Those first difficult years after Mikail passed away, we lived in southern Ontario, and often on those days where the pain and sadness would feel like it was too much, I’d look out the kitchen window and a red cardinal would have landed on the birdhouse just off the deck.
This kept happening and eventually I looked up the symbolism of a red cardinal and found that sometimes people have said that they generally appear when a grieving person needs or misses the person they lost—a messenger of comfort and hope. Does this hold actual truth? I don’t think it matters. What matters is that for me it was a gift during a time when I needed it so much.
When we moved back to Northern Alberta I knew that my visitor wouldn’t be coming to see me anymore because cardinals don’t fly this far north. However, my friend Sunny, who had a cardinal visit her deck for years after her Mama passed away, would send me a picture of the cardinals visit each time it came, sharing her gift with me. What a beautiful gesture.
When designing the cover of the A Thrill of Hope devotional I tried to find a way to incorporate a cardinal into the cover design–a small way to share my unexpected gift of comfort with you, the reader.
Seven years ago we were deep in the throngs of grief. We were coming up to the first Christmas after Mikail passed away and I was dreading the Christmas season. It was supposed to be joyful–filled with family, laughter and fun. I didn’t feel joy, our family was incomplete and I had no energy for laughter or fun. I knew that the only way to get through it would be to cling to God. I was weary and hope felt distant.
That year I looked for a simple devotional that would encourage me, but still acknowledge the various types of grief that were heavy on my heart. I didn’t have the attention span or capacity to read anything long or theologically deep, but I knew I needed encouragement and daily time with God.
I never found that devotional book and although I kept looking for it, year after year, it just wasn’t out there–at least not one that went through the whole season of advent. In the meantime I had started journaling thoughts and scriptures throughout each Christmas season. A couple of years ago I realized that this devotional book that I had been looking for, was right there on my computer. Perhaps not in book form, but with a bit of editing, a manuscript was born.
Late this summer Jason and I both felt God saying that this was the year to get it published. Other years I would get discouraged at the process and complexity of the process. This year it was clear that it didn’t have to be complex and it didn’t have to be done in the conventional route I always thought I would need to follow. So, with a whole lot of prayer, nudging from loving friends and the support of my Prayer Warriors Group, this has become the year that the devotional will become available to others who are grieving.
A Thrill of Hope: Finding Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in the Minor Notes of Christmasincludes 28 devotionals I have written keeping in mind various types of grief may of us have experience throughout life. Whether you have experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of relationships, career, expectations or dreams, the season of Christmas may be difficult. This devotional is designed to help encourage, inspire and draw you nearer to God during the season of advent as you reflect on
amidst the grief you may be experiencing at this time.
The devotional journal is beautifully designed and includes:
· An introduction to the topic of advent and grief.
· Recommendations on how the devotional can be used.
· 28 short devotional readings.
· A reflective question following each reading.
· An author’s note inviting you into a closer look at how grief has impacted my life.
· An appendix of recommended resources that have helped me in my grief journey.
I invite you to check out the book. Perhaps it is something that would encourage you or someone you know, this coming Christmas season: