By Tina Chandler
I posted this originally in 2011 and updated it in 2012 of my Facebook page. This year is the 30th anniversary of my Dadís death. I believe it is time for another update.
I was a little over a week from being 19 when I lost my Dad to cancer on Christmas morning 1983. I had spent a year away at school, dropped out and came home after we found out he was sick. I was the baby (7 older brothers and sisters) and the only one living at home fulltime with Mom and Dad.
We were a poor family, raised in the country on the wrong side of the tracks. My parents were children of the depression era.
Mom the oldest of 11 (1 died as a baby) and Dad came from a blended family (too many to count and Iíd have to think a long time to name them all). Didnít have much except family. Not the simple life most equate to country living.
A hard life by many standards, usually filled with lots of anger, fighting, disappointment. Yes, we loved each other, but we didnít know HOW to express ourselves or work things out. We just let life happen and dealt with it however we could at that moment. We didnít talk about Dadís cancer much except when the doctor had more to tell us.
I remember Dadís last meal - a liver cheese sandwich on Christmas Eve. Par for the course, he was independent to the end, wouldnít let me make it or even help him. He was stubborn - the sandwich was not pretty.
The next 29 Christmases brought on a color-wheel of emotions and life choices for me.
I spent most of that time mad at God about Dad and other things. The year after he died was a complete blur for me - drunk most of the time, not caring what happened when/where I was. Angry - very angry.
The next 25+ years, I spent running away from God, so mad I cursed Him sometimes. Feeling sorry for myself, feeling unworthy of His forgiveness, not wanting to accept His comfort and love, forgetting what Jesus came here to do. Jesus was born into the human existence to live among us, teach us, die for us, arise from the grave - with the promise to return and reclaim His rightful throne.
Over 20 years ago, God placed someone in my life - my future husband. I didnít know it at that time, but I would marry him a few years later (we just had our 14th anniversary). We were blessed with a beautiful baby boy 9 months after we got married. I used to joke about that being a miracle - it really was. Doctors told me for nearly 20 years that I could not conceive a child. I used to tell everyone that God was just waiting for me to say "I do" and then He said "Here you go". How true those words really are. Our son has been such a blessing!
I hope I spend my time now growing in this relationship with God. I am not perfect by any means, sin daily (we all do). Pray for me as I pray for you. Starting each day reading His word, praying and sharing on Cross Friends Preunion, a Facebook Christian community. I have found a "church home" that is wonderful and allows me to learn and grow. I really enjoy the people and fellowship there. Thanks so much to First Baptist Church!
That ultimate love is what brought me back to Godís feet. God places each of us or allows us to be in a situation that He can and wants to use to bring us closer to Him. Mine was a long, lonely car trip - fast visit over 4 days (2 of which were hard driving days). That was the beginning of my journey back to God, as I had LOTS of time to think and reflect on my life. He used Facebook - Farmtown even, to put someone in my path that would talk to me and remind me just how much Jesus wants to be close to ME (thanks Parson). Me - a sinner - filthy, undeserving - but loved by God.
November 9, 2009 was the pivotal day for me - my return and me letting go and allowing God back in.
Donít lose 30 Christmases to separation from God. Donít lose even one more day - we donít know how many are left. Give yourself completely over to God. Pray, have patience, learn, grow, share the Gospel! Jesus loves you!
God bless each of you and Merry Christmas - Happy birthday to our Savior, Jesus Christ.