2020: Blue Christmas Testimony of Hope


As a COVID-19 widow of 4 1/2 months, I was privileged to share a testimony of hope with others who have found this Christmas season less than merry due to any number of reasons…… Below is the link to the Blue Christmas service at Lynn Haven UMC on Sunday, Dec. 20th. My testimony begins at about  the 36 minute point of the video after the singing of Away In A Manger.. Some other widowed friends and I are planning to start meeting in January for mutual support, encouragement, fellowship, and sharing of resources. If you know someone who needs to connect and recovery hope for continuing in a new stage of life, feel free to refer them to me.








2020: Blue Christmas Testimony of Hope                                              December 20, 2020                                  Cathy Boyd Byrd

       I left home early on a recent Saturday morning to drive to Birmingham to see our daughter and her family whom I had not seen in a year.  As I started up Hwy 77, I was thinking about Charlotte, Tim and their children Riley and Brady at the other end of my morning drive.   I had my face covering with me to wear at their home and wondered if I’d get to hug my teenage grandchildren.  Tears of longing welled up in my eyes as I thought about the possibility of having to refrain from touching them.  In that moment I felt the physical sensation, or perhaps the vivid memory of the familiar physical sensation, of Bill’s arms around me with his chin resting on top of my head and I felt comforted in my longing. I believe God brought that memory to mind in that moment for that very purpose.  In spite of tears, I felt blessed that my mind and body could still feel the memory of Bill’s presence and I thought of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

       After experiencing that memory, it occurred to me how many times in the last year or two I had been very aware of and attentive to moments with Bill….. watching him feed the animals, sitting beside him watching sunsets by the lake, standing by him in church as he held his hands up in praise, watching him in his recliner as he talked and laughed with his best friend, memorizing his profile, hearing him pray for me, lying beside him with my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest feeling his heart beat, and embraces like the one I felt in my physical and emotional memory that morning.  These were times that I seemed to have known would be important, even as they were happening, and that I needed to remember. Now, in Bill’s absence, I know why God had me pause in those moments and be intentionally focused on them….. to create a lasting memory. God knew I would need those memories.  I thank God for impressing on my heart the need to take in those moments and remember my life with Bill for just such a time as this.

       As I’ve grown older and struggled occasionally to remember a name of someone or something, I have reflected on our capacity and power of remembering.  Memory is a gift, given to us by God.  Throughout Scripture we are told to remember, specifically to remember the ways in which God has been present to his people… His salvation, provision, and protection for us……. His mercy and steadfast love.  God has given us memory for the primary purpose of remembering Him and the times when He has blessed us with His Presence and gifts of grace.  

       I have had the impression that when we are negligent about our memories of God’s blessings, if we are not using our memories as God intended, He may simply remove His protective hand from our memory function and allow it to decline. If, however, we are regularly remembering His good gifts to us, thanking Him, adoring Him, and praising Him, then I believe God delights in giving us steady and longer-lasting capacity for memory. 

       I’ve had at least 8-10 dreams of Bill in the last 4 months, each one precious and comforting. I have heard him call my name, laughed with him, ridden in a car with him along a lake, seen aspects of his personality and character that I loved in life, even dreamed of Bill and Jesus sitting together, watching me sleep and the Lord saying to Bill, “Watch this.  She’s going to wake up in a minute and her first thought will be of me.  Then of you.  You two are still connected to one another in eternity through your relationship to me.”  Jesus went on to say that while Bill is on one side of the veil and I am on the other, we are still connected to Christ and one another and Christ is not constrained by the veil, but moves through it between us.  It was a precious perspective on Bill’s continued presence with me through Christ Jesus.  

       The Apostle Paul said that we who believe in Christ do not have to grieve as those who have no hope.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the Lord whom the Bible says is the God of Hope and the God of all Comfort.  In spite of Bill’s physical absence, I know that he is present with the Lord, and he is still present to me through the gift of memories and through our shared love for and commitment to Christ.  As Paul further observed in Hebrews 6:18-19:

“….we who have taken refuge [in Christ] have strong encouragement to hold firmly to the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and reliable and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.”

       This Christmas, the first without a loved one for some us or for those who have experienced other losses or disappointments, let us hold fast to this anchor of our soul, waiting with confident and joyful expectation for the time when we, too, will step within the veil with our loved ones and the One who loves us so much he left His throne in Heaven to be with us as a small and vulnerable baby, experiencing life in the same way we do, then died that we might know the truth of the resurrection and eternal life.

       May we remember God’s promises and cherish the moments God presses upon our hearts and minds to remember the good things He has given us and will continue to give us forever.  Amen  


(Cathy Boyd Byrd is a part time staff member at Lynn Haven United Methodist Church engaged as Community Care Minister and directs a women’s life-recovery community residence in Panama City, FL.  Her husband, Bill Byrd, died August 6, 2020 from consequences of COVID-19 treatment at the age of 69.  They had been married 48 years on July 22nd. )