My Husband's Christmas Tree

Friday, December 6, 2013
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 150 – Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. (NIV)

Ernie, my husband of 37 years, died on October 10th. As we gathered in the sanctuary of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on October 19th to celebrate Ernie's life with a memorial service, there was a small Christmas tree sitting on a short table on the platform. Many wondered why it was there until I got up during the service to share some of Ernie's life, which included the story of our Christmas tree.

For years, each Christmas, we have put a small Christmas tree on top of the armoire in our bedroom. Ernie, who had been given two months to live in January of 2011, now spent most of his time in our bedroom. After Christmas last year, I suggested to Ernie that he might like to keep it there all the time, as he often slept with the tree lights on all night. This little 16-inch tree, with its small stuffed birds and other miniature decorations, has two strings of the old kind of miniature lights, all of which go out if one bulb burns out. With God's grace, the top string has never burnt out, but over the year, one by one, bulbs on the bottom string of the tree lights burned out and had to be replaced, until by summer, there were no spares left. I thought of putting a notice downstairs in our apartment building, but, sadly, I did not think to ask God to send me some — but God is good.

One Monday morning last June, I was taking some old clothes to a local Bibles For Missions thrift store. As I went to the back door, I glanced at the stuff that had been left over the weekend and noticed a grocery bag containing Christmas tree lights! There I was, dancing around the parking lot, hands in the air, praising God for His awesome gift! Over the summer, the bottom string burnt out repeatedly and was replaced four or five times, until there was only one string left, which was in an unopened box. That last string continued to burn brightly through Ernie's last days. The little tree went with him for the last four days of his life in the Embassy West Hospice and shone brightly as Ernie, after nearly three years with pulmonary fibrosis and three heart attacks, ascended into heaven to meet his Lord and Saviour, Jesus, in the late afternoon of October 10th. That little tree, lit with its bright lights, stood on the platform of the sanctuary as we gathered on October 19th to celebrate Ernie's life.

Strangely, last weekend, I put up Ernie's tree in my bedroom and plugged it in — nothing. Both of the strings of lights on the tree were burned out!

I've felt nudged lately by the Holy Spirit to share this Christmas tree story about the goodness of God, His faithfulness, and how He gives us gifts without our even praying for them. Even in the poignancy of death, God grants us little touches of His love to soften the blow and let us know that He cares. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants." (Psalm 116:15 NIV)

Prayer: Father, in the name of Your Son, Jesus, we praise and thank You for the life of Your faithful servants who have passed to their reward, and for Your promise to us who believe, that we will spend eternity with You. Help us to live each day as if it were our last. As we enter the season of Advent, guide us in our preparations to celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus, who died that we may have eternal life. Help us each to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. Amen.

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About the author:

Evonne Isaak
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Beautiful story Evonne.

    Thank you for a beautiful devotion.

    Your devotion brought tears to my eyes. Well Done!!

    A very warming and touching life story Thanks you!!! Blessings.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am very touched and feel your faith in the devotional.

    Thank you Evonne. A beautiful and heartwarming reminder of His love for each one of us.

    Wonderful devotion. I, too have seen God’s hand at work through “thick and thin”. Thank you for the story.

    Loved your message this morning. A perfect way to start my day. May God continue to bless you and thank you for sharing this story with us.

    Blessings to you this Season and may your many memories be comforting to you. Thank you for sharing.

    Thank you for sharing this special story, Evonne. And, blessings to you during this time following Ernie’s death.
    (Texas, USA)

    Dear Evonne,
    I really enjoy your story “My Husband’s Christmas Tree”.
    Thank you.

    Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. May the LORD comfort you at this season of celebrating Jesus’ birth and as we look forward to meeting in Heaven.

    Hello Evonne,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story of your husband’s Christmas tree. Yes, God is good! May you be blessed and comforted in the days ahead,

    What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. It brought tears to my eyes. How wonderful & awesome & compassionate is our God! Please accept my condolences on the loss of your husband.

    Evonne, Thank you so much for your devotional. So moving. I just lost a dear friend to cancer. She was younger than me; but demonstrated such strength as her physical strength diminished. Thanks for sharing.

    Yvonne, thank you for sharing this precious, intimate story with all of us. May you have a peaceful Christmas, surrounded by friends and family but most especially in the Father’s warm embrace.

    Dear Evonne,
    Your devotional touched my heart. Thank you for sharing and please keep writing.

    Dear Evonne:
    Thank you for this wonderful devotional and reminder of God’s presence and love that is all around us if we can only open our eyes, ears and hearts (above all) to take notice it.

    What a wonderful story of your tree that Ernie loved so much.
    God provides for us when we don’t know what we need, always aware, loving and caring for us. Wishing you a merry Christmas and God’s peace as you face it alone for the first time.

    Thank you for sharing your story of Ernie’s Christmas Tree. I was very touched by it – God is good. I pray that this Christmas will be filled with much peace and joy for you knowing that your Ernie is with his Lord.

    Thank you Yvonne for your beautiful message of love and faithfulness, in the season of your loss.
    May Father hold you in the shadow of his wings, and bless you with the certain knowledge and truth of Ernie’s pain free joyous eternal home with Jesus.

