This year our family shrunk at Christmas. From the overall total of 27 people in our clan, to last year’s Christmas gathering of 10, to this year’s grand total of only five. Every year it seems to change shape.

Dennis and I and Rebecca and Jacob flew to Washington, D.C., to spend Christmas with our youngest, who has her first big job and could not take off any day other than the day after Christmas. She thought it a great travesty to have to work on Christmas Eve, this daughter who still thinks like a college student and is used to getting four-five weeks of vacation between semesters. “I don’t like being a grown-up,” she repeated more than once.

It was our delight to host these three of our kids in Laura’s house for five days while her roommates were all away with their families. We cooked a lot, relaxed a lot, played games, went to church and had an evening out to see Les Miserables in the theater.

I’m especially grateful for Jacob’s willingness to give Rebecca what she wanted for Christmas—time with her family whose love she needed to feel up close again. Rebecca and Jacob continue to heal from the loss of their infant daughter Molly.

It was our joy to honor their Molly with our gifts this year. Laura gave them a donation to Molly’s Fund as her gift. Ashley sent an adorable pink ornament with Molly’s photo in it. And Dennis and I gave them a painting of Molly’s name. It’s a tradition I’ve done with each of our grandchildren, to paint their name with little children adorning each of the letters. When Molly was born this summer and before she died, Rebecca asked if I would still do her name and, of course, I said yes. I’d already decided I would.

It was more of a challenge than the other grandchildrens’. To show Molly in heaven rejoicing with Jesus and worshiping Him was not something I’d tried to paint before. But using many verses as clues to what she might be doing, I created what became their gift for this year.

Rebecca and Jacob are still grieving the loss of their baby girl. They still miss her and long to see her again. They are struggling with not getting pregnant even though they have tried since the first month after she went to Jesus. And with the poor economy, Jacob’s job has hit some bumps that are making this time in their lives about more than just the loss of Molly.

But they are growing still and giving to others in the new Grief Share ministry that they helped start at their church. They are trusting God that He is the One who closes the womb (1 Samuel 5 and 6) and will give them a child in His timing. They are being shaped by God’s loving purpose for them and for us.

Change. It’s not just a political word, but a word that ever describes the dynamics of a family from the early days where Rebecca and Jake are living, to the later days where we are living in the empty nest. I am grateful that there is One who never changes!