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Ep. 98: Tidings of Goodwill: An Unexpected Christmas Miracle

Every once in a while you hear of an unexpected Christmas miracle. Three years back, I received mine. You see, 25 years ago, I made a snap decision I would later regret.


Christmas gift idea: Ruthie’s book, Empty Nest Awakening

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A young wife with 2 kids and a baby, I was packing our house up for a job relocation back home. As is often the case, one accumulates tons of junk when raising little ones, so I feverishly off-loaded to Goodwill like a mad woman.

I packed the boxes, and Jim (after questioning all the stuff I purged  – and getting the stink eye from me), loaded them up and whisked them away.

We were finally moving home, and life was good.

Once we relocated, I unpacked necessary items and then stuffed a few unpacked boxes with sentimental possessions in my closet.  After all, life was moving at breakneck speed with my new career as the music teacher at the kid’s Christian school… and I just found out I was pregnant. Again. 

About 5 months into our relocation, I looked for our wedding memorabilia. Except when I dug through all the boxes – it was missing. No photo album, no signed guest book – it was gone. ALL of it.

With a sinking feeling, I realized I’d given our wedding memories to Goodwill and would most likely never see them again.

Around the same time, Jim discovered his nice black dress coat was also missing. (I got in trouble for that.) He’s often joked that someone in Martinsburg is walking around with his good coat and claiming our wedding memories. 

We have just one picture of the wedding, from somebody who attended. Our kids have never seen our wedding pictures. Many times, I’ve lamented the non-passing on of our heritage.

The Unexpected Christmas Miracle

But all that changed today with a mysterious phone call. A guy who owns rental property found our wedding memory box years ago in one of his dwellings, took it home, and set it on a shelf. And that’s where it sat for 20 something years – until he decided to open it.

Mr. Vanmeter from Martinsburg, West Virginia, wanted to know if we were still together (I’d have wondered that too – after all, who gives away their wedding album?!) and he proceeded to tell Jim our engagement story – written in our wedding guest book, so we knew it was legit.

How did he find us? Inside the box was an old bulletin from Maple Valley Baptist Church, where my dad pastored, with his name and home phone number on the front.

Long story short, my dad and mom still had the same phone number and the wedding box found its way home on December 21, right when all of our kids were home for Christmas!⁣

My eldest snapped a photo of Jim and I with our kids gathered ‘round, getting their first peek at our unexpected Christmas miracle– our wedding photos!

When asked why he would do this for us, he responded, “I’ve been married 54 years. I would have wanted someone to mail me my wedding memories too.”

Keep praying, even in the impossible

Crazy, right? I never dared to dream…or even pray that my wedding photos would be returned to me.  But my mom did, right from the start.  (She’s the prayer warrior in the family – we could all learn a lesson from her! Take it from this former cynic – nothing is impossible with God.)

I guess unexpected Christmas miracles still really do exist. Jim’s coat is still gone though.

“And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 

And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 

For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Luke 1:34-38