The Gift of Hope

The Gift of Hope

I have another guest post this week by Sandy Scarboro. Sandy is also a contributor to Room at the Table: Encouraging Stories from Special Needs Families. She is mother to Miles and Grace, and a retired English teacher turned writer. Thank you, Sandy, for your thoughtful and relevant post on Christmas. We all need Hope!

Why do we Love Christmas?

People love Christmas–for Christians, it is the ultimate gift of Hope.

We all notice how it seems to come a bit earlier each year. The White House turkey pardon and the arrival ceremony of the grand presidential Christmas tree happened on the same day this year.

     According to, the average American spends almost a thousand dollars on Christmas expenses. They report most shoppers begin hunting for the perfect gift in October. This site also claims 85% of Americans plan to celebrate Christmas and these merrymakers include “an increasing number of non-Christians”.

     Some radio stations play Christmas tunes soon after Thanksgiving. Christmas decorations and parades are everywhere. And let’s not forget the Hallmark channel’s stocking full of sugarplum-sweet movies of love and really good hair. Finding love during the season of carols and mistletoe is even more thrilling than usual.

     Why do we love Christmas time so much? Oh, let me count the ways. Presents. Who doesn’t love receiving a surprise, bought with love and wrapped in colorful paper topped with a bow? We love the food and the chance to overeat with others and for it to be okay. Because today is Christmas. Christmas grants everyone a respite from work or school. We get to use this time off to travel and see our family. The season offers us a fun intermission into our mundane lives.

Christmas Expectations and the Gift of Hope

     I believe another reason the Yuletide season is so loved is that there is an underlying feeling of hope. If I decorate every room in the house, we’ll have a grand Christmas. We put our aspirations in gifts, ones given, and ones received. The diamond necklace will make my wife love me more. If I get a blender, I’ll make smoothies every day and lose weight. This party will be the best one I’ve given, and people will talk about it for years. If I attend my boss’s party, I may meet someone who can help me in my career. When I march in the parade, my picture will be all over social media. I just know my boyfriend will propose and give me a ring.

     Every year Christmas comes and goes, leaving our bank accounts slimmer, our waistlines bigger and our homes overstuffed with stuff. The Christmas blues have come to town. We’ve spent months planning for the special day and now it’s over. In a 2015 survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “64% of people report experiencing the post-holiday blues.” I feel it’s even higher in today’s post- covid, politically divided world.

The Gift of Hope at Christmas

    The hope and joy of Christmas are real, but it doesn’t come in a gift bag. Christmas is a birthday, and we should celebrate it by singing, having parties, and presents. It is the birthday of hope. God sent his son Jesus, the ultimate gift, to live and die as a man. Jesus’s death paved the road for our eternal life. You can’t buy that at Walmart. This is where our hope lies, not in the painful, difficult life on earth, but in the anticipation of heaven.

     Before retiring from teaching, I spent several years teaching fifth grade in a Christian school. We were doing a unit about heaven as a new girl enrolled in my class. Unlike most of the other students who had grown up in the church, it soon became apparent this girl had almost no knowledge of God, the Bible, and Jesus. For example, I asked the class to turn to John 14:2. She raised her hand and asked, “What page is that on?”. The other students gasped. Yes, a gasp of sheer unbelief.

     A few days later, we were continuing our study of heaven. I noticed she was exceptionally quiet. I discussed biblical descriptions of heaven. She jumped out of her seat and said, “I want to go to heaven. How do I get there?” I spoke to her about confessing your sins and believing in Jesus. She later spoke to the pastor as well. It was pure, childlike faith combined with hope.

Selfless Love

     Two years ago, God gave me the chance to experience Christmas in a very different way. I was suffering from diverticulitis (infection in the colon). I had surgery and stayed in the hospital for three weeks. Between the infection, lack of food, and recovery from the surgery, I felt awful. Surely, I’d be out in time for Christmas. But every day the doctors would say, “a few more days”. It was during COVID, so no visitors could come. It was not a holly, jolly time.

