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Home for the Holidays - Part 14

A Ticket of Our Own

Last Christmas, a new tradition started for me, all because I married a man who since he was a young boy has loved trains. Last Christmas, before we even moved into a home together, Will graciously offered to set up his childhood train set in my house since we would be enjoying Christmas movies and such there.


We laid out the tracks and I was equally shocked and impressed at how the tracks circled around the entire living room. Was it in the way? No doubt. But, we embraced it and even placed a few poinsettias along the track so we could watch the train chug through the "Poinsettia Forest."


Our celebration with trains continued as we were given the opportunity to experience The Gaylord Texan's ICE exhibit of The Polar Express last Christmas, and ohhhhhmygoodness! It was incredible! I've heard over 2 million pounds of ice is involved! Even more gobsmacking is how they chip, chip, chip away at the ice to create such detailed and perfected sculptures. Truly, the ice sculptures paired with the music and the freezing temperatures all come together to make the movie come to life in such an artistic and extraordinary way!



You may remember in the movie, The Polar Express, each child is required to have a ticket to go. At the end of the movie, we see the conductor stamps something different on each child's ticket.


First, there was the boy who felt stuck and alone because his past experiences of Christmas never worked out for him. This caused him to struggle with trust, so the stamp on his ticket said "Depend on, Rely on, Count on." He needed to learn to depend on Someone stronger, Someone greater.


Next, there was the girl who learned to use her voice and stand up for those without a voice. You may remember she's the one who had to practice being brave when walking across the bridge. Her ticket said "Lead." She was growing into a leader and would help others along their journeys.


Then, of course, there was the main character, the little boy who was initially apprehensive to get on the train but his faith grew one step at a time. Throughout the movie, we see his journey to belief started with his thoughts. Towards the end, his mind and his heart aligns and spills forth in confession as he says, "I believe, I believe, I believe!!!" It's no surprise his ticket said, "Believe." He had to learn faith is believing in what he could not see with his physical eyes.


Similarly, putting ourselves in this for a moment can help us reflect and recognize a specific word or set of words stamped on each of our tickets. My word is likely different from your's because we all have different journeys to faith. Some of us need to learn to trust. For others, we have a calling to lead and we need to step more fully into it. Many struggle with faith thinking, "Is it real?"


My word is simple on the surface but deeply meaningful and one I'm learning more about each day - love. What word is stamped on your ticket? What word challenges you on your journey to greater depths of faith?



When we came to the end of the ICE walk, our noses and toeses were rosy and numb. I asked my co-workers (many of whom are foreign and of different beliefs than my own) which of the ice sculptures was their favorite, and I was taken back when nearly all of them said "the last one."


You see, it wasn't the enormous train with welcoming music, nor the train you could sit in. It wasn't the hot chocolate dance scene once aboard or the caribou in the snowy forest or the train engineer with the long beard. It wasn't the center of the city with the magnificent Christmas tree with the charming town's architecture all around. It was the one which stood in clear, radiant ice. Lambs, shepherds, angels, wise men all surrounding two new humble parents holding a humble baby boy - a baby boy who would one day save the world.



Reflecting on it now, I can't help but think, what might their tickets say? Though the Holy Spirit is fully capable of using a moment like this to lead someone to faith, I have to believe this may have been when a seed was planted. Maybe their tickets said something along the lines of "Wonder" or "Awe" or "Radiance."


We all have our own journeys to faith and God can use even the most unexpected ways to draw us closer to Him. That's what He did on that silent night long ago and it's what He's still doing today.


So again I ask, what word is on your ticket?


May we find strength for today as we reflect on the gift of Jesus. May our joy renew as we share the truth of Christmas with others and peace fill our world as we reflect on the greatness of this gift from God. May we rest knowing God is with us and near to us as we journey to greater understanding and faith in Him.


The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.



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