Dear Sister #4

Dear Sister,

I’m watching a few wispy clouds travel by my window. They appear like pool floats–moving ever so slightly–at the breeze’s discretion and direction.

What is the color of your skies today?

It’s the first week of December, holiday preparation in full swing. Which, signals my soul to ask how your soul is doing?

“How is the state of your soul, as we venture forward in the holiday season?”


I love talking traditions and trees. I like holiday decor, gift guides and Christmas cookie exchanges, just as much as the next.

Except for when  . . . when my heart was battered and holidays were h.a.r.d.

Then, I wanted to avoid the holidays like the plague.

It was as if I was allergic to them. Sneeze. Cough. Hives (literally, I’d get hives).

Allergic, somehow, to what everyone else was joyful about. It felt perplexing. Awkward. Ambivilent.

This year, it feels like, my ground is starting to smooth, somewhat. It is a terrain I’m not quite accustomed to. Yet, one I think I can manage–in a one foot in front of the other kind of way. Because it isn’t a returning to holidays before there was h.a.r.d. It is traveling a new arriving.

Either way, I, now, see things differently. Before I, only, noticed the sparkle of the lights. Now . . .I spot hidden tears tucked in the corner of the eye. Behind as half-hinted smile, I can sense a stronger sentiment, unspoken.

How is your soul, Dear Sister?

Anticipation can take on many personalities.

The holidays are a season loaded with feelings–of the best–of the worst. Sorrow collides with joy. Hope with despair. The meeting of the two is weighty, any which way you put it.

I noticed myself tensing up today. As if my body knows it is the holidays. My mind, my heart and my soul have decided and agreed to have a joy-filled holiday. A magical one. Not magical because it is perfect (as I used to wish it to be), rather magical because . . .  it is not perfect–and, still, we celebrate.

Sister, I’m always quite amazed at how we can make decisions–most resolute. And yet, our skin, our bones, our tissues try tell us otherwise. Reminding us in a most prickly, achey, itchy way, with past pain pushing out of our eyes.

I’m resolute on making memories and magic and enjoying the loved ones that I am with. Yet, I’ve also decided not to ignore my past pain. I let it come, so I can let it go.

I welcome sorrow to collide with joy.

Holidays are nostalgic, wouldn’t you agree? And nostalgia, as you know, always invites us back. Back to where it is we came from. Back to feelings, sights, smells, conversations, memories, and people. That is why holidays can be as heavy as a wet raincoat. Because we often can’t return to where it is we came from or to those we’ve lost.

Closure, it seems, comes easier on regular days. What we believe has been closed, has a way of busting wide open on holidays. And it turns out, or so I’m learning, that closure is a myth (this podcast on ambiguous grief is an excellent resource).

So, I say, stay open, Sister. Stay open to all the feelings. Bid them hello and, then, adieu. After all, a closed door is one that we cannot walk through.

We can hold happy. We can hold sad. God in His great goodness holds us.

Will you allow hope to collide with despair?

It is this way through. The way forward. The way to a joy-filled holiday. To celebrate still or in spite of.


The sky has clouded over, completely. The blue above has been covered-like a swimming pool for winter. The air is heavy with moisture. I welcome the rain. I welcome the sun.

I welcome you to hope this holiday. To familiar ground or new. To a moment of looking back. To a season of joy. May it be magical because you choose. May it be bright because Christ is our light.


I’ve written an article “Celebrate the Season” for the latest issue of Life:Beautiful Magazine (pictured above). The piece offers practical ways to welcome Christmas and glorify Christ this season . . . reminding us that hope is not something that we conjure up or strive for–For if we abide in Christ, hope abides within us. You can pick up a copy at your local newsstand or order online.

Loads of Love,


PS- Write back (leave a comment).


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  • Joyce Ragan
    Commented on December 6th, 2018 at 7:27pm

    Tina, I lost my husband of 55 years in November. My 3 daughters lost their beloved Dad, we are going through times of grief, confusion, intolerance and real anxiety facing the Christmas season. I’m forwarding this post to them cause you have nailed what we are going through. Thank you for your thought.

  • Trina
    Commented on December 9th, 2018 at 7:57am

    Hello, Dear Joyce. I’m so very sorry for your loss and for your daughter’s. I’m glad to hear that my words resonated. I will be praying for you and your girls as you navigate Christmas. I love the verse in Isaiah that we often only reflect on during Christmas
    Isaiah 9:6
    “For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, And His name shall be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.”

    A few years ago, a family member died days before Christmas, my family was also suffering other forms of loss. I remember sitting in the Christmas Eve service at church feeling such despair–and then feeling shame because I should have been celebrating hope. I was reminded of this verse and saw it as I never had before. In those names of God I realized He was everything I needed in my grief. A counselor like no other. A Mighty God (strong and mighty to save), an Everlasting Father (never to leave, always there to guide and support), and the Prince of Peace–a prince who’s kingdom is peace–and he makes his home in my heart. Peace abiding within. I carried those words in my heart well beyond Christmas. I hope you find comfort and hope in them too.

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