A Hodge Podge: Christmas, Updates, and Sharing Your Words

It’s been awhile since we had a good hodge podge post. So here goes…

My in real life friends know that my husband and I just completed the December 2011 Trifecta of Weddings. For the first time in my “wedding singer” career, I had the privilege of performing in three back to back weddings…in December of all months! Tim accompanied with his beautiful guitar music in two of them. The third was my baby brother’s wedding, in which I also helped a bit with the planning and preparing (although his beautiful bride Megan did most of it and pulled it all off beautifully, I must say), and served as matron of honor. The wedding trifecta was followed by Christmas, of course…which brings about it’s own whirlwind of busy. Somehow, there were moments of stillness and beauty in all of it. There also may be some pictures of me “dancing like no one is watching”, which could quite possibly discourage me from ever dancing again once I see them!

James and I took some time to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I had been bothering Tim to watch it with us, and he replied, “We don’t have to watch it. We’re living it.” After watching the movie, I realized that he was right. We are living it, and whether he realizes it or not, I married George Bailey…the kind of guy who lays it all down day after day for those he loves, doing the hard thing, helping others, often setting aside his own dreams and plans. I love my George Bailey.

It was a lovely Christmas, filled with laughter and love and time with family. And…some Just Dance 3 and Zumba! (Have I mentioned I joined a Zumba class…overcoming my fear and aversion to exercising in public?! It’s actually way fun!)

We had to have Gerken Baking Day 2011 early due to all the wedding madness. We made some super cute Gingerbread aprons and also welcomed Timothy’s girlfriend Hannah to the Gerken kitchen for some goodie baking fun. (FYI…I wore my apron to school and the kids loved it! One gave me a hug and said, “Mrs. Gerken, I love your apron. You look like like a giant gingerbread cookie!”)







We had a wonderful time during the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2011. Winners were announced, but we haven’t heard from a few of you. Please email your address and other information so we can ship your items if you haven’t already done so! Speaking of Giveaways, my sweet in-real-life friend, Shannon is hosting a blog giveaway for a total of 12 days. She makes adorable, unique, handmade cards and is giving away one a day, for 12 days. Stop over and leave her a comment. She is as sweet as she is talented, and it would really bless her if you enter her giveaway!

Many of the comments (a record number of comments were left on some posts, by the way!) left on the SGM Christmas Extravaganza giveaway posts tugged at my heart. I loved the thoughts and memories you shared. So, I wanted to include some of your words in this post. As we go through our celebrations of Christmas and look toward a New Year, we realize that many are missing someone they love. I’m so grateful for the best gift of all…our Savior, Jesus, born on that holy night to a peasant girl and her betrothed and laid gently in a manger. So unlikely in the world’s eyes…a king to save us all, in the form of a tiny, helpless baby. He is the God of the unlikely…the One who makes the impossible, possible…the One who chooses the lost and broken…the ignored and forgotten…the failures, the lonely, the grieving hearts. The miracle that He came for me…and for you…never gets old. And, for that reason, even in the missing, we have great hope…because He came.

In response to sharing a time when the Lord carried you:

Gina: i feel that the Lord has carried me through MANY times, but particularly when i lost my son in 1994 at 20 weeks gestation .I am in a different place today, i would like to say stronger and am now helping out on a Facebook page called Angels of the Heart which helps those who have experienced a loss.We remember our angels there as well

Deanna: This is one of my favorite quotes, “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us,” since River’s death people have come into my life that have literally picked me up so many times. I could not keep my head above water alone and God has helped me through friends among many other ways.

Tina: The Lord is carrying me now as I am grieving the loss of my baby girl.

In response to your thoughts on heaven:

Brandie: Just the thought of heaven comforts me because I know I have 4 beautiful daughters to hold when I get there. 2 of them I never got the chance to hold. While I know once I get there I will never want to let them go, I’ll know I will have forever to make up for our lost time.

Julie: My Mamaw is in Heaven and I miss her terribly. I have sappy wonderful memories with her…she was such a fun and amazing woman. She was always willing to go…didn’t matter where we were going, if we called her she’d always say, “sure! I’ll be ready when you get here.” She was always making me laugh and doing for her family. Can’t wait to see her and hug her again!

