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A Christmas Gift from Me to my Readers

A

CHRISTMAS

OF

SURPRISES

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1 – A Lingering Autumn

Chapter 2 –  Preparing for a Winter Storm

Chapter 3 –  The Blizzard

Chapter 4 –  First Alarm

Chapter 5 –  Unexpected Visitors

Chapter 6  –  Christmas Eve

Chapter 7 –  An Unexpected Arrival

Chapter 8 –  Secret Preparations

Chapter 9 –  Three Sisters Bearing Gifts

Chapter 10 –  The Traditional Blessing

Chapter 11 –  The final surprise

 

 

 

A Christmas of Surprises!

By Nammy

 

Chapter One

A Lingering Autumn

         Typically, it was in early December, before old man winter’s first hint of his inevitable approach was noticed. Yet this year, autumn had settled in, giving no indication she was preparing to depart. Usually, by early December the first killing frost had dusted the countryside white, but not so this year!

         Typically, Christmas was white with just enough snow to wrap the landscapes in a light cozy blanket. Traveling and interacting with neighbors was uninhibited. Celebrations for one season and preparations for the next happened according to a predictable pattern.

         Finally, autumn relented. And winter, when it finally decided to descend upon the sleepy mountain village of Andrews, came in with a vengeance. It was December 22ndand the National Weather Service had just issued a Winter Storm Watch. Blustery winds, plunging temperatures, and gathering snow clouds were in stark contrast to the pleasant autumn into which the villagers had been lulled.

         Bob’s two school-age daughters had been on Christmas break for about a week. They had been squeezing all the fun they could manage out of the lingering autumn weather. But since the weather report, their play had to be halted. Preparations for the threatening weather now became their focus. Dorie, age 12, and Kathy, age 9, dutifully set about picking up the newly cut logs their dad had just cut, carrying them to the back porch. Arran, their beloved collie, herded her charges in their efforts.

         While the outside crew was busy stacking wood, the inside crew, Jan and Rachel, were busy in the kitchen preparing a pot roast for dinner. Rachel had gotten pretty efficient at setting the table, even for a 4-year-old. Jan was anticipating another 6 weeks before her 4th child, a son, would be born. But now it was time to bring the girls and Bob in for dinner. Hot chocolate would easily entice them inside.

         On the way out of the house, Jan heard that the Winter Storm Watch had been upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning.  Lingering in front of the television, which had been left on and tuned to the Weather Channel, she listened long enough to get the details as to when it would arrive. Then with hot chocolate and Rachel in hand, she hastened to the back yard to deliver the warning to her husband. 

         From the sounds Jan heard as she opened the back door she wondered if anyone was working.  After cautiously descending the porch steps, Jan found herself directly in the path of a runaway dog being hotly pursued by two squealing youngsters.  The girls and their dog were enjoying a frolicking game of chase. 

         Everyone was in high spirits.  Temperatures were cool but invigorating, school was out, Christmas was near, and around late January they would welcome a new baby into their home and hearts. The Lane household had much to happily anticipate.

         Jan regretted having to put a damper on the backyard antics. “Bob, I just saw on the television where the National Weather Service has upgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Warning.”

         Bob’s laughing face slowly morphed into a look of concern. “I’ll go in and check out the details.  Okay girls, no more games.  Let’s bring in those last few logs.”

 

Chapter Two

Preparing for a Winter Storm

         Sipping on their hot chocolate, the family sat glued to the Weather Channel’s account of the imminent storm.  Not much time was left for Bob to make a run down the mountain to the village grocery store to stock up on food and supplies.

         Not wasting any time, Bob grabbed the list of items he was to get at the grocery store, and dashed out the door. Among other necessities such as candles, fresh batteries for their flashlights and the weather radio were a must.  Keeping up with news of the advancing storm was a necessity in the event of a power failure.

         Meanwhile, Jan and her daughters put the finishing touches on dinner. Just about the time Jan thought Bob should be returning from the grocery store, she saw the lights of his green Ford coming up the driveway and breathed a sigh of relief. 

         The girls started yelling, “Daddy’s home, Daddy’s home,” as they raced to the door to greet him. 

         After setting the bags of groceries on the kitchen table, Bob scooped up his girls into his arms, and gave them all a big hug and kiss.  While the three girls began rummaging through the grocery bags, Bob gave Jan the news. 

