Meditations of my Heart

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Birthday!


Luke 2:10-11
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

My father was born on Christmas Day 85 years ago.  I'm sure his coming into the world brought great joy to his mom and dad, aunts and uncles, siblings and grandparents.  What birth of a healthy child doesn't?

But, on Christmas Day?  When everyone is receiving presents anyway?  When the celebratory birth of Jesus overshadows the day?  

How do parents make this day extra-special each year for the birthday child?

Dad's parents tried.  They really did!  Always giving little Billy that special gift above and beyond what brother, Phil, and sister, Mary Jane, enjoyed beneath the Christmas tree.

One story Dad told us when we were growing up was the Christmas/birthday when he, and only he, got a brand new bicycle.  Oh, how the paint gleamed and the chrome shone!  It was hard for Phil and Mary Jane not to feel a wee bit jealous.  As for Billy, he was thrilled and couldn't wait to take it for a spin!

Bundled up against the cold, Billy mounts his treasured bike at the top of their steep driveway and hurtles down without a moment's hesitation.  Wind whips his face.  Frost reddens his cheeks.  It's full and exhilarating speed ahead!

Until, the unthinkable happens.

Billy's bike tires hit a slick of black ice.  He loses control.  The front fender careens into the curb.

Feeling as bent and forsaken as his now damaged bicycle, Billy limps home with tears in his eyes and an ache in his heart.  Phil and Mary Jane are so livid about their brother's carelessness, they refuse to speak to him for the rest of Christmas Day.  It was a memorable Christmas, to be sure, but not because it was a joyful one.

In all the years I can recall since childhood, our family has always given my Dad those extra-special gifts at Christmas.  We've faithfully held a party in his honor on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and have continually celebrated his privilege of sharing in the Lord's birthday.

If Dad has ever been let down on any of these Christmas birthdays, he's never let on.  Not once have I know my father to be discontented with what he has or who he is.  And, through his example, I have learned so much about what it means to truly live a fulfilling life.

And, now that Dad is in the last stages of Alzheimer's, this may be the last Christmas/birthday card I choose for him and the last special gift I buy.  I stand before the reams of cards which tout the exemplary qualities of fathers and thankfulness for their gifts of wisdom and love.  Can he read this?  Will he understand?  Does he somehow remember in his heart and soul all the cards with similar sentiments sent on birthday past?

My tears flow.  My heart breaks.

This is the hardest birthday.  The hardest Christmas.

But, in the harsh reality of now lies the everlasting hope.

Hope, born in a lowly, smelly, miserable manger.

Hope, which understands the lowliest, smelliest, and miserable parts of our lives.

Hope which conquers all our fears, our doubts, our sins because it invites us to look beyond the present circumstance to see the everlasting promise.

The promise Jesus made to be with us always.  Not just on His birthday.

With us always!

Happy Birthday, Daddy!  Happy Birthday, Jesus!

~

Do you know someone who shares a birthday with Jesus?  Will you send them an exceptional gift or greeting today?

Will you pray with me?
Loving Father, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Your Son, our Savior, Christ Jesus, let us not forget those whose birthdays may be overshadowed by all the activities this holiday brings.  May we make their birthdays ones to remember and cherish; ones that remind them how much they are loved as Your precious children.  Amen.


20 comments:

  1. Absolutely beautiful Martha...

    "Hope which conquers all our fears, our doubts, our sins because it invites us to look beyond the present circumstance to see the everlasting promise."

    I needed this today... Thank you so much for sharing, and for being such wonderful encouragement. May we all see that promise and be filled with wonder as we celebrate the blessed gift God gave us that Silent Night so long ago.

    Have a Blessed Day my dear friend!
    ~Phather Phil

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting today, Phather Phil, and for your beautiful comment. I'm so glad my words were able to touch you where you are today and offer encouragement and hope. It is what I pray God will give me the grace to do in His name.
      And, yes, may we all see that promise and celebrate the wondrous salvation our Lord gives.
      Blessings to you always!

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  2. It is all his good karma that he has loved ones around him though he cannot remember. Prayers and good wishes to you and your dad too.

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    1. Yes, Janaki, we reap what we sow. Dad gave so much of himself to so many, and we all can never forget all he sacrificed because he loved so much.
      Thank you so much for coming by and for your prayers and good wishes, my friend!
      Love and blessings!

