Dear Readers, this is one of my favorite Christmas songs, sung by the songwriter.
I hope you are enjoying this holy holiday with family or friends. If you've ever clicked on the About Me tab on this page, you know how God called me to be a professional writer and author in May of 1984. Another thing happened that year you might like to know.
I was working as an auxiliary rural mail carrier at the time. It took James and I quite a while to process all that happened. By August, he told me that I should resign from my job if I wanted to and concentrate on the writing. I did, and I would receive my last paycheck in August.
Back then, there weren't very many Christian book and gift stores. So I was looking at a catalog from a company in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, that had Christian gifts and cards. I had decided to order Christian Christmas cards with that last paycheck.
God spoke to my heart. "What are you doing?"
I knew that He already knew, but I told Him, "I thought You'd be happy that I'm ordering Christian Christmas cards." And He assured me that He was glad I was heading that direction.
But He told me that He wanted me to use the gift He had given me to bless other people at Christmas. That was the first year I wrote a Christmas short story and used it as our Christmas card. I also printed up copies and gave them to to people all through the holiday season. I have only missed 2 or 3 years since 1984, when life got in the way.
After about 10 years, I make a printed book of the previous stories and bound it with a coil binder. I still have a few of them. I will give away a copy of that.
About 3 years ago, I published all the stories up to that time in a Kindle book, 24 Christmases, which is still available. If you order one, email or message me on Facebook, and I print up copies of all the stories since then and mail them to you.
Here is this year's story:
Marjorie’s Christmas Prayer
by ECPA and CBA bestselling author Lena Nelson Dooley
Yesterday, the doctor indicated that she probably would go home today. Home? She no longer had one. Waking up on a gurney outside her flaming rented house had changed her forever. For the first time in her life, she was homeless, and everything she owned had been consumed by the hungry blaze. Even her paycheck she received that day, which contained a bonus for good work.
Questions bombarded her. Where could she go? She had no family anywhere.
Last Christmas, she was still a newlywed. She and Scott had married in October, and she was on top of the world. After being raised in an orphanage, she met her husband when she moved out on her own. They both had jobs, and nothing else mattered, because they were so in love. They reveled in the newness of married life. Scenes from that life flashed across the screen of her mind like a slide show, racing toward that fateful day in March.
When her husband hadn’t come home that evening, she stayed up all night waiting for him. Surely he hadn’t left her already. Nothing had been wrong that morning when they parted. In their few months together, they had never quarreled. Their togetherness was too new and precious.
She had just removed a cup of instant coffee from the microwave when the doorbell rang. Her heart leapt within her. Scott was ho ... Scott wouldn’t ring the doorbell. A heavy sense of premonition wrapped around her almost squeezing the life out of her. Marjorie’s hesitant steps led to the door.
“Who’s there?” She didn’t want to open the door to trouble.
“It’s Sergeant Lopez.” A strong feminine voice sounded from the other side.
Police never brought good news, did they? She pulled the door open to see two officers, a man accompanied the woman. “How can I help you?” Fear quivered her heart.
With a compassionate expression on her face, the woman stepped through the door. “Could we sit down?”
Marjorie knew what was coming, but her mind denied it. “Just tell me what happened.”
“We have some bad news, Mrs. Burns.” The man’s voice was as compassionate as the woman’s. “Maybe you should sit down.”
Her body obeyed, slumping onto the edge of the sofa. The other two followed, the man sitting in Scott’s favorite chair and the woman near her.
“A drunk driver hit your husband’s car head-on ...” Those were the last words she heard before she fainted.
After several months, Marjorie had been unable to get over the death of her husband. Everywhere she went, memories of them together at one place or another brought so much pain. So she moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. She had worked temp assignments just to get by. The pain of grief kept overcoming her, so her work was erratic. She barely made it.
Finally, two weeks ago, she got a permanent job. She rented the tiny house with the money from her last temp assignment. She had made sure the house had smoke detectors before she decided to rent it.
The day of the fire was her first payday. Now she was not only alone, but destitute. Since she hadn’t showed up to work the last three days, she was sure her employer had replaced her. After all, the Christmas season was too busy to leave a position like hers open.
Now the tears streamed down her face, dampening the hospital gown she wore. She used the top edge of the sheet and wiped her face. Her life hadn’t been easy before, and now Marjorie felt as if she were at the bottom of a deep pit with no way out.
