An advancing glacier is like an ice making machine with the output being dropped on a conveyor belt. The ice travels along until the temperature of the surrounding environment stops it from proceeding any further by causing it to melt. When a glacier recedes, the conveyor belt is not switched to "reverse", it just means that the point at which it melts is moving closer to the ice making machine.
A glacier is always moving forward (downhill). In the winter, the glacier usually isn't melting and its front edge (or "toe") will advance downhill. In the summer, the toe of the glacier usually melts faster than the glacier is moving forward, causing the front edge of the glacier to recede. If the recession in the summer is greater than the advance in the winter, then the glacier as a whole is receding and will eventually disappear. That is what is currently happening to most of the glaciers in North America and many other places around the world.
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