In the book Hope for the Future: An Advent Journey for Bereaved Parents, you will discover
- how to plant and nourish a seed of hope in the parched ground of your soul
- that peace and pain can reside together inside of you
- how joy can become part of your life again in a new way that is not a euphoric happiness, but a solid undercurrent that carries your grief
- that we have a unique opportunity to grasp the depths of God’s love more than most people do
- the love for our child can become a catalyst for some pretty incredible things in our lives, beyond what we ever thought possible
You can also join parents from around the nation, gathering together on a live feed on the four Sunday evenings before Christmas. Each week we light an advent candle and remember our children within the deeply mixed emotions of the holiday season, with Hope for the Future as the devotional being used for this purpose.
How to Join Author, Laura Diehl, Live Each Week
Starting on the first night of advent, and the following Sunday nights through the advent season, Laura will be live on the GPS Hope YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/gpshope) and on the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope Facebook page (www.facebook.com/gpshope) where she will share the reading and lighting of the candles starting at 8:00PM Central time.
The dates for 2023 are December 3, 10, 17 and 24.
HOW DID THIS GET STARTED?
A few years ago, on a day right before Thanksgiving, I was before the Lord and the words, “Emmanuel, God with us,” hit my spirit with almost an explosion. I cried out, telling the Lord that I want Him to be with me every day of this coming month of the Christmas season. I wanted to feel Him. I needed to know His peace in a very tangible way.
I suddenly had a picture in my mind of our advent wreath. As our children grew up, we had many years where we did the advent wreath to help refocus us, from the commercialism and the frazzled business of the season, to Jesus.
The thought came to me to have my own advent time with the Lord each night, using the wreath and the candles, based on the symbolism of the hope, love, joy and peace we have through Jesus, who is Emmanuel, God with us; to have a time where I specifically focus on who He is within my pain of the loss of my daughter.
I decided not to do it alone, but to include anyone who has the same desire and cry in their heart. The first year, I went live on Facebook each night during the advent season, lighting a candle and sharing something about the word it represented.
What I shared eventually became the basis for the book Hope for the Future: An Advent Journey for Bereaved Parents. And every year since that first year, I have continued to invite grieving parents to join me on the four Sunday nights before Christmas during the advent season, to walk through this difficult Christmas season together, acknowledging Emmanuel, God with us, within the painful earthly loss of our children.
Christmas has made its way back as one of my favorite holidays again after my daughter died.
Are you wondering how that is even possible?
My oldest daughter, Becca, loved Christmas. She loved decorating. She loved shopping (including the Black Friday sales). She loved the Christmas music. She loved the family spending time together. She loved everything about it.
When Becca died on October 12, 2011, I don’t even remember that first Christmas. Everything was a painful blur.
I didn’t think it was even possible, but the second year was even more painful than the first. About the only thing I remember about that year was one of my sons giving me the gift of a beautiful heart ornament that was hand painted in Becca’s memory.
The following couple of years my heart still struggled to be in the Christmas season. I went through the motions for the sake of the family, especially my grandchildren.
One year, Becca’s collection of Snow Buddies made it to my house, and I agonized over whether or not I wanted to set out her favorite Christmas display in my home.
I did it.
I cried some pretty hefty tears while pulling them out and setting them up, but once they were all out and displayed, it felt like she wasn’t quite so far away anymore.
I didn’t think it would ever happen, but I realized I was actually making the shift from feeling like the holidays were a slap-in-the-face reminder of Becca being gone, to wanting the reminders because they had become warm memories I longed to embrace.
There was something behind all of this, that made it even possible.
- I had hope that my life would not always be this desolate and painful.
- I had hope that God had not reached His limit on being able to help me through this suffocating darkness.
- I had hope that God wasn’t done with my life and somehow, I would be able to enjoy my children and grandchildren again.
- I had hope that others had learned how to live with their child “amputated” from them, and I could, too.
- I had hope in God’s resurrection power; that He could and wanted to breathe life back into me, when I died my own death after the death of my daughter.
As the hope I had took root and started to grow,
other things began to grow as well.
And believe it or not, Christmas is one of the best times for that growth to happen.
Because Christmas is a time of remembering that our Father God allowed Himself to feel the deepest pain possible, the death of His own child, so that we could have hope, peace, love and yes, even joy once again, after the death of our own child.
The whole reason Jesus came to this earth as a baby was to become a man, and to die, so that we could have life. God the Father knows what it is like to have a child die. He did that as an exchange for us, so that we would not have to stay in our place of suffocating darkness and pain that goes beyond words.
I would be honored to walk part of that journey with you; to help you focus on the miraculous exchange God provided, when He sent Jesus to earth as a baby.