Christmas Miracle

When I read the following story I knew I wanted to share it with you. May it bless you as much as it did me.  Merry Christmas.

Children, sickness, Santa, belief

Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl.
“Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”
“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.
Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.
“She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.
Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas.
When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.
“What is it?” Santa asked warmly.
“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but ….” the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors.
“…The girl in the photograph … my granddaughter . well, you see … she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way, Santa . any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”
Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do.
Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do.
“What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying,” he thought with a sinking heart, “this is the least I can do.”
When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.
“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.
Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day.
“C’mon …. I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly.
Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall.
Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family; there was the Grandmother and the girl’s brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a Chair near the bed ! with weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.
Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!”
“Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes intact.
Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. A child the tender age of his own son — 9 years old — gazed up at him with wonder and excitement.
Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.
As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes.
Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she’d been a very good girl that year.
As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands.
Santa looked intensely at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.
“Oh, yes, Santa … I do!” she exclaimed.
“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you,” he said.
Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly,
“Silent Night, Holy Night …. all is calm, all is bright.”
The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own.
“Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively, “you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”
He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could — not dolls or games or toys — but the gift of HOPE.
“Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.
He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.
Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed.
Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him.
“My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.”
They nodded with understanding and hugged him.
One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap.
“Hi, Santa! Remember me?!”
“Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.
“You came to see me in the hospital last year!”
Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest.
“Sarah!” he exclaimed.
He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy — much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before.
He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.
That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed — and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about — this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘Tis a very, Merry Christmas!”

Nativity and Children

#inspiration, #nativity set, #Jesus, #ChristmasOne of my most treasured possessions is a nativity set that my brother lovingly hand carved for my mom about twenty-five years ago. It always held a place of honour in her home and now that she is no longer with us, the gift was passed on to me.

Since it is made of wood, there has never been a problem with children moving the pieces around. Everyone can enjoy this nativity. Thinking of this brought to mind a story I heard several years ago that I want to share with you today.

In order to save the beautiful ceramic nativity set from the grasping, sticky fingers of her young daughter, Linda crafted a play grouping of burlap, canvas and yarn. Five-year-old Elizabeth would spend hours rearranging the pieces and acting out the Christmas story. Mother would quietly laugh to herself when she heard Elizabeth inevitably say, “Hey, Jesus mother, can I hold your baby?”

Mother couldn’t picture the work-roughened hands of a shepherd cuddling an infant. But it made perfect sense to little Elizabeth; if these people were going to make a trip to see a baby, they wouldn’t want to leave without holding it.

Think about it. She really isn’t that far off. When you see a baby it’s only natural to admire it or comment on how cute it is. But, if you actually pick up that baby, a phenomenon takes place. Somehow, holding that child, gazing into those wide eyes and connecting with that uniquely God-given personality – that baby gets into your heart!

Don’t you think the shepherds were drawn in the same way to embrace the Infant of Bethlehem and experience the miracle of His love in their hearts that first Christmas?

This year, as you make your journey to the stable in Bethlehem, don’t just gaze on the Child in the manger and turn away unchanged. Embrace the Baby Jesus, the pure light of God’s love, and let Him shine in your hearts and make your lives new.

Don’t leave without holding the baby.

My Favourite Gift

#inspiration, #Jesus, #ChristmasOver the years I’ve heard the saying, “Giving is receiving.” This is something I’ve experienced as I’m sure many of you have.

The fact our giving doesn’t have to be extravagant to have an impact is an added bonus. Sometimes all we need to do is show up. Our time is valuable and giving it freely to someone shows a commitment to that person they may not have experienced elsewhere.

Acts of service show we understand the needs of another and are willing to help fill those needs. In order to recognize them, we need to pay attention.

My husband is a master at this. He quietly takes care of things around the house to give me time to spend writing. By giving me the gift of his time he is also valuing mine. There is no way to put a price on this kind of gift.

His example makes me strive to cheerfully give my time and attention to others. By doing so, I am giving one of the most thoughtful gifts possible. No lineups to purchase are required. No fancy wrapping is needed. The ripple effect is far-reaching and can enable me to experience a little of Christmas in any month of the year. This may be the most perfect gift idea ever!

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you. Yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.” Mother Theresa

Children’s Christmas Concerts

#Christmas, #inspiration, #Jesus,#GodMy favourite Christmas concerts are the ones put on by children. They have several things in common with the first Christmas – music, drama, God, and the element of surprise! You never know quite what to expect at a children’s performance. I think the mistakes in the program provide some of the most memorable moments.

The Christmas I was six years old, I was given a major role in the school concert. I was to recite T’was the Night Before Christmas. My mother helped me memorize the poem. By the day of the concert I had it word perfect. That is, until I stepped up on the stage in front of an audience!

Part way through, I forgot my next line. I paused and then started again, unaware that I was repeating a previous line. Suddenly my three-year-old brother yelled out from the audience, “You already said that part!” My mother was embarrassed at his outburst, I was embarrassed by my mistake and my little brother stole the show!

Now I can look back and realize that mistakes actually help teach us the real meaning of Christmas. They allow us to see that true joy comes from being loved by God, no matter how many mistakes we make. That’s what God’s love was telling us more than 2,000 years ago with the arrival of Jesus. He’s still telling us that today.

His love is there when we follow the script and when we get mixed up. He’s there cheering us on, just like the loving parents watching their children in the concerts. When we make a mistake, he picks us up and encourages us to try again. He delights in our enthusiasm and rejoices with us in our accomplishments. His unconditional love always meets us exactly where we are.

Not only at Christmas but throughout the year, I want to be like a little child, basking in the love of my Heavenly Father.

