NOTE: I wrote this short story after God gave me an idea during my time with Him. I had no idea where the story was going. It took some unexpected twists and turns and it is much longer than anything I’ve ever put on my blog. However, it is a Christmas story and since God gave it to me, I feel compelled to share it with you. It will take you some time to read it, so sit down and read it like a good book. Then, I’d love to know what you think, like for real. So please share in the comments.
Dan and Lily
They’d only be married a year, but were still thrilled about welcoming their first baby. Lily wasn’t sure she wanted to know the sex of the baby, but Dan said he couldn’t stand not knowing. So they knew they were having a son. Dan was busting his buttons proud and Lily just wanted the baby to be healthy.
She made sure to go to all her doctor’s appointments, take her prenatal vitamins, do her exercises, eat correctly, watch her weight, get good rest and try not to let stress overwhelm her. Her body was a baby manufacturing plant and she wanted to make sure everything was functioning properly so her son would have a good start at life.
She was still working at her job as a receptionist/secretary in Conley and Associates, the law office where Dan was an attorney. Dan wasn’t a partner yet, but the partners were very receptive to any time off she needed. Both she and Dan already planned to take off from Dec. 23 until the baby was born. After that Dan planned to go back to work in a month and Lily planned to take at least three months. Then she would decide whether or not she would go back to work.
The due date was January 1, 2020. Dan had already been praying that their son would be the first baby born in this new important year. The number 20 in the Bible represents a completion of waiting. So he figured 2020 was double completion. Their son, Alex as they had agreed to name him, would complete Dan’s life and Lily’s. He would complete their marriage, seal it in a new and different way with a child who was 100 percent of both of them.
They lived in a nice three-bedroom apartment. One reason Dan wanted to know the sex of the baby was so they could have a bedroom all prepared for his arrival. He wanted everything to be perfect for his son. He even wanted to pick out the theme, which was football, of course. Lily, though, insisted it be a subdued baby appropriate football theme with softer hues and shades than the bright orange and purples of his favorite teams.
Dan and Lily’s Parents
Lily had a perfect pregnancy. Her doctor said the baby was doing so well that they were able to travel four hours to Dan’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Dan’s mother wouldn’t let Lily help in any way with the dinner unless she was sitting down. Lily didn’t mind. She was still in the kitchen with her sister-in-laws.
“I hope Alex doesn’t look like Dan did when he was a newborn,” Roe, his oldest sister said. “He had the biggest ears and the tiniest head.”
“Yeah but that little head sure got big when he was the star of the football team,” Shelly, his younger sister added.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind if Alex had a small head at all, “ Lily added joining in the laughter. “And I wouldn’t mind if he became a football star either.” Just then she grabbed the tail of Dan’s shirt as he walked into the room. “Cause I kind-of like football stars.”
Dan turned and gave her a quick kiss before asking when dinner was. “You never change,” his mother said. “Always hungry.” Dan grabbed a piece of turkey, gave his mother a hug, slapped Roe on the back as she had her hands in the pie crust, gave Shelly a high five and went back to watch the football game.
In the other room she could hear Dan and his dad whooping and hollering over something that just happened in the game. Lily enjoyed watching Dan with his family. She felt more at home her than she did in her own family.
They lived in a middle-class subdivision. Their four-bedroom home had a large kitchen and dining area with a large family room and smaller living room. Dan’s dad was also an attorney and a partner in his firm. He really wanted Dan to come work for him, but Dan insisted on first making his way on his own before making a decision to work with his father.
“I don’t want to feel like I made it as an attorney because my dad smoothed the way,” he told Lily. “If I can make it in this firm. I can make it anywhere.” He even confided in Lily that he was concerned about pushing his son into a career path like his own because he felt his dad and kind-of done that to him.
“I mean I love my dad and all, but the only thing I ever heard growing up was what I needed to do to become an attorney. It’s one reason I don’t really want to work at his firm although I know one day I might inherit it. I want to be my own person and really figure out what kind of law I want to specialize in. I like criminal law and one day I might even be a judge. My dad is a real estate lawyer. He wants me to do that. That’s not me, but I can’t tell my dad that. I hope our son can tell me anything.”
To Lily meeting Dan was like a fairy tale come true. He was a good Christian guy, who loved her, treated her well, had a great job and a good future even if he didn’t stay with Conley and Associates. They had found a good church and the town they lived in was where they both went to college, so they had friends there. She certainly preferred living there to living 30 minutes away where her parents lived.
Her parents were the opposite end of the spectrum from Dan’s. Her father was an alcoholic, who still worked in the car repair garage he owned. He mainly drank on the weekends. During the week he managed to stay sober in order to work. Every Friday, though, he could be found at his customary location in Jonesy’s Bar.
