0We are about a week away from the end of 2013.

My head is still spinning a little.

As we rang in the new year for 2013, I looked forward to a busy year of happy planning and family celebration. I was already preparing for two bridal showers, the wedding and a reception in Bermuda to follow a month afterward. Never, never, never did I even imagine we’d be having a funeral in the midst of it all.

Never did I imagine my daughter’s Papa would not be there to marry her or celebrate with us as she lived out her dream. I couldn’t have imagined he wouldn’t be here to call when our son’s first EP released. I never thought he wouldn’t be here this Christmas.

I miss his funny comments on Facebook. I miss hearing his voice over Skype. His silly jokes and his deep laughter, and even deeper wisdom.

I miss him.

It’s funny isn’t it, how it’s so easy to plan life under the Only Good Things Will Happen heading… A natural reaction I suppose. After all, who wants to plan out a life of doom and gloom? I sure don’t. But reality doesn’t work that way. Reality sometimes slaps, stings and sends you to your knees. Mostly when you don’t expect it.

If you want to find out what you’re really made of, ask God for a trial.

I’ve said it before, but I truly am amazed and so proud of the way our family came together this past year. Through those very tough days and heartbreaking hours, into the joyous celebration of two becoming one. We celebrate life, not death. We celebrate the new beginnings…both eternally and here on earth. Because life goes on. Babies are born, books are written, music is made and meaningful images are captured again, and again, and again.

We dare to dream, we dare to live. Dare to be the people God created us to be. Because as long as we have breath, He doesn’t expect anything less. It hasn’t been easy, dealing with loss. Dealing with other close family members and friends battling their own illnesses. Seems like every time I turn around somebody has more bad news.

But we were made for this. Yes, the bad. But especially the good. Every victory seems sweeter. Every smile, wider, more heartfelt. We hug harder and laugh louder. We are learning to treasure one another. While I am sad, some days it just hits out of nowhere, and I know this is okay, I’m also trying to hang on to all the good stuff that’s going on. I know this Christmas will be different. We’ll feel our loss and we’ll miss our Dad. A lot. But we’re not done here. We still have a life to live and dreams to chase. And a whole lot of happy memories to get us through.

I’m looking forward to 2014, but I’m grateful for the past year as well. Grateful for the new friends, old friends, new opportunities, laughter, love and a whole lot of grace.

God is good.

I wish you all a very blessed Christmas, and all the best for 2014!

Here’s my son’s band The Western Den – they have a Christmas EP out, and you should get it! It’s truly wonderful!