Sometimes we get things we don’t even know we need.
What a perfect topic to cover at Christmas. There are so many different gift-giving approaches.
• There’s the giver who buys something for someone, because they mentioned how they needed it or wanted it.
• There’s the giver who buys something because it’s an item the giver themselves loves so much and they just imagine the receiver loving it equally the same.
• There’s the giver who wants to completely surprise the receiver with something they know the person needs, but maybe never asked for it or mentioned it.
I’ve been in all the above situations.
When it comes to Christmas or Birthdays, I love wish lists. Some people find it offensive, but I find it to be incredibly efficient! It’s seamless picking out an item you know your loved one really wants. And then to see them open it??? Well, that right there is absolutely fabulous! There’s such excitement and joy.
Then, there have been items I so much enjoy that I want to get them for people I love. Like PETALS Strawberry Pepper Jam (firstname.lastname@example.org), or a Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint Candle, or a gift card for a pedicure. You know…some of those little indulgences we don’t always spend the money for ourselves?
I’ve been more on the receiving end of the last item in question. I think back to our wedding and to when we were beginning to have our babies. Yes, we registered; however, there were so many items we never knew we needed. But our loved ones sure did. And they gave them. Included were both treasured pieces and practical items; things I couldn’t have imagined going without.
While I’ve given gifts that I didn’t personally love, but gave because the receiver did; and while I’ve also given gifts from a wish list, there’s one in particular I specifically remember giving several years ago; it was one that was never requested, but I bought it anyway. My Dad-in-law is a homebuilder/remodeler, so I gave him a painting of Jesus as a boy, and his father Joseph the carpenter. Although he had never requested the piece, he was delighted to receive it. I feel I was the one to end up with the gift; for the memory, and for how my heart is touched every time I’m in his office and see it hanging on the wall. I bought it for him, not because he’s my husband’s father, but because of my own love for him and my own knowledge of those things dear to his heart.
The painting “Destiny” by an anonymous artist depicts the child Jesus in the carpenter’s shop with Joseph. He casts the shadow of a cross
Well, here it is, the time of year we put so much focus on gifts and I’ve received what Jesus knows is the greatest gift in my life, those most dear to my heart; people.
Everyone has struggles. There’s power in identifying them; then we don’t feel captive to them. And one thing I know about myself is I am a people person. Being around others inspires me, refreshes me and rejuvenates me. As you can imagine, having two surgeries within thirty days of each other really took me out of the loop. Like all the loops, my kids’ activities loop, my work loop, my church loop, my friends loop. It was kind of nice the first go around. I rested, I read, I caught up on all my favorite shows, but as I mentioned in “Why, Oh Why,” I hadn’t planned for this last procedure, so I wasn’t eager to sit around several weeks on top of already sitting around. Sitting. And laying. And sitting. And laying. Blah.
I’m very sensitive to the seeds of depression, because I’ve been there. And I know isolation is the growth media for depression. So having already a month of retreat, I felt the dread in my heart of having more. Everything in moderation. Right? We all need time of solitude, but too much of anything is not a good thing. Therefore, I shamelessly and somewhat pitifully invited, welcomed, asked, or maybe even begged for visitors and company; choose to insert whichever word to describe it, different moments appropriately apply. However, I believe it takes strength to identify our weaknesses, and it makes us even stronger to protect ourselves against them.
There can be such beauty in humility. Such value in vulnerability. Such fulfillment in openness. Although, I could have kept this next procedure quietly to myself, as I do some, I shared it and in return received the gift of what is written:
Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.
The Lord uses people to GIVE– whether it’s wrapped or not, we get gifts so often. Those gifts of joy and comfort are just what I needed. It’s lonely sometimes. It can be scary. It feels painful. And I’m speaking to you, dear friend. I could write this for myself in my own little journal, without regard for sentence variety or structure, but I write this for you. Because you sometimes feel lonely. You sometimes feel scared and are in pain; all the many different types of pain. But I encourage you to find comfort, even if you have to ask for it.
This last surgery, my Aunt Donna walked into my hospital room with a symbol of comfort. It was Mouse! No, I’m not referring to the classy mouse who can so perfectly don polka dots and big yellow shoes, because you know how much The Meadows love that mouse too. But no, this was Mouse, the Puffalump Aunt Donna got for me when I was originally injured back in 1988. Mouse went with me to most of my surgeries. She’d sit at the foot of my bed when we’d roll back and she’d have a hat, a mask, and yes, sometimes even surgical booties. She was such a source of comfort to me. And having Mouse sitting in my hospital room this time, kept me thinking, “Wow! How far we’ve come. How much has changed.” “Just a stuffed animal,” one may be inclined to think, but I see a focal point, a focal point of comfort.
Mouse still with me nearly 27 years later…. when Mom & Dad couldn’t be there, Mouse could. Symbol of comfort.
