Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Season of Miracles

Christmas is a wondrous time of the year for many of us. It is a time of beautiful music, lights, giving to those less fortunate, and being with family. There are countless stories of quiet acts of love and generosity. There are also stories of changed hearts and changed lives.

As I thought back over the 30+ years that I have celebrated Christmas, I thought of all the moments that touched my heart. I realized that many of the moments that have helped build my testimony of Jesus Christ have happened during this time of year. Some are personal and I have decided not to share them at this time. But there is one that always comes to mind. I would like to share it now.

It was December 1986. My mother was expecting her 6th child. I knew in my heart that this would be my last chance to have a sister. I prayed from the time my parents told me about that baby that it would be a girl. I knew that there would be a significant age gap but I was feeling a little desperate at being the only girl in the family.

As Christmas grew near, another desire surfaced. I wanted a white Christmas. Growing up in the foothills of North Carolina meant that Christmas was usually cold but it had not snowed during Christmas in my lifetime. I had learned the song "White Christmas" and now I wanted to have that experience for myself. I began to pray that it would snow for Christmas.

As the day approached, we experienced unusually warm days. My faith wavered. I didn't believe that Heavenly Father would change the weather patterns so drastically to satisfy my childish wish. So, I changed my request a little. I prayed that it would snow near Christmas. We usually took down our decorations around the 1st of January so that was my deadline: Snow by New Year's Day.

Christmas Day came and went. There were presents and goodies and family and school vacation. There was no snow. The dreary winter-scape was brown and gray. The magic of the Christmas season was rapidly dissipating. I was letting go of my hope for snow, believing that my prayer was too petty to be answered.

New Year's Eve, my cousin Carrie came over to spend the night. We stayed up until Midnight and threw cereal into the air to celebrate. We slept on the fold-out sofa in the living room. I went to sleep with one last plea for snow, though not expecting it to be granted.

The next morning, Carrie woke up before I did. I remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and said "Amy, it snowed." I shot up from the bed in complete astonishment. I stared out the large front window at a world of glistening white. Delicate flakes were falling from the sky. I couldn't believe it! It had worked! My prayer had been answered!

We spent the day playing in the snow, having pancakes for breakfast, hot chocolate and pretending to be at a glamorous sky resort. By that evening the snow had melted. I fell asleep that night more content than I had ever been in my life.

This experience gave me renewed hope that I would soon have a baby sister. After all, I had been praying for that for years. I now knew that Heavenly Father heard and answered prayers so he would answer that one also.

April 1, April Fool's Day of all days, my brother Daniel was born. I was devastated. I cried and screamed and threw a world-class tantrum. Not exactly the reaction parents want when they have a new baby. I was so angry with my Heavenly Father for not giving me this one thing that I wanted so desperately. Was it really too much to ask?

Yet I knew that he was there. I knew he loved me. I knew that he heard my prayers. I knew he answered them, even requests as simple and insignificant as a little snow. I knew that he had granted that wish to teach me this lesson. I knew that he had heard my prayers for a sister but he was saying "No". Whatever his reasons were, I could not have that particular desire of my heart.

I still wish I had a sister. I still don't know exactly why I didn't get at least one. I have some theories. But they don't really matter. What matters is that wonderful experience that laid such a firm foundation for my testimony. Because of that one-day sprinkling of snow, I learned that my Father in Heaven is real. He is not a distant, aloof being who doesn't care about the affairs of mankind. He is a loving, ever-present Father. He loves each of his children and wants them to be happy. He reaches out to them, no matter their age or their place in the world. Each one of us is precious to him. I also learned that we don't always get what we want. That doesn't mean he loves us less.

To this day, I am awed by that experience. In fact, it might mean more to me now than it did 23 years ago. When I think of the "tender mercies" that our Father grants us, I think if this moment. I am humbled that he would care so much about a 10 year old girl that he would answer her prayer in such an obvious way. I am humbled that he knew how devastated I would be a few months from that day when my brother was born and took steps to reassure me ahead of time. I am even more humbled that he would know my needs so well that he would provide me with a Savior to bear my burdens and atone for my sins.

At this time of year, as we remember and celebrate the humble and lowly birth of the Lord, let us also remember the many things He has done for us. Let us remember those small and simple blessings that have brought about such great change in our lives. I am so grateful for the opportunity each year to reflect on these moments and remember the great love my Father in Heaven has for me. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

toby and amy said...

thank you for sharing that beautiful testimony. Merry Chritmas, Amy!!