He KNOWS the NEW to Us

I’ve read it hundreds of times, maybe even thousands of times, but yesterday the 2×4 of Truth hit me afresh in the heart. I don’t know if the Lord has big plans to use Mary, the mother of God, to convict and challenge me each Christmas season (since He did it last year, as well), but suffice to say…He did it again, two years in a row.

“And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son…”

Did you catch that?

While they were THERE, the time came for her…

Now listen, if God could bring about a miraculous virgin birth, then I believe He was more than able to control the timing of those contractions.

He knew the time. He knew the journey. He knew the place.


And not just an “Oh, I saw that coming” kind of way. NO. He pre-planned it. Like from the beginning of time, HE KNEW.

700 years before the birth of Christ, Micah prophesies and says in 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from days of old, from ancient days.”

God had big plans to use that little, unlikely town to fulfill His promise. BIG PLANS. And so because He chose Bethlehem as the birthing spot, He knew it.

But what about Mary???

I could be wrong (it will not be the first or last time), but I don’t believe the angels disclosed to Mary the location of the Savior’s birth. So unless she was familiar with the OT prophecies or unless the Lord notified her in a way that isn’t documented in Scripture, the location of her birthing place may have been a complete surprise to her.

So how did she feel when she was told that she had to load up, pack up, and head to Bethlehem? How did she feel when she knew that a 90 mile journey was ahead of her?  How did she feel about leaving the comforts of her home and hittin’ the road on a camel, a donkey, or on her swollen feet (Scripture doesn’t say how she traveled). How did she feel about taking that journey with a full uterus and a bulging belly?

Now clearly, I’m not Mary (NOPE. NOT SAYING THAT.) But can we just imagine for a second? Just ponder for a moment?

Isn’t it possible that Mary would have wanted to be in the cozy confines of her home, near family and friends, when she gave birth? Isn’t it possible that she was already “nesting” in preparation for her Savior-son to be born? Isn’t it entirely possible that she never, ever intended to give birth after a terribly long road trip that would require her to not only pay taxes, but then also give birth where an animal manger was present?

Again, I don’t know how she felt, and I have no clue what she was thinking. But whatever the case, she submitted her will to His and did exactly what she already committed to do in Luke 1:38 when she told the Angel of the Lord, “…I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

Even in the midst of her not knowing, she trusted that the WORD did. 

Again, maybe it wasn’t a struggle for Mary to pack up and head to Bethlehem with a baby in womb (I’ll ask her when I get to heaven), but it’s safe to say that none of her journey was expected or went as she had planned.

A virgin birth?

An angel?

A son that was HIS SON?

A Savior?

A son that would die for her and the rest of the world?

I scarcely believe ANY of that was “in her plan” when she fell in love with Joseph, the wood-working man born in Bethlehem.

Some of her first words found in Luke 1:34 are, “How will this be?”

So as I’m sitting at my dining room table yesterday morning, reading this passage with fresh eyes and a tender heart, I could feel the Lord stirring in the confines of my soul.

Jessica, I know it wasn’t in your plans to potentially be in the hospital on Christmas Day with a foster son recovering from open-heart surgery, but can you trust me that I KNOW? Can you rest in believing that I have a good and perfect plan that was known before you even breathed your first breath of air? Can you submit to the journey, trusting that I lead as an all-knowing Father? Can you trust that I KNEW even if you didn’t? 

Friends, I don’t know what “plans” you have and what “plans” you desire, but could I suggest for you what I’m suggesting for my own heart?

Trust that because He always KNEW, He always has a PLAN. 

And if He is a God who KNOWS ALL and has ALL THE PLANS, then we can rest in believing that He can provide ALL WE NEED to deal with ALL THE THINGS that He KNEW but that are new to us.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 


2018: Presence and Joy, Jessica

As I sit here at the dining room table, with my Bible open before me (along with a journal and a couple of open, website tabs), my husband is plucking away at his guitar. Song after song, he sings and he plays. And as he plays, I read verse after verse.

