Friday, November 11, 2016

So ... Trump is Going to be Our Leader. What Do We Do Now?

Who says we have to submit to Donald Trump?

(The answer might surprise you.)


This morning, I had a conversation with a woman whom I deeply respect, and who, like myself, had many of the same personal struggles throughout the presidential campaign and election process:
Given circumstances and accusations surrounding both Trump and Clinton, how, in good conscience, could I vote for either?
How can I NOT vote, though?
Would it be useless to vote third party?
What happens if a candidate I DON'T want gets elected? 

The struggles along the way were many, and very real. Discussions and alliances caused conflict. We got sucked into playing the "who's the worse candidate" game. We saw division grow among friends and even tear apart families. It's been a long and ugly process but today, America has a new leader. 

With so much discontent and revolution, and anarchists (that’s what the police and media have been calling them, not me) wreaking havoc in our land since the moment election results were in, my eyes have not always been on what should be my focus: God’s Will and furthering His Will – not my own will … not the people’s will.

As I started praying that again today – for God’s Will to be done – immediately what came to my mind were the many news reports and videos that showed the people of Israel on their knees before our election, and especially the day of, praying that “God's appointed leader be put in office as president of the United States.” They stood in solidarity with those words, with that single-minded prayer. And we all saw what happened on election day. There was a turn in the tide and there was a surprising result. After multitudes of God's chosen people praying for God's appointed leader, and millions of Christians praying for God’s appointed leader, how can the results not be His Will? Everyone, even the media, has said it was a miracle that Trump won.
This morning, on November 7th, in Jerusalem, Israel, thousands of believers from all over the world gathered for the Jerusalem Global Gathering (www.watchmen.org). The powerful first session of this global gathering culminated with all of the Americans that were present being asked to gather on the stage in order for all the nations represented to intercede for the US and her national elections.This was not just a polite prayer of blessings but rather the nations began to cry out, pray in the Spirit and declare freedom over our nation. The Americans on stage dropped to their knees, many weeping ... Source 
I can’t help but think of this verse: “Look among the nations and watch  be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”   Habakkuk 1:5


DID YOU KNOW? Throughout history, God used several unlikely, even ungodly leaders to accomplish His purposes. He used King Cyrus for the good of the Jewish people, even though Cyrus was a "pagan" king  a non-Israelite king who didn’t even know God, who worshipped idols. But God called Cyrus “His Anointed.” In fulfillment of prophecy, the Scriptures record how Cyrus was anointed by God to restore the Jewish people from captivity and to rebuild Jerusalem.

King Nebuchadnezzar was called in Scripture “the servant of God,” and even though he, too, was a pagan king, he was a tool in the hand of God. God raised him up to judge God’s people who had departed from the Lord and had abandoned His word. God also foretold that the king would be lifted up with pride and then would be taken down for seven years to show that God was the one who has all power. After seven years of insanity, Nebuchadnezzar was restored and he testifies of God’s power in Daniel 4:34-35: “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth."



Therefore, we know God can use Trump for the good of America.
We must pray for God’s Will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Pray for Him to have mercy on America!
We must be ONE NATION – not a divided nation  UNDER GOD.
Let God be God, and only time will tell.



The Scriptures tell us that God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, what is God’s Word for us today, as Americans, during this tumultuous time?


Be obedient to your authority, don’t rebel against it. “What?” you say? “You mean I have to subject myself to the authority of Trump?” Yep. Why? Because the Bible says so:


“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”  Romans 13:1-2

“Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.”  Romans 13:2-5


“Jesus answered [speaking to Pilate], ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’”  John 19:11

“By me kings reign …”    Proverbs 8:15

“… he removes kings, and sets up kings …”  Daniel 2:21

“Then God removed Saul and made David their king …”  Acts 13:22

“No one … can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.”  Psalms 75:6-7

“…the Most High has power over human kingdoms. He gives them to whomever he wishes.”  Daniel 4:17

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority …”  1 Peter 2:13


"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalm 46:10


SEEK THE TRUTH. Be wise and seek His wisdom. Don’t be swayed by emotion and falsehoods. Ask God to open your eyes to the truth. Examine the Scriptures and align your personal belief system with the Will of God for His people, as gleaned from the Word of God, not from the world. And don’t let your minds and hearts be hardened to the TRUTH. "But the people's minds were hardened ... a veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth." – 2 Corinthians 3:14


Take these action steps: Be humble. Pray and seek God’s direction for your life and our nation’s. Ask God for forgiveness. And try to be Christlike in our thoughts, words, and deeds.



