The Christmas Answer
Kimberly B. Jackson
Despite outward appearances,
life was not a fairytale for gospel singer Donna Dubois.
Struggling with depression, loneliness, and uncertainty
in her marriage, she reluctantly agrees to go on a
holiday missionary trip to the Appalachian Mountains of
During her stay, she is
assigned to live with the widow Sara Cagle. Taking
notice of Sara’s perseverance, Donna soon begins to
relax and actually enjoy herself.
misfortune strikes Sara, Donna is forced to reexamine
her life, her marriage, and most importantly, her faith.
Taking over for Sara, Donna soon discovers the one thing
she had been missing all her life—The
The Christmas Answer
is an inspirational story
that will make you realize that God’s plan is always
laid out, even when you seem distant from him.
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Copyright © 2012 Kimberly B. Jackson
Donna slowly made her way toward a rustic log cabin.
Chickens pecked and darted across the yard. There was little
grass, mostly dirt, with an old washing machine placed just
outside the porch.
Not certain what to expect, Donna made her way up the steps,
startled when the door swung open.
“Welcome, welcome. Come in. You must be from the missionary
“Yes, I’m Donna Dubois.”
“Hi, Donna Dubois. I’m Sara Cagle.”
Donna extended her hand only for Sara to reach out and hug her
instead. The cabin was small and dark. A wood stove burned,
presumably providing the only source of heat for the small home.
Sara, a tall, slender, fifty-something woman with long gray
hair, moved around some clothing sprawled across the couch.
“Make yourself at home. Please sit down.”
Donna dusted off the couch before she sat, only to wish she had
not made that gesture in front of Mrs. Cagle.
Mrs. Cagle offered a smile. “Tell me a little about yourself.
Are you married or do you have any children?”
“I am married, but we have not been blessed with children.”
“You’re still young. It will happen when it is supposed to
“I’m sure you’re right.” Choosing not to discuss the
circumstances surrounding her life with a person she just met,
Donna feigned a smile. Sara stood and lifted two of Donna’s
“Let me show you where you will be sleeping.”
Grabbing the third bag, Donna followed Sara to a back room that
was divided in two by a quilt hanging across a rope.
“I’m sorry, but you will have to share a room with the little
ones. I’ve moved the older boys out to the back porch.”
Shock pulsed through her as she took in her accommodations. Sara
placed her luggage close to the bed, and Donna followed suit
with the bag she carried.
“Let me show you the rest of the house and where you can freshen
I hope they have running water at least, Donna
thought—uncharitably, she knew. Sara led Donna back to the
living room, and then into the kitchen where a small table
butted against the wall. Walking past it, they exited onto the
back porch that was enclosed with plywood. Two makeshift beds
were placed on the floor. Donna then followed Sara into a tiny
room that contained an old
claw tub, a commode, and an aged, cracked
sink that contained rust and a dripping faucet. Leaving
Donna there to freshen up, Sara walked off.
looked around the small bathroom. Trying
not to be judgmental about her living arrangements, Donna
resolved to put on a happy face. But, as she looked down at the
rusted, old sink, her smile quickly deteriorated.
With much vigor, Donna cranked a faucet
on, but nothing came.
“Great, no hot water.”
Facing the inevitable, she turned on
the cold faucet to a small steady stream. Cautiously, she
positioned her hands under the freezing cold water and placed
her hand on her face to refresh her appearance. The cold water
cut through her whole body, giving her chills.
What did she get herself into?
This lady didn’t appear as if she could afford to feed her own
family, much less a complete stranger. Donna looked around for a
towel to dry her hands with, but found none. She was forced to
wipe her hands on her shirt. “This is ridiculous. I could be at
home resting instead of living in some rundown shack.”
Resolving to make the best of matters, she stepped out of the
bathroom and went into the living room where Sara waited. Donna
sat, careful not to look at the couch this time. “Well now,
Sara, tell me a little about yourself. I know you have some
“I actually just have two boys, sixteen and eighteen. They work
at the coal mines just as their father did before them.”
“Coal mines?” Donna couldn’t hide her shock. They were so young!
“Their uncle is the foreman. Daniel
is too young to go in the mine yet, but his uncle pays him under
the table for labor work. Christopher just began mining after
his birthday last month.”
“You mentioned something about little ones.”
Sara nodded her head. “Yes, my little
gifts from God. Jessie is the oldest—she’s seven and Lexie is
five. They came to live with me after my cousin, Eloise, died.
Her husband had passed on two years earlier from black lung.”
“Black lung is a disease that miners can contract from breathing
in coal dust over a long period of time. I pray my boys don’t
ever have to experience such misery. They watched their father
die a painful and slow death. I know it’s always in the back of
Donna shook her head. “I don’t mean to be out of line, but why
aren’t the boys in school?”
Sara looked shamefully down. “We need the money.
I work at a sewing factory, but the income
I make doesn’t go very far. Besides, the boys aren’t much on
Donna decided not to pursue the conversation. Sara seemed
uncomfortable talking about her two boys working at the coal
The front door swung open. Two tall, slender young men entered,
followed by two adorable little redheaded girls. Sara stood.
“Daniel, Christopher, this is Donna Dubois. She is the
missionary worker I told you about, who will be staying with us
for a while.”
Jessie and Lexie peeped from behind
the boys, looking curiously at Donna. Bending down to Jessie and
Lexie’s level, Donna
them how much she enjoyed meeting them. Then she stood and
Daniel and Christopher how sorry she was to put them out of
their room. They politely
they didn’t mind, but still she hated the thought of the boys
sleeping on the floor in that cold, half a room.
Announcing dinner would be ready in a
couple of hours, Sara told the children to do their homework.
After they finished eating,
Sara sent the children to prepare for bed.
Sara looked at Donna. “If you don’t mind, I think I’ll turn in
also. Five o’clock comes very early in the morning.”
“Of course, I’m tired myself. Well, good night then.” Donna went
into the room she was sharing with the little girls.
The well-behaved youngsters
were already in their pajamas and tucked in when Sara came to
kiss them. After she left, Donna quietly changed into her
flannel pajamas and slipped into bed. She was thankful Ellie
suggested she pack thermal underwear. She had a feeling she
would be wearing the warm attire a lot.
Exhausted from traveling, Donna curled in the bed. Too late, she
wished she was at home snuggled on her king-size mattress, lying
in her soft comfortable sheets. She said her prayers, asking the
Lord that the time apart from Mark would do them both good. With
that as her last thought, she fell asleep.
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