Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 4 - A Mistletoe Medley by Margaret McSweeney

12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 4 
 A Mistletoe Medley by Margaret McSweeney

12 Pearls of Christmas series

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If  you  miss  a  few  posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration  of  the  holidays,  as  well  as  some  items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit and see what  we’re  all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and  around  the  globe.  Consider  purchasing  a  copy   of   Mother   of   Pearl,    Pearl   Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

A Mistletoe Medley

By Margaret McSweeney

“You have breast cancer.”  Those four words my doctor said the week of Mother’s Day 2012 have forever changed my  life.  Mere  months  after  my  fiftieth  birthday,  I  encountered  this unexpected “lump in  the  road”  and  ventured  through  a  major  detour  after  reaching  my half-century mark.

Through this “grit,” God has covered  me  with  His  amazing  grace!  At  the  same  time  of  my diagnosis, two books released: Mother of Pearl: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent  Faith along with Aftermath: Growing in Grace Through Grief. During this Christmas season, I rejoice that my cancer was caught and treated at an  early  stage.  After  six  weeks  of  “daily  radiance”  (AKA radiation therapy), I started my daily dose of Tamoxifen  to  help  battle  any  potential  cells  that might cause a recurrence. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

While writing Aftermath and sharing  my  journey  of  grief  as  an  adult  orphan,  I  experienced several “hugs from heaven” as I discovered family letters, journals, and even  a  video  in  which my mother shares her faith. This is a mistletoe medley from my mother’s heart:

Each Christmas season my father used to go down into the woods behind our home and bring us back some mistletoe. It was a present that  my  sister  and  I  loved.  We’d  tie  it  with  bright ribbons and would hang it over several doorways in the house.

It was always fun of course for a Christmas party, but it came to mean more than that to  us.  It seemed to become a symbol of the meaning of Christmas: Love, God’s love for the world that prompted Him to send Christ to become our Savior. Somehow it seemed to enhance our love for each other as  a  family.  And  we  found  ourselves  stepping  under  the  mistletoe  to  give someone a hug or to plant a kiss on someone’s cheek and say, “I love you.”

I thought of these mistletoe Christmases during my mother’s losing battle with cancer.  I penned my thoughts like this:

Illness, you ugly parasite!
Like mistletoe, you’ve entrenched yourself upon my body!
As you bloom and grow, you feed upon my strength.
I shall fight!
Battalions stand by to help!
My doctor’s scalpel will sever you.
Modern medicine will shrivel you.
You shall fall to the ground,
And I shall stand again strong and well.
But what if I cannot conquer you?
If you are with me still
As my constant, inevitable companion,
I pray that God will help me
Learn to live with you in peace
And somehow discover how you, my enemy—
Like mistletoe at Christmas—
Can serve some useful purpose.

There are times when we cannot rid our lives of things that  hurt  such  as  pain  or  grief,  loss, illness, sorrow. Sometimes they’re with us as our inevitable companions and we must learn to make peace with them.

Those are the times when we can ask God through Christ to help us transform the loneliness, the pain, the grief, the loss-symbolically into something that can serve a useful purpose in our lives.

May you feel an extra “hug from heaven” this Christmas season from the loving  arms  of  our Heavenly Father.  God is present, and He knows your name!

*Text quoted from Aftermath (New Hope, 2012) by Margaret McSweeney, pp 114-115

Margaret McSweeny is a well-published author and freelance writer for the 411 Voices and the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. She is the author of Aftermath, A Mother's Heart Knows and Go Back and  Be  Happy.  She  is  also  the  founder  of  Pearl  Girls™ and the general   editor   of   the   Pearl   Girls™   books;   Mother   of   Pearl   and  Pearl   Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace.  All  proceeds  from  the   sales   of  the  Pearl   Girls™ books go to charity. For the past  five  years,  she  has  served  on  the board of  directors   for  WINGS,  an  organization  that  helps  abused  women  and  their children  get  a  new  start  in life. Margaret would love  to  meet  you  too.   Follow   her  on  twitter  or  friend  her  on facebook. You can also keep up with Margaret   at  Kitchen  Chat  or  the  Pearl  Girls  blog. Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in the Chicago suburbs.




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