Garage Sale Blessings

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We hosted a garage sale this spring. Making some extra money is great motivation to sort, clean, and pass on stuff that we no longer need or have a place for in our house. The garage sale ended up being a lot of work for very little money.

I wasn’t surprised, nor was I upset. Past experiences from garage sales over many years have taught me to manage expectations. Besides, my faith has introduced new expectations as God provides a different perspective. It is less about the sales and more about the blessings. I have learned to expect God to reveal unexpected blessings through the garage sale. I pray for just the right people to come along. Excitement builds as I look for God to share His answers to my prayers.

The very first person on the very first day of the sale bought all my furniture odds and ends. The bulky stuff was gone! A group of construction workers took our old bathroom mirror, a “monstrosity” that measured five feet long by three feet high. The problem of how to properly dispose of the mirror was solved.

The blessings weren’t just for me. On the second day, sales and people were sparse. My husband suggested that we close early. I decided against it because we had advertised certain hours. Near the end of the day, a neighbor down the street stopped by. We had waved to each other in the past as I retrieved our mail, but we had never engaged in a conversation.

She browsed the sale and then picked up a brochure for Cancer Hope, the ministry that I am involved with. A very long conversation ensued as we shared our hearts and our faith. My neighbor concluded, “This is why God had me stop at your garage sale.” In that moment, I knew the reason why God prompted me to keep the garage sale open all day.

After the sale, metal shelves and miscellaneous items were given to good friends. The wife commented, “It feels like Christmas!” The rest of the stuff was sorted, boxed up and labelled with the name of the charity to receive it. The household goods would go to a charity that serves homeless families by helping them get back on their feet and into their own homes.

Trinkets, decorations and costume jewelry were designated for the nursing home. Early the next week, I called to confirm that the nursing home could use my donation. The activities director replied that the items would be perfect for their auction where the residents bid on items with fake money. As more evidence of God’s blessings in the perfect timing: the auction was scheduled for three days later.

Was this year’s garage sale a success? It depends on your perspective. From a worldly standpoint, the answer is no. I had too much stuff left over and not much money earned. From a heavenly perspective, the garage sale was simply the means for blessings to flow. Here’s my answer: I have a little extra cash in my pocket and my heart is undeniably full!

John 1:16

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 

 2 Corinthians 9:12

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

 

The Best Answer Is God!

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They showed up with no note or name attached. An anonymous donor dropped off a big bag of cards for our ministry that supports cancer survivors. The cards were beautiful with themes and messages for every occasion and age of recipient.

There were over 125 hand-crafted cards in that bag. I was in awe that someone touched every single card and poured their time, energy, and money into those cards. Then, that person gave the bunch away without any strings attached. I wish I knew who to thank. I want to send them a card, give them a hug, and let them know the blessings their cards will be for our cancer survivors.

In the book of Acts, the men of Athens didn’t know who to worship. As a result, they filled their city with many idols. In Acts 17:23, the Apostle Paul connects the dots for the people: For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

As Christians, we know who to worship: God the Father. We don’t have to wonder if God loves us for we are God’s favorite creation made in His image. We know the depth of God’s love through His Son Jesus Christ who died for our sins. In a world with more questions than answers and more doubts than certainties, God speaks truth deep into our hearts. Jesus’ resurrection cements our eternal hope in God.

Paul expressed it best in Acts 17:24-25, 28: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else… ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

The answer to my question of who to thank is God. My gratitude for the cards is lifted up as praise to God for meeting the ministry’s needs with bountiful and oftentimes, surprise blessings. God connects people in unique ways to serve Him and share the love of Jesus with others. God even uses a piece of decorated card stock to let us know that He is always the best answer!

 

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Good Enough?

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Cards 1

I have a creative side with a roomful of craft supplies to prove it. My latest project (or obsession according to my husband) is making cards. With stamps, edging scissors, and varied textures and colors of paper, the combinations seem endless. My style is straightforward with layering and color contrast.

I see the cards as an expression of my faith for each card will hold a prayer for the recipient. I join others to make and send cards to cancer survivors and their families through the Cancer Hope ministry of SouthBrook Christian Church. (Click here for my previous post on this wonderful ministry.)

A core group of people meet to share ideas and produce cards for the ministry’s use. I bring my stash of cards to share, pleased with the results of my efforts at home. That is, until I compare my cards to those of the more creative and craftier people on the team. What once filled me with satisfaction, now feels embarrassingly simplistic. I ask myself, “Am I good enough?”

Satan wants us to compare ourselves with others. For it takes our perspective off of God’s gifting to us as individuals and places it in an arena of competition for God’s seemingly limited blessings. Satan uses lies to discourage us from God’s purpose for our lives. The truth of God reminds us that:

  • God has more than enough blessings to go around and then some more.
  • Everyone’s part in the body of Christ is needed and used by God.
  • Done for and through God, our efforts will always be more than good enough in the hands of God.