So I shared my thoughts about the prayers from Jerusalem over our election with my friend and, in her wisdom, this is how she responded:
“People are saying ‘what happened?’ God is what happened! The whole election has been an indication of that. Trump’s momentum from day one, and the inability to stop him, no matter how hard people tried (and they sure tried) was crazy. He dismantled the Republican party in less than a year. He won despite layers and layers of corruption, filled with people who would stop at nothing to kill his campaign, credibility, and character. He beat the power-ridden Clinton Machine. It was an historic win that has just stunned so many. I think Trump is going to surprise people. God heard the prayers of His people, not just us in the U.S., but the prayers from the apple of His eye -- Israel. He has given us another chance at redemption as a nation. Sorry, but "the church" has failed miserably in so many major areas. God has shown mercy and forgiveness.
We prayed for God’s Will ... now those prayers cannot cease.
The current administration has done nothing but widen the division. I think it was intentional. Trump’s opponent would have only continued on the same path. I think Trump, once he takes office, will start bridging it. I don't have anything real solid to base that on  no links, no videos  just a sense that comes from faith that this has God's fingerprints all over it. Is he going to work wonders and make everyone happy? No way, but he will do what is best overall. He will be a friend to Israel, and that is very connected to the kind of blessings our nation will see.”
Thank you, my friend, for those words of wisdom.

I've seen so many people who are unhappy with the election results say that are frightened, scared, even terrified. Surrender it to the Lord and you won't be. I promise. I could have been scared for the past eight years but I wasn't. Dismayed, shocked, sorrowful, but never scared. I sincerely hope these verses will bring you comfort:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”  Isaiah 41:13
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33  
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  1 Corinthians 14:33
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7 

God’s promise to us


“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” 
 Romans 8:28




So ... Trump's Gonna be Our Leader. What Do We Do Now?

Who says I have to submit to Donald Trump?



This morning, I had a private-message conversation with a woman whom I deeply respect, and who, like myself, had many of the same personal struggles throughout the presidential campaigns and election process:
Given circumstances and accusations surrounding both Trump and Clinton, how, in good conscience, could I vote for either?
How can I NOT vote, though?
Would it be useless to vote third party? 

The struggles along the way were many, and very real. It caused conflict between myself and friends. I saw division grow among friends and even tear apart families. It's been a long process but today, America has a new leader. 

With so much discontent and revolution, and anarchists (that’s what the media has been calling them, not me) wreaking havoc in our land since the moment election results were in, my eyes have not always been on what should be my focus: God’s Will and furthering His Will – not my own will … not the people’s will.

As I started praying that again today – for God’s Will to be done – immediately what came to my mind were the many news reports and videos that showed the people of Israel on their knees before our election, and especially the day of, praying that “God's appointed leader be put in office as president of the United States”. They stood in solidarity with those words, with that single-minded prayer. And we all saw what happened on election day. There was a turn in the tide and there was a surprising result. After multitudes of God's chosen people praying for God's appointed leader, and millions of Christians praying for God’s appointed leader, how can the results not be His Will? Everyone, even the media, has said it was a miracle that Trump won.
This morning, on November 7th, in Jerusalem, Israel, thousands of believers from all over the world gathered for the Jerusalem Global Gathering (www.watchmen.org). The powerful first session of this global gathering culminated with all of the Americans that were present being asked to gather on the stage in order for all the nations represented to intercede for the US and her national elections.
This was not just a polite prayer of blessings but rather the nations began to cry out, pray in the Spirit and declare freedom over our nation. The Americans on stage dropped to their knees, many weeping, as the Chinese rushed to the stage front to push in prayer. One of our Israeli hosts, Asher Intrater (a Messianic Jewish leader), began to pray out prayers that broke through the spirit realm with power and authority. Source 
I can’t help but think of this verse: Habakkuk 1:5, “Look among the nations and watch — Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

So I shared these thoughts with my friend and, in her wisdom, this is how she responded:

