advent, blended family, christmas, joy, Uncategorized

Day 10 – Santa Wraps – JBA

We met and married in 10 weeks. We knew it was right and we dove in.

Because of the speed in which we moved, there were two things we didn’t talk about that, in time, caused some issues.

How did we not discuss it?! We married in February, and as summer rolled around and football season began, it was discovered that (GASP!) we loved rival teams!!!!  OH THE HORROR! But a marriage covenant is a marriage covenant and we would just have to learn to cope.

There were only a few seasons of rivalry in our home until my life-long team finally decided to make good on their threat and skip town. They were so bad for so long and I stuck it out – I was a loyal fan! But my loyalty to my home town ran out once they left. I couldn’t do it anymore. The (now LA) Chargers are dead to me.  The bright side is that I have now won the best wife award by coming over to the dark side – I mean, the Kansas City Chiefs. (My husband wants me to add, “the winning side” which, to his credit is true).

The second major issue we encountered was at Christmastime. I was so excited to be a mom and do all the mom-things. We dreamed up a list and shopped for our daughter’s gifts, decorated, and loved establishing our own traditions – that is until the time came for gift wrapping. I had thought through it all: each girl would have their own wrapping paper according to their personality (but still complimenting each other), and Santa’s wrapping paper was also specific to each girl – but Santa themed, of course. Or so I thought.

To my surprise, my husband had a visceral response to the idea that Santa would wrap his gifts. His experience was that Santa NEVER would wrap his gifts, but simply leave them under the tree. He argued that Santa didn’t have time to wrap gifts, and that most of the gifts he brought we not easily wrapped.

WHAT?! I never knew that was a thing! Santa always wrapped my gifts, and his wrapping paper was different from my parents gifts.

Little did I know that this is a deeply dividing issue! My husband conceded and allowed Santa to wrap our daughter’s gifts. I am now more sensitive to the idea and would not impose my experience on others. So, please tell me, dear friends,

Does Santa wrap the gifts he leaves under your tree?



Joy Bringer’s Advent

advent, blended family, christmas, joy, step kids, step mom, Uncategorized

Day 6 – A Christmas Miracle – JBA

December 25th, 2011.

The day I met my daughters.

I didn’t know how I would become a mom – well, technically I knew how I could, but I didn’t know how God was going to make it happen. I always knew that I would have a family, but my marriage ended without any children and I hadn’t thought much beyond that.

When I came across a super good-looking, passionately devoted Christ-follower on, my interest was peaked. That is, until I got to the bottom of his profile page and saw,

“And I have three beautiful daughters.”

Que the record scratch.

Call me naive, but I had never thought about the idea of being a mother to someone else’s children. It freaked me out. So much so that I didn’t reach out or even like his profile, I just signed out of my account for a week. Clearly I had stuff to think about and I needed to seek the Lord about this new idea.

Could I love someone else’s children?

I prayed earnestly about this everyday for a week. I didn’t really hear anything specific from the Lord about it, I just surrendered my heart and told God,

“I trust you. I give you permission to make me a mom any way you would like.”

Seven days after I logged out of my account, I received an email from saying that someone was trying to reach me via email. YUP! You guessed it – the super good looking father of three! He had seen my profile and was interested.

I read his email and it said all the typical things, “I love what you say about your love for Jesus. I would love to get to know you, and I think you’re super cute.” Eek! Then he finished with, “Check out my profile and get back to me.” I thought, well, funny thing, sir, I’ve already seen your profile, freaked out about your kids, and have been praying about you for a week!

I said something a bit less crazy than that, and it began a great conversation.

It went fast. We knew what we wanted. Within a few weeks it was time to meet the girls. I had spent the week leading up to Christmas in Maine and before I came home I was invited to spend Christmas day with him and his daughters.

I was so nervous! I didn’t want to come empty handed, so while I was on the east coast I filled a stocking for each girl, complete with a personalized name thingy I made for each one. I wasn’t even a mom yet, but I enjoyed every minute of searching for the right stuff based on their ages, 6, 8, and 10. Girly, fun stuff! I was falling hard and fast for girls I hadn’t even met yet.

I landed at 9 am on Christmas morning and made the hour long drive from the airport to his house in 40 minutes flat. The day is a bit of a blur. I remember smiles and laughing, long hair, one at a time showing me all the things they loved (hours of listening to softball cheers), and ending the night watching a movie with three little girls piled on top of me.

It was love at first sight. The Lord did a miracle in my heart and life that day. He gave me a family. We got married about 8 weeks later and I became and insta-mom.

The Lord can create a beautiful family out of anything. The Christmas story is a great example of how, when we have willing hearts and open minds, the glory of love wins, and family is born. It’s love that creates it, and love that keeps it alive.

It doesn’t matter what your family looks like: traditional, blended (smooth or choppy), or with no DNA to be found. Family is made by the miracle of love.

Jesus said, “who are my mother and brothers?” It wasn’t dishonoring to his blood family, it was a confirmation of what unity in love can look like and accomplish.

The holidays can trudge up drama and pain within families. Today, I want to encourage you to reflect on the miracle of love — the gift of family.  My family isn’t perfect. It could be easy to look back on the 2011 miracle and be disappointed, jaded even, if I compare that sparkle and shine to the dull glow of today. But I tell this story to encourage you, and REMIND MYSELF that found at the heart of the miracle of love is commitment, follow through, and perseverance. Jesus certainly models this with us, right?!

Family may not be easy, but where there is love, miracles can be found.

What is your miracle made of?