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December 22, 2014

For several weeks, a memory from about 20 years ago keeps coming back to my mind. There must be a reason but I’ve yet to “work it out.” So I thought I’d just start writing in hopes of an epiphany as to why this particular memory has been resurfacing.

It was about 1995-96 and I was working as Assistant Director at the Cleveland Community Center. I appreciated the job (of course) but it didn’t pay all that well so as usual money was TIGHTTTTTTT!!!! (especially at Christmas)

When I look back on those times, I always feel sorry for Christie because she never received a lot of gifts at Christmas — AND I MIGHT ADD, she NEVER uttered the first word of discontent. She knew we had a difficult time financially and for whatever she received, she was appreciative. She now says that built her strong character and confirmed her mission/purpose in life.

In any event … (and I think I see one epiphany) … this particular year, while working at the Community Center, it was basketball season and one of the volunteer coaches for the Center’s program was a local fireman. I do not remember his name, but I know he coached a team from the Black Fox area. He had dropped by the Community Center to pick up a schedule or reserve time for practice or something like that. He got to talking about the Fire Department’s traditional and annual efforts to provide Christmas for “less blessed” children.

Certainly they went above and beyond to ensure that all the children on their lists received an abundance of toys and new shoes and pajamas and winter clothing. They even made sure there was Christmas dinner for many. He shared with several of us how they even took time to visit the families and find out what the kids REALLY needed and wanted. Of course, most wanted whatever the most popular toy was at that time. But he said that his heart was broken when this one little girl about ten years old made her request known.

When asked what she wanted for Christmas, her response was “I’d like to have my own towel.”

He didn’t think that he heard her correctly so he asked her to repeat it, and she said, “We only have one towel and we have to share it. I wish Santa would bring me my own towel.”

This brave, courageous community servant said his eyes welled up with tears. He could not believe a kid would even think to ask for something so simple, so practical and something most of us take for granted. He said, “I would never have thought about a kid not having a towel to dry on or a family only having ONE TOWEL between them. That’s crazy!”   And yet, that’s what she asked for.

I think he ended up buying a towel for every member of the family for Christmas. He said he was going to get her the biggest, fluffiest, prettiest towel he could find. That’s sweet, huh?

Oh, I’ve said it before … and I guess this memory has been weighing on my mind so much to remind me of the “BLESSINGS” in my life and my family’s lives. I look back on the years of my girls growing up and I see how much time was “wasted” by fretting over dollars spent, or getting just the right gift that will please or feeling like I was letting them down as a mother because I could not provide the “high end” items. Wasted time … like I say … TIME that cannot be regained.

Time wasted by fretting over such things takes away from the opportunity to create good, solid memories of “spending that time” together.

When my girls were little, we received a lot of “blessings” from other people. They were on “Angel Trees” a few times, and truly, it was a struggle (financially and emotionally) to pay high winter utility bills, and other things, and wait it out to see if you’d have any left over for “Christmas.” In retrospect, “blessings” always came through.

We were appreciative … but sometimes I was embarrassed because I was “needy” and had my children in a “needy” situation. I always had my ear to the ground, and I knew that not all “bearers of blessings” came without some degree of judgment. That’s just “people-ness” I suppose.

Perhaps another reason for this “fireman story” is to remind me of how “blessed” he was to be able to “give” what that little girl really needed and wanted. We pass through this season … seeing the “LIGHTS” but not really seeing the LIGHT … that illuminates the human needs around us. Not all needs are extravagant, and shiny, with bells and whistles.   Some needs are very, very practical.

A tank of gas for a mom to get to work another week?

A sackful of good groceries … meats/fruits/staples that will last through the end of the month.

Help with the “LIGHT” bill … or some other payment that’s weighing heavy on the family.

Something sweet … like cookies or cakes or muffins with hot chocolate makings for the whole family to enjoy while watching the parade or driving over to Peerless Church to watch the house with the big light show.


The Bible says in Psalm 69:33, The Lord hears the needy and does not despise His captive people.

Throughout the Bible, there are references to how the Lord comes to the rescue of the poor and the needy. But in my “neediness” (though I did cry out to the Lord), I could not see His “LIGHT” shining down on me for having my focus on my shame and guilt for “being needy.” In our society, we’re taught (brainwashed more like it), that we MUST BE INDEPENDENT, SELF-SUFFICIENT and it is SHAMEFUL to need or ask for help. This very mind set causes us to WASTE TIME … MISS BLESSINGS … and EXEMPLIFY OUR PEOPLENESS by trying to “BE” Jehovah Jireh rather than allowing HIM to provide and accepting His Blessings through the “hands and feet” of people He chooses to use (like a fireman, or a teacher, or even some stranger in the drive-thru ahead of you who paid it forward).

I know this memory resurfaced for many reasons. God does work in mysterious ways and often has to work in multiple and repetitive ways for me to connect all the dots. A few days ago, I drove my car through the car wash on 25th Street, and before I proceeded into the soap, the attendant handed me a “towel” with a ribbon wrapped around it. “Merry Christmas.” He said.

“Thank you! Merry Christmas to you.” I replied, and then thought, “WOW! What a great gift. I needed this for my car!”

Ahhh, there it is.  An EPIPHANY!

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