We all have preferences. I prefer breakfast blend coffee while my husband prefers Italian roast. I also prefer creamer and sweetner, but my husband prefers his coffee black. I prefer stress free days where my little ones always get along. I prefer no back pain from carrying children around. I prefer leather and heated seats in my car. I prefer junk food to thinking about healthy eating. I prefer easy – who wouldn’t?

But easy, is not always what we are called to. I remember being in the middle of the adoption process, getting news that we didn’t understand, and wondering why did God call us to do this hard thing? Wasn’t there an easier way to start your family? Why do great things from God come at such high costs? Maybe not financial costs but emotional costs, the things that make you search your heart and reveal what is there – the good and the bad. The good gets better while God picks at the bad.

It’s not fun to realize your lack of faith, to realize of course, it’s easy to believe in God when life is good. But what about when it’s hard? It’s not fun to see the depths of your selfishness and wish that the constant barrage on your time would take a hike. It’s not fun to realize you will never be enough and you will never get it all right. You will make mistakes and you will need help. You cannot do life alone. You have to stop trying to do life without God.

“What then in response shall we say to these things? If God is for us who can be against us?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 31, 37-39)

I used to read this verse and think, “Of course things can be against, plenty of things.” But I think the point I missed, is that those things don’t matter when compared to God and Christ Jesus our Lord. Those things – selfishness, lack of faith, lack of self worth, desire for control – won’t win.When we live our lives in relationship with God, we will be more than conquerors. We will get through the hard times, the confusing times, the doubting times. We will persevere, and we will come out better for it.

If I persevere, I will have a better heart towards my children. I will begin to see people as God does instead of only from my point of view. I will begin to see the hurt and sadness and fear behind the words, and though it doesn’t take the sting away, it does help me see a way through. It keeps me from dwelling in my sorrow and pitying myself.

So wherever you are in your life, whatever is frustrating you, confusing you, hurting you, scaring you do you believe God can help? Or would you rather stay where you are and never find our where he wants to take you?


*God took me to Vietnam, but it’s not about a place (and the learning didn’t end there). It’s about what I learned about myself at that time and continue to learn about myself as I learn my role as mom and wife. It’s about letting go of my expectations, my preferences and trusting in where God is leading me – even when I don’t know if there’s a happy ending.

Santa is Not Real; Jesus Is

The Christmas season at the McClellan house was an emotional roller coaster, so much so, that I (at times) said, “I hate Christmas.”

We brought out our Christmas decorations and tree a couple days after Thanksgiving and got the first inkling of how tumultuous this Christmas would be. There were no presents, no Santa, and the anticipation was clearly too much for our 4 year old. We hoped when we started lighting our Advent candles and counting down with our Advent calendar that the stress of anticipation our daughter was feeling would end, but no. While we had moments of peace and happiness, we had mostly had discontent and grumbling – nothing that made me want to say Merry Christmas.

This all came to a head the week before Christmas when our daughter informed us that Santa told her she was on the naughty list for hitting, and she was worried that she would not get a toy for Christmas. And she told us she was scared of Santa coming into her house at night while she was sleeping; this from a little girl who struggles every night with fear at bedtime.

So while we had never built up Santa at our house, our daughter doesn’t remember from year to year what we have said about Santa, and this year for whatever reason she had bought in to what she was hearing and believed Santa was real. She believed in a Santa who told her she was bad and would sneak into her house at night and scare her, so I did want any exasperated parent would do. I told her Santa wasn’t real. I told her Santa is a story people tell at Christmas, and that Christmas is not about getting presents or whether you are naughty or nice. I told her that mommy and daddy give her presents to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. I told her that we love her whether she’s “naughty or nice,” and that we are the bosses of this family and no “Santa” can tell her she is not getting presents.

Now, I wish that I could tell you that the angels started singing, and my daughter understood the meaning of Christmas like never before, but we were not quite done with our emotions. As I have continued to reflect on the events and emotions (frequency and duration) we have seen leading up to Christmas, I am convinced that we have to do Christmas different next year.

I wished I could have taken all the decorations down and started over, but I will just have to plan for next year. As we are learning that the anticipation of Christmas is too much for our daughter, I think all Christmas decorations and the tree might have to wait until Christmas Eve. I know we will just have to reiterate over and over that Santa is not real and is not the reason for Christmas. Jesus is real and Jesus is the reason for Christmas.

And now three weeks post Christmas, we know our 4 year old was just stressed. We have put away the decorations and almost over night the angst, self-deprecation, and hurtful words have ceased. So, here’s to hoping next year is about the excitement of Jesus’s birth instead of the fear and stress of Santa. Wish us luck!:)