3 Keys to the Best Family Advent: How to Have a Wonderful Life (Even In Brutally Hard Things)

The paramedics that rush into our house late Friday night come in past the light of the little Christmas tree.

There’s usually no warning when your life will flicker dark and you’ll need the light of a Tree.

Malakai’s continuous glucose monitor starts alarming of a life-threatening low sometime just before 1 am, jolting us hard out of normal.

Type 1 diabetes is this beast that relentlessly slinks into our home in the night and tries to wreak havoc with seizures, threatens with comas, flashes the spectre of death. Everyone tries not to panic, to just breathe and take it as it comes.

Sometimes the best way through our pain, is to not be afraid to live with it. Because: when your life is about avoiding pain, you end up avoiding your life.

But when you hold space for your pain, you find your pain taking up less space.

Our boy with Type 1 diabetes says goodnight to me every night, us both knowing that there’s a 1 in 20 chance he may not wake up in the morning.

Please God, let this not be the night, let. this. not. be. the. night. The paramedics bend over Kai in bed and my Mama’s praying, reaching over to grab my hand because we get to lend each other courage and this is always the way through, like inhaling and exhaling: Be with God & Be Brave. Being with God is how you be brave.

Communion gives courage.

I turn toward mama, hoping she can read my eyes: It’s okay to not feel okay and still trust that we are all going to be okay.

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Just upstairs, our baby girl who takes 3 beta blockers every day to slow down the pound of her racing heart, who takes her blood thinner every morning for her literal half a heart, who will one day be waiting on a list for a heart transplant before her own broken heart finally fails, she sleeps and I pray she doesn’t wake up to the wild emergency of this.

Our broken hearts can stop beating any blink second and the time we get to hold on to each other is but a flashing minute and I’m telling you, as a parent of 7 and mama to children facing grave diagnoses, I don’t need any monitors or alarms  to tell me what this heart of mine now knows by heart:

You face life differently when you’re daily facing how short life could be. Your priorities get unbelievably clear, when it’s clear life could be unbelievably short. Because time here is short, you have to know the long game that wins forever.

Life is a vapour and wisdom is knowing how to inhale every breath.

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca


Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

And these 2 kids of ours fighting against diagnoses for long lives, they’re the Wonder-Lifers who make us write our own kind Anthem for a Wonderful Life, a refrain of what ultimately matters and defines who we all yearn to be no matter how short our time is:

1. Be WayFinders & WallBreakers

Now more than ever, while there is still time: Be the WayFinders who never give up because He holds us up, who always find a way, because He is the Way and our God never stops making a way, the WayFinders who practice rising, practice resurrection, who doggedly keep practicing our faith that always determines the healing Way forward.

Be the Wallbreakers who break masks, break pride, break prejudice, break oppression, break otherness, break hopelessness and break brokenness.

Be the Wallbreakers who break down high walls around hearts so that hearts break free around here, and down the street, and across the world.

You break down a wall in the world, every time you break down an idol in your heart.

Comfort isn’t king — Jesus is King, and the King of Kings said the Kingdom of God rises where you lay down your crown at the foot of Jesus and pick up your cross and come die to rise.

The wall breakers get to be the idol breakers and the ground takers and kingdom shakers and the freedom makers.

2. Be WordKeepers & Worshippers

Now more than ever, while there is still time: Be the WordKeepers, because only they keep to the straight and narrow, be the Wordkeepers because only they know how to keep calm and carry on, be the WordKeepers because this is the only way to keep hope, keep sane, keep brave, keep company with Christ.

It is the WordKeepers who are this old dim world’s lightkeepers.

Keep reading the Word to keep the lights on.

And be the Worshippers because worship is existence and every word, thought, act, reveals what we really worship.

What you think is worth it, is what you really worship, and you’ve got to worship right things, because every single one of us is wired to worship something and worship the wrong things and it’s your life that goes wrong.

The choice is always worry or worship.

One drives out the other and determines the course of your life, and you get to choose the life you want: worrier or worshipper.

3. Be With-ers & Wonderers

Now more than ever, while there is still time: Be the With-ers who stand with people because solidarity is revolutionary and with-ness is what makes this world turn and turn around, and our God is Emmanuel, the With-God, who calls us to be the With-People, who stand with the unwanted and unpopular, and if we’re not standing with them, we’re not standing with God.

With-ness breaks brokenness, and it’s showing up for people that forces pain into a showdown, and the With-ers are the Wonderful Lifers because good relationships makes a good life.

This is the Anthem to a A Wonderful Life: Be the WayFinders and the WallBreakers, be the WordKeepers and the Worshippers, be the With-ers and the Wonderers.

It’s worth risking wonder, because we can brave a culture of cynicism and outrage, but we can’t live in a culture devoid of wonder.

It’s worth walking with a holy, persevering wonder through a world of hurt so we don’t lose our way home.

They say Steve Jobs last words were: Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! Maybe those last words are words to live by — a holy, persevering wonder of wow, wow, wow.

Because ultimately: There is no wisdom without wonder.

And yes: The spiritual practice of persevering in wonder takes courage but it makes the very most of all our moments: Be Brave & Be with God. God in all these moments. Be awed by God. 

Nothing wonderful happens in our lives without wonder.

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

Advent Resources: Joywares.ca

After the paramedics walk out again past the little Christmas tree, ambulance driving out the pitch black farm lane, after Kai is stable, we pace the house through the wee hours, trying to work through the adrenaline, monitoring Kai’s glucose monitor endlessly, pacing back and forth in front of the blazing little Christmas Tree, determined to be the Wonder-Lifers who will rise to live another day as the WayFinders and WallBreakers, the WordKeepers and Worshippers, the With-ers and Wonderers because we only have so much time to live A Wonderful Life.

And when morning light finally comes, when Malakai sits down at the breakfast table grinning grateful relief to get to see the sun come up, when Baby Girl with her own brave heart wakes up and sleepily crawls up into his lap, I lean over, blink it back, and hug them both :

“Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.”

Wonder makes this all a wonderful life.

And the little Tree in the window sparks with a glory that dwarfs all the dark.


This Advent, Stay in the Story that the rest of your year, your family, will need.

More Of Jesus Only and have a STRESS-FREE, WONDER-FULL Christmas.

The Jesse Tree Ornaments which use the artwork from Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

This year, let His wonder to awaken you again, captivate you, capture your heart!

 Come experience a Christmas like you’ve always dreamed? 
So come Christmas morning, you haven’t missed Him?

Gather around the Greatest Story this year for the whole family with all 3?
The Greatest Gift (adult edition),
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (family read aloud edition),
and The Wonder of the Greatest Gift (pop-up edition with your own 14 inch tree, 25 days of readings, 25 day advent flap calendar, hiding all 25 Biblically inspired ornaments! For any age) 

So you don’t miss out on Jesus this year & the The Greatest Christmas. 

When our holidays are about staying in the story, being with Him — we reclaim the wonder — and have ourselves The Greatest little Christmas yet!