I originally planned to make my book available for pre-order today. December 5. Due to wisdom and logic and Divine intervention, I decided to wait, but I wanted to share anyway why I chose December 5. You see… December 5 is a very important day to me and my family.


    It’s because of this lovely young woman:


    This is my little sister, Janna. She first became a part of our household on December 5, 2000. She was 1 year and 9 months old at that time. Because we didn’t know when her birthday was at first, we decided that we were going to celebrate December 5 as her birthday.

    We eventually found out what her real birthday was (March 22), but every year, on December 5, I still greet her a Happy Fake Birthday.


    My sister is going to turn eighteen soon, and at her young age, she’s been through far more than most people have. I can’t even begin to tell you what this girl has gone through. The story of her life will astound you, and the miracles that God has performed in her life will amaze you.

    But more than anything, it is her. She is the miracle. Her joy, her light, her radiance. Even after everything she’s been through.

    You see, my sister was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. She hasn’t been able to walk ever, and is confined in a wheelchair.


    Being a part of a strong Christian family, heavily involved in ministry – both our parents are pastors, and a lot of our relatives are involved in ministry one way or another – countless prayers for healing have been poured upon her, but for some reason, she is still where she is.

    In a wheelchair.

    But she’s not one to be pitied, nor does she want to be. The last time I spoke to her about this, she told me that she understood that if more people come to know the Lord because she can’t walk, then she would rather not walk.

    My sister, in many ways, is an inspiration to me. I am always challenged by her courage, by her will, by her ability to smile through life and pick herself up when she feels down. There are so many things about her that I find beautiful, so many things about her character that I wish I had in myself.


    She has such a big heart for people. A value for relationships that allows her to be vulnerable, where most people would be guarded. She has experienced so much rejection, but that has never stopped her from reaching out to others and still taking chances.


    She loves music and has taken the steps it requires for her to be better at it, even when challenges come her way. She doesn’t give up, this one. She’s always been a fighter – especially regarding things and people she’s passionate about.


    She has literally lived a story of someone who has made beauty out of ashes. I can’t even begin to explain in this blog the many ways that she represents that imagery.


    She has a natural joie de vivre that is contagious and uplifting, and I hope and pray that that joy of life will never ever go away, even when things seem dark and hopeless.

    Janna, you were meant to shine. Don’t ever forget that.


    I see that radiance fading away sometimes, and it saddens me because I know it’s not her. She’s meant to reflect the Son’s shine. It’s always what she’s been, but she’s human and she’s been down a lot lately. That makes me sad, because she is a natural encourager with such a great sense of humor.

    Through some of my darkest moments in life, it was her who managed to make me laugh and smile and let me know that I wasn’t alone.

    I hope that in some way, this article can encourage her too. If you’re reading this, do leave a comment to reach out to her and give her some love, encourage her and bless her.  I’ll make sure she gets to read it.

    I know she needs it in this season.

    Next to my Mom, Janna is one of the bravest, most beautiful women I know. Her life and attitude towards her every circumstance challenge me every day, but just like any warrior, she also gets wounded.

    I hope this can help her see that she is always and will always be loved.

    To Janna:


    I love you, Ching-Ka-Rock! Happy fake birthday!
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    Joanna Alonzo

    Author/Founder at Almond Tree Publications
    Joanna Alonzo is a walking paradox. She is a beautiful, albeit messy, mixture of thought and emotion, expressed in the form of hopefully readable – and relatable – stories. She is a kingdom kid, who looks forward to being a writer and storyteller even when she reaches heaven. She is passionate about the unreached, about those who have yet to know the Love she found in the arms of the Almighty. She is intrigued by the world and its people, who day by day, continue to convince her that God is the greatest Storyteller of all.
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13 Comments on "Why December 5 is Important to Me"

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Tawni Sattler

Oh my goodness this is such a sweet post! Happy Fake Birthday to Janna! She seriously sounds like an AMAZING girl. Wow!! What a blessing to read this this morning. Thanks for sharing!

Lori Wildenberg

What a beautiful tribute to your sister. You are a treasure to each other!

