Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines from God

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...

Now a logical person might assume it was pure coincidence that these tire tracks (most likely from the newspaper delivery truck) formed two hearts. Instead, what we saw was a blessing from the Lord, spoken straight to our weary souls saying, "I know your struggles, I see your faithfulness, I care about what burdens you, I love you and I'm right here with you."

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)

13 comments:

Kristi said...

Now that is quite a Valentine! A gift from the Lord who loves you so very much. What an uplifting story to keep keepin on! Thanks for the encouragement.

Becky said...

I loved that the first time you posted it, and love it all over again. God is SOOOO faithful to give us a little shot of encouragement just when we need it, isn't he?

Kathy S. said...

Wow, that is awesome! Amazing! What a treasure~thanks for sharing!

Kim... and Her Coffee said...

What a beautiful story! Warmth in the midst of the cold....

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Each time I stop by...I'm TRULY touched and encouraged.

Thank you my friend...for being such an encourager...and example to me.

Love ya.

Jennifer said...

Absolutely priceless...can't think of a sweeter valentine from the Lord!

LisaShaw said...

WOW! This is a powerful sharing dear sister. I love you.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Just like our Heavenly Father to give us little glimpses into His heart of love, especially on a special Valentine's Day weekend. It reminded me of how I heard from a wise man, that you can never outgive God. Those two hearts were such a reminder. Loved this story!

Susan said...

Oh Tracy!

What a beautiful story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

Well... I recieved a beautiful Valentine from the Lord recently. It was in the form of a pretty B-day card from a very sweet friend named Tracy!!!

Thanks so much for remembering my day, you are so kind and I felt so loved.

Thanking God for you!!

Blessings♥

Melanie Redd said...

Tracy,

Loved your Aunt Helen story and the way God sent you a "sign" of His love!

Thanks too for your words about grandmothers on my blog! We are blessed to have men and women who have loved us and invested in us.

Hope you have a wonderful day today...

Melanie

Lea said...

WHOOhOOOO THAT IS JUST THE MOST AWESOME THING!
GOD YOU ARE SO WAY COOL!
Thanks for sharing Trac!
I'm gonna be smilin all day long.

Cottage Cozy said...

I loved your story...I would love to have met your sweet Aunt! Thanks for sharing again...I missed it the first time around!

Melissa Jo - mjp photography said...

WOW!!! That's awesome! God Bless you for sharing!