Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advent Reflections

December 23rd

As Janice began to clear away the breakfast dishes, she noticed a few snow flurries descending from the heavens. Wouldn’t it be fun to have snow on the ground for Christmas? Tonight she and her children were joining the church to go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home. Janice enjoyed watching the faces of the residents as the children sang the familiar songs. The way the children sang lifted the spirits of everyone present. She loved how children could give of themselves so freely. Perhaps as she allowed the little girl inside her to speak, she too would touch people in a new and inspiring way.
Gracie came into the kitchen with her apron on, preparing to roll the gingerbread cookie dough to cut into shapes. Janice and Gracie took turns rolling and cutting. The aroma of the baking cookies permeated every area in the house. It wasn’t long before Noah left the game system to try a freshly baked cookie. After the cookies cooled they all sat and decorated them, one by one. This was Janice’s favorite part- she loved to see the gingerbread people with their raisin eyes and candy noses. She looked forward to placing them in the hands of the people at the home. It made them smile.
When everyone at the church arrived at the nursing home it was around 7PM. Snow flurries came and went throughout the day, but there was no ground accumulation. The room where the people sat was decorated with twinkling multi colored lights. In the front of the room, next to the piano, stood a live Christmas tree. On the tree were many homemade ornaments, of different shapes and sizes. At the top was a simple felt star with glitter all over it. The tree in its simplicity touched Janice’s heart. As she looked around the room she thought of the men and women here, in their final years of life, working diligently on their ornaments and then carefully placing them on the tree. She felt blessed to be part of this special celebration.
After the program, Janice mingled and chatted with various different people. She felt drawn to a lady in a wheel chair towards the rear of the room. Each time she glanced at her the lady smiled. When Janice finally made her way back, the lady not only hugged her but also kissed her on the cheek. As she sat down, the lady never let go of her hand. There was a strange intimacy with this woman she had never felt before with someone she had just met. The lady’s name was Madeline.
Madeline and Janice conversed for 15 minutes, learning bits and pieces about each other, trying to get acquainted in what might be their only meeting. Gracie and Noah walked over to let her know it was time to leave. One more time she and Madeline embraced, and Madeline planted yet another kiss upon her cheek. She grabbed Janice’s hand and placed a piece of folded paper into it.
“Take this honey and read it before you go to sleep tonight. Remember, Jesus loves you.”
Janice tucked the note into her pocket, slightly curious. While sitting on the edge of her bed later, she unfolded the note. It said, “Take a different route.” The writing was shaky but bold. The unusual message penetrated her heart. She knew it was from God.
In her journal for December 23rd, Janice wrote:

Dear Jesus,
What a day! You blessed me with meeting a new friend today- Madeline! Thank you for using her to speak to me through hugs, kisses, and words.
“Take a different route.” It sounds ambiguous but confirms this change I sense you are preparing me for in my life. Will you show me the route to take when the time comes? I have felt disorientated and lost for a while. It would be a blessing to have clear direction again in my life.
I think the melody will show me the way, Lord. Help me to not be afraid if the new route looks difficult.
Love, Janice

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