Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not Christmas As Usual

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013
sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network.

Be sure to visit as many links as possible,
listed at the bottom of this post.

It isn’t going to be Christmas as usual for many Filipinos this year.  There won’t be bright lights dangling on Christmas trees or even homes to decorate.  There will be missing family members.  There are hearts lingering in despair and tempted to believe Jesus has abandoned them or that Jesus never came.

This pressing situation bequeathes our family with unique opportunities to spend a meaningful Advent as we vacation in the Philippines.  So on the Eve of Advent, I visited an evacuation center where victims of Haiyan/Yolanda were indefinitely housed.  A group of friends and I prayed for the refugees, distributed rosaries (which disappeared as fast as the latest i-phones), and randomly spoke with some families to determine what they needed.

A glowing young mother holding a newborn caught my eye.  She passed on the baby to the baby’s grandmother and timidly, I asked her if I could hold her baby. Lord have mercy, I couldn’t help myself.  I bawled like a baby when she graciously laid him in my arms and told me that he was born, just last week. I apologized for my tears and explained that I’d miscarried on the day her grandson was born.

“You are blessed to have a baby to hold,”  I said.

She agreed and then eagerly shared her harrowing tale. They’d been relocated to a three story warehouse before the storm. When the storm surge hit and the waters rose, they were instructed to climb up the roof.  She and her entire family were holding on for dear life and what she said choked out more sobs out of me.

“I was very thankful that if we were going to die, we were all together,” she said.  “And then after we were safe, I was thankful we made it out of Tacloban and that a kind doctor came and asked if my daughter wanted to have the baby in her clinic.”

When I got ahold of myself, I asked the mother what she needed and she responded that some baby clothes and diapers would be much appreciated. I promised to return with my children to give out diapers and baby clothes to her and some other mothers with babies.  I’ve always loved the concept of an Advent baby shower for Jesus, which we did last year by donating diapers to our local pro-life center.   But an Advent Baby Shower for this particular baby would be explosively significant for me.

When I got up to go, the grandmother with remarkable gratitude attitude had the compassion to comfort me:  “In God’s mercy, you will have your own baby to hold someday.”

I went to the evacuation center thinking I was so blessed to have skirted the disaster of a typhoon but clearly, the grandmother and her daughter had something I wanted: a baby, who like Jesus, brings faith, hope and charity. Through them, God gave me the precious gift of what Advent is about: waiting in grateful, joyful hope. 

I hope you find it in your hearts to give generously to the typhoon victims this Advent and pray that they never, ever lose hope. God will surely return your blessing a hundredfold.


Visit these participating blogs for awesome posts about Keeping Christ in Christmas!

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas
Simply Homeschool  Living Advent Series 12/1 - 12/25
Coffee Moments with Sam     The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others
Mommy Bares All       Why Celebrate Christmas Even After #YolandaPH

Canadian Catholic Mom         Keeping The Little Ones Focused: An Advent Link-Up
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling   Keep Christ in Christmas
Em’s Estuary: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos        Keep Christ in Christmas
Embedded Faith          Boldly Be the Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home         Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats

Training Happy Hearts            10 Ways to Celebrate the New Liturgical Year
Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
Catholic Inspired: Faith-Centered Family Christmas
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy        Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss     Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller      Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea     Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk       Keeping Christ in Christmas
Journey Living: Anno Domini
Our ABC Life:  An Advent Update


canadiancatholicmom said...

What an incredible story!If I am ever in a disaster like that, I pray I have their compassion for others, their strength to survive, and their hope for a better day.
May God continue to watch over you and those you are helping!

Cyndi Marlow said...

Wow. What a blessing you are. Thank you for the reminder to pray for the victims of this disaster who will be mourning and celebrating this Christmas. You are BEING the Christ in Christmas this year. Thank you for sharing. Cyndi (fellow Keep Christ in Christmas blog link-up) @

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you though what I did was really not much compared to what other volunteers are doing. the outpouring of love and generosity in the aftermath is amazing.

Cheryl said...

What a wonderful story. It gives a new significance to all the blessings we have.

8 kids and a business said...

What a wonderful way to spend Advent (and Christmas?) Are you far from Tacloban? Thanks for sharing your experiences, Annabelle.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Terry, we are in Cebu, the island next to tacloban, Leyte.

Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag said...

