A Christmas Collage

Oh boy…. I can hardly contain my excitement. I have SO MUCH to cover today that I’m not quite sure where to begin.

First of all, I want to give a Christmas welcome to those of you who have made your way here via the devotion I have running on Crosswalk.com and at Proverbs 31. Haven’t read it yet? You’ll want to peek at it before reading the rest of this post. Click here to do so.

Next, I know many of you are here to see the list of winners from the 12 Days of Christmas giveaways. PLEASE…..be patient and don’t just scroll through to the end of the post to see if you won. It is kind of like dumping out your stocking on Christmas morning and then totally rushing the ripping open of gifts. It takes the thrill and suspense out and is over in 3 1/2 minutes. It is so much better to savor the process s-l-o-w-l-y.

So please, read today’s post. It is on an important holiday topic. (And, there are two giveaways offered today too, in case you didn’t win any of the 12 Days prizes)

Finally, I have a HUGE surprise interview and giveaway announcement about tomorrow’s guest. And yes, I’ll make you wait until the end of this post to discover, through a series of hints, just what sweet girlfriend will chat with us tomorrow. You will love her! (Just like many of you loved her in the 1980’s right there on your 19-inch, console color television screen—hint #1!! :-))

Okay–first things first.

As I stated in today’s Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today devotion, for many people the holidays hurt. They are reminders of what once was; of those family members or friends who were dearly loved, who now are sorely missed and who simply are not coming back. Or, in the case of a divorce or separation, it brings pain of what might have been if life had not taken a turn toward the tearing apart of a family.

I wanted to address this topic here today, but don’t feel totally qualified. So, I’ve asked my beautiful friend Jennifer Silvera, a Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference graduate ( which is where I met her) and brand new author, who was widowed just a few short years ago, to join us.

For Jennifer, an ordinary day turned tragic when she received the news that the love of her life and the father of her two small children would not be coming home from work that day, nor would he ever come home from work again. She suddenly found herself a young, stunned and grieving widow, not sure just where to turn.

I have asked Jennifer to tell us what did, and did not, help when she faced that Christmas season without her husband. But first, a little background on Jennifer’s story and her beloved husband Shawn.

jennsilveraphoto_rear_coverOn September 6, 2005, Lino Lakes Police Officer Shawn B. Silvera was killed in the line of duty while assisting in a high-speed chase on Minnesota Interstate Highway 35W. Officer Silvera was struck by the suspect’s car after deploying stop-sticks. He died serving his community; displaying actions that typify what the thin blue line of law enforcement stands for – the threshold between order and chaos. He left behind his wife, a son and a daughter, as well as dozens of other family members and hundreds of friends and citizens who loved him.

Jennifer became a widow overnight. She chronicles her story in her book Believe: A Young Widows Journey Through Brokenness and Back. I asked her to share with us today just what that first Christmas was like without their husband and daddy. She writes:

The first Christmas was a blur…I was numb. I missed him everyday. Not just Christmas. I went on a trip to escape. I couldn’t even step foot in a store. The commercialism of the holiday was so overwhelming and made no sense to me. When life is taken permanently by death it is so hard to find joy!

My advice to those wanting to know what to say to a grieving friend is this: Please, don’t try to make up things that sound good like, “You have an angel in heaven.” We want our angels here! or “God needed him more than you” God is God and needs nothing…God wants us, loves us, forgives us. The grieving heart can’t understand why their loved one is gone. Cliche’s don’t explain loss.

For those who have lost someone in any manner I want to say, “I offer the best I have to comfort you and I am so sorry. I know in truth nothing seems to help. I will pray that each day you face in pain you will keep trying. Each day start again. You are here living for a reason, a purposeful beautiful meaningful reason. And though we can’t explain the loss, I pray for joy to once again find you and for God to hold you tight until that day.”

Wonderful advice Jennifer! Thanks for giving us this valuable insight and for using Shawn’s death to help others find peace. You are a treasure!!!! (And  people—-have you ever in all your days seen a more strikingly gorgeous picture of a mother with her kids?)

