Wrap it up…

I went searching for the diaper bag in a frenzy, because there was a diaper emergency to tend to.  My baby boy had just gotten back from staying with his aunt and uncle (our first separation!) and my daughter was back from her grandma’s.  I had not gotten anything put away, so I was scrounging around all of the bags in a hurry.  Diaper emergencies involving eight-month old boys are nothing to mess around with.  I needed those wipes and quickly!

I noticed an envelope with my name on it in one of the bags with the diaper supplies, so I paused (diaper emergency notwithstanding) to see what the contents were.  A photograph of a beautiful yellow flower fell out and the writing it on it caught my eye immediately; baruch haba b’shem Adonai.  It is a Hebrew phrase that is basically translated “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.  There were three beautiful photographs in that envelope and all three photographs contained a Hebrew phrase.  I use certain Hebrew phrases when I pray and I had just been teaching a couple of them to my sister-in-law.  She had taken the photographs in South Africa, fixed them up with Hebrew, and printed them out so the envelope would be in the bag when the kids got home.

I was stunned in the best possible way and I even started crying (you might as well get used to tears of all kinds over here).  It wasn’t until the stench of the diaper emergency caught up to me that I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.  I was transfixed on the sensation that the Lord used someone to say, “Good morning, beloved.”

And, I needed it right then.  Oh, how I needed it.

As the holiday season is approaching, I have been thinking of all the ways to extend acts of kindness with small gestures.  There are so many people out there who will be haunted by family dysfunction, bad memories, financial issues, stress, and loneliness during this time of year.  I know that, because I have been there.  I have spent some holidays all alone.

One Christmas, I stayed in a dark house save for the flashing white lights on the skinny tree in the corner.  The ornaments had kept falling off and the tree reminded me of Charlie Brown, but if I was going to be alone on Christmas I was going to at least have lights and a tree for crying out loud!  I lived where it was warm and palm trees were decorated and Santa’s wore shorts and sunglasses.  I positioned myself at my open front door to watch the neighborhood lights from the darkness of my own home (save for those flashing white lights on that Charlie Brown tree with the ornaments that kept falling off).

I was haunted by the sound of car doors opening and slamming shut, as if being kept in time by a metronome.  People were coming and going, coming and going.  There were arms full of gifts, smiles, hugs, and laughter being passed around.  The houses were lit up on the outside and the inside where all of the people were coming and going, coming and going.  The neighborhood was quite cookie-cutter with the houses sharing the same faded salmon stucco and Spanish-style roofing, but the voices, smiles, and gift wrappings were all unique.  I was feeling like quite the lonely spectator, watching a world I was not a part of.

I finally locked up my house, turned off the flashing white lights on my Charlie Brown tree, and I didn’t even bother to hang the ornaments back up.  Instead, I kicked them toward the corner and sighed.

I ended up hunkered down on the couch for an independent film marathon in my living room.  I spent my Christmas night with Hedwig from the Angry Inch and Hedwig had probably suffered more loneliness, confusion, and dysfunction than myself.  I sang along to the songs and got lost in the angst, feeling a whole lot less alone, even if I was by myself with ornaments littering the floor.

During the holiday season some people get bitter, angry, depressed, isolated, and frustrated.  The rush for presents, the financial gymnastics, and the weight of making plans or lacking plans is on everyone’s mind.  Some people are even strapped with the burden of trying to figure out where they will sleep or if they will even get a hot meal.

This might be the time of year when people actually need to see more smiles or acts of kindness, even if they did just snap at you and growl, “Bah humbug!”

We truly do not know the burdens others are carrying; some are suicidal, some have been, others are self-medicating, some are missing someone, even more are from a broken family, people are estranged, others are sick, another handful are dying, and there could be extreme soul wounds clawed into someone’s heart.

We never know why that lady just snapped at the grocery store clerk or why that man cut you off and flipped you the bird as you tried to move your car into the exit lane. Broken people do broken things.

This had me thinking of Matthew 5:39:

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

If there was ever a season to practice that little lesson, the season we are entering would be the one.  You never know what a gift a little forgiveness, a smile, a cup of coffee, or even a few pictures with your favorite phrases on it can actually do for someone.

Just the other day I turned around in line to pay for someone’s coffee simply because of how sad they looked.  I don’t say this to toot my horn and show you what my left and right hands are doing. I say this, because it was worth seeing the look on that person’s face when I did it.  It was worth it when they mentioned needing a little show of humanity to have faith in something again.  Even the clerk behind the counter was surprised and, as I started up my car, I could see the coffee drinker laughing with clerk through the window.

Even if we are to be selfless givers, there is a reward directed at our hearts when we are a part of someone else’s smile or tears of joy.  I believe God loves to see us smile when He gives us gifts and blessings, too.  Even in the midst of Thanksgiving planning, this is the season we prepare to spend several weeks celebrating the gift our Heavenly Father bestowed on us with the birth of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel.

I believe kindness is such a gift to our hearts because it extends the grace of the Lord to others.

Now that is the kind of gift that keeps on giving.

