Everywhere around us, people are looking for a smile. An encouraging word. Someone to help them believe in Hope. And never more than this time of year.
“I was miserable at [the new] school every day… Then, one day, the girl who sat next to me leaned over and said, ‘your float is so pretty! Everyone is talking about how clever you are and that obviously your parents didn’t make it for you. I just wanted you to know.’ She gave me a big smile and I smiled back. The person in front of her turned around and agreed…
“I have always been grateful to those two girls who showed me such kindness and included me in their circle of friends. It made me a stronger person and I have never again felt like an outcast. Being the new kid can be very hard. I never forgot that and always tried to be the person who welcomed new kids and showed them the ropes. I made a lot of great friends that way!”
~ Debbie Acklin, The New Kid, Chicken Soup for the Soul Think Positive for Kids
On a recent Sunday afternoon, sunlight dappled through the trees, outlining graceful branch shadows, shimmering the gold leaf floating on the stream and stirring rivulets of joy over me. The elusive kind of happy that spills like tiny waterfalls here and there across life, even in these more trying times of late…blanketing cozily with rest and contentment…and lighting hope within me, tossing crackling piles of doubt in the air like the leafy ones scattered there round my feet. There is nothing I have not already carried if you but surrender…
I noticed the bridge perfectly mirrored in the water then and clicked first one image. Then another…and another…Monet collage of foliage rainbows gazing back upon itself from the moving blue, as quenching in beauty as sparkling cider on the rocks. Had I been alone, I could have laughed with the Autumn breeze as it ruffled it’s refreshing through my hair. Only a ways a way, a group of picnickers were whooping, voices floating like kites to the white puffs of lambs wool frolicking in skies above. Mmm. This day…a painting on water.
A thought riffled at the back of my mind… one I’d been pondering lately as a possible Advent theme for my blog. Just a snippet here…another there… and I was trying to piece the puzzle of what He’d been stirring on my heart. You are blessed to be a blessing. So much is going unnoticed…the heavy-hearted lady ahead of you in line at the grocery store, the neglected child standing beside another, the co-worker you overheard talking about her mom’s serious illness… You can be the mirror image of My Bridge to such as these in the blink of an eye…
I recalled the woman who dropped her groceries on the floor recently, how I automatically picked them up, settled them on the conveyor for her, added a separator bar. The momentary gratefulness in her eyes as they met mine. A simple act… nothing really.
I saw again the unsmiling, almost too weary-looking face for a little one following silently at an adult’s feet…how her crooked smile tugged across her rosy cheeks when I grinned at her, silently telling her I think you are beautiful… and feeling that wordless word connection between us somehow…
And I could hear the strained voice that volleyed across the crowded breakroom to me last week…a stranger talking about a seriously ill family member, so that I didn’t feel I could walk up and join in the conversation, but her plaintive words formed a prayer on my lips for her, for her loved one…
Nothing really... I mused again.
Oh, but it is. These are the simple moments that shine My Heart, brushstrokes of my love, He reminded. Count them… keep a count of the ones I bring your way for you to do, and then…count the ones who have touched and altered your own life in ordinary yet inestimable ways.
The teacher who brought you out of your shell with her esteem. The person who took time to write you a note of prayer just when you needed to know I care. The friend who sent you flowers at work to acknowledge your promotion.
The time you bought an extra peppermint patty during break to slip on a coworker’s desk as a small surprise, following My nudge, for no other reason than you knew her penchant for them. The moment you turned back from your car trunk recently, realizing you accidentally hadn’t paid for one item…the look on the clerk’s face when you retraced your steps to pay when you could easily have slipped away…
The Joy Dare was just a beginning… let cognizance of simple life joys and blessings lead you on to keeping tally of all the little ways I want to shine from you. And to send to you through others too…Because when you write them down, you remember, like ebenezer stones.
But, I wondered… is there a way to do that without appearing to be, hey look at the great things I just did?
It isn’t about that. It’s about My people growing in reaching out, reflecting Me in the simple, sometimes quicker than a wink moments. Becoming more aware of those around you and of these passing encounters… so that you are more and more NOTICERS of SIMPLE BLESSINGS given, needed, given again… life transforming blessings I’m waiting to pour out through you…
- The little girl(quoted above) who felt so alone and outcast until another child reached out with open praise and friendship.
- Another whose little son had debated going to a sleepover with a boy who had no other friends – debated because he knew how this kid hung on him and could sometimes be abrasive. How in the end he told his mom, “I think that I need to go. It would be so sad …for no one to go to his birthday party…” And how he recognized what a difference his decision to be there did mean to that boy…(Shawnelle Eliasen , “It Just Takes One”).
- The story of the young babysitter who could have walked off with $60 more than the check she was given when a teller read the numbers incorrectly… how when she spoke up about the error, the words of strangers behind her proudly hailing her (“So honest…a true Richmond Girl!”) meant so much more to her than the extra money ever would have lasted. “Doing the right thing felt good,” she wrote. “Even years later I feel a swelling of pride to think of how my actions represented more than just myself. After all, I was a Richmond Girl.” (Amanda Yardley Luzzader, “Richmond Girl.”)
I smiled at that and thought…After all…aren’t we the Lord’s “girl or guy?”
By your fruit shall they know Me. Blessed is he who comes in My Name. (Luke 13:35)
Mmm. Fruit. It comes in so many varieties.
And that’s when the puzzle pieces of this Advent idea seemed to form a sharper image in my mind.
I want you to invite your readers to join you in keeping this new tally of what may seem the simplest of simple “Ebenezer stones” of blessing.
Recall the ones I’ve sent you through others.
Begin to take notice in deeper ways of those around you… strangers and friends… loved ones and those who seem prickly. Look for simple ways you can put My hand in theirs, even for a split second. Then thank Me for sending them to you …to receive your smile, your words, your reflection of Me. I make you My ambassadors in the simple as well as the momentous.
Keep a weekly tally of these times reflecting the mirror image of My Bridge that leads others to Me.
And so… I invite you, much the same as those of us who have kept track of simple blessings all year –– to join me for Ebenezer Stones Wednesdays now through Advent. What if those who blog in this upcoming Christmas season begin writing a weekly post about these types of moments? You could recall when God has used someone’s simple words, smile or gesture to transform you in some way…or tell us about whatever such encounters God brings your way to touch someone else during this season. And at the end of that post, make a simple list of such moments you are thankful He has given and made you a partaker. I have a feeling we will all find new ways of reaching out through hearing your stories!
And if you don’t blog, I invite you to put your own running list in my comments each Wednesday…
Fellow Bloggers – Would you please include the link to your weekly posts in my comments so others can find you too? 🙂
What do you say?
Won’t you join me in this Thanksgiving and Advent “Ebenezer stone Dare?” 🙂
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust?
And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted?
And how can they hear if nobody tells them?
And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?
That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
~ Romans 10:14 The Message
Definition, Ebenezer Stone: A Stone of Grace, of Help (1 Samuel 7:12)
- Realizing the store hadn’t charged me for one item and taking it back in to pay
- Notes and prayers from friends that have come just on time
- The chance to offer an encouraging smile to someone who looked down this week
- Bringing to my attention the prayer needs of strangers and leading me to pray right there and then
- Bringing the woman to me at work who told me she had been praying for my wrist, and how that led us into some conversation about her own life, some prayer needs I could offer
- For the grocery clerk who, noticing my wrapped wrist, offered to fill out my check for me…
- For making it possible for us to reflect Jesus, OUR BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS
© Pam Depoyan
photos: all photos mine except for Advent and stones (fotosearch) and Chicken Soup book