The Christmas Story as you’ve never heard it

homeless-man-in-the-cold

I can’t guarantee that I won’t cry a few times while writing this. But here it goes.

For the past 10 days, we’ve been opening up one “advent” bag every evening over dinner. Each bag contains four pieces of candy and a piece of paper containing 1-2 verses of the Christmas story told by St. Matthew in his gospel.

The first two days were a little boring for our 4 boys. I mean, Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem? A Roman emperor taxing people? What does this even mean for little kids who’ve never paid for anything?

But then we reached the part of the story where Mary and Joseph were forced to stay in a stable outside, cold and alone. No one had any room for them. They did the best they could, even though it was lower than low.

I looked up at our 10 year old foster boy, and his head was bowed, his face drawn and serious.

Unlike his 5 year old happy go-lucky brother beside him, he remembers. He remembers the cold nights sleeping on the street or in someone’s car because his mother had nowhere safe for him to stay. Instead of protecting him and reaching out for help, she eventually abandoned him at a mobile home park.

My heart caught in my throat. I looked at him.

“How do you think Mary and Joseph felt?” I asked him.

“Sad. Cold.” he responded quietly, looking away. There were tears in his eyes.

I remember what he’s told me about this time last year. He, his mom and his brothers had just been evicted from their apartment. They spent months living on the streets, begging for their mom’s drug money on street corners before DSS finally took them into custody.

Suddenly, Mary and Joseph’s plight hurt my heart in a way it never had before. The Christmas story came alive and stuck with me all through the next day like a bad toothache.

The next night, we read about the Baby Jesus being born.

“Is that the guy we heard about in church on Sunday?” one of them asked.

“Jesus?”

“Yeah, Him? Who is He?”

It was all I could do to keep my own tears away.

The next night, we read about the shepherds lying out in the fields, watching over their flocks of sheep. Once again, both of our foster boys were paying close attention.

“What were they doing out there?” the younger one asked.

“Watching over the sheep so that they wouldn’t die!” I exclaimed. “There were LIONS and BEARS out there!”

The look of awe and excitement on his face was more than enough reward. He was hooked.

And the next night, we got to hear about the angels who appeared to the shepherds.

“Oh MY GOSH!” the little one exclaimed. “What did the angels say? What did the angels say? I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT THE ANGELS ARE GONNA SAY!!”

“Be patient!” I said. “We get to hear that tomorrow!”

And then, tonight. The angel telling them not to be afraid because he has good news for all people.

At that moment, I had a sudden flashback to our conversation the night before. As I was tucking them in, the younger brother said, “Night night, don’t let the bedbugs bite!”.

Out of the blue, his older brother said to me, “You know, I’ve had bed bugs before. My grandma’s house was really old. She didn’t have anywhere else for me to sleep so I just had to deal with it.”

I didn’t know what to say.

He continued. “Where are we going to be living?”

“With us for a while.” I responded.

“What about after that? Like forever? Who’s going to take care of us?”

And I was once again struck by the good news of the angels. The people of Israel, who had been waiting for their Messiah, were about to be delivered. Their deepest need was about to be met.

Our foster boys constantly wonder about the same thing. When is my deepest need going to be met? Who is going to love me? When are the adults in my life going to stop failing me? When am I going to have a home? When is all the waiting going to be over?

I want to tell them about the One who will never leave them. The One who was despised and forsaken so that they don’t have to be.

Back in the present, I heard the conversation going on at the dinner table. The older one was looking at me intently.

“This is so cool.” he said, smiling. His face was absolutely radiant. “Have YOU ever heard this story before, Kelly?”

This comment stung most of all. The Christmas story is so often just a stale set of verses we read on Christmas Eve at an advent service. When you grow up with a story like this, you forget how awe-inspiring every single detail of Jesus’ birth really was.

How does one forget the wonder? All of nature rejoiced at the coming of the savior! Even the stars re-aligned around their focal point–the Savior of the World.

“Are you going to read this story next year too?” he asked.

I was taken aback. “Yes, it’s the Christmas story. We get to read it every year.”

“Oh.” he said. “I’ve never heard it before”.

No.

Neither have I.

Not like this.

 

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  • http://www.myfamilyandabruzzo.com Louisa

    Bless them both. I’m so glad they have somebody who cares now. Things the rest of us take for granted that we know and others are not so lucky. I had a tear in my eye reading this.

    • themrscone

      I’m glad that we get the fresh perspective they bring. We are the blessed ones.

  • http://www.theseanamethod.com Seana Turner

    Okay.. I’m in tears. It breaks my heart that anyone still doesn’t know the Christmas story — that it has gotten lost in Santa and songs and vacation. God bless you as you care for those little boys!!

    • themrscone

      I agree it’s gotten lost– 90% of my piano students don’t know any christmas songs that revolve around anything other than Santa!

