Can you believe it is mid-December already? Christmas is next week! Today is Part 4 of this year’s story. So I hope you will grab a cup of steaming coffee or hot tea and sit and read for just a little while. The conclusion will be posted next Tuesday, the morning of Christmas Eve. (Find the rest of the story here.)
Five years had passed. Each December brought with it a special ornament. There was the little snow-covered cottage when Jack and Julie had moved from the condo to their craftsman-style home in the suburbs. And then there was a Baby’s First Christmas ornament when Max had joined their family. Each year, the ornament was specially chosen to reflect some event or happening in her life. Other than that one exception the year of her wedding, the amount of money that came with the ornaments was always ten crisp $100 bills.
Julie reflected on this as she awkwardly moved to hang the ornaments on the tree. It was the day after Thanksgiving and she felt as big as a house. She lay her hand on her belly and felt a little kick. Max would soon be up from his nap and, at two years old, he was into everything. She sighed with exhaustion.
Over the past few years, life had brought much change. While she no longer worked at the restaurant, she was now holding a Bible Study there every Tuesday evening. It was so interesting how God had orchestrated its inception. She remembered it so clearly.
It was about three years ago now and Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Gunderson were animatedly discussing what happens to a person after death, while Julie sat and listened. Mrs. Bailey was saying that Harold had believed the Bible and “all that jazz” about Jesus but she had never really thought there was anything to that.
Mrs. Gunderson laughed and said that Mr. Gunderson was sure nothing happened after you die and that that was the end. They went on for awhile about how you just can’t really know.
Julie, her heart beating fast, had finally spoken up. She told the women about the Bible and why she believed it is true. She went on to explain how the only way to be reconciled to God was through Jesus Christ and she shyly offered to teach them more, if they were interested. She felt woefully inadequate to do this but she also realized that God had given her this special opportunity with these dear ladies. When they eagerly agreed, she asked Maggie to help her.
Thankfully, Maggie had been happy to join Julie in her new endeavor. Ted and Jack had offered to watch the kids, leaving the two young women free to meet with the ladies on Tuesday nights to explain to them the truths of scripture.
The small group had grown as Mrs. Bailey’s friend from her book club, Lucinda, asked if she could join them. Soon after, Mrs. Gunderson’s neighbor, Mrs. Littman, started coming. The group grew like this until there were about seven ladies who were committed to coming every week. Even Mrs. Zimmer, the little old Jewish lady who was a faithful customer at the restaurant, had expressed interest and had recently started to join them.
In a year or so, Mrs. Bailey placed her faith in Christ. Mrs. Gunderson still held off and Julie was getting a little discouraged. But she kept coming to the meetings so Julie and Maggie just kept praying for her.
Julie spotted her study Bible on the end table and the toys scattered on the floor. She smiled as she thought about how different her life was compared to seven years ago when she received that first mysterious package in the mail. A mommy and a Bible Study leader. Who would’ve guessed? And now twins. Twins! She wasn’t sure if she could handle this but God was giving them to her, so she guessed He would give her grace to survive this. She didn’t know if they were boys or girls or one of each. Together, she and Jack, had decided to leave that as a surprise, just as they had done with Max.
She felt a sharp pain and sat down to rest. She wasn’t due for another five weeks but now she wondered if these little ones would wait. The doctor had told her that twins often came early.
Julie grew increasingly uncomfortable until finally, a few days later, around midnight, they dropped a sleepy Max off at Ted and Maggie’s and headed to the hospital.
Three weeks later found Julie and Jack back home with their arms full of babies. There had not been only two babies, but a third one hiding behind his sister. Two girls and a boy. Triplets! What a surprise! They had spent a few days in the NICU but they were all able to be home in time for Christmas.
They named the girls Kate and Kara. They named their new son Carson. Max was unsure what to think of all of these babies.
Life became a crazy carousel of feeding, changing, and rocking babies while still trying to make sure Max got the attention he needed. Thankfully, Martha McNally from the church had organized a schedule for church ladies to take shifts to help throughout most of the day and night.
December came and went in a blur. Somewhere in there, a new ornament arrived—a delicate porcelain ornament of three smiling babies wrapped up in mint green blankets, with the word “triplets” below it. The customary cash was with it. They could sure use that thousand dollars this year. Babies were expensive!
In a rare moment of silence with all the babies sleeping, Jack and Julie sat exhausted on the sofa by the twinkling tree. It was New Year’s Eve and the new year promised to be an interesting one, to say the least.
Julie gazed one-by-one at each ornament from her anonymous benefactor. Her eyes landed on the latest one. The identity of the ornament-giver seemed almost irrelevant with all that was going on in her current life. Almost. Somehow it was rather comforting to know that, out there somewhere, was someone who cared just a little bit about a grown woman who was, in all senses of the words, an orphan.