Karla Sheehan: I would love to be entered for the Heaven is for Real for kids. I read Heaven is for Real and listened to it on audio book. It was such an amazing book! A friend of our family read Heaven is for Real to my mother and father while my mother was on hospice this past year. My mother passed exactly 13 months to the day of my son Brendan. That book created such a beautiful visual for us and my mother of what she would experience with my son and other loved ones once God called her home.

Alison: I daydream about talking to my son, William, in Heaven. I want to know even more about him than what I was able to learn here on Earth. I want to see his eyes open and hear his voice. I want to embrace him so much. I pray that all these things are possible in Heaven.

Jenn: Since my son Noah died, Heaven is a lot more real to me. I find myself wondering what his days are like & longing for the return of Jesus so we can be reunited as a family again. I was thankful for the glimpse of Heaven given through the book Heaven is for Real. SO comforting!!!

Sarita: One of my favorite thoughts about Heaven is that I will finally get to hold & touch Meredith and i will see my loved ones who have gone on. I miss my parents especially at Christmas.

Holly: I look forward to Heaven so much more now that Carleigh is there. I can only imagine what Heaven is really like even with the descriptions the Bible gives us and the stories of people who have been there. My mind can’t wrap around the true glory of it. I just know it’s beyond what we can even imagine but yet I try because I want to know what it’s like for my daughter there. I imagine her and Jordan holding hands and running and playing. Even sitting on Jesus’ lap :)

Stephanie D.: Along with the many family members and friends in Heaven, I have three babies waiting for me. It hurts my brain to even try to imagine all they have seen. I know it is beyond my most beautiful thought of what it could be. I strive to live my life in a way that makes them proud of me. I believe they are always with me and there are no secrets that I can hide from them so a good and faithful life is what I strive for.

Karen: I look forward that there will be no more tears in Heaven!!!

Hopewhat gives me hope about heaven is of course once and for all being with all my children and Christ all at the same time, what an amazing reunion it will be! heaven is more precious to me as each day passes xx

Cecilia: I think the most comforting thing to me about Heaven is that I knew saying goodbye to him here wasn’t forever. Knowing God valued his life and we will be reunited one day.

Tina: I imagine that my dear Nana is taking care of my baby girl in heaven, and it brings me great comfort to know that I will see them both again someday.

Your thoughts about truly loving others…the laying it all down kind of love: 

Stephanie D: As baby lost mommas, we have known the deepest of pain and the purest of love all in the same moment. We are blessed to know that kind of love.

Aupera: Love is precious and should not be taken lightly. In my life with all my losses I have learned that you should always tell the people that you love that you love then every chance you can because you don’t know if it will be your last time with them.

Megan: Love comes into our lives unexpectedly and stays and grows. Like a seed blown on the wind that settles on good soil. Like the love that I have for my son who is in heaven. Love for him was planted the moment I found I was pregnant and although he grows in heaven now, my love for him continues to grow.

Deanna: Through River I learned to love with my whole heart. I learned to love like there is no tomorrow. We know all to well what can happen in the blink of an eye and I do not ever want to be a person who wishes I had loved more. I learned the intensity of love. This is a beautiful thing to be part of, thank you so much. 

Jessica: When my Nana passed away it was easy to see how much everyone truly loved her. I learned what you can go through when you truly love someone. When she passed I believe she chose to do so when she knew my Papa was half asleep (holding her hand) and when my mom has left the room. I believe she didn’t want the two of them to see her take her last breath. My cousin and I were holding her hands and telling her it was okay to go as she took her last breath. Along with losing my three babies it was one of the hardest times in my life but I am glad that love made it possible to be there for her.

Adrianna: I have never known a love like the love I felt for my son. I never understood what it meant to be a parent until I had my son and felt what every mother feels for their child. I never understood wholly the love God has for us until I knew the pain of loosing my only son. I am not a strong enough person to willingly give up my child for anyone else.

Mary: My daughter taught me that love is doing best for her, even when I feel like it might destroy me. That kind of love is real, painful, deep, and sacrificial. It is hard to say you “want” that kind of love, but it is the way Christ loved me. And I never deserved it.

Angie: I experienced the purest, deepest, love, with both of my children. I would have gladly died if it would had saved our daughter and it took me a long time to get over my anger that I was alive when she isn’t. And then our son was born, and every day he heals my heart a little more and brings us so much joy.

Melanie: Since losing my baby girl in July I have learnt that it is so important to cherish true friends. The ones that stand by your side and love you unconditionally, the ones who chose to weather the storm with you no matter how painful it may be for them also. I now know what kind of friend I will be in return to these special people.

