Christmas Traditions and Grief: The Empty Seat at the Table

Christmas Traditions and Grief: The Empty Seat at the Table

Christmas was different this year. In fact, it’ll never be the same since my daughter Lindsay passed away in August. Her seat will always be empty.

Somehow my husband James, my son Josh, and I managed to get through Thanksgiving with the help of my mom and sister Trish who came to share it with us. Trish challenged Josh and me to run a 5K in Lindsay’s memory, and we did.

Building new traditions is important to deal with grief during the holidays. @Laura_Poole Click To Tweet

If the holidays have been really tough on you this year I want to offer a word of encouragement.  If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or maybe just a closed chapter in your life — something you feel like you can’t get back then lean on our Savior Jesus.

Jesus felt a lot of the same sorrow we do. John 11:32-36 tells us He wept when He discovered his friend Lazarus was dead. He knew he could raise him from the dead, but He experienced the same sorrow we feel, and I’m sure it was a blessing to those around Him just as it is to us now.

I encourage you not to focus on the loss, but to keep your eyes focused on Christ and the reason for the season. It’s to celebrate the joy of His birth and we can still do that even with grieving hearts.

We can still celebrate the joy of Christmas even with grieving hearts. @Laura_Poole Click To Tweet

Pick up your bible and get lost in the word and let Christ’s words bring you comfort. The peace that Jesus promises us in the midst of this world’s turmoil is real. I’ve endured it.

Surround yourself with friends and family who love you, and just realize there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It’s also okay to be alone for a while and experience the peace in the stillness of resting with God.

The new year will be filled with building more “new” traditions and facing birthdays and holidays once again without our loved ones. We will experience more times with empty seats, but the Lord is always with us. As we walk through this difficult valley, know that I’m praying for you.

Jesus said “Never will I leave you, nor will I forsake you.”

What a blessing to cling to as we enter into 2017.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse that’s helped you walk through grief? I’d love to hear it in the comments.


Life Is Fleeting: Are You Living It To Please God—Or Man?

Life Is Fleeting: Are You Living It To Please God—Or Man?

Isn’t it ironic how Scripture often speaks to us based on the season we’re walking through in life? That doesn’t mean God’s Word changes. In fact, the opposite is true. It simply means the Bible is God-breathed and living, thus, applicable to whatever our circumstances.

I found this to be particularly true at the end of August when I tragically and unexpectedly lost my daughter Lindsay. Life turned upside down instantly. I can’t possibly think about tomorrow, what my plans are, and especially what a year from now will hold. Sometimes just getting through the next few hours is difficult.

As we delve into the fourth chapter of James, we find many current applications for our lives—particularly the quality (or fruits) of our Christian witness and how we spend (or waste) time.

James 4:1-6 has a definite scolding tone. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you (v. 1)?” 

You get the sense that James had dealt with much animosity among believers, and like a parent refereeing a fight between siblings, he’d had enough. As Christians, we’d do well to heed his words and apply them to our relationships and our hearts because they affect our ministries among nonbelievers.

In verses 7-12, James gives instruction on how to stop the quarreling and start living like the spirit that dwells within us when we become Christians. He encourages us to “come near to God and He will come near to you” (v. 8).

But, for me, the most significant part of the chapter comes at the end:

coins-1523383_1280Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17

I don’t believe that James really had a problem with people making plans or setting goals. Rather, he had a problem with people being self-absorbed to the point that worldly schemes took the central place in their lives. The implication is that for some believers, life had become filled with earthly idols instead of Kingdom work. They could only think about what lay ahead for them.

So, to look at the last verse of James chapter four conversely, our Christian walk is an opportunity to do good to and for others. But we can only do this if we’re living right ourselves.

Our Christian walk is an opportunity to do good to & for others. Click To Tweet

sunrise-1634734_1280For me, life has been reduced to a single moment in time. Yes, I have commitments, and I’ll continue to make plans for the future. I’ll continue to let God lead me through whatever the future holds. But in a blink of an eye, my life changed, and my daughter’s earthly life vanished. One day, mine will as well. When I look back over those thirty-three years I had with Lindsay, they went way too fast—like an early morning mist as the sun rises. In my grief, I can only look at today and lean on God to get through.

Has God called you to do something you’ve put earthly schemes ahead of? And while you’re at it, can you think of a single thing more important than simply living in the present with the ones you love? We would love to hear your comments.



While I’m Waiting: Going from despair to hope while praising God and choosing contentment during trials is adapted from the author’s blog devotions from the past few years, appearing for the first time as a collection. This devotional will inspire the reader to wait on God patiently and reverently to answer prayers according to His perfect timing. The author shares her own struggles and shortcomings in a relatable way that encourages and brings hope even in the most difficult circumstances. The devotions show that it is possible to walk through the valley and not despair while praising God and choosing contentment during trials. As missionary Jim Elliot once said, “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.”

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I Wanted to Use the By-pass Instead of Going Through the Fire or River.

I Wanted to Use the By-pass Instead of Going Through the Fire or River.

I would love to introduce my friend, Laura Poole. Laura lives in South Carolina and has such a sweet and soft personality. Please welcome Laura in the comments. 

In early spring, my son Josh and I joined my husband James in Pensacola for a short vacation. James had been working a temporary travel job that was ending. We decided to seize the opportunity to spend a few days in this bay-front town in Florida’s panhandle.

Pensacola is smaller than the University of Florida community to the east where I grew up, but it has the familiar old-Florida charm that marks many of its towns. Similar to Charleston, South Carolina, in its (more…)

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