Friday, December 13, 2013

Those Crooked Stamps

Peeking out my porch blinds I can see my husband trying to shovel the car out of the driveway. … looks like no one is going anywhere in a hurry … not on this Saturday afternoon anyway. 

The town is shut up tight.

It’s beautiful with all the snow.  Things look so peaceful and calm.  Quiet, I love how quiet it is.
With a sweeping glance from left then right of my view, I can see my neighbor Mike a few houses down. He is shoveling his truck out from the snow and ice.  Maybe he’s getting ready to go to work.  Sad to see Bob’s house empty; can’t believe it’s already been 2 years he’s been gone.  Guess the Morgan’s won’t be back for a few days, at least until after the snow slows down. 
Hmm … that’s unusual. Mike just waved without stopping to chat.  He didn’t even ask if we needed a ride somewhere. Hope everything is OK.
I Wonder
Do any of us really know what the other is going through right now, at this very moment in their life?  I wonder about that, especially when I stop to look at the crowd around me. 
Have you ever sat in a department store or any place for that matter, and just observed?  What exactly is going on all around you?  What are people doing … where are they going … is everything all right in their world? 
If we thought about it I suppose it would be depressing.  Maybe that’s why people don’t get involved much anymore.  I wonder.
What Tweaks Your Bud?  You know, what things really bother you?
Later in the day I had a chance to talk to my sister.  So much has happened in her world that it’s not always easy to find God’s favor.  We were talking about the holidays and Christmas cards.  I love getting cards and hanging them up in my home.  People aren’t sending them like they used to in the past.  “Everything” is going up they say.  Cards aren’t on the priority list these days.
Sis shared with me the last Christmas they were together.  Her husband was in the hospital undergoing treatment for cancer and other related things as a result from the medications. 
While he was there he asked my sister to get the cards finished so they could mail them out that week.  Not having a moment to spare with work and taking care of him, she decided to bring them to the hospital so they could do them together.
One of the things that tweaked her bud was the fact that he never put a stamp on straight.  That really annoyed her, especially when he did it with their wedding invitations one year earlier.  Now he was doing it again, only this time it was worse.  Stamps weren’t just crooked, but all over the envelope … in the middle, top, upside down … they looked awful. 
This time she didn’t hold her peace like she did with the wedding announcements.  When she finally expressed her feelings about the crooked stamps his reply was, “I don’t care about the stamps. I’m trying to stay alive!”  Quickened by the Holy Spirit she quietly replied, “You’re right.” and never again mentioned the way he applied a stamp to anything.  It didn’t matter anymore.
Time went by and …
Our conversation was lengthy as we discussed work, gift shopping, family, her friends and especially holidays.  As I conveyed my own feelings and gave words of encouragement, she didn’t realize that her words were giving me strength the whole time.
Moving back to the cards, she paused and her voice grew softer as she mentioned the receiving of one in the mail that day.  “I miss those crooked stamps.” 
A simple card with postage made her remember that it’s the little things that make the biggest memories.
Crossing Over
GG (left) and Mocha
Our hearts were heavy that night.  Neither my husband nor I got much sleep as we were tearfully watching a little four pound rescue cat slowly slipping away.  His tiny kidneys had failed, but love was keeping him here.  He wasn’t diagnosed correctly until a few weeks ago, due to the fact that it’s hard to detect this in a young cat. 
We had prayed for God’s mercy and were waiting to see what would happen.  Another cat but much older, was undergoing the same medical treatment and was responding.  The two of them were “juiced-up” and fed together several times a day. 
They were enjoying all the attention and getting special food to boot!  Neither ate very much, because the smell of food to a cat with kidney failure makes them nauseous so they actually starve.  They both tried so hard to eat something, but sores on the tongue make it difficult to swallow. It’s often a symptom of kidney disease in animals.
After treatments I would try to hold each cat, but for G it was too painful.  We ended up taking away the bed and used boxes with lots of warm fleece blankets to keep them warm. Heating pads were not an option because of the medication. In their weakened state they often couldn’t use the potty and wet right though the linens several times a day.
G was sitting right by me with his head facing the back of the box.  He tried to turn around, but had no strength.  I knew why.  He had begun crossing over.