Today, in conjunction with this topic you have a chance to win two prizes. One for yourself and one for a friend. First, for you, I am giving away a “just because” gift box for you of the following items:

peppernew2

*A peppermint scented Christmas candle

*Some Ghiradelli Chocolate Peppermint Coffee

*Some peppermint body lotion

* Some Market Pantry Chocolate-Mint Sandwich cookies–for the kiddos

* A Ghiradelli White Chocolate Peppermint bar– FOR YOU!!

bookThen, Jennifer is giving away a copy of her book.  If you win it, I want you to give it away too.

Please pray about who you might need to read it. I’d love for you to give it away to someone whose life has been touched by grief. Or, if you don’t know anyone personally, would you promise, once you’ve read it, to donate it to your church or town library? I want it to get into the hands of those who would most benefit from experiencing her amazing story of hope.

And Jennifer was kind enough to sign the book too.

In order to win the prizes, simply leave a comment today.

I want it to be a comment straight to Jennifer. It can be on her loss. On her words of advice to us. On your gratitude to her as an officer’s wife, for sharing her husband with the citizens he promised to protect. Why, it can even be on how darling her children are.

Just say something to encourage my friend facing her fifth Christmas without her husband.

I thank you in advance for the few short seconds it will take to bless her life today.

Now….I know you have been patient, so here we go! The 12 Days of Christmas winners and then…THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!

The winners are:

Day One- Amy Carroll-  Christmas Message “With” and $10 Starbucks card: doozer; timestamp 2:56 pm on 11/30

Day Two: Lynn Cowell- CD message “Building a Bridge to Your Child’s Heart”: Mary Lou; timestamp 4:36 pm on 12/13

Day Three- Melissa Taylor- Grammy’s special peppermint sticks, Christmas dish, & a $15 iTunes cards- Martha; 5:53 pm on 12/7

Day Four: Holly Good- a $10  Bath & Body Works card and  $5 Starbucks card- Monica; timestamp 11:26 pm on 12/13

Day Five: Melanie Chitwood- $20 Target gift card- Diana H; timestamp 2:39 pm on 12/8

Day Six: LuAnn Prater- Encouragement Cafe T-shirt and mug- Karla; timestamp 3:00 pm on 12/5

Day Seven: Sharon Glasgow- $15 Target Gift Card-  Jodi Emery; timestamp 11:48 pm on 12/13

Day Eight: Shari Braendel- If Clothes Could Talk workbook- shartemink; timestamp 5:20 pm on 12/7

Day Nine: Wendy Blight- Her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner and a $10 Starbucks gift card- Regina; timestamp 5:40 pm on 12/12

Day Ten: Leah DiPascal- Proverbs 31 t-shirt- krisf; timestamp 9:44 am on 12/9

Day Eleven: Suzie Eller- FOUR of her books!!!- Kelsie; timestamp 5:12 pm on 12/10

Day Twelve: Lysa TerKeurst- Her latest book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl- wendyj; timestamp 12:09 pm on 12/11

AND THE WINNER OF A BONUS PRIZE FOR THOSE WHO LEFT COMMENTS ALL 12 DAYS:   Grace; all comments left on December 12th Congrats! You win a $20 Wal-mart gift card from me. And you MUST promise to spend it on yourself!!!! (Unless $$$ is tight and you need it for stocking stuffers. Just be sure to get a little treat for you too!)

ALL WINNERS: email me asap at [email protected] Give me your home address and which speaker’s prize you won. I’ll forward the info to them so they can get your prize out ASAP!

And finally…….please come back tomorrow as we visit with a friend of mine, talking a little Christmas and a little about a new book she is writing that she wants your input on. And she is giving away a way cool gift  to one of you. Curious who it is? I’ll give you a few more hints….

  • She is a sought-after author and speaker, taking “the good and bad” of our daily days and helping women see God in the midst of it all.
  • It’s also a “fact of life” that she is a wife and homeschooling mom of three
  • She simply loves celebrating Jesus’ birthday, and celebrating big (just like her 1980’s hair! :-)). In fact, I’ll bet she has Christmas music “Blairing” at her house as we speak!

Give up? Tune in tomorrow to be surprised. Or if the suspense is killing you, the answer is a click away….