It was a routine that Lily was all too familiar with. He would stumble into the house drunk and angry. If her mother was near by she’d get a fist to the face or get thrown across the room. If she was lucky and wasn’t close enough he’d throw furniture or the tv if it wasn’t playing what he wanted it to play. That was just the start of it, though. He continued to drink through Saturday, getting increasingly more angry the more alcohol he consumed.
There were times he used a whip fashioned out of a phone cord to beat Lily and her little sister, Andrea. If it wasn’t that it was a belt or anything else he could find. They got really good at hiding in their closet until that made him even angier. Everything was irrational and out of control when he was drunk. By Sunday night he was in a drunken stuper and sleeping it off until Monday morning when he showered, shaved, kissed them good-bye as if nothing had happened and went off to work.
It was a living hell and one Lily’s mother had made sure Lily escaped from as soon as possible. Lily’s mom loved Jesus. Every Sunday she, Lily and Andrea spent going to church in the morning, to a friend’s house for lunch and the afternoon and then to Sunday night service. It was Lily’s idea of heaven and was totally different from life at home.
“Lily Girl, you know I love you,” her mother said when she was just starting school. “I can’t leave your father. I don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t have an education or any way to provide for you girls. So, I want you to promise me something. Follow everything your teachers tell you. Do well in school. Find what subjects really interest you and when you get older, plan to go to college. Even if you have to take out grants and loans, somehow you are going to college. I want you to be able to take care of yourself. I want you to be able to escape the life I’ve had.”
So Lily had done everything her mother told her to do. She had graduated high school with honors. The main thing she wanted to do, though, wasn’t to be a teacher, nurse or doctor. She wanted to be a receptionist or secretary in a nice office. So she got her two-year degree at a community college on a state scholarship. She took every business course they had. If she wanted to she could easily be an administrative assistant. The job she was offered as a receptionist/secretary at Conley and Associates paid the best. She would be away from home but close enough in case her mother or sister needed her.
Little did she know that the job would be where she would meet her future husband. She was assigned to be his receptionist and to do any secretarial work he needed. It was as if God had placed a magnet between them. They both felt it the moment they met. From then on it was only a matter of months before they were engaged. That was two years ago and look where she was now.
It was Monday, Dec. 23, 2019. Her co-workers had given her a nice baby shower after work on Friday. So now all she had to do was wrap the gifts she had for Dan, her sister and her parents. Gifts for Dan’s parents had already been mailed. His parents would arrive in town as soon as the baby was born in 2020. They realized Christmas, which was just a week before her due date, was not the best time for her to make the trip to see them.
She sat rocking in the soft blue glider in Alex’s room. His name was on the wall in block letters. Tiny football dotted each i. She laughed softly remembered Dan buying the footballs saying he knew exactly what to do with them. They were the only things in the room painted orange and purple. One was orange and one was purple. Everything else was soft blues and browns. She was glad Dan had insisted. It was part of him in the room and she would love telling her son that story.
Her mind went to what would happen on Christmas Day. Would her Dad still be obnoxious? What mood would he be in? What if he did something to say or physically hurt her mother? What would Dan do? She had avoided family get-togethers because of this very issue. In the last two years she had only seen her mother and sister on holidays. They would come and meet her and Dan at a local restaurant on a Sunday. That was the day that her Dad expected them to be gone. Dan had only met him once and that was at her wedding. He happened to be sober that day.
Only recently had her mother told her that her Dad had cirrhosis of the liver caused by his alcohol consumption. He still wasn’t cutting back on his drinking and was continuing to try to work. However, now both his liver and his kidneys were failing and there was concern about possible liver cancer. He had lost a lot of weight except in his belly area, which looked like he was three months pregnant. All a sign of his disease, his had mother explained.
For all that her father had put her, her sister and her mother through, Lily still couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. During the week when he wasn’t drinking, he’d give her a hug and call her his princess. On the weekend, he’d beat her and call her a slut. Tears ran down her cheeks as she thought about him coming into the room and doing that to her and her little sister.
She wondered how her quiet, compassionate, little sister was. She had wanted to rescue her, but Andrea had been able to go to college on full-ride scholarship. She wanted to be a doctor. She said it was so she could understand all the problems her Dad went through. She was very bright and Lily was sure she would do well. She still called her once a week to see how she was. She had chosen to go to a school that was only two hours away. Lily knew that was because she was concerned about her mom and to some extent her dad.
It was hard to sort out how Andrea felt because Lily didn’t really know how she felt herself. Now both of them were going back to the place they called home. They were going to the place where they lived a double life of nightmares on Friday and Saturday, then love and Jesus on Sundays. Through the week they lived a life that appeared normal, but they were always guarded against the eventuality of disaster at any minute.
On one hand, Lily was glad her father was at the end of his life. She prayed that Alex would never be influenced by his grandfather. That would be a blessing indeed. Still, to know that if anyone would go to hell when they died, it would be her father was more than she wanted to think about. So she prayed once again the prayer she had prayed all of her life. “God, do whatever it takes for Dad to come to Jesus.
