You Are My Sunshine

There was a time when I couldn’t sing the song, “You Are My Sunshine” without crying. Somewhere near the part about taking my sunshine away, the tears would begin to blanket my eyes, the tears wouldn’t fall but the blanketing tears were present, enough to blur my vision and remind me of grief.

With my oldest it as been difficult to sing the song so, for years, we have been exchanging phrases while I hoover over his bed…

you are my sunshine…

you are my daisy.

you are my warm summer day…

you are my giant ice cream cone.

For a long time, I haven’t been able to sing the words “you are my sunshine” to my oldest child. Too many blanketing tears would come to blur my vision.

Tonight was different, tonight, I made it through a whole diddy of you are my sunshine with my youngest son without the blanketing of tears. At the end I whispered to him, “you are my sunshine.” and I looked right at him with pure eyes and a happy heart. (In return my son half sleepily said, “you are my poopy butt diaper.” I giggle because in a strange way he is being affectionate and silly.)

But tonight, I made it though a whole diddy of “you are my sunshine.” That is progress for me and this is the moment where I can see the hope of moving on shining brighter than the dark nights of hovering phrases and blanketing tears. The time isn’t healing my wounds but Jesus is. He is binding them up ever so carefully and making me able to sing sweet songs to my kids over their beds in the darkness.

He is gentle with His love and He is patient with my grief.

“Love is patient, love is kind.”

I remember my mother singing that song to me. I can still hear her voice, her voice sounds just like the voice I have grown into as a woman and as a mother. It hurts my heart that she is not here and my kids can’t know her, but God is finally moving me to a different place in my grief. With Jesus binding the hurts and God renewing me, I can see that my kids knowing my mom simply comes from my kids knowing me.

My mom lives on in my songs.

My kids can know her through knowing me. 

I am her sunshine, so my sun is beginning to shine bright in the darkness of grief.

how much i love you

Finding Shelley At Christmastime

For years I have struggled to find her. For seventeen Christmases I have looked for her but I have been so overcome with grief that my eyes couldn’t see what was right in front of me.

Christmas is a hard time of year for anyone who has lost a family member.

As a fourteen year old girl I lost my mother and it has taken me almost two decades to recover.

For as long as I could remember I was waiting for others to bring her back. I put the expectations on others to do Christmas like she did and each year Christmas passed and my expectations were not met. I felt disappointment and loss in the belly of my soul and this made the cycle of grief start all over again.

Finally, this Christmas I have found hope. I have found the hope in honoring her, after sixteen other Christmases have passed. Sheesh, it feels like it took a lifetime. But today it was worth the wait. 

Today, I found my mom in the simple words of a recipe for Christmas cookies. Just one taste of the uncooked batter brought me back to childhood in her kitchen years ago. I baked Christmas cookies with my kids today and I told stories about my mom at Christmas.


I found her in the handwriting of her recipe book. The large loops in her cursive and the perfection and consistency of each stroke.

While I iced the Christmas Tree shapes and added the red hots I told my sons this was something I looked forward to every Christmas as a child. I told them I would even sneak bites of the refrigerated batter and how my mom would catch me anyway.


There have been plenty of opportunities for me to choose bitterness and loss and grief at Christmastime. There are plenty of opportunities for me to stick in the cycle of grief and let the bitterness take root and grow.

If she was here it would be different. It would be better. I do miss her. My kids and my husband have never experienced her laughter. My kids have not been able to experience the blessing of involved maternal grandparents.


I could choose to celebrate Christmastime with emptiness each year.

But instead, I choose HOPE in the midst of loss and unmet expectations.

Hope falters the growth of bitterness. Choosing hope at Christmas is a choice.

I choose to find my mom in the traditions and the stories. This has not happened overnight. It has taken sixteen years of sadness and choosing grief and the plauging seed of bitterness over the fruitful seed of hope.

Hope is what would be honoring to my mom at Christmas anyway. She wouldn’t want it any other way. If she was here she would tell me to dry my tears and teach my children to find her at Christmas. Grandma Shelley is not here physically but she lives her in our traditions.


Finding Shelley in the traditions is a choice.

Finding hope in loss is a choice.

Finding Shelley at Christmas has taken me almost two decades but I am thankful I found her today. In the cookies. The simple cookies with the red hots.

And I hope to pass her on to my children. I hope to give them hope. And stories. I hope to teach them that God’s story is full of people who lost but these same people had their eyes fixed on something Greater.