said...

What a beautifully honest and prayerful reflection...and reminder. More prayers for you and you family.

Mrs Pea said...

Kristen, I have been praying for your family and for the eternal rest of your grandmother, but now I will pray for the adoption situation too - and ask Our Lady of Walsingham for more babies for you when I ask that for us tomorrow at church.

I love how, despite it all, you had more of Jesus - which is the only reason we exist ultimately if we could but know it.

Stina said...

This is a lovely post. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

Alice Gunther said...

Praying for your grandmother and for all of you and all the intentions you mentioned.

You are the epitome of grace and beauty in all situations, Kristen.

Thank you.

Beth said...

God bless you and your family Kristen.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing so beautifully, even when it hurts so much.
Here's a "it's a small world" connection to give you a smile. When I saw your post on condolences for your dad, a lightbulb went on. I have heard so much about your dad (without knowing he was your dad) from a dear couple at our parish, Bob and Rosemary Byrd. Bob said he's taken you halibut fishing!
And though I only comment on occasion (perhaps you'll remember my son thinking your Little Bo Peep would be a stinking rotten dead fish), I do so enjoy your blog that I took the liberty of claiming a cyber-friendship with you. Yes, it's a small world after all! (By the way, I am the commenter formerly known as Laura, but I decided with a new year I'd give myself a nickname, more reflective of my interests, so now I'm Snowshoe)

Jeannine said...

Thank you for showing us how to suffer with grace and joy. Too often, I just suffer with anger and fear. Your words never fail to alter my perspective. You are a blessing, Kristen. You are in my prayers.

Kristen Laurence said...

Thank you, everyone. You are all very encouraging.

Snowshoe, wow! It *is* a small world. My husband and I love the Byrd family! You did indeed bring a huge smile to my face. Would you send me your email address?

Anonymous said...

Hi. My email is tobyburke@mail.com
Yours from cold and snowy Alaska, Snowshoe

Julie said...

What a beautiful and honest post... thank you for sharing your heart.

Sharon said...

You are in my thoughts and I will check back often, as I usually do, to see how things are going for you. Chin up. You have the right attitude. You'll be able to look back in the months ahead and understand in some way why you suffered.

Jennifer F. said...

Thank you for this beautiful, insightful reflection.