In 11 days…

In just 11 days, Christmas will be here.

In 11 days, our house will wake up and eagerly head to our living room to excitedly open Christmas gifts.

In 11 days we’ll gather with family that we don’t see nearly enough.

In 11 days we’ll enjoy our favorite Christmas foods and fully overeat then nap on the couch while we watch football.

In 11 days 26 (as the count stands now) families will observe their first Christmas after losing their child, their spouse, their parent, their friend.

In 11 days presents that were bought in anticipation of a Kindergartener’s Christmas will remain unopened…serving as a cruel reminder of a senseless act.

In 11 days, while the rest of the country celebrates, 26 families will struggle to find a smile in the grief and mourning.

In 11 days, the added patience we have with our kids today will likely be worn thin. The added time that we longed for today will likely seem less significant. The extra tight and numerous hugs we’ve given today will likely have returned to what “normal” is in our homes.

In 11 days most of us will have returned to life as normal. But not those 26 families. Life will never be normal again. Through God’s grace they will begin to heal. Through God’s strength at work in them, a very different life will continue and move forward. Those 26 families will likely never take their remaining family for granted again. They will like hold their surviving children closer every day. They will likely grow to have a very new and full appreciation for this life.

Today, 11 days before Christmas, the heart of this mother is grieved beyond words. Tears are being shed for children I never knew and parents I will never meet. Today, 11 days before Christmas, with fully inadequate words, I sat with my children and tried to answer questions about an evil I can’t begin to explain.

There’s something about this tragic event that has hit me very differently. Maybe it’s that the majority of these children are just a year older than my daughter. Maybe it’s that this happened in a quiet, safe community much like mine. Maybe it’s that it happened in an Elementary School. Maybe it’s a bit of all of it. Whatever it is, I find myself wanting to be more intentional. Intentional about making sure my kids leave me every day knowing without doubt how much they are loved. How proud I am of them. Intentional about increasing my patience. Intentional about extra hugs, extra snuggles. Intentional about time.

Today, 11 days before Christmas, in honor of the lives lost…and because it’s what should be done without these gruesome events…I am looking forward to being more intentional. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my children. I’m not just counting my blessings, I’m relishing them. Today and in 11 days my prayers will pour out for 26 families in Connecticut. Today and every day I will cling to my anchor and know that he He holds firm…even when this world is shaken.

“I find rest in my God alone. He is the One who saves me. He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me. He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.” Psalm 62:1-2

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