CHRISTMAS MIRACLES: True Stories of Joy and Wonder
from the editors of Guideposts
Guideposts has been publishing inspirational stories for so long that you never have to doubt whether those stories will tug at your heartstrings. They will, without exception. And when you add Christmas to the mix, you know you're in for a heartwarming read as well.
CHRISTMAS MIRACLES opens with a story that sets the tone for what is to come. As a college student, a single mother and the sole provider for her two children, Susan Farr Fahncke faced a bleak Christmas in 1993. The situation was so bad and their house so tiny that there was no place for Susan to sleep but the living room floor.
Late the night of December 23rd, Susan heard a knock --- actually a pounding --- on the front door that understandably alarmed her. But her late-night visitors turned out to be a joyful family of strangers armed with an abundance of gifts for Susan and her children. Wrapped packages, a Christmas turkey, treats for the children and all the makings of a holiday dinner --- the family had provided everything needed for a truly memorable Christmas.
Shortly after they left, a bewildered but grateful Susan remembered an envelope that had been handed to her. Opening it, she discovered $100 and began sobbing. The "angels" at her door had no way of knowing that the gas was to be disconnected for nonpayment the following day, leaving Susan and her children without heat on Christmas Eve.
This is the kind of miracle that characterizes the stories that follow, categorized as "Christmas Angels," the presence or appearance of special people like the family at Susan's door; "Yuletide Mysteries," those unexplainable signs that let us know someone is watching out for us; "Gifts and Glory," the presents that come in so many different kinds of packages; "Christmas Wonder," the astonishing events that occur when God is in charge; and "Peace and Goodwill," the miracles that result when people give of themselves.
My personal favorite is also among the most dramatic of the 35 stories in the compilation --- Don Dwight's story of his 25th anniversary gift to his wife: a Christmas vacation in Thailand with their five children. As a missionary in Taiwan, Dwight had saved up for a considerable amount of time to make this memorable event happen. Though he was disappointed that all the beachside bungalows on Phi Phi Island had already been booked, Dwight was certain that the beauty of the island would make up for their hillside accommodations away from the beach.
As it turned out, those accommodations may have saved their lives. The year was 2004, and on December 26th of that year the Indian Ocean tsunami obliterated those beachside bungalows --- and much of the rest of the island, including the restaurant where the Dwights had eaten breakfast an hour earlier. The gift of life was never as precious to them as it was on that day.
While some readers may question the use of the word "miracle" in relation to the events described in the stories, the reality is that the people to whom these events happened consider them to be miracles, and maybe that's the main point. Whether anyone else recognizes them as miracles, many of the unexplained mysteries that have helped shape our own lives may in fact be customized miracles that were sent simply to remind us that God is there --- at Christmas or at any other time.
--- Reviewed by Marcia Ford (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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