No Family for Christmas

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Chapter 8: Agents of Mercy
(by NativeRose, added on 25 December 2008 12:31 PM)

Rowena stood in line with another girl, who was bouncing up and down.
"Janae, would you like to be the line leader today?" Miss Lannie asked.
"Can I be tomorrow day?" asked a little boy excitedly. "You may. Get in line behind Janae." As the boy skipped into line, Melody appeared in the doorway. As she walked through the door, Janae whined, "That's not fair! I'm leader!" Hanna, the aide, calmly walked toward the little group to facilitate.
"Janae, I need to go into the classroom," Melody explained as Hanna arrived on the scene.
"Fine!" the small child grudgingly relented.
"That wasn't a nice thing to say. That hurt Melody's feelings. How do you think you could handle that differently next time?"
"But I was scared she would take my spot!" Janae protested.
"How could you tell her that next time?"
"Um...Please let me be leader."
"That is a great way to tell her what you want." Hanna nodded in response to Melody's unasked question, so Melody knelt before the child.
"Now tell me that again," she said.
"Please let me be leader."
"Yes, you can be the line leader." Melody gave verbal response to Hanna's consent. Melody moved toward Rowena who was, surprisingly, talking to another little girl.
"Can wunch wif us today?" Rowena asked, excitedly waving at her new friend.
"Who is your friend?" Melody responded.
"Yay!" Eliza squealed, because she had deduced Melody would let her join. Melody got in line with the two girls, but her mind was racing. Christmas was just one week away, and this was one time of year that was terribly difficult for her. Coletta, her mama, had died two days before Christmas, so this was always tough for her. Sometimes it was heart-wrenching even still. Last night, a memory sent it all crashing down upon her again. She tried to focus on the children surrounding her. They needed her help, but it was just so hard...

Melody halfheartedly watched her charges eat their spaghetti, but she was still dealing with the sudden grip of depression. and as always, God cared for her needs even before she thought to pray for them. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and she met the compassionate gaze of her boyfriend and best friend. Thank God for Gabriel, she thought. He knew this time was difficult for her and always sought to provide extra support.
"Hi, Gabe," she said, trying to smile, but he wasn't fooled. He had just opened his mouth to offer assistance when another person joined the group. It was Kalila, Melody's other best friend. She, too, knew this was a difficult time for Melody. she had seen the look of pain through Melody's facade. Melody masterfully feigned serenity for the little children, but Kalila could see the torment behind the mask.
"Hi, Rowena, I'm Kalila. Can I help you with your spaghetti? It's attacking your face!" Surprisingly, Rowena giggled, and Melody sighed with relief.
"I'm going to let Kalila sit with you today," she turned to the girls and explained, trying to keep her wobbly smile in place. And with that, Gabriel helped Melody stand. She disguised her physical pain well, but Gabriel and Kalila could tell her arthritis was bothering her something fierce today. It was due to the subzero temperatures. They slowly walked to Baker Hall, where Gabriel knew they would find solace.
"The new girl who came last night...well, it just reminded me of my first days here. It's so hard, especially now."
"It's even more troubling now because we're approaching the anniversary of your mom's death."
"Sometimes..." Her voice trailed off when she felt the tears coming. She tried to turn away, but Gabriel would have none of that.
"Sometimes I think I'm over the worst, but then it all comes back, and I feel like a lost child again." Gabe's heart went out to the broken girl before him. He had been orphaned as a baby, and no one had wanted to adopt him, because he was a black baby. Therefore, he didn't really know what she was experiencing. Still, he could support her to the best of his ability, and he could trust that God would care for her. Gabriel put an arm around her and grasped her hand with his free one.
"God, only You know the pain Mel is going through. Comfort her heart as only You can. I ask that You give her an extra measure of grace in your infinite mercy and according to Your love..."
As Gabriel continued to pray, a peace flooded Melody's heart. Yes, her God was always there. She had begun to feel completely alone, and she was tired of hiding behind the facade. Sure, most of the time, people got exactly what they saw in her. But during times like this, it was so hard. It wasn't anyone's fault. She just didn't think it was fair to take her own feelings out on others. That was not what her Jesus would want...her Jesus! That was true. She belonged to Him no matter how much she missed her parents and how lost and alone she felt. Only Jesus could so completely love the shattered girl and the heart that was breaking even now. She sighed with relief as Gabriel finished praying.
"I will still miss them terribly, but I know Jesus is with me, and He will help me. I will depend on God's strength." As Gabriel reached down to help her stand, she realized she could now face the rest of the day and the extra tasks in the dormitory. Now she could fully help Rowena to adjust to her new life.

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