The greatest gift I’ve ever held tightly to is the birth of a babe I’ve never laid eyes on. He was born of flesh, conceived as Christ to live holed up in my worn-out soul. Jesus coming to earth is both a joy and a quandary. It’s a joy because He came to save me. It’s a quandary because He came in order to change me.

You can face disaster and see it as loss, or you can experience the loss and how it changes you for the better.

In my haste I rushed beneath my breath some uttered whispers hoping that God would free me from the worship of holiday excess. It was six months later in the middle of summer God took me outside of my circle of clamor to reveal a spiritual message He had hibernating from inside.

There was a call that rushed me to the emergency room to my daughter Hannah’s side, and the next six months unraveled like pulled yarn on a sweater.  

Amnesia. Long and short term memory loss. There was nothing familiar to her, no vivid recollection of her parents, four sisters and a pet dog. She failed to remember the details of family vacations, her best friends and the love of her life, God. She had to be retaught everything down to the condiments in the frig. Everyday was a new day.

Sometimes the antidote to finding yourself becomes more of a burden.

I thought I was being smart sharing Christmas traditions with her, but her only response was, “People put trees in their house?” Sharing the good news to a small child’s faith is easy to grasp, but to a fifteen year old the miracle was hard to wrap her head around.

The next best thing was I took her into a craft store.There wasn’t a glittery display or a single image of a Christmas past that jog her memory. She touched a variety of gaudy over-glittered decorations that stuck to her hair, face and hands. Tears swelled in me and I bit my lip. I don’t know everything that God does, but He placed me in this reality to savor what I’ve been missing. A growing faith in the Christmas miracle, the awe in the eyes of a girl who for a flash I saw once again. I couldn’t tell her I saw the old Hannah, that would have squashed her delight. Instead I enjoyed every moment of this Hannah.

When you ask God to renew the advent in your depths so that you can experience the joy of Christmas for what it is He shows up in the hardest of places.

God gave our family a Christmas do-over. It wasn’t like I could go all out the doctors warned us to take this season slow and not overwhelm her. We do have a tree, but compromised and didn’t decorate it.

As I read into my life, I see how I don’t fit into a one size fits all spiritual lens of faith like I believed I was suppose to. The story about God’s so loving the world  and the birth of His Son is a story that will never lose its power.

Just like every person mentioned in the Bible, chosen by God, He has chosen us too.  Christmas is the season for reflection. For preparation and renewal.