Merry Christmas to all of you! I would like to share one such Christmas miracle that happened to our family over 20 years ago.
We moved from our home in Huntington,West Virginia to Kirkland,Washington in the fall of 1988. Jeff was a geologist and the coal industry took a down turn and Jeff was laid off from his job at the engineering firm. We decided then to take a leap of faith and to move our little family (which then included Brad and Amy) clear across the United States for a whole new beginning.
Jeff found a temporary job till November then right before Thanksgiving they did layoffs again. I remember well the words of my mother right before we left “ do you know what you are doing, moving so far away from family and friends, what if things don’t work out there?” I guess there was a bit of pride in us after a few weeks of being unemployed and realizing that impact it was going to have on the upcoming Christmas, but still I didn’t want to call our family and tell them that we needed help, they had already helped us so much. We had fasted and prayed fervently before we moved and we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is where we were to be and was the needed change that we were looking for.
Jeff did odd jobs for people and I made and sold gifts from our home but still it just wasn’t enough. Washington was a much more expensive place to live compared to West Virginia.
We prayed and worked but I didn’t know for sure how Christmas was really going to happen. On December 1st our Christmas Miracle began…. There came a knock at the door that evening and by the time we opened it, no one was there. But on the door step was bag of groceries. December 2nd after it was dark while we were eating dinner the door bell rang. By the time we got up from the table and to the door, once again our visits had disappeared but we found a $20.00 cashier’s check in our wreath on the door. As so the miracle went on and on each day of December. Hard as the children tried, they could not catch our Christmas Angels. Some nights it was a treat, money or food but I just remember the overwhelming feeling of being loved and watched over by my Heavenly Father and those around us (who we barely knew!)
As Christmas day came closer, the cupboards were getting bare and I remember kneeling one night and asking Heavenly Father to help us figure out how we could possibly provide any type of Christmas for Amy and Brad this year. I even left the cabinet doors open before I went to bed, just in case he thought we might have more food than we did. I knew we were doing all that we could, now we were trying to have the faith that we needed to realize things would work out somehow.
The day before Christmas was Sunday and we were up getting ready for church when there was a knock at the door. It was a man who asked if this was the home of Jeff and Lynn Woodard. He introduced himself and said that he was a member of the Lion’s Club and that he had a delivery for us. He then asked Jeff to come to the car with him to help carry things in.
I will never forget the feeling as this STRANGER made trip after trip into our home with boxes of food, and rapped presents for each of us. How could he have known? We didn’t know anyone that belonged to the Lion’s Club? We thanked him over and over before he left and all he said was “ I hope your family has a very Merry Christmas’ and then as fast as he came he left.
I just cried as I watched Amy and Brad dance and laugh as they put the presents under the tree. I remember well the look on Jeff’s face, I knew his pride was a bit hurt- that he isn’t the one who provided for us that time, but he also was very grateful and humble that his family had been blessed. That night after church and the kids were put to bed, I put the rest of the food in our cupboards (which were now full ) and as I picked up a present under the tree, I saw what was written on the tag and I began to cry. It just said TO… A 5 year old girl and the next one said TO…a 2 year old boy.
I vividly remember all my life when our family would be part of a giving tree, where you pick a card off the tree and by a present for that person. We never knew who they were but only their ages and we would take special care trying to pick the perfect gift that we thought they might like and need.
But this time was different, this little 5 year old girl was my Amy and that little 2 year old boy was my Bradley. How could I ever repay these anonymous givers? Then it hit me, receiving is much harder than giving. It was almost embarrassing to have someone give you so much. I sorta wanted to say to them, “you don’t’ have to leave that much food or that many presents just a few would do” but that is not what you say. You say thank you and let them receive the blessings and joy that come from giving.
That night I realized that Heavenly Father had heard the prayers of a young desperate mom, I knew He knew me personally and if I tried to do all that I could to live righteously, that he would always take care of us.
It reminded me of the quote…."God always hears our prayers but it is usually through Others that He answers them."
I promised that day that we as a family would never forget the kindness and service of others and that as long as we could that there would never be another Christmas that we didn’t try to do the same for someone else.
What a difference it has made in my life and I believe in the life of each of our kids when we ask What did we give for Christmas?
"The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart." ~ Helen Keller