         “The temperature has dropped 20 degrees already.  It started spitting snow just as I was loading the grocery bags into the backseat of the truck.  The wind has picked up as well.  We’ve been snowbound before so I’m sure we can fare pretty well.  This storm promises to be a record-breaker, so I practically bought out the store.  I think I ran into most everybody we know.  Ole Pouncey is keeping the grocery store open past normal hours so that folks can stock up on what they need.  I am just so grateful that our baby isn’t due for another month. If this was your due time girl, we would be out of here and closer to the hospital. But by the time our son decides to make his grand entry, I’m sure this storm will just be a not so pleasant memory.”    Bob returned to the truck and brought in the rest of the groceries and supplies.  Jan placed the food on the table while the girls helped their dad put the groceries away. The dinner conversation consisted of a calm review of the drill in the event of a winter storm.

         An important part of that drill was to fill up as many buckets as possible with fresh water. Setting out the candles, making sure matches were handy, plus putting fresh batteries in all the flashlights and the weather radio completed the preparations.

          After concluding dinner and the storm preparations, the girls filled their parents in on the progress they had made in preparing for next month’s event–the birth of their baby brother.   Each sister had given particular thought as to what her gift would be.  Dorie wanted to do something unique so she was still contemplating the perfect gift.  She had several ideas and felt she would narrow them down soon.  Kathy was busy at work crocheting a blue blanket, but Rachel, having decided already what her special gift would be, resolved to keep it a secret. 

         Finally, though later than usual, bedtime arrived. The girls pleaded with their dad to let them stay up a little longer. Yet, Bob stood firm as he turned off the Christmas tree lights and built a fire in the fireplace. Jan got the girls ready for bed, and then everyone piled onto the sofa for prayer time.  

         After prayers, which included asking for God’s protection during the impending storm, Bob and Jan tucked their girls into bed.  They returned to the sofa to enjoy a few moments in the warm glow of the fireplace before going to bed themselves. The house was warm and all were comfy in their beds, but the howling wind prevented anyone from drifting into a peaceful slumber.

 

Chapter Three

Blizzard

         In the night, a loud repetitive banging awakened Bob.  Apparently, the angry wind was slamming the porch swing up against the porch railing, sounding as if any minute the railing and the swing would be smashed.  Bob sprang out of bed, grabbed his boots, and as he finished putting on his overcoat, opened the front door.  He couldn’t believe his eyes! It was a blizzard all right and the snow was already inches deep!  Nevertheless, he made his way over to the swing and unhooked it from the ceiling hooks.  Turning to go back to the house, struggling against the wind, Bob heard something he had never heard before during a snowstorm—thunder!  He had heard of blizzards that were accompanied by thunder but this was the first time he had ever heard it with his own ears. He hurriedly entered the house and with a great amount of effort closed and locked the door. Hearing that thunder was unnerving. He crawled back into bed uneasy over what the next few days might have in store for them.

         Jan was in that place between dreaming and being awake when she felt someone tapping on her nose.  Realizing she wasn’t dreaming she slowly opened her eyes.

         “Momma, I got to go to the bathroom but it’s too-o-o cold.  Come helpa’ me, NOW!”  With that exclamatory remark, Jan threw the covers off and grabbed up her youngest carrying her toward the bathroom, hoping they would make it.  Well, they did but not a moment too soon.  Jan was shivering as she reached over to turn on the small electric heater, finding that nothing happened.  She tried to switch on the lights but to no avail. 

         “Oh man, the electricity is off,” Jan replied with disgust.  She helped Rachel get put back together and carried her youngest to bed with her. She tapped Bob on the shoulder and told him of her discovery.  Bob moaned as he reached for the weather radio. The blizzard had knocked the electricity out all over the county. The snow was increasing in accumulation, with no let-up in sight. He dreaded looking out the window, fearing what he would see. Being grateful for the prompting he had had the night before to bring in a load of wood, he was able to avoid looking out the window. Instead, he grabbed the flashlight, fresh with batteries, and stoked the fire. Besides, it was too dark to see anything anyway.  

         With the electricity off, they would need to bunk in around the fireplace. With flashlights handy, Bob urged his sleepy girls from their beds and moved their mattresses to the living room. Jan gathered blankets for the sofa and recliner. At this stage in her pregnancy, Jan opted for the recliner, since she couldn’t return to her bed with its surplus of pillows. Then everyone settled into their new sleep stations. The crackling sounds and pleasant smell of burning wood, soon lulled everyone into a cozy sleep.

