Listen and be inspired as five members of the Mysterious Ways team share inspiring stories from Christmases gone by.
Edward Grinnan: So this is a story about the last Christmas I spent with my mom. Julee and I—my wife—flew out from New York City to Michigan, where my family is and where my mother was, by then, living in an assisted-care home.
They were taking great care of her, but she was in the final stages of Alzheimer's. She was barely talking, and when we went over there on Christmas morning, bright and early, to see her, I couldn't help but notice that she really couldn't do anything on her own. I mean, the attendants dressed her, they got her in and out of bed, they fed her, and I thought, Gosh, here's this incredibly intelligent, independent woman, and she can't do anything for herself anymore.
So we spent time with her that morning; she said nothing. She smiled a couple of times, but I wasn't even sure she knew we were there. And then we opened up presents and she didn't really pay much attention to them—except for one present that came from her granddaughters, and it was a pop-up book for The Twelve Days of Christmas. And so we all decided to sing The Twelve Days of Christmas to her.
So we started off and, lo and behold, she began to join in, and we all stopped and let her sing. Now, it wasn't perfect—the words got jumbled up, the days got jumbled up, French hens got turned into French houses and so forth. So at one point, I stepped in and tried to correct one of the lyrics, and she looked at me and all of a sudden, her eyes just blazed and she said, "Are you going to let me do this by myself?"
And I thought, Aha, she's still in there, isn't she? And she can still do some things by herself. And that was the last time I saw her on Christmas, but it made me feel like she did know it was Christmas and we were there.
Desiree Cole: My husband and I had just moved to Chicago a few months before Christmas, and I had just started this job that, because it was so close to the holidays, they said I wasn't going to be able to go home to see [my family] on Christmas. So it would've been the first time I had ever celebrated Christmas without them, and it was a little hard time of the year.
So I started thinking about what it would be like to be home for Christmas. You start to think about when you were a little girl and all these things that you really enjoy, and I thought how wonderful it would be if it snowed in Chicago because that was always something very dear to my heart, when I'd wake up and there'd be a white Christmas.
But as Christmas got closer, the forecast was just calling for drizzly rain, so I was, like, Oh, it's OK. But when I woke up that morning on Christmas, I looked out the window had fallen on the ground. And it reminded me how God never fails to turn things into good, and in a way, I had a piece of home with me that day.
Alex Bova: It was December 2005; I was a teenager and we finally decided as a family that we were going to get a pet, and so we were looking at Yorkies. My dad wanted another type of dog, but we were three daughters and his wife, so he was overruled.
We found out that the Yorkie we'd been looking at has been taken home to a loving family, so we had planned on leaving the facility, but my mom, out of the corner of her eye, saw a little white ball of fluff in the corner and she was, like, "We should look at this dog!"
The animal-care attendents had named him, affectionately, Mop, because he was this crazy little white ball of fluff. And I was, like, "No, we shouldn't take him out because you wanted a Yorkie." So we ended up taking him out of his little cage, and he was kind of nervous and slip-sliding around on the tile and just kind of falling all over the place like he was on little ice skates. But we fell in love very quickly.
So we took him home and we named him Beau. He is twelve years old and a welcome addition to our family. He truly was a Christmas miracle.
Diana Aydin: This is a story my mom tells pretty much every Christmas without fail. It was the 1980s, I was one-and-a-half years old. I had been born with a dislocated hip, so for a while I had to wear this big, bulky cast—for about a year or so.
It was October, the cast had come off, but I still wasn't walking. December that year rolled around, it was a few days before Christmas, and my mom and dad were sitting by the Christmas tree. My sisters were already asleep, and I was in my mom's lap. My dad said, "Oh, what do you want this year for Christmas? What do you want from Santa?"—he was just trying to funny. And my mom said, "What I really want is for Diana to walk this year."
And just like that, I got up from her lap and I walked from her to my dad in front of the Christmas tree, and they started laughing and crying. So that's a story she tells every year as a miracle that happened to me on one of my first Christmases.
Rick Hamlin: This is about a song. Two years ago, I was in the hospital with a terrible lung infection. I didn't know if I'd be able to breathe without an oxygen tank next to me, let alone sing. I feared I'd never be able to sing again.
Well, thanks to prayers and the good medicine and good work of the doctors, I got out of the hospital. But singing, that still seemed like a question. Then a friend of mine, Lisa, said, "Hey, Rick, there's a song I want you to learn and we'll sing it together." Emanuel was the song.
So I learned the song, but I wasn't sure I could sing it—until we got together.
[sings] Our God is with us
And if God is with us,
Who could stand against us?
The two of us got together, and the first time I sang, my voice was back. What a gift that was!
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