  • http://mylittlecriatura.blogspot.ca/ Nancy

    Wow. I have grown so used to the Christmas story and totally take it for granted. This is humbling. Thank you for opening my eyes to the wonder and awe…if only we could all hear it like we were hearing it for the first time, every time. God bless you and those precious little boys!

    • themrscone

      Thank you for reading!

  • http://www.heartbeatsandlittlefeet.wordpress.com Megan

    Wow! What an incredible post! What you are doing for those two boys is great! Not only are you giving them the stability and love that they yearn for and need, but are also introducing them to lessons taught from the Bible. Lessons that even if they leave your home, will stick with them. What an amazing gift and an incredibly humbling story! Thank you for sharing.

    • themrscone

      Thank you for reading! I hope it will stick with them, in a good way.

  • http://bybmg.blogspot.com Becky @ bybmg

    Wow. Amen. Such a blessing that these boys are in your home. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • themrscone

      Becky, thanks for reading!

  • Lindsay

    Others are praying that God blesses you, but it is obvious He already is doing that! Praise God! This is remarkable and deeply moving. For those out there pondering foster parenting, your journey is so helpful and personalized for our edification.

    • themrscone

      Lindsay, are you guys considering it?

  • http://www.simplemomentsstick.com Susannah

    Wow! This brought tears to my eyes. You are doing a great work in His Kingdom in the life of the boys your fostering. They are increadibly blessed to be in your home! :-)

    • themrscone

      Susannah, seriously, as cliche as it sounds, we are the ones who get blessed by doing this.

  • http://www.handandtheheart.com Andrea @Hand and the Heart

    Wow, Kelly. Thank you for this amazing post.

    • themrscone

      Aw, thanks Andrea for reading!

  • http://www.moderncommonplacebook.com Ginny

    Tears.

  • http://www.recoveringchurchlady.com/ Susie Klein

    Oh my goodness, this is the single most heart-wrenching thing I’ve read this season. Thank you and I look forward to following your blog more often now.
    Susie

    • themrscone

      Thanks for reading, Susie!

  • http://pamelasopenwindow.blogspot.com Pam Steiner

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. We are so spoiled. I feel ashamed. How often have I heard the Christmas story, and how often have I read it over and over again…and yet, I never saw or heard it the way these precious little ones did for the first time. I grew up with it, and love it, but can’t imagine my life without it…and yet I don’t fully appreciate the fact that so many outside of my neat clean little world are DYING to hear this story…to know this Jesus…to be loved by Him and feel safe and secure and at peace. Thank you for opening my eyes tonight. Blessings to you and your precious family.

    • themrscone

      Pam, thanks for reading. I think the reason this story touches people the way it does is because so many of us have grown callous to the Christmas story.

  • Jessie

    Hello Kelly… Wow. You seem like such a sweetheart; and certainly a kindred spirit. I started doing foster care in my early twenties as well– while we were at seminary–and it has been extremely impacting. We recently adopted, actually. :-) Like you, I have many stories I could tell about how the perspective of the children in my home have changed my faith– sometimes in unconventional ways but ever for the better, I think. I choose not to tell the, however… I want to challenge you to hold these stories close to your chest. Even though they feel like they need tone told- and every fiber of your being longs to share- they are not your stories to tell. The intimate details you have shared here are part of your foster children’s stories; and their stories are theirs to tell. It took me a long time to learnt this lesson… So please don’t read judgement in my words. I don’t know you- but I am sure you love these kids. Give them the gift of confidentiality. May you have a *very* wonderful Advent… And if you ever want to talk to someone who has ben there, I hope you’ll contact me.

    • themrscone

      Jessie, no judgement heard :) I made sure to only share details that he shared with me and others at his school (friends, teachers, etc.). There is a lot that I know should be kept confidential, but of course, we are in the learning stages of all this. On the flip side, however, I kept too quiet for too long about all that we were going through with our first foster child, and it nearly destroyed us. If we’d only opened up and talked about it sooner, we would’ve had more help and it might not have hurt us as much. I think that Satan wants us to feel isolated so that he can destroy. In the name of confidentiality, I protected her privacy, but it left me unable to talk freely about what I was going through with anyone.

      • Jessie

        Wonderful… Just keep in mind that what he shares with you and friends is very different than what he might share with just anybody. The chid/fp relationship is a sacred one. (Please feel free not to post this on the blog!) Seriously– if you’d ever like to chat, I’d love that. I think you have my email. Keep up the amazing work…

  • http://www.thenorthcountrywoman.com Jenn

    Thank you for writing this. We’re starting to tell our oldest, who just turned 3, about the Christmas story this year. It has been amazing and challenging to share it in words he understands, and I’ve loved it. What advent calendar/book/method do you use?

    • themrscone

      Jenn, I made my own this year because I didn’t have the time or money to buy one big enough for all 4 boys. Here’s the link :) I just used verses straight from the Bible, and they’ve been a little tough to explain to my 3 year old, but we do our best :) http://ourconezone.com/easy-peasy-10-advent-calendar/

  • http://www.stylianosbooks.com Lily Rowe

    Can I send them a set of our books for Christmas?