     I learned a lot about selfless love during that hospital stay. My older sister had organized my friends and family into what my father would call a platoon ready for battle. It’s her superpower. I’m divorced and my daughter, seventeen, still lived at home. My son, Miles, was home from college for his Christmas break. Why did I need a fighting platoon? My daughter, Grace, is autistic and needs constant supervision. Between my family and Grace’s regular staff workers, the days were covered, however, we needed someone to stay with her at night. Miles stepped up to the task. Most evenings were uneventful. My mom would bring over food for supper. Miles would give Grace her medication, spend some time with her, brush her teeth, and tuck her in at night. He only complained once. A few days before they released me Miles called my hospital room. “Hey, mom. I hope you’re feeling better and I’m not rushing you, but when do you think you might come home?”

Love and Kindness at Christmas

     He seemed relieved when I told him only another day or two. I asked how things were going. He said everything was going smoothly. But apparently the night before, Grace had an issue with going to the toilet. Her stomach was upset and afterward, Miles said our bathroom looked like a crime scene. He was the only one there to clean it up. And he did.

     A less foul-smelling memory occurred a few days earlier. I was so tired of the hospital and missing all my people. I turned on the camera in Grace’s room just in time to catch Miles tucking her in. He read her a book, said prayers with her, and covered her with her favorite blanket. It was such a touching moment.

     The nurses in the hospital also showed me compassion and brought as much cheer to my room as they could. I understand they were doing their job, but several of them did more than they had to and did it with such a loving spirit. One young nurse stands out in my mind. After weeks of lying down, your hair gets matted. She helped me get a bath, washed my hair, and then braided it into a French braid. Yes, it looked better, but I felt like a new person. Other nurses told me about their Christmas plans and about the world outside the hospital. They made me laugh. Some even prayed with me.

     My church family also came together. They started a meal chain, which lasted for weeks. Even when I wasn’t home or still could not eat, the food was manna from heaven. Miles, my mother, Grace, and the caregivers had wonderful meals. Made with love.

     Christmas is all about selfless love and hope. This year, as you prepare to celebrate the birthday of the King, our gift of hope, remember to share that love and kindness with someone who isn’t expecting it and maybe doesn’t deserve it. God did.

About Sandy:

Sandy Scarboro is the mother of two extraordinary people. She retired after twenty-eight years of teaching English to middle schoolers. Retirement has given her time to devote to writing. She’s contributed articles to the newspaper and local magazines. Sandy self-published a Christian romance, “Cotton Candy Sky” and a Bible devotional for teen girls called, “Two are Better Than One”. She is currently working on another Christian romance entitled “Waiting for the Sunset” and a women’s devotional called “Life Lessons “. Sandy enjoys walking and exploring local, historical places. Sandy is a member of Serious Writer and she’s currently looking for a new group of aspiring authors to create a new writing group.

An Angel in Waiting

An Angel in Waiting

For the month of December, you will see more posts than usual in your email. This month I wanted to celebrate Christ’s birth by getting some friends to share a story or posts this month.

I have six guest posts for the month of December. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.

Whitney Ward’s story is touching and supernatural. Do you believe you have met an angel? Read her story!

My eyes opened in shock as the tube in my nose gave my body the oxygen it so desperately lacked. I immediately noticed the eight doctors and nurses crammed into my tiny hospital room. “What’s my hemoglobin?” I asked in a hoarse whisper.

My mother leaned close and caressed my brow. “You remember a few years ago when your hemoglobin was 4.8, and you were really sick? Well, it’s kind of like that now.”

Nightmare in the ICU

I suffered from rare autoimmune and immune diseases, so battling a low hemoglobin blood count was a hurdle I jumped over many times. A normal hemoglobin range is between 11 to 14. It’s the part of the blood that carries the oxygen throughout the body and to the brain, so when it’s low the body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function and in extreme cases, the mind can’t remain lucid.

