When your Christmas is less than merry

 A few days ago I posted an urgent request for prayer on my facebook page. Russian government officials are trying to push a ban on US adoptions through parliament and, much to my shock and dismay, they have been successful so far.  Last I hear the ban was going to be reviewed in full on December 26 before going to President Putin for a final signature.  My knees go weak when I think about what this could mean for adoptive families who are in process and the children who are so desperately in need of families to love them.  Yesterday this article was published in the Moscow Times which seems to suggest that all might not be lost and President Putin may refuse to sign the bill.  Please pray that this is the case; pray that US/Russia adoptions will NOT be stopped and that children will still find their families and families their children.  At the very least I am praying desperately that those families in-process will complete their adoptions before the potential ban goes into effect.

This morning John and I had out first post-placement visit from our social worker and she commented that we must be so relieved, having brought Arie home in the nick of time. Honestly I can hardly even let myself think about that.  As I type this post my hands are trembling, just imagining the devastation we would have experienced had we already met and fell in love with him and then been forbidden from bringing him home.  Some families have traveled just this week for their court dates and been sent home without seeing a judge. Truly, I can't even imagine the pain they must fell.  Like they can't even breathe.

And on top of the pain, these families are now facing the holidays with so much uncertainty about the future. How do they find joy in Christmas when their worlds could be falling apart?

I've also had the honor of hearing many different women share their stories with me through comments and private messages over the last few months.  Many of those stories have lots of pain involved. My eyes sting to think of how many women have written and shared with me about infertility, miscarriages, deaths, and failed adoptions. I often feel overwhelmed by it all.

There are so many hurting hearts out there, wondering how to find joy this Christmas.

I was reflecting on these thoughts while reading the Christmas story from Luke and something in the second chapter struck me in a new way. It's what the angels sing before the shepherds in verse 14:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Peace. Yes, an angel also declares that he brings good news of great joy, but when the angels actually rejoice themselves they don't actually name joy as the reason for their rejoicing.  They name God's glory and they name peace.  That's what causes them to sing. 

When I think about all those heavy hearts, weighted down by the pain of loss, I consider the fact that maybe what they need more than joy- or before the joy- this Christmas is: peace.  

This Christmas there will be couples dealing with infertility who have to sit beside a sister or a brother-in-law, beaming as they announce their new pregnancy. 

There will be women still bleeding from a recent miscarriage who will have to answer well-meaning questions and jokes about when they'll finally start a family. 

There will be so many people who have memorized the photographed face of their child in a country far away, wondering if they'll ever get to bring that child home.  And even more who don't even have a photograph to hold on to and pray for. 

If you are wading through a season of pain and longing, my prayer for you is that you find peace this Christmas.  Not peace in infertility or loss or longing- but peace in Christ.  Peace is knowing that while you may not have a child to hold in your arms this year, there was a baby born just for you two thousand years ago.  And he is Christ the Lord. 

This baby born for you and for me will be our only true source of peace. He has healed our spiritual brokenness.  He has forgiven our sins and enabled us to receive the gift of the Spirit. I can't tell you how many women have said to me, "I don't know how I'm surviving this journey except by the strength of the Lord." This is the Spirit at work, giving us peace in the midst of the most unbearable circumstances.  Putting us in touch with the God who says never will I leave you.  No! Not ever will I forsake you. What peace to hear these words from God when the pregnancy stick says not pregnant for the seventeenth time, three days before Christmas. Though a baby does not grow in your womb, a baby lived and died for you so that his spirit- and his peace- would rest in your heart. 

And while this baby provides our inner peace today, he also promises all-encompassing peace tomorrow.  Peace not just to comfort us in the storm, but peace that does away with the storm all together.  For those of whom the angels sang - those on whom his favor rests- he is putting the world back together so that one day he will wipe every tear from our eyes. And there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things- the brokenness- will have passed away. No more longing. No more orphans. No more babies dying before they're even born. No more pain. Oh how I long for that day. 

Maybe your Christmas will be less than merry this year.  Maybe you're finding it hard to rejoice. Grab hold of the peace Christ came to give you. Grab hold of the promise of a new world, tomorrow. A baby was born for you two thousand years ago and today- and this Christmas- he is Christ the Lord. When that peace truly floods your heart, I know you will soon by moved to joy. 

A very Merry Peaceful Christmas to you.



