carrying christmas


Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

December 3, 2013

My husband and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary on Wednesday.

On Friday, I’ll remove my diamond rings.

Not to worry, though. It’s only temporary.

I’ve had my flu shot, popped my first malaria pills, and packed last year’s Cipro just in case.

I’m making a list and checking it twice, three times, four.

Because on Friday morning, I’ll board a plane for Nashville to meet up with a team from Long Hollow Baptist Church.

And on Saturday, I’m going back to Jeremie, Haiti.

I’ll be away from home for ten days.

Here’s the thing.

A big part of me does not want to go.

In fact, a part of me has been hoping for, though not praying for, a roadblock.

I have been praying for all planes to stay aloft and land correctly, for no earthquakes, and not to go blind like the young girl my sister told me about who had issues with her contact lenses in the Dominican Republic.

I could wear my glasses all week, I suppose, but I can’t really see out of them, and they give me headaches. So I’ll wash my hands well, rub them with sanitizer, flood them with bottled water–and hope I don’t get dust in my eyes, or that a contact doesn’t pop out of position at the orphanage.

And though I know what to expect, I don’t know what to expect.

Some would say my anxiety is a good thing, that it means I’m out of control, have no control, that God’s got it all under control.

And so far, He hasn’t intervened to keep me at home.

For the first part of last year’s trip, I wanted to come home.

For the last part of last year’s trip, I didn’t want to come home.

Shortly after last year’s trip, I signed up to go back.

But now I’m not sure I want to go back.

I don’t want to leave my pups or my family for ten whole days.

I’ve become complacent and comfortable.

I’ve forgotten the mattresses that brought me to tears.

I’ve forgotten the frisbee supper bowls.

And how the children found their own way back to their houses in the dark after the movie.

I’ve forgotten that girls wanted the elastic bands from my hair, how Sophonie wanted to get on the plane and come home with me.

The home I thought I’d never again grumble about.

The home I grumble about.

What I want to do is to put up the Christmas tree and sip hot cider and sit under its lights and listen to O Little Town of Bethlehem.

I want to finish start shopping.

I want to wait for His coming in my own pew.

But since I was out of town for Thanksgiving, I’ll end up missing the first three Advent Sundays.

While others have been posting photos of their trees and holiday decorations, I’ve been posting photos on Facebook in a Haiti countdown of sorts.

Photos that help me remember.

Photos that remind me why I’m going back.

Photos that remind me why God has not closed the door.

Photos that remind me of how I found holy ground in Haitian grit.

But how am I going to get everything done in time to leave?

How am I going to get everything done for Christmas?

“Sometimes,” said Marlon Hall last weekend at Laity Lodge, “we let the how get in the way of the why.” We let the wrong interogative control us, he tells us.

So perhaps it’s in the going that I “incarnate” my why.

The Word became flesh, Mark Roberts reminded us at that High Calling retreat, and pitched His tent within us. He incarnates us so we can live out our why, so we can live out His why for us.”This,” Mark says, “is the theology of Christmas.”

So on Wednesday, I’ll celebrate my anniversary with my earthly husband.

And on Friday, I’ll remove my diamond rings and replace them with a simple band, a reminder of my union with my heavenly husband.

And I will carry Christmas within me.

What’s making you a bit anxious today? What how is in the way of your why?















  1. HisFireFly

    and God will see to all the details, large and small
    and once again you will feel the things that move His heart
    and once again you will stop wishing to go home and wish insead to stay
    and your heart will break as God uses it to mend
    and a still small voice will whisper “well done indeed”

      • HisFireFly

        and peace He Will provide

  2. DeanneMoore

    Go into all the world…my prayers are with you. Sending my boy down to the island in a couple of weeks. Wish I was going too. Be blessed and be a blessing.

    • Sandra Heska King

      I wish you were going, too! Where will your boy be going? Continuing to pray for you and your dad, my friend.

      • DeanneMoore

        Canaan Christian Community in Montrious, up the coast from Port au Prince. Church members and older teens are taking backpacks of Christmas to the kids, some are foster children, some are orphans. And thank you, Sandy, for the prayers. God got my attention yesterday…I had been propping up strong and now I am embracing weak…making all the difference. Oh, and God reminded me to pray for David Landrith on Sunday. I found out about him when you asked for pray for him…so much suffering in this world..

  3. marthaorlando

    Wishing you travel mercies, Sandra, and God’s blessing as you venture back to Haiti in faith. I have no doubt you will again find “holy ground in Haitian grit.”

  4. Cheryl

    We have not met…yet, but I will be with you traveling to Haiti later this week with Long Hollow Baptist. It will be my first trip – yet I could not have said any better what I have experienced these past few weeks than the words you have shared. I’ve been on several mission trips, but for some reason – I have been anxious yet excited about the week ahead. I keep telling myself it is because Tami is the only one I know. Yet there is no doubt each person on the trip will hold a special place in my heart before the week is over. God must be going to do amazing things…isn’t that just like Him!!
    Look forward to meeting you in person Saturday…early!!

    • Michele Farmer

      Cheryl, I will be praying for you and the group. You all are the hands and feet of Jesus and God will be doing amazing things through you and the team. I can’t wait to hear what happens next week. 🙂 xoxo

    • Sandra Heska King

      Oh Cheryl! I can’t wait to meet up with you. Very. Early. It will be a life-changing experience! I’m sure God’s got something BIG planned!

  5. Patricia W Hunter

    Love you dearly, Sandra. You shine like a rock star! You will be in my prayers. xoxox

    • Sandra Heska King

      I will be praying for you, too, dear Pat, and watching as I have Wi-Fi for news of a quick recovery.

  6. MsLorretty

    YOU take my breath away with Him. Oh dear sister….go and be blessed. Go tell it on the mountains and in the huts and on the streets. Go tell it in the marketplaces and on the sandy beaches. Go tell it in the slums and in the orphanage…go tell them that JESUS CHRIST is born! Hallelujah!

    • Sandra Heska King

      You can lead my pep rally any time, Lorretta! I’m ready, coach! 🙂

  7. Kelly Greer

    Sandra – You and Jennifer are really making me want to leave the comforts of home, the fireside apple cider sipping and all the shopping that I haven’t started either for the beautiful dirt of Haiti. Godspeed. I sense the blessing swelling inside already, anticipating the God with us. Praying you experience Emmanuel in each and every moment.

    • Sandra Heska King

      One of the team members from last year said you that really… it took going to Haiti to find Jesus. It’s easy to lose Him here in the holiday trappings.

  8. dukeslee

    So many of us are going with you. Put your hand on your heart. Feel it beating. Know right then that you’re in our hearts. OK? Love you, SHK.

    • Sandra Heska King

      I feel it! I feel the beat! It’s the strong rhythm of Haiti hearts. I feel like I’ve just been there. Oh I was. I was riding along in your heart. Love you, too!

  9. Barbara Isaac Croce

    And the Father says, “I am going to Haiti. Wanna go with me and share in the blessing?”


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carrying christmas

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 4 min