As we travel toward December 25th, I will be marking the four weeks of Advent with this series – Pregnant with Christmas. You can read part one here and part two over here. With one child born two days after Christmas and my tummy full of another one right now, so many of my thoughts are on that teenage mother of 2,000 years ago and her un-shakeable faith. So, each Sunday I will offer part of my own stumbling journey toward motherhood and what I’ve learned from watching Mary’s. I hope you’ll join me. And teach me.

My dad calls from South Africa and my afternoon dissolves. Into tears, into memories, into tiny snatches of life exchanged in a 45 minute sprint to catch up on the marathon of weeks spent apart.

“I wish you could have been here for supper tonight,” he says. As if I’d been stuck in rush hour instead of stuck a thousand miles away. As if I’d been working late or caught up in school stuff for the kids or simply forgotten.

“I wish you could have been here. There was Wanda and me. And then Karabo and Lulu and Tsepiso and now there’s a boy called Blessed staying with us.”

I should really stop being surprised by his calls.

“Every time we visited the orphanage his face – his face would transform. He was almost desperate with the joy of seeing us. So we brought him home for the holidays.”

My dad grew up a farm boy who went to med school, moved to the big city and the whole time just wanted to be a preacher. It’s still what he wants to be. And I think he feels disappointed that he was asked to teach Sunday School instead. At least, he did a year and two kids ago.

Now he’s telling me what supper was like with those four extra special faces around the table.

And when we talk I hear it in his voice, what he doesn’t always say out loud. The wish that he’d had the patience and parenting he has now when he just had me. And Josh. And Luke.

But some things don’t need to be said out loud.

Some gifts are best treasured up in the heart.