The Christmas tree is lit; the house is still; a candle burns; and our hearts are tender.

As planned, our day began with a trip to the hospital. With bags packed and the kids secured at my parents, we drove to our second, pre-op testing appointment.

Blood work…check.

Chest X-Ray…check.



Meeting with the surgery team…check.

Meeting with the Anesthesiologist…check.

“You are cleared for surgery! See you tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM!”

Those words were music to our ears.

After having waited another month for this new surgery date (since the first one was canceled due to a contracted cold just days before his surgery date), we were elated. Breathing a sigh of relief, we headed for a celebratory lunch before heading to our hotel for the night.

With a pep in our step and relief in our souls, we rejoiced in hearing this news. When we first met this sweet, 14 day-old, baby boy (March 19th, 2018 to be exact), we knew he would need this open-heart surgery. And oh what a journey we’ve experienced and oh, what a wait it’s been!

And then my phone rang at 1:43 PM.

I could scarcely understand her words.

What is she saying? I don’t understand.

I’m not sure why I kept blinking as she talked. Maybe if I blinked she’d change her words? Maybe it would all be a miscommunication? A silly mistake? An accidental misunderstanding?

Keep blinking, Jessica. Blink. Blink. Blink. 

But she said it again.

“I’m sorry, Jessica. We are going to need to reschedule his surgery again. There is another surgery that needs to happen tomorrow morning.”

Blink. Blink. Blink. 

“We can reschedule it for December 20th.”

Blink. Blink. Blink. What is she even saying? 

I was in absolute shock. And truth be told, I still am.

I won’t share all the details of the rest of the afternoon but suffice to say, it was a flurry and blur of calls, cancellations, and new confirmation dates.

And here we are.

Singing the songs, reading the verses.

Opening my Advent devotional, I began to read. And as I read, I came to the following words found in Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

Immediately, the tears surfaced.


Because last year, on December 28th, 2017, I wrote the following words after reflecting on the past year and preparing for the one ahead:


So as I head into this next year, I’m asking the Lord for two more words. And so far, I’m hearing this…

2018: Presence and Joy, Jessica. 

And though I have no clue what awaits me in 2018, especially connected to these two words, I am starting by praying the following:

  • Lord, help me to intentionally draw near to your presence, listening and being still.
  • Help me be actively work to be present in the presence of others without distraction and without hurry.
  • Help me deliberately look for and choose joy, especially in the mundane and hard moments of my days.
  • Help me to consciously be a “joy-spreader” to those around me–in both my words and actions.
  • And may you, Lord, “make known to me the path of life [because] in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11


Did you catch that? Do you see that?

The verse I claimed in the last days of 2017 are the very words the Lord has brought me in the very last days of 2018. Sitting at this table with an ache in my heart and a pit in my gut, HIS PRESENCE DESCENDS.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

No words.

Silently, I started to reflect.

He was there in January when we said “goodbye” to our foster daughter of 8 months.

He was there in February when the grief was heavy and my LPCC exam was before me.

He was there in March when we said “hello” to a baby boy with a congenital heart defect.

He was there in April when we went to endless doctor appointments and countless specialists with our foster son.

He was there in May when we were told our foster son might have a form of Spina Bifida.

He was there in June when we struggled with some job stressors.

He was there in July when we were told our foster son might have a Genetic Syndrome and missing chromosomes.

He was there in August when we experienced significant feeding and weight gain issues with our foster son.

He was there in September when our oldest son accepted Christ and prayed for salvation.

He was there in October when we received the GOOD NEWS that our foster son was cleared of ALL genetic syndromes.

He was there in November when the first surgery was canceled and when our daughter repented and also prayed for salvation.


Revealing His presence in December, He continues to show up, show off, and encourage in a way that ONLY He can and He could.

Emmanuel. God with us.

And though those are just the “biggies” that come to mind, He was there in a thousand other ways…some seen and some not.