“People are saying ‘what happened?’ God is what happened! The whole election has been an indication of that. Trump’s momentum from day one, and the inability to stop him, no matter how hard people tried (and they sure tried) was crazy. He dismantled the Republican party in less than a year. He won despite layers and layers of corruption, filled with people who would stop at nothing to kill his campaign, credibility, and character. He beat the power-ridden Clinton Machine. It was an historic win that has just stunned so many. I think Trump is going to surprise people. God heard the prayers of His people, not just us in the U.S., but the prayers from the apple of His eye -- Israel. He has given us another chance at redemption as a nation. Sorry, but "the church" has failed miserably in so many major areas. God has shown mercy and forgiveness.
We prayed for God’s Will ... now those prayers cannot cease.
The current administration has done nothing but widen the division. I think it was intentional. Trump’s opponent would have only continued on the same path. I think Trump, once he takes office, will start bridging it. I don't have anything real solid to base that on -- no links, no videos -- just a sense that comes from faith that this has God's fingerprints all over it. Is he going to work wonders and make everyone happy? No way, but he will do what is best overall. He will be a friend to Israel, and that is very connected to the kind of blessings our nation will see.”
Thank you, my friend, for all those words of wisdom.

Throughout history, God used several unlikely, even ungodly leaders to accomplish His purposes. He used King Cyrus for the good of the Jewish people, even though Cyrus was a "pagan" king -- a non-Israelite king who didn’t even know God, who worshipped idols. But God called Cyrus “His Anointed.” In fulfillment of prophecy, the Scriptures record how Cyrus was anointed by God to restore the Jewish people from captivity and to rebuild Jerusalem.

King Nebuchadnezzar was called in Scripture “the servant of God,” and even though he, too, was a pagan king, he was a tool in the hand of God. God raised him up to judge God’s people who had departed from the Lord and had abandoned His word. God also foretold that the king would be lifted up with pride and then would be taken down for seven years to show that God was the one who has all power. After seven years of insanity, Nebuchadnezzar was restored and he testifies of God’s power in Daniel 4:34-35: “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth."



Therefore, we know God can use Trump for the good of America.
We must pray for God’s Will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Pray for Him to have mercy on America!
We must be ONE NATION – not a divided nation -- UNDER GOD.
Let God be God, and only time will tell.



The Scriptures tell us that God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, what is God’s Word for us today, as Americans, during this tumultuous time?

First, SEEK THE TRUTH. Be wise and seek His wisdom. Don’t be swayed by emotion and falsehoods. Ask God to open your eyes to the truth. Examine the Scriptures and align your personal belief system with the Will of God for His people, as gleaned from the Word of God, not from the world. And don’t let your minds and hearts be hardened to the TRUTH. "But the people's minds were hardened ... the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth." 2 Corinthians 3:14


Secondly be obedient to your authority, don’t rebel against it. “What?” you say? “You mean I have to subject myself to the authority of Trump?” Yep. Why? Because the Bible says so:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” — Romans 13:1-2

“Jesus answered [speaking to Pilate], ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’” — John 19:11

“By me kings reign …” — Proverbs 8:15

“… he removes kings, and sets up kings …” — Daniel 2:21

“Then God removed Saul and made David their king …” — Acts 13:22

“No one … can exalt themselves. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.” — Psalms 75:6-7

“…the Most High has power over human kingdoms. He gives them to whomever he wishes.” — Daniel 4:17

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority …” — 1 Peter 2:13


"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." — Psalm 46:10

“Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves… For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.” — Romans 13:2-5


And, thirdly, take these action steps: Be humble. Pray and seek God’s direction for your life and our nation’s. Repent and turn from wickedness.


God’s promise to us?


“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28




Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Childhood Memories of Summer Nights at the Drive-In

Last night I dreamed that my family went to the Twin-City Drive-In Theater. It was more a collection of memories than a dream, I suppose. Those Saturday night adventures were the best of summer family times. 