Don’t forget to leave your  simple comment for Jennifer today to be entered in today’s peppermint gift box and Believe book giveaway! The winner will be announced tomorrow.

Christmas Collage Blessings,

96 Comments

  1. Jennifer,
    Thank you for being open and honest with your pain. Being a wife of a public server is tough, and thank you for your years of servanthood as you served your husband while he was serving others. God Bless you and your adorable kids this Christmas season.

  2. Jennifer,

    I thank God that you have a strong relationship with him as I know without him it would seem an impossible situation. So, this Christmas, I’ll think on your family and I thank you for sharing your wonderful words of advice.

  3. Jennifer,
    Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. May God continue to bless your life as you faithfully serve Him.

  4. Jennifer,

    I first ‘met’ you at the Rochester Hearts at Home conference in November. I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know how I’d still be functioning if I were her.’ I am so sorry for your loss, and for your children’s loss, and pray that all of you feel the Lord’s presence in a special way this Christmas season.

    The words of wisdom (what to say, what NOT to say to those who are grieving) was so helpful today. Thank you!

  5. Jennifer… God has held and carried you through quite a journey. May His blessings, grace and mercy continue to fall heavily upon you and your family. My children will be praying for your children and I will be praying for you. (Isaiah 40:30-31)

  6. Jennifer,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband Shawn. I don’t know what it is to experience the death of a spouse, but I do know the heartache of losing my mother. The holidays are just….hard.

    I am writing to ask you to consider providing 4 copies of your book, not to me, but to the families of 4 Lakewood, WA police officers who were just recently gunned down while on-duty over the Thanksgiving weekend. I live in the community where the shootings occurred and it has left all of us just devastated. More than that…it has left 4 families without a treasured loved one and a total 9 children without a parent. May the God of comfort bring healing to all who are grieving this holiday season and in the years to come.

    Thank you for your courage and willingness to share your journey of redemption, restoration and healing.

    God’s richest blessings to you!

  7. Hello Jennifer, This will be my 13th Christmas without my husband. He was killed in an explosion at the age of 42, I had just turned 39. We had two teenaged daughters. It was very hard on all of us, but the one thing that carried us through was knowing that he didn’t suffer and he was with our Lord and Savior. God didn’t promise us smooth sailing, but He did promise that He would be with us in the storm. I know you are an inspiration to others yet there must be times when the ache still seems almost unbearable, when that happens, say “Father hold me.” Hug your babies for me.

  8. Jennifer,

    May you a a blessed Christmas and feel the presence of our Lord and Savior more this year than you ever have. Thank you for letting your pain not be wasted and using it to encourage others in their walk. I have a dear friend who lost her husband last year and spent her first Christmas as a widow with two children. It has been a tough road, but God is faithful. We never know when life is going to totally change for us. You and your children are in my prayers.

  9. It’s encouraging to know, like Jennifer, and others are willing to share their stories of grief and pain. To surrend that life crushing pain or grief over to God, and let God’s will be done. It’s incredible to know one can rise out of the ashes and be transformed into God’s beauty. To share of oneself with others your thoughts and insights that came from the crushing grief and or pain. I am appreciative of your passion to share your story with others. It means a lot to me. I thank God for you taking the time to share. Remember, it is the deep sorrow that God can use to encourage and inspire others to come to Him.

    Thanks, for reminding me to lay down my burdens at the cross.
    You are a living testimony of God’s love.
    May God continue to bless you, like you have bless us.

  10. Thanks Jennifer. A friend of mines police officer husband was shot, but has survived the incident and is back at work. I pray for her and her family to never have to go through that again, and am grateful that God had a reason for her husband to stay with his family. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. God bless you and your children as you help others deal with loss.
    I just commented to a friend about losing family during the holidays. A mutual friend of ours is dying of leukemia – the family just brought in hospice. Why in December? She has fought this for many months and was responding well to treatments, until November. It is frustrating to me, and it isn’t my family member. Keep up the good work!