Tabitha Wells
Joanna, this is such a beautiful post. I love the photos you’ve chosen to show with these comments, because they really reflect the essence of what you are saying here. I am someone who has spent my life being literally torn as two people–the person filled with that joie de vivre, with a heart that loves everyone and wants to see everyone experience joy, and the person who is filled with darkness and despair from my mental illness. While mine is an extreme situation as far as the darkness goes, a Christian counselor once told me that those of us who naturally are filled with joy and a desire to impart that joy on others often face the biggest challenges to remaining uplifted. They used that comparison of the tank being filled with water–people with that heart just give and give and give, regardless of whether anyone is filling our tank. It often results in our tanks being depleted far faster than they can be replenished. Janna–I look at these photos, and I see a beautiful young woman filled with love and with a joy many will never comprehend. I see someone who has overcome challenges to create a strength that few can understand–and with that comes a hurt and despair deeper than most can understand as well. I won’t claim to understand exactly what you might be feeling, or how that discouragement may be manifesting, because it feels very different to each of us and affects us all in very different manners. No matter how tough things get, do not let go of the love and joy that push you forward. Even in the moments where it feels like they are lost, they are there, just bubbling beneath the surface and waiting for their chance to wrap and entwine… Read more »
April Clevenger Boyer

This is such a beautiful and honest story. How heart-touching and bitter-sweet! Janna certainly does have a way of touching people, and she sometimes does it through her talented big sister! Thanks Joanna


December 5th is special indeed! You can tell her face lights up a room. A beautiful post.


This is so sweet! Your sister is beautiful and absolutley her “shine” shows in the photos. Growing up, being a teenager, it’s tough enough without the added dynamic of being confined to a wheelchair. Hvaing a sister to love and support your though is a true blessing. She has blessed you and you have also blessed her. Have a happy fake birthday Janna, I hope you have a WONDERFUL 2017!


It is amazing the beautiful life lessons we can learn from those society likes to label as “less than.” Thanks for sharing about your sister today.

pia jingco

Oh Joanna, this made me tear up! Your sister Janna is certainly a testament to how God works in the lives of His children. May she never, ever lose sight of who she is in His eyes. And may the Lord continue using her mightily for His kingdom!


Oh my Gosh, you’ve made cry. What a beautiful tribute to your special,dear, beautiful sister. I smile when I see her radiant face. Her smile lights up the world. I trust whateverr sadness she is touching upon is because God maybe is helping her to gather parts of herself she needs to feel, and she will then use what she found to bring joy to those around her. I want to say I love you and I don’t even know you Janna, except I know your God’s dear one and you shine like God and made me happy tonight knowing you are in the world making it a better place. I’m so touched by your beautiful sister Joanna who also has a big wide open heart and my gosh, you have given her the greatest gift by being a part of her life, I’m so moved about how SHE LOVES YOU SO MUCH~can we all meet and laugh and have tea and cookies? You would be so much fun to spend time with. Blessings to dearest one!!!


This is so precious! I have chills. 🙂 Please tell her happy fake birthday from me!!

pia jingco

Reblogged this on t a s t e & s e e ! and commented:
There are people in my life, some very close to me, who struggle with physical, emotional and mental challenges. They are at different stages of journeying with the Lord, and witnessing their ups and downs has always pointed me to His sovereignty and faithfulness.

I do not personally know the young woman in the post below, but her sister’s testimony about her has hit close to home and touched my heart. I praise the Lord for her life! Do read and be inspired.

Anna E. Meyer

What a beautiful woman your sister is, Joanna! Happiest of (fake) birthdays, Jenna! (Even though this comment is a little belated.) I have Multiple Sclerosis, and have been confined in a wheelchair when my body won’t have any of this “working” part. I highly and intensely dislike it. I need a walker to get around currently, and it’s a lot of hard work that will get me out of that. I admire people like Jenna, who just accept it, and do everything another person would do. Sending hugs to Jenna! (Because I like hugs, and if she’s your sister, Joanna, she must be okay with them, too!)


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