Savoring the Gift

sky-1371675584cOO

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
– Dr. Seuss –


It’s easy to want to be wherever I’m not.

It’s easy to miss the moment for the longing.

And it is so, so easy to want to tweak God’s gifts.

I laid on my back on a blanket spread over the cropped green grass. The sky was blue–oh, so blue–and the little ships of clouds scudded along the uncreased waves of air. Sun rained gold down on my skin. A wasp hummed by, in search of a warm place to bask.

But I wanted to add a P.S. on to my letter of thankfulness to God.

Truly, my heart was full as I stared up at a sky with such clear-toned color, I could not describe its blueness. I grinned up at the clouds. And then I wondered.

I wondered if a moment could be so perfect again. And I amended my letter of praise:

Dear Lord, thank you…but is this the only moment like this I will ever have? Will the people I love not ever get to see this with me?

Like a child letting the warm sand slip through its fists, I clasped the moment–wild with the glee of warm, pouring life and desperate to somehow bottle it up and immortalize the perfect instant. I was so afraid of the trickling time pouring warm between my fingers. I was so afraid the breathless moment would be lost for ever.

So fear crept into my glorying, and tainted my joy.

Climbing a mountain, I think about those left at the bottom. Walking along a river, I wonder if I’ll ever return to the perfect moment again.

With each gift, I’ve found that my heart bends the joy into a sort of ache. Instead of just enjoying the gift, I ask questions: Will there be another gift like this one? What if I can’t remember this gift? Why can’t others share this gift with me? How long can I keep this gift?

A glorious dinner of laughing and fun. A breezy neighborhood walk with the acorns crunching under foot. A cup of hot tea. The soft weight of a baby resting in my arms, wiggling her toes in thoughtless glee.

All these things I’ve had. All these things are gifts.

Why, then, do I persist in spoiling the moment? I think of the absent dinner guests. I wonder if tomorrow’s walk will be spoiled by rain. I wish for another cup of tea. I wonder how many baby toes I’ll get to wiggle.

“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”
– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts –

Yes, this is my fall: That I spoil the gift because I fail to trust the Giver.

I bow now, and repent. I give over myself–again, and again, and again. I will trust my God for His gifts. I will trust that He knows just what to give me–each day’s gift perfect for that moment.

Because every day…every breath…is truly a gift.


 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

– James 1:17-18, NKJV –

Cedar-Lined Love

friends-1384664535DrN

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web ―


Today, in Part Two of my Practical Love Series, I take a moment to remember the incredible friendships that God has given to me. The Bible says that the greatest love is to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13), and some of my friends have done that in an eminently practical way–they’ve made a hundred sacrifices, both small and huge, in order to bless me.

If you missed the first part of the series, please do go back and read Part One: The Language She Knew By Heart.

To my dear sisters who have stuck by me through the years and always inspire me to cling to Jesus in everything: This is for you.


I wasn’t there.

But I can see her.

Her long fingers—often busy plucking strings and wielding pens and stirring up biscuits and feeding sheep—glide along an old piece of varnished cedar. Old, but the two-toned wood gleams still.

Her eyes, those sea-foam green orbs that glisten when she tells me about her latest story idea, sparkle now too. She’s stayed up at night trying to dream up something for my birthday. Then she saw the wood. And she knew.

She knows me, the girl-woman she only sees at church. Knows that I truly care, maybe care more than most have dared to love her.

She knows that I understand the inner draw to characters, the unquenchable spark inside to tell a story. She knows that sharp words or cringing shyness or late-night discussions or you-are-totally-crazy looks won’t drive me away. She knows I’ll keep coming back, because God’s put me here, with her.

In a way, she’s my little sister. I thank God for the day He made our lives intersect.

So, in the weeks before my birthday, she scrounges around and finds a still-radiant piece of cedar and a sheet of smooth particle board and a couple old hinges and she pours her heart and love into crafting a treasure straight from her heart.

And, that Sunday at church, the week of my birthday, she gives me her heart-gift.

A lap-top writing desk.

“So you can write in the car,” she says. She bites her lip. “It’s not very good, I know.”

My throat swells and I want to shed tears right there. All I can do is hug her and keep saying thank you.

But my heart said so much more.

Inside, I marveled that somehow God had found for me a place in her heart.

I don’t love her perfectly. I don’t know how, all the time. For having spent twenty-one years in a world full of people, you would think I ought to understand them better.

She is the same way–with love in process, like mine.

Perhaps that is what made my heart swell with unshed tears that Sunday as I caressed the smoothed sides of the cedar lap desk. We both were unfinished, imperfect, not quite symmetrical–much like the dear box that she labored over. A friendship with a few loose nails, a few cracks that need filled with glue.

Remembering now, my heart has a joyful kind of ache, like the rise of a symphony’s crescendo.

My friend’s gift reminds me of the widow who put in her last pennies, or the woman who poured out her perfume, or the child who gave up his lunch to Jesus.

They gave all they had. Imperfect, perhaps. Sin-marred, yes. But, swelling from awakened hearts, the gifts were accepted. Jesus opened His arms with joy.

Those people were unfinished, imperfect, not quite symmetrical. They had a loose nails and cracks in need of filling. But Love does that–it covers and washes and purifies and finishes the less-than-complete, making it not just acceptable, but absolutely Perfect.

Maybe that’s why a small wooden box looks a lot like love to me. It’s not about the gift itself. It’s about a girl who let me see a little more of what love really is.

Something like a lump steals to my throat.

And, in my heart, something like redemption breaks into song.

If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

– 1 John 4:12-16, NKJV, emphasis mine –


 

How have your friends shown you the real meaning of love?

Comment below and share!

 


 

A super thank-you to Lisa Runnels at Public Domain Pictures for today’s photo!