Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year: Smile on, my friends...

Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Today my husband and I were discussing the blessings of 2010 month by month.  It was amazing to relive some of the greatest moments of our lives- from the small blessings of an incredible concert, to the miraculous gift of our baby girl.  

I don't take it lightly that there are so many blessings to count.  I don't take for granted the ability to look ahead at the future with anticipation.  But today, a little old lady changed my perspective.

I was making a quick Walmart run with my baby today, when I ran into an elderly woman.  I, of course, was in a hurry.  She, of course, wanted to chat.  "That's a beautiful coat you got on there" she said.  I politely said thank you, and made my way into the store.  Getting into line at customer service, guess who I see standing in front of me?

"Why hello again" she says.  "Look at that beautiful bundle of joy you have!"

And there began our 15 minute conversation, as we waited in line to make our returns. 

She told me about her family, her children and her grandchildren.  She shared about her journey as a mother, her struggles with almost losing one of her children, and her joys.  She wished us a Happy New Year....and told me to make sure I enjoy every moment with my little one, because they go by so fast. 

Everyone seems to say that, don't they?  But coming from this woman, it made all the difference.  You see, in our conversation today she also shared that she had just lost her precious husband just two few short months ago.  She told me of her grief and how some days were harder than others.  But all the while as she shared, she had an un-erasable smile on her face, and overflowing joy in her heart...

She blessed me.  And in her blessing me today, she challenged me.  

Just a few short hours ago my husband and I were counting our blessings, but what we SHOULD have been counting is HOW WE BLESSED OTHERS in 2010.

That, my friends, is really the question.  God's blessings on his children are inevitable...there will always be blessings to count, and we should always count them.  But that should not be the end of it.  There must be a response, on our part, to the blessings that we receive.  How did we give back?

How did we reach out to those around us?  How did we spread our smiles and our joy?  How did we invest in people's lives- our neighbors, our friends, the person standing behind us in the Walmart customer service line.  Who did we love and how well did we love them?  Did we reach out to the poor, the broken, and the needy?  Did we give to those who couldn't repay us?  Did we love those who didn't deserve it?  Did we bless others to the proportion that our Lord has blessed us? 

May God grant us new perspective as we enter into this new year.  May He challenge us to take our eyes off of ourselves as we make our way into 2011.  May we learn to go beyond counting our blessings, and begin to become accountable to how we have blessed others. 

I'm grateful for this perspective as I enter the New Year.  I am grateful for a sweet old woman, who even in her grief, took the time to smile on me.  My prayer is that her smiles will also bless you.  

May this be the year of spiritual change.  May it be the year of giving, and loving, and blessing.  Happy New Year Everyone.  Smile on, my friends. 

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