All I want for Christmas…

Do you listen to a radio station that has a Christmas Wish list? I do. It’s one from Northwest Arkansas. I used to live there. Its a beautiful, peaceful, place full of people who are really kind and caring. But I digress…

Every year for the last several years this particular radio station puts up a Christmas Wish list on their website. They invite people in the listening area (for me it was listening via the Internet) to post their Christmas wish on the website and then for other people in the area to grant those wishes.

Most of the wishes were for genuine needs like furniture, financial help, health care issues, childcare, and other similar things. As I read through some of the wishes my heart just broke for all the single parents (and grandparents who were raising their grandchildren) who were trying to find ways to provide some kind of Christmas for their kids. Some of them didn’t even have enough groceries in their house to feed their kids that weekend. Oh, I just wanted to reach through cyberspace and fix it all for them. I used nearly a whole box of Kleenex that day just reading through the wishes.

So what does this have to do with me?

Well, for the past six or seven years I’ve been trying to locate my baby brother. When our mother died in December of 1996 he was thirteen years old. My brother and I were living in Florida at that time and we begged our baby brother to move down there with us. But he’d grown up in Northwest Arkansas – his family was there, as were all his friends. He didn’t want to move to Florida and try to start all over again. In the course of our discussion on where he was going to end up, one of his aunts offered to take him into her home so he could stay in Arkansas, and we all agreed.

We made an effort to stay in touch, but unfortunately, circumstances and time make it harder and harder to call and write. And it didn’t help that I was a self-absorbed twenty-one year old, who was more focused on what made me feel good rather than what was the right thing to do. Within a few months we just stopped talking. And then shortly after that I got married and moved away to Iowa….and then to Kentucky…..and then to Maine…..and then to Georgia.

Over the years I’d lost track of my baby brother and time was slipping by at an alarming rate. Before long I had no idea how to even begin to get in touch with him. I started searching the Internet for him – trying to find anything that would point me in the right direction and give me a place to start. But there was nothing. I checked into hiring a private investigator, but without a social security number that was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I wrote letters of inquiry to a few people I could remember who might have had contact with him. But those letters came back return to sender – these people had moved too. It was as if he’d vanished – disappeared off the face of the Earth.

So I started to pray. I begged the Lord to help me find a way to get back in touch with my baby brother. I just had to know that he was alive. I prayed for six years – the same prayer, over and over and over again. And then one day I found this Northwest Arkansas radio station. As I listened I kept hearing advertisements for their Christmas Wish list. Eventually, out of curiosity I checked out the website. And after reading through the wish submissions I decided to take a chance. I mean, what was the worst that could happen? No one would answer my request. Silence was something I was already familiar with. So I submitted my wish.

Days went by with no response from anyone. I checked the website almost hourly, hoping and praying that someone would have some information – anything that would give me a sliver of hope that he was still out there somewhere. And then one day my phone rang. The caller ID displayed an unfamiliar Springdale phone number. I held my breath as I picked up the phone.

The man on the other end was quite nice as he explained who he was and why he was calling. He’d seen my wish on the radio’s website and wanted to help. He’d looked in the phone book and had found an address for a person with my brother’s name – it was in Fayetteville. I took down the information and thanked him for his interest and help. I said a quick prayer for reassurance, and then dialed the phone number he’d given me. Within seconds that annoyingly familiar voice blared through the receiver….”We’re sorry, the number you’ve dialed is no longer in service. Please check the number and dial again.” Three times with the same message.

I hung up the phone in disappointment and decided to Google the address. There was a street-view photo of the house, so I knew it really existed. I called one of my Aunts and asked her to drive by the house and see if anyone was home. She did, several times, but the house was abandoned and none of the neighbors were ever around to ask. {Sigh} Just one more dead end. At least it was worth a try. Back to my knees…

Fast forward six months. It’s a sunny, summer Sunday afternoon. Sam and I had been at church all day long for meetings and we were getting home later than usual. He headed straight downstairs to feed the dogs and I checked the voice mail display on our phone. One message.

I smiled, certain it was my Dad giving me his weekly call to say ‘hello’ I clicked the speaker phone button and started toward the kitchen sink to make a pitcher of iced tea. I hadn’t taken more than two steps when the voice on the phone stopped me dead in my tracks. It wasn’t my Dad… was my baby brother! Immediately Niagara Falls started to flow down my cheeks and I scrambled for a writing utensil and a scrap of paper. I hastily scribbled down his number and saved the message.

As I stood in my living room in overwhelming disbelief, bawling my eyes out, Sam popped up the stairs and rushed over to me. He was certain that the message had been from my Dad, and obviously it had been bad news of some kind. I could barely get the words out for the tears.

It……….wasn’t……….Dad…………….it……………..was…………………Jon Dylan………

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16(b)

I’m convinced – prayer works y’all! So how has God answered your prayers lately?


One thought on “All I want for Christmas…

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