 

Chapter Four

First Alarm

     About 9 a.m. Bob got up to tend to the fire and placed lighted candles strategically in the living room. Jan bundled in her thick socks and housecoat went to the kitchen to fix breakfast. Having a gas stove was something she thanked God for when they were faced with no electricity. Bob then donned coat, gloves, hat and boots as he prepared to step just outside the door to inspect nature’s fury during the night. Of course, Arran has some business she needed to take care of herself. He knew the storm prevented their collie from venturing too far from the house. Nevertheless, Bob snapped on her lease and opened the door.

         However, no bundling up could have prepared him for what his eyes saw.  Trees were down, felled by the wind and weight of snow on their branches, and it was still snowing.  There was at least 8 inches of snow on the ground with a prediction of several more inches still to come.  The ferocious wind was unrelenting!

         Bob heard Jan calling out to him as he and Arran reentered the house.  Prompted by the alarm in her voice he hurried to the kitchen.  He found her crumpled on the floor, crying with pain.  “It’s the baby, Bob. Help me.”

         Grabbing Jan into his arms, he carried her to the recliner, then grabbed his cell phone and called 911.  After describing his wife’s pain, he thought his heart would stop when they told him that no one could get to them.   Since she had another month to term he was assured her contractions were probably nothing more than Mother Nature’s priming the pump!

         It was little comfort for Bob when they told him they would do what they could to coach him over the phone in the event the contractions didn’t subside and he had to deliver his own baby.  They instructed Bob to get Jan in bed, which he had already done.  The only other instructions were to make her comfortable and to keep them posted.

         Jan was feeling much improved by the time Bob had helped her into the recliner.  It was a settling thought that the birth’s of their daughters had been non eventful with no surprises.  Also Jan’s pregnancy had been fairly normal and her last visit with the doctor had given them no cause to be concerned that their baby would be early. 

         She called upon Philippines 4:6-7 for the calmness and reassurance such words were always faithful to provide.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

         “Momma! Kathy, Rachel, and I are helping Daddy fix breakfast. So you just relax,” Dorie reassured her mom.

         With their daddy’s assistance, breakfast was finished and brought to Momma.  As a matter of fact, the whole family gathered around the fire to enjoy their breakfast and hot chocolate. For a few minutes the concern over the storm raging outside was forgotten as they enjoyed the coziness of a campout nestled up to an inviting fireplace.

         As long as the fury of the blizzard remained intense, Bob was forced to remain inside doing what he could to keep his family safe and secure. Arran, their collie, seemed quite comfortable as she lay sleeping in front of the warm fire.  The supply of wood that had been brought into the house would last for several hours, then Bob could bring in the wood he had piled on the back porch.  If he needed wood after that, he would have to dig a path to the woodshed which would be doable, if the snow let up, but risky if it didn’t.

         The weather radio gave the final word on the storm calling it a full-blown blizzard. However, compared to the fierceness of the scene outside, the scene inside was a haven of calmness and warmth.  Flickering candles and a crackling fire offered a comforting accent to the family’s morning devotions.

          “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”  Those blessed words Bob read from Psalm 91:14-15 were taken to heart and the anxiousness that had been brought on by Jan’s scare earlier released its grip as Bob lead the family in prayer.

 

Chapter Five

Unexpected Visitors

         Suddenly, Arran leaped from her spot by the fireplace, barking loudly as she ran towards the front door.  Bob called out, “What’s the matter girl?”

         “Good grief, someone has pulled into our driveway!  What crazy would be out in this blizzard?”  Bob declared while looking out the window.

         By this time, Dorie and Kathy had joined Bob in curious inspection of these unexpected visitors.

         “Daddy, it’s two people, and they are walking up to the house,” alerted Dorie.

         Bob motioned for the family to come away from the window.  Arran’s low sustained growl was a bit unsettling for Jan and the girls. 

         The anticipated knock was heard and a bewildered voice called out, “Hello, my wife and I were caught in the storm. Can you help us?”

         Cautiously, Bob opened the door and there stood the haggard couple. They seemed pleasant enough and by the fact that Arran stopped growling when they appeared at the door, Bob warily invited them in. 

