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A Christmas Love Song

They thought Connor Deal couldn’t handle a solo in the church Christmas production. They were wrong.
By Ron L. Deal

One of my most prized Christmas videos is also one of my saddest. Let me explain.

Christmas is the season of hope. The time of year when families find blocks of time to be together and the world is reminded of the Christ-child who built a bridge of redemption for those marred by sin. It’s a time when people of faith speak openly and unashamedly about their Savior, and a time when a shared gift warms the heart with love. It is ripe with tradition and ritual: traditions that guide our actions and give meaning to them, and rituals that tell family members who they belong to (the gift of identity), and comfort us with familiarity.

Perhaps one of your family traditions has something to do with attending a Christmas pageant or production at your church.  A few years ago I attended a Christmas production at my church and videotaped my wife and three sons who were in the cast. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got to see how their hard work paid off and be a proud daddy at the same time.

One scene in the play was particularly enjoyable for me; now it is a treasure I will never forget. My middle son, Connor, then 11 years old, sang a solo while holding the baby Jesus. My wife, Nan, was the director of the play, so weeks earlier when she told the production team that she knew exactly who should play the part of the shepherd boy and sing the solo, they hesitated. Can Connor sing? they wondered. Is this another case of director-mom casting her son without true objectivity?

I happened to be at rehearsal the first time Connor sang the song for the cast and musical team. Jaws dropped all over the room as he nailed every note with clarity and boyish charm. He could sing, alright, and everyone attending would be blessed by it.

The Christmas production came off without a hitch and was videotaped as planned. And I’m so glad it was. Connor died 14 months later.

For now, my family has stopped performing and directing Christmas productions. It’s just too painful. But this proud daddy can’t stop watching his son sing Rebecca St. James’ prayer, “Jesus, I love you, my Lord, my Life. Where would I be without You? Here in the quiet, the still, the night, I am in awe of you … Why would You, Creator and King, come as a baby for all, for me? Beautiful Savior, my God, my Friend, I am in awe of You, Lord. I am in awe of You” (from “A Cradle Prayer”).

Now Connor sings with the angels.

In the video Connor holds and rocks a live baby (starring as the baby Jesus) while singing his solo. “You get to sing over Jesus,” I told him one night at rehearsal. “What an honor that is.” After his death I couldn’t help but find comfort in the thought that now Jesus was singing over him.

Connor’s solo is now available for the world to see on YouTube and this proud daddy would love for you to be blessed by it and share it with your family. Christmas is the season of hope; especially for those who have experienced a loss, are unsure of the future, or have been marred by sin (this one includes us all!). Take some time this month to sing a Christmas carol with your children and talk about the gift of grace that is ours to receive—and how even now our Savior is singing His love song over us.

Hear Connor sing and learn about the ministry his parents have started in Connor’s memory.

©2009 by Ron Deal.  All rights reserved.

Looking for help or inspiration this Christmas? FamilyLife offers several resources to help your family focus on Christ during your Christmas celebration. The Ever Thine Home® Christmas collection includes ornaments and other decorations help you honor Christ and proclaim your faith. The 12 Names of Christmas™ ornaments are designed to help you teach your children about Jesus is and why He came to live among us. And in When Christmas Came, Barbara Rainey reveals the substance of Christmas in poignant prose and vivid watercolors.

Meet the Author: Ron L. Deal

Ron Deal

Ron Deal is a marriage and family author, conference speaker, and therapist. He is founder and president of Smart Stepfamilies™ and director of FamilyLife Blended™, the ministry initiative of FamilyLife® to stepfamilies (for more visit and 

Ron is author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family (and DVD series), The Smart Stepdad, Dating and the Single Parent, The Smart Stepmom (with Laura Petherbridge), and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage: Keys to Success in the Blended Family (with Dr. David Olson). A highly sought-after, recognized expert in marriage and blended families, Ron is a member of the Stepfamily Expert Council for the National Stepfamily Resource Center, and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years experience in local church ministry and family ministry consulting. He is a featured expert on the video curriculum Single and Parenting (2011, Church Initiative) and his material is widely distributed by a variety of family education initiatives

Ron served as a member of the Couple Checkup Research Team (headed by Dr. David Olson, PREPARE-ENRICH) which conducted the two largest studies of marital strength ever accomplished. They surveyed over 100,000 marriages and remarriages (over 200,000 people) and examined the qualitative differences between highly satisfied marriages and low-quality marriages. The results of their groundbreaking research for couples are published in the books The Couple Checkup (Olson, Larson, & Olson-Sigg, 2008) and The Smart Stepfamily Marriage (Deal & Olson, 2015), and are featured in Ron’s newest seminar for dating, engaged, married, and remarried couples, the Couple Checkup Conference.

Ron is a popular conference speaker and has appeared in dozens of national radio and TV broadcasts both in the U.S. and Canada. His daily 60-second radio feature, FamilyLife Blended, is heard by thousands each week around the country and online. He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, ABC’s Nightline, WGN-News, The Mike Huckabee Show, FamilyLife Today, Focus on the Family, HomeWord with Jim Burns, Celebration, and The 700 Club, and his work has been referenced online (e.g.,,, in magazines (e.g., Essence), and in newspapers throughout the world (e.g., USA Today, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal, and Minnesota Star Tribune). The May 2012 issue of Ladies' Home Journal featured Ron's therapy work with a blended family couple in their popular feature column “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Ron has written feature family articles addressing a variety of family matters for a variety of publications and online magazines including Focus on the Family magazine, ParentLife, The Family Room, Gospel Today, Christianity Today, and HomeLife magazine. On a regular basis Ron trains therapists, marriage educators, and ministry professionals at conferences around the country and has spoken at the National Stepfamily Conference, and the Utah and Arkansas Governors' conferences on the family.

Ron and his wife, Nan, have three boys. Their middle son, Connor, died unexpectedly in February 2009 at the age of 12. In his memory, the Deal's have partnered with Touch a Life Foundation to rescue and rehabilitate children in Ghana, West Africa, from trafficking. They would be honored if you would help them sing Connor's song. Visit Connor's Song to learn more about this ministry and to hear Connor sing.

In addition to FamilyLife sponsored events Ron is available to present his Couple Checkup Conference or Building A Successful Stepfamily conference in your church or community. Learn more here.



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