Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

I want to take the time to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope the same joy, love and hope that filled a small manger in the city of Jerusalem many years ago also fills your home this Christmas. My wish is that each of you will spend time with your family and loved ones. That you will reach out to the family and friends that you have not reached out to in many years. That you will put aside any problems, animosity, and anger if only for one day. Remember that Christmas is not about what is under the tree, but about who is gathered around the tree. Put God and family above any and all gifts that will be put to the side in a weeks time. Your relationship with God and family will be the only gifts that last a life time. My family is my gift from God. My family has been with me through the darkest days of my life and I know in my heart, will be there until the end. Lindsay will be celebrating Christmas with the Holy host of the day. I truly believe with everything in me she will be celebrating with all the children of all the parents that have also lost a son or daughter. I have believed this since she passed away. I believe when I meet a parent of a lost child, Lindsay and that child meet as well. Sometimes I think Lindsay and another child meet in heaven and because of that I meet their parents.

In the middle of all the festivities over the next two days please take just a moment to remember all the empty chair’s. It does not matter if the chair has been empty for years, months,weeks or days it will never be filled again, and that hurts. Don’t ignore the chair, don’t ignore the flowers in the chair. They are there for a reason, so we never forget the one that used to sit there. Talk about the person, whether is was a grandmother, a dad, a mom or a child. Tell a story, voice a memory, say their name. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, my house will be filled with family, and that is the only way I can smile, the only way I can make it through another Christmas. We will eat, we will open gifts, we will laugh and a few may shed a tear but, we will be together. I have learned to cherish every time I see my family. When they leave you can believe I will hug their neck, and I will them thank you. You never know when another chair will be sitting there, empty.

I hope you were smiling.

I hope you were smiling.

What else can I say but “Thank You!!” Thank you to all that came out this Saturday for the second annual Lindsay M. Benton Volleyball and Corn Hole Tournament and helping us celebrate what would have been Lindsay’s 20th birthday. What an amazing group of volunteers that gave up their Saturday to come out to help and to support the tournament. Thank you to Captn’ Bill’s Backyard Grill and the amazing staff that took such great care of us and each and every person that walked through the gate. Thank you to each person that took the time to come out and play volleyball, corn hole and to purchase raffle tickets for such a great cause. The turnout this year was not what we had last year, but it was expected. We knew, because of the continued clean up, repairs, and heartbreaking loss of property due to hurricane Florence, the attendance would be down. We could not let this get our spirits down and we “as a foundation” pledged to enjoy the day, enjoy all that were in attendance and without mention, enjoy remembering our Lindsay Lou. The most memorable part of the day, by far, was the young man that won the bike during the raffle. When he realized he had won he went straight up to the bike, confirmed his name on the ticket and rode that bike right out of the door and all around the Captn’ Bill’s volleyball complex. To see the joy in this young man’s heart is a big part of what this day was about. I had to go outside and stop this young man and tell how happy I was for him. No matter the turn out, the day was a success. We raised over half of the amount that we raised last year, we met some wonderful people, we laughed, and we remembered a beautiful young lady, that just happens to be my daughter.  

Lindsay Lou, this was not a Tiffany’s, princess, or Barbie themed party like the ones you had in the past, but this party was for you. Happy birthday Sweetie, I miss you more than my heart can take sometimes. The gifts you received this year did not come in a nicely wrapped box with a beautiful bow, what you received were gifts of hope. Hope that a cancer patient will live to see another day and possibly celebrate their birthday one more time. The gift that a young person with special needs will have a fun filled day of activities and feel a sense of worth. The gift of life to someone that is on a long waiting list for a life saving transplant. The gift of knowledge for a student that will follow your dreams of being in the medical field. The gift of freedom to a art student to share their visions with the world. The gift of security that the cheer squad that you loved so much can do more, go more, and have more. A special gift you received this year will go to an outstanding organization, Samaritan’s Purse, as they help bring hope to the many people effected by hurricane Florence. The gifts that were given, maybe not to you, but through you will bring hope, value, life, knowledge, freedom, security, and a peace of mind that all is not lost. Gifts that were given from the heart with an unspoken love.

As I was scrolling through one of the many social media pages today looking at all the pictures and comments of the tournament I came across a post that truly captured what this is all about. A hymn written 145 years ago by a man that had lost almost everything. He lost his children to disease and a ship wreck. He lost his home, his business and his fortune to fire, but yet he still had faith, he still had the security of knowing no matter what stumbling blocks are placed in your path, no matter how much pain is in your heart,  there is always hope.

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul”

Happy Birthday Lindsay girl, hope you were watching and I hope you were smiling.