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A Gift of Mom and Tender Mercies

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Posted 12-22-2013 at 09:12 PM by Jeff Westover
Updated 12-22-2013 at 09:36 PM by Jeff Westover

My Christmas happened today.

We had in my home today an event not understood much outside of my faith. But it is a big deal for parents and I've been working for months to have my parents here for it.

As you are well aware we have been through a difficult time these past several months with my mother's declining health.

So to have her here today for this event, in my home and amongst my children, smiling and laughing, relishing her role as mother and grandmother, doing something a Mom in the Mormon faith does and deserves -- well, it was a thrill beyond words and Christmas to me like none other this year.

It is, frankly, a miracle.

Mom's health situation is as fluid as ever and what was true before is true now: it is literally day to day.

I knew back in August we were going to do this and I had to put off folks from my Church several times because either my parents could not make it or I could not make it because I was tending to their needs.

To have all the obstacles go away so that Mom could be here the weekend before Christmas and that she would be able to be an active participant would have been more than I could have wished for.

After all, just a few short weeks ago I was just praying for her to be able to breathe.

But her presence here today can only be explained through what we call in my faith a tender mercy of a loving God.

Tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

That's a very personal conviction and one I do not share lightly or proudly.

In fact, I'm humbled by it because when it comes to my mother I know the situation has grown far beyond my ability or the abilities of my family to control the course of events.

When Mom was going through so much of her struggle this past fall I called upon my family near and far to pray and fast for her. We do this for the person undergoing a trial and for those of us around the situation to come to a spiritual understanding and, if you will, an acceptance for good of what is transpiring.

Death is all around us. Health crisis, sadness, issues with poverty, abuse and other elements of misery are associated with this world and our existence in it.

What is hard to see through the pain is the reason for it and, for lack of a better phrase, the good that can come from so much trial and adversity.

We pray and fast to see that good, to learn those powerful lessons of love that come from enduring a trial well.

Sometimes, though we wish it with all our heart, a good outcome isn't possible. Sometimes the world changes forever and we are forced to deal with it. Sometimes the answers to prayers are "no".

But sometimes the answer are "yes" -- and often that answer comes when we least expect it.

I didn't pray for this today. I am not afraid to say I lacked the faith to think today was possible. In my heart, what I really wanted was for Mom's suffering to end. That she would be here and we would be doing this together seemed to be something far removed from what I could hope for.

So today was, in my mind, a tender mercy, a blessing beyond compare that lies at the heart of what Jesus Christ is to those of us who observe his coming into this world through keeping Christmas.

It's been a bit of a discouraging season for me in the aspect that things are not going well for this website or, I feel, for Christmas in general.

Every holiday season I am approached in the media about various things associated with Christmas. I get interviewed by radio stations mostly, occasionally for TV and frequently for newspapers.

Since MMC is not a for-profit venture I don't do these things to advance the site. In fact, I try not to mention the site or will frequently mention one of the other sites of the network because I don't really want the world coming here as a result of a media push.

Being discovered is fine. But I'm not marketing things here. I feel together we have created a sacred ground and that inviting the world at large here will spoil it because so many get Christmas wrong. We fight spammers and marketers non-stop all to protect what together we have created. I am cognizant of that every time I talk to the media.

What concerns me more in not only the interviews and media outreach we're involved with is more about Christmas itself and building understanding out there not only for what it is but for what it should be.

That is, sadly, a debatable topic any more.

And this year Christmas has been nothing but debates.

I've been engaged with those who use Christmas as a vehicle to promote their agendas. They use it as merchandisers use Christmas -- to bow to the almighty dollar and to squeeze from the season every once of publicity they can -- and the consequences be ****ed.

What none of them get, regardless of their passion or ideas or agendas, is that Christmas and Christ are so much more than what everybody is making of it.

Today was Christmas for me, in the purest sense of the world. And yes, we had the trappings of the tree and the backdrop of our cards from the card exchange and the smells and music and all that goes along with Christmas. But even if this had happened in the dead of May it would have been Christmas to me without those things -- because tender mercies are what Christmas is all about.

How it is found and recognized amongst those of faith who have studied and pursued a relationship with Jesus Christ is hard to explain. You have to experience it. You have to discover it. You have to seek it out.

Faith is an individual journey and I am convinced we are driven to our knees more from the need for comfort, peace and understanding than from natural curiosity or a willingness to seek out God just because.

We are human and I have been as weak as anyone in that regard. My faith has been created out of a lack of understanding and acceptance for those things that are hard. My faith has not come about because I can overcome the world by myself. I can't and my faith is my way of admitting that.

My own faith has been blessed by Christmas because at the heart of Christmas -- real Christmas -- is charity.

Charity is the pure love of Christ, the greatest of all attributes we can pursue in this life.

That's how I can celebrate Christmas with people around the world that I never get a chance to meet.

That goodness is within them, that understanding and desire is emblazoned on their hearts.

Though we live in different areas and come from different versions of faith charity is what binds us and causes us to celebrate the Christmas we all hold in common.

I'm grateful for that. Because you know what I mean when I say tender mercies. Most of the world does not. But you do.

So much of Christmas is about giving and receiving and it should be. The hard part for me is receiving. But a tender mercy is always gladly received because they are so very needed. Like water to parched lips the tender mercies of a loving God remind us of the greatest of tender mercies, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May your hearts turn to Him, I pray, because therein is safety and therein is peace.

Truly, I know this.
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  1. Old Comment
    MerryCarey's Avatar
    Thank you for this post, Jeff. May God's blessings and tender mercies continue to fall on you and your family. I'm so happy your Christmas was blessed.
    Posted 12-23-2013 at 08:59 AM by MerryCarey MerryCarey is online now
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