Tag Archive | gifts

The helping hand


I notice them gathering even before the sun appears.  The birds.  The hungry, cold birds needing food to give warmth and energy in these below-average temperatures.

bird on rail

Taking courage, I walk out the door to the back deck in my robe and house slippers to spread seed on rails brushed clear of snow,  I can’t even get to the feeder in the yard without donning tall garden boots. They are my only shoes that are higher than the drifts.

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While they scatter at my appearance, the birds return soon.  They are hungry.  They flutter back and forth there all day long. The peaceful mourning dove, the tiny wrens and sparrows, the bright red cardinals, the bossy blue jays.  I am delighted by the sighting of two red-wing blackbirds.  Even the starlings come seeking a little something.

I put out more food late at night for the early birds tomorrow.

I worry about them, yet I remember that God created them to endure with their fluffy feathers (who doesn’t love a down comforter on a cold night).  They sit and eat in their ruffled up way to manage this extreme cold snap we are having in what most call a southern state.

A verse comes to mind.  “[God] provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

God provides for all His creatures.  And I put out seed for birds and dress little dog in a sweater and booties to go out so his feet won’t be frosted.

God provides for people.  And I help my neighbor who needs someone to care for her daughter in the early morning hours.

God provides for people we care about.  And I text my friend who had surgery this week, praying for her recovery, like many have done for us.

God provides what we need.  And two sweet daughters-of-my-heart send someone to clear my drive so I am no longer housebound in the deep, deep snow.

God provides shelter and daily bread.  And I have food and warmth and Sweet William is being cared for by medical professionals who know what he needs.

God provides mostly through . . . us.

Because we were never meant to live this beautiful life alone.  Not islands unto ourselves.  No self-made men or women who don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth and all that is in it to work together, to move like a well-oiled machine.  Sun warming earth to bring forth food.  Moon moving tides in and out.  Honey bees taking pollen to flower after flower.  Plants to grow and produce seed that is planted again.

The beauty of it all is just astounding when I think of it.  And that I get to be part of the process is even more amazing.  That the greatest of all, the Ancient of days, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, who is complete in Himself and has no need of anything, the I AM – He has called me, has called you, to be part of His work.  He invites us to come along beside Him in what He does.

Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan, His admonition for us to love one another, His laying down His very life for mankind is the beautiful demonstration of the hand extended to one’s brother or sister.

We are made for each other.  We’ve been given gifts and talents that are needed by someone else in our little corner of the world.

I love the story of the woman who brought her expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus.  When criticism arose, Jesus responded lovingly, “She did what she could.”  It was what she had in her hand and she offered it to the One she loved.  She did what she could.

What is in your hand today?  I have bird seed in my hand and a warm sweater and a prayer and a word here and there.  I will do what I can.

Valentine’s Day is not about sweethearts

Of course, the media in all of its intrusive forms would make us think Valentine’s Day is for lovers and sweethearts and couples and spouses.  We must buy candy and cards.  We must spend money.  Jewelry and roses are expected.  And if you are not currently in a relationship, or your sweetie forgets you, or you don’t get something expensive, well you just must not be loved so much.

NOT!  Please don’t believe that lie.

love-wordLove is from God.  I’ve been recognizing this more since doing a Bible study by Kelly Minter and gathering weekly with sisters to talk openly and be real about our lives and our relationships.

Anything good in this world, any smidgen of love displayed, any beauty, any joy all comes from the Creator of every good and perfect gift.

His love is displayed in the warm sun, the air I breathe, the faces of my children and grandchildren.  His love is in my husband’s embrace, in the endurance and strength to care for him, in the kindness of medical professionals and visitors to his hospital room.

God’s love is shown by strangers who let me in the line of traffic, by the customer service person who helps me resolve a problem, by my neighbor telling me she is just a phone call away.

God shows His love for me by showering me with gifts all day long, gifts of grace like a good cup of coffee, a gorgeous sunrise, my little dog snuggling close, by a phone conversation with my grandson-too-far-away.

But the very most extravagant love God has demonstrated was the gift of His Son to a world that did not receive Him, did not know Him, did not love Him back.  The greatness of His love was manifest in that He loved us when we were unlovable, unlovely, unholy.  He loved first.

Any good in this world is because He initiated love and lavished that love on the creation, the very ones who turn their back on Him and use His name to curse.  The ones who don’t believe.  The ones who choose their own determined way instead of running to His welcoming arms of forgiveness and grace.

Many stories try to tell us the origin of a man named Valentine, how he was kind and loving and so we celebrate him with a day in February.  We call him a saint.  And then we ask you to spend money to show your love.  Sorry, it’s just not about that.

Love is serving, giving of oneself, sacrificing your own wants for someone else.

Love forgives, does not hold grudges, hardly notices when others do you wrong.  Love is patient and kind.  It’s not jealous and boastful.  Love helps you think of others first and act in loving ways no matter what.  Love longs for truth and right living.  Love bears up under the hardest of circumstances, continues to believe God is good, and trusts Him for power to keep on going in the grace that strengthens.

Because Love does not end.  Not when divorce divides.  Not when loved ones die.  Not when I am wounded by words.  Not when I am separated by distance or misunderstandings or unresolved conflict. God’s love keeps giving, keeps restoring, keeps healing, keeps seeking.

Because God is love.  And love comes from God.  And nothing, no nothing can separate me from His love.  And that is worth remembering on Valentine’s Day.