"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

8/29/08

Friday Fiction: Just Like Jenna

Welcome to my contribution to Friday Fiction at Patterings. I wrote this a while back as a potential story for the Christian children's magazine Pockets, but it has yet to find a home. Well, now it has one here, on my blog! :D Be sure to check out Patterings for more wonderful fiction--and/or add your own story to Fiction Friday! All are welcome!

Just Like Jenna

Jenna sighed. Why did she have to miss a bike ride with her best friend to go to the nursing home this afternoon? It sounded so boring. She’d rather play with Cara than go visit some old people she didn’t even know.

Maybe Mom will forget, and I can go with Cara anyway. Jenna smiled. I think I’ll grab my bike helmet, walk past her, and see what she says.

Just as Jenna grabbed her gear, her mom called from the kitchen. “Get your shoes on, Jen– it’s almost time to head to the nursing home. Oh, and could you grab Evan’s shoes too, please?”

“Yes, Mom.” Jenna moaned and flung her helmet on the couch. So much for that plan. I guess I’m going whether I like it or not.

Jenna went to the closet and grabbed two pairs of shoes: her white tennis shoes, and Evan’s little fire truck sneakers. She put her own shoes on slowly, then shuffled to the kitchen clutching her two-year-old brother’s pair.

Mom was finishing the dishes while Evan played with refrigerator magnets. Jenna plopped down on a kitchen chair between the refrigerator and the sink. Her mom glanced up from the dishes, looked toward Jenna, and laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Jenna asked.

Mom pointed at Evan, who had stopped playing and was following his sister. “He’s doing exactly what you are doing – he’s even making the same facial expressions.”

Jenna rolled her eyes and grumbled. “Why does he always copy me, Mom?”

Mom sat Evan down on a chair at the table and took the shoes from Jenna. “He wants to be just like his big sister. He thinks you’re special.”

Really?” Jenna smiled.

Her mom nodded. “Remember how Pastor was talking in church last Sunday about being witnesses? How we’re supposed to be like Jesus so others will see us and want to be like Him too?”

Jenna nodded.

“Well, it’s like that with everyone. With Evan, he wants to be like you because you’re his big sister. With others, though, if you act nicely and do what God wants you to do, people will want to be like you. You can be anyone’s role model.”

Jenna was surprised. “I thought role models had to be older than you. Aren’t we supposed to learn about being good and stuff from grownups?”

“Sure,” her mom said. “But it doesn’t always have to be that way. You can be a role model for anyone. Jesus said in Matthew 18 that adults had to become like children to be in His kingdom. If you act like one of His children, you can help adults see how much they need Jesus.”
“So I can be a role model to anyone? Even a grandma or grandpa, or a pastor or something?”
“That’s right, Jenna.” Her mom smiled. “You know, some of the people we’re going to visit in that nursing home do not believe in Jesus. If you behave how Jesus would like you to, maybe they’ll be interested in why you’re acting the way you are. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a chance to tell them about Jesus.”

How cool is that? Jenna couldn’t believe a girl like her could help an older person learn about Jesus. She couldn’t wait to get to the nursing home now.

“Mom, isn’t it time to go now? We don’t want to be late!” Jenna was the first one to the door, with Evan behind her, imitating her every step.

6 comments:

  1. What a darling little girl! I love the character of Jenna and especially the bit with the 'imitations'. lol. Good job!

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  2. Awww, cute story. You should try sending this to "Bread for God's Children"--it's just like the type of stories they like to print. They even pay a small amount.

    I remember when I was growing up we went to visit my great-grandmother in a nursing home every Thursday after piano lessons. When I was young I didn't enjoy it, but as I got older I began to cherish spending time with her and hearing the old stories she would tell. I wish we'd written them down!

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  3. This is a precious story! Your characterization is so strong, I can picture Jenna perfectly!

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  4. I started visiting nursing homes as part of an enrichment program in middle school. I was so nervous and dreaded it a lot, but after college, I landed a job that lasted 10 years working with senior citizens. I credit my time there as what helped me!

    Great job!

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  5. I love the lessons in this heart-warming story (for old and young alike). Nursing home work is a great ministry. I'm glad you're calling attention to it by writing this.

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