The Boy Who Saved Christmas

This post was originally published on December 20, 2013

After having three baby boys within four years, Matt and I ceased to have the ability to finish sentences or call our children by their given names. Our little fellas became accustomed to answering to “A-Jus-El-um-um-COME-HERE-BUDDY!”  Having more than three children didn’t seem to make sense to us since obviously, we were no longer making sense.

When those three little boys were ages 5, 2, and 6 months – my mom was diagnosed with ALS. Thus began a journey in our lives that was filled with grief, pain, and hardship as we traveled back and forth to Kansas to be with Mom as often as we could during the next 22 months. If I couldn’t get my act together before, I certainly couldn’t even find my act during this time.

I remember crying out to God during one of my lowest points, just a few months before she died. It had been a year and a half since her diagnosis, and she was failing quickly. Knowing that we were soon going to lose her, I fell on my knees and asked God to help me find joy again. He listened. He heard. And He answered. Just a few weeks later, we were shocked to find out that we were expecting baby number four. Now that was a surprise we had not anticipated! Indeed, we were filled with joy.

We were able to share the news with Mom (who was convinced that we would surely have a girl this time). Suddenly all of us – my dad, my brother, all of us – had a reason to smile. We had something to look forward to! God is so much fun. Little did we know how this baby would continue to be the perfect blessing we would all need during the coming months.

When I was about four months into the pregnancy, Mom finished her race. We were relieved, sad, grateful, devastated, and exhausted. We all began a new journey of life without her – enduring that year of “firsts” that families experience when they lose someone. The first birthday without her. The first Mother’s Day. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas.

Oh, Christmas. Mom loved Christmas. How would we ever have Christmas without her? Should we try to carry on the same traditions she loved? Should we plan the same menu? Should we have Christmas at Dad’s or would it be too painful and empty without her there?

As it turns out, the new baby we were expecting answered all the questions for us. On December 20 (twelve years ago today), our fourth baby boy was born. It was decided that all of the family would come to Nebraska to meet him and to celebrate Christmas in our home. We would eat whatever we found in my freezer and we would keep the holiday simple. That sweet baby boy was just what we all needed to be able to smile through our tears as we shared our first Christmas without Mom.

Happy 12th Birthday, Malachi Mark! God gifted you to us, bringing us tremendous joy and hope. May you always allow yourself to be used by God to be a blessing to others.



  1. Sarah says

    I am not one to tear up all the time but this was so beautifully written that I did.
    Almost 7 years ago my husband lost his grandma in Feb and we had our son the week before Thanksgiving. Everyone had such a hard time that year but my son was a reason to celebrate amidst the pain. I do believe God sends us blessings wrapped in receiving blankets! He helped my husband’s family heal.
    Happy birthday Malachi!


  2. Danielle B says

    Awwww. Happy Birthday Malachi!!

    This brought tears to my eyes. It’s coming up on the 3rd Christmas without my mom. I didn’t have a lil boy 3 yrs ago, my best friend got pregnant the month before my mom passed. Her son, has been a joy in my life. I spent some time with him yesterday,he LOVES to say my name, over and over again. He makes me smile and laugh and laugh and laugh. He’s a joy!!


  3. says

    Crying! That is such a beautiful story of God’s provision and grace. This will be the third Christmas without my dad. I remember that first, awful Christmas without him. Every year, God restores more and more of the joy that seemed lost back then. God is good, and He continues to prove Himself faithful!


  4. Kim says

    Having lost my Dad on Dec 5, 2011, I surely can relate to the pain of the firsts. Thank you for sharing your story. Happy Birthday to your joy-bringer! Praise God for answered prayers!


  5. Rhonda Nice says

    Tears of joy over your story. I lost my mom in August 1995 to thyroid cancer. The next month we found out we were expecting a baby after a very long 4 year wait. God gave us a fantastic reason to smile when we were so sad over losing her. Out of our 5 kids that young lady is the most like my mom. She has a smile and a quirky fashion sense that is just like my mom’s used to be.


  6. says

    I will never forget those days and months, both the pain and the joy that were in them. So very thankful for your Christmas blessing Malachi!! Wish we could be there to celebrate with him/you! (Oh, and you made me cry.. that’s not nice!) :-) Love ya!


  7. Marilyn Sadlier says

    My little boy has his birthday today too. He is 2. And his story is similar. He is #6 child, born almost 8 years after the youngest if the other 5. He was our little surprise gift from heaven. The September before he was born my Dad suddenly passed of a heart attack. Having him just before Christmad totally helped bring us joy on that first hard Christmas after Dad left. God sure does know what he is doing. Happy Birthday to your Malachi and to my Royden!


