Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013, a Day Late and a Dollar Short as my Mama would say:)

As usual I am a day late and a dollar short:)
Is that the sound of reindeer hooves or is it Presley and Willow pitter-pattering around while I am trying to have my quiet time? As usual I am running way behind, so for those that I didn't get a Christmas letter sent to, here it is:
Happy, Happy, Happy!
Ho, Ho, Ho! It’s Christmas, Either Way
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27 NIV
Happy, happy, happy! I have to say I agree with those words from the Duck Dynasty clan and it sounds just as good as “Ho, ho, ho” for the season we are in right now. Happy is what I want our Christmas to be all about, but sometimes life just gets in the way of that. Sometimes, we want to be more of a part of someone’s life, but life gets in the way. We overlooked something, forgot a special date, and got too busy, life gets in the way. Christmas season gets hectic and we get behind with all those good plans we had and find ourselves at the point of the “tyranny of the urgent.” *
Christmas events heighten the urgency and our dreams of making it the perfect family holiday may bring more stress than happiness. We ruminate what we need to do, want to do, have to do and the tension that shows up in our physical bodies makes it hard to slow down and have the peace that Jesus is known for. Perhaps this is the first year that you are experiencing the pain and grief of losing a loved one and you are finding it hard to even smile this Christmas.  We are, in my family, and navigating a new kind of normal is not easy. We pray especially for those who have lost spouses or children. We are grateful for the memories that help us to bear the loss.
We look forward to the time in heaven when we will all be together, again. Memories of good times help us to smile as we remember the love we were privileged to share with them while they were here on this earth. I’m so proud of my mother-in-law, Edie, who is coping with loss and yet doing it with a smile on her face. I think giving someone a smile can sometimes be a sacrifice and the Bible says to give a sacrifice of praise as an offering. To do that when your heart is breaking is a beautiful and precious thing before the Lord. A smile can lift the spirits of those around us and sometimes we smile amidst tears. They may stream down as we think about the way we wish that things were, yet no one can steal that joy that abides because of Jesus and His presence in our hearts.   Happy, Happy, Happy! Or Ho, Ho, Ho! It’s Christmas, either way and I pray a great big blessing for your day.  Donna Collins Tinsley 2013
"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 NLT
*A booklet by Charles Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent, describes that there is always tension between what we believe is important and what is right before us that seems urgent. My opinion is that usually the urgent wins, especially around the holidays.
Navigating Christmas this year is hard with the loss of Grandpa Del Ce Cato. Many prayers are needed for Mom Del as they were married over 50 years. He was a very precious man and is sorely missed. I also ask for continued prayers for family peace. A day at a time, progress not perfection, keep it simple (I'm not sure how when I don't know how many I am cooking for?:) and "Let go and let God." He is the reason we celebrate!
First Christmas In Heaven

I wrote this poem the year my Mama passed away. It is a very simple poem, but it comforted me. The first holidays without your loved ones can be the hardest. It seems so many people near to me, have lost a family member. I pray that you will be able to have peace and blessings although there is that empty place at the table that could only be filled by them.


First Christmas In Heaven


It’s my first

Christmas in Heaven

And oh,

What a sight!


The angels are singing

This is not a silent night!


On the throne sits

The One who

Died for me

From the Pain

Of my body

I have been

Set free.


He’s not a babe

In a manger


He loves you

He wants you

For your soul

He will war.


This life you live now

Is fleeting

At best

I trusted

In Jesus and

He gave me rest.



Donna Collins Tinsley 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mrs. Toad's Wild Ride or Donna's Wild, Crazy and Blessed Day

Yesterday was one of the busiest days of my life but also one of the most blessed. Early morning after prayer and posts I stopped in and saw my oldest daughter Regina, who was helping at a garage sale for the Rebecca Schneider Foundation, This foundation is in memory of one of Aubrey’s friends, Rebecca Schneider, whose mother is paying her pain of loss forward to help others.

