Thursday, February 26, 2009

'It was probably the best Christmas Eve I have EVER had'

One of our longest stories, and worth every word!

Name withheld

I am a member of an international organization that allows women from all religious faiths to get together in small groups and study different books in the bible. At one of our meetings back in September I met an amazing 46-year-old woman named Victoria who had quite the story.

Victoria had just been given custody of her "grandchildren" as she called them and she was required to move out of her apartment and into a home to accommodate the children. One night at class she mentioned that she had prayed that she might get her hands on some home appliances that were needed in the home and because she did not have the funds to buy them herself, she had asked God for guidance in obtaining them.

Victoria has never had any children so when her best friend died a few years ago, she took her friend's daughter under her wing and treated her as if she was her own.

This adopted daughter had two little girls of her own, 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age. Unfortunately, the adopted daughter had been arrested for child abuse and was sent to prison for 3 years, so that is why Victoria was given custody of the “grandchildren”.

Someone from church gave Victoria a home to rent but she had to supply the appliances and take care of the utilities. My husband Erich and I have owned a residential remodeling company for over 19 years so when I heard that she needed appliances I thought that I should help her out. I knew that my mother had a used, working stove in her garage so after our study I found my mom who also attends our study group and asked her if I could have the stove to donate to Victoria. I also said that I would try to find the other appliances through my vendors. Mom said she would help me out and suggested that we see what else we could do for her. We were able to find a refrigerator, stove, dryer and microwave then delivered and installed them over the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't question why the home was as cold as it was when we were there because we just figuring that it was because we had all the doors open as we moved the appliances in. We came to find out a few weeks later that the utility company wouldn't turn the heat on until she paid a back payment and a deposit, which totaled $350. She did not have the extra funds to pay the bill so they could not move in until that was taken care of.

On December 23rd I got a call from Victoria asking me how I was recovering from a recent shoulder surgery and during the call I asked if she was going to Christmas Eve service at her church the following day. She told me that her church did not hold a Christmas Eve service, which surprised me. My 21-year-old daughter Lindsey overheard the discussion and motioned to me to invite her to our church and also offered to go pick her and the 2 grandchildren up because I had to work the service before the one we were going to attend. I made the offer to Victoria but she said she had to work and didn't think that it would work out. I told her she could call me up till 1:30 the next day in case she changed her mind.

Well, at 1:30 after I had arrived at church, I got a voice mail from Victoria stating that she was fixing the girls hair and could be ready if the offer was still good. I called my daughter Lindsey and asked if she could call her back to find out where she lived so she could pick them up. I received a text from Lindsey a little later saying that she was on her way to church with all 3 of them. She also told me that the little girls were not going to have any presents under the tree because Victoria did not have the funds. Lindsey sent her older sister Christine a text telling her to go to the store to get some coloring books and crayons for the girls.

We have a Christmas Eve tradition at our house of friends and relatives coming over after service to enjoy food and listen to my stepfather Ken read “The Night Before Christmas”. Lindsey invited Victoria and the girls to come back to our house after the church service, and Victoria agreed. When Lindsey walked into the church with one child on either side of her holding their hands, knowing they had not met before that night, it melted my heart. Victoria was following behind them. After the service I headed to pick up the food to take back to my house.

I couldn't get out of my head the thought of no gifts for those children the next morning so I went to Drugmart and headed down the toy aisle. I spent $200 of my Christmas Jar money and overfilled the cart. I also picked out stockings and stocking stuffers so that Santa could put them at the end of their beds, which is another family Christmas tradition. I finally headed home where everyone was waiting. My two girls were on the floor coloring with the little ones and Victoria was mingling with strangers who quickly became friends. I unloaded presents and assigned wrapping duties to 3 of the ladies which all took place in the living room. Each girl was to have a bag of gifts that Victoria was to unload after the girls went to bed so that they saw that Santa had not forgotten about them! My mom had called me saying she was on her way over to our house so I filled her in on what was taking place. She and Ken stopped at CVS and bought more gifts for the girls, which were brought into the house in a big Christmas bag. They explained to the little girls that Santa had stopped by and dropped off some gifts for them, which they eagerly opened with the biggest eyes you have EVER seen!

In the meantime, Erich and I talked privately while everyone was busy and decided to take the $300 which was the rest of our Christmas Jar money and give it to Victoria in a check so that she could pay her utility bill to get the heat turned on. I had told Victoria's story to my Guest Services Team at the church where I attend and had someone give me $50 to give to her anonymously so the check was actually for the whole $350 that she needed! We wrapped the check up as a gift for Victoria to open Christmas morning. My mom also gave me a check for $100 that I wrapped, part of her Christmas Jar money, so that Victoria could buy herself something.