Christmas Eve 2019
It was special to have Dan home with her the next day. She still felt like they had a lot to do. Even though they’d already had three baby showers, she still had a list of things she wanted to be sure they had on hand. Diapers were the main thing. They got several packages but she knew they wouldn’t be enough to even get through the first week. She wanted some more onesies and a few more sleepers. Dan had insisted on buying their own car seat, which they still didn’t have.
“It’s Christmas Eve,” Dan said. “There’ll be a bunch of last minute shoppers out.”
“Let’s just go and see if we can at least get the car seat. Plus I’ve got a list that I’d really feel better about if we got everything.”
“Babe, let’s just do it after Christmas.”
“But after Christmas everyone will be returning things and it will still be crowded.”
“I think it will be better then. We’ve got time,” he said giving her a hug and a kiss. “You worry too much. Give me your list and I promise I will take care of it.”
“I’d like to go with you.”
“I know, but if I have the list and you already know the list then we’ll both know what to get.”
“I know better than to argue with an attorney,” she said giving him a fake punch in the arm. “So what do you want to do instead?” She raised her eyebrows and gave her best Dallas Cowboy cheerleader stance.
Even at nine months pregnant, she could still take Dan’s breath away. “Yes, that’s what I want to do,” he said. Giving a whoop, he scooped her up baby and all and carried her three feet to the bed. “There probably won’t be much time for this after the baby is born.”
Grabbing him around the neck she said, “Then, let’s make this last a really long time.”
“Madam, your wish is my command and my pleasure.”
They spent the day lounging in bed, cuddling, fondling and thoroughly enjoying each other. They watched old reruns on Netflix and reminisced about when they first met and what they loved about each other.
That evening they ate clam chowder with hot bread that Dan fixed. Actually he didn’t have to do much. The soup and bread were both from his mom and had been frozen. All he had to do was heat it up and bring it on a tray to his wife. Of course, he found an artificial rose and a vase to add to the tray. He’d even made her favorite herbal tea.
After supper, he said, “Stay right here.”
“Where else would I go?”
“I’ll be back in a jiffy.” He came back in with a large package wrapped in gold wrapping with a bright blue bow. “I got a little something for you. And I know it’s going to fit!”
She tore into the paper to uncover the car seat. “What? When did you get this? I know that was you in this bed with me all day. So when did you… And hey I know it won’t fit me!”
“This is obviously more for Alex than for you, but it’s why I didn’t want to go shopping. I did have other things on my mind and I knew I already had this. I also managed to get you this.” He handed her a small box wrapped in silver with a red box.
“Dan, you spoil me.”
“You don’t even know what it is yet. Open it.”
The box was from her favorite jeweler. Inside was a beautiful silver heart-shaped locket. On the back he had engraved, “To my lovely wife, the mother of my son. I love you to the moon and back again.”
“It’s perfect,” she said kissing him long and slow. “I can either put his picture in there or the picture of the three of us or I can put a locket of his hair, assuming he has hair when he’s born.”
She went over to the closet and pulled out a package wrapped in orange and purple. “I feel kind of silly giving you what I got after you gave me this beautiful gift,” she said.
“Ah, give it to me anyway,” he teased. He grabbed it and tore it open. Inside was a gaudy orange and purple football jersey from his favorite team with the words, “Football Dad” on it along with a second package. The smaller package was a size 1 gaudy jersey in the same colors with the words, “Football Son” on it.
Lily didn’t have to ask him if he liked the present. The tears in his eyes said it all. “I can’t wait until he’s old enough to watch football with me. These are the perfect gifts. Perfect.”
Throwing everything off the bed, he laid her down gently and began kissing her softly. He let things progress slowly, encouraging her to enjoy every moment. They fell asleep in each other’s arms. It had been the most perfect Christmas Eve she had had. If she had had a Christmas wish list every wish had just been filled except one. That one was the salvation of her father.
They didn’t have to be at her parents until noon, but it was already 10 am and Lily hadn’t taken a shower yet. She noticed she was more tired than usual, but she just chalked that up to being nine months pregnant. Baby Alex seemed to be lying lower in her abdomen making her feel like she needed to use the bathroom every few minutes. Plus she was really, really hot and again so tired. She didn’t even know if she could manage a shower.
For the first time in her life she asked Dan for some help. “Honey, I would do anything for you. What do you need?”
“Can you help me take a shower,” she asked. He raised his eyebrows. She hit him on the arm and smile a tired half-smile. “No I mean really help me into the shower and then help me wash.”
“Ok, Babe. Do you not feel well?”
“I am nine months pregnant, you know. I’m tired. I feel hot and achy and the baby is pushing on my bladder, but other than that, I’m fine.”
“Well, let’s do this then.”