    Dear Evonne:
    Thank you for your beautiful and extraordinary story. I have a small Christmas tree on the table with me now that I haven’t turned on yet, I think I will do it right now.
    God bless and keep you Evonne. Have a blessed Christmas.

    Thank you Evonne for sharing your heart with us and following the promoting of the Holy Spirit. I know it will be a comfort to many. We have a candle in a table centre piece that we light each Christmas as a remembrance to those who have gone to be with Jesus.
    May Jesus continue to comfort you this day and in the days to come.

    A wonderful devotional as so fitting for me today as I lost my wife of over 40 years last night to cancer. There is a huge Christmas tree at the church where the funeral is and she always loved it. We also have a small ceramic tree that, after reading this devotional, is going to be sitting right beside the urn.

    Evonne, your story touched me deeply. We are blessed to have God take care of our needs, even when they may seem small to others. Although the tree lights may have now gone out, the memory of their glow will stay with you, and the beauty of the green tree will remain, decorated with the lovely memories of your husband. May the peace of Christmas be with you.

    Dear Mrs. Isaak,
    My deepest sympathy, and fervent prayers for you in the loss of your dear husband.
    I lost one of my daughters in October and truly empathize with you. I know the passing of one’s husband is somewhat different than that of one’s child, and my heart goes out to you.
    May God keep you and bless you always.

    Dear Evonne,
    What a wonderful story and it is written so well. Thank you for writing.
    Leaving decorations up from one season to the next is not strange to me. I have a a 3-piece ceramic set of Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the manager on my dresser that I leave up year to year. May God grant you special blessings this Advent and Christmas season.
    (California, USA)

    Hello. I felt moved to send you an email regarding your devotional. I am so sorry for your loss of your husband of 37 years, but it is wonderful to see how God embraced you during those difficult times and how wise you are to see His hand in these events. I too have had a recent loss of a loved one and those moments then and now to know that God is with you and your loved one makes words fail. Thank you for sharing your special message and comforts from God. I pray that you will feel His continued comfort and blessing in your life.

    Dear Evonne,
    My condolences to you on your husband’s passing. He truly was “Home” for Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing the story of his Christmas Tree with us, a beautiful example of knowing what we need and giving it to us without our asking. I’m willing to bet that somehow, through this devotional, you will receive some little strings of lights from someone or several someone’s for his little Christmas Tree. May God’s Peace be with you throughout this Christmas season.

    Hi Evonne,
    Thank you for sharing the story of Ernie’s Christmas Tree. What a blessing to know God’s presence in the midst of very difficult times like that and be reminded that He cares and He is there with us. I pray that you would experience His loving comfort this Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the One who gives us assurance and hope.

    Evonne: having just returned from our Prayer Group, I settled in to see what the computer had to offer me today.
    Your gift of the story of Ernie’s Christmas tree brought tears to my eyes and joy to my soul. One day after our wedding anniversary, my dear husband journeyed on to join his Lord and Saviour. We were also recipients of unbelievable gifts of grace during the final months of his life here among us.
    What a wonderful God we serve. May you find the comfort and assurance God has for each of us as we grieve, mourn, and heal.

    Thank you for your meditation. I read it as I looked our the window in our condo, looking toward the mountains. Before I finished the letter I knew it was Ernie you were writing about. I look directly toward the Church, the new and soon to be old version – and I remembered that you were the last couple married in the old Church. Ernie was our elder and was a great source of comfort.
    Christmas is difficult when we have lost someone we love, but we know the secret – that Christ is here with us, supporting and helping us to grieve with joy. That seems a strange combination but it works. May you feel the love of Christ, and the presence the communion of the saints who await us in glory with the one who shows us the way. All God’s blessings.

    Hello Evonne
    What a lovely, although poignant, story and message.
    Thank you for sharing and for reminding us of God’s ever-present love. We do tend to ‘go it alone’ don’t we?
    So sorry to hear of your loss.
    I set up a small tree for my mother some years ago, knowing her days were numbered. It did not matter that Christmas was weeks away, only that she got to enjoy the beauty of her tree before she died. I knew she would not be with me for Christmas.
    Small things, can have such immense meaning can’t they?
    I do hope you have family and friends around you to hug and love you, now and at Christmas-time.
    In Christ, thank you, again, for a beautiful message.

    Dear Evonne,
    Thank you for sharing the story of your husband’s Christmas tree. I feel certain that it was a source of joy for him during his last days.

    Hello Evonne,
    Oh my, doesn’t God nudge so well?
    We were recently informed that my husband has terminal cancer.
    Thank you for your beautiful story.

    Dear Evonne,
    Thank you so very much for sharing your Christmas story. It truly touched my heart, for as I read it tears silently rolled down my cheeks. It must have been difficult for you to open up and share, all the more for us to be thankful to the Lord for placing it upon your heart to share with us, who will be lifted up by it.
    Blessings to you,

    I am praying for you as you deal with the loss of your husband.My Ron husband died 2 years ago…and I too have discovered how good God is!!

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