God with Us – When Christmas Eve is Not as We Expected

It’s early Christmas Eve morning – dark outside with snow falling.  I’ve been silent as we’ve tried to make sense of the last few days.  Friday night a point came when it was clear that we could not keep everyone safe.  We sought help and God met our need.  I’m doing my best to balance being authentic and protecting my daughter’s privacy, so I will simply say that Dimples is not with us right now.  We aren’t sure how many days this will be, but we know it will be through Christmas and likely through the end of the month.  We have some new people on our team who are helping Dimples and advising us.  Our prayer continues to be that the Lord will open doors, we will clearly see them, and He will give us the grace to walk through.  We are desperate for Dimples’ healing and feel a sense of urgency to do all that we can to bring this about.

God is writing a story with our lives.  We all know that a good story has some essential parts, and somewhere in the middle there has to be a conflict or a problem to solve, or the story has no significance.  I look at our story and see the characters, I see the struggles and I don’t know what is going to happen next.  But I know the author and I trust him to write a good story with our lives. Not only that, I believe with all my heart that there is a good ending coming.  One day, Dimples will be whole and she will be healed.  I don’t know if it will be in one year, or even in this life, but I know it will happen because she is a precious and loved child of God.

There is nothing that is outside of the Lord’s control – as my pastor said yesterday, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in our family and in Dimples’ life.  She needs to be healed – we all need to be healed.  Her story began before we knew her and there was suffering and pain beyond what most of us can imagine.  Jesus wove her into our family, knowing that the harm that had been done would not instantly heal.  We’ve sought many answers, and I don’t regret a single path that we’ve taken.  In fact, I believe that we’ve seen some benefit from each therapy we’ve tried, but it has not been enough.

I’m having a difficult time switching into Christmas preparations.  My mind is running along one highway and I need to somehow merge over into the flow of happy traffic that feels so strange right now.  Our Christmas cards are still stacked on the kitchen counter, groceries are still at the store and not in my kitchen.  I want somebody to show up and say, “We’re here!  It’s time for Christmas!” then tie on an apron to join me as I cook.  I’m praying for grace and joy that overflows onto my family.

Merry Christmas friends – Emmanuel has come.  He is here and I can only say, “Thank you Jesus for not leaving us to journey through this life of brokenness alone.”

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

68 Comments

  1. Katie Nelson Bradshaw
    December 24, 2012

    Thinking of you friend, you all are such special people. May this unexpected Christmas also include peace and rest and grace. Love to you all!!
    KT

    Reply
  2. Louise Brodecky Hudson
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for healing, hope and joy to be found in the midst of pain and chaos. I'm also praying for some sweet sisters who live closer than I do in Missouri to show up with those aprons and give you a hand.

    Reply
  3. Leslie Raneri
    December 24, 2012

    I wish we were there. God knows and loves Dimples and each of you. He knows the plans He has for each of you, plans for a future and a hope. Mary also suffered in watching her Son suffer, and at the darkest moments, He gave her others to be with her and care for her. We are praying for you guys, for God's presence and peace, and against the plans of the enemy. We love you.

    Reply
  4. Paula Miles Spears
    December 24, 2012

    Lisa… I love that little girl, and my heart is so broken for all of you right now. My prayers are with all of you. I don't know what else to say except that I wish that I could help in some way. Blessings and peace to all of you.

    Reply
  5. Laine
    December 24, 2012

    My prayers are with your family.

    Reply
  6. Ann Marie
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you Lisa. There are no words that would be helpful right now, just as you know there are no easy answers. Know that many are praying for you and that our hearts are aching with you.

    Reply
  7. angela
    December 24, 2012

    Prayers.

    Reply
  8. Kayla
    December 24, 2012

    I am so sorry to hear that. I cannot fathom how much your heart is feeling, so many strong emotions. And having such an event happen at a time like Christmas, a time when so much is "expected" in terms of hospitality and food and attitude…extra hard. Praying with you for healing for all and for God to fill you with what you need for each moment. Moment by moment, He will provide.