         It did not go unnoticed by the family that their dog greeted the mysterious couple as familiar friends.  Though Arran was as gentle a collie as any, she was known to take her responsibility to guard and protect her human family quite seriously.  This sudden friendliness towards these strangers was curious indeed!

         “Hello, I am Dr. Michael Mason and this is my wife, Mari. I can’t tell you how grateful we are for your hospitality. I’m afraid my wife and I have gotten lost. The smoke from your chimney and the faint light from your window were a welcomed sight.”

         “It’s not a problem, Dr. Mason, Mari. Come on in. We’ve no heat for our electricity has gone out, but you are welcomed to warm up by the fire.”

         As they began to thaw out by the fire, Dr. Mason recounted their scary ordeal.

         “The appeal of the cabin was no radio or television.  We just wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet. And up until the snow started that’s exactly what we had been experiencing.  But when the snow began, we decided it would be safer to head into the village. As we began our descent, it was then that we heard on the car radio of the impending storm.  If we hadn’t gotten lost, I believe we could have easily made it into town,” confessed Dr. Mason. 

         “I was beginning to fear we would never make it! But then we came upon your house,” added Mrs. Mason.

         Jan could see the strain of their ordeal was wearing on the doctor and his wife, and offered them some hot chocolate. Then Jan sent the girls to the kitchen for more mugs.

          Dr. & Mrs. Mason fairly collapsed onto the sofa as Arran calmly positioned herself at their feet.  Arran’s obvious acceptance of these friendly strangers, plus the warmth of the hot chocolate and the cozy fire dispelled any suspicions on the part of all present. The stresses of the storm paled in the comfort of this newfound fellowship.

         “Listen, Dr. & Mrs. Mason, who knows how long this blizzard is going to last, but thanks to our gas stove, my recent trip to the grocery store, and plenty of wood for our fireplace, we should be able to eat well and remain warm in spite of having no electricity for lights and heat.  You are welcomed to stay with us until it is safe for you to travel,” offered Bob.

         “We can’t thank you enough, and please, it’s Michael and Mari,” insisted Dr. Mason.

         “It appears that you’ve not too much longer to wait on the little one,” gently inserted Mari.

         To which Jan replied, “Yes, January 25th is my due date.  It’s a blessing we aren’t due December 25th.  

         Bob added, “Jan gave us a scare earlier but she’s fine now.  We were very relieved. For the Christ-child is the only baby’s birth we are planning on celebrating this Christmas!”  Michael and Mari, unnoticed by their rescuers, gave each other a knowing smile.

 

Chapter Six

Preparing for Christmas

         Thanks to the preparations of Bob and his family, the next two days were spent pleasantly enough in spite of the raging storm.   The older girls relinquished their mattresses to their mysterious guests and gladly retrieved their sleeping bags from their bedroom closets.  Now, it was even more like camping, which delighted them both. 

         Time was pleasantly spent as each of the girls gave a thorough explanation of their individual ornaments. It was like putting on a show as their flashlights highlighted each ornament. Dr. and Mrs. Mason gave their full attention to each of the girl’s demonstration.  Their tree was a lovely diary of births, birthdays, family vacations, and gifts from friends.  Every ornament held a story filled with meaning.

         Rachel found one of her favorite Christmas storybooks and asked her new friend, Dr. Mason to read to her about baby Jesus. Dorie, Kathy, along with Mari cuddled up on the sofa to listen. Jan and Bob took advantage of this distraction to make some adjustments to the gifts to include Michael and Mari.

          Meals were prepared in the kitchen but eaten cozied up by the fire.  Though the blizzard continued to terrorize the landscape, spirits inside were joyful and at peace.  Perhaps it was the comfort of safety in the midst of the storm, or perhaps it was the peace that seems to always accompany the celebration of Christmas that settled over the inhabitants of that blessed mountain home.  

         Bob kept an ear to the weather radio. But it seemed good news was in short supply. The wind continued to howl and the snow continued to fall. But at least the thunder had been silenced.

         Bob resisted the temptation to fear for Jan’s well being, considering the scare they experienced earlier. Every time he was tempted to fear he recalled 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

            Bob summoned this verse time and time again, in order to prevent the temptation to fear from taking hold. Bob knew he had a choice to make. Either believe God meant what He said, or cave into the fears. For the sake of his faith and those he loved, he knew there was only one choice to be made.

