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Second Chances

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God gives not only at Christmas but also throughout the year in ways that surprise and delight us!

He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. —Psalm 37:4 (kjv)

One week before Christmas, my husband Gene and I sat in church. Our congregation is small, not many children. I missed them—especially little girls excited about Christmas. I hadn’t been patient with my own two daughters in church so long ago: “Girls, stop talking. Sit up straight, Jennifer. Pull up your socks, Julie, and your sash is untied.”

I’d do it differently if I had another chance, I thought as a new family came in and sat right behind us. Gene and I turned around to greet them.

“I’m Julia,” the beautiful child told me, holding out her hand.

I took the dainty hand. “Hello, Julia. Welcome.”

At the altar, praying with a friend, I imagined asking little Julia to sit with me. But she probably wouldn’t want to. However, when I returned to my seat, Julia was sitting next to Gene, smiling. “May I sit with you?” she asked. I nodded, amazed. Her mother and I exchanged smiles.

As though we were old buddies, Julia leaned against me comfortably. I glanced down at her: shiny blonde hair; blue hair band; dark-blue velveteen dress; Mary Jane shoes with lace socks, carefully turned down. Her feet dangled far above the floor, and she swung them slightly. Julia caught me checking out her shoes and volunteered, “These are my new Christmas shoes. I got to wear them early.”

Two unexpected, joyful tears plopped onto my Bible. I wiped them away quickly. When we stood for the first hymn, Julia slipped her hand into mine and we swung our hands slightly, back and forth.

“Away in a manger, no crib for His head ...,” we sang.

What a Christmas Giver You are, Father! —Marion Bond West

Digging Deeper: Mt 19:14

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