Since I was a young girl, I always believed in miracles, especially at Christmastime. Being raised in a Christian family, I knew what the meaning of 'that' special day was meant to be, and I have raised my own family to know this truth, too. But truly living the meaning of a miracle in my own life is what this story is about.
I've been an Area Director for the Women Marines Association for less than two years. Although a member for ten years, I knew nothing about the organization because I was too busy with life to go to meetings to learn more. I didn't want to say 'yes' when I was asked to be an Area Director. In fact, I declined several times, stating that I didn't have the knowledge or experience for a position so great. But, I now believe that my Almighty God had other plans for me. You see, my husband and I have come to believe that it's sometimes God doing the asking, and He often uses funny ways to communicate to us, like asking me to do something over and over again. My husband reminded me of this.
After serving as Area Director and meeting many other sister Marines along the way this past year in New England and New York state, I now believe that God designed me for this duty, and specifically for this time. It turns out, my life as a mother of six and now a grandmother of 13, a 24-year career as a Marine and leader, followed by an eight-year tour as a Director of Admissions for a school, along with a lifetime of being a volunteer for various community and veteran organizations, were the perfect ingredients for what God was asking of me. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses far better than I, and has stretched me far beyond what I ever dreamed possible.
With the understanding that my duties as Area Director were primarily to recruit and retain new members in this aging Area for the Women Marines Association, I knew I could do it, but I was unsure how I would find the time to do it well. In the process of introducing myself to over 200 members in my Area, I discovered many sister Marines in the new generation of women warriors who are severely struggling with their identity as a Marine veteran as they transition back to civilian life in their communities. For many, this struggle has led to estrangement with family, friends and employers. This estrangement has led to homelessness, and for some, suicide.
Prayer is a powerful part of my day. It wasn't always this way, but it certainly is now. I pray for wisdom, courage, discernment, patience, etc. all the time throughout my days. What I've learned through all this, is God really does hear my prayers. Of course, many times I find myself arguing with God and asking, "Are you serious?", or "I don't think so!", or "I'm too busy, it's Christmas!"
Fast forward to this Christmas season. Through my position as Area Director, I had the opportunity to meet three sister Marines who needed a friend, and a lot of help. The third Marine, from my Area, was introduced via social media, and was pleading for help on the internet. I wanted to ignore the post, but His spirit pushed me to respond to her anyway. I felt guilty that I was actually hoping that she wouldn't respond to my response. But the next morning, she responded by saying she needed to talk to me. This was one week before Christmas. I'm busy, remember? But then, I paused and reflected that this whole duty as Area Director was divinely inspired by God in the first place.
I gave this Marine my phone number and it didn't take long for her to call me. Our conversation was direct and to the point of me asking what can I do for her. She is a mom of five young children, four from her ex-husband. The ex-husband had temporary custody of their four children because she had been in a homeless situation. She and her fiancé had a baby together (#5), and they had finally found a two-bedroom apartment, in a "not-so friendly" part of the city. It wasn't ideal, but they could now welcome home her other four children if she could show that she was "getting her house in order" to assume this responsibility once again with her children.
While we chatted on the phone, all she was asking for was a refrigerator. She couldn't resume custody of her four children until she had a refrigerator. I promised her that I would see what I could do. After all, "Marines take care of their own." I wasn't sure how I was going to help, but the words flowed out of my mouth anyway in my promise to her. I paused and reflected once again with God's divine inspiration in my life. I have learned many times in my life that in order to receive a miracle, sometimes I have to let myself be the miracle, as my destiny may be connected to helping others.
I reached out to two veteran organizations, asking if they had any connections to helping this needy Marine veteran. After several days, we were about ready to settle for a small dorm-size refrigerator from one of the veteran contacts, when one of my brother Marines from the Marine Corps League said he had a full-size refrigerator in his garage that he'd be willing to donate. God is good and we rejoiced with this blessing! My sister Marine will have a refrigerator for Christmas and have her children home again!
But the story doesn't end here. How do I get this wonderful gift to her when she lives over an hour away? By this time, I am now four days away from Christmas! Marines are known to adapt and overcome obstacles. The title "Marine" comes with great responsibility and it never leaves you. So I "strapped on my boots" and made phone calls to arrange the pick-up and delivery of a refrigerator, which turns out to be a very large one weighing nearly 300 pounds.