  11. I did not loose a husband to death, but to divorce. I grieved as if it was a death. I have seen how wonderfully God has worked in my life and the life of my children since the divorce. He has blessed me with a wonderful man who is now my husband and wonderful stepdad to my children. I now have the priviledge of working in a ministry at our church called “Fresh Hope”. This is a ministry for single mom’s either by divorce, widowed or never married. I understand and can relate to their pain. I love to see how the power of prayer works in their lives. If I were to win, I would love to give your book to one of these mom’s. It would be such an inspiration to you. Your children are absolutely beautiful and I wish you all of God’s best!

  12. I was thankful for the devotion today. Jennifer, your story was inspiring. Also, I really liked the picture of you with your two children. You can see joy on the children’s faces and on yours. I am sure this is the joy that comes only from God. It is wonderful to know that you have taken an incredibly hard thing that you do not understand and have turned it into encouragement for others.

  13. Jennifer,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. I am a single mother and know how hard it is raising children on your own. Thank you for your words of encouragement to others. I hope that you and your family have a joyous Christmas.

  14. Jennifer – Your examples of encouraging words to express to a friend who has suffered loss are very helpful. As a nurse I always feel I should have some more insight into how to deal with those who are experiencing loss. But, I don’t – I felt at a loss of what to say. I appreciate your insight into how to encourage & recognize the pain & loss.

  15. Jennifer,
    Thank you for your wise words, and for finding the strength to share your story to help others. Our church has a grief support group that i would donate your book to, I know they will be blessed by it! And what can I say Karen, peppermint coffee? I didn’t know, and will be searching the stores for it now! Love your inspiration daily.

  16. Jennifer – my family experienced much loss this past year although I can’t and won’t compare it to your situation. I know that God has circled his arms around you and has held you tight since that day. I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

  17. Jennifer,
    Thank You for sharing your story. I pray in writing your book it helped you to heal with Gods Healing Ways. I have two family members who loss loved ones this year. My Mother in law loss her husband and my sister loss her 26yr old son.
    I pray peace, and love for you and your family this Christmas season.
    Blessings and more Blessings,

  18. Thanks Jennifer. We lost my brother 9 years ago today at age 29. This is always such a tough time and we feel like we are going through it again when the anniversary comes around.

  19. Jennifer,
    Thanks for the words to pray . I have a friend who lost her husband and companion to H1N1 . He went to the hospital on a Saturday, and died the following Monday. there were medical pre-existing conditions. I’m not sure of her spiritual status, I know is hurts. Thanks for your wise words

  20. Jennifer,
    I just want to say that you have really blessed my day with your Spirit-led transparency by sharing the heart of your story with me. I am a Military Veteran’s Wife, he served in the 2004-2005 Iraqi War. I am blessed to have him home with us, but I can empathize and appreciate the giving of your husband for the service of our country. I do not have the words and experience to grieve the ultimate sacrifice your husband made for his family and country, but I want you to know that I will be praying for you and your family to have a blessed Christmas season as you all experience the Reality of Christmas with the One who can heal and gives hope to all mankind this year and every year. God Bless you.

  21. This book jumped off your page at me. My dear friend lost her husband a year ago and has struggled since. She recently told me she was still angry with God. Her husband was also a police officer, and perhaps had he been killed in the line of duty, it would have been a bit more bearable. He died after a routine tonsillectomy, an odd complication of drug interaction and unknowns. Only 37, he left behind two small children who struggle daily without Daddy. I often pray for the right words, knowing my friend isn’t saved, and that I may be the light she needs to find Jesus. This would be a generous gift for her. thank you.

  22. Thank you, Jennifer, for opening up your life for us today. I appreciate the reminder of how to encourage a friend of mine whose husband passed away this summer. May the presence of Christ be very real to you this Christmas as you celebrate life, love and God’s marvelous gift of forgiveness.

  23. Hi Jennifer – beautiful family picture

    I have to say that even though I read the devotions every morning, this is the first time I have been on any blog and I am glad I did. A friend of mine just lost her brother and when I attended the funeral, I hugged her and her mom, and I was at a loss for words because I wasnt’ sure what to say. After reading your statement I now have an idea on what to say to someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one. Be blessed and stay blessed!!

Leave a Reply to gnzmom Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *