Target Bags from God

The best Christmases are the ones we allow God to interrupt

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!twins

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

For more information about foster parenting, visit the Florida Baptist Children’s Home online at

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7 thoughts on “Target Bags from God

  1. Thank you for sharing the truth about Christmas in the Target Bags from God. I am a photographer and you are right the “photoshooting” Christmases that I like to create simply do not exist. Jesus is REAL!!! Thank you GOD!

    • Thank you for reading, Rhoda! Appreciate your thoughts and support. Please pray for us – we’ll need it ;0)

      God bless,

  2. This was truly a moving and touching story. I never realized how we do “picture” Christmas to be a particular way. God bless you for seeing things how you did. Those twins are so lucky to have met you and your family

    • Marijoyce,

      Thanks for your encouragement with the article and our new challenge. The boys are adorable but are dealing with the residue from some horrible circumstances. We need not only lots of love but also wisdom from God to know how to respond to the fears they have.

      Appreciate your prayers, and thanks again for reading.

      God bless,

  3. I shared this link on FB and me and my friends, particularly those of us who have fostered and/or adopted are wondering why you felt it appropriate to share the photo of these little boys? Isn’t this disallowed by the state who holds their guardianship?

    • Thanks for the question, L. I don’t normally answer anonymous questions, but I will take this one on for the sake of clarifying the situation.

      We’ve been informed by our Foster organization that sharing photos is not a problem, only names. The situation with us is different than in a closed adoption where the birth mother does not know your name. Foster parents are known by the birth parent, and are often in direct contact with them about the need of their children. And the abuse the children have received has been at the hands of another Foster parent, so their condition is not specifically caused by the birth parent.

      Our two oldest children (22 and 18) are from open adoptions, which is a similar situation as well. Usually only closed adoptions need to be secretive, unless there is some extenuating circumstance.

      Thanks for the question and God bless,

  4. The photo made the story all the more compelling. These are real children and their picture serves as a reminder that, normal as they look, we never know what journey someone has been through. In 2 years these boys have seen and endeared so much. Seeing these beautiful faces and knowing they will now be loved in a way they haven’t experienced before …for as long as they’re in your care … … its affirming and beautiful.

    There are many more like your new children who need families to show them what love is and can be.