It was on a Christmas day that I have my first memory of the power of faith and prayer.
Her name was Christina Alexandria. She had blonde piggytails, dimples in her chubby cheeks and a white shirt with a purple satin heart sewn over the right side.
She had experienced a rough childhood. She had been born in a Cabbage Patch, presumably didn’t know her parents and was immediately placed on display in a box for someone to decide if she was worthy enough for adoption.
The year was 1983 and I was ten years old that December. It was the Christmas of the Cabbage Patch Doll. America had gone crazy! Toy stores were filled with mobs of mothers grabbing the dolls before the stockers could get them out of crates. Pre-Ebay, dolls were certainly being sold on the “black market” for outrageous prices.
Oh, I had to have one. My 10 year old heart wanted to give a loving home to one of those precious dolls that came with a story. She wasn’t just any plastic baby that I could name and make my own. She was a child that I could love for who she already was. I could make her life better simply by adopting her and being her mommy.
See, my mommy has a heart of gold, filled with a genuine desire to delight and love people around her through gifts and service. Knowing her heart, I can’t imaging pre-cell phones and internet, how much time she spent chasing down the things that we had asked for at Christmas.
However, that Christmas season, my mother’s heart had been tasked with the impossible. I remember seeing the images on the news of people fighting and grabbing over each other in masse to get these dolls – and those were the ones lucky enough to even know they were at the store.
I had my mother and I had the faith of a child, I believed the passages in my Children’s Bible. I believed the gentle man in the picture speaking to children when he said to come unto him, and my inquisitive mind never found anything in those pages that discouraged asking for dolls; so I went for it.
During my elementary school years, my dad made sure we started the day with devotion time together. Every morning before school, he would pull the four of us into a circle, read a Bible verse, and we would conclude by holding hands, going around the circle and each of us would pray.
That particular Christmas season, my prayers were so important, as every one would end with “…and please, Lord, can I have a Cabbage Patch Doll?”
And through a bond only siblings can understand, every one of my sister’s and brothers’ prayers also ended with “…and please, Lord, can Jennifer have a Cabbage Patch Doll”.
We were praying for a miracle.
I know our elementary aged hearts were asking as instructed in James 1:6 with “faith without doubting” and with pure childlike trust in our Lord. Sure it was about a doll, but it was also about believing we could go to God with anything – and he would determine what the answer would be.
And he did. Twice over. One night close to Christmas, my mom got a call out of the blue from a neighbor. Our neighbor had received a call from a relative in Kansas who happened across two extra Cabbage Patch dolls and wanted to our neighbor knew of a girl who wanted one.
As a mother myself , I once scored an impossible to find Barbie Dream House 90 miles away and remember the joy that filled my heart, so I get emotional when I imagine the explosion of joy that happened in my mom’s heart. Add to this, the secret I just recently learned that my sister also wanted a doll but she was lovingly keeping that quiet. God knew, and here is was, delivering for all three of us. Our loving Lord gave my mother a sweet reminder from our King that that he loved her and held her hopes and her children’s hopes in his hands.
And so it was, with his hands and our hopes, during the Cabbage Patch Doll frenzy of 1983, two Cabbage Patch dolls born in Kansas ended up under our Christmas tree in Texas. I held Christina Alexandria in my arms that night, and have her to this day.
The best blessing: Christina Alexandria isn’t the only thing that has stayed with me, for in my heart that morning was planted a seed for the tree of faith that continues to grow. A tree born of my first memory of God answering a specific, treasured prayer. This prayer that may have seemed insignificant and selfish in a world of death and disease and hunger and pain, but my God knew my heart and he knew it was about so much more.
He knew because of that day and that doll – I will always believe God is listening, no matter how seemingly small the request will be.
My final favorite part of this story is that my answered prayer impacted not only just me. A few mornings after the doll was unwrapped, we had our daily prayer circle and we ended each prayer with “thank you, God, for giving Jennifer a Cabbage Patch Doll”. Everyone, that is but my older brother, who, during his prayer turn, spoke “thank you God, for giving Jennifer a Cabbage Patch Doll…and please, God, can I have a four-wheeler?”
I know that one has gone unanswered so far, but because of the faith that was planted in me so many years ago, I am confident there is a “yes, no or maybe” in my brother’s future. After all, God considers and answers every prayer in his time.