Christmas Message from Br. Richard
Christmas Message –
A few years ago, Mike Huckabee invited his listeners to send him their Christmas stories. My sister, Sheila Blankenship, responded with a story of her first Christmas after having received a diagnosis of Cancer. Since that time, he has published her story repeatedly in his online newsletter. He did so again this Christmas Day and I would like to share it with our internet friends as well. —Br. Richard
Christmas Message from Mike Huckabee:
I share this story every year on Christmas Day because it proves that Christmas is a time for miracles. Not just the miracles that happened 2,000 years ago, but those that God is showing us every day if we just open our eyes and our hearts to see them.
Back in 2011, one of my radio listeners named Sheila from Oklahoma wrote to me:
“I was diagnosed with Hodgkins’ Disease lymphoma and felt I had been given a death sentence. I believed it was the last time I would celebrate my young son’s birthday, my last Thanksgiving and my last Christmas. So everything about Christmas was vital to me. I hand-wrote personal messages to everyone on my card list, carefully selected and wrapped gifts and insisted on decorating my home alone with my son, in spite of chemotherapy.
The tree was a full-day endeavor because I was fatigued, and, of course, I had to cherish the memories of each special ornament. The two of us struggled with the lights but were almost finished with the entire tree. I had sat down to rest (when) my son announced, ‘Mom! The lights went out!’…
I know it is trivial, but it just knocked the wind out of me. I bowed my head and cried because changing the lights meant undecorating the whole tree, and I just didn’t have the energy.
‘Lord,’ I prayed. ‘I can’t do this. I need this Christmas, but I can’t do this.’
Then I heard my son gasp, and I looked up to see all the lights were on again. And they stayed lit throughout Advent to Epiphany. For this and many reasons, my first Christmas with cancer was my best ever.”
That terrific story contained two miracles: A simple one reminiscent of Hanukkah, in which the lights stayed on as a message that you were not alone.
The second miracle: that story was about the Christmas of 1995. Sheila wrote to me to share it in 2011 — 16 years after she thought she’d seen her final Christmas!
But wait: there’s now a third miracle. Over the years, I have often thought about Sheila and prayed that she is still alive and well. Last year, nearly a decade after she shared that story that has inspired so many, she contacted me again to tell me this:
“…I am so thankful that you have continued to share my miracles. The lymphoma relapsed in 2001 and I underwent an autologous bone marrow transplant and have been cancer-free since. I am a 25-year cancer survivor and I thank God for every day.”
I also thank God for her continued good health and for her sharing that inspiring story that has meant so much to me and my readers and listeners over the years.