The past few weeks have been a winter of miracles for me, and I wish to express my wonder and gratitude. One of the top blessings was the baptism of a friend of ours who experienced a series of small miracles as she was rescued from a life of disaster with the help of a sweet LDS family. There are so many aspects to the story that led them to reach out to her at just the right time. The family felt inspired to offer their help and take on the risk and burden of bringing her across the country into their home, where her life has radically, wonderfully changed. The LDS family did not push her to attend church and offered to take her to the local congregation of her former faith, but she experienced a series of small miracles once she exercised the faith to attend with them and again when she chose to meet with some great sister missionaries. Though I could not be there, her baptism is one of the highlights of the year for me, a story of miracles, of charity, and of the power of Atonement to reach and bless those who might seem beyond hope.
Other surprise blessings occurred with a surprise trip to Atlanta, Georgia at the request of my employer in order to attend an industry-related meeting. Being in Atlanta for that meeting allowed me to attend a technical conference during the same week that led to serendipitous encounters with important new technologies and companies that have already been of great importance in making my work more fruitful and productive. I can’t go into the details, but so many valuable things on different fronts came out of those few brief days in Atlanta, where I was also able to meet many good friends, make many new friends, solve pressing gadget problems, and attend the Atlanta Temple. It was a week of miracles that continues to bless my life and career.
As I write, I am in the Midwest, spending time with family and having a marvelous Christmas time. Among the many small miracles I’ve experienced here has been the miracle of education as I rejoice in the advances I see in my grandchildren, thanks to the diligence of their parents in teaching them. Whatever you think you might know about home schooling could well be challenged if you were to observe the teaching done by a daughter-in-law of mine. Simply amazing what children can learn and do with sound techniques and good tutelage.
I was especially impressed with the language abilities of my 8-year-old granddaughter, who surprised me by not only being able to anticipate a pun I was setting up in one of the silly stories I like to tell, but, unlike most adults, showed remarkable intelligence and sophistication by actually laughing at my jokes.
To help you appreciate this little wonder, I’ll explain that the story I was telling involves Yog the Caveman, an ancient man from roughly 100,000 years ago who now lives in Wisconsin and tries his best to cope with the modern world. In this story, my granddaughter had kindly been helping him with English, and had explained the meaning of “ex” as in ex-friend, ex-wife, and ex-employer. Something that used to be but isn’t now. Then, in the story, she also helps Yog make progress with personal hygiene, and congratulates him on not being so stinky anymore. Then Yog, realizing that he used to be stinky but now isn’t, suddenly quits smiling and begins to sob. As I told the story, my granddaughter started laughing vigorously at this point, and said, “Oh, he’s crying because he thinks he’s gone extinct. Ex-stinky, extinct.” Based on a lifetime of experience telling bad puns, I was flabbergasted. She saw it coming too quickly. Most of my adult victims don’t get the jokes that early, and some never do. But to go beyond just getting the joke and to actually laugh heartily, while not exactly a first, was still quite a surprise. Someone anticipated my joke and then laughed at it. Yes, this has been a month of miracles.
May you all see the occasional hand of the Lord in the small blessings and sometimes miracles that we receive from Him, even in the midst of trouble and pain. His greatest miracles began with what may seem to some to have been among the smallest and humblest of gifts, the birth of a baby in a manger 2,000 years ago. Merry Christmas!