Carrie Konig: Love is a powerful weapon! Love is amazing whenever it is extended, but it is particularly powerful when it is love extended, not when it’s easy, but when it is hard. It is love like that which costs you something. But that is the most powerful kind….

Jenn:  Through my sons short life & then death, I learned a lot about selfless love and was able to better understand God’s love for us. Noah also taught me to treasure each & every moment w/our kids & not to take life for granted.

Tina: My Nana was a great example of truly loving others. After my Papo had a stroke and was unable to care for himself, my Nana decided that the nursing home was not adequately meeting his needs. She brought him home and cared for him around the clock for almost a year. All of her wants and needs were second to caring for him. Truly loving others, I think, is something one DOES, not just a feeling. It is sacrificing one’s own desires for the well-being of another.

Cynthia:Like most women who follow your blog, I have learned the greatest lessons of love through the life and loss of our daughter Olivia. Love has been a continual theme throughout this year for me also. We have been called to love others and the only way to become closer to God is to show love. It’s easy to love our husbands and children but showing love to people we would normally reject is not always natural. My prayer has been to learn to show love in everyday life, in and out of my home.

Sarita: I learned my first lessons of love from my parents. They would have done anything for me. I was a late in life baby – mother & daddy had been married for 20 years ( they had a stillborn baby before my brother was born 10 years before me). I was always loved & cherished.

Your Christmas Memories: 

Jennifer Ross: In memory of Isaiah, we lay his little blue stocking along with his brothers, and decorate our Christmas tree with his ornaments first. It really gives us a moment to have a special time for just Isaiah.

Adrianna: Growing up, my mom would buy us a special ornament each year, and when I turned 18 I got to take my ornaments with me to put up on my own tree. Now that I have a son, even if he isn’t here with me on Earth, I will buy him an ornament every year and display it on my tree. As we give him brothers and sisters, they will know their big brother.

Nikki: In memory of Aiden Joshua. I never got to make any memories with him, as I said goodbye before I ever got to say hello, but I do have a memory after he was gone. We released balloons for him, and they disappeared right away. My friend did the same, and they disappeared again, very quickly. So we joke now that he must be very grabby, like his daddy.

Brandie: This year we are going to buy toys for the age my daughters should be & donate them to children in need. My son is looking forward to picking them out. :’)

Maryann: I adore all the ornaments but I especially fell in love with number 1 and number 4.
There is not a day or night that goes by that I don’t think of our beloved angel Erin Lee. For whatever reason God called you home before mommy had a chance to deliver you for all to see.. We find comfort in knowing that we will all see you when we too make our way home. Mommy keeps your little fireman boots on the tree in your memory. They are always the first to go on the tree. I know you will have a wonderful Christmas again this year with our Beloved Father!!

Sarita: My favorite Christmas memories are of growing up in the ’50s & ’60s with my Mother & Daddy & my brother. We cut a cedar tree & holly bows from our land, Mother cooked so many good things and she loved putting apples, oranges, & nuts in our stockings. The times were simpler, we were not well off but didn’t know it! I still have some of my dolls – my favorite is a rubber baby doll given to me by Santa in 1955 when i was 2. Church was a big part of our lives. It was just a small country church, but had a huge impact on my life.

Abi: This will be our first Christmas without our son Corbin. My husband and I decided that we are going to give each of our extended family members a gift in his memory. This year’s gift will be a copy of Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. They will be purchased from Kohl’s where part of the proceeds go to a charity to help children’s literacy. I love the message of the book and knowing that my purchase will help children… And I love that my son will still be included in our family celebrations in a tangible way.

Thank you all for making that week so special…and for sharing your hearts so beautifully. Your words brought tears to my eyes many times. You are all beautiful mothers, and I’m grateful to know you.

We are going to be starting a new segment for Walking With You soon on this blog…similar to the original WWY. We are hoping that many of you who are new to loss will be able to take part and find hope and encouragement knowing that you do not walk this path alone. I’ll be posting soon with details.


  1. I think I won and I think I sent you my info but with all the Christmas craziness I could be mistaken???
    Great post!

  2. That apron you made sure is fun!! :) And you have def had a busy Dec!!

    It was so nice to read all the comments from the extravaganza since I missed some of them.

  3. What a busy month! I’m glad it was full of good things. I hope you have a happy new year as well!

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