A 1990s internet story about a little boy and his mama touched the heart of DC Chymes, a St. Louis radio personality. Thinking it would make a wonderful song, Chymes took the info to the musical group, NewSong.

After setting the lyrics to music, the composition received minimal interest. So the group sat on the piece for several years. One day, a group member shared the song’s story with his friend Donna VanLiere, whose book about the boy who wanted to buy shoes for his mama became a best-seller and then a movie. People were so enamored with The Christmas Shoes song, book, and movie that Hallmark capitalized on its fame, turning another of Donna’s books into a Christmas movie.

Now, accounts vary as to the way the above events happened. But what about the little boy in the song who wanted to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mama? Did he truly exist?

Not according to Helga Schmidt. No, sir. There wasn’t a boy. But she did stand in a long line with a brother and sister who argued about which one would put the shoes on the counter beside the register. And it wasn’t until she added $3.00 to complete the transaction that she grasped their dire need.

The children thanked her, then shared what they’d learned in Sunday School. They wanted their dying mama’s shoes to match Heaven’s gold-paved streets.

So moved by her encounter with these children, Schmidt wrote the 1970s story as a continuing education piece, which somehow found its way into a newspaper, a church bulletin, and eventually a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publication.

Can you see the profound impact this story had on each of the people involved? NewSong, VanLiere, and Hallmark’s fame skyrocketed.

No doubt the help the siblings received, the gift they gave their mother and the motherless years that followed, changed and shaped them.

Because of her generosity, Helga Schmidt received a gift greater than any $3.00 investment. The story she shared affected the world.

A one-of-a-kind moment.

Now, for all of us who know the story behind The Christmas Shoes, what was the brightest moment? The moment that truly changed lives. Certainly, it wasn’t what came in a wrapped shoebox or the images that flashed across a silver screen.

Hallmark would’ve never produced the movie from VanLiere’s story. The song that moved us to tears wouldn’t have been written. Schmidt’s money would’ve stayed in her pocket. And the siblings who argued on the store line that day may not have desired to buy shoes for their dying mama – had they not received the hope of Heaven while in Sunday School.

The moment they chose to believe that Heaven is real. One brilliant, magical  moment changed everything.

For them. For us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

Merry Christmas!!  🙂

Written by eMarie

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  1. Reading this post, I was reminded of the passage in 11 Corinthians 4:16-18 where we are told that the way to stay strong is to focus on the things which are unseen because they are eternal, and of more importance than the temporal things which we can see.

    Thank you for this post and story. Believing heaven is real changes everything!

    1. Amen!! Most times we’re so consumed with our own time lines, wants, and thoughts that we fail to see the opportunities God has placed right in front of us — the eternal, as you so wisely said, Robby!! I for one need to put aside my to-do list and ask God to show me what’s important to Him!!!

      Thank you, Robby, and Happy 2022! 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this story, for it certainly keeps things in perspective. Merry Christmas, and many blessings for the new year!

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