  1. This post brought tears to my eyes. I am still reeling from a devastating miscarriage in September and I've often wondered how I will find any joy this Christmas. Just as you mentioned, I am dealing with this amidst pregnancy announcements and questions about when we will start a family.

    You don't even know me, but it's almost like this post was written just for me. Thank you so much. Hold your little boy close and I hope you have much peace this Christmas.

    1. Hannah thank you so much for sharing this comment with me. I am so very sorry for your loss and I pray that you great peace this Christmas. May God soon grant you the desires of your heart.

  2. Anonymous12/22/2012

    Thank you for writing these words. They have touched me most deeply.

  3. Thanks for your encouraging post. Your family has been on my mind as I keep seeing these articles comes across the news about Russian adoptions; this news makes me so sad. Prayinq that the President will refuse to sign!
    I love the way you worded it---Have a very Peaceful Christmas.
    After the pain of infertility, and then the longing of our precious girl halfway across the world, I want nothing more than peace for Christmas.
    Love to you all.

    1. Thank you Colista! Where is your little girl from?

  4. Beautiful post, like the spirit was with you as you wrote, and I'm sure it was.

  5. I don't understand why any country would restrict children from finding families no matter where the family lives, that is so sad and my prayers go out to the children and families.

  6. Kristie Tom12/23/2012

    It's amazing how God works in our lives....I have been following your adoption journey for awhile and longing for a child of our own among infertility.....We learned this last week that the woman carrying the son we prayed would be ours has disappeared and more than likely on drugs again....we are heart broken and devastated....but God had me check your site on a Sunday evening to teach me (yet again) that I can have peace. Thank you for allowing God to work in your heart and sharing your thoughts with us all.

    1. Kristie it means to much to me to read your words. Thank you for leaving this comment. I am so sad to hear of your news and your pain. Praying you found peace this Christmas and that you are soon holding a little one in your arms, calling him/her your own.

  7. Anonymous12/26/2012

    Thank you, thank you for this. This is everything and more I needed to read this morning. My husband and I are dealing with infertility. We finally got pregant but 10 weeks later miscarried. I can officially say we made it through Christmas but it was tough. Everyone asking when we plan to have children, why we aren't pregnant again for the ones who know, and as we open up about our intention of adopting hopefully in the near future (even if we end up pregnant, adoption has always been an option for us, not just a second option) many family members are shocked and not taking the news very well. Many trying to discourage us with stories about their best friends second cousin twice removeds bad experience. This has been the hardest Thanksgiving/Christmas and hoping New Years will be better. Thank you for your honest words and thoughts, you hit it big time and this post felt so personal!

    1. Thank you for your comment! Those questions are so very painful to hear when you've just had a loss and I'm so sorry you've had to deal with them. I am also so frustrated to hear that you have been so discouraged in your adoption journey. I pray you find a community of people who can stand beside you and cheer you on in your journey. May 2013 grant you the desires of your heart!

  8. Anonymous12/27/2012

    When I fist heard about that idiot law I thought about your family. Thanks God you got Artem home...
    In Russia we are used to the arbitrariness of our authorities but that time it's too much. We'll never forget or forgive them for this law.
    It's a shame we can't find home for all our orphans in Russia but the idea of banning americans from adopting is much more worse. I can't help crying when I think about russian kids and american parents separated by our villaneous authorities.

    1. I join you in your tears. It is so frustrating to know that children are being kept from families without a good reason. Thanking God we brought Arie home and praying for those who are waiting.

  9. Thank you so much for writing this, I just read it (somehow I missed it!) and it brought so much inspiration and peace to my heart. You are truly a wonderful person, and I hope you remember that every single day. A true blessing! I am reminded every time I receive bad news on our infertility journey that there IS hope by reading your blog. There is a plan, and there will be a baby brought into my family at some point in my life. Sending you so many blessings and love for 2013!



    1. Megan it moves me so deeply to know that God is using our story to serve as an encouragement to you. I am so sorry that you are dealing with infertility. May God bless you with motherhood in 2013.

  10. Today in 1980 our first son/child was still born prematurely, too small to survive the trip through the birth canal. It took until 1983 before our son was born. The stillbirth had been followed by 2 early miscarriages. Two more early miscarriage, one a set of twins before our second son was born in 1986. Another early miscarriage before our daughter was born in 1989. We had some tough Christmas'. "Bless all the deer children n Thy tender care.... " Took me a long time to be able to sing those words. This Christmas we will celebrate with our first grandchild/granddaughter who is a month older than your twins.


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