We got a phone call late in December of 2014 that tipped our Christmas upside down…
We’d finally been approved as foster parents only a week ago, but were already guardians of a baby girl for the past 8 months. I have to admit I was thinking “one and done” with no plans for more kids. We already have 3 teenagers, so one additional baby was enough. Plus, Christmas was only a week away with a family trip scheduled out of town.
I watched my wife as she took the call and I immediately knew I was in big trouble. There were 2 twin boys, 2 years old who needed a foster home.
She explained about our trip, but they said they’d find a place to house the kids while we were gone. The boys needed a home immediately.
When the social worker dropped them off that night, they each had a small plastic Target bag of items. That was it, other than the car seats they rode in. When we gathered them into our family room, they were frightened and speechless.
I picked up one of the twins to move him, and he laid his head on my shoulder. We later learned he has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When my wife changed the brother’s clothes, she noticed bruising and a huge welt on his back.
As I held the boy with PTSD and began to think what he’d been through at just 2 years old, I had myself a really good cry.
This is not what we’d planned for Christmas. I had a “Thomas Kinkade Christmas” in mind in the Smoky Mountains with my immediate family. Though we hadn’t left yet, my mind was already there.
I believe the “photoshopping” of Christmas is what’s actually destroying it for us. We imagine some perfect, and incredibly selfish, fantasy. So when we’re faced with the reality of our family (always some disappointments), our finances (“poof”) and the inevitable let down after gifts are opened, Christmas can never quite live up to expectations.
But when you look at God’s take on Christmas, it was never meant to be ideal. Everything He did on that night 2000+ years ago is so counterintuitive, only our overfamiliarity with the Nativity’s details make it seem normal to us.
If we’re smart, we’ll hear the message God is sending us through it…
“Heaven’s royalty is born in a feeding trough” – God is giving a commentary on what He thinks of our rampaging materialism and demand for comfort. The only way His Son’s birth could have been more humble is if Jesus were born in the dirt.
“Angels announce Christ’s birth to shepherds” – shepherds were considered just a step above slaves in that society. God was telling us He sees value in people quite differently than we do. We’d only send out a press release to the wisemen – God includes the riffraff.
“Wisemen traveled from afar” – Christianity is not just for the uneducated. It has depth enough for the greatest intellects, if only they have the depth to recognize it.
“A star would guide them” – God set a beacon visible to anyone. The only prerequisite was they had to be looking for it. And still today, those who wish to know God find the path to Him clearly marked. But those who wish to avoid Him can’t see Him even when He’s shining right in their eyes.
“No room in the inn” – if you’re addicted to control and a tidy little life, you might want to pass on God. Following Him will lead you into circumstances for which you are unqualified and unprepared. Your ability to improvise and trust Him while surrounded by chaos is non-negotiable.
That last point is the one God has to keep teaching me. But I’m just three days into this journey now, but I’m seeing God’s plan. There’s so much chaotic joy in our house that this may be the best Christmas ever. And we just found out their birth mother is letting us take the twins with us for Christmas. What a messy, wonderful holiday it will be!
No matter how messed up your Christmas seems, take my advice – roll with it. You may be stunned how the best presents come delivered.
Ours came with frightened faces, a few tears, and two small Target bags from God.
UPDATE: the twin boys stayed with us for several months, and were eventually put into the custody of their aunt. As with many foster kids, we don’t know where they are now but trust God to take care of them when we no longer can…
Watch Dave share this message with his congregation, recorded Live@LegacyChurch of Naples, FL – A WHITE CHRISTMAS
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