How You Can Create a Miracle Today

by Neal Frankle, CFP ®

You can create a miracle if you want. I really mean it and I can demonstrate this if you bear with me. Tonight is the first night of Chanukah and it’s a big event at the Pilgrim palace.

My wife looks for any excuse to invite a boatload of people over and tonight we’ll be packed. We don’t make any big fuss about presents – in fact, we don’t even exchange them. We’ve learned how to stop spending money in that department. But we do really enjoy having our closest friends over and look forward to it.

In preparation for the holiday, my wife and I went to a lecture last night.

There, we heard two really bright men speak about the meaning of Chanukah. Before I get to their message (which was super powerful and inspiring to us), I want to make sure you know the story behind the holiday.

In 165 BCE, warriors led by Judah Maccabee kicked the tar out of the soldiers of the Greek-Syrian Empire who were occupying (and misbehaving) in the Holy Land. Mr. Maccabee got rid of the bad guys and then rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

When he did so, he lit a candelabra (known as a menorah). Even though he had very little oil, it actually burned for eight days according to the story. This is why the holiday is referred to as the “Festival of Lights.”

What has this got to do with a personal finance blog?

Well…I think quite a bit.

You see, Chanukah celebrates the miracles that took place at that time (Judah Maccabee beating the much stronger Greek-Syrian army and the oil that lasted for eight days when it was only really enough for one day.)

These were indeed miracles. But a very different type of miracle than the “please make it rain and poof…you’ve got a thunderstorm,” everyday, run-of-the-mill miracle.

Here’s how:

1. These miracles required action. Somebody had to do something in order for these wonderful events to take place.

2. These people took action despite minimal odds of success. They had faith.

3. They had faith and took action despite a high cost of failure because they were doing something for their community – not just themselves.

That was the message I got, and it really got me thinking.

If you think about it, miracles are actually inevitable when you take action, have faith and serve others. Right?

I hope you don’t think I’ve had a few too many latkes (traditional Chanukah delicacy of shredded potatoes fried in oil) but I really think that when our actions incorporate all three elements, we do create miracles – even if we fail to reach our ultimate objective.

Let’s say your goal is to create a healthy cooking blog. You focus on helping others improve their health and you launch the blog despite never having written before.

You may not become a pro blogger in a year – but maybe you’ll change some lives. Maybe you’ll help someone live longer than they otherwise would. And at the same time, you might fulfill your dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom.

Those are miracles…aren’t they?

So my question to you is, what miracle do you want to manufacture this coming year? Do you believe that if you embrace the three requirements, miracles will manifest? Are there other requirements that I’ve missed? Have you experienced these kinds of miracles yourself?



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Parkey Thompson Debt Free Plan December 23, 2009 at 9:40 AM

I think your blog needs some updating. I would love to read more about this.


admin December 15, 2009 at 3:15 PM

That is a beautiful miracle Joel. Thanks for sharing it with us….WOW…..those miracles are everywhere!


Neal Frankle December 12, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Good luck Sam…..I’m counting on you.


Financial Samurai December 12, 2009 at 9:23 AM

Hey Neal! Thanks for the story, didn’t realize there was a Chanukah along with Hannukah! I love learning something new.

Miracle for 2010 are several fold: 1) Win the San Francisco Tennis Open, 2) Get picked up by a large main stream media site like yourself, and 3) Make $1 million in gross income!

It’ll be a miracle if all three happen, but I know I can do at least one! :)




buzzo fennel December 11, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Neal, you have an interesting web site. I guess as I matured, I have finally learned the basic tenet of saving more than I spend! It took me sixty some years to come to that realization, but now I have established an emergency fund and NO LONGER HAVE TO RELY ON THE DREAD OF CREDIT CARD DEBT! I am free of that burden that swallows up so many in this world. Live within your means and the hell with Madison Avenue and everything it forces down our throats!


Matt SF December 11, 2009 at 12:07 PM

I’d like to think my miracle (even though I don’t believe in such things) would be to convince people to reduce their consumerism.

Much like Save Every Way mentioned, doing a little work to every day really begins to add up by the end of the month/quarter/year.


Neal December 11, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Heather …thx….

SAVE EVERY WAY! You are amazing!!!!!!

Have you contacted the WSJ or PEOPLE mag…they’d love that story and it would help so many more people. I am a huge fan of what you’ve done. BRAVO!!!!!


SaveEveryWay December 11, 2009 at 10:23 AM

Not long ago I read an article in the WSJ about some economists that worked with banks in third world countries helping customers learn how to save more. They did this by sending text messages every day.

This sounded like something I would want, so I looked but it is a service that was not available.

I spent about a week learning about programing and websites to launch

Within days we had over 500 people sign up for daily messages, quotes and tips on how to save money.

It is a special feeling to know that your efforts and faith can actually do something to help your community, but you are right, it requires action.


Heather near Atlanta December 11, 2009 at 10:13 AM

Wow, come for the coupon advice and leave with something much more profound (**smiley emoticon**). Not that there’s anything wrong with that …

Your writing is terrific: short, sweet, inspiring and true. Thank you, and Happy Hanukah.


Neal December 11, 2009 at 9:20 AM

Yes…thanks Pam.

And Rob….wow…..your response sent shivers up the ol’ pilgrim spine.


Rob Bennett December 11, 2009 at 8:59 AM

Thank you for those kind words, Pam. We all need encouragement from time to time and those words brought a nice bit of cheer to my morning.



Pam McCormick December 11, 2009 at 8:41 AM

Okay you guys(Neal and Rob)are killing me with this writing.Both are so honest they evoke emotion in the reader, and of course hopefully actions.I have to say really really nice this time of year to read material like this that is so uplifting! Thanks guys


Rob Bennett December 11, 2009 at 8:32 AM

You’re making such a simple and such a profound point.

I teach a catechism class of seven- and eight-year olds and I once asked the boys and girls if they could guess what are the two miracles that I have seen with my own eyes. One smart, smart girl (Lauren) said: “Your two boys!”

Every time I look at them my confidence in miracles is strengthened. There are people who will explain how they came to be and say that because they know about this process they are not really miracles. These little talks never persuade me.

Because I know better.

My wife and I waited too long to have kids. We had a hard time. My wife had gotten very depressed about it after eighteen months. She couldn’t take the emotional turmoil anymore and declared that this was the end, no more of this trying to have kids stuff. I didn’t like the idea of living with a crazy person the rest of my life, which is where things were headed if we followed this foolish decision of hers. So I put my foot down and said “No!”, it was not going to be like that.

And here they are. It was my best moment.

It took action and faith and community (or at least caring for somebody other than just your yourself), like you said. I think that you are right that this is the way that God goes about generating miracles. He doesn’t give us every miracle we request. But He is always open to generating one if we would just be willing to accept the type of miracle that He favors, one with action and faith and community mixed up in it in some way.

Smart post, Neal.



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