After the shower, Dan helped Lily dress. He noticed she didn’t really care what she wore, so he picked out something he thought might cheer her up.
“How about this red top with the sparkly thingies? That’s nice and Christmasy, isn’t it?”
“Sure, whatever,” she said. It reality it was all she could do to stand up to pull up her maternity pants. “If we weren’t going to my parents, I would want to beg off. Put I need to go, so we will go.”
“I will do whatever you want,” he said giving her a hug. Then he kneeled down to put her socks and then her boots. “It’s snowing a bit. I think you’ll need these.”
Dan went out to start the car to get it warm. He had gathered all the presents and then came back for Lily. He was glad the car was in the garage so she didn’t have to walk in the snow. They were going to be late, but Lily didn’t really care. Still Dan called her mom to let her know they were on the way. “Yes, we’ll take it slow Momma,” he said. “I’ll keep her safe.”
They were pulling on to the highway when Lily began feeling twitches in her abdomen. She repositioned herself in the seat to see if they would go away. Dan could tell something was bothering her.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I just feel a little uncomfortable. It comes and goes but it sort of feels like when I have had cramps. It’s a weird feeling. Not overwhelming. Just weird.”
“Well, let me know if I need to do something. This crazy all-of-a-sudden snow storm has just started and it’s making the roads really slick. I don’t want to go too fast.”
“No, just take it slow. I’ll be fine.”
She’d read all about bracks and hicks contractions. She was a week away from her due date, so that was probably what these were. Still she thought it would be good to time the pains since they were coming and going. By her calculations if these were contractions they were about six minutes apart. Still she thought she’d continue to time them.
“What are you doing,” Dan asked when he saw her looking at her phone and typing things in.
“I don’t think what I’m feeling is contractions, but if they are I wanted to see how close together they were.”
“Six minutes apart.”
“So is that when we go to the hospital?”
“Number one, I don’t think they are contractions. Number two, no need to go to the hospital until they are at least five minutes apart.”
Cars were slowing down on the road. The snow was coming down harder and it was getting difficult to see. “Well, that’s good because there isn’t a turn off for quite a while and even then there’s no hospital. We’d have to turn around and go back to town.”
“I don’t think it’s contractions. If anything its bracks and hicks and if we went to the hospital they would just send us back home again.”
“That makes me feel better, I think.”
She reached over and patted his leg. “It will be OK.”
In a few minutes though she knew it wasn’t all OK. “Dan, I’m sorry to tell you this but I think my water broke. I hope I didn’t ruin your car.”
“Woah, Babe, what now?”
“Well from everything I’ve read it probably means I am in labor and it says to go to the hospital when your water breaks. However, it also says that the baby needs to be delivered within 24 hours. So I think we’re still OK, but my pants are wet.”
“Let’s not worry about that part now.” He took a deep breath and said calmly, “I want you to do me a big favor, OK? Call the hospital and ask for the ER. Tell them what is happening and ask them if we should call 911. That might be the best way to get you back to the hospital”
She moaned as another contraction hit. “Never mind that. I see a road up ahead. I’m going to pull off and call 911 myself.”
As he pulled off the highway onto the two-lane road, he saw a house up ahead with some kind of light overhead. Maybe it was a dusk to dawn light. Something inside him told him that was where they needed to go. As he pulled the car up the driveway, he thought he heard faint singing. Someone must have music playing in the house. Good that probably means someone is there.
“Hang on, Babe. I’m going to get help.” She didn’t answer him but just nodded her head. He left the car running and ran up to the door of the small farmhouse.
An elderly man answered the door. Dan quickly told him the story. “Son, I don’t know nothing about birthing babies and ain’t no one here but me,” he said. “I’ve got an old couch. It ain’t much, but you’re welcome to bring her inside if you can get her in here.”
“Can I ask another favor,” Dan said. “Do you have an old quilt I can wrap her in. Her water broke and it’s going to be cold out here with wet pants.”
The old quilt with star designs all over it looked like it hadn’t been washed in years, but it would do the job. He wrapped Lily in it and half carried her to the door. Inside the old man had spread another old star-designed quilt on the only couch in the room. It had definitely seen better days, too. He laid Lily on the couch with the quilt still wrapped around her. He wasn’t sure whether to take off her boots and coat because he didn’t know the next move.
“Call 911,” Dan reminded himself. The old man sat in a rocking chair in the corner of the room watching what was happening. An old yellow tabby cat lay at his feet. A pot-bellied stove had a fire glowing. There were kerosene lanterns around for light. The house was warm and cozy even if it was old and dirty. It was at least a roof over their heads.
After asking the man his name and address, Dan called 911 and explained the situation. They said in good weather the ambulance would take 15 minutes to get there but with the snow and accidents all over the road, it might take much longer. The operator connected Dan to the local ER with a nurse who explained exactly what she wanted Dan to do.
“Wait,” Dan said. “Can’t we wait until the ambulance gets here?”
