posted by Kristi
If you’ve been following our posts at BJUGrace, you know that Rebecca Davis and I listen to and talk about heavy-duty topics like childhood sexual abuse and those who enable it. In that sense, this past year has been ‘the worst of times.’
But today, in mid-December, the Son came out and blew the winter chill away. Come with me to this warm place of laughter and celebrate the delight and wonder of Immanuel!
Six weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful, dark-headed mom of several young children. She came to Greenville to attend the Shining the Light conference. One evening after leaving the conference venue, a few of us got together for quiet conversation.
While I listened to a story that included the horrors of domestic violence, spiritual abuse, emotional coercion, and childhood sexual abuse, I sensed a valiant spirit in this young mother. What I saw in front of me was a woman who was doing all she could to learn how to use her voice to advocate for herself and for her precious children, and I was deeply moved. I found myself silently praying for God to protect her and give her an abundance of wisdom.
We all exchanged email addresses and hugs and continued our conversations whenever we could. Soon, my friend Sally and I coaxed a Christmas wish list from her. Not long after rallying friends to help us both, we realized that we could fill the entire back of her car of gifts, and maybe, just maybe we could squeeze in a weekend trip to a location several hours away.
Oh, the mysterious ways of God! What looked to us like a trip to deliver Christmas gifts turned out to have surprises for us all.
“Let’s meet each other at the Victorian Christmas celebration,” suggested our friend.
“How fun!” I thought, so I looked up the link she sent, and to my great delight, I saw that there was going to be a drawing for ONE winner to receive multiple prizes from local businesses. But there was a catch. Only those dressed in Victorian-era clothing could register.
“Hey, I know where to rent a costume!” I thought. I had about one hour to get to the store before closing. Now, the serious side of me was saying, “This is c-r-a-z-y – you’ve got so much to do before this trip – you don’t have time for this!”
But the optimist in me countered, “But what if I register her name for the prize and she wins! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?”
So I made my way through a sea of costumes and found my ‘Christmas Carol’ apparel in fifteen minutes!
While packing for the trip later that evening, I sensed that God was . . . smiling! I chuckled to myself, “I haven’t worn a costume to a party in at least 20 years!” Could it be that the costume idea was really His idea? Did He whisper this playful thought in my imagination?
I will never forget the look on our dear friend’s face when she saw us walking down the street; I was trying not to stumble over the long skirt and I felt so conspicuous! She embraced Sally and me, smiling broadly as she introduced us to her lovely children. One of her little daughters was fascinated with my bonnet, shiny brooch, and velvety skirt. She tugged me forward, eager to show me everything that caught her eye while peppering me with questions like “Will you have hat hair when you take that bonnet off?” I really didn’t care too much about hat hair. I did care about the skirt snaps at the waistband that kept unsnapping while I tried to match her pace. (Thankfully, losing my skirt is one surprise that DIDN’T happen!)
Before the evening was over, I made it to the right spot to register our friend for the big prize. She didn’t know I was doing it for her, though. Sally and I kept that as our surprise! It didn’t escape my notice that the fishbowl with all the entries was about half full, and there was still one more day left in the festival. Inwardly, I felt a wee bit foolish. I silently chided myself, wondering what had made me think that the little slip of paper with her name on it would be lifted out among all the others? As I dropped the little slip in the bowl, I prayed wistfully, “God, it sure would be nice if you let them choose her for this prize.”
A couple of days after returning home, I’m scanning through my emails and I see “WINNER” in the subject line, and, it’s our friend emailing both of us. Excitedly, I click on it and read phrases like, “We are beaming over here! Read the prize notification below that I received this morning.” She also adds, “Oh, the children are hooting and hollering in the background.”
“Is this for real?!” I started smiling, my eyes filled with tears, and then I started laughing. “This is hilarious! Unbelievable. It happened. She actually won the prize!”
As I reflect over the effects of the day’s surprise, I realize how our delight and laughter made us feel connected, even though we are many miles apart. For a few hours, this delight seemed to shorten the distance between heaven and earth.
In the deep, dark winter, I want to remember that our God does not hide his face forever. “Laughter” said Victor Hugo, “is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”