We can remember all the thoughts that would rush to our minds when we thought of Christmas each year. Traditions, cookies, family, more cookies, stockings on the mantle, carols, candles being passed at Christmas Eve services, etc. All those things are still wonderful and we love them, but God saw fit to change our perspective over the years.
Christmas 1999- That fall God gave us Jacob, our first baby, and that Christmas on of Jill’s Grandfathers died. That Christmas we were all sitting around the room with thoughts of loosing Tom, yet holding new life. Families were changing. THAT Christmas God began to show us that all life is much more precious than we had ever known.
Christmas 2001- Now with two beautiful children, this year God called us to begin the process of adoption with Project Star in Pittsburgh, PA. THAT Christmas we began to think beyond ourselves and take seriously God’s call to care for orphans.
Christmas 2002- God had just given us twins through adoption in August, but He saw fit to multiply that blessing the very week of Christmas (Dec 20) that we might bring home Joel as well. THAT Christmas our hearts went beyond caring for orphans, to being BROKEN hearted for those left behind by the world.
Christmas 2003- we received our adoption court date for the finalization of adopting all three boys at once! January 8th we stood before the visiting Juvenile Detention Judge as he spoke on and on and on about what he saw God doing through the lives of our little ones. Oh how grateful he was to see children NOT get left behind and end up knowing him in a different way. He blessed us greatly by openly sharing his heart. THAT Christmas we began to see that EVERYTHING you do matters to even people you might never think. THAT Christmas we really saw that God’s plans are WAY bigger than ours!
Christmas 2006- On Christmas eve we received a call about a little girl born in Montana who, as our case worker put it, “was a Martin”. The day after Christmas we scheduled plane tickets, emailed and faxed papers. In March she came home. We named her “Beautiful Oath to God” because THAT Christmas God reminded us of what He had taught us years before and what He had asked us to do with our family and lives.
Christmas 2008- We went into Christmas anticipating to joyfully celebrate our new daughter, Sarah, which we did do, but God had additional plans. That advent we almost lost Sam to lung failure. On breathing tubes and lots of medications to keep his life going, we struggled weekly, daily. Would we even have him for Christmas? The week before Christmas they tried to remove the breathing tube to see if his lungs could make it, they could not. We watched face to face as our son fought for life, turning blue and gasping, doctors rushing to open his airways once again. The tube was back in, and we made plans to learn about having a trach placed in his neck to breath. MIRACULOUSLY we brought Sam home on Christmas Eve in almost perfect health. THAT Christmas God showed us that HIS plans are bigger than doctors and the importance of knowing that God is THE Creator and Sustainer of life at all moments. And it would be 3 years later we would see one of the great reasons why Sam needed to be in that place at that time…but that’s 2011.
Christmas 2009- We now had TWO beautiful daughters to celebrate, Sarah AND Joanna. Completely surprised by God that year when our case worker called to say “We have a Martin again!” We also began homeschooling all of our children that year before. THAT Christmas God gave us new perspective on family, loving your children for who God made them to be (no matter how hard that is some days), and what it really means to go the second mile and give of yourself to the children God has blessed you with.
Christmas 2010- Heading into Christmas with great joy and anticipation for the soon coming birth of our daughter Jocelyn, we were about to really learn what God had been teaching us all year. For months God had been challenging our belief in His COMPLETE SOVERIEGNTY over all of life. So much that Sean had planned to study God’s Soveriegnty for the first three months of the year with the whole church. When Jocelyn went home to glory on her birthday, we knew within moments that THIS was a whole new level of trusting God’s soveriegnty in our lives. THAT Christmas we learned that God’s plans are beyond our feeble minds and plans and are much, much greater than all we could ask or imagine. THAT Christmas we learned that you do not have to be immensely learned to be an amazing missionary. That weighing in at a mighty 5lb 3oz, Jocelyn was quickly becoming the littlest, yet mightiest, missionary we had ever known. How humbling.
Christmas 2011- A full year of “AHHHHHH so that’s one of the reasons God did that” kind of years. Every time we turned around God was showing us how HE was using past challenges, struggles, hurts, and more ALL for HIS glory that would go much farther beyond our own little lives. Sean was asked by the head brain surgeon at the Children’s hospital to be on the hospital’s Ethics Committee. WOW how humbling. That God would use Sam being in the hospital years before in this way. Added on the many follow up visits for Sam and other regular appointments for our other kids with medical needs, and in God’s mathematical equation that equals “opportunity to teach God’s truth for God’s glory”. THIS Christmas we got defend the “quality of life” argument that lies with in hospitals every day and influence the top surgeons at the Children’s Hospital. THIS Christmas we had couples come to us for help with past sin in their life, and they were led to us because of the way God used Jocelyn in our life. THIS Christmas we have seen a whole year behind us, proving to us, that God used to show us that the salvation of souls and bringing people to “get right with God” is of UTMOST importance beyond anything else on our calendars.
THIS year and all the other Christmas Seasons before it God gave us an amazing gift.
We still LOVE cookies, pie, carols, and stockings hung just so……but now our memory floods with different traditions. The traditions that God set in our lives of using Christmas Season to give us PERSPECTIVE on so much more than we could ever ask or imagine.
Now THAT’S a great Christmas gift.
Thank you God for giving us new memories.