Thanks to Twila Belk, our guest for today's post.
By Twila Belk, founder of the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference
Guest Writer (Excerpted from: Christmas Miracles)
Maybe that sounds like a petty prayer, but I love poinsettias at Christmastime. Something about the bright red flowers gives me joy, and I needed joy that year. My husband and I were in the midst of heavy financial troubles and didn't feel we could afford anything extra. He was without a full-time job and had experienced several health problems. Most of the family burdens became my responsibility. I wondered how we'd provide for the essentials, let alone Christmas presents for the children.
I decorated the house as best I could for the holidays, but my heart wasn't in it. I didn't want to decorate; I did it for the kids. I was sad because I wanted things I knew I couldn't have. Seeing festive decorations in stores and in other people's homes, and hearing the fun things others were doing only made me sadder.
The Sunday before Christmas our family went to church. My husband taught the high school Sunday school class and I taught the women's class. Between Sunday school and the worship service, I went into the narthex to visit friends. I watched my husband climb the stairs. His arms held an awkward pile of things. He had gifts from his students: packages of candy, books, and cards. I spotted a small, green pot with a beautiful red flower peeking out.
"Where did you get that?"
"Lauren gave it to me," Steve said. "It was nice of her, but it's kind of a strange gift for a man."
"Oh, no. That's my poinsettia. Don't even think that it's for you." He stared at me and I said, "This is a gift straight from the hands of God for me. I prayed for a poinsettia, and God answered!"
God showed me that year that he cares about poinsettias and he cares even more for me.
By the following Christmas our finances hadn't improved. However, rather than pray for a live poinsettia again, I decided to get by with the fake poinsettia stems stored in my box of Christmas decorations. They were left from the days we owned a bookstore. As fake as they were, they would add splashes of color throughout the house and give it a more festive feel.
I worked the imitation red flowers in with the decorations on the fireplace mantle. I stuck them in baskets. I inserted them between the branches of the Christmas tree. I laid them on shelves. They didn't look special, just okay, but I was determined to be content. Each time I looked at one of the poinsettia stems, I remembered God's goodness to me the year before.
On the last day of school before Christmas break, our friends Rick and Nancy visited us. Rick is the head custodian at the nearby elementary school. They came into the house carrying two huge poinsettia plants, one red and one white.
"We thought you might enjoy these. We know how much you love poinsettias." Nancy placed the two foiled pots on my kitchen counter. "They were left over from the kids' Christmas program."
I stared at how big and beautiful they were. Bright red flowers. Big white flowers. "I've never had a white poinsettia." Tears glided down my cheeks as I said those words.
I accepted that gift as if God had personally delivered them. There wasn't a handwritten note that came with the poinsettias, but I understood the divine message: I love you. I haven't forgotten you.
"You'll never know how much these poinsettias mean to me." New tears formed in my eyes as I thanked Rick and Nancy several more times. I explained that I had prayed for a poinsettia the year before and God had provided, but "This year I decided to get by without a real one. I guess God knows the desires of my heart."
My friends were delighted to be part of that special blessing from God.
The next year at Christmastime, our friend Jim called. "Janet and I have something for you. Is it okay if I come over and drop it off?" When Jim rang the doorbell, he held a poinsettia in his hands. "We remembered how much you love poinsettias. We saw this and thought of you."
Again I cried at God's goodness.
We've had many lean years, but God has blessed each Christmas with a gift of a poinsettia. They're not always from the same people; they are always from the same God. No matter how they come to me, I see them as miracles.
Poinsettias have become symbolic to me. They represent God's goodness. Each year at Christmas, they remind me that nothing is too small for God's attention. If it's important to me, it's important to him.
Twila Belk, also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a speaker, writer, publicist, and director of the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference. She works closely with bestselling author Cecil Murphey as his manager and personal assistant. To learn more about Twila, visit http://www.gottatellsomebody.com/.
© Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 http://us.macmillan.com/SMP.aspx Used by permission