Then, an appointment, ran back to the garage sale and home for a minute, just as Bill was getting Isaiah off to a party.  I wanted to go to Edgewater and see our grandson, Jordan play in the Edgewater Christmas parade with the New Smyrna Middle School Marching Band. But first I had to pick up Aryel in Daytona, though, so she could see her first ever Christmas Parade. When you view things through the eyes of a child, it is a beautiful thing. I have to say everyone around me was blessed by her joy and exuberance.  When we went to see Jordan and get a picture of him, we somehow missed Santa. We saw an empty sleigh later and I had to convince her he went back to the North Pole.

I have to tell you if you don’t know, that Aryel has had an autoimmune disease and has to have blood work every two weeks, and is on some heavy medication but she is my Christmas blessing. The Lord surely has made her very different from all my grandchildren but I stand amazed every time I am around her by her joy. Yes, she sometimes appears very wild and crazy but I am writing amongst tears as I realized anew yesterday what a blessing she is to me in a time that I need something to laugh about. She also may be my biggest fan and acts like she adores me all the time. I can’t tell you what a gift that is to be loved so unconditionally. I am very blessed to be her grandmother and thank the Lord for the complex genes He combined between Amber and Ryan to create this precious one.

I wish you could’ve heard her when we got back in the car saying, as only she could say, “WELL, SOMEONE FORGOT TO LET ME SEE SANTA CLAUS!”LOL! I actually thought we were going to see JordanJ

After running to Daytona to pick up Isaiah at the Skating Party, the other cool thing was them harmonizing, totally unintentional, on a song.  I love that! Then a short visit with my brother, Dale and little Levi:)

Home again and Isaiah got ready for the second showing of the “The Nightshift Before Christmas.” It was great and Aryel was so happy especially since I managed to find a Santa on the sidewalk across from church for her to tell about her wishes for a Minnie Mouse phone. Grandma Del Ce and Ashley joined us there. When we got home I even managed to make some of my Christmas Salad Dressing in gift jars so the season is officially open at my house. The tree still isn’t trimmed, (hopefully today) but the outside is the light show of the neighborhood, with an angel and a cross amidst streaming lights. The day ended with a message from Shiloh saying they will be home for sure on Christmas Eve. A good day, a blessed day and a peaceful day. What more could I ask for?


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Got Tears?

Got Tears? We all do, and today we remember Sandy Hook families. Thanks for running my devotional and hopefully words of comfort to the grieving families.

Much love to the families at Sandy Hook Elementary

(On the One-year Anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy)

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle... Psalm 56:8 NKJV

Looking over the local obituaries it seemed a higher number of deaths than usual were recorded near Christmas. It seemed even sadder when knowing a family personally. But as I view what happened in our nation in 2012, I grieved too. A horrible tragedy occurred with many school children murdered and a community shattered.

Twenty-six people -- 20 students and six adults -- were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.

Christmas doesn’t alleviate the normal pains of life that we go through and a tragedy like this is certainly abnormal. We weep anew for them this Christmas season and pray their families are finding peace in the beauty of the season once again. The grief process takes time and we find comfort in the fact that the Lord sees our tears and bottles them in heaven.

Tears have always been a part of Christmas. Mary cried tears of awe at the thought of the holy seed implanted within her. Joseph cried as he felt betrayed by his betrothed before the angel of the Lord came to him. Yielding in submission, they each shed tears of joy at the high calling God had placed upon their lives, to raise the Christ-child. The pangs of childbirth brought tears that the baby’s smiles soothed. Prophetic words allayed the tears of the sword that would surely pierce her heart and soul. God feels our pain and gathers our tears.

In this day and age, we cry too. We weep for dreams that did not come true as we have memories of loved one who have passed before us. We cry our own tears of Christmas.

In the eyes of our Father in heaven the tears we cry may look like liquid diamonds. They are so precious to him that he stores them as jewels that He will uncover within us at the day of His coming.

Some Christmas holidays are painful. When the tears I have cried are stored in His bottle and I am drained, He becomes my Restorer, my Strength and my Hope. Got tears? Yes, we all do, but we will be amazed at the beauty of those glistening bottles waiting for us in heaven. Our tears will be there but our loved ones will be there as well. Trust that God has us close under His wing.