Santa delivered a good Christmas to all of us. It was probably the best Christmas Eve I have EVER had. Watching the two little girls with bright, wide eyes, wearing their new princess jewelry and listening to Ken read “The Night Before Christmas” was indescribable. God put these people in my life for a reason. We were all able to contribute love that night to 3 individuals who needed to see that someone cared. The heat was finally turned on 2 weeks ago after repairs to her new home were made following a freezing pipe incident. Victoria sent me a photo of the two girls eating their first lunch on the kitchen floor in their new home. Talk about God's blessing! I thank Jason Wright for writing the Christmas Jars and my sister Laurie for insisting that I read his book! Everyone needs to have a Christmas Jar!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

'i am 17 years old and i recieved a christmas jar 5 days before christmas'

my name is tori, i am 17 years old and i recieved a christmas jar 5 days before christmas. one day, i was hard at work when a group of women walked up to me and handed me a heavy jar and a book that was named 'christmas jar.' i was confused and wasn't sure how to react. i politely said thank you and merry christmas. when i opened the jar after the women had left i soon realized what i had recieved. i was filled with joy and couldn't believe it happend to me, of all people. a friend of mine that i work with noticed the look on my face and asked why i seemed so 'joyful' i explained to her what had just happend and she couldn't believe it either. i later shared that gift of joy with my coworker who couldn't really afford to buy her family anything for christmas. but, the most joyful feeling i got out of the whole thing was sharing it with others and seeing the joy on their faces during the holiday season.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

'I prayed that God would lead me to just the right person'

Christmas was nearly two months ago, and still the stories trickle in. What a wonderful blessing for all of us to enjoy these long into the new year.

December 2008 was my 2nd year to do a Christmas Jar and each time I put money into the jar throughout the year, I prayed that God would lead me to just the right person... I continued to pray as Christmas Eve drew near. A couple days before Christmas Eve, God had a woman cross my path that shared with me how she would be soooooo glad when Christmas was over. She went on to say that her husband committed suicide on December 28, 2007 and she can hardly stand Christmas as it was such a painful time for her and her children.

Immediately I knew who God wanted me to give my Christmas Jar to. I was able to leave the jar and a copy of the book for her to find. I had someone who was with her when she found the jar and book tell me that as soon as she saw it she began crying and asked who did this. The person with her said that she couldn’t say.

A couple of days after Christmas, I saw her and the first thing she said to me was "you won’t believe what happened to me." She went on to tell me about her Christmas Jar and how she was so down and had prayed that very morning telling God that she felt so alone and that he had left her and didn’t love her. She said she prayed and asked God to show her His love in a real way and then she went into work and found the Christmas Jar. She said she was speechless and all she could do was cry and say thank you God for showing me that you have not forgotten me and that you do love me.

It was all I could do to listen and not giveaway that I had given her the jar. I felt so blessed that God would let me hear how her Christmas Jar had impacted her.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meet Jason's favorite bookseller

I know, I know, I shouldn't pick a favorite, but I just can't help it when it comes to Laurie Paisley at Barnes & Noble in Carmel, Indiana. She's probably responsible for more Christmas Jars being given away than any other person alive!

Here she is making her big debut in the BN Studio. She was honored to be among the very few booksellers across the country selected to video blog from her store. Congrats, Laurie! And thanks for more than just supporting the books, thanks for being such a terrific friend...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

'I will pray for them forever'

I say this practically every time I post a new CJ miracle, but this one means something extra to me because it was actually printed in the paper. Hope Jensen would be so proud!

This story was a 1/23/09 letter to the editor in the "Southside Messenger", our local paper.

My husband William passed away on December 7, 2008. I notified Social Security and was told that I was entitled to his November check. The check was never deposited, so I called again. The agent said the check was returned, no reason given, but a form would be mailed out for me to claim the check. No form arrived after 2 weeks so I called again, and was told that I could go to Farmville and fill out the form, and was then notified that it would take 30 to 60 days to receive it. We, as many people, rely on our Social Security check each month. So here I was without money.

On Sunday morning I was leaving for church and found a bag by my car, it looked like a Christmas gift bag. I looked in to see if it had been blown by the wind, but there was a jar and a book. I thought someone left me a jar of candy and a book for Christmas. Upon putting it on the passenger seat I realized it was very heavy. Lifting the jar to see what sort of candy was so heavy, I saw that the jar was filled with money. My heart began to sing. I brought the jar to church with me and showed everyone, but nobody said that they had given me this wonderful present. I will admit that I could not wait until the service was over to get home and count the miracle money jar. It held over $500!

I then read the book and learned the story of the Christmas Jar. It is money saved in a jar, starting on the day after Christmas and then given to someone in need. It is given with love and caring. Of course I don‚t know who gave me the wonderful gift, but obviously God told them of my problem.

So I would like to thank the person or persons responsible and I will pray for them forever.