A Home Before Christmas

by Dee Lorraine

The first time it happened was 12 years ago. I remember that sunny September afternoon as if it was yesterday. I was in the third grade, and my class was on recess after lunch. My classmates laughed hard as they kicked and chased the big, blue rubber ball across the playground.

No one was paying attention to me, which was good. I was standing in the corner of the yard, near the chain-link fence. I was wearing my favorite outfit: a tan T-shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers. They were almost too small. But that didn’t matter.

I needed something more valuable than new clothes.

I needed a miracle.

So, I closed my eyes and began praying.

“Dear God, I’m trying hard to be good. Doing my homework each night as I should. Staying out of all the bad neighborhoods so we can have a home before Christmas.”

“It hurts when I see Dad sleeping on the floor or Mom keeping an eye on the shelter door. I know that we’re meant to have so much more, so I’m praying for a home before Christmas.”

“Lord, You know Dad has been working hard. Thinking about it now, out here in the schoolyard. Wishing I could give him a no-limit credit card to buy us a home before Christmas.”

The bright sun and the light breeze felt soothing. Sparrows sitting on the old oak tree outside the fence chirped happily.

A classmate approached and asked if I was okay.

“Emmanuel, don’t you wanna come over to play?”

“Thanks, Beth, not right now, maybe later,” I said.

Beth smiled at me and nodded her head.

Then she walked away.

I took a deep breath and started praying again.

“Hello, Jesus! I know that You’re up there, and You are the One who hears every prayer. Yes, I’m just a child, but I’m well aware You can give us a home before Christmas.”

“I know You love us, Jesus, because You gave up Your life to give us life more abundantly and save us from our sins and strife.”

“I see my parents struggling. Lord, it cuts me like a knife. Please give us a home before Christmas.”

“Lord, we won’t let the devil tear our family apart. He can shoot all he wants with his fiery darts. We will love you, Christ Jesus, with all of our hearts, even if we’re still homeless on Christmas.”

Then I heard the voice of Jesus Christ, clear as it could be.

Jesus answered.

“Emmanuel, I do hear your plea. I see your love, trust, and belief. I see your faith in Me.”

“You will have a home before Christmas.”

Suddenly, my teacher and a man walked up.

The man said, “Hello, my name is Joe Bentley. Are you Emmanuel, the boy who found my son’s puppy?”

“Yes, sir,” I replied. “And I hope he’s okay.”

“He is! We’re so grateful! You made my son’s day!”

“Well, I know how I felt when I lost my pet. We took him and left him with the neighborhood vet.”

“Was he sick?” asked the man.

“No,” I said. “He was fine. We just couldn’t afford him anymore at that time.”

“I’m not trying to be nosy,” said Mr. Bentley. “Will you tell me what happened?” he asked, gently.

My mom and dad taught me not to talk to strangers. But I felt like this time, there was no harm or danger. And my teacher was standing there all the while. When I looked at her face, I could see a slight smile.

So I took a deep breath and began to explain.

“Mr. Bentley, it started when they cut my dad’s pay. Then, two months before Christmas, his job moved away. Dad looked hard for work, but he couldn’t find any. Meanwhile, Mom and I started counting each penny.”

“Dad took two part-time jobs, trying to make ends meet, keep a roof over our heads, and shoes on our feet. Mom had lost her job when she got really sick. Bills kept piling up—you know, cash goes real quick.”

“Fell behind on the rent. Got put out on the street. But Dad made sure we had enough to eat.

“Moved into a shelter. ‘For a few weeks,’ Dad said.”

“We are all in one room and there’s only one bed. Dad and I take turns sleeping on the floor. That way, neither of us gets too achy or sore.”

“The shelter rules say you can’t have a pet. They only have room for people to stay. So Mom and Dad said, ‘We’re sorry, son, but you have to give your dog away.’”

“It’s been six months since we moved in there. Sometimes I feel like crying, but I don’t dare. I thank God that we have a warm place to stay, and I pray for other homeless people every night and day.”

“Now, I’m not complaining. I just don’t understand. But I believe it’s all part of the Lord’s special plan.”

“Like last week during recess, I heard a puppy cry and yelp. I felt moved to do something, to try and help. His paw was stuck in the fence, over there. So, I talked to him softly while I stroked his hair. It took a few minutes, but I got his paw free. I could tell, at that moment, he was happy as could be!”

“He let me pick him up, so I carried him to the school. Then I gave him to the teacher at the door, Mr. Poole.”

“Don’t know where that puppy came from. Don’t know how he got away. But I’m glad God let me see him and help free him on that day.”

Then the school bell rang. It was the end of recess.

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Bentley. I have to go take a math test.”

“May I walk with you to class?” asked Mr. Bentley, with a smile.

“If my teacher says it’s okay.”

“Let’s walk to class together,” said my teacher, with a wink. “There is something Mr. Bentley wants to tell you now, I think.”

“You have been a blessing to my son,” said Mr. Bentley. “Let me return the favor and do something for your family.”

“Like what?” I asked, because right then, I admit, I was curious. Then I said to myself, Uh-ohI talked too much! Now Mom and Dad are gonna be furious!

Mr. Bentley smiled again, and his dark brown eyes twinkled.

He said, “My company is hiring. God said to give your dad a job. Here’s my card. Your dad can call me or my assistant, Mrs. Cobb.”

“And I own some houses, too. One is vacant, by the way. God said to give it to you and your family. A better place for you to stay. The house is near this school, and the job is not too far. It’s six or seven miles away. Ten, 15 minutes in a car.”

“Mr. Bentley, you’re my miracle!” Then I began to cry. God had answered my prayer! I looked to the sky.

“Lord, I thank You! Thank You, Jesus, for loving my family and me! There is no one like You, Jesus, and I know there’ll never be!”

Mr. Bentley said, “Emmanuel, you are wise beyond your years.”

I could see him trying to keep his smile while fighting back his tears.

***

I took my test, then asked my teacher, “May I tell the class?”

She said, “Okay, for those that stay, I’ll give them a late pass.”

I told the class about the miracle that happened during recess. How, right then and there, Jesus answered my prayer before we took our math test!

“God performed a miracle like in the Bible I had read. So, we will have a home before Christmas, just like Jesus said!”

After I finished talking, some kids clapped, some cried, some cheered. A few just shook their heads and looked at me like I was weird.

***

Dad took the job, and we moved into our home on the street named “Morning Glory.”

Mom and Dad have their bedroom now, and my bedroom is across the hall. Each bedroom has a separate shower and bath, but wait a minute, that’s not all!

We have a dining room and a big kitchen, too. It has lots of windows with an excellent view of the backyard, full of colorful flowers that Mom bought and we planted. We spent several hours!

We have plenty of space in our living room, where Dad put the new TV. And it was easy to pick out just the right spot to put up our Christmas tree!

But the best thing of all happened the very next week, at the end of my day at school. I was walking out of the building, saying goodbye to Mr. Poole.

A boy from my math class came up behind me. I turned around.

He said, “Tell me more about your friend.”

“Which friend?”

“Jesus.”


Dee Lorraine writes fiction, non-fiction, prose, and poetry. Her 100-word stories often appear in the online literary journal Friday Flash Fiction. She makes videos for drabble authors and posts them on her YouTube channel, “Superfast Stories.” Having experienced homelessness as an adult, Dee uses her YouTube channel, “Provoke Unto Love,” to promote a unique, Christ-centered solution that can end child and family homelessness in the United States permanently.

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