I felt the excitement of "getting ready to go to the drive-in". Ok, just shoot us -- we were too cheap to buy from the concession stand; Dad owned Morton's Grocery Store (112 Pennsylvania Ave., across the street from Kay's Ice Cream and Oakley-Cook Funeral Home near downtown; anyone from "home" remember it?), so he always
gauged the price of food in wholesale dollars and thought it was highway robbery what they charged for snacks. Mom boiled Valleydale weenies and steamed Kern's buns (both were local businesses) in that old stove-top bread steamer with a brass lid. I'd help her top each with ketchup and wrap them in aluminum foil, then put them all in a large paper bag with lots of napkins. Dad popped the popcorn -- kernels in hot oil, on the stove, not in the microwave (nope, no microwave ovens back then, but there WAS Jiffy Pop, which I'd sometimes be treated to at Mamaw's house). He'd constantly keep that large pan rapidly moving back and forth over the hot eye and knew it was ready when the lid slowly rose above the now-white, fluffy morsels. He'd pour melted butter on top and salt it, and put it in 4 individual grocery store paper bags - one for each of us. (Sarah was just a baby and usually she would stay with one of our grandmothers on drive-in nights but I remember sometimes they brought a small portable playpen for her and Mom would sit outside the car next to it in a folding aluminum chair with colorful webbing.) Anyway, the movie food-prep sometimes included John filling up the cooler with ice and putting in individual glass bottles of soda (2-liter bottles and cans hadn't been introduced yet), and slip a small bottle opener in his pocket. (He was the official bottle-popper ... a very important job!) We usually took our own Kool-Aid or lemonade or sweet tea in a large Tupperware pitcher with Tupperware tumblers, but Dad (getting the drinks wholesale) would sometimes splurge on bottled soda.


John and I would grab our pillows and Mom would gather some blankets. Ok, ready to go! We'd travel the few miles down Volunteer Parkway to the drive-in. We'd always get there an hour early, and Dad made sure to find the BEST spot -- right in the middle, and not too close and not too far back -- and park and re-park the car so all of us had the best angle on the sloped hill, no matter which seat we were in. 


John and I would race (literally) down to the little playground at the very front of the theater, just under the huge white screen. We would laugh and play, usually with other Avoca Elementary School friends who were there with their families, and enjoyed the swings and a slide, a "go-'round" carousel, a couple of see-saws and painted animals on huge spring coils.






As dusk settled around us, the cartoons began! We'd race back to the car and crawl in the back door -- the one without the speaker. (Yes, for you youngins' who have never been to a drive-in, you would take the speaker off the stand, roll down one window half-way and hang the speaker on it.) 


We'd enjoy our hot dogs and popcorn while watching the black and white cartoons and corny commercials. There was always a double feature, and the first movie would be family-oriented, "G-rated" (did they even have ratings back then?). We'd all watch it together, laughing and enjoying our time in those close quarters.




During the break between movies, we were taken to the bathroom in the concession stand building, and if we had behaved very well, we'd sometimes be treated to a candy bar from the concession stand. Then we'd all pile back in the station wagon. John and I were expected to snuggle with our pillows and blankets and sleep in the back while Mom and Dad watched "the adult movie". Probably a "PG-13" type, but I do remember one time when we were a little older (turns out it was 1974; I just Googled it) they showed a more "risqué" movie -- "Blazing Saddles" and Mom and Dad kept us awake with their laughter and John and I peeked above the back seat and secretly watched the entire thing. I smile as I still hear their laughter during this irreverent satirical Western comedy. My brother and I couldn't hold back our own laughter during the farting scene and were busted! John and I felt so sneaky (and proud) that we got to watch that movie.

We'd get home very late and Mom and Dad would wake up two sleepy children, but sometimes I would feign slumber just so Dad would carry me in. :)

Those hot summer nights in Tennessee were among the best growing up, and they also included catching lightnin' bugs, flying June bugs on strings, cranking homemade ice cream, swimming at my Aunt Ruby's house, camping at the lake in our pop-up camper, annual vacations at the beach, eating vegetables from Dad's little garden (and from Ree-Ree's BIG garden) and picking strawberries, grapes and cherries at Mamaw's, ice-cold watermelon, church camp in Unicoi, and running through the sprinkler in the backyard. Thanks to my wonderful parents for the memories. Good times. I miss them. And Dad and John ... I miss you, too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Preparing Our Young People for the Real World


Your baby is all grown up, will soon be finishing high school, and going out into the “real” world. College or their first real job and home away from home is looming in the near future. Are they ready? Are they armed? 