          After the girls were tucked into their sleeping bags, and prayers were offered, it didn’t take long before all was quiet. Dr. Michael and Mari helped Jan and Bob quietly put the final touches on the gift preparations. Then the grownups prepared for sleep.

         Bob added wood to the fireplace and saw to it that Jan was comfortable. Dr. Michael could sense the struggle going on with Bob and Jan. Speaking calmly, he reassured them.

          “Jan and Bob, you needn’t worry.  If need be, Mari’s medical skills and mine will be sufficient should we be called upon to use them. You know, I don’t feel it was an accident that we happened upon your place in this blizzard. God has had a hand in all of this. We can be confident He will work this all out for our good.” There was just something in his voice that inspired the peace that Jan and Bob both needed. The tension subsided.

 

Chapter Seven

An Unexpected Arrival

         Everyone awakened Christmas morning to an unfamiliar sound. Quiet!  The howling winds of the storm had abated.  Of course, there was more snow on the ground than anyone in the village had ever remembered, but Christmas morning dawned with the promise that the worst was over.  Hopefully, soon things would be getting back to normal. 

         As was traditional for the Lane family, Bob read the Christmas story found in the second chapter of Luke, followed by a happy, enthusiastic, and traditional rendition of Happy Birthday Jesus. Gifts were exchanged with all the thrill and laughter of a typical Christmas morning. 

         Jan went to the kitchen to grab a garbage bag for the discarded wrapping paper and just as she returned to the living room the lights came on and everyone cheered. She was just about to yell with delight herself when she was bent double with pain and yell she did, but not with delight!  Bob ran to her, picked her up and carried her to the bed in their room.  Fear struck his heart because he knew that no one could get here to help, but then he heard the calm in-control voice of Michael. 

         “Bob, do not fear.  I’ll examine Jan and we will just see what we are dealing with.  I have delivered hundreds of babies. Please don’t be worried.” declared Dr. Mason.

         Mari turned the girls over to their dad and accompanied Michael in the examination.  After what seemed like hours to Bob, Michael appeared in the living room door and motioned for him.

         “Jan is definitely in labor.  Everything looks normal; the baby is in position so it shouldn’t be but a few hours.  I think you should prepare yourself to celebrate more than just the birth of the Christ Child this Christmas, Bob,” chuckled Michael.  “When it gets closer to delivery, I’ll send Mari to fetch you.”

         Bob prepared his daughters for the unexpected arrival of their baby brother.  At 4 ½ months, the ultrasound had revealed that Jan’s fourth child was to be a son.  Jan and Bob had given a lot of thought and planning to the birth of their daughters, but little Bobby had been quite the surprise.  Now he was about to give them another surprise and arrive earlier than expected.

         Two hours later, Michael sent for Bob.  Bob took a deep breath, “Well, girls, here goes! Dorie, do your best to keep your sister’s calm and quiet.”

         “No problem Dad. We will just play with our Christmas presents. Remember Dad, we will be praying,” answered Dorie.

           Bob thankfully gave his daughters’ hugs and kisses, and excitedly joined the doctor and his wife in the final stages of his son’s birth. 

         Thanks to Dr. Michael and Nurse Mari, everything proceeded normally. Soon the cries of a newborn were heard. Mari completed her responsibilities as a delivery nurse, then gently presented little Bobby to his mother and his father.

         Just as she had done three times before, Jan said hello to her newborn and was the first to call him by his name.  “Hello, Bobby Lane.  I’m your momma and this is your daddy, and we love you so much.”

         After everything was put into order, Dorie, Kathy, and Rachel were invited into their parent’s bedroom to see their newborn baby brother.  “Does he have lots of black hair like I did when I was born?” Rachel wanted to know.  Jan pulled back the blanket to reveal a head of black hair, for Rachel to examine.  “Well,  he’s got a lot of hair, but I’m pretty sure I had the most.”

         Kathy gently climbed in bed and positioned herself as close as she dared to her brand new baby brother.  “He’s so tiny, Momma!” 

         “Well, if he hadn’t gotten in such a big hurry he would have entered this world a heavyweight, but as it is, he’s big enough!” assured Dr. Michael.

         “Can I hold him, Momma?” pleaded Dorie.

