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Our Weekly Devotional

A Cracker Barrel Christmas

Friday, December 12, 2008 • Randy Kilgore • Active faith
Here's a Christmas moment to cheer your Christmas season.

Billy Watts, a 75 year-old mother and wife, headed into her local Cracker Barrel Restaurant and gift shop to buy a gift for a ladies' retreat coming up. Walking into the restroom, she noticed a woman's bag hanging on a hook. No one else was around, so she knew it had been left behind. Opening it to look for some identification, she noticed a manila envelope that contained---you guessed it---oodles of dollars, 97,000 dollars to be precise!
     Here's a Christmas moment to cheer your Christmas season.**
 
     Billy Watts, a 75 year-old mother and wife, headed into her local Cracker Barrel Restaurant and gift shop to buy a gift for a ladies' retreat coming up. Walking into the restroom, she noticed a woman's bag hanging on a hook. No one else was around, so she knew it had been left behind. Opening it to look for some identification, she noticed a manila envelope that contained---you guessed it---oodles of dollars, 97,000 dollars to be precise!

     Not sure what to do next and a little bewildered by it all, Watts decided to take the money home with her. Here, she admits, temptation crept in. She and her husband live in an apartment, on fixed incomes, and she's having terrible trouble with her teeth. Her husband, an 8-year veteran of the Navy, had cancer and open heart surgery, and both now have diabetes, too. But Watts, whose words in the interview make it clear she's a Christian, resisted that temptation and called Cracker Barrel to report she'd "found something" in the rest room.

     Less than 15 minutes later, a woman called and described exactly what Watts had found, and they arranged to meet---without the media or anyone else knowing---just to exchange the money.

     You can imagine the hug Mrs. Watts got from the elderly woman whose money she was returning! Reaching into the bag, though, it wasn't the money that was her treasure. "Judith" had recently sold her home, and was driving south to start a new life, living with her son in Florida. For awhile, at least, it looked like that new life had just slipped away.

     As Mrs. Watts' described the moment in her own words in the News Journal account: "She run up and hugged me. She got excited and didn't even look at the bag except to pull out the picture to show it to me," said Watts. "She said it was the only picture she had of her daughter and her daughter's child, who are both deceased."

      Naturally, the grateful woman in the old car offered the Watts a reward: $1,000. Not so naturally, the Watts turned it down; knowing already the woman needed every penny to start her new life. Her next words are so moving: "There is a hereafter. Some tend to forget that," she said. "God takes care of us anyway."

      Somewhere in Florida, a woman's with her son for the holidays; basking in the joy of a reunion unsullied by the loss of the money and basking in the joy of meeting someone like Billie Watts.

     Richer, too, for the return of the picture, her most important link to a part of her world gone too soon.

     May the joy of that reunion, mother to daughter---even if only in the form of the picture---, and the joy of that new union, mother to mother, in a Tennessee Cracker Barrel, be part of your story, too, as we celebrate the many, many ways Jesus touches and changes us---and strangers we may one day meet---this Christmas season.
 
--Randy Kilgore
 
**This story was first reported in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by the Daily News Journal.
 

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