This post appears in the book: Shattered in Him  © 2016 JD Mays

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

30 thoughts on “Wrap it up…”

  1. I agree Shattered in Him, Thank you a great message, yes we are to even Love our enemies and do good to them but we do not agree with or accept the evil they say and do, Jesus didn’t but He was quick to forgive and yes He did many acts of kindness much more than we will ever think to do, there were so many they could not all be recorded.

    Jesus did not judge without Compassion or seek revenge but He was known as a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He was not Happy Clappy, He knew many would be lost and just like His Father it grieved Him greatly.

    It grieves me too that Many ignore the free gift of Salvation in Christ Jesus and so will be lost unless they repent but I rejoice many will be Saved too, as Prophesied there will be a World wide Revival before Jesus returns, time is short, let’s reach out to this hurting World sharing the greatest gift given to Mankind, Jesus Christ, Emanuel, God with us!.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Anne. I am always reminded me the parables Jesus Christ used to teach with, especially when it came to compassion:

      Luke 10:30-35

      Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that some of this is difficult to read for anyone who knows me. But, that teenage girl full of angst all of those years ago? The one who shut down and shut out? Well, she is in the arms of the LORD! And, she is sharing a story that hurting hearts need to hear. It is a beautiful story of great pain and even greater redemption! I love you, dearly. You will always have a special place in my heart! 🙂


  2. This is a very powerful and uplifting message that I have enjoyed, and at the same time, your message is evidence that God does work in mysterious ways, even if it meant finding a message before changing a dirty diaper. I will share this with you: Moments whenever you may feel alone, the Lord will forever help to fill that void in your life. Him fulfilling the void came to you when you have helped someone receive their gift of free coffee. The Lord sees your kind actions and He also knows your heart. I’ve heard that “a smile goes a long way”, and it’s true. When you have done something, out of the kindness of your heart, the last thing you have remembered before departing was the stranger’s smile. 🙂 That… is powerful and amazing! 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the powerful reminder that God is, indeed, always with me and He is the one that keeps me company! One of the things that gives me such pleasure in this life is to see a smile on an otherwise sad face. So many hurting hearts just need a reason to smile!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a tremendous offering, Shattered! You are wise beyond your years – it our pain that resonates with those around us. And through our pain, the Solution. So glad for this wonderfully expressive community, where ideas and convictions are traded, and where we find support in unexpected places 🙂 Here’s a little something for you: https://youtu.be/3EVwIrKm7O4

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JD, It hurts my heart to think of you looking out the door at all the people celebrating and you alone inside. I can hardly stand the thought of it. I wish you had been in my neighborhood and I would have invited you into our home. You would be surrounded by love, warmth, and good food. My home of origin was not like this, but praise God, He formed my family who have each experienced His grace.

    We all need a reminder to be on the lookout for those who are alone. You’re right about the grouchy ones, many times is the wall they put around their pain. Smile, pray for, reach out and love those in the midst of a struggle. I’m going to share this on my FB writer’s page. We all need to remember the least of these.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Earlier today, I was thinking that God must know our hearts to the end and He knows there are those who can withstand hard trials in order to turn around and comfort others. Those lonely holidays were hard, to be sure. But, I wonder if I would care as much about “the least of these” the way I do if I had not been one. There are times I find myself thanking the Lord and rejoicing that I know rejection, loneliness, fear, post-traumatic stress, abandonment, humility, and hopelessness. I am growing more into that part of my heart and am more able to walk in the beatitudes. Now, I can be an ambassador for the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel! 🙂

      2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

      Elohei khol-Nechamah (God of All Comfort)
      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


      1. I agree with you, the Lord knows what He is doing with His kids. He knit us together in our Mother’s womb and He knows what it will take to bring us to His heart and conform us to His image. This song just came to mind, “He’s a good, good Father, It’s who He is! and I’m loved by Him, It’s who I am.”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I was! I keep them by the computer so I see them when I write! Those are the kinds of gifts I love. The thoughtfulness of such gifts are so much further reaching than the gifts of the material kind. I am so glad you are my sister (we can just remove the in-law part now).


  5. Interesting that the Law serves to reprove us, judge us, intend to correct us, but at times it is silenced. Have you ever been about to rebuke a unsettled child and at that very moment, you witness that same child do something unselfish and loving; Frozen, yes the reprover is silenced. No words. The flow of correction is staunched.
    Covered quite a lot here. You have a lot to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not written a memoir. I just sat down one day and started to pour it all out here. What has unfolded has been astounding and such a blessing!! Thank you so much for the encouraging word. I have enjoyed your inspiration and I am not sure how we crossed, but glad we did!!


      1. I saw your comment on Roth’s abstract paintings where you said you were afraid of painting. I don’t know if I misunderstood but I have also felt fear by the truly awesome power of creation in art. It’s akin to Jesus asking for a kiss on the cheek. Am I worthy?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great story! Well told too. I’m sorry for your sorrow of that time at Christmas…but you obviously didn’t loose the focus of God on your life. Thanks for sharing this…



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