“We don’t know when that will be or if it will even get there in time,” the operator explained. “Let’s just get everything set up in case they don’t make it. I’ll stay on line with you. Is your phone charged?”
“It is now, but it’s only got about half of the battery and only charger we have with us is a car charger. Just a minute,” Dan turned the old man, whom he knew as Elias because that was the name he had given him when he called 911. “Do you have a cell phone or a battery charger for a cell phone?” Elias looked at him like he was speaking a foreign language. “I don’t guess we have any wall chargers here. Why don’t you tell me what to do and then, I can do that and call you back.”
The woman talked him through the preparations and told him to call back if the contractions were three minutes apart. Elias was extremely helpful in gathering supplies and seemed genuinely concerned for Lily, but still did not seem totally emotionally involved. It was almost like he was an observer to all that was going on.
“Dan,” Lily said between contractions. “I think you should call my mother. Here’s my phone. You can call from here.”
“Hey, your phone is fully charged,” he said. “That’s great. We have more juice if we have to be on the phone awhile with the hospital.”
Lily started to cry. “Don’t cry, Babe,” he said. “Everything’s going to be OK.”
“You don’t know that,” she said. “It feels like everything is falling apart. It feels like I’m not in control of anything. It feels like God isn’t watching or something. This isn’t how this is supposed to go. It isn’t time yet. It’s not supposed to happen this way.”
Elias came out of the corner, walked over and knelt down beside Lily. He took her hand in one of his and Dan’s in the other. “Oh God of majesty, might and power. We ask Your blessing on this family and on this little baby this princess is carrying. Lord, do whatever is necessary to deliver this baby complete and safe even in this old shack. This is your child, Father. You are entrusting him to these two young people, but they need Your help. Your child was born on this night. If this child is to be born tonight as well, we pray for the star of Bethlehem to point the way to this house and the angels to sing in loud chorus so that no one can miss the miracle you are doing right here this night. Amen.”
On wobbly legs he stood and walked slowly back to the rocking chair, his cat and the potbellied stove with the glowing embers. Dan watched him. Something about Elias was mesmerizing. He certainly had a calming effect on Lily. She was breathing better and she seemed calmer. Her eyes were closed and it looked as if she was even sleeping a bit.
He picked up the phone and called Lily’s mom. “Hello, this is Dan. I know we’re late. We’re OK, but we’ve had a bit of a hiccup. Lily’s water broke and she’s having contractions. They are still four minutes a part. We’ve called an ambulance, but with the weather we aren’t sure if it will get here or not.”
She asked a million questions which Dan, in his best attorney style, answered calmly. “We’re timing her contractions and when they get to three minutes apart we are to call them back. I do need to conserve my cell phone battery because I don’t think Elias here has one or a charger or a phone for that matter. So what I need you to do is pray. Oh and can you call my parents? They will ask a million questions too. And by the way, Elias here prayed the most amazing prayer for us. We feel like God is right here with us … Thank you. I know you’re praying too.”
He turned to Lily, who was awake and listening. “Your mom says God IS right here with us and she’s praying.”
“I always love it when I know my mom is praying,” Lily said. “It’s the only thing that got us through our childhoods alive.”
Just then she had another contraction. “How far apart are they?” he asked.
“You have my phone. Go to my notes where I wrote down the time. Then figure out from the last one I entered how far apart they are.”
“Well, it has been three minutes. I guess I better call.” Then he turned to Elias, “Thanks for praying for us. I do feel God’s presence here today. You really know how to pray.”
“It’s what I do all day. I pray. I’m praying even now. It’s all I can offer you.”
Dan walked over to him, took his hand and said, “It’s more than enough.” He thought he saw a little glimmer of a tear in the old man’s eyes. He didn’t acknowledge it though. He didn’t want to embarrass him and he was sure if Elias knew he was crying he didn’t want anyone else to know.
As Elias sat continuing to pray, Dan dialed the hospital ER number again. The nurse first checked on the estimated time of arrival of the ambulance.
“They’ve been wandering around trying to find the house, but seem to be lost,” she said. “I want to patch you through to them so you can tell them where you are.”
“OK, but Elias will have to tell you because I really don’t know.”
“I’m patching them through now.”
Keeping his ear to the phone he asked Elias if he could direct them to his house. “Just tell them it’s the one right below the brightest light in the sky. Also they’ll hear the music.”
Dan frowned. “Really?”
“Just tell them.”
When the ambulance driver got on the phone and Dan relayed the message, he said, “Oh, I know right where you are. I didn’t think that could be the place because you said it was an old farmhouse.”
In a few minutes Dan heard the siren come up the driveway. Lily let out a deep, gutteral cry as Dan tried to talk her through the contraction. Meanwhile Elias opened the door as the crew rushed in.