         “Sure, sweetie.  Crawl up here beside Momma and prop your left arm on this pillow,” instructed Jan. Then Bob tenderly lifted little Bobby from his mother’s arms and gently placed him in Dorie’s waiting arms. 

         Just at that moment Bobby opened his eyes and performed a hearty stretch accompanied by surprised looks and spontaneous laughter from his adoring audience.

 

Chapter Eight

Secret Preparations

         “Well, little man, I think it’s time you and your Momma got some rest.” Dr. Michael announced.

         Bob urged his daughters to say goodbye to their mom and baby brother so they could get the rest they needed.

         “Okay, girls! Let’s see what we can whip up for lunch!”

         Leftovers consisted of a hearty soup made from the pot roast and vegetables from a few days earlier. Peanut butter sandwiches were provided by the girls, and Mari prepared grilled cheese sandwiches for the grown-ups. Hot coffee and hot chocolate put the final touches on this impromptu meal.

         First, Bob carried lunch to Jan then rejoined his daughters and their guests to a welcomed lunch gathered around the kitchen table.  However, as soon as lunch was eaten, and after helping clean the kitchen, the girls excused themselves and disappeared into Dorie’s bedroom.

         The warming heat slowly spread throughout the house allowing everyone to discard some of their extra clothing and enjoy a relaxed afternoon while Momma and her infant son took a much-needed nap.

         Dorie appeared in the living room, “Hey, Dad, I need some scissors and construction paper. May I get some from your office?”

         “Sure Dorie, but what are you doing that require scissors and construction paper?’

         “Oh, just a little project I’m working on. I’ll show it to you later.” And off she went.

         Next, Kathy popped into the living room and asked, “Hey Dad, do you know where Mom keeps her yarn?”

         “Why yes, Kathy. It’s right here beside the recliner.”

         Kathy rummaged through her mother’s yarn stash and grabbed some blue yarn. Then hurried back to Dorie’s room.

         Rachel showed up next and asked, “Daddy where is our wrapping paper? Dorie told me to ask you for a gift bag.”

         Dad rummaged through the closet where they kept such things and handed Rachel some wrapping paper plus a gift bag.

         Rachel turned quickly and headed back to her sister’s room, “I got the bag Do, and some wrapping paper, Kat.”

         Bob wondered out loud to Michael and Mari, “What do you suppose my girls are up to?” But checking on Jan and Bobby, as well as entertaining his guests, distracted him from seeking an immediate answer. 

         Bob excused himself from his guests and left to see if Jan needed anything. Bob found Jan awake and gazing lovingly at her newborn son.

         “You know Bob, our little man’s entrance into our world was one surprise after another. I can’t help but feel that God had some extraordinary plans for our baby boy.”

         Jan’s thoughts retreated to the time when she had felt a bit distressed that they had not had a son. But after much prayer, Jan had come to the place of peace. As she contemplated the joy and wonder her three daughters had filled their lives with, how could she desire anything more? And that’s how she had left it.

         But with the astonishment in finding a son was on the way, Jan thought. “Isn’t it just like God to honor our obedience by opening the windows of heaven and showering more blessings on us than we could contain.”

 

Chapter Nine

Three Sister’s Bearing Gifts

         Jan and Bob were discussing all of this when they heard a soft knock on their bedroom door. “Come in,” Jan responded.

         Three wide-eyed big sisters paraded into the room, bearing gifts for their infant brother.  Followed by Michael and Mari, with Arran on their heals, Bob commented to Jan, “Our daughters have been busy all afternoon. Now I think I know why.  Just as the Christ-child had entertained three visitors bearing gifts, so will little Bobby.”

         Being the youngest and having a harder time with waiting, Rachel was allowed to go first. Meekly she sat the gift bag next to her mom.  

         As Jan pulled out a pair of small tennis shoes, Rachel spoke to her baby brother,  “I want to give you my bestest shoes. You won’t even have to know how to tie them when you get big enough to wear them. ” 

         Bob picked his daughter up so she could place the small pair of tennis shoes next to Bobby as he lay in his crib, then she softly kissed his cheek and said, “ Hi, I’m Rachel, your big sister. I love you.” 

         Jan remembered how much Rachel had liked those shoes because the Velcro enabled her to fasten them all by herself.  Apparently, she had stored them away and upon finding out her momma was having a baby, decided her favorite shoes with the Velcro fasteners would be a great gift for her new baby brother.    