Even in my sickly state, I saw the hopelessness in the medical professionals’ eyes. I was aware of their nervous glances.

I understood for the past two hours I was locked inside my body, unable to speak, incapable of doing anything but stare.

The deafening silence of the doctors and nurses gave me the real answer: This was nothing like the time when my hemoglobin dropped to 4.8 — it was worse.

“Do you know your name?” the ICU attending compassionately asked to see if I remembered my identity.

I shook my head, “It’s Whitney.”

“Where are you?” The doctor wanted to see if I was in touch with reality.

“I’m on the Hemoc floor.”

“What day is it?” Was my sense of time still intact?

“It’s Tuesday night.”

I answered the questions correctly, but the test I just aced didn’t change the nightmare we were all living: My hemoglobin had dropped to 2.8 and I was fighting for my life.

The ICU staff rushed me to their unit. On the way, the specialists prepared my parents for what lay ahead. I would have to receive several units of blood, the IV treatment I took every six months, and an antibiotic. I had never taken this antibiotic before and it commonly causes an allergic reaction where a person’s whole body turns red.

They warned my parents it was imperative I didn’t experience any reactions to the treatments they were administering because my body could take no more trauma.

This news devastated my parents because they were painfully aware I had always had an allergic reaction during blood transfusions and to my IV treatment—so how would I survive?

The Angel in the Waiting Room

The staff directed my father and mother to the waiting room while they took me to a room to be hooked up to machines. The only other person in the waiting room was a man sitting at a computer. This was unusual because the ICU was maxed to capacity with patients. My parents were very familiar with waiting rooms, so they knew there should have been more family members holding vigil for their loved ones.

Sitting down, they took advantage of a nearly empty waiting room and began calling family and friends, asking them to touch Heaven on my behalf.

As my mother talked to one of her dear friends and shared the heartbreaking details, she began sobbing. My father took the phone from her to finish explaining the dire situation.

Suddenly, the man got up from the computer and walked across the room to my mother.

“What’s the child’s name?” he asked compassionately.

My mother stared into the clearest and bluest eyes she had ever seen. “It’s Whitney.”

“Okay, I’ll put her on The Prayer Chain.” Then he turned around, walked out of the waiting room, and my parents never saw him again.

He didn’t say I’ll put her on my church’s prayer chain or I’ll let my pastor know—he said The Prayer Chain.

The next night, the ICU waiting room was completely full.

Living Life to the Fullest

My parents are convinced the man was an angel sent from God. For the first time in my life, right after he left, I did not have a single reaction to my treatment, transfusions, nor did my body turn red from the new antibiotic. My body did a complete 180, and I  got better quicker than any of my doctors thought medically possible.

They admitted me into the hospital on Monday, December 19th, 2011, and I got to come home on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 — The best Christmas gift ever.

Two weeks later, I went back to college to finish my degree, and in May 2012; I graduated with a Bachelor’s in creative writing.

Looking back at that Christmas seven-ten years ago, I marvel at the timing and pieces God intricately sewed together during that week so I could remain on this earth. #WhitneyWard #ThisSideofHeaven #AnAngelinWaiting #ChristmasMiracle

Looking back at that Christmas seven-ten years ago, I marvel at the timing and pieces God intricately sewed together during that week so I could remain on this earth.

The best part of the story, though?

God placed His healing hand on my diseased body, and I went from fighting for my life to living life to the fullest.

I never have doubted when the miraculous turnaround happened in my body—The minute the kind man told my mother he would put my name on The Prayer Chain. Not everyone gets to attend to angels unaware, but I’m so thankful God gave my parents and me the peace and assurance we needed in our darkest hour through an angel in the waiting room.

Meet Whitney:

Whitney Ward

Whitney Ward is a public speaker and writer who seeks to encourage her audiences to overcome their circumstances. As someone who has a disability, it is her wish to give hope to others with illness so they will persevere and scale every mountain they face.