The main attendant checked Lily to see how dilated she was and then began a flurry of instructions to the other two who were with him. “What’s going on,” Dan asked.
“Your baby is ready to enter the world, like right now. She’s dilated to 10. A few pushes and you will have your baby!”
Dan was given instructions as to where to stand and how to calm Lily. The attendant was right, all it took were two pushes and Alex came into the real word. He let out one large cry, then looked around and seemed to be totally at peace.
“I’ve never seen that happen before,” the attendant said.
“What happen?” Dan asked.
“The baby go completely peaceful like that. It usually happens after water births where the baby is born at home. He is very much at peace here.”
Dan looked at Elias. All he saw was an ear-to-ear grin. Then he asked Elias to join him as he set up the camera and the timer. He took a picture of the entire scene with the ambulance attendants, Lily, Alex, Elias, himself and even the tabby cat. It was a moment in time he didn’t want to forget and one he wanted to be sure to share with Alex one day.
Lily, Alex and Dan all piled in the ambulance to ride to the hospital. With the roads in bad shape the crew was concerned that Dan might not make it back to the hospital if he drove himself.
With Lily and Alex safely in the ambulance, Dan went back to shake Elias’s hand, and then he pulled him into a big bear hug. “I don’t know where we’d be without you. We owe you everything. Without you I don’t know if my son would have made it. By the way, can I leave my car here?”
“I don’t think you got any other choice.”
“How do I find my way back here?”
“Come at night. Look for the brightest light in the sky and the singing.”
Dan walked away shaking his head. He didn’t know if the man was crazy or not, but he sure was happy he was there. More than happy, he felt blessed. Blessed by fortune. Blessed by God.
On the way to the hospital the ambulance attendant explained why they couldn’t find the house. “The address he gave doesn’t exist. The road isn’t marked and isn’t even visible from the highway. The only way we made it there was because we saw this huge bright light in the sky almost like a star and we heard something that sounded like a church choir singing. We thought it was a church somewhere having a Christmas service. It was weird to find that little old house and man there. Even stranger there are no telephone or electric lines to his house.”
“I did notice he was heating the place with a pot-bellied stove and lighting it with lanterns,” Dan said. “I’m just glad he was there.”
A miracle had indeed happened. Alex had burst into their lives. They had known for nine months that he was coming, but now that he was there it was too good to be true. Dan finally got to talk to his parents and Lily to her parents and of course all the sisters on both sides. Then there were friends and co-workers.
Dan vowed that he needed a recording of them telling the story of Alex’s birth so that any time anyone asked he could just play it or maybe he’d just put it on Facebook. Then the whole world would know!
He took way too many pictures. He just couldn’t stop taking pictures. All the congratulations and hugs and presents and he’s the cutest baby ever went down in Lily’s baby book. Dan’s parents were madly trying to change their tickets and make arrangements to come, but Dan told them it would be fine to wait until January 1 or whenever they wanted to come.
Lily’s parents couldn’t come until the next day. Andrea came with them to help with her dad. He was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. His disease was not contagious so he posed no threat to Lily or Alex. If anything coming into a hospital with other sick people posed a threat to him. Lily was shocked at how thin he looked. He was basically skin and bones. She remembered her dad as a force to be reckoned with. How the mighty have fallen.
“Dad, I’m so glad you came,” Lily said reaching down and taking his hand. “Do you want to hold Alex? Dan will help you if you like.” Her dad nodded his head yes. As Dan carefully placed Alex in his arms, Lily could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye. It was the first time she had ever seen her dad cry. It moved her to tears. Then, Andrea and Dan both noticed and the tear multiplied. When her mother saw what was happening the water faucet turned on full blast. When Alex started crying, they all began to laugh.
“That poor little guy, won’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Lily’s mom said as she took Alex for herself. “Now I want to hear all about this little guy’s birth.”
So once again Alex with Lily’s help went through the entire story including the freak snow storm, the crazy old farm house without electric or phone lines, Elias, the tabby cat, pot-bellied stove, no address, the bright light and the singing. “To sum it all up, this guy is here because of a crazy old man named Elias. It’s really a miracle, a Christmas miracle.”
Andrea and her parents looked at each other and then, Andrea spoke. “I have to tell you another miracle. Dad would tell you, but it’s hard for him to talk much with his breathing issues. After Dan called us last night, Dad started tearing up just like he did a minute ago. Mom told him that everything would be Ok because Jehovah is God and He is with Lily, Dan and Alex and won’t let anything happen to them. Then Dad said, ‘If God saves my grandson, I will believe in Him.’” She was crying too much to continue.
Her mother handed Alex to Dan and picked up the story, “When we finally learned that Alex was born healthy and everyone was safe here at the hospital, he asked Andrea and I to pray with him. Lily, your daddy accepted Jesus as His Savior last night. He also made a vow to stop drinking for good.”