Through the big and little…the scary and happy…the hard and lonely…the weary and good…the highs and lows…


Friends, it’s been approximately 30,067,200 seconds.

I don’t know what the next 17 days of this year will hold, and I can’t guarantee that surgery will happen for our little guy in 2018, but here is what I do know…

He will not leave.

He will be near.

And in His presence, there is an eternal joy that cannot be stolen, squelched, or crushed.

Angels sing, praises ring to the newborn King
Peace on earth, here with us, joy awakening

At your feet we fall

Chris Tomlin, Adore


Sniffin’ Flowers

I was in the kitchen, washing bottles, as I called over to the kitchen table, “Hey, Evie! Can you tell me your AWANA verse for this week?”

We had reviewed it several times, but I wasn’t sure if she would be able to recall it on her own. But in typical Evie-fashion, she flashed me a smile and said the words to Isaiah 53:6, “I sure do! All we like sheep have gone astray!”

“Good job!”

With hands in soapy water, I thought I’d go a bit further and ask her a follow up question.

“Evie, what does it mean to go astray?”

“Oh, that means that you go off and sniff the flowers even though you hear the Shepherd callin’ your name!”

I almost laughed out loud.

What in the world?!?! Where did she get such a notion?

And then I remembered the story from her Cubbie’s book.

In short, Luvie Lamb got lost because she was busy smelling the flowers in the pasture, so Katie Collie had to come rescue her because Luvie got lost. And then the book rehearsed the story found in Luke 15 where Jesus seeks His lone, lost sheep.

That was it.

However, there was no specific connection drawn between the fictional story of Luvie the lost lamb and the Truth found in Luke’s account of the lost lamb; Evie had drawn the connection.

And I laughed and marveled at the Truth of her words.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Sniffin’ flowers instead of followin’ the Shepherd is a PERFECT description of going “astray.” 

Isn’t that what those idols do to us? Isn’t that the temptation that draws us away? Isn’t that how we engage with the things of this world? Isn’t that exactly how the enemy works?

Just like those pretty flowers…

we are drawn to the fancy and flashy of fame;

we are led away by the lure and liveliness of love;

we are led away by the attractiveness and appeal of approval;

we are led away by the materialism and majesty of money;

we are led away by the thrill and twinkling of titles;

we are led away by the enchantment and ecstasy of ease;

we are led away by the convincing and comforting of control;

we are led away by the satisfaction and security of stuff;

and on and on it goes.

The truth is…those idols are “pretty” and sometimes they “smell” really, really good. 

So when the Shepherd is calling us away from the flashiness of fame and the liveliness of love and is inviting us into obedience, we don’t always want to follow.

When the Shepherd is calling us away from the appeal of approval and the majesty of money and is leading us into holiness, we don’t always want to follow.

When the Shepherd is calling us away from the thrill of titles and the ecstasy of ease and is drawing us into pruning and growth, we don’t always want to follow.

When the Shepherd is calling us away from the comforts of control and the security of stuff and is drawing us into the unknown and new, we don’t always want to follow.

Because yes, Evie, sometimes we would rather “sniff the flowers” than obey the Shepherd. 

Friends, I don’t know what God is calling you away from and leading you into, but could I gently encourage you to walk away from those pretty, smelling flowers and trust the Shepherd?

Remember, this Shepherd is the ONE…

who does battle with the enemy to protect His flock;

who knows the names and needs of His lambs;

who has led His sheep to green pastures and living waters;

who has carried and comforted His flock in His mighty arms;

who restores the hearts and guides the souls of His lambs; and

who willingly laid down His life in order to rescue the souls of His sheep.

Friends, this Shepherd is the SAVIOR. 

And this is the SAME Shepherd-Savior that has sought the scattered, cared for the perishing, healed the broken, sustained the weary, and left the 99 to find the 1.

He came to find YOU.

So though it’s tempting to frolic in the field and sniff the flowers (neglecting His call and dismissing His leading) may we remember that not a single one of those “flower-idols” ever lived, died, and rose again to rescue our Luvie-Lamb selves.

