This short story was printed in “Treasures of the Heart: An Advent Devotional Reader.”

Years of routine Advent celebrations had left me frustrated.  I’d look at the purple and pink candles, listen to the readings, sing the hymns and the most it stirred was a mere, “That’s nice.”  I knew Jesus’ birth was more than nice.  It was glorious, miraculous, an indescribably brilliant part of God’s redemptive plan.  But the meaning seemed distant from my spirit.  Shouldn’t I feel more anticipation?

Appropriately, it was a birth — that of my niece Kennedy — that finally made Advent come alive in my heart.  I was slated to finish graduate school in December 2005, after which I planned to live temporarily in Michigan with my brother Brandon and his wife Kara, who was pregnant, with a due date of December 11.  Few things give me quicker delight than babies, and the opportunity to live with my niece for at least six months had me flushed with excitement.

By late November, my brother had strict instructions to keep me updated.  “Brandon, I’m serious.  Call me as soon as you know; at the first sign of contractions.  I don’t care if it is the middle of the night.”

“Corrie, I’ve got it,” my brother responded, patient and amused.

Even the worry and headaches of final exams could not outweigh the constant, aching anticipation I felt for Kennedy’s arrival.  I finished my exams and packed for my move to Michigan; I hardly left the house for fear of missing the call.  Finally, when Kennedy was nine days overdue, the doctor decided to induce labor.  Brandon called to tell me that Kennedy should be home from the hospital by the time I landed in Michigan.

Kara’s labor took two days to progress to the pushing stage and I got caught between storm fronts and was rerouted all over the country.  Nothing was according to plan.  At each new airport, I would call my mother for an update.

From a Vancouver pay phone — “Is she here yet?”  “No, not yet.”  We placed bets on the hour of her birth.

From Cincinnati, “Mom, is she here yet?”  “No, but Kara is pushing.”

Delayed in Detroit, I called my mother.  “Any news?”  “No, we haven’t heard from Brandon in two hours.  Hopefully it will be soon.”  I boarded my final flight.

During the forty minutes in the air, I anxiously tapped my feet and carelessly paged through Sky magazine trying to relax myself with articles like “Visit Aspen for Less Than $400” and “Atlanta’s Best Meals.”  Dissatisfied with one distraction, I turned to another, chomping through the huge pieces of ice in my complimentary beverage.  I kept looking around the plane as though I expected to hear Kennedy’s first born cry.  I wondered, is this the minute that she is being born?

A friend greeted me when I arrived in Grand Rapids and told me that Kennedy had been born a few hours earlier.  We reached home at 2 AM and despite deep exhaustion, it took me several hours to fall asleep.  The anticipation of the last nine months and eleven days, and the excitement and drama of Kennedy’s birth had me buzzing with joy.  Holding her the next morning was one of the most tender moments of my life.  When the final Advent candle was lit that Sunday I was beaming — a proud aunt and a humbled child of God who finally understood a little bit more about anticipating the miraculous birth of my savior.

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