    Reply
  9. Donna
    December 24, 2012

    We are praying for you all. It seems like such a small statement, but knowing it is filled with power and hope. If there was not 12 hours and lots of snow between us I would happily jump in the car and come tie my apron on with you. Praying for a peaceful Christmas.

    Reply
  10. KarenP
    December 24, 2012

    Lisa,
    I can feel your sorrow as I read, but I can also see that you know where your hope lies and you are clinging to Him. Praying for sweet peace and joy for all.

    Reply
  11. Tricia
    December 24, 2012

    Dearest Lisa, hugs and prayers for you and yours. This is NOT to heap anything else on your weary soul, but we have seen some pretty amazing jump in healing and help as we have worked with a naturapath and made some significant changes in diet along with attempting to heal gut/brain barrier stuff. This was something I delayed for years – I wasn't in a place to deal with it. Just a thought and in no way trying to throw stuff on your sad and weary heart. If you want more info, shoot me an email at tvwilson7@gmail.com. Anytime is fine – know you have much to focus on right now with your family. I hope that you are able to celebrate tonight and tomorrow though your heart is torn. Emmanuel.

    Reply
  12. Kelli
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you, my friend. Thank you for being there for our family in the midst of dark days. I have had Dimples on my heart for as long as I have read your blog. I will continue to pray for her healing. May God give you grace to rest in Him & be present with your family in these next few days. Trusting in His love & goodness with you.

    Reply
  13. Hannah Jasmine Tucker
    December 24, 2012

    Praying, praying, praying for you all.

    Reply
  14. Angelina Denver
    December 24, 2012

    My prayers are with you all. You know the truth I see it this writing. God has a plan and it is beautiful. It is the watching it unfold and the daily living of it that are so hard and unpredictable. I pray for peace for you and your husband over this part of her story and that she has some healing as the result of this most recent event.

    Reply
  15. Ellen
    December 24, 2012

    Our pastor assured us yesterday that there's a place for weeping and mourning at Christmas time. Our reality is that this Season isn't all "Holly Jolly," by golly. Enter the women of Bethlehem who mourned the brutal killing of their sons by Herod after the Magi came to worship the newborn King. We can weep with them, mourning the pain.

    Bless the Lord, we also have hope because of the Baby who fled with his parents to exile in Egypt, the Baby born to die and save us from ourselves. The Baby born to make all things new – including you and Russ, Dimples, ALL of your children.

    Waiting with expectant hope for His second Advent….
    Ellen

    Reply
  16. Jennifer
    December 24, 2012

    Oh Lisa…. I would love to be that person! If only you were still living up the hill. Will be thinking about you over these next few hours and days.

    Long distance hugs.

    Reply
  17. Emily
    December 24, 2012

    I love you all so much. I am praying so hard.

    "But I know the author and I trust him to write a good story with our lives."

    "…I know it will happen *because she is a precious and loved child of God.*"

    Reply
  18. Scooping it up
    December 24, 2012

    Lisa, I am so sorry. You are an example to us all. I hope your faith and love sustain your family at this time with Jesus. Praying for all the little people I know who were hurt so badly. Sobering on this holiday that is supposed to be so full of cheer.

    Reply
  19. Julie
    December 24, 2012

    Thank you for continually turning to Christ's power and love. Your words bring glory to Him. Trusting with you for healing for your daughter, and resurrection joy and peace for your whole family. Immanuel; God with us – our hope.

    Reply
  20. Laurel
    December 24, 2012

    If I lived nearby, I would be right over to help. 🙂

    I do understand the pain you are walking through. I am here for you if you want to talk.

    Take a moment to catch your breath today. Let all of the kids pitch in to help with the essentials. Don't worry about the Christmas Cards until next week (which is when mine will go out, as well).