“For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” Psalm 95:7




Books, Books, Books: A December Give-Away

Hey friends!

It’s December, and everyone needs a good stocking stuffer idea…or three! So this month, since our Superman (foster son) is having open-heart surgery, I thought I would highlight the three books that we have already started for his collection of books!

We are praying that his earthly heart will (someday) be both healed AND saved, and we think these tools will be great resources as we introduce Him to the ultimate HEART-HEALER…JESUS!

So let’s keep this short and sweet, so we can get busy baking our Christmas treats!

So what books am I giving away this month? 

I am giving away ONE copy of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy, ONE copy of First Bible Basics: A Counting Primer by Danielle Hitchen, and ONE copy of The Biggest Story ABC by Kevin DeYoung!

And why am I giving away these books?

I think I already let the Santa out of the bag…but suffice to say, these are great resources for little, growing hearts!

So what are a few of my favorite line(s) from this book? 

There’s TOO many lines I could share, so let me just share this…

I LOVE the concise and simple way each of these books shares the GOOD NEWS from Old Testament to New Testament…and I LOVE the illustrations that capture the attention of little eyes!

So how can you win a copy of one of these books? 

In the comment section below, share your FAVORITE gift you are giving this year and at 10 PM (EST) on Sunday, I will randomly choose THREE of you to win ONE of these three books.

Happy soon-to-be-Christmas and may God continue to work in ALL of our HEARTS in ALL of the ways! 


Nestled Courage

Hands down, our son is one of the most creative, imaginative souls I have ever met. He loves to create and re-create…re-create and create. Whether it be with paper, a roll of Scotch tape, bottles from the recycling bin, Legos, rope, branches from outside, toys from the toy box, or any other medium he can get his hands on, he uses it.

He re-creates movies he watches, concerts he views, and baseball games he attends. He sets up libraries, art classes, hospitals, construction companies, and fire stations. He makes cookie stands, Taco Trucks, football fields, gymnasiums, and has even attempted to re-create a theater production in the confines of his bedroom. He has pretended to be a teacher, a scientist, a therapist, the President, a train conductor, a garage door installer, a City Manager,…and any other professional worker you could re-create and imitate.

Every single Friday of 1st grade, he always chose the Imagination Tub as his reward for Fun Friday. With a tub of empty boxes, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and other odds and ends, he would leave the building at 2:25 with some “creation” in tow. He created mailboxes, laptops, bird feeders, chapter books, robots, and a myriad of other contraptions from the refuse found in that little, plastic tub.

For Christmas last year, the child squealed when he received a remote control car ream of paper and a carton filled with rolls of tape.

When he was a toddler, his grandparents sent him a box filled with packing peanuts because they knew of his love for creating, re-using, and re-purposing materials.

And barely a day passes where we don’t find a used piece of tape on the bottom of our socks from one of his many creations.

The kid is always creating.

But never have I seen him create with words. EVER.

So when our boy handed me his composition book filled with lyrics to a song he recently wrote, his book-loving, word-appreciating, blog-writing, counselor-mom (who was also a former English teacher) about melted into a puddle of parental pride.

I don’t know what I was expecting (maybe a version of Itsy Bitsy, Old McDonald, or some other jingle about a topic that interests elementary-aged boys that may or may not involve food, football, or farting), but I certainly wasn’t expecting what I read.

I’ve Got Courage

I’ve got courage that you will help me. 

I’ve got courage that you love me. 

Oh, I’ve got courage in you. 

Oh, I’ve got courage that you will be with me. 

Wait. What?!?

Over and over, I read and re-read the lyrics to his song. And as I read, my heart stilled and peace seemed to flood my soul.

I needed these words; I needed the promises of these words; and I needed the Truth of these words. 

