Excerpted with permission from "A Christmas Filled With Miracles" by Mary Ellen, published by Conari Press.

One year on December 7, I went out with my family to complete my Christmas shopping. The bookstore was one of our stops. I passed a table filled with books on angels. I stopped to look through them, and a book called "Angelspeake: How to Talk With Your Angels" found its way under my arm with all my other purchases. The next morning, instead of wrapping all my Christmas treasures, I found myself curled up in my chair reading the book. Next thing I knew, I'd read the book cover to cover. I went about my day, thinking of nothing more serious than what we would have for supper.

On Sunday morning around 2:00 a.m., I was awakened from a deep sleep with a song in my head. With the book fresh in my mind, I thought, "Could this be the angels?" I decided to ask them questions. I asked who my guardian angel was. The song continued. I tried to figure out what the music meant, when she spoke, "Don't talk, listen. Let your head clear." The angels really were trying to talk to me! All of a sudden, I became frightened and began to pray. The next thing I heard was, "Way to go!"

I felt touched but not sure what purpose the incident served other than to let me know angels are really here. The next morning around 3:00 a.m., I was again awakened to hear the song. The angels didn't speak in complete sentences, just words, thoughts, pictures, and music. "Give Love on Christmas Day!" then "homeless" and "We all have something to be thankful for" and "Thousands of streets are full of hungry people." I was getting the message!

The next morning I got up and read what I'd written the night before. My notes said, "Call Barbara." Barbara, the author of "Angelspeake"? I called directory assistance, and much to my amazement, they gave me her number. I dialed, a woman answered, and I said, "Hello, my name is Mari. Are you the Barbara Mark who wrote 'Angelspeake'?" She said, "Yes." At this point, the tears poured down my face. I proceeded to tell her of my encounter with the angels, and we talked for an hour. She wanted to know what the angels said. I told her they wanted me to feed the homeless on Christmas Day. I asked her how she thought I was to do this. She assured me the angels would show me if I asked enough questions.

Again the next night, I was awakened with "Pay attention." Then they gave more information about making stockings, and filling them with food, oranges, candy canes, toothbrushes, and soap to help the homeless remember the joy of being children on Christmas morning. I asked how to make this happen and they said, "Ask for help."

When I got up, I started cutting out stockings from my extra cache of fabric. I was sure I was on the right path even if I wasn't quite sure where I was going. I asked my colleagues at work for help. All of my coworkers eagerly agreed to help fill the empty socks. Well, that seemed easy enough--now I just needed to finish cutting and sewing 200 stockings!

I asked my husband to take some stockings to work and ask for help filling them. He came back to me and asked me for more stockings to fill. I asked for help from people at the coffee shop where I stop on my way to work. They filled all their stockings and asked for more. I asked the chiropractor's office. They not only helped, but asked for more. I asked the people where I used to work. They helped, and then they wanted to do more. I was overwhelmed with the response.

The food part of the project was going well, but just thinking about the toothbrushes and soap and other items made me worry. I asked the angels where I should go to get these items at a reasonable rate. "The hospital," was the reply. So, the next morning I called and asked to speak to someone in Supplies. A very nice man directed me to Dave from the supply company that sells toothbrushes to the hospital. When I explained my project to him, he said he would donate them. What a relief--200 toothbrushes at no charge.

Still on my mind was the soap. My husband said that in a city as large as Las Vegas, with all its hotels, getting soap shouldn't be a problem. The next day, I had not only 200 bars of soap but lotion and shampoo as well! And, when I went back to pick up the toothbrushes, there were not the 200 I was expecting but more than 2,000! God was really watching over this project.

Finally, I wondered, how can we help these people help themselves? In my first conversation with Barbara, she gave me permission to use her book to help with the project. I copied the page that tells how the angels will help you if you ask, reduced it to a 3 x 5 card, and attached one with a ribbon to each of the stockings.

Christmas morning, at 7:45, everyone met at our appointed spot. All of our helpers brought family members to assist. We loaded all the stockings into the back of a volunteer's truck and headed for the freeway underpasses of Las Vegas.

Under some of them, homeless people were still asleep with blankets pulled over their heads, trying to keep out the cold. We quietly left the stockings, candy canes, and bottled water. I felt like Santa must feel, helping in the dark and quiet with the only reward coming from his own heart.

One large intersection had a lot of men living under it. We left stockings, candy canes, and quarters with a brief message that I shouted out to the men, now starting to stir: "Please call home. Someone does care and wants to know you're all right." One man shouted back, "God bless you!"

Next, we headed to the Salvation Army kitchen. By now it was 10:15, and there were lots of people. We asked the guard's permission and gave him the blankets we had collected and 1,000 toothbrushes, and then we started to hand out stockings. They were so thankful for the little we did.

For most, it was all they received for Christmas.

In the car on our way back, my husband and I talked about next year. If we started right then, we thought, how many more stockings could we hand out next Christmas?

Christmas is a gift, a time to give love to all. Angels touch our world every day, not just at Christmas time. If you are willing to listen, they'll touch your life too.

Editor's Note: Mari and her husband expanded their service to the homeless by serving breakfast in the park every Sunday morning. Mari returned to school and completed her degree in ministry, received her ordination, and moved to Arizona, where she and her husband still work with the homeless. When the angels woke her up with their song of love, they really woke her up!

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