    While your heart will be heavy without Dimples at home for Christmas, I really encourage you to ENJOY the lack of stress . . . ENJOY each and every one of your other children . . . focus on Russ and the children that you do have at home. They NEED your undivided attention. Allow this time of respite (whether short or long) to be a GIFT to each of you.

    Love, Hugs, & Prayers!!!

    Laurel

    Reply
  21. Emily
    December 24, 2012

    ps, would LOVE to show up and say "We're here! It's time for Christmas!" and start baking with you.

    Reply
  22. Alyssa
    December 24, 2012

    Though I only know you through your blog, I am thinking of you family and praying for you today… this must be really hard, but I believe with you that our powerful God will bring healing. I pray for the peace that passes understanding to guard you hearts and minds and for you to feel the burden lift and be able to enjoy the holiday with your family. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. He is able to do more than we can ask or think– in His way and time! Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  23. ahhodgman
    December 24, 2012

    Thinking of you all and hoping tomorrow is relaxed and peaceful. It's lucky that Christmas is a process, not just a day–and not something that postpones its arrival until all the cards are sent. (Thank heaven, because mine aren't even started.) It also doesn't end after the 25th is over. At some point or other in the next twelve days, you'll have a brush of Christmas spirit–maybe even tomorrow.

    Reply
  24. Lori
    December 24, 2012

    Wishing we were close enough to share the load. We love you all and are praying that you wake to a Christmas filled with peace in your hearts.

    Reply
  25. Mary (Owlhaven)
    December 24, 2012

    Lisa,
    Hugs and prayers for your family…
    Mary

    Reply
  26. Karen K.
    December 24, 2012

    I have no words to say that will make this any better for you or that will in some magic way help Dimples. Just know that you are by no means alone on this path you are walking. Wishing you peace.

    Reply
  27. Coffee mom
    December 24, 2012

    If I lived close enough I'd bring groceries and goodies and say sit down and much on this and I'll cook! And pray w you and hug you all hard. This is the cross. And it's where we learn the depths of real love and trust. And it hurts just as much as you think it does. It's excruciating. But, it will transform you all in love and healing -even if you can't see how. Yet. I'll offer up my midnight Mass for you and trust in my ongoing daily prayer. I'll ask Marta and Br Peter Joseph to as well….they're my swat team for prayer.

    I'm wishing you a deep peace tomorrow and thru this octave of Christmas. The Word of Grace is almost here, keep breathing.

    Love and hugs, M

    Reply
  28. Mary
    December 24, 2012

    Believing with you for her healing. Sure wish I lived close enough to come help you cook.

    Reply
  29. Cindy
    December 24, 2012

    Sweet Friend,

    You are in my thoughts and my prayers. I do know the sadness for the missing family member. Our daughter too, will not be with us in our home for Christmas. Praying for your strength and wisdom and for the healing of Dimples.

    I love you,
    Cindy

    Reply
  30. Almond Tea
    December 24, 2012

    Our daughter from China is not with us either. There will be one less around our tree tomorrow morning. I understand your pain all too well. And I'm sorry.

    But through it all, I have come to believe, no, KNOW that God works through me for his glory and purpose. For that, I am ever humbled and thankful.

    Merry Christmas!

    Reply
  31. Deborah
    December 24, 2012

    I read on a church sign that there is no "testimony" without the TEST…… I pray for you and your family – I have been where you are and I would love to share our story with you. It is a story of pain and agony, followed by grace and redemption……. it did not follow the path we expected – but it followed God's perfect path. Prayers for a peaceful and bright Christmas for you all.

    Reply
  32. Abbey
    December 24, 2012

    Wish I were there to show up and tie that apron on….Lisa, my prayers are with you and your family. I do pray that God will meet you even in this pain, with the joy of Christmas. There is deep meaning in that long-awaited savior breaking through the darkness in an unexpected way…praying He will be near to you…

    Reply
  33. Carrie
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you and for your family and for Dimples. God does have the entire story written and we know the outcome. It is just tough sometimes living through the middle parts as you say. Appreciate your openness and admire your ability to supernaturally persevere in spite of those mountains in front of you. May God be close to all of you during this season of life.