Lily had been watching her dad the entire time her sister and mom had been talking. He was crying too hard to say anything. Instead he raised his hands up to heaven and mouthed the words, “Thank You, Jesus for saving my grandson.”
Before anyone knew it, Lily was out of bed and hugging her dad in his wheelchair and he was hugging her back. She heard him whisper in her ear, “I’m sorry for all that I have done. I love you, Princess.”
“Daddy, I forgive you and I’ve never stopped loving you, never!” she told him. “Before Alex was born, I think maybe it was just this Monday, I prayed for you. I prayed, ‘Whatever it takes, God, save my daddy.’ He answered my prayer last night. I didn’t know what it would involve, but it was all worth it.”
All of a sudden, Dan interrupted. “Hey guys, you won’t believe this! I was just looking for that picture I took at Elias’ house after Alex was born. Remember Lily?”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Was Elias in that picture?”
“Well, things happened really fast but I distinctly remember you getting him in the picture.”
“Well, look. Everyone is there, even the tabby cat, but the place where Elias was is vacant.”
“Lemme see that,” she said taking the camera. “I can’t believe it. You’re right.”
“Hey, I’m the lawyer. I’m always right. It’s like he was a ghost or something, but I hugged him. He was real.”
“Angels are real,” Andrea said softly taking the camera in her hands and then passing it to her mom. “They appeared as humans many times in the Bible. Remember the two angels that visited Abraham? They appeared as men and he fed them. Then they went on to Sodom where they ate at Lot’s house. Then they destroyed the city after allowing Lot and his family to leave.”
“How do you know all of that?” Lily asked.
“We’ve been studying angels in a Bible study in the church I go to near campus. I love how they really dig into the Scriptures. Also remember the verse that says not to forget to show hospitality to strangers because we might be entertaining angels and not realize it. Angels are among us. I think God sends them to protect us and to intervene on our behalf. Elias was probably an angel. Oh, just a minute. I need to look something up!”
Dan stood scratching his head. “It could be that he was an angel. The house seemed straight out of the 50’s. There were no electric wires or phone wires. He was heating with a pot-bellied stove. He didn’t have any idea what a cell phone was. And when he prayed it was as if heaven came down. Afterwards, Lily even slept for a little while.”
“Ok guys,” Andrea said. “Here it is. I just googled it. Know what the name Elias means?”
“I have no idea,” Dan said. The rest shook their heads no as well.
“Jehovah is God! Jehovah is God! And to go along with that, do you know what Alexander means. Dan and Lily, I’m talking to you!”
They looked at each other and shook their heads. “We just like the manly sound of the name,” Dan said.
“It means ‘Savior of mankind.’ God put this story together. This is a modern day Christmas miracle story where God intervenes to bring another savior into the world.”
Dan piped up, “Wow and the bright light and singing that were there to direct the ambulance was all God’s way of saving not only Alex, but Dad, here, too.” As he said that his mom showed her husband the Alex’s birthday picture. Again he had tears in his eyes.
“It’s too amazing for anyone else but us to believe,” Lily’s mom said.
“Yes, I agree, no one else will see how these pieces go together much less believe the story,” Lily said.
“But the ambulance driver and the attendants will,” Dan interjected. “They were the ones who heard the singing and saw the star, or light. And what about this picture where Elias is mysteriously gone. And what about the fact that there was no address on record for 2020 Stable Lane.”
“What did you say?” Andrea asked.
“I said 2020 Stable Lane,” Alex repeated. “I get it now. See 20 is the number of completeness. 2020 is double completion. Alex was to be born on Jan. 1, 2020. I thought that meant double completion for our family. But the address Elias gave me to give to the ambulance was 2020 Stable Lane. Completion in a stable. Just like our Messiah, Jesus was born in stable to complete God’s plan for the world, Alex was born on Stable Lane in a run-down shack, birthed on a nasty old couch covered with hand-made quilts to complete God’s work in his grandfather. And there were stars on the quilts. I kept racking my brain about where I had seen those kind of stars on the quilts. They were Star of David quilts! One was on the couch. One was wrapped around Lily.”
“It’s legacy,” Lily’s mom said as she gathered Alex from her Daddy’s arms. “This little boy is a legacy gift to this family. He has changed the course of history for this family. Little man, Alexander, you represent our Savior placed directly into our family. I decree and declare that you will do that for many more people in your lifetime.”
“I decree and declare it, too,” Dan echoed.
“As do I,” Lily said.
“And me,” Andrea said.
“Me, too,” Lily’s dad said softly. “Me, too.”
It was already past dark. Since Lily’s parents and Andrea were going back to their home, Dan asked if they could take him to his car. The snow had melted and the roads were clear, but he still wasn’t sure he could find the location.
