A Different Kind of Christmas

This Christmas as we looked forward to celebrating Christ’s birth, the Cleveland family was also preparing for the birth of a new member of our own family.  Another side of the reality of  Jesus being transferred to earth in the most vulnerable position possible became clear.  Why do we make our Christmas celebrations so trivial compared to this amazing mystery?

Last spring we learned of our daughter’s trauma and pregnancy, who being only 14, was not the least bit ready for parenthood. We got through the stigmas, long stares, and the physical and logistical adjustments.   The baby was due over Christmas break. “How convenient!” said the doctor.  We had some time to get ready.   But meeting our first grandchild was something we were not prepared for. We were even less prepared to let her go.

An adoption was arranged and many hurdles were navigated along the way.   Counseling appointments, doctor visits and school meetings crowded the calendar. Then came the day that she was born. All the planning gave way to reality.

Baby Allegra was quiet and sweet, with thoughtful eyes, intently searching our faces. She had a dimpled chin like my daughter. Did we really have to let her go? It felt unbearable.

I wonder what the conversation was like between the Godhead when they decided that Jesus would be adopted out to humans. Given away. Put into the hands of an untested teenager. Did He really have to go? What were the Father and Son feeling? Did the Holy Spirit comfort them?

No doubt the Father has been accused of not knowing what He is doing but this had to be the ultimate. In that day the infant mortality rate must have been staggering. Jesus was born during the reign of a narcissistic and maniacal ruler who would murder babies and toddlers just because he felt threatened. Wasn’t there at least better timing for His birth? And to put that poor girl through labor while traveling and stuck in the crudest and dirtiest kind of birthing room? It just didn’t make sense.

We often imagine that the choices that God makes are out of a super-spiritual vacuum void of emotion. As if God calculates A+B=’s C and then activates the outcome, regardless of His feelings on the matter or how it might affect His children. It is mind bending to think to what extent God avoided taking shortcuts to lessen the discomfort, inconvenience, or pain in being with us in a human body on earth. But once we understand, it is humbling. It motivates our response of love even more. And it puts to the test the lies in our head that God really doesn’t love us.  Or that He doesn’t really understand what we are going through.

So, open up the arms of your heart, and take in the outrageous love that Jesus’ birth embodied.  He is waiting for you.



  1. Um. Oh. my. goodness. You have such a gift! Well written, and oh, so heartfelt.

    May Father increase His Presence in your life today. May you be refreshed and renewed as the days pass..


  2. You and your family are so precious to us – thank you for sharing your journey with us, and for sharing your heart with the world through your words. You really have a gift – please keep on writing.

    kyle & gail

  3. Your writing is so powerful. I am amazed that in the midst of such incredible pain you can look at it from God’s perspective and sincerely express His heart in a way that draws us all closer to Him.

  4. Jen – thank you for writing this. We love you, John and your family though we’ve not had much of any time together for many years (one quick visit at Valentinos doesn’t count though it was great to see you all.)
    Keep writing. You have a gift. It blesses and encourages my heart.

  5. Jen and John,
    Thank you for sharing with us. We wished we had only known sooner to be able to pray with you through this journey you and yours went/are going through.. You and your family are amazing and we love you a lot even tho we don’t see you very often you are and always will be “family” from the Lord to us. We love you guys.. please let us know how we can continue to pray for you. many blessings, Linda and Larry

  6. Hi Jennifer. It is so good to hear from you. I too wish I had known what you were going through so that I could pray for you and your family. Please know that I am praying for you now. What a difficult circumstance!! But as God said, this life would not always be easy. I love the fact that… GOD IS IN CONTROL! He has this situation and that precious little child in His all powerful hands. Praise God!!! I’m looking forward to hearing from you in future blogs! And hope to see you soon.

  7. Jen ~ Your writing is such a gift as well as your amazing strength and courage to submit to our sovereign Lord in the midst of ultimate trials. Praise God.

    I cherish the time we had together in November as we stood in prayer during your mother’s struggle to survive despite her immense pain. Your words…”It is mind bending to think to what extent God AVOIDED TAKING SHORTCUTS”… come alive when I think of our angst in her lingering before He lead her to her eternal Home.

    The timing was ALL His and your words “once we understand, it is humbling” ring clearly for us after that lengthy journey.

    We love you Jen and your Mother is so proud!
    Aunt Peggy

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