Hi Belle! What a unique Advent experience you have to visit the victims at this time and be able to experience Jesus in their presence. The Filipinos' faith in God truly is admirable as it shines more brightly amid the devastation brought about by the recent storm. Regards to your family. I will be visiting Cebu before Christmas. Please email me if you'll be there by then. Maybe we can meet up so I can introduce you to my husband and kids.

Sue Elvis said...


You are so right about Christmas being a season of hope. Yes, so many people in the Philippines, and elsewhere will not be able to celebrate Christmas with the care-free joy of most people. But Jesus was born to give us all hope. Although it doesn't seem like it, Christmas really is a season for those who suffer.

Anabelle, I am keeping you in my prayers. xxx

Martianne said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. Lifting you and those around you in prayer.

Hand-Maid With Love said...

Thank you for sharing your story and experience. I'm humbled by your action and words here...
I will pray for all those victims and those offering aide...

Our parish has been collecting funds and other items to send. Do you have any other recommendations?

Many blessings to you and your loved ones this Advent.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you Martianne, I always appreciate prayers.
Valerie, it is also humbling that parishes all over the world (ours too) are contributing to the tyhpoon victims fund. I suggest donating to caritas manila (Vatican based, no scandals involved yet) and Filipinos you know personally and trust. There are so many volunteer ops run by generous locals --without any admin cost. People you trust know where and who to give your donations to. There are Filipinos all over the world sending boxes of relief goods to their local contacts.

Monique said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers for you and the Filipino people. You are a blessing to the people. May God bless you!

Monica McConkey said...

What a beautiful story. Your connection to this little family will last forever. God bless you and heal you.

Heidi said...

What a wonderful post! What an incredible way to spend Advent! Thank you for blessing us with your story! You, your family and all of the people of the Philippines are in our prayers! Blessings to you!

Christine said...

Wow. What a beautiful way to serve others during this season.

Nancy Ward said...

Tearfully I thank you for this precious story. As a grandmother I appreciate the love and faith of the one who blessed you in the Philipines. I pray for her family and yours. God bless you.

Andrea Veitch said...

I know what waiting for a baby is like; each year listening to the story of Elizabeth and asking "when me?" When God has given you a child and then you miscarry this is a particular burden to faith. It's so wonderful how you have continued and bring hope to others, like Job reusing to "curse God and die". This is what faith is, praising him in times of sorrow.
I'm sure your wait will be over one day and u will receive your own blessing. Have you thought that it may not be through the traditional way? I don't mean for you to take things into your own hands like Sarah, but pray and ask God how He wants to fulfil your holy desire. There will be so many children left withough parents through the disaster and ou seem to have so much love.
After our long search and simmilar bereavement we adopted our little daughter this year. The fist time I took her to mass was on good Friday, it felt like Easter Sunday!
God bless you.

Chelsey Hall said...

What an inspirational story and inspiration family you are! Praying for you and for the victims in the Philippines. So glad you shared and gave us the reminder to give during this season!

Charlotte Braddock said...

What an amazing story. It makes the humble birth of our Lord and Savior so much more poignant.

I love the idea of a baby shower for Jesus as an act of charity.

Tracy said...

What a powerful and incredible story! I'm so sorry for your loss. What a blessing you were to the young mother and the grandmother of the baby! Thank you for the reminder to pray for those who have suffered so much and to help where we can! Have a blessed Advent!

noreen said...

Oh Anabelle, I'm in tears as I type my comment. It was certainly a moment of Grace when you met this grandmother. Both of your lives were blessed. How scary it must have been for this family and everyone affected by the typhoon. Having an Advent baby shower is the perfect way to celebrate Advent. Giving to others teaches the love of Jesus which is the whole point of Advent. May God bless you and may he grant you with many babies to hold!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Andrea, I have thought about adoption long before I had children -- while in practice and even my thesis was on adoption. If it is God's will, I am praying all doors open up for us.

Noreen, there were many stories I could tell but this one struck my heart the most.

Thank you for your kind comments everyone. A blessed Advent to you all.

Matthew B. Rose said...

Thank you. This was beautiful.

Gina said...

Shared via FB. <3 you!

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you Connie.
Gina, thank you for sharing. Sometimes, when I feel like quitting blogging, the Lord just sends "a not just yet" encouragement. That was you today. Love you too