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I would never celebrate Christmas the same

Remember with me...It’s Christmas morning. I am sitting on the living room floor of an emergency care cottage. In front of me is the Christmas tree surrounded by children. It’s loud and noisy as their excitement grows.

I am struggling, holding my tears back as I think about their lives and what brought them to this place. And then a precious little girl comes and sits in my lap and her two brothers protectively follow her and take their place— one on each side of her. I feel them snuggle close to me. The siblings were brought in by the police two nights before. I was told that they had been found living in an old chicken coup.

The three children quietly watched as the other children began opening gifts. At one point the little girl looked up, and said, “I want my Mommy.” Her older brother reached over and cradled her tiny hand in his. When gifts were laced in front of them, they just stared.

The little girl whispered again, “I want my Mommy.” It broke my heart that the one gift this child wanted most—I could not give to her.

“My Mommy’s not coming to get me?” she asked. “My Mommy loves me,” she says probing into my eyes. My heart broke because it was a statement and a question at the same time.

I rocked her back and forth as she cried.

The boys opened their gifts. There was a plane and a train. Their shouts of happiness joined in the squeals of the other children. The older brother helped his sister open her gifts. She did not make a sound. She did not smile until the last package was opened. Inside was a small Raggedy Anne doll. She wrapped her little arms around that doll and, for the first time, I saw her smile. As the day progressed, the smile grew and turned into giggles and laughter.

This changed me. I knew from that day forward I would look at Christmas differently—I would celebrate Christmas differently.

As I think back, I am so grateful God gave me the opportunity to hold and love this precious little girl and her two brothers. Many years have passed since that Christmas morning, but never does a Christmas morning pass that I do not think about those three little children. I always pray and ask God to bless them wherever they are today.

The gifts these children received that morning were given by the owner and employees of an area car dealership. They had decided to give gifts to our children rather than give gifts

to each other. I do not know who purchased the special Raggedy Anne doll, but I do know the light it brought to the eyes of this little girl.

All my Christmas’ since have been filled with children in need. I watch as God uses the generosity of others to meet their needs. People like you share joy, peace, and hope with the children God places in our protective care. And I know that you are grateful that God has given you the opportunity to be there to share His love through your gifts and prayers.

I always smile when people say that they would not want my job. But I love what I do.

People share their fears of asking someone for money. They often ask why does it look so easy for me. For me it is a calling, a calling to care for the least of these. If I were asking for myself, I could not do it. But I am asking for those who cannot ask for themselves.

I ask because Jesus said, “Whatsoever you have done to the least of these you have done it unto me.”

I ask because I believe a baby was born in a manger, lived, and died to change my life—your life and all who believe.

I ask because I want everyone who walks through our doors to experience the promise of peace, hope, love, and healing—the miracle of Christmas.

Each time I ask, I am offering someone the same opportunity that God offered me when the little girl and her brothers made their way into my heart.

Each time we give, we give of ourselves out of our relationship with God and in obedience. Not only is the life of a child changed, but our lives are changed.

As a reminder, I was told by a donor that I am cheating them when I do not let them know of our needs and give them the opportunity to share what God has given. He reminded me that every time they give— they are blessed.

So, I am asking you to give for the children who cannot ask for themselves. I am asking you to give to provide formula for a malnourished baby, a home for a little boy and girl abandoned to spend the night in the cold, and loving cottage parents for three children who lost both of their parents from a drug overdose. I am asking you to give to provide a safe haven for a mom and her three children escaping a life on the street.

I am asking you to give to celebrate the numbers of children who recently accepted Christ into their lives. I am asking you to give to hold high the light of Christ so that their darkness will be overcome. I ask you to give out of your relationship to Christmas. I am asking you to give to celebrate the best gift ever, the true gift of Christmas—Jesus!

Thank you for being a part of our family. May your Christmas be filled with God’s wonderful promise of peace, hope, and love. Please give, they are depending on you!

NOTE: Through the Matching Gift Challenge, your gift is doubled between October 1, 2023 to January 31, 2024. Your investment in children's lives is matched dollar for dollar making twice the impact.

Written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President, Development & Communications

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