Advent, meaning arrival or coming is a time to prepare for the arrival of Christ. Each week leading up to Christmas I’d like to help point you toward hope, faith, joy, and peace as we prepare for the arrival of our King.
A voice of one calling:
In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 40:3-5 gives me hope because it speaks about wrong things made right. For adoptive, foster, and kinship caregivers, our kids have had so many wrong things happen to them before coming to us—things that make the holidays full of triggers and we wonder if they will ever overcome the past.
Faith for the Journey
Over my twenty-two years as a kinship and adoptive parent, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Knowing now how much kids with trauma histories and FASD struggle throughout the holiday season—I asked my adult kids what we did wrong and what we possibly got right over the years.
One daughter shared that her depression gets worse during Christmas, but having someone to talk with helps. If you have a child who tends to experience anxiety or depression, be mindful that too much holiday hubbub might exacerbate the situation.
Modify your expectations so you won’t be let down. Last year one of my teenage sons
presented me with two lovingly wrapped gifts on Christmas morning. Unwrapping the
first present with surprise laced with suspicion, I discovered a beautiful scented candle
—one which looked very familiar. With growing apprehension I opened the second, a
nice new role of toilet paper from our linen closet.
My son was beside himself with laughter while I choked back tears. Thoughts about how hard I work to make Christmas special for everyone—including him—threatened to pull my trigger. Before I could react the letters F-A-S-D flashed in my mind. Now understanding brain differences, I made every effort to self regulate.
Lack of impulse control and abstract reasoning combined with a lack of comprehending cause-and-effect are all part of FASD. My teenage son saw the candle and toilet paper as hysterical gag gifts—as most teenage boys would. But his disability prevented him from thinking through how his gifts might make me feel.
My oldest daughter gave an unexpected answer to my Christmas question. Now thirty-one and married, she expressed appreciation for always treating her like one of the bunch and never like an outcast.
Most of our twenty-two year history with this child was a struggle—especially through her teens and twenties. But now, mature enough to process her past, she extends grace to her previously ill-equipped parents. The Lord has leveled the mountains and filled in the valley’s in her life and in our relationship.
This holiday season, as we slog through the messiness of parenting kids from hard places—we must place our faith in the One who makes crooked paths straight.
Throughout December, each Advent blog post is a companion to my Orphans No More podcast Advent series. Wrapped up in each post and episode are three gifts for you:
• An Advent Assignment
• A worship song
• A prayer for you
This week as we prepare our hearts for the arrival of our newborn King, during a time when our kids’ behaviors can be off the charts and our faith waivers, our assignment is to trust in the One who came to save us.
Continue to spend 5-15 minutes each day to focus on Jesus. Use a Christmas devotional or read through the Gospel of Luke. Ponder the words of a song I recently discovered — O Come, All You Unfaithful by Sovereign Grace. You can find the lyrics HERE. Meditate on the words “Christ is born for YOU.”
You can listen to O Come All You Unfaithful and even O Come All Ye Faithful but this week I invite you to soak in the worship song Waiting Here For You. You can find it in your music App—I listened to the version by Christy Nockels. For this one, stand up, raise your hands high, and worship in the presence of the One we desperately need.
Let me pray for you:
Father, we thank you that you are the God who makes crooked things straight. You level the mountains and fill in the valleys. You give us beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning. We need you, Lord, as we and our kids navigate the holiday season. This wonderful time of the year can feel like the worst time of the year as our kids struggle and our hopes and dreams for a Merry Christmas with peace on earth and joy comes crashing down as our kids’ behaviors ramp up.
Our holidays don’t look anything like the picture perfect Christmas card we got in the mail today. So we look to you, O God. You are where our help comes from. Help us to set the right expectations for our kids and for ourselves. Help us to find peace in the little things.
Lord, we ask you to set our holiday schedule. Give us wisdom to know when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’. Help us remember that Christmas is all about YOU. Help us
experience YOU this season.
Minister to weary parents. Show us your glory like you showed it to the shepherds in the fields watching their flocks. Minister to our hearts so we can experience your peace this holiday season—peace in our homes, peace in our hearts, peace of mind to trust you with our kids—even when it seems dark. Help us to remember that YOU are the light shining in the darkness. In Jesus Name. Amen.