As we prepare ourselves for our foster son’s open-heart surgery…

As we face a variety of unknowns related to future houses and potential jobs…

As we begin a new year…

As we ready ourselves for the court ruling that could end or extend our foster son’s placement in our home…

I needed to hear the words to I’ve Got Courage, and I needed to be reminded of the HOLY WHO behind the “you” in our son’s lyrics.

Courage (noun): the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief

I’ve got courage that you will help me. 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I’ve got courage that you love me. 
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38

Oh, I’ve got courage in you

Oh, I’ve got courage that you will be with me.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Our son’s lyrics were directly from the WORD.

As the writer of the song wisely notes, our courage isn’t found in ourselves, our abilities, or our stuff. NOPE. Our courage is found in His help, and in His love, and in His presence. And because of that, we can face ALL of the hard and ALL of the unknowns with courage that is securely nestled in Him.


The Night God Came for You, with His Ladder in Tow

Evie Rae,

I don’t want you to forget the special details of Friday, November 30th, 2018 (nor do I, for that matter), so I wanted to take a minute or two and write down the memories of this special evening when God lowered His ladder from heaven and reached down for your little heart!

We had just returned home from a fun-filled night that included Christmas lights, a horse-drawn wagon ride, and a family dinner to one of your favorites–Fuzzy’s Tacos! It was late and bed time had come and gone when we had returned home, but we decided to take the time and read our Advent book. And man, am I ever-glad we did!

Since “Superman” is having his heart surgery in the middle of Advent this year, we decided to start our readings early; we were on Day 8 that evening. As I opened the book, and began reading from Ann Voskamp’s, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, the Old Testament story of Jacob and his ladder dream covered the colorful pages.

“…The real amazing dream is that there are no ladders to climb up at all, ever, because Jesus comes down to get you…See, Jesus doesn’t just come down to show you the steps you have to take to get up to heaven–Jesus comes down makes Himself into the steps to carry you up to heaven. Everybody else may tell you the steps you have to take to get better But Jesus is the only One who becomes the steps to take you there Himself–because He love you already, just as you are. Jesus doesn’t wait for you to be good; He comes to be with us you…Jesus came from heaven to be with you…And Jesus is the ladder who wants to give you the gift of letting Him carry you up, no matter how far down you’ve fallen…” 

Quietly and intently, you listened.

At the end of the reading, it was your turn to hang the Jesse Tree ornament that evening. As you grabbed the wooden ornament with the ladder imprinted on it, I asked you the following question:

“Evie, what does the ladder mean?”

You responded quickly and confidently. “It means that Jesus is the ladder for me!”

“You’re right! Isn’t that awesome?”

You didn’t say anything and then you quietly said, “I think I’m going to ask Jesus to come live in my heart tomorrow.”

I’m not going to lie, I was surprised by your response.

Your brother had prayed for salvation on September 11, 2018 and when you heard the news, you simply and almost defiantly said, “I don’t need to pray that prayer.”

We didn’t push the topic or question your defiance, we just continued to pray that God would soften your heart in His perfect timing. And to be perfectly honest, I imagined that it wouldn’t be any time soon. So when you spoke of your desire to ask Jesus into your heart “tomorrow,” I was slightly stunned. As I sat in silence, recognizing that I had absolutely zero intention of doing any further pushing or prodding, your brother spoke instead.

“You know, Evie, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow. You could always ask Him tonight.” 


Your little blonde-head looked from Caden…to me…and then back to Caden. And though I hate to acknowledge this, I truly believed you were getting ready to give your brother a piece of your mind, and I assumed it would sound something along the lines of, “Caden, you don’t have to tell me!!!” Evie Rae, you are all kinds of sugar and spice, AND you are also all kinds of fiery and feisty! But you didn’t.

You looked back at me with big eyes and quietly said, “Mommy, can we go get Daddy? I want to ask Jesus into my heart.” 

I went and found your daddy immediately and then tucked your big brother into bed before climbing the stairs to your room. As I went to turn out the lights in your brother’s room, he simply asked, “Mommy? Is Evie old enough to understand what she is doing?”