And then let’s talk about the people! Oh my! My precious husband, at my side; one tech sweetly described him as “hovering.” He’s so protective, and although he doesn’t don an outfit of armor, he is most definitely my knight. And the kids. Their world is so expanded by the experiences they’ve had with me as their mom. They were born into the story and although they’ve observed some unpleasant and even grotesque sites, I pray it’s been an advantage to develop them into the people God intends them to be. And my Mom and my Aunt, those women who have walked this very long road and still show no signs of weariness in their support and their pride for the survivor they desired me to become.
Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden & Gavin visiting me after surgery. Yes…they keep us laughing!
Bits of comfort walked through my door the next day. When I was mentally preparing myself to spend the day alone, as I knew my husband would have to be in the office and my children at school. God sent His gifts, my nursing school friend, Misty and her little boy Jeremiah. More followed: my friend, mentor and previous professor at OU, Rhonda Lawes, spending the afternoon with me sharpening me, challenging me both spiritually and intellectually.
Rhonda and Misty– treasures from my nursing school days. Was definitely one of the most challenging times, but in return I got amazing opportunities, experiences and relationships– to keep!
Then my team! For a girl who has NO athletic ability, I love referring to my co-workers as my team, because we demonstrate qualities that make a team great, which in turn is not only vitally beneficial for our patients, but rewarding to us as friends. Carrie, Haley, Carly and Molly spruced up my day with gifts in hand and laughter of heart. Oh what comfort! What joy! As if the Lord hadn’t packed in enough comfort I so desired, my in-laws topped it off by bringing us dinner. My Dad-in-law observing how I was drifting off, mentioned how he felt it was time for them to go so I could rest. And I told him no, because although I could hardly stay awake, I just wanted to hear their voices. Comfort.
To be a part of something so grand! These ladies are core– Molly Carrie, Carly & Haley. Love my NICU Family!
The next day, my precious friends Beverly and Michele, women I admire and feel strengthened just with their presence and conversation. Comfort. That afternoon, even my cousin, brought me my very first eggnog malt from Braum’s. Acts of comfort.
For my medical people– we love to see the work. Upper right donor site, lower right z plasty, left, two contracture releases with grafts. 5 days Post Op
After coming home, I had a full week of meals provided from friends. Truly it was the hand of Jesus extended; meeting basic needs in the most personal way. And after a week of love poured out, my best friend, Amber of over twenty years came to take care of me. Even getting on to me, as any best friend would, for my determination to attend my co-worker’s wedding, an event I couldn’t miss for the deep admiration I have for her as a person, as a young woman, and as a nurse. Some moments just can’t be missed.
Love how gorgeous these women look, because they’re all equally as amazing! It’s fun to spiff up since we mostly hang out in scrubs, but man, how we spring into action. This is my TEAM! So blessed!
She’s as beautiful and genuine on the inside as she so evidently looks on the outside. Thankful for Carly and to share a part of her day with her.
Not a day has gone by without a call from someone. And even several visits. Personal, come to my house kind of visits. People, I don’t live by anything. Not one person who came to visit, popped by on their way to run errands or Christmas shop, they intentionally came to visit. Like my precious, precious, dearest friend, Heather who shared an entire day, seriously, an entire day with me, right before she was suppose to be leaving for a road trip to Massachusetts. Comfort.
We got dubbed “heather squared” in nursing school. Talk about iron sharpening iron. God orchestrated this friendship five years ago and I cherish and grow from each moment we share together.
You may think I’ve named everyone. I haven’t. It’d be a book. And that’s just from this one procedure. This one procedure that I feel I’ve done a million times. In almost twenty-seven years, I imagined people eventually running dry on concern and compassion. I mean. It’s not like it’s life threatening at this point. It’s just another toggle mark on the count, another one under the belt. It’s an investment in furthering the immense quality of life I’ve been able to experience. But above all, what I’ve had the privilege of receiving is so much love; love which never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.
What tugs at my heart strings? Teenagers who are compassionate! These girls made me some sweet treats and wrote encouraging words to brighten my recovery time. My daughter and her friends Laura and Katherine are truly the example of God’s love.
We all may think we know what we want. We all may have an idea of what gift would benefit or suit us best. My lesson? Maybe we do sometimes. I’m so glad I opened the door for people to share love. I needed it. I needed to feel comfort and friendship and joy and laughter. If I had made a list, it would have had, “visitors and conversation” on it. God knew exactly what I needed and He has provided.
So incredibly generous– Amber, my neighbor and stylist loaded up everything to color my hair at my house. I asked her about rescheduling, but she offered to come to me. A lot of extra work for her. Such a huge blessing to me.
If you committed your time to read this post, please let the scripture take root in your heart. You may need to allow others to refresh you, and you may need to flat out ask for it. On the other side, you may be just what someone needs. Oh, it might seem like you’re not doing much by picking up the phone, but that conversation may be more timely than you could have thought or imagined.
Love. Joy. Comfort. Kindness. Refreshed. Those are gifts. On the list or not; those are gifts.
Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.
Such comfort in a lifelong friend. My dishes, my laundry, putting my kids to bed, keeping my pain meds on schedule, even my Christmas shopping– she left her family to take care of me for two days. We’ve been through so much together and I couldn’t love a sister more than I love Amber!
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