Greetings my sweet friends! I hope this day finds you well. I'd like to share a former post that is near to my heart for two reasons. First, it was written about "Aunt Helen" -- a very special woman who would have celebrated her 90th birthday this past week. Secondly, in the context of Valentine's Day, I can't help but think about the incredible nature of God's love for us...perfect, ever-faithful, unchanging and demonstrative.
He places loving reminders, or "Valentines" all around us every day. We need only open our eyes to see them. Have you received one lately? A moment amidst the ordinary when He speaks through the face of a sleeping baby, a vibrant rainbow or a friend's encouraging word, and you just know it was something He meant especially for you? Allow me to share one of my favorite of these such moments...
It happened several years ago. My husband, Tom and I found ourselves in the midst of some challenging situations at the time and were feeling particularly overwhelmed. Among other things, there were major difficulties going on at work for Tom. In addition, several months prior, we had joined the youth staff which meant each of us were caring for our own small group of 8-10 middle school students. Although our hearts were willing, we were completely out of our comfort zone in this new and unfamiliar territory. (Our own son was just then in middle school for goodness sake!) There was much we didn't know. Add to this, one of our biggest challenges was helping to look after Tom’s elderly Aunt, who lived next door.
God had divinely placed us here for the purpose of helping to care for Aunt Helen. A widow with no children of her own, she had practically helped raise Tom and his sisters, and she had always been so good to me. Being nearby to help her was truly a privilege, yet it could also be quite a challenge. She was 81 years old at the time and though her petite frame suggested frailty, it spoke nothing of her legendary determination. She took great joy in doing something challenging (and often dangerous) just to prove to herself (and to you) that she could.
It was January or February in one of those winters where we kept getting snow, just a few inches at a time, for what seemed like weeks. Shoveling the driveway became almost a daily task, in an effort to keep Aunt Helen from slipping and breaking a leg or hip, should she take a notion to walk outside (which she often did).
We tried everything to keep her off that driveway…we got her newspaper early each morning, we got her groceries and we picked up medicine. However, since Tom and I were both working, there were often hours when no one was home and the mail was delivered during that time. Despite our pleas, and offers to bring her mail as soon as we got home from work, many days we returned to find her mailbox already empty, because she insisted on walking that driveway and getting it herself.
And so…with every snowfall, whether a little or a lot, we were over there shoveling and salting like mad. With everything else that was going on at the time, this typically minor chore grew to be a bit of a thorn in our side. We were long past enjoying its beauty. In fact, every time it started to snow, we would find ourselves groaning.
Well, on this particular Sunday, I woke up very early – well before my alarm. It was still dark outside and I realized Tom was already up and out of bed. When I didn’t see him anywhere in the house, I peeked outside and spotted him (yet again) shoveling snow next door. (We had gotten around an inch overnight.) I made my way through our garage and opened the side door just a few feet away from where he was working. "Good morning," I said…He greeted me with a smile and said, "Grab a flashlight and your coat and come out here…I want to show you something..."
A few moments later, I returned as instructed. He took my hand and led me to the end of Aunt Helen's driveway. I turned on the flashlight and there, in the peaceful silence of that early Sunday morning, this is what we saw...
It's hard to put into words the encouragement that flooded our hearts that morning, truly when we needed it most. We stood there for several moments, not saying anything, just taking it in and thanking the Lord. Then I went to get my camera to capture this moment I didn't ever want to forget. It still encourages me every time I look at this photo. I pray it does the same for you this day.
...May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NIV)