To be honest, I didn’t have eloquent words, and I wasn’t entirely sure. I was six when I prayed for salvation, your brother was seven, and your daddy was eight. And here you were, at four, ready to accept God’s free gift of grace. I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I said what I truly believed.

“Buddy, I know that God works in our hearts at all ages, and I am going to trust that God is doing that right now with Evie.”

As we knelt around your bed, your twinkle lights sparkled. Immediately, I was transported to 1989 when I prayed for salvation on my own bed with my daddy (your Papa) at my side. Tears began to well. I couldn’t believe this was happening and yet, I had been praying for this since the day I learned you were growing in my womb.

On February 21st, 2014 (4 days before your BIRTHday), I wrote to you…

“Evie, your name means life, lively, living. I am thankful for your precious life, and I pray that as God continues to sustain your life, you will be a soul that breathes life into others. I pray that your life would be a lively testimony to God’s grace in your life, and I pray that you would bring much glory to God through your living.”

Almost four years later, God was answering my prayer and breathing new life into your lively soul.

As we knelt at your bedside at close to 10 PM on Friday, November 30th, your daddy and I asked you several questions.

When we asked you why you wanted Jesus to come live in your heart, you answered, “I want Him to come work in my heart, and I want to go to heaven with all of you.”

When we asked you what it means to be saved, you said, “I am a sinner and Jesus took my spot.”

When we asked you what happens when God saves you, you answered, “God sees HE when He looks at me.”

We were blown away by the depth of your answers and the personal way you expressed your little-big faith.

And then Daddy asked you, “Why tonight?”

Immediately, you brought up Saturday, October 27th–the day you refused to dance at your final dance class…the day you made Mommy really angry…the day your daddy talked to you, at length, about your choices and your refusal to obey…the day where you announced (for the first time) that you were NOT sorry for your actions and had zero remorse for your behavior.

I will probably remember that day forever (not because of what you did) but because of what I didn’t do.

I didn’t respond with patience that day, Evie. I didn’t respond with kindness, and I certainly didn’t respond in a way that I am proud of. AND YET, God used that day to plant and water a seed in your heart. He used that day when I couldn’t see how. He used that day to pave a way for your salvation.

We were blown away, and my mama-heart was laid low.

Not ONCE since that day (almost two months prior) had we rehearsed your wrong, revisited your disobedience, or reminded you of your defiance that day. We had forgiven you, moved on, and thought you had, too.

And YET…here you were, on a cold, Friday evening, noting that Saturday as the reason for why you knew you needed a Savior.

Donned in a purple nightgown, we held your hands as you prayed for salvation. And though I cannot remember all that you said, I could hear the excitement and repentance in your voice. And as you finished, the angels rejoiced and heaven shouted with joy! Welcome to the family, Evie Rae!!!

Before I left your room, I pulled your blanket up to your chin, hugged your body, and you rehearsed the words we have rehearsed since you could speak them.

“I’m smart; I’m kind; I’m beautiful!” And then you added a new phrase (all on your own) that you had never uttered before. “And Jesus is working in my heart!!!” 

With wet cheeks, I responded, “Yes, sweet girl, He is. He is working in your heart.”

Evie Rae, we rejoice with you; we praise God for His ladder of love that reached down into your heart and saved you on November 30th, 2018; and we pray that God continues to work in your heart from now until eternity.

With all of our love,

Mommy and Daddy








He Came to Mend Hearts

Counting down to Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. FAV-O-RITE!

I love the twinkling lights; I love the Christmas festivities; I love the decorating with memories; and I absolutely love the anticipation that Advent brings to both our home and hearts.

Every year, we drag out the box full of Christmas books (because yes, mama has a book-problem), and we ready our Advent preparations. Pulling from our storage, we dust off the wire Advent tree; we place the wooden Jesse Tree ornaments in a bowl; and we secure our treasured Advent book to the middle of the kitchen table.

And the waiting begins.

