The Unexpected Surprise

Over the past two decades of my son’s incarceration, I’ve learned that my toughest time of the year is during the Christmas holidays.  It may have to do with the colorful decorations in stores, or the lighted trees in yards, or the upbeat seasonal songs on the radio, or with the envy I feel when the driveways on my street have extra cars parked out front for their family reunions—and Gene and I are going to the prison to spend the day behind the razor wire. We’ve been doing this long enough that I am fully aware that my malaise begins early in December and lasts for a full month. I can put on a plastic smile and appear “fine,” but I’m not. 

Several years ago, about two weeks before Christmas, I was startled by the doorbell. It was 9:15 p.m.—way too late for a delivery and it was an unusual time for unexpected company to stop by the house. I hurried to the front door, turned on the porch light, and peeked out. Gene joined me. We opened the door and discovered no one was there. No cars were in sight and no one appeared to be anywhere close to our home.  Looking to the left, a brightly wrapped package caught my eye. The streetlight bounced off the metallic paper and I noticed a card on top of the gift. It simply said: Mom

My immediate response was that it was a mistake. My only child was in prison and could not have delivered this package. However, it was on my porch and I am a mom. My curiosity got the best of me. Opening the card, I discovered a note in my son’s handwriting. Tears tumbled down my cheeks as I read the message:

Dear Mom,

It’s been a long time since I was able to be home with you and Dad for Christmas. I miss you so much! You have poured love and encouragement into my life, and you’ve supplied me with many educational and ministry tools to help my fellow inmates here at the prison. I wanted to do something special for you this year. I hope you enjoy the gift. It would bring me lots of joy if it’s something you like. I hope every time you wear it you think of how much you mean to me.



Opening the lid off the large box revealed mounds of tissue paper covering the surprise. As the paper cascaded to the floor, there it was—the most stunning russet-colored silk jacket I had ever seen—an ideal match for my red hair. Slipping it on, I headed for a mirror. It was the perfect size, as if a tailor had custom-measured me for a made-to-order fit. And the surprise was from my son!

I later learned that my friend Pam had exchanged letters with Jason and arranged for this gift to be delivered on his behalf. It was as if God was saying, I know your heart hurts. Your Christmases will not be the way you dreamed they would be, but be encouraged. I am comforting your son as I am comforting you.


How can we bring unexpected comfort to inmates and their families during this season?

  • Invite the family of a prisoner to your home for a simple dinner and game night.
  • Visit an inmate.  (Matthew 25:40-45)
  • Write to a prisoner. (Know the guidelines about writing to inmates in your state.)
  • Invest in organizations that provide support to inmates and their families. 

Many of you have asked how you can help our son as he ministers to the men who are incarcerated with him. As we see his heart for God, compassion for people, and his mentoring of other inmates, we realize the powerful impact of his testimony behind prison walls is because of your prayers. 

If you have time to send him a Christmas card, his address is:

Jason P. Kent X26713

Desoto Annex Correctional Insitution 

13617 S. E. Hwy 70

Arcadia, FL 34266

Please note that the card can’t have anything glued on it and the only things that can be enclosed are:

1) Up to 20 first class postage stamps (If he gets more than he needs, he shares them with inmates who no longer have family support, but only 20 can be in one envelope.)

2) He can receive up to 10 new cards and envelopes that he can mail to family members and friends. (Since the cards can’t have things glued to them, the Dollar Store cards work very well; he especially appreciates humorous cards.) Please note that the cards must be mailed in a non-padded envelope, without a metal clasp.

3) You can make a year-end tax-deductible donation in honor of Jason this Christmas to We supply the prison with biblical teaching materials, Bibles, Boxes of Hope to wives & moms of inmates, copies of “Waiting Together” to the families of those who have loved ones in prison, and much more. 

If you know the family of an inmate who would be blessed by my book, “Waiting Together” (90 devotions for families of inmates), call Gene at 586-481-7661 and we’ll send a free copy to that family.

“Let’s spread the good news: “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”  Luke 2:11 NLT


  1. Connie on December 13, 2021 at 3:21 am

    May I be ‘proud of you for Jesus sake?!’
    My husband was incarcerated years ago and during the holidays I honestly hated Christmas music
    You, your husband & precious son are heroes to me

    • Carol Kent on December 14, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Connie, thank you for your powerful, honest thoughts. I think there are many people who have a hard time hearing happy Christmas music when they are going through very challenging times. Your note blessed me today. Thank you!

  2. Laura J Walsh on December 14, 2021 at 7:05 am

    Thank you for sharing practical ways to help Jason. Will mail cards and stamps today. My son is also incarcerated and it can be heartbreaking. We stand together in Hope , even as our hearts hurt this Christmas.

    • Carol Kent on December 15, 2021 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you for your uplifting words and for encouraging our son with cards and stamps. What a blessing you are. I’m praying for your son as I write this note. Yes, we stand together in Hope!

  3. Marilyn Veronica Farmer on December 14, 2021 at 9:35 am

    My son is in the same situation that Jason is in. Different circumstances but same out come. How blessed the inmates are at the Desoto prison. How can I send my son the biblical supplies that you assist with at the Desoto Institution? I don’t mind paying for it, that is not an issue. My email is, I would appreciate a response when the time permits. God bless!

    • Carol Kent on December 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Marilyn, guidelines for getting biblical supplies into prisons differs from state to state and sometimes from prison to prison. We’ve discovered that it’s important to contact the chaplain and to work with him/her or chapel volunteers to get the official documents filled out and the final permissions for what will get inside the facility. Sometimes the prison program director also has the authority to allow supplies to get in. It takes patience because the staff is busy and they don’t always respond in a timely way. I’m praying for your son as I write this note. Blessings, Carol

  4. Kim Jones on December 15, 2021 at 11:06 am

    Carol – Hi – I am so grateful for your honesty and your willingness to put yourself out there. I do not have a son in prison but due to other circumstances, not even comparable to those of you dealing with a loved one as an inmate, Christmas is hard and I still relate to the words you wrote above. I needed this today more than you know – Thank you.

  5. Maggie Rowe on December 16, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    Carol, thank you for your transparency here, and for letting us know how we can come alongside Jason and others on the inside. I put a card and stamps in the mail to him yesterday, and Mike and I are sending a donation to SU4H as well. We are grateful for you showing us how to help.

  6. Diane Stauffer on December 23, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Dearest Carol,
    I cannot express how your testimony affected me-a couple years ago I heard you speak at Beulah Beach and I was mesmerized for an hour (plus) while listening to you-my circumstances are different; I have lost 2 of my 3 sons-my youngest died in 2001 from Bacterial meningitis, he was 15 and my oldest son died in 2016 from CHF-your story hit my emotions so hard and I cried so deeply, I cried for you, I cried for me, my sons had died and your son is still living and my heart hurt so much for you.
    I know that overwhelming presence of God; the true compassion of His comfort and I know that‘s what you’ve experienced-God’s promises are true and wonderful and gives life to His children like nothing else can.
    I do appreciate your telling your story, thank you.
    Carol, my son that is living is struggling with addiction and is so angry-I enabled him for a long time, but I’ve given him to God; all hands off, I’ve separated myself from him; the hardest thing I’ve ever done-please pray and ask others to pray for him, thank you.

  7. Billie Campbell on December 28, 2021 at 9:37 am

    My son was recently incarcerated. My heat is broken as I know that his behavior is all my fault. I love him and he won’t reach out to his stepfather or me. He is at least reaching out to his biological father. I am broken and can barely get out of bed. I pray for him constantly but God has never felt so far away.