“Socks and handkerchiefs!” Caleb really seemed to look excited. Maybe it was because I’d splurged and gotten him the heavy duty socks. It was Day 7 and he seemed to be getting into my gift-giving again. Somewhere around day 3, something had happened. I don’t know if he was feeling guilty because he was the only one opening gifts or if it was embarrassing him...so I told him I didn’t have to keep doing the 12 days. But he quickly assured me that he liked it. And then I didn’t know if he was just trying not to hurt my feelings...but I wanted to keep doing it, so I did! And honestly...Satan did keep trying to get me to take the bait of feeling left out. But when that thought would come in, I’d just tell Satan “NO!” out loud. I sure was glad no one was around to hear me.
The gift for the 3rd day came from my Bible study in I Chronicles 4–of all places! Two little verses tucked in that chapter talk about Jabez whose name meant “pain.” He prayed a prayer asking God to expand his territory and redeem his name. So...I decided to google the meaning of Caleb’s names and hand letter it on beautiful paper. Caleb Bartholomew Steadman. I typed “meaning of name Caleb” and up popped the meaning of his name! His middle name came from his grandfather whom he adored so he was pretty proud of that fact. I couldn’t believe it when I uncovered the meanings of his name: “Loyal Friend—Ploughman—Farmer” No wonder he liked farming—it was in his spiritual DNA and who God created him to be! So I used all of that information when I wrote a prayer for Caleb to go with the print. I even asked God to expand Caleb’s territory like Jabez prayed. “God, would you give him his farm?” I know he loved that gift because I often found him reading the note again when he was relaxing in front of the TV.
I’d also been busy advertising for A Lotta Latte. We already had 5000 followers on Facebook and it was still growing. I told Sam, “My goal is to gain 70,000 followers.” After his eyes almost popped out of his head, I assured him, “I know that sounds like a lot—but that’s not even half of the city you serve, much less the surrounding area.” Sam seemed to be the one with the most ideas while Lynn was his support and encouragement. And she made his ideas come to life. He’d often call me with new promotions. “Hey Merry! Lynn and I are thinking about adding soup and sandwiches to the coffee we already serve. The coffee’s selling great but Lynn has these dynamite soup recipes from her grandmother. What do you think?”
“I think that’s a great idea! The timing is perfect with the cold weather we’re having,” I said. “When you get a menu figured out, let me know and I’ll post it on social media. I think your traffic from this will surprise you. Oh! And Sam? You really need to think about creating a website now. I know someone who is really good and isn’t expensive.” There was a short pause and then Sam replied, “Send me his info. If we’re going to do this, we need to do it right!”
I certainly hadn’t forgotten about the 12 Days of Christmas with God. I wanted to give him spur-of-the-moment gifts. I know it didn’t make sense, but I felt like the less I thought about it, I could keep it secret from him longer. The first opportunity came when I stood behind a harried young mom in the grocery check-out line. Her baby was crying and she was desperately digging through her purse for five more dollars to pay for her groceries. I handed the cashier $5 and looked at the young mom and said, “Merry Christmas!” I thought she was going to cry. Her baby had even stopped crying as the mom settled down. “Thank you so much! I was panicked. That’s never happened to me before and...well, thank you!” I looked up at God as I walked to my car and said, “Merry Christmas!”
Another time (I think it was Day 3), I’d tried a super easy recipe I’d seen on Facebook. In fact, it was called “No-Fail Enchiladas.” It said to buy a can of enchilada sauce, frozen taquitos, and cheddar cheese. Pour half of the sauce in the 9x12 pan, add taquitos, the rest of the sauce, and top with cheese. I’d even made rice and (canned) beans to go with the meal. It smelled heavenly. I was hoping for a culinary success. And just as we were sitting down to eat, George (a lonely widower from our church) knocked on our door. “Preacher, I’ve come to tell you our prayers have been answered! My boy who’d gone to jail found Jesus there.” As Caleb was celebrating with George, I poked my head around the corner and pointed at George and gave a little eating signal. Caleb picked up on it and slapped George on the back and said, “George, how would you like to eat with us? We’re having some of Merry’s enchiladas.” “Don’t mind if I do. But just so you know, I didn’t mean to come at supper time,” George replied. He and Caleb were laughing as they walked into the dining room and I went to the kitchen to get an extra plate. I was so happy I had a no-fail meal to serve him. I laughed in my heart and told God, “Merry Christmas! And...thanks for the recipe!”
Since I was spending more time on Facebook with A Lotta Latte’s ads, I was seeing all kinds of things. One of those things was an adorable children’s Christmas play. It was so simple. I think I’d found my next gift for God. I decided to give Jessa a call. She was the young mom who did most of the organizing of our children’s ministry. “Jessa? I think I have an idea for our kiddos for Christmas. Tell me what you think...”