I have a 4-wheel drive SUV that can tow. Check. My husband (Marine veteran) is willing to help me with this mission. Check. Our friend is willing to loan us his trailer. Check. My son (also a Marine veteran) is willing to help load the refrigerator onto the trailer. Check. After several phone calls back and forth, it is determined that this large fridge will fit in the apartment and we can move it since they live on the first floor. Check. I have a plan and we are all ready to execute the plan the next morning to give my Marine her miracle.
We awake early to a favorable weather report that is sunny and 20 degrees for D-day. My husband leaves to go pick up the trailer only to find out it is a commercial-grade trailer and too big for our SUV. He comes home with no trailer. So we adapt and overcome (again) as we begin calling various places to rent a trailer for the day. Due to certain restrictions with one company who had the trailer available, we couldn't tow it on our SUV. My son, who had offered to help load the fridge, now offered his SUV for us to use because his vehicle did not have the same restrictions. With the three of us being Marines, we all simultaneously embraced this problem together and quickly came up with a solution.
We showed up with the trailer in tow at my brother Marine's home to load the donated refrigerator. This plan is now working and this miracle is going to happen. My husband and I then began our journey to an area in the city that is known for high crime with gangs and thugs. Being country people, we both were uncomfortable with this part of the journey, but neither of us said a word about it. I shared several text communications with my sister Marine while en route about our arrival time and she was very excited. She was borrowing a car to pick up her children, but would return before our arrival.
We rolled into her neighborhood on schedule -- trailer and fridge in tow -- and find there is only street parking and no room for a SUV with a trailer. The road was so narrow on this one-way street. Also, my sister Marine is not there, and I can't reach her by phone. We discover that the apartment she's in is an old dual apartment house. Although she is located on the first floor, there are six steps to the front door. We finally get parked and we are pondering what we should do with this refrigerator. "Adapt and overcome" is the only option. We refused to come all this way and not complete the mission. So, we begin readying the fridge for unloading with the plan that the two of us will move it across the street and up six steps to the front porch. That's the least we could do for that day, given the circumstances.
To my delight, I heard my name called by a woman getting out of a car with a bunch of kids down the street. She had her hands full indeed! I met her and took the baby, and together we walk up to her apartment with her five children. Her fiancé just arrived from the other direction, to my relief. I began to feel this miracle just might work.
I returned to my husband, who was now ready to take the refrigerator off the trailer. It was on a dolly, so I grabbed one end to help guide it off the trailer as my husband managed the weight of this large refrigerator. He was my hero that day. I don't know where either of us got the strength that day, but we managed to get the fridge moved off the trailer, across the road, up the curb and to the porch with the six steps yet ahead of us.
I doubted that we could move this thing another inch. As much as I was pushing and my husband was pulling, it wasn't moving up those steps. My sister Marine's fiancé finally came outside to help after getting the kids settled, but we just couldn't budge it up those steps. My miracle just got stuck! I'm thinking that after all we've been through this week with making this miracle real for my sister Marine, we were going to end up stuck before getting it into her apartment. Then I remembered that this was God-inspired all along so I asked God to guide me in this stuck moment.
As I prayed and I pushed, while feeling uncomfortable in this neighborhood, I looked up to see walking down the street toward us these four big "thugs", or "gang members", or just "scary looking guys." My husband saw them too. Before we could blink, one of them said, "Hey, do you need some help?" All I could say was, "You've just become our Christmas Angels!" My Marine husband jumped into gear and before I knew it, these four Christmas Angels, the fiancé and my husband had the refrigerator on the porch. I was elated that my miracle was back in play.
Not so fast! It didn't fit in the door! But that didn't stop this miracle team. The fiancé, the Christmas Angels and my husband all started taking the front doors and hallway doors off the hinges and removing the doors off the fridge. I watched all this happen, with a heart full of joy at this blessing -- this team of six men all working together as one to get this refrigerator inside for my Marine sister. She helped too, as Marines like to do, and the five kids are inside and being obedient to their Marine mom's instructions to stay out of the way. I was trapped outside and freezing in the 20-degree weather, feeling useless as I watched my miracle come true.
Needless to say, the refrigerator finally made it into her small apartment with the amazing extra help of these four Christmas Angels. I followed the refrigerator inside watched all the doors be re-attached, and I checked on the five children. The oldest child told me he was so excited to be with his mom and to have this refrigerator. I don't know if this little boy will ever know the miracle that just happened for his mom that day.
My "Marine Corps Miracle" involved many Christmas Angels acting without hesitation over the course of a week to help just one Marine. I asked my Marine sister about the guys that showed up and she said she's never seen them before. I said to my Christmas Angels thugs as they were leaving, "Thank you for being a Christmas miracle." They all smiled, and as quick as they came, they were gone.