As I talked with my sister she had no idea that I was in tears, but still hopeful that little G would be alright.
Morning came and my husband gave him his medication and IV under the skin treatment.  GG (that’s what we called him) didn’t move.  
This application was extremely difficult with no skin to really grasp to insert the needle.  His skin was so thin that sometimes the needle shot through to the other side with the liquid squirting out all over the table.  It was as if there was this tiny creature in plastic wrap covering a handful of bones that were somehow connected. 
Nestled in a fluffy, green fleece blanket, within a few hours G’s journey was completed.
Impartation of Favor through Grace
My sister didn’t know what happened until the next day.  She asked me why I didn’t say anything.  I explained to her how God’s grace sustained me so that I could be able to minister to her at that moment.
In turn, she ministered to me, helped me to laugh and I felt blessed that God allowed me to be a part of His plan (even in the difficult things).  Those crazy crooked stamps stuck with me the rest of the week.
In my devotional time I came across this passage from 1 Peter 5:10 in the Amplified Bible.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace (Who imparts all blessing and favor), Who has called you to His (own) eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.”
Those words from the Lord gave me life, renewed hope and strengthened me so I could be a blessing to someone else in order to establish His plan in my life.  It didn’t stop what I was experiencing, but God’s grace was sufficient (enough) to do what it needed to at that time. 
but My Grace ...
“But He (Jesus) said to me (Paul), My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you (sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully); for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in (your) weakness. 
Therefore, I will all the more gladly in my weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! (2 Corinthians 12:9 Amplified Bible)
Caring for “hospice” animals is difficult, but my sister was also in pain emotionally dealing with patients on a daily basis that are coping with what her husband endured for a season. 
Seriously, how does one stay strong day after day working in the same hospital, with the same doctors, going in the same rooms that her husband was in for their last Christmas together? It’s by God’s gift of grace applied when and where we need it that sustains us through it all.
The clients didn’t know what my sister was experiencing in her heart, they had no idea she was a new widow.  To them, she was “staff.”  It would take the impartation of God’s favor on both our situations to keep our faith from wavering.
Who Really Knows?
Yesterday my husband shared with me about a female intern that was, how do I put this?  Well, she was bald. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Is she sick or in treatment?”  Why else would a young woman not have her head covered in this cold weather?  He didn’t know, but said he wasn’t about to ask. 
I wondered about her world and if she was just being fashionable, making a statement or maybe she really was ill.  Were the “stamps in her life” in her reality crooked, and did it matter?  We never know, do we?  No, but thankfully Jesus does. He is fully aware of every situation, every moment of every day and ready to dispense grace on His children.
Words of Beauty that Bring Life
Over the weekend I had a lot to think about in my own “crooked stamp” world.  Through all the testing, trials and sorrow the rainbow of blessing still hung over my dwelling.
With each gift of a new day I asked the Lord, “Who do You want me to encourage during this holiday season?”
Is there someone who needs to hear wonderful words of life to help them get through difficult circumstances they may be facing at this particular time of the year?   
Not everyone is having a holly jolly Christmas season, for various reasons whether they are believers or not.  My neighbors had no idea of what was going on behind our doors last week, and I only knew what they had shared with us. 
The same goes for everyone you meet throughout your day, whether it is at work, in the store, the doctor’s or at the post office.  “Crooked stamps” are going out all around us, but do we notice.  Even more, do we care?
The heart-to-heart I had with my sister last week didn’t stop there.  It continued all week through conversations I had with others. 
Word seeds of hope and joy were scattered far beyond my own place, and planted all over the world by word of mouth, messaging or the Internet.
Someone is in need of a grace hug today; it may even be a family member. Will you be the one to give it with beautiful and wonderful words of hope that bring life? 
Be more understanding, show compassion, be slow to judge and ready to help. 
With the snow, work, home and care giving of animals I haven’t gotten my Christmas cards mailed, but I plan on it.  Grace hugs or seed words of encouragement may be in those cards, and you know what? I may even have some go out with crooked stamps! 
Wonderful Words of Life [Live]
Until next time, thank God for His imparting favor through grace!
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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by
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