If we don’t focus on teaching our kids responsibility, respect, and character, and give them necessary life tools, we have fallen short as parents and are setting our kids up for failure. If your child isn't prepared, it’s never too late to start shaping them. The goal is teaching skill sets and values; encouraging critical thinking and creativity; and building character, integrity, and maturity -- not expecting perfection or overnight success. Life is a journey, and learning how to live it successfully and happily is a process in learning through trial and error. We need to be the best possible role models and life coaches for our children. They will remember, and appreciate us. It may not be until we’re old, but they will thank us. :)


AT THE AGE OF 18, kids should be honing preparedness for adulthood in these areas:
  • Writing and maintaining a budget. Start with the basics. I taught my son about income, budgeting, and bills by using Monopoly game money and a list of monthly bills so he could tangibly see how it all works. Help them understand and pay bills/financial obligations, having a basic understanding of the economy and their role in it.
  • Balancing their bank account and having a clear knowledge of how credit & debit cards work (finance charges, fees, etc.). Help them open a savings account when young and contribute to it regularly with their own money to understand the value of saving.
  • Preparing a simple, well-balanced, nutritional meal themselves. (COOK, not make a cold sandwich or zap something in the microwave.)
  • Basic courtesy, manners, and etiquette.
  • Holding at least one part-time job. Discourage instant gratification and a sense of entitlement; encourage the value of self-sufficiency and rewards of hard work.
  • Doing laundry (sorting colors/whites, water temps & cycles, stain removal methods, folding, etc.).
  • Performing CPR.
  • Relationship building, to include respect, compromise, communication, trust, values, encouragement, personalities, commonalities and differences, etc.
  • Demonstrating effective communication skills (written and oral). Includes being able to hold an intelligent and articulate conversation with an adult and be able to effectively debate while respecting others’ opinions.
  • Maintaining a clean and tidy room/home, and effectively organizing personal belongings.
  • Completing their own college entrance exam, essay, etc., or job resume and cover letter, with minimal help from parents.
  • Feeling confident in an interview. Role play with the parent or other adults.
  • Expressing themselves emotionally, articulating their feelings.
  • Demonstrating ethical judgment and integrity.
  • Formulating their own personal belief system and be able to express their convictions of faith.
  • Possessing intercultural skills, communicating and having respect for others who differ from them in race/ ethnicity/culture/nationality, religious and political values, etc.

  • Showing an interest in giving back to the community. Get them involved, take them with you to volunteer
    opportunities.
  • Having good study skills and understand researching and filtering information to effectively source and cite factual information.
  • Having personally written and sent hand-written thank-you letters/cards via postal mail.
  • Showing respect for authority – adults, teachers, law enforcement, political leaders, etc.
  • Realizing it's OK to fail. Every mistake or wrong decision is a learning experience.
  • Confidence in themselves and others. Teach them to express their individuality, and that what their peers think about them shouldn't matter too much, as long as they are authentic to themselves.
  • Practicing and valuing effective time management, prioritizing, and calendaring.
  • Effective problem-solving, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning. Present real-world challenges and talk through and coach them how to effectively solve a problem. Role play with different problem–solving scenarios/challenges and options, regarding such issues as relationships, physical, intellectual, social, emotional, educational, etc.
  • Demonstrating creativity and innovation.



Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas Miracle ... a True Story by Santa Mark



The Christmas Miracle

A true story written by Susan Morton Leonard, as told to her by her husband, Santa Mark Leonard


It is so humbling to realize that –- as flawed and ordinary as we are -- God can use us in miraculous ways. This very special story represents the magic and glory of the season. This is a true story, as told to me by my husband, who was a professional Santa Claus, of a real Christmas miracle which he was blessed to have experienced. A story that I think will cause YOU to believe ...


Thank you, Dr. Lisa Christiansen, for having your team create this video. They used the audio version of this story (below), created by WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio, and photos from our "The Christmas Miracle, a True Story by Santa Mark" Facebook page*. 



For the audio version of the story, click on the audio icon below,
courtesy of 
WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI*:



Here is the podcast of the radio interview 12/21/15 with WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI, featuring Talk Show Host and Operations Manager Tim Bremel, Santa Mark Leonard, Susan Morton Leonard, and Dr. Lisa Christiansen:



The Christmas Miracle ... a True Story by Santa Mark

In December 1997, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. "Who is this?" asked Santa, smiling. "Your friend? Your sister?" 

"Yes, Santa," he replied. "My sister, Sarah, who is very sick," he said sadly.

Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

"She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!" the child exclaimed. "She misses you," he added softly.

Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy's face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the Grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted.

"What is it?" Santa asked warmly.