A Child is Born

#Jesus, #God, #inspiration,
Picture compliments of Kristina May

A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.

She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.

This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.

He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.

I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.

Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Christmas Carols

#Jesus, #inspiration, ChristmasOne of my favourite parts of Christmas celebrations is the carols sung. Did you ever stop to think that the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born would have been the very first Christmas carol?

I knew that the tradition of singing Christmas carols was centuries old, but never really thought about the fact that when we sing carols at Christmas, we are carrying on with a tradition of praise that started the day that Jesus Christ was born. No wonder these songs that we only hear for a short period of time every year hold such a special place in our hearts and memories.

How many of you have a favourite Christmas carol? I have several. I enjoy the traditional songs Oh Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night; While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night; and Joy to the World, because they tell the story of that night in a manner that all can relate to.

My heart soars as I picture the angels singing when they announced the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why “Angels From the Realms of Glory” is also a favourite. The very words take me back to that starry night.

Christmas carols were one of the ways of getting the story of Jesus birth to the common folk in days gone by. These people didn’t have the means to learn to read – or even to own a book if they could read. In order for the church leaders to get the Christmas story to these people, they had to find methods other than the written word. One of these was to write songs or Christmas carols.

So, when you hear Christmas carols this season, think of the deep meaning behind the words.

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” (Luke 2:13,14 MSG)

Christmas Traditions

#inspiration, #Christmas, traditions
image from Pinterest

Do you have any special Christmas traditions? Are there activities, outings or special foods that signify the season for you? They may have been carried forward in your family for years, decades or generations.

How easy is it for you to adapt to changes in your traditions?

I grew up in a home where we were able to choose one of the presents under the tree to open on Christmas Eve. When I got married this changed. My husband was of the opinion that all gifts waited until Christmas morning. It was time to form new traditions together.

When my children were young teenagers we would pick my mother up in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and bring her our house to spend the next few days.

She would come to church with our family on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, we would drive around various neighbourhoods admiring Christmas light displays. Upon returning home it was time for hot chocolate and cookies.

One year, my husband made us clubhouse sandwiches on Boxing Day. Little did he know this was the start of a brand new tradition! Boxing Day has been synonymous with clubhouse sandwiches ever since!

Some traditions change out of necessity. My mom is no longer with us and our kids now have families of their own. One thing has not changed in over twenty years. We may not all be together to open gifts or enjoy a turkey dinner on Christmas Day but nobody wants to miss out on our clubhouse gathering on Boxing Day!

It’s funny how something little like this takes hold and becomes such a big part of our lives. Tell me about the traditions that have become part of your family heritage?

Christmas Flower

#Jesus, #inspiration, ChristmasI was in Mexico in late November and enjoyed seeing the festive decorations. While in a large store I turned to head up another aisle and saw a display that took my breath away. The poinsettias for sale were three feet tall! How I wished I could bring one home with me.

I remembered that this showy plant is native to Mexico but that was the extent of my knowledge. I decided to do some research and found that, in its natural habitat, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow ten to fifteen feet tall. And I thought the ones I saw were large!

How did they become associated with Christmas, I wondered? I turned to Wikipedia for my answer.

Legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from beside the road and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds, resulting in the flower we know as a poinsettia.flower, legend

There were some other interesting facts, but it was the legend that captured my mind. I can relate to a gift of weeds being transformed into blossoms. No gift is too small for God to use. I learned this first hand when I gave my life to Jesus. He will take whatever we give Him and turn it into something unexpected and beautiful. That is why I honour Jesus, not only at Christmas but every day.

“And you’ve become a new person. The new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10 GWT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

The Best Gifts

#inspiration, gifts, ChristmasHave you completed your Christmas shopping? Some gifts are purchased, some are lovingly hand-made and others come straight from the heart.

Of the many gifts given and received over the Christmas season, often those most valuable are the ones that don’t come from a store.

One of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received came from my daughter. She didn’t have a lot of money but wanted to do something special for me.

I had a drawer full of recipes cut from the newspaper, jotted on scrap paper or passed on from friends. My daughter took the opportunity to go through these whenever I wasn’t home and neatly print the favourites onto recipe cards, which she placed in a small file box. This allowed me to find the ones I wanted with ease. Almost twenty years later, I still use and appreciate this gift.

My children, now grown with families of their own, don’t remember a lot of Christmas gifts received while they were young.  What they do remember is receiving a new board game every year. We would spend hours as a family playing these games.  The time spent together is what their memories are made of.

Over the years I’ve given and received some wonderful gifts. I’d be happy to share more of them but would rather hear about yours. What are some of the best gifts you remember and what make them special.

I’ll do a draw from the comments I receive and one of you will win a gift from me!

Christmas Village

#Jesus, love, peaceA Dickens Christmas Village is set up on my hearth. The lights in the church, shops and house shine onto the little village scene. In one area Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol to a crowd gathered around. Nearby are a group of Christmas Carolers. Some children are playing in the snow.

Gazing at the cheerful little village brings back precious memories of receiving the various pieces throughout the years. My adult children enjoyed moving some of the people to unusual locations in the village to see if I’d notice. Grandchildren loved to gaze at it but knew not to touch the porcelain pieces.#Jesus, love, Christmas

This village brings me peace and joy. It also reminds me of love shared with my family, who are the primary members of my personal village.
Christmas is about peace, joy and love. There is no better way to honour Jesus than by sharing the love that he so generously gives to me. That is what I plan to do with those I come in contact with.

I want to express my appreciation for each of you who read my posts. May you feel the blessings of love and peace not only this Christmas but throughout the coming year.

This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. ( 1 John 4:9 NIV)