A New-Found Treasure

By on November 25, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles –

“Christmas time a season of joy.” That reminder jabbed at my heart, after losing my Joe, no celebration seemed appropriate. But I put on a mask of courage and stuff my feelings like Christmas decorations in storage boxes.

Afraid to face my first Christmas without him, uncertain of the outcome, and dreading the worst…I swallow hard and press on.

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I shuffle into the garage to sort the totes lined on the top shelf. The pine scent from candles still lingers from the Christmas before. As I bring in the boxes one by one into the house, the smell of buttery sugar cookies in the oven fills the air.

While melodic tunes of “Silent Night” play softly in the background,

I begin the traditional Christmas routine. Pulling each item out, I arrange them in strategic places throughout: The red and green candles, the shiny, gold bells to hang on the front door, the musical boxes with winter scenes, bright red poinsettias, green garland spotted with burgundy velvet bows all transform our home into a lively winterland. The ceramic nativity scene placed in the center of the room illustrates the reason for the celebration.

Next, I retrieve out three stockings to fill the marked places above the fireplace; each embroidered with our sons’ names: Jason, Jeff, and Joe. Once Jason and Jeff’s are hung, I collapse on the couch, clutch Joe’s in my hand and hug it to my chest. I gave a familiar sigh. As I exhale, tears burn in my eyes. Like my heart, Joe’s stocking would remain empty. Nothing could fill the void his absence had created.

Three years ago, his lively personality, witty sense of humor and bright smile, like a Christmas tree, would light up a room.

But one tragic event robbed me from enjoying his charm ever again.

September 7, 2002, the phone rang around 2:30 a.m. Our middle son, Jeff, raced into our bedroom shouting, “Joe’s been hurt!”

We frantically pulled on our clothes and rushed out the door. When we arrived at the hospital, we were given only one small piece of information, “They’re working on him.”

Once in the emergency room, we received the heart-wrenching news. Joe had not survived the multiple stab wounds inflicted on his body.

This isn’t happening to us! I thought with anguished disbelief. “These things don’t happen to good boys,” I wanted to shout.

I crumpled under the weight of Joe’s death. My child was gone…I felt as if my own life had been taken.

Like a boat in a violent storm, I was buffeted by winds of unbearable pain. God’s Word became my anchor. “Be still, and know that I am God.” echoed in my heart over and over again. His Word sounded loud and clear, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Lord, let Your grace be sufficient to carry me through this Christmas.

I slipped my trembling hand into the comfort of His, I stepped forward holding on to it. I clung tight, not each day, or hour, but each moment. For I knew when left unguarded even for seconds, my sorrow could overwhelm me.

I was diligent to fill my mind with reassuring verses from His Word, from His firm promises and from His direct instructions.

With renewed strength, I gazed at the brighter horizon of my life. My heart reviewed the seasons of Joe’s life, memories priceless to me. The spring of Joe’s emerging vibrant personality; the summer of his warm hugs and those precious words, “I love you Mom”; and the fall of the remarkable changes as the teenager emerged from the small boy. Then came winter, bringing a different Christmas…one that would never be the same.

I saw the difference because God’s grace brushed my soul. He gave me an understanding of true joy…not from shopping, decorations, gifts or melodic songs. But from Jesus’ whisper: “I was born as your Savior and because of me, you’ll see Joe again.” Rather than sinking into sadness, I rejoice; for my Savior saved me from being permanently separated from my Joe.

Now Christmas Celebrations paint a new portrait. The color of hope, the shimmer of comfort, and the vibrant glow of reassurance adorn our home.

My heart sighs with gratitude. God’s hand held me through each moment of my first Christmas. I saw His grace that was bigger than my sorrow. The immensity of His faithfulness that soothes my pain and the depth of His love that blots the tears from my heart.

Hanging stockings on the mantel marked a simple tradition. But a renewed trust in God’s grace transformed my Christmas into a newfound treasure.


Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles has been inspiring thousands to see the best in life. She is an international speaker, writer and #1 bestselling author of Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God’s Fiesta. She loves to salsa, to play on the floor with her grandchildren and cruise with Gene, her hubby of 35 years. And from her home in Florida, she travels across the country to ignite a passion to overcome and triumph. www.janetperezeckles.com

About Janet Perez-Eckles

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A New-Found Treasure