         Next Kathy lovingly placed the blue crocheted blanket she had been working on over her baby brother.  “Hi, little Bro.  I’m your bigger sister, Kathy. I love you so-o-o much.” She had spent the afternoon working on the blanket to make it big enough to cover him.  “It’s not quite as big as it was supposed to be, but it’s big enough, I think.”   

         Dorie stood patiently by her baby brother’s bed.  Each of her sisters had given their new baby brother a gift from their heart.  She had been pondering over what she would give her baby brother when he arrived next month!  But here he was a whole month early and creating quite a dilemma for his big sister as to what she would give him.  Remembering how much tending Rachel had needed when she was born, Dorie had finally decided a coupon book would be a fitting gift.  Babies needed diapers and clothing changed often, they needed to be held when they got fussy and until they could be fed, and someone would need to be willing to keep an eye on them while their mom rested.   Dorie had been quite helpful with these types of duties when Rachel was born, so she had included a coupon for each of them.  She wanted to be sure that her baby brother knew how much she loved him, so there would be coupons for rocking, singing, and reading to him, as well. 

         Lying the brightly decorated construction paper envelope on sleeping Bobby’s blanket, Dorie pulled out the coupons she had designed, “Here, little Bobby, these are for you.   I am your biggest big sister, Dorie.  I love you bunches.”

 

Chapter Ten

A Traditional Blessing

         Jan and Bob gazed lovingly on their three daughters as they introduced themselves to their new baby brother.  Jan’s heart was full as she pondered the thoughtfulness and love that went into each gift her daughters had given to their infant brother.  “You are going to be the best big sisters ever.”

          Jan wondered how long it would take her to get used to caring for a little boy after three girls or if he would always be a novelty in their home!   Yes, there was much for Jan to ponder.      

        “Dr. Mason, I mean Michael,” added Bob, “we have a tradition in our family of having our pastor say a blessing over our children after their births.  Since Bobby has seen fit to present himself in rather unique circumstances and time, our pastor is not able to be here to offer the traditional blessing.  Would you mind?”

         “Bob, I would consider it an honor,” admitted Dr. Michael.

         Jan tenderly handed little Bobby to the doctor who had miraculously appeared and with the help of his wife, a delivery nurse, had been on hand to assist with his earlier than expected delivery.

         “Dearest Heavenly Father.  As we join the Lane family in welcoming this gift of new life, we are reminded of another baby boy born so long ago whose birth we celebrate today.  Upon the occasion of his birthday in the years ahead, may Robert and his family be reminded of God’s protection for those who acknowledge His name.  Bring to their memories how you answered them when they called upon you and how you delivered their precious son in their time of need.  May Robert come to know Christ personally, and seek to live a life honoring the one whose birthday he shares.” 

         As Dr. Mason’s prayer ended, a holy hush seemed to fill the room.  Dr. Mason affectionately handed Bobby back to his mother who decided it was time to acknowledge his hunger.  It was during this lighthearted moment that the doctor and his wife announced it was time they should be on their way.  With all the commotion, no one had noticed that a snowplow had cleared the road making it safe for them to travel.

         “I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t gotten lost and showed up our doorstep two days ago.  How can we ever thank you?” pleaded Bob.

         “Knowing that you intend to raise Robert and his sisters to follow Christ is all the thanks we need,” was the good doctor’s response.  

         After saying their goodbye’s to Jan and her newborn son, Dr. and Mrs. Mason willingly took the “goody bag” the girls had hurriedly prepared for them. With Arran faithfully escorting them, they made their way to their car. Previously Bob had cleared the snow that had blanketed their car. Standing on the porch and waving good-by, Bob and his girls carried out the family tradition of bidding farewell to their newfound friends while Arran barked her friendly farewell.

         The cold temperature drove them inside preventing a lingering wave.  Bob was confident Michael and Mari would have plenty of daylight left to get to the village and get a room.   Then tomorrow they would be able to begin their journey back home.  The girls pitched in and helped their dad put the house back in order as Arran took up her post on the floor just in front of the bedroom door where her newest charge was residing. 

         As Bob collapsed into bed that evening he made a mental note to follow Michael’s orders and take Jan and his new son to the hospital as soon as they could the next morning.  Bob agreed with Michael that though the delivery had been uncomplicated, it would be best to have Jan’s doctor and Bobby’s pediatrician give them both a thorough check-up.

