Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas, Grace & Molly

This is Molly.  Her glasses are broken, her nose is a bit scuffed and her sweater has been snagged on numerous occasions.  Collector's item, she is not.

I love her.

I love her for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because of the way she came to me.  It's one of my favorite stories.  I want to share it with you.

I was 10 years old that Christmas.  The entire year I had poured over the American Girl catalog and I knew Molly was my girl.  She had glasses (like me), she could be a bit clumsy (like me), and she was always daydreaming (like me!).  I had read every one of her books from the library and had started saving my money so I could have her as my very own.

As Christmas approached, I knew the only thing I wanted was Molly.  But I also knew she probably wasn't in the budget.  The 7th little Zeller had been born that year and my mom had undergone surgery on her wrists.  I didn't know any of the budget details (my parents rarely talked about money) but in my heart I knew that $85 spent just on me would be a stretch.  So I decided to become enthusiastic about a (much cheaper) toy horse set I had seen at the local grocery store.  I even told Mom it was what I wanted for my "big present" and that I didn't want anything else.  But for some reason, I kept my hopes up.  Mom knew me well and surprises do happen at Christmas!

Christmas morning came and we rushed down the stairs to tear into our stockings.  I noticed a box about the size of the horses underneath the tree and I had a small sinking feeling.  "It's okay,"  I thought, trying to work up excitement through my disappointment.  Our parents woke to join their squealing brood and after we settled down and Mom put the traditional sticky buns in the oven, we sat to open our presents.

I don't remember the exact order, since I was oldest I probably was last.  When my turn came, I had decided to do this courageously and not show a speck of disappointment.

As I tore off the paper and saw the "American Girl" emblem on the box, I was in shock.  "It's HER!!"  I screamed as the rest of the paper flew off and I pulled up the lid.  On top of my precious Molly doll was a letter addressed to me in a strange hand.  Before I could touch Molly, I read what it said,

Dear Hannah,
There is a woman in the Bible with whom you share a very special name.  She wanted something in her heart so badly that she prayed and prayed and finally received her answer in the form of her son, Samuel.

When your Mommy mentioned your heart's desire to me, I began to pray that God would somehow honor your request. He moved my heart to provide this special gift for you, His special child.

When you see this gift, I'd like for you to remember the grace of our loving God.  You did not have to work for this gift, nor do you deserve it.  It is simply given to you, in the same way God's love is given to you.

Hannah, you are precious to God and to me.  God bless you, this Christmas and always!

With much love!

Mrs. Pizzi

I was in shock.  Me?  Why had a family friend chosen me?  At the age of 10, I was just beginning to not like myself.  My stick straight hair bobbed at the shoulders, thick glasses and crooked teeth.  I wasn't artistic like my sister, Marie.  I didn't do well in school like my sister, Heidi.  I wasn't even cute and charming like Clara.  Why me?

And I asked my Mom, "Why me?" She responded, "Mrs. Pizzi was the eldest in her family, too.  She wanted you to have Molly."  And while the tears came, I ran upstairs to write a thank you note, all other presents forgotten.

I carried Molly everywhere for months.  Her hair became ratty with all the brushing it received and her clothes saw many washes after playing outside.  As the years have passed, she has spent more time in a wicker basket, joined by other childhood treasures.  But even after she has been replaced by my other pursuits and now real dollies of my own, I will never, ever forget how special I felt that Christmas.

But the truth is, every second of every day, I am loved even more.  God didn't just give me a Molly doll, which He certainly did through dear Mrs. Pizzi, He gave me His life.

He gave up being King of the Universe and became a person.  A baby that could be cold and hungry, a boy that could fall and scrape his knee, a man that could be hated and then killed in the most excruciating way possible.  

Christmas is a cozy, joyful time.  I love it.  But the crazy grace and love shown to us by our God at Christmas should not only make us feel cozy and joyful, but leave us spellbound, not understanding, running to say thank you.

And asking "Why me?"

Because we did not have to work for this Gift, nor do we deserve it.

It's the grace of our loving God.

Molly is now loved by another little girl, my little girl.  But the letter I opened and read in disbelief so many years ago I have stored away in a special memory box to cherish forever.  I read it every Christmas.


Heidi said...

Tears are streaming down my face as I read you precious account of this amazing gift which exemplifies the greatest gift of all! Mrs. Pizzi and her dear son Tim blessed all of our lives. I remember her taking us to see the Hallelujah Chorus, I think of her every time I sing "Oh what a beautiful morning" remembering that she told me that she sang "Everything's going God's way," and whenever I have hot chocolate with mints around, I remember how Tim taught us to put mints in our hot chocolate during that last Christmas he was alive and came to give us all presents, which included green Christmas tree ornaments with our names written in gold glitter glue. Truly people who showed us God's love.

M.K. said...

Hannah, I cried. The story of that wonderful Christmas years ago is beautiful, but the fact that a woman's gift to you is still reaping spiritual fruit all these years later -- that Molly is still working :) -- that's more amazing still.

Phil said...

Hello, Hannah. You don't know me, but your mother does. I was at Covenant with your Mom and married one of your mother's roommates. I just wanted you to know that your Molly story touched my heart. What a beautiful story of how God provided you with a special gift and how it was not deserved just as He has provided us with an amazingly special gift that we do not deserve. Thank you for bringing Christmas joy to my heart. By the way, I have a daughter named Hannah who is about the same age as you. When she was about 10 years old, her only birthday wish was for a Molly doll. She got her as a gift from us with the sailor outfit. 17 years later, I can still vividly remember her joy. A few years before that she had survived Leukemia and the necessary treatments for it at St. Jude. How thankful we were to be able to celebrate another birthday with her then. How thankful we are that we are still able to celebrate birthdays and Christmases with her. I lost both of my parents this year (same day, two different illnesses). So Christmas will be different for us and maybe even a little difficult. But I am so thankful that it is Christ we celebrate and our focus will be on Him. Again, thank you for your wonderful story. You are a gifted writer. Blessings to you and to all of your family.

Mary said...

Hannah, thanks so much for this incredible story! Just wanted you to know that we were supposed to bring something to share to our ladies' Bible study Christmas breakfast. I didn't have anything prepared, but God knew that your story would be posted. And that I would be awake at 3 a.m. the morning of the meeting because of the wind. And finally that I would come upon this story, which I read, cried over, and printed out. It was the perfect story to share, and touched many hearts. Thanks so much!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Hannah this is Lindsay Rehmert and this made me cry too. I thank God for using this story to touch my heart as well. What a story! I agree that you're a gifted writer :) . I'm so glad that God used that in your life. I love you!

Gumbo Lily said...

A true gift from the heart. Thanks for sharing it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Hannah Beezer, Your story & the comments have touched me deeply. Not sure just what else to say, except that I am praying for your safety and that the Lord will abundantly bless your 'ministry' there in the mountains. I really enjoy the stories & photos you send on FB. Much Love, Oma