  8. Marilyn Sadlier says

    Our little boys has his birthday today too. He turns 2. He is #6 child born almost 8 years after the youngest if the other 5. Our little surprise child! September before he was born I lost my Dad to a sudden heart attack. Having Royden just before Christmas helped being so much joy to a rather difficult 1st Christmas without my Dad. God knows what He’s doing when he sends each child!! Happy Birthday to your Malachi and to my Royden!!


  9. Bethany says

    I loved reading this! It was a walk down memory lane for me as I remember this time in your life and my excitement for you to have another baby – I was also convinced he would be a girl. I loved hearing this from your side of life as I did not realize how very important his birth and the timing of his birth was for your family. So beautiful, happy birthday Malachi!


  10. Susie says

    So glad I had tissues close by. God is so in control, and he hears each and every voice, whenever there is an ending, there is a new beginning..and so it goes, the circle of Life and Gods creation. I know this to be true, we see it everyday..I was born on the day my great grandfather died, the day my father died, my little cousin was born, so we live on, and so do the memories and God’s vision for us all.


  11. Kim S. says

    Thank you for sharing this story. After a crazy, busy, frustrating morning at work, this story brought tears and a smile to my face. Everything with my morning at work just lost all significance. Blessings to your family this Christmas season and Happy Birthday to your son.


  12. Dee says

    I love, LOVE this story! I cried through the whole thing as you described many feelings and thoughts I have been experiencing since Oct.14th, 20012, when my 14 year old Alyssa Marie went to Heaven after a brief 6 month courageous battle with cancer. This is my second Christmas without her and I miss her so much. I am told the second year is harder than the first and it is for me too. How can that be possible? I guess a person is just so numb for the first year and now is wearing off? I have been Blessed with many “gifts” (winks) from her, things that could have only come from Alyssa. And the Lord has been SO good to me. For quit a while there was only one set of footprints in the sand.

    Many Blessings to you and your family.



    Heidi C Reply:

    Oh Mama, praying for you!


    Birdie Reply:

    Dear Dee. May Jesus be your all in all through this difficult time. Thank you for sharing your loss with us.


  13. shannon Davis says

    Thank you Laura, this will be our first Christmas without mom, she loved Christmas and is the main reason for our many traditions. She is the reason 30+ of us have gathered for each and every celebration. I am lost without her and am uncertain how exactly to carry on. We have the events set and will get through but her smile and laughter will surely be missed. I am focused on Addison ( she is 5) and full of excitement.Merry Christmas to you Matt and your amazing boys! ? Happy Birthday Malachi????


    Laura Reply:

    I’ve been thinking about you, knowing you’d be missing your mom. Praying you will all be blessed as you treasure her memories. Hugs and love to you!


  14. Heidi C says

    WOW! GOD is good!!!
    You had me welling up over here Mama
    Happy Birthday Malachi!!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  15. connie says

    hi laura……i’m crying along with everyone else! that was so beautifully written. all of us moms hope and pray that we too are making such a positive light for our own children. make sure to print that out for malachi to add to all the other “special little things” of his you save along the way. thanks for sharing!


  16. 5sweetviolets says

    Laura, this is beautiful. And Malachi is a huge blessing to everyone he meets, young and old–what a gift he is! God bless!


  17. Birdie says

    Happy Hapy Birthday 9th Birthday Malachi!!!
    In this your ninth year, may you grow closer to your savior and may you be strong in Him.
    It’s wonderful how blessed your mom and dad feel because you are part of their lives. (I know that your big brothers do too 8->. I have five and I know how it feels to be the youngest too, hee hee!)
    Lovely post Laura. Thanks for sharing.


  18. Jan says

    We have just lost our 51 year old daughter. We are facing our “firsts” and it is beautiful stories like this one that lift our spirits. Happy Birthday Malachi.


  19. Holly says

    Such a beautiful story!! I found out I was pregnant with number 6 just 6 weeks after my mom passed away. My youngest was only 6 months old. Talk about surprised!! God knew she was exactly what I needed to get through the next year. I lost my dad just 6 months later. At the time I knew for the sake of my baby that I had up keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep getting through. I vowed I would not jeopardize the living over grief for the dead. She kept me going. She has been such a bright light and a joy to our family. Isn’t God good?