"Well, I know it's really too much to ask you, Santa, but …” the woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa's elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. "The girl in the photograph, my granddaughter ... well, you see ... she has leukemia and isn't expected to make it even through the holidays," she said through tear-filled eyes. "Is there any way, Santa, any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That's all she's asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa."

Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. "What if it were MY child lying in that hospital bed, dying," he thought with a sinking heart, "this is the least I can do."

When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children's Hospital. "Why?" Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.

Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah's grandmother earlier that day. "C'mon, I'll take you there," Rick said softly.

Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in.  Rick said he would wait out in the hall.

Billy Ray, Miley Cyrus and Santa Mark
Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah on the bed. The room was full of what appeared to be her family – there was the Grandmother and the girl's brother he had met earlier that day. A woman whom he guessed was Sarah's mother stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah's thin hair off her forehead. And another woman who he discovered later was Sarah's aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.

Taking a deep breath, and forcing a smile on his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, "Ho, ho, ho!"

"Santa!" shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him, IV tubes in tact.

Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug.  A child the tender age of his own son – 9 years old – gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore telltale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force himself to choke back tears. Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah's face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room.

As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa's shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering "thank you" as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she told him excitedly all the toys she wanted for Christmas, assuring him she'd been a very good girl that year. As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl's mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah's bed, holding hands. Santa looked intently at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels.

"Oh, yes, Santa, I do!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I'm going to ask that angels watch over you," he said.

Laying one hand on the child's head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah, and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.  The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, and tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah's frail, small hands in his own.

"Now, Sarah," he said authoritatively, "you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!" He knew it was risky proclaiming that, to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he had to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could – not dolls or games or toys – but the gift of HOPE.

Richard Gere and Santa Mark
"Yes, Santa!" Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright.

He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room. Out in the hall, the minute Santa's eyes met Rick's, a look passed between them and they wept unashamed. Sarah's mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa's side to thank him.

"My only child is the same age as Sarah," he explained quietly. "This is the least I could do." They nodded with understanding and hugged him.

One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his six-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. "Hi, Santa! Remember me?"

"Of course, I do," Santa proclaimed, as he always does, smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a ‘good’ Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the ‘only’ child in the world at that moment.

"You came to see me in the hospital last year!"

Santa's jaw dropped.  Tears immediately sprang in his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. "Sarah!" he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy – much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah's mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.

That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed – and been blessed to be instrumental in bringing about – this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well.

He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, "Thank you, Father. 'Tis a very, Merry Christmas!


© 2000-2015 Susan Morton Leonard

All content in this blog post is copyrighted and may not be copied, used or distributed, whole or in part, without written permission. However, sharing of the URL http://susans-sea-of-dreams.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-miracle.html is permissable.






Santa Mark was a natural-bearded, professional Santa Claus 1993-2003 in Danbury, CT; Franklin, TN; Wauwatosa, WI; and Long Island, NY. Santa Mark was blessed to have been featured as Santa Claus on The Green Bay Packers’ Christmas Special, a syndicated "Pack Attack" TV special taped at Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, Lombardi, in Milwaukee in 1999.  He enjoyed being asked to portray Santa Claus, with scripted lines, in Nashville for the Billy Gilman Classic Christmas TV special which aired in 2000 on TNN. Santa Mark was voted "The Best Santa in the Greater Milwaukee Area" from 1995-1999 (five years in a row) by radio station WOKY through a listener call-in poll. He has also been featured in many local newspapers and by local TV stations in each city where he has served as Santa, and additionally in Knoxville, TN, where we lived most of those 11 years while he was "Santa". While these were wonderful experiences and are fond memories, the single most significant occurrence during Mark's time as Santa (and in his entire life) was when God used Mark in a true Christmas Miracle that we are so humbled to share with you above. God can use all of us, as ordinary and flawed as we are. We are mere vessels through which the Holy Spirit can operate in this physical realm. This experience has blessed us beyond measure! May God bless each and every one of you and have a very Merry Christmas!








