Bess rolled over, her body facing the room’s small window. The sunlight slipping through the blinds and across her face was enough to make her crack open her eyes and scrunch her face into a perturbed look. She groped toward the right side of the queen-sized bed. Finding it empty, she sighed deeply, then looked at the nightstand clock. 9:32am
“Ladies, ladies!” The chatter of the women decreased as all sat at a table and turned toward Gladys, a slight, middle-aged woman with sparkling eyes.
“We should get started. Cheryl needs to leave at 10 – that only gives us half an hour.”
Cheryl, a young blonde, nodded
“Okay, then. Let’s pray.”
The group nodded as Gladys bowed her head.
“Heavenly Father, You are gracious and loving. Thank You for being here among us, and guiding the decisions we make today. Lord, be with us as we plan this Christmas dinner. Help us to include activities that will please You, and to create a program that will put the focus on Your Son. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”
Gladys motioned toward Cheryl, who smiled.
“I’ll start so I can sneak out early if needed,” Cheryl said. “The tables are mostly taken care of. We can use the church’s tablecloths, and the Vines are lending us tableware from their catering business. I have a call in to Frieda’s Flowers for centerpieces. The only thing left is the small craft item we put with each table setting.”
“Have you called Bess?” a wiry, matronly woman asked.
Cheryl sighed. “I wanted to ask you all about it first.”
Bess poured hot water over the teabag she had placed in her mug. Glancing at the calendar, then the oven clock, she sighed again.
They were meeting right now. They might be calling her shortly, and she didn’t know what she would say. She wasn’t sure she had the heart for it. Bess hadn’t used her hands in that way in several weeks - since the day before Abe died.
“I know she’s been making them for years…,” Cheryl began.
“Twenty years – three times a year,” the wiry woman added. “Every Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day since 1986, when she and Abe joined.”
“I know, Margaret, but don’t you think it’s early to ask her to do this? She’s still dealing with grief.”
“Can’t hurt to ask,” Margaret blurted. “She can always say no.”
Gladys shook her head. “Bess has trouble refusing ministry opportunities. I think we need to seek God in this.”
Bess settled into her rocking chair, placed her cup on the table beside it, and bowed her head.
“Lord, You know how much I love making things with my hands. Knitting, crocheting, and beading are talents You gave me to glorify You. But my heart and hands just haven’t been into crafts since Abe passed. You know me, Lord – better than I know myself. Help me know if this is Your will. Make it clear to me, Father!”
“Ladies, let’s bow our heads.”
A hush fell over the room. After a minute, Melody spoke.
“Heavenly Father, You have promised that You are there where two or more are gathered in Your name. Be here with us now and make it clear what You want us to do. Guide us in deciding whether Your dear child, Bess, is the person for this job. We know she has the gift, Lord. Let us know if we should invite her to bless us in this way. In Your Son’s holy name I pray.”
After another pause and a glance around the room, Gladys took a deep breath.
“Lord, You know we are trying to glorify You through this special event. Help us help our dear sister, Bess. Let us know if making these crafts would be a blessing to her, or just a burden. In Your precious Son’s name I pray.”
Amens echoed throughout.
“Ladies,” Gladys murmured. “This should be Bess’ decision. She might be upset if we don’t ask, you know. We just need to be sure she knows it’s OK to refuse.”
Margaret tapped the table. “I can call her. I think she’s comfortable enough with me to say no. And, despite popular opinion, I can be tactful.”
Laughter filled the room.
Bess reached for her cup and instead found a knitting needle in her hand. She smiled.
“Lord, is this Your answer?”
The telephone’s ring interrupted her thoughts.
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