As we countdown to the arrival of Christmas and talk about our eagerness for the second coming of Christ, I love the intentional focus and the calm slowness that settles over our home. Christmas music plays in the background, cinnamon candles burn, and we deck the halls and walls with berries and burlap.

Every book we read…every winter festivity we attend…every cookie we bake…every gift we wrap, we point our eyes toward the Christ-child. And as we buy and wrap the gifts we both give and receive, we speak of the STAR who donned that wood-beamed TREE–the HOLY BABY that blessed the world with the grace-filled gift of mercy we call “salvation.”

I. love. this. season.

So when our foster son’s open-heart surgery was canceled for November and rescheduled for December 14th, the tears stung.

As I hung up the phone with the Children’s Hospital, the thought reverberated in my head.

But that’s right in the middle of Advent! But that’s right in the middle of Advent!! But that’s right in the middle of Advent!! 

And as the thought replayed, my heart became sour.

This wasn’t fair, and I was angry.

This wasn’t easy, and I was frustrated.

This wasn’t planned, and I was sad.

Friends, if I’m gonna keep it real, I let out a fist-shake to heaven and angry-whispered in the deepest parts of my soul, “This sacrifice is too much, God! TOO much! Haven’t we given enough? Why this? Why then? WHY?!?!?”

I wanted to be dancing to Christmas music and clinking mugs of hot chocolate…not sitting in a surgery waiting room!

I wanted to be decorating gingerbread houses in Christmas jammies and wrapping last-minute gifts…not huddled over a baby in an ICU bed with a scar down the middle of his chest!!

I wanted to be slowly and intentionally counting down to Christmas in the confines of my cozy home…not living out of a suitcase and eating from a hospital cafeteria!!!

I realize it doesn’t sound pretty or holy, but it’s entirely true.

I was frustrated, hurt, and all-kinds of mad and disappointed. And for the next two days, I stewed over the unplanned, unfair, difficulty of it all. My kids knew about my sadness; my husband knew about my frustration; and the Lord knew ALL about my anger.

And as I allowed myself more than enough space to grieve and simmer, the Lord was ever-so faithful and ever-so patient with my tantrum.

When I heard the words of His tender whisper, I had my head buried in a closet of old things that were receiving the wrath of my anger.

Ya know Jessica…the whole reason I came was because hearts needed mending.

I stopped dead in my angry purge, and the tears came. And they came, and they came, and they came.

It was true. It was entirely true.

And just as true as His whisper was, it was even more true that my heart was idolizing the countdown more than the Christ


Somewhere along the way, I had erected an idol in a corner of my heart that was labeled “Best ways to celebrate Advent” and without consciously being aware, my heart was becoming side-tracked by the stuff of celebrating rather than the Savior of the season.

Holy ouch.

I let His words simmer, and the Spirit spoke His Truth.

I came for your sadness; I came for your anger; and I came for your hurt. I came because of the disappointments; I came because of the difficult; and I came because things aren’t as I planned. I didn’t come because your life was “together” and your celebrations “perfect;” I came because they aren’t and would never be, apart from me. Jessica, I came for ALL kinds of busted plans and broken hearts (yours included), and I came because you needed rescue from YOU. 

It was true, Truth.

And just when I thought He was done, He whispered one more thing.

I don’t need your celebrations, Jessica; I need your worship. And sometimes worship looks like sacrificially serving–letting go of your desires and laying aside your plans. So maybe this year you’ll celebrate Christmas ME by loving a baby who is swaddled in ICU clothes and lying in a hospital bed. 

I was un-done. And truth be told, I still am.

So as we enter this Advent season, I find myself approaching the month of December with a tender heart and humbled knees–ready and willing to celebrate the Savior by offering hands of service and giving feet of sacrifice. Because isn’t that we He did that very, first Christmas for us?

Though He was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slaveand was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died [to self] a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8

I have no clue what December holds, but I do know this: He came to mend hearts, and I’m so very glad He did.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1