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  3. Ahhhh Martha, I can feel your anguish. How very difficult it is to be faced with this type of situation. This will be the first Christmas without my father. I thought, back before Thanksgiving, that it would be a very challenging time for me. But, surprisingly enough, it truly has been a blessed Holiday Season. My father was 90 years old, and had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior only about a week before he died! That, to me, is such a blessing that overshadows any heartbreak I experienced losing him. I am so happy to know that he is in heaven, with my mother, awaiting my return home. I would be lying if I said he wasn't on my mind...there are many things we did together in the kitchen during this time of year that when I started doing it alone this year, I could hear his voice in my head, or could envision us doing it together. It's not really bringing me sadness though...it has brought me great joy. I miss him, and always will, but knowing how he was saved in the nick of time is so totally amazing to me, that I can't be anything but thankful!
    May God richly bless you and your family during this time. I will keep you in my prayers ♥♥♥

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for sharing these beautiful memories of your dear dad. Your words not only offer comfort to me, but will surely bring comfort to all who read these comments.
      May God hold you and yours in the palm of His mighty hand and give you His peace at Christmas and always!
      Love and blessings, my friend!

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  4. What a dichotomy of feelings and life events we all face. The joy of birth and the celebration of growing and changing...then the wretching sadness of decline and illness. Having been through the same thing with my mother and I certainly understand your pain. Knowing each holiday may be the last in someone's life is a difficult time. Wishing you blessings, comfort and peace during this holiday.

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    1. Thank you, Lynne, for your words of comfort and understanding. If it's about nothing else, life is about change, happening whether we like it or not. I'm just so thankful that I can place all my cares and worries on the shoulders of the One who understands all our joys and afflictions.
      I hope you have a Merry Christmas!
      Love and blessings!

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  5. I imagine it would be tough to have a birthday on Christmas. The bike was a great idea. Have a Merry Christmas.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, Joyce, it IS tough having a Christmas birthday, but Dad always made the best of it.
      Thanks for the Merry Christmas wishes, and may God richly bless you and yours in the New Year!
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Oh Martha, this is such a touching post and I truly felt the pain in your words. May we all be comforted in our sorrow by the celebration of Jesus' birthday knowing that God sent Him to be with us, to make us feel that we don't have to carry our burdens alone. Much love to you. ♡

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    1. Thank you, Irene, for your kind words. Yes, I take such comfort in our Lord's promise to be there for us no matter what we are going through.
      May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy God's blessings in the New Year!
      Love and blessings!

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  7. How much I'm going to miss your writing, Martha! You write from the heart and soul. As you know, I've posted my last blog post, and I wanted to stop by to say thank you for being such an inspiring and generous blog friend. Thank you for all the good energy you put into the world. Or perhaps I should say thank you for all the good energy you pass along into the world, because we know where it comes from! Blessings to you now and always, my friend.

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    1. Galen, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your all too kind words! I have so missed your presence in my life since you discontinued your blog, and do hope that you will feel inspired to take it up again at some point in your life's journey. Your words and thoughts were ever inspiring!
      May you have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
      Love and blessings!

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  8. A lovely and uplifting post Martha. I've always wondered if it was possible to have a birthday on a special day and would the child just lose out on the extra presents:) Or is it doubly special because someone shares their birthday on the same day as Jesus:) ? Sounds like your family was able to give extra care to your Dad even though it was Christmas too.

    I don't think the card you buy will matter as much as the heartfelt thoughts and wisdom you'll share with him Martha :) Sending you prayers, good wishes and many blessings for this Christmas season.

    LIke Galen, I'll add my thanks for inspiring us throughout the year.

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    1. Vishnu, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm just glad I can, with God's help, bring inspiration to others. He has been so gracious to bestow me with the gift of writing for His sake.
      Hope your Christmas is merry and bright and blessed!
      Love and blessings!

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  9. This was a beautiful remembrance of your dear father. Bless his young heart over that bicycle accident! I didn't know that you're dealing with Alzheimer's Disease; my thoughts, prayers and healing energy are focused today for your Daddy and your whole family today, and will continue to be focused for you all on a daily basis.

    Much love to you, sweetheart. <3

    - Dawnie

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    1. Thank you so very much, Dawnie! Yes, it's been quite the struggle and heartache watching my Dad slide downhill. Your prayers and thoughts are so much appreciated, my friend!
      Here's wishing you every blessing in the new year!
      Love and blessings!

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  10. How hard that must have been to have a birthday on Christmas!! What a hard Christmas this must have been knowing it may be his last. Still he is still here in body, if not in mind. I hope you will find comfort in that because I know from experience that Christmas's without them at all is far worse to stomach. Much love to you. ♥

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    1. Thank you for your sweet sentiments here, Kathy. They mean so much to my heart . . .
      Happy New Year, my friend!

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