  20. Julie says

    What a beautiful story! Last year, I shared with my husband that I longed for another child – we already had 3 beautiful babies and scientifically-speaking could not have more. Unknown to me, my husband prayed for a 4th child. Imagine our surprise when, 3 weeks later, we learned that I was expecting again! Our fourth blessing was born 7 weeks before our oldest (almost the same age as Malachi) was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, Diabetic Ketoacidosis, and Celiac Disease. He was ambulanced to the nearest children’s hospital, and our new life filled with blood sugar tests, daily insulin injections, and wheat-free eating began. It’s been incredibly hard, but the baby is very happy and fills our home with joy. My husband says he is certain that the Lord gave us the baby to help us see past the frustration of our other child’s illnesses. God knew just what we would need!


  21. Lana Murphy says

    Thank you so much for sharing this season of your life! Your mom was an amazing woman! She is my role model as I strive to fill her shoes at camp and help lead my family at home. Praise God for the way he cares for us in ways that we need but certainly don’t expect! Your boys are truly blessed to have such a spiritual and caring mom as you! Happy Birthday, Malachi!


  22. Janet Herndon says

    Oh, Laura, you made me cry! Your Mom was such a special, sweet Christian lady, and one of the dearest friends I have ever had. I still miss her, too. You are truly a living legacy of her life, and she would be so proud of all you are doing, and of your four precious boys. God certainly did bless you with Malachi! Happy Birthday, Malachi!! And Merry Christmas to you all!!


  23. Ingrid says

    Isn’t God sweet? What a wonderful testimony to God’s provision and sweetness during a difficult time :) Thanks for this and Happy Birthday to Malachi!


  24. elaine says

    Happy Birthday to Malachi! I hadn’t realized how long I had been reading your blog – but he was just a little bitty guy when I started, so it’s been a while! Your story is just precious and made my eyes sweat. Merry Christmas to you and your family and thanks for all you do … you are a true blessing!


  25. Terri says

    I had alot of trouble reading that story. My mom died of ALS also. God does give us what we need to heal. My daughter was born exactly 1 year and 4 days after my mom died. She is now 6 and reminds me of my mom often.


  26. Lana says

    This is our first year without both of my in-laws. There is a big hole in our hearts this year. What a blessing God gave you in His time. Happy Birthday to your sweet little boy.


  27. Jessica says

    What a beautiful story, God is so good :) Happy Birthday Malachi!
    We are going through a similar thing this year as my husband’s father passed away in August. It has been such a hard time for him and our children as they were very close to Grampa. My husband spent a lot of time with his father between working with him for many years, doing wood together, and just generally anytime there was work to be done they did it together. We are expecting our sixth child in March and I know that the fact we were able to share this with my husband’s father before he passed meant a lot to my husband. This baby has also given us something positive and joy-filled to focus on. My poor husband has been so overwhelmed with everything that I am so glad he has the baby to look forward to as each and every child is welcomed with so much joy from him and our children. They are all excited for baby and I am glad they have that to look forward to. May God continue to bless you and your family and especially Malachi on his birthday!


  28. Mimi says

    Oh this made me cry. So beautiful. We always call my youngest (who is now 7) “our little ray of sunshine,” because he was born right before my mom fell sick and she passed away when he was only a few months old. He was truly the ray of sunshine that brightened our darkest of days. Such a gift from above. Happy birthday to your ray of sunshine! ;-)


  29. Megan says

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it again. Amidst all the holiday craziness, this post made me stop and shift my focus back to what’s really important at Christmas time.

    Happy Birthday Malachi!! You continue to be a blessing to others!


  30. Dee says

    Oh Laura. Thank you for posting this beautiful testimony again. I’m sure you are missing your mother at the holidays. Many of us have lost close loved ones and can relate, who needed this to read. This will be the 5th Christmas without my 14 year old daughter and still so painful. Thank you for your encouraging words and wonderful story.
    …… what a handsome young man


  31. abby says

    I read this every year that you publish it, and every year I cry in remembrance and missing my daddy. My son’s birth 3 months after daddy’s death was also used by God to bring me joy in a very very dark time. Of course, he’s my dad’s namesake now!!! :)


  32. Rachel says

    What a beautiful story. I am all teary eyed. Such a comfort that God cares so much and knows just what we need before we even need it. He is SO gracious. Christmas blessings ??


  33. Nova Quigley says

    Thank you for sharing this again — so I could feel your sadness and joy. How true of pain and happiness — that one will follow the other or even come at the same time.


  34. Marijane says

    What a wonderful Christmas Story. What a handsome 12 year old. Happy Birthday Malachi Mark!! Love your Blog and your simple/wholesome approach to life. Thank you for sharing your talents as a mother, cook & writer. Proverbs 25:25.


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