I had just written the rough draft of my last article about the passing of my neighbor, Sandy. I had a heavy heart, feeling that I had failed God and failed Sandy. Writing the article had evoked deep emotions in me, and I was still trying to sort them all out. It was a dark Wednesday night, and I was attending a meeting for those helping with the annual Women’s Breakfast at my church.
The women’s ministry at Life Center is always planning lovely events. The goal is that every woman who attends would experience a special touch from God and hear his voice personally. Each time there is a creative way to give a personalized, encouraging word to every woman. There have been ribbons, medals, bracelets, necklaces, compasses, mugs, purses, and book marks given out. The item contains some sort of message (such as a scripture verse, a single word, or phrase) and has been prayed over. Every one of the gifts that I have received over the years has been special to me. The scripture that I received at the Women’s Conference last March sustained my faith through the events of the past year.
At the meeting, each of us got to pick a coffee sleeve with something special written on it. I randomly picked a sleeve that had “Matthew 10:42” nicely hand written in black pen. I looked up the scripture on my phone and it read:
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
I thought, “Oh that is nice. I certainly give out lots of cups of water to my children.”
But then a new thought broke into my own, with a brilliance that I have come to recognize as the Holy Spirit.
It was a thought of Sandy and the times I brought her soup. God was telling me that I would have a reward for the small acts of kindness I had done for her! I felt so humbled and in awe of a God that would reward me even though I had fallen short of my goal of introducing Sandy to Jesus.
What a good and generous God I have!!!!
The next day I got into my van to drive to the grocery store. I turned on the New Testament CD that was already in the CD player. And guess where the CD started that day?
That Saturday was the day of the Women’s Breakfast. I arrived early to welcome women to the table I was hosting. I was praying that everyone would feel loved and blessed. I encouraged each woman to pick a coffee sleeve when they went to get their coffee or hot cocoa. I had the opportunity to pick a second one for myself. When I read the words, again I wanted to cry! My heart was so full of the goodness of God.
“Writing a New Chapter”
I love to write and have been working on this blog for a year and a half now. I would love to write a book someday…lots of books in fact! But I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if anyone else notices or even likes my writing. I am doing it for myself and my children, so we never forget the marvelous things God has done for us. Sometimes I feel rather silly, spending so much time writing down the little details of my life. Yet I feel the words are like fire in my bones that won’t let me go until I write them down.
Here God was telling me that the writing was from him! And that I would be writing about a new chapter. Our lives could sure use a new beginning!
This “word from God” was confirmed a few weeks later in a most unusual way. Each year I choose a foreign country to study at Christmas time. When all of my children were homeschooled, we would take a break from the normal school and learn about this country. Then we would incorporate the Christmas traditions and food of this country into our own holiday celebration. We have studied Sweden, Germany, Russia, Spain, and Italy. Each year, one of the resources we used was the World Book series on Christmas around the World. The books always contained interesting facts but were very dry reading.
This year, even though I am only homeschooling my special needs daughter, I chose Ireland. I just love to learn about other countries so much, I couldn’t give up the tradition. As I read the first few pages of the World Book called Christmas on the Emerald Isle, I was struck by the emotion and passion in the writing.
“On Christmas night, there is another custom – the telling of stories. The oldest member of the family gathers everyone around the hearth or table and recounts the story of Mary and Joseph. The tales, of course, don’t stop at Bethlehem. There are yarns about the family, about the famine, about the great heroes and villains of Irish history…While the Swedes have 25 versions of the Cinderella story, the Irish have 311 and are still counting. Christmas night is not, or course, the only appropriate time for storytelling. Any occasion will do, and the Irish have a story for any and every occasion, for every event of life…By extracting the meaning from every event of life and turning that understanding into a parable, the Irish preserved their culture and taught their children a sense of history, justice, and identity.”
My heart burned within me as I read these words. That is what I wanted to do! I felt that God was saying that my passion to write was there for a reason…because he had put it there.
It went on to say, “If life was short and bitter, the memory of that life was not. Filled with victory and joy, the memory became a living thread that passed through the consciousness of generations of Irish men and women. As long as the stories survived, the lives and events that inspired them survived and had meaning.”
I must have a bit of the Irish in me… and in the midst of trouble and sorrow, the goodness of God keeps overwhelming me…and giving me stories that I just have to tell!