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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: California Caroling
By Pamela Kliewer
10/04/08


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Christmas caroling in June. No, wait – wrong month. It really was December, but it felt like June. How was I supposed to get myself geared up to go Christmas caroling when the weather was a summery seventy-five degrees and no snow on the ground? I wasn’t bundled up in warm clothing, trying to ward off the chill, but dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops. This was not Christmas caroling weather. My heart rebelled at the thought of going out that evening to bring ‘Christmas cheer’ to the shut-ins of the church.

Now, in Oregon, where I come from, Christmas caroling was done in bone chilling weather. We could see the evidence of our breath as we sang our songs of Christ’s birth, bringing goodwill to those we went and sang to, as they opened their doors, braved the elements and listened to us with rapt attention. Some would then invite us in for hot cocoa and cookies. How sweet it was to wrap my freezing hands around a hot mug and sip at its contents, a contented sigh escaping my lips.

But, here I was, in California – and the Christmas ‘weather’ just wasn’t there… well, at least not what I considered Christmas weather. Maybe I should see about renting a snow-blowing machine for the evening. I thought, inwardly scoffing. Conviction sat on my shoulders. The feelings I was carrying around needed to be dealt with, now.

I had been sitting in our yard, filled with flowers of all kinds… in December! Can you believe it? Pansies bloomed profusely this time of year… go figure… But I digress. I went inside, grabbed my journal, a pen and my Bible. I poured myself a glass of iced tea on my way back outside.

Sitting down in the cushy porch swing, I made myself comfortable, opened my journal to a clean sheet, and put my pen to the paper. The thoughts flowed from my heart, racing one another to get on the page.

Wow. This is December. It’s Christmas. Where is the cold weather? The snow? I just don’t get it… how am I supposed to enjoy Christmas caroling this evening when the weather isn’t cooperating? I’m sitting here drinking iced tea for crying out loud. Yeah. I’m supposed to go out and bring cheer to shut-ins when my heart is feeling like this… encased in ice that this warm weather should be melting. Why don’t I just start a bon fire around my heart and sip hot cocoa like I was used to doing back in Oregon?

I heard that still small voice… my pen flew across the page, recording my conversation with the Savior.

“Courtney.”

“Yes, Lord?”

“What is this season about?”

“You, Lord…”

“Then why are you worried about the weather?”

“Lord, it’s just so hard to be here like this… I can’t go do this ‘good deed’ when it just doesn’t seem like Christmas!”


As had happened before, a Scripture reference popped into my head. I knew there was a reason I had grabbed my Bible. I flipped through the pages. Ah, there it was. The ice around my heart began to melt when I read the words the Holy Spirit had gently lead me to.

“Be hospitable to one another, without grudging.” I wrote the words down, my heart heavy with shame.

Grudging – selfish, self-seeking, stingy. That’s what I’ve been lately. Thinking only of my pleasure – what would make me happy this time of year. What would make it seem like the right time to go Christmas caroling for me… Oh Lord, forgive me. I lost sight of what Christmas caroling is all about… it’s about You and about bringing joy to others who are hurting or lonely…

Tears made their way down my cheeks, dripping into my iced tea. I lifted my tear stained face to up to the warmth of the sun… basking in the presence of the Lord.

I don’t know how long I sat there, but after a bit I was singing Christmas carols, getting my heart ready to minister Christ’s love to His beloved that night.

A strange thing happened that evening… suddenly the air grew cold, the wind picked up and clouds scuttled across the sky… without warning a gentle snow fell, covering the earth in pure white. I had to bundle up to go Christmas caroling. As I stepped outside, I looked up at the sky. Snowflakes caressed my face.

“Thank you.” I whispered.

-----
Scripture reference: 1 Peter 4:9 MKJV


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This article has been read 534 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rebecca Jones10/09/08
How often do we make Christmas about us and our feelings during the season? You wrapped that up quite nicely.
Hannah Hunter10/10/08
You have captured well the struggle of dealing with changes in our lives. When we are dissatisfied with where we are, our hearts are not ready to give to others.
Jan Ackerson 10/10/08
My daughter in Florida is going through the same thing this year!

I like her responsiveness to the Lord's promptings, but I was a bit disappointed in the last paragraph, where snow fell after all. It seemed to negate the lesson she had learned.

Very good job with her internal conflict and struggles...a strong entry.
Loren T. Lowery10/13/08
What a great message! But somehow wished it hadn't snowed.

That aside, this is written with an honesty that makes it so believable that it connects the readers to the MC in a way that makes them nod their head in complete understanding. Not always an easy thing to do, but you did it! Great job.
LaNaye Perkins10/13/08
Beautiful message in a wonderful story. Great job my friend.
Karlene Jacobsen 10/13/08
Awesome message, well received.
Joy Faire Stewart10/14/08
Great writing showing the MC's voice and wonderful message, too.
Patrick Whalen10/14/08
Having moved from Nebraska to Texas myself, I completely understand the reaction to a warm Christmas. As follow-up, this isn't a criticism...its something that popped up as I was reading: I think the following sentence, "Now, in Oregon, where I come from..." could come across a little better. Perhaps removing the "Now" ... still, it was a good read and message. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/15/08
I spent one Christmas season in a summer climate with flowers blooming and could identify well with your mc. Your conflict is presented excellently, as well as your mc's seeking heart.
Shelley Ledfors 10/15/08
A great message of remembering what's really important...not how we "feel". Very nice!
Leah Nichols 10/15/08
Well, I thought it was a great story - if it is a true story, it definitely sounds like something God would do....He has that great sense of humor. If not a true story, still amazing writing. Thanks for sharing!
Lyn Churchyard10/16/08
Pamela, I love your descriptions about your MC's heart being encased in ice. The conversation with the Lord was nicely done. Loved your title too.

I've had 60 Christmases, and all of them have been over 80 degrees. One day maybe...