    Reply
  34. Sheryl
    December 24, 2012

    peace to you and your family…hard to know what to say ….we mourn with you as you mourn but we will rejoice with you when you rejoice

    Reply
  35. Eileen
    December 24, 2012

    You and your sweet Dimples are in our prayers. I know God is mindful of the trials and the sorrows you're going through and has a plan for your family and your daughter.

    Reply
  36. Jo Anna
    December 24, 2012

    Prayers are being lifted up for you and your family.

    Reply
  37. AmyE
    December 24, 2012

    I am crying as I read this … typed a message to you a few days ago and then deleted it … wanting so desperately for someone to tell me it will all be ok … that it will get better. Thank you for your openness. Will pray for your family tonight as I pray for mine … nothing as severe as what you are facing … but he is still little and there is so much that is not known and not healed … and I feel joy-less during this season, but I cling to hope … and each song that says God With Us is my lifeline to hang on. O Come Emmanuel! …

    Reply
  38. diane
    December 24, 2012

    thank you for you honesty

    Reply
  39. Traci
    December 24, 2012

    I've been reading Mary Beth Chapman's book and I love the way her friends all step in when she is hurting. They literally give her the clothes off their bodies. I know it's not the same, but you and your family are grieving and have been for years. If I were close enough, I would show up with groceries. I'm not a great cook, but I would surly try. Praying that loved ones will surround you and your family this Christmas and bless you.
    Praying for God's healing for all of you on this side of glory.

    Reply
  40. Chantelle
    December 24, 2012

    (((((((((((((((((((hug))))))))))))))))))))))

    Reply
  41. nancileamarie
    December 24, 2012

    I'm praying for you. Don't have lots of words, but my heart hurts for you and I am praying the Lord will give you all you need–one moment at a time.

    Reply
  42. Amber
    December 24, 2012

    Love your heart and your faithfulness. You have spoken many many truths in this post. Supporting you from afar even though I don't know you personally!!! Praying for your family.

    Reply
  43. kristine
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you and thinking of all your family members during this Christmas season.

    Reply
  44. Katie Szotkiewicz Patel
    December 24, 2012

    Oh Lisa! I so wish I lived close…I would sure come help cook with you! I don't know what to say except you are handling everything with such grace and most of all amazing faith. I am praying for you and hurting with you, and also expectantly waiting for our great Healer to show Himself and His mightiness as he continues to write this story, as you say in your blog. May God strengthen and equip you during this time, may He wrap His arms of comfort so near to you and your whole family, and we praise Him in advance that, as you say, this story DOES end with a healed and whole little girl, that He who began a good work in her is faithful to complete it. Hanging on His promises with and for you, and lifting you up in prayer. Love you!

    Reply
  45. Jennifer P
    December 24, 2012

    Thank you for sharing the pain and the victories. I'm sorry for that feeling of things not expected. It's tough. I love your statement: "There is nothing outside of the Lord's control." I will come back to that often.

    Reply
  46. mamitaj
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you this evening, Lisa.

    Reply
  47. Dana
    December 24, 2012

    Oh Lisa, we've never even met, but I've followed your story for a couple of years now. Tonight I wondered how Dimples was doing and came over to see if you'd posted anything. Praying for Dimples and for your whole family.

    Reply
  48. Zack's Mom
    December 24, 2012

    Prayers and hugs for both you and Dimples tonight…take good care of one another during this tough time.

    Reply
  49. Monique
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for your family Lisa

    Reply
  50. courtneycassada
    December 24, 2012

    how i wish i could be with you PHYSICALLY…but know that so many are holding you up!

    Reply
  51. sleighs79
    December 24, 2012

    Praying for you and the whole family on this most painful of Christmases. Believing with you for ultimate healing and redemption. Much love from many miles away.

