Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Christmas I Learned About Prayer

It was December 1950 or 1951 in Juneau, Alaska, and I was 5 or 6 years old. We kids spent hours pouring over the Sears and Roebuck Christmas catalog, studying page after page of toys and dolls. As I turned a page, my eyes fell upon the most beautiful doll I'd ever seen--a bride doll dressed in lace and tulle, a veil over long, blond curls that could be combed and styled.

I ran to show my mother. "This is what I want for Christmas!"

With sadness tingeing her voice, she said, "Oh, honey, you'll have to pray and ask Jesus for that doll. We don't have enough money to buy presents this year."

My parents operated a children's home by faith. As many as thirteen children--nine of them under five and two babies in cribs--lived in a big house on the beach just outside of town--orphans, neglected or abandoned children, and others with only one parent and no one to care for them when the parent worked. Some parents were able to pay a little; those children placed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or welfare were subsidized. My dad worked full time to support the home while my mother cared for all the children, did the cooking, the laundry, and the cleaning, usually without other adult help. Both of them provided us with a lot of love and Christian training.

Every night until December 24, whenever I knelt to say my bedtime prayers, I asked Jesus to give me that beautiful bride doll for Christmas. My request wasn't very significant to anyone but me. You might even say it was selfish. It certainly would not change the course of history if I didn't receive that doll. But that Christmas morning when, wide-eyed with expectation, we children tripped down the stairs and peeked into the large living room, we discovered gaily wrapped presents under the tree for each child. When I unwrapped my gift, the beautiful doll I'd prayed for lay inside.

Years later, my mother told me the rest of the story. That Christmas Eve, the only department store in Juneau called my parents to come down to the store and pick out gifts for all the children in their children's home. Among the remaining toys she found a bride doll for me.

That Christmas, this young girl learned that the God who created the Universe cares about every detail of her life, including what she wanted for Christmas. And to this day, that sense of His love has never left me.

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