Yesterday, the hospital Chaplain had spent quite a while talking to her, answering her questions, and praying for her. She could see no way out of her hole, but if the man was right, God loved her.
She closed her eyes and tried to block out everything else. The Chaplain said that God was with her even in this hospital room. “God, if you’re real, I need you.” She spoke the words aloud. “I don’t want to have to go to a homeless shelter. I don’t know where I’ll even get clothes to wear to leave the hospital. The Chaplain said you are a god of miracles. I need a miracle today. Please ...”
Her shoulders shook as she sobbed. Very slowly ... the deep sense of abandonment and depression began to lift. No bright light. No answer to her problems. But she didn’t feel so alone, as if some kind of presence she couldn’t see was in the room with her. A presence that brought relief. As the abandonment and depression departed, so did her crying. And she fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
Later she awakened to soft voices conversing outside her room. She couldn’t understand the words, but the sound was comforting somehow.
A knock sounded on her door. “Mrs. Burns, may we come in?”
She recognized the voice of the Chaplain and pulled the sheet up to cover all but her shoulders. “Yes.”
One of the hospital social workers accompanied him, and a couple followed behind. They were strangers, and both of them carried large sacks full of something.
Mrs. Hart, the social worker, approached her carrying a clipboard. “The doctor said he wants to release you, and I’ve been seeking sources of help, so we could.”
“Then these people approached me.” The Chaplain gestured toward the strangers. “I think you’ll find what they have to say interesting.”
“I want you to meet–” Mrs. Hart glanced down at the clipboard. “–Ginger and Frank Stoddard. We’ll leave you to visit, and I’ll be at the nurse’s station. Just ring for a nurse if you need me.”
After the Chaplain and social worker left, Mrs. Stoddard moved closer to her bed. “I hope you don’t mind us coming to see you. This morning in my quiet time with the Lord, He spoke to my heart about you.”
Her words stunned Marjorie. Hadn’t she just that morning cried out to God for help. Is this an answer to her prayer?
“Frank and I often help people, especially at the holidays. We believe you are the person we’re to help this year ... and maybe longer, if you’ll let us.”
What could she possibly mean? “How did you know about me?”
“Our son is a fireman. He’s the one who went into the burning house to rescue you?” Ginger’s smile revealed how proud she was of her son.
Marjorie hadn’t realized a fireman risked his life to save her. “Is he alright?”
Frank moved close to his wife. “He’s fine, but you weren’t. You were sleeping right through the fire.”
Amazed, Marjorie blurted, “Why didn’t the smoke alarms wake me up?”
Frank frowned. “According to the fire investigator, although they found residue from the smoke alarms, they didn’t find evidence of batteries in them. Your landlord is being investigated right now to see if he was at fault.”
That explained a lot to Marjorie. I could have died! “I wish I could thank your son for saving me.”
Ginger’s smile widened. “You’ll get that chance if you agree with our plan.”
“What do you mean?”
The woman started taking clothing, shoes, and toiletries from the bag she carried. A lot of clothes. “According to the nurses, these should fit you. I hope you like them. If you don’t, we can take them back and exchange them for styles you do like.”
All the clothing she removed from the bag was much nicer than anything Marjorie had ever worn. Her heart melted. God had sent these angels of mercy to help with some of her needs. Thank you, God.
Frank cleared his throat. “We’d like to sort of adopt you as our daughter.”
Ginger sat down in the chair beside the bed. “We had a daughter, who is already in heaven. I’ve wanted another daughter, and I believe God is giving us a chance to have one, if you agree. We’d love for you to move into our home and stay as long as you need to get on your feet. And we hope that you’ll feel welcome to be part of our family for the rest of your life.”
Marjorie mulled over those thoughts. The Chaplain had said something about God adopting the people who believed on Jesus into His family. This was something like that ... but different. If God sent them to her, this was the answer to her frantic prayer earlier that morning. Living with these people could help her learn more about God and Jesus, since they already knew them. This should be a no-brainer for her ... and it was.
“Yes, I’d like to be a part of your family.” She was no longer homeless and unloved.
©Copyright 2015 - Lena Nelson Dooley
Here's another of my favorite Christmas songs, sung by the songwriter:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
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