 

Chapter Eleven

The final surprise

         The following morning arrived much too early for the girls who were weary from a Christmas that had exceeded everyone’s expectations. Breakfast was cooperatively prepared and consumed back in the bedroom to be near their newest family member.  Suddenly, Arran leaped from her station and with her barking alerted her family to unexpected visitors at the front door.

         “Quiet girl, quiet,” ordered Bob running to the front door.  He couldn’t imagine who would be at the door this time.  Surprisingly, where Dr. Michael’s car had been parked, there sat a snowplow!  Its driver was guiding the ambulance into the driveway.

         With a great deal of curiosity, Bob opened the front door to usher Dr. Pyron and his assistant, Matt, along with the snowplow driver, Ben, into the house.

         “Bob, is Jan all right?  Matt and I made it up here as soon as we could,” questioned Dr. Pyron.  With the storm shutting down practically everything, we were prevented from contacting you and checking on Jan.  As soon as we got this break in the weather, we booked it on up here.  Where’s Jan?  We are prepared to take her straight to the hospital,” stated Dr. Pyron.

         Bob stood there speechless.  Without uttering a word, he motioned for the three friends to follow him.  Then led this entourage of mercy to the master bedroom where Arran had reclaimed her post.  Jan, Dorie, Kathy, and Rachel were finishing the last of their breakfast.  For a moment, no one exchanged a word, only surprised glances at the sight of the newborn lying in the bed beside his mother.

         “Bob, did you have to deliver your son?  When did all this happen?  Jan, are you all right?  What on earth has happened here?” questioned Dr. Pyron.

         In answer to the questions, Bob related the events of the last few days.  He explained to the shocked doctors and Ben how Dr. Mason and his wife, Mari, had shown up at their door right after the storm first hit needing shelter.  They had been staying at the Davis cabin further up the mountain.  Having gotten lost and not being able to make it to the village, they stopped here.  

         Then Bob told his bewildered audience how they had lost power but thanks to their fireplace, gas stove and the candles Bob had recently bought in the run to the grocery store were able to manage with limited problems.

          “Fortunately, our electricity came back on Christmas morning.  When Jan went into premature labor, Dr. Mason and Mari took over and the results you see lies there in his crib.   His delivery proved to be our Christmas miracle!” 

         “The good doctor and his wife left only yesterday afternoon, just after the snowplow cleared the way for them.  They were planning on staying at the Creek Side Motel then head out this morning.  Michael, I mean Dr. Mason, advised me to get Jan and the baby to the hospital as soon as I could this morning, so it looks like your timing is perfect,” Bob said smiling.

         A perplexed doctor replied, “Bob, no snowplow came this way yesterday. Ben volunteered only this morning to get that snowplow out when I called him to tell him about the suspected emergency up here.  And no one has being staying at the Davis cabin because it’s been closed up since right before Thanksgiving.”

         “Yeah, my sister and her family were hoping to stay there over Thanksgiving but had to make other plans when they found out it was closed,” interjected Matt. 

         “And as to this doctor and his wife, there is no way they could have made it to the village yesterday with all this snow piled along the roads because the snowplow only came down your road just this morning!   We saw no evidence of any other vehicle as we made our way up that road this morning,” continued Dr. Pyron!

         “And, oh yeah, the electricity didn’t come back on until just about an hour ago!” inserted Ben.

         No one knew what to say in response to this revelation.  Questioning looks covered the faces of all present with the exception of Arran and little Bobby, of course!

         Suddenly, Jan recalled the family’s devotion time after Jan’s first encounter with pain,  “Remember, Bob?  The scripture verses you read were Psalm 91:14-15.” Jan reached for her Bible on the nearby nightstand. Opening it to the reference, she began reading out loud.  “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

         “Momma, that verse sounds like the prayer of blessing that Dr. Mason said over Bobby,” chimed Dorie and Kathy in unison.

         Then Rachel with wonder in her voice proclaimed, “They were angels, Momma.  God sent them to help Bobby get ‘borned’!”

         Slowly, Bob eased onto the bed next to Jan.  “I suppose that’s as close to an explanation of what has been going on in this house over the past few days as we are going to get.  Besides wasn’t it weird how Arran took to them?”

         “I will deliver him,” whispered Jan in awed astonishment!

 

 

 

 

And that’s the end, my friend!

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