Lily’s mom asked Dan to drive because she didn’t know where they were headed. Dan admitted he really didn’t either. “The ambulance attendants said 2020 Stable Lane doesn’t exist and for sure my phone’s GPS doesn’t know where it is,” Dan explained. “I asked Elias how I could find my way back here and he said to just look for the brightest light in the sky and listen for the singing. So I guess it’s good that we are going at night. I hope we can find it.”
Andrea spoke up, “I’m going to have my phone ready to take pictures of the light and record the singing. Who knows it might come through, especially the light if it is an actual astronomical event.”
“Well, this certainly will be an adventure,” her mom said. “It beats sitting home and watching tv.”
It didn’t take long to find the location. Andrea was busy snapping pictures of what really did look like a star in the sky over an old farm shack. The closer they got they began hearing the singing. The words weren’t decipherable but they definitely heard what sounded like a choir singing.
“I can see why on a dark night someone might think there was a church somewhere down this road,” Lily’s mom said excitedly.
Dan spotted his car, but noticed as he drove up to the house that there were no lights on inside. He still wanted to go inside. So did Andrea and Lily’s Mom. Her dad looked like he did too, but it might be too difficult to carry the oxygen tank and help him up to the door.
Knocking first, Dan then pushed the door open. The house was empty except for the quilts on the couch and the tabby cat. Dan looked around carefully for any signs of Elias, but it was as if he had never been there. The tabby cat brushed up against Dan’s leg. “I’ll bet you are hungry aren’t you fella? How about I take you home with me. I think Lily would love to have you to watch over Alex.”
Andrea picked up the quilts. “I think I’ll take these and wash them and repair whatever might need repairing and then give them to Lily. One for Alex’s bed. One for yours and Lily’s.”
“I think that’s a perfect idea,” her mother said. “I do see a few places that need some patching. I’ll help you if you like.” Mother and daughter walked hand in hand to the car.
Dan looked around for something to use to help Tabby endure the ride home. All he could find was a wooden box just the size of a cat bed. He found a pillow and a small quilted blanket to put in the bottom and a few other items he might want. He put the cat bed in the back of his SUV. Tabby curled up and was fast asleep before he even started the car.
Then he walked over to the car and handed Lily’s dad something he had found in the house. It was a small wooden cross with Elias inscribed on it. “I found this in the house. I want you to have this to remember this day by. Keep it safe and one day you can pass it on to Alex and tell him the whole story of his legacy. Do you remember what Elias means?”
Lily’s dad nodded his head and then said softly, “Jehovah is God and Alex means savior of mankind, savior of a man like me.”
“Well Alex didn’t save you, but he did point you to Jesus and I believe he may be called to point others to the Savior,” Dan said. “Actually we all are, but he may have a more important call on his life. As his dad I hope to help him discover what that is and always point Him to the One who calls and appoints us, God Himself.”
Even though it was 8 pm, Dan wanted to go home and get a change of clothes for himself and Lily, grab the car seat and clothes for Alex and whatever else was on that list Lily had made what seemed like ages ago although it was only three days ago.
He was putting the car seat in the car when his parents pulled up. “Mom, Dad, I thought you were coming next week.”
“We just couldn’t wait,” his mother said hugging him.
“I’m just grabbing a few things and then going back to the hospital to get Alex and Lily,” he said.
“Let me help you,” his dad said.
As they were carrying things out to the car, he had been retelling them the story of Alex’s birth. He also told them about Lily’s prayer and her dad’s decision to follow Jesus all because Alex was born complete and safe.
“Not only that Andrea mentioned some things today that really have me thinking,” he said.“She pointed out that Elias means Jehovah is God and that Alexander means the savior of mankind. Not only that but when we went to the shack where he was born a bit ago we saw this bright light in the sky that looked like a star and when heard what sounded like a choir singing. It’s just all so bizarre. And Elias doesn’t show up on the picture I took and of course he wasn’t there today. Andrea thinks he was an angel.”
His mother stopped in her tracks. “Daniel Joseph!” she exclaimed.
“That’s your name and Lily is Lillian Mary!”
“Yeah, we’re both named after our great grandparents, so?”
“You are Joseph and Mary. You are the ones tasked with raising Alex, the savior of mankind. It’s a crazy version of the Christmas story. Complete with an angel choirs singing, an angel visitation, the star in the sky. It’s all there. You are raising a very special boy.”
Although in the Scriptures it says that Mary was the one who pondered all these things in her heart, as the father Daniel Joseph also was pondering many things. Could he raise a man that God deemed as special? What should he teach him? What schools should he send him to? Was he even capable of such a task?
He knew if he relied on his own strength he would not be up to the task, but if God placed Alex under his watch care and protection here on earth, then God would give him everything he needs to be the father Alex needs. All of a sudden, being a father seemed like an invitation to the greatest adventure with God he’d ever gone on.
“Mom, Dad, why don’t you go inside and take over the guest room. You can’t miss it. I don’t think the bed is even made yet, but sheets are in the closet. I’m going to go bring my family home.”