    Reply
  52. Heidi
    December 24, 2012

    Dear Lisa, you are on my heart and in my prayers.

    "And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
    Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
    Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing:
    O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing."
    Third verse of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear"

    Wishing I could bring cookies and my new baby over.

    Reply
  53. Sandie
    December 25, 2012

    I hope that this may be a time of rest and healing for you and all of your children. X

    Reply
  54. Sonya Hillrich
    December 25, 2012

    Just want to join in with the rest of the words that reach across the miles.
    Met you at Nashville ETC & recently started regularly as I identify so much with your struggles & vulnerabilities.
    Thanks for sharing your heart & also being a great example of protecting your family. I may be where you are someday, & I stand with you today in the power of the Spirit.
    Imagine that all us moms who read & pray here with you are tying on so many aprons & praying you through your day.
    Grace~

    Reply
  55. Stephanie
    December 25, 2012

    I will pray for your family today as I continue to pray, too, for loved ones in our own family walking a very similar path this Christmas. May God give you grace and strength through our blessed Emmanuel.

    Reply
  56. Jenny
    December 25, 2012

    My heart aches for you. I understand your heartache having had several behavioral foster children. I too keep clinging to the promise that healing WILL come to our kiddos some day whether here on earth or in Heaven. Blessings, peace, and JOY to your and your family today. Interceding on your behalf and believing with you for healing for your precious daughter. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  57. Joelle
    December 25, 2012

    Crying with you and trusting God for the end of the story. If there is ever anything I can do that would be of help in any way please let me know. I know we are separated by many, many miles but my heart is with all of you. Blessings.

    Reply
  58. Michelle
    December 25, 2012

    Beautifully and wonderfully said. May God be close in comfort and strength. May his healing power be very evident. May there be peace and harmony and joy. In his powerful, faithful name.

    Reply
  59. Dawn
    December 25, 2012

    Thoughts and prayers!

    Reply
  60. Angela Arnett Stone
    December 26, 2012

    When I was a teenage I begged my parents to let me leave because I did not feel safe around my sister. After three weeks I had to go home but refused to do so until that sister was gone. So she left and lived with another family in our neighborhood for 2-3 months. She did not live with us over Christmas that year. It was hard on everyone. Things eventually got better but it was not quick. She felt abandoned for being sent away but we were safe and it was necessary. I will be praying for your family.

    Reply
  61. Sharon
    December 26, 2012

    Just seeing this now and praying for your whole family.

    Reply
  62. ERIKA
    December 26, 2012

    Praying and believing .. .all of us here and many more praying for your family and this beautiful sweet precious daughter of yours… Matthew 18:19,20 in JESUS sweet precious name!!!!!

    Reply
  63. Darc
    December 26, 2012

    Praying for each of you dear one. I love the perspective you share–that God is the Author and He will indeed. Ring about a beautiful ending to the story. Your faith is strong but oh I can imagine how heavy your heart can be. Praying for peace and continued security in His sovereignty. Darci

    Reply
  64. Mary Andrews
    December 26, 2012

    Dear Lisa, there are no words that apply describe our love for you, Russ and your children. You are one of the bravest women I know. You have walked every path with Dimples. You have tired multiple avenues to help her heal. You have done more than anyone else could have done. Take time to rest now. Smother the family with all the love in your heart, even if you feel tapped out right now and they will envelope you in love right back. We are here to support you and Russ in all your future decisions for Dimples care. Love you all, Mom and Dad

    Reply
  65. Bramfam
    December 26, 2012

    Praying…. And would certainly love to cook with you someday!!

    Reply
  66. renee
    January 1, 2013

    Praying for you all!

    Reply
  67. susan
    January 1, 2013

    I am just catching up with events in your family…hugs, prayers, karma…..and hope for a good future for Dimples. Susan PD

    Reply
  68. Melissa Newton
    January 4, 2013

    I am just now catching up on blogs from over the holidays. I just prayed for you and your family. And I will continue to. Praying for healing.

    Reply

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