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The unexpected gift


In a darkened sanctuary, a Christmas program is underway. A full orchestra has assembled. The orchestral strains ribbon together in celestial celebration, and down the center aisle, there they come. Three wisemen, clothed in royal robes, are bearing gifts. They process slowly toward the stage where awaits the holy family, Mary, Joseph, and an infant swaddled in a blanket of white. Listen, and I shall tell you of the child’s beginnings…

It was 18 years ago this very week. On the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday, a busy mother took a break from her work to slip into a dentist’s office for a routine exam. She was 38 years old.

At the time, she was working from home as a medical transcriptionist, typing reports for doctors in far-flung states. It was a job she loved. From her upstairs office, she could administrate the household, watch over her own children, and earn a healthy wage that supported her husband’s fledgling business.

Their three sons were 16, 12, and 7. For the first time in 16 years, they were all in school every day, and so she leaned into her career, finding much satisfaction and enjoyment in those quiet hours. Then the appointment with the question, “Are you pregnant? If you are, we can’t take x-rays,” and the answer, “I don’t think so, but…” Which was followed, you see, by the test and the ensuing quake.

Humanly speaking, the news came at the worst possible time. While the family had health insurance, it had no maternity coverage. Remembering the astronomical bill for the last child after months of preterm labor and bedrest, she quailed at the thought. Back then, she hadn’t been working, but now her income was needed. What were they going to do?

In addition to that, every spare penny was being put into office renovations for her husband. The numbers on the balance sheet were frightening. The two of them went to bed that night, reeling.

The next morning by the light of the Christmas tree, the anxious mother turned to her greatest source of help, God’s Word. She thought of Mary, a little mother who, too, had received shocking news, “You will bear a son,” and she opened her Bible and read.

In Mary’s story, she found the comfort she craved. And in the silence of her home that day, she echoed Mary’s words, “Be it unto me according to your word, O Lord.” Amen.

By divine providence, she experienced a healthy, uneventful course. No preterm labor, no bedrest, no financial crisis. She was able to work and maintain her home until late one night when it was time. With his three eager brothers in a waiting room nearby and his stalwart father in attendance, the infant was born. And the dark-haired baby boy made four.

I am that mother. Now, 18 years after the stunning news, my heart carries a paean of joyful praise for the blessing and gift of this boy.

From the start, his two oldest brothers pitched in, holding him, changing diapers without flinching, helping in a myriad of ways. “They will be better fathers because of him,” I have often said to their dad who nods, for he knows it is true.

A happy child, he played for hours by Mother’s desk, lining up matchbox cars with military precision. He was Picasso, decorating the walls (and himself) with Magic Markers and a green butterfly stamp, an agent of color and mayhem.

At the age of 12, he came to me one day with a question. “Mom, what do you think I’m gonna do?” he queried.

“You mean when you’re grown up? For your work?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“We don’t know yet,” I said, “but God will show you what it will be when you need to know it.”

His reply that day I shall never forget. “Well,” he said confidently, “I think it’ll be something important because I don’t think God gave you an extra kid for no reason.”

The reason I share this precious family story with you today is to remind you that some of the greatest, most lavish blessings come through the things we didn’t expect or plan. They come by avenues and paths we could not foresee and did not know that we needed. When they come (and this is the truth), they are right and they are good if we accept them.

In my life and experience, I have seen it over and over again; nothing is ever wasted with God, not even an “extra kid” who came at what seemed to be the worst time. He and his siblings are a tight, devoted, loving band of brothers, a beacon of light in the world.

The boy we did not plan has a special name. It means “God is my strength, brave.” What a blessing it was when, at the age of six months, he and his daddy participated in that Christmas pageant. For two nights, he held hundreds of people in the palm of his tiny hand, his very existence bearing witness to the Christ child who came. By his very being, he pointed them to God.

If this is true for my family and I, it is true for you and yours. May God bless you richly in this holiday season and, as always, may he bless America, too.

With love,

The small, caffeinated American mom

Opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.

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