Let the Halos of Angels Prevail

As reported in the news this week, folks are preparing for the holidays earlier than in previous years. This information should not come as a surprise to anyone.

Most of us are searching for a bit of glitter and sparkle to emerge from the darkness of 2020.   Hate, bitterness, sickness, discord, and suffering have dominated our lives for so long, it seems as if the love and merriment of the holidays occurred years ago instead of months.

People are longing to return to some semblance of normalcy.  Most of us pray for the healing of our land, divisions to be mended, and kindness to regain a foothold in America.   Every God-loving person should actively participate in the building of love to conquer evil.  Our prayers need to be supported by our actions.

 I have an idea that will make the devil angrier, but I truly see so much of him lately that I notice horns everywhere!

Entrenched in a battle

We are entrenched in a battle of good versus evil.  There is no military branch, political leaders, or groups fighting this war for us.  This battle is waged by each individual person who must wear armor constructed of goodness while holding on to the hands of God.

My friend, Bonnie, broke her foot years ago.  Physically active, Bonnie never twiddles her thumbs, so the idea of taking months to heal was daunting.   As she studied her aching foot, an idea started to form.  She pulled out her sewing machine and made an apron.  Then she made another.  By the time her foot healed, she had enlisted others to create items to be given to those in need.  Bonnie even taught one of her friends how to sew! This small circle of pals made enough clothes and aprons to raise over $20,000 to be given to children’s and women’s charities. Bonnie took a challenging time and turned it into serving God by producing delight for many others.

That is the meaning of goodness.  Charity is benevolent goodwill toward humanity.  This 2020 holiday season let us put charity on the front burner.  It is time to mend our division with altruism and kindness.  There is no other way to stop the widening gap of hatred.

Multitudes need us

 Multitudes of people require help and hope now.  Children who have lost parents, parents who have lost income, and grandparents struggling with loneliness need us.  It is time for those who are well, safe, and have more than enough to openly give to others.

If you do not have the financial resources to give, can you sew, knit, create cards, or spare cans of food?  Our charity is not measured by dollars and cents; it is measured by our hearts’ generosity.  Today we should show that kindness reigns and that halos shine brighter than horns.

When my children were elementary age, I was cleaning out our closets near Christmas.  As a family, we struggled from paycheck to paycheck, but we never felt impoverished.   The weather had turned bitter cold that year, and as I piled up outgrown coats and sweaters, I questioned why I had kept them so long.  I was guilty of being too busy with my warm life to think of those struggling in the cold.

This is the year we should put others before ourselves.  This is the Thanksgiving to make sure others are fed.  This is the Christmas that we buy less for ourselves and more for those who cannot spare any expense.  This is the year to honor Christ, who is God’s greatest gift to us.  

Brighten the soul of our country

Charity is not just writing a check, even though that is good!  Charity is taking the time to envision a smile on a child’s face when an unexpected Santa arrives with a gift.   Love for humanity is caring enough for a stranger to sew them an apron or hand them a new coat.

When we are ordering a toy for our grandchild, let us order two. If we are we are at the grocery purchasing peanut butter, why not buy three?   When we ask our children what they want for Christmas, question what they would like to give another less fortunate child?    We can bring goodwill to others one little gift at a time.

When we light up the holidays with our kindness and presents for others, we will not only feel better but brighten the soul of our country.  The divide will become smaller, and hatred will not prevail.

 When Christ was born on a dark night years ago, an army of angels illuminated the sky proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace goodwill toward men.”  Luke 2:14

Perhaps, it is time to hear their words again.

The Pink Sunsets of October

When I sat in the dental hygienist chair last week, she attached what I call the “bib” around my neck as they all do.  The paper bib was adorned with a pattern of pink breast cancer ribbons scattered across its surface.

I have been so consumed with worry over COVID, fires raging throughout the west coast, political upheaval, and protest, the pink ribbon suddenly startled me.  My mind flew back to an October nine years ago, when my daughter celebrated her 38th birthday. 

The family trip was planned to coincide with her big day.  All of us gathered at the beach where we rented a house to accommodate a slew of folks.  On my desk is a photograph of my child hugging her six-year-old daughter as the coastal sunset threw a pink cast across the beach behind them.    It is one of my favorite pictures taken that October evening, but it comes with a story like many snapshots.

My heart jumped with fear

Earlier that day, shortly before the photograph was taken, I strolled into the bathroom, where my daughter had just washed her hair.  As we chatted, I noticed strands of blond hair laying over a good portion of the cold white tile.   My heart jumped with alarm as I grabbed a cloth to clean them up. 

“Guess it’s time to get my head shaved, Mom.”  She announced with such resolute calm, the lump in my throat disappeared.   “Unless you want to keep cleaning this mess up, I would say you are right!”  We both laughed a bit, but to this day, I still get a lump in my throat when I recall that day.  

When I see pink ribbons, a jar for donations at the convenience store, football players wearing October pink, or anyone who is the throes of chemotherapy, the heartache is just beneath the surface of my soul.   For me, it is a reminder of a disease that attempted to take my precious child from all of us. 

The old saying that is true

There is an old saying that pretty much applies to many life events, “You don’t know anything about it until you have lived through it.”  The ‘it’ can be a disease, poverty, hunger, or racism.  The ‘it’ can be what it is like to lose your home to a fire or a hurricane, lose your loved one to suicide, or lose your job because of a killing virus.

Until then, I certainly never knew what breast cancer can do to a family other than what I read.  I did not understand the despair, the uncertainty, or the raw courage required to withstand such pain.  I watched as my daughter underwent a year of physically struggling and fighting to return to wellness.   Yes, we do not understand until we have lived through it. 

It has been nine years, but I still remember the medical teams, the doctors, and nurses who compassionately walked with us through 2011 and 2012.  I vividly see the chemo room where women gathered with their magazines as they watched chemicals slowly flow into their bodies.  It was as if they were casually sitting under a hairdryer at the salon.   The scene belies the fatigue and desperation that are hidden behind their masks of raw, unadulterated bravery.  I was astounded at their sisterhood, their spirit, and determination.

No, unless you have been through it, you do not understand.  Nor would anyone who has experienced such grief want you to.   However, we must recognize that we need to acquire empathy even though we may not personally endure such hardship.  It is compassion for others, the gifts to others, the desire to aid another, is what will heal us all.

Bringing hope home

There are so many who are living through extreme heartache this year.  Breast cancer and other cancers will continue to claim lives, and so will coronavirus, fires, illnesses, accidents, and violence.  Those families who are grieving and struggling to survive, trust me, need our help in prayers, donations, and tangible aid.

My adopted hometown in Georgia is like most of small-town America.  They are reeling from dropped income because of the pandemic and watch as their friends and family suffer.  Yet, LaGrange citizens still wrap the town square with a vibrant pink ribbon around its perimeter.  The large fountain in the middle cascades ribbons of pink water that arcs into a pool of rose.  It is a wonderful sight to behold, bringing hope home.  Storefronts attach pink ribbons on their doors because there is compassion for breast cancer victims.  Theirs is a reminder to all that the “it” can still happen to those who once simply did not understand.

Many diseases have no cures, but donations and prayers get us closer to one every day.  Give what you can to those who are living only to see a beautiful pink sunset once more.