This is an blog edited version of the column – My Window Seat – that I write for a

biweekly publication called the Christian Courier ( ) This comes

from the December 8 issue of this year.  I hope you like it.  MdH



“A shoot will come up from the stump…” Isaiah 11 vs.1a


I’ve always found Christmas to be a polarized time.  Reuniting with loved ones is rightfully treasured and emphasized while those without family are hopefully brought in and comforted.

With my work at Bethesda, an organization that supports adults with developmental disabilities, many individuals there had a difficult time at Christmas.  These individuals had a difficult time because they don’t have nuclear or extended families who will take them in, and so they have to wade through the Christmas season by themselves while others often speak about and cherish family gatherings.

Christmas is a time when local Food Banks are used more often than in other parts of the year, when Canada Post is the busiest with mailings, cards and gifts and when people plan to give to others so that the love of Christ is tangibly felt.

It is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  It is a time when the shoot that was proclaimed in Isaiah comes to fruition. 

It is also a time that some of us will heavily miss our loved ones.  It will be a time when some of us will remember those who left us long ago.  It will be a time for some to look forward and plan on a blessed new year.  It will be time to look back and spend time thankful for the blessings received. 

And for some it will be a wonderful time.  And for some it will be a difficult time.

For us, Christmas will be all of that and more.  We will have wonderful days and we will have difficult days.  And we will have wonderfully difficult days.  I can’t explain the difference between a wonderful and difficult day except that I know for certain that they exist.

Entering the first anniversary of Marisa’s death from cancer at age 33, our three children and I will again be wading in emotionally difficult territory.  I often wonder how we are to effectively take the past, wrap it up, hold and honour it and continue on.  The past is like a stump for us – painfully cut down but in need of harvest.  We need to continue to seek the wisdom and understanding to see the shoots that either have or will come to us.

Christmas is like that.  The actual event of Jesus’ birth is nothing unless we know the past and the future meaning of it.  What would Christmas mean if it wasn’t foretold or it wasn’t planned for a sovereign purpose?

I and our three children ages 2, 4 and 6 are not different from many other families.  We are experiencing what I call our ‘stumptime’.  We are like many others, people who are living with suffering and joy.  Many people will offer advice and try and provide comfort.  Some of it will work.  Some of it will not work.  Some people will tell you that your faith will bring you through it and will quote a piece of scripture to prove that.  Sometimes that helps and can make one feel better.  And the truth is sometimes it doesn’t work.

For some this Christmas will be a time when despair and hurt need to be acknowledged but reminded that during their ‘stumptime’ a shoot will come forth. 

That is the promise from the manger.  I wish you a blessed and peaceful Christmas.