    • themrscone

      That would be amazing! The older one is always asking for things to read. I’ll email you.

  • http://thenanadiana.blogspot.com/ Nana Diana

    It is my birthday today and it has been a long day. I have been missing my brother all day-he passed in February and it was the first time in 40 some years that I didn’t get a call from him wishing me a Happy Birthday. Then I found you somehow as I stumbled through blogland, and I realized how blessed I was to have known the stability of a good home and a loving sibling. God bless you for sharing your life with those children and for sharing yourself here on your blog. This was very touching and I am your newest follower. Blessings to you- I am off to bed-way too tired to think any more tonight- xo Diana

    • themrscone

      Wow, Happy Birthday, Diana! I have two brothers and a sister, and I can’t even imagine how it must hurt right now to be missing him like that. The closest I’ve ever come is when my brother joined the Navy and was gone for quite a while.

  • Lisa

    I was directed here by Anna’s post and I’m touched and thoroughly enjoyed your story.

    In this day and age of instant news, I’m glad I can still be touched by the simple wonder and awe of a child. It breaks my heart that those boys have experienced so much sadness and loss in their young lives.

    It sounds like you’re all lucky to have each other. Best of luck to you all. I hope those boys get their deepest needs met. Merry Christmas.

    • themrscone

      Lisa, thank you for reading!

  • http://www.bipolarmomlife.com Jenn

    Found you via Anna’s post today and am so glad I did. Thank you for sharing this touching story about how the Christmas story came alive to your foster children. So special. My 5-yr old has been telling me all about baby Jesus from what they’re learning at church preschool and your post made me realize I need to be reading it with him at home too to see the magic in his eyes when we read it together. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

    • themrscone

      Jenn, it’s such a wonderful thing to experience.

  • Mariana Schroeder

    Kelly, your blog really made my day. Thanks for sharing, we have been thinking about entering a foster care program and this has been the final push my husband and I needed to make it happen. Merry Christmas

    • themrscone

      Wow, that’s great Mariana! The world always needs more foster parents!

  • http://lindajos.blogspot.com/ Linda Jo

    Thank you for sharing. A blessing to read.

    • themrscone

      Linda, thanks for reading!

  • Erika Pedone

    I could barely finish reading this through the tears!!! This is amazing and so well-written. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • themrscone

      Thanks for reading, Erika!

  • http://aladyinfrance.com Lady Jennie

    Visiting from Anna’s blog. My heart is hurting like crazy.

    I wish we could foster (my family did once to a baby when I was a child, but it was too hard for my mom to do it again). But we’re a bilingual family, with expensive family visits overseas once every two years, and a house only big enough for our family of five. My sons share a room.

    It is harder to foster than to adopt, I think.

    • themrscone

      Jennie,

      I think that there are hardships with both, and frankly I’m not sure which one is harder ;) Our first foster child we tried to adopt, and all the attachment therapy hurt like crazy. With these boys, we don’t “have” to bond yet, since they still have parents in the picture, but that also hurts my heart, knowing we have to give them back eventually.

  • http://www.makeitcountblog.com Megan Hall

    Hi,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad you found me so I had the chance to find your blog as well. I love following blogs of adoptive/foster families. It’s great to read other people’s stories. I love this post. I’m sure there are a lot of things that we take for granted that you’re learning to see through new eyes with these boys. How wonderful that you and your family get to share the true meaning of Christmas with them!

    • themrscone

      Thank you for stopping by, Megan!

  • http://notjustbrides.blogspot.com Heather @ Beyond the Aisle

    Thank you for sharing this amazing story, Kelly! It brought tears to my eyes. These foster boys are lucky to have you in their lives, and you already know that you’re lucky to have them in yours. As a teacher, I work with a lot of kids who are in the foster care system, and a loving family makes all the difference in the world.

    • themrscone

      Thanks, Heather! As a teacher it must be hard to watch if no one is taking care of them.

  • afourytale

    Visiting from Anna’s blog. Thank you for this wonderful post. This made the Christmas Story really come alive for me, too.

    • themrscone

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.loveinfaithjourney.blogspot.com Regina

    What a blessing to get to read about such a beautiful event taking place in your home! It is amazing the perspective that these beautiful children can give us concerning so many things that we take for granted. Life with fostering and adoption is hard, but it’s a beautiful thing to see when the good can outweigh the hard times. I came across your blog today, and enjoy reading about other families’ experiences with foster and adoptive children. Thank you for sharing.

    • themrscone

      Regina, thanks for reading! It’s so good for me to remind myself that the good outweighs the bad :)

  • http://www.oysterbed7.com Bonny @OysterBed7

    I work with impoverished women. This post is important for everyone, for the hope it can give. It’s not Christmas-time right now, but it will be soon enough. Jesus’ story can touch everyone if we are brave enough to share it.

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