* Thank you, WCLO News-Talk-Sports Radio in Janesville, WI, for contacting us to do an on-air interview next week to share our "The Christmas Miracle" story.  Thank you, Timothy W. Bremel, WCLO Operations Manager / Talk Show Host, for being so gracious and kind, and for your desire to bless your listeners with this uplifting story. We asked our new friend, Dr. Lisa Christiansen, to join WCLO Radio for this on-air interview. She featured our story on her Facebook Fan Page on Dec. 7, 2015, and at present, in just nine days,  it has reached more than 50 million people, has been shared more than 200,000 times, and has more than 100,000 "Likes". Wow, amazing! ISN'T GOD GOOD? :)  Dr. Lisa is a best-selling author, life coach, motivational speaker, business consultant, and personal empowerment expert. After the segment airs, we will post a link to it. Thank you, WCLO, for producing an audio narration of the story, which was used in the subsequent making of a video by Dr. Lisa. Both are at the top of this page. 
-- Susan Leonard 12/16/15








This story is featured, along with other heartwarming stories, in the hardback book Christmas Miracles. 
Guideposts, New York; 2008 ISBN 978-0-8249-4742-2 (pp. 204-210) and can be purchased here: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Miracles-Various/dp/0824947428


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Saturday, March 27, 2010

My 22-year-old son is moving back home ...

My son is moving back home. He'll be 22 in a few weeks. I know you're wondering how I feel about this. After all, I've been an empty-nester for more than a year.

I am glad he's coming home. Ecstatic, actually.

We get along very well. Thank God he's not 17 anymore. 17 was a bad year. To use his own words, he had a lot of hormones he didn't know what to do with. And no, we're not talking about fixating on girls ... not those kind of hormones. The raging, I mean raging ones. He was über rebellious, defiant, and disrespectful. He is none of that now. He is thoughtful, loving, respectful. He is now five years older and wiser. And so am I.

He doesn't "cramp our style." The three of us still will live our lives pretty much the same, as far as having our own schedules, coming and going as we pretty much please.

So what will change? A lot. Unable to sleep until I know he's safely at home. No matter how old he is, I will always worry about him. He delivers pizzas for a living, is constantly on the road, and regularly pulls the closing shift. Yes, I will worry. And I will wait.

The noise. Ohhhh the noise. :) Loud music booming from downstairs. Loud TV coming from downstairs. Bedroom and bathroom doors and cabinet doors and refrigerator doors and microwave oven doors, all shutting loudly.

Cabinet doors left open. My bedroom door left open during the day (subjecting my belongings to the cat and dog). Lights left on. Lights shining in my bedroom from the hallway at 3 a.m. (I do not like to have my bedroom door closed at night.)

Higher electric, water, and food bills. Oh, and of course, we MUST upgrade to AT&T's U-verse so he can have the latest in HDTV fiber-optics, all the premium channels, and faster internet. Old fogey speed and no high-def just doesn't cut it.

Do I sound like I'm complaining? I'm not. :)

Our washer and dryer will return to getting a daily workout. Clothes will be left strewn around the bathroom, the living room, the kitchen. There will be stumbling over size 14 boats shoes left in the hallway. Dishes and empty bottles and cans will be scattered around his room.

Yes, all signs that my boy is home. :) 

Ever since he moved out, this house has seemed empty. Silent. And there's a constant, impending sense of unfulfilled anticipation. I've thought about converting his large bedroom with gigantic walk-in closet and french doors leading to the fenced-in yard. A work-out room would be nice. Another office (since the one upstairs has been completely overtaken by hub's pack-rat "stuff"). A den. But, instead, it has remained just the way he left it. Including his full-size fridge, still uncleaned. (Hey, it's his kitchen! I have my own to clean up here!) But we won't go there; I'll spare you the details.

And there are lots of ways this arrangement will be beneficial to all three of us. He will be paying the difference in cost to get U-verse, yet we will all benefit. In fact, we get a huge credit to bundle, so he's upgrading to a 4G I-Phone and giving me his 3G I-Phone, woo-hoo! He will help with cleaning the litter box and taking out the trash. He'll help carry in the groceries and will be able to lift heavy things for me and reach tall things and change light bulbs (he's 6'3" and doesn't need a ladder). He can cook ... very well! He'll empty the dishwasher (when I ask and he has enough time). I can holler downstairs, "Corey, will you put the clothes in the dryer, please?" and save myself a trip up and down the stairs. I know by now that, "Sure, Mom!" means "remind me again in 10 minutes."

Yes, my adult son is moving home. And continuing college. And working (nearly) full-time. Sacrifices will have to be made ... by all of us. But I couldn't be happier. My boy is HOME. MY boy is home. :)