Some of them have been for my workplace, the hospital where I serve as a chaplain. Recently I was given a number of quilts, and I am always amazed at the women who quilt in our community. Beautiful hand-crafted labors of love, and I am usually the one who hands them out! There are no words for gifts like these, simply gratitude. Others bring me shawls, prayerfully made, and the impact for those who receive these comfort gifts is precious.
A few weeks ago a parcel arrived at my door. It was a big box, from my dear friend who lives on the island. It was heavy! And I wondered... what could it be? And inside it was LOADED with her precious little books for children, and a pile of crayons and pencil crayons. Her generosity filled me with delight!
It is such a pleasure to provide colouring books, crayons, and stuffed toys for children at the hospital. These are all gifts, generous gifts. Another group has created bags for me to put them in!
Other grandmothers lovingly put together bags of toiletries for those who need it in the ER. The gifts are never-ending...
This Sunday (tomorrow as I write this) is the third Sunday of Advent. And I've been thinking about Joy! Joy often comes in the midst of challenges, and brightens our lives.
One of the bookmarks I made this year was a bookmark about Strength. I've handed out many of these bookmarks, and spoken on this subject a couple of times this past summer. The bookmark includes beautiful scripture verses, reminding us that even in our weakness God gives us perfect strength.
So it was a great surprise one day when I arrived at the hospital chapel to find a parcel with my name on it. I love surprises! And inside was this amazing little box... with the artwork from that bookmark etched on it.
I was moved to tears... that someone, who chose to remain anonymous, would give me such an extravagant gift. I was encouraged and thrilled. And grateful that this powerful word - strength - had also impacted another, and was inspiration for such a lovely art project.
The verse on the bottom right reads:
"For my grace is sufficient for you... for my power is made perfect in weakness." 1 Cor 12:9
I have experienced the truth of this, over and over again!
We went to Banff recently for a conference. Another dear friend was concerned about my footwear in the mountains. So she generously offered to loan me her boots. She thought they would be better than my options. :-)
I was a little hesitant to accept. Her boots, especially the RED ones were beautiful and funky and fun. But I said yes, gratefully, and took them to Banff. I wore them only once, and they were comfortable, and I felt, well quite fashionable!!
I returned them the following week... with gratefulness for her generosity.
A couple of weeks went by... and I was home recovering from a minor surgical procedure on my back. To be honest, I had a mole removed, and I was feeling a little sore... but it also triggered a lot of memories... my first hubby died of melanoma... and in 2000 I had a melanoma removed as well. I get a little edgy around suspicious spots.
And even as I tried to let it be, to rest in God's care for me, I felt fragile that day.
So I sat there... that afternoon and a delivery truck drove up. "I didn't order anything" I told my hubby, but he said... it's for you! And inside? My very own pair of red boots.
Such an extravagant gift. I knew immediately my dear friend had ordered them for me. And again, I was moved to tears.
And I thought about God, who loves me so, who loves each one, how well God knew I needed some extra care that day. The timing of such a lovely gift could not have been better.
So I wear my red boots... and laugh! Because it is fun, because I have lovely extravagant friends, and a God who lavishes love on me when I need it most.
And I need to say... my spot was completely benign, as I found out ten days later, and I was so very grateful all over again.
This is rather personal... but I think we all need encouragement. And I am again inspired to be generous, to give extravagantly, to live life with joy.