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Laura's Gifts
by Jennifer Witteborg

Not long ago, there was a girl named Laura whose family just bought a house. They bought the house a few blocks away from her Grandparents. Money was tight that year. Laura's mom had cancer and just went through chemo/radiation. She was considered in remission (cancer was gone).

A few weeks later on Christmas Eve in the afternoon, Laura and her parents studied second chapter in Matthew. Later, Laura walked to her grandparents. Her mom was still weak, so her parents stayed home, full of praise that cancer was in remission.

There were two verses in that second chapter of Matthew that really stayed on Laura's mind. The first one was after Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. Matthew 2:19 says "Her husband Joseph was a godly man. He did not want to put her [Mary] to shame in public. So he planned to divorce her quietly."

Yet that night Joseph had a dream where an Angel of God appeared to him and told him it was ok to marry Mary. The angel told Joseph that Mary was a virgin and the baby was to be named Jesus for he was to be the Immanuel.

The other verse that impressed Laura was the one after the dream. Matthew 2:24: "And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took HER as his wife."

Laura thought of her school friends. Some were in the popular group and some of her friends were in the not-so-popular group. There was a lot of backstabbing, gossiping, and bragging. Joseph found out his fiance was pregnant but he didn't blabber about it, and he didn't go around gossiping about it or backstabbing her. He wanted to break off SECRETLY because it was the right thing to do. He thought she had slept with another man.

HOWEVER he was given a message to go ahead and marry Mary. He didn't BRAG: "See what a good man I am!?" or explain to nosy people: I married her because an angel of God told me to." He didn't tell people that the baby wasn't his. He didn't take time to analyze whether God knew what He was doing, Joseph did what he was told and that was IT!

On the way to her grandparents' house, Laura saw a family playing outside. Their coats were really thin, and yet they seemed very happy. Laura was new to the neighborhood so didn't know any one yet. She saw a girl around her age and a few kids older and younger than her. Beyond that was a house with an older couple struggling to get up their front stairs. They were helping each other and finally (while Laura watched and held her breath) made it safely into their house.

At her grandparents who didn't have money problems, Laura was blessed with many presents. Clothes, toys, CD player, books and other things. After they celebrated, it was time for Laura to head back home. Grandpa offered to drive Laura but she wanted to walk home. It was just starting to get dark.

You know that time when it's not dark but if you walk through the neighborhood, you can see in the windows clearly because people haven't closed the curtains. (Author: My mom calls this the "Not too early, and not too late time-for-a-walk.)

When Laura insisted on walking home, Grandpa found Laura's dad's old wagon. They piled the presents in the wagon, kissed and hugged. Laura was on her way. On the way home, sure enough, it was the perfect time to see the neighbors in their home. Most of the homes were cozy and decorated with food on the table. But two homes were not.

The house with the older couple had a simple dinner on the table. The husband was standing over the wife's plate, shakily cutting up her food.

The house with the children who were playing outside had almost no furniture and the children were wearing the coats inside the house.

Laura prayed, and felt an answer from God.

Picture of pecan pieShe quietly went home, carried her presents upstairs, and re-wrapped them. Her parents called her to dinner, and there was a pecan pie that her mother had made for her.

Laura was the only one in her family who liked pecan pie so this was a big present from her mom.

Her parents asked about the presents she had received from her grandparents but Laura said, "I'll tell you later." The parents thought that was a weird answer but accepted it.

Later after dinner, Laura carried the presents and the pie out to the wagon. She left a note on the kitchen counter saying, "I went out for a few minutes and I'll be right back."

She quietly pulled the wagon to the house with kids. She put the presents on the front porch. She then took the pie to the house with the older couple. She took the wagon back to her house, and then went over to the couple's house. She knew it would take them longer to answer the door. She rang their doorbell, ran over and rang the doorbell of the house with the kids and THEN ran home without waiting to see their reactions.

By then, her parents had found her note and were worried. They asked her questions about where she had been. "Around the corner." She answered. They asked to see the gifts from the grandparents. "Maybe tomorrow morning," she answered.

This was SO not like Laura, Usually she would be all excited to show what she received. They felt her forehead and suggested that maybe she go to bed early. She was GLAD to go to bed, to escape the questions.

The next morning, they had a delightful worship, opened the few gifts they got for each other and THEN the parents asked to see the gifts from the grandparents. The grandparents had called to wish them a Merry Christmas and asked if they had seen the gifts Laura received.

Laura took a deep breath and said," I don't have the presents anymore." The parents asked, "Where are they?" Laura answered, "I cannot tell you." The parents asked, "Why not?" Laura answered, "I am sorry but I cannot tell you but it has something to do with Matthew chapter 2!"

WHOA. The parents were mad, the grandparents were hurt when they found out, and Laura was STRESSED! She spent most of the day hiding in her room. The parents were looking at Matthew chapter 2 for clues on why their daughter was behaving differently!

Later that day, that rather unhappy day, it looked like snow. The father turned on the TV to watch the news to see how much snow was coming. The news was focusing on a family with bright shining faces who were talking about the Christmas Angel that left presents for them. The father of that family had recently died after a long illness, and there hadn't been any present planned for the children.

An older couple was talking about the pecan pie the Christmas Angel left. They both dearly loved pecan pie but couldn't bake anymore. The store-brought pecan pies aren't the same.

The newscaster mentioned the two households were very close to each other, and mentioned the location in the town where the houses were.

The parents stood there watching the news, totally stunned. The grandparents happened to be watching the same news, and called the parent on the phone. They understood. They called Laura down and said, "So you gave your presents and pie to other families?" Laura was surprised, RELIEVED and said, "YES! How did you know?" The parents told her about the news. Laura quickly said, "Please do not tell anyone! Tell Grandma and Grandpa but no one else, ok?"

The parents told her that the grandparents saw the same news and figured it out. They agreed to keep quiet. They asked her to show them where in Matthew chapter 2 she got the impression to do what she did.

Standing for what is RIGHT without backstabbing, without gossiping, and doing what God tells you without hesitation has to be really hard, but life is BETTER in God's way than our own.

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