The question is no longer, “Are we good enough?” The question becomes, “Do we trust God enough to use us for His glory?”

Colossians 1:16

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

 

John 6:9-13

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

 

 

A Bucket of Blessings

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Huckleberries

My husband’s family is from the mountains of West Virginia. I fell in love with the people, the natural beauty and the wild huckleberries (blueberries to us mid-westerners.) It was the perfect trio: picking blueberries with good company in the fresh mountain air.

Picking wild blueberries is work. The plants are low to the ground. The patches are spread out yonder. Sometimes the locals are protective of their turf and will scare you with warnings of snakes in their favorite patch. (Thank goodness I never saw a snake!) Picking blueberries requires patience as it takes forever to fill a bucket because wild blueberries are the miniature version of the store-bought kind.

Year after year, I would pick blueberries with my husband’s grandmother and her dear friend Barb. We would pick to our hearts’ content or until it was time for our family to leave West Virginia behind. I remember one year in particular. I shared my many plans for all the blueberries I was picking. Then I asked Barb what she was going to do with her berries. She replied that she was picking for a friend. I wasn’t surprised as Barb was always doing nice things for other people. Barb had many friends.

On the last day of our vacation as were getting ready to pack up and head home, Barb approached me. With her bounty of blueberries picked over the previous week, Barb handed me the container and shared, “These are for you, friend.”

I didn’t see it coming. We had toiled side by side for a week. While picking, I remember thinking that “this friend” must be special to receive such a generous gift. And come to find out, I was that friend! I had been satisfied with what I was able to pick, but Barb had something else in mind: a bucketful of blessings that I didn’t expect. I was floored by her expression of love.

I thank God for His blessings poured out on me in blueberries and in other ways. God blesses us with the help of others as we muddle through life together. God surprises us with blessings in the most difficult places. God brings people into our lives at just that right moment to remind us of His enduring love. God opens our eyes to see Him when all we can focus on is our circumstances. God intends extra blessings even when we are content with what we have.

God fills my bucket of blessings to overflowing.

 

John 1:16

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. 

 

Psalm 23:5-6

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

 

Blowing in the Wind

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From the window, my husband caught a glimpse of paper flying by. Our recyclables sailed over our lawn and on down the street. The wind had knocked over our recycling can and was in the process of emptying it. We ran outside and surveyed the situation. Our recyclables were lying on the street, tucked into neighbors’ landscape, clinging to fences and littering lawns. Not the type of introduction we wanted as the newest neighbors. We ran after the recyclables and traipsed through our neighbors’ yards. It was not fun, but it was the right thing to do. That morning, my Bible study was on 1 Peter 3. Verse 14 came to mind, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” I’m not saying that we “suffered” for chasing after our recyclables during a wind advisory. Nonetheless, the principle of that verse applied to our situation. We did the right thing. We could have ignored the recyclables that were now trash in our neighbors’ yards. How would they know it was us? It wasn’t our fault, the wind was crazy that morning. The paper would degrade over time. Lots of excuses to not do the right thing. What were the blessings? I met a new neighbor for the first time when I asked permission to enter her fenced-in backyard. It was a good reminder to be careful what I put in the recyclables. You never know where your “name” may end up. It prompted us to figure out a way to keep the can closed and secure. It was a legitimate mini-workout with wind resistance. Doing right more often than not, requires more of us: more time, more energy, more money and so forth. The bottom line is that doing right will cost us something. However, the cost and the suffering is not to be our focus. The resulting blessings of doing right serve as our hope and our motivation to persevere. It is Jesus’s way. It is our way as followers of Jesus.

 

1 Peter 3:14

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Hebrews 10:36

You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

 

My Favorite Parable

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Which parable of Jesus is your favorite?  I have one. It is the “Parable of the Workers Paid Equally,” found in Matthew 20:1-16.  The parable can be summarized as different groups of workers started at different times (working more or less than their counterparts), but everyone was paid the same wages at the end of the day.

The reason why this particular parable is my favorite is because I am the worker that started in the middle of the day.  I was an adult with kids before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Even though I didn’t work for God as a child, a teen, a college student, a newlywed or a new mother, I still receive the full wages of heaven at the end of my life.

I distinctly remember the feeling I had when I first read this parable.  It was relief that I hadn’t blown my opportunity with God. Of course I missed out on many blessings along the way, but I still get to share in the biggest reward of all.

Sometimes, I act like I have to work twice as hard to make up for lost time.  But this parable allows me to relax.  God is more interested in my future with Him than in my past without Him. This parable reminds me that we are never too old, too late, or too lame to come to Jesus and say, “Put me to work in your vineyard. I want you to be my boss.  I can’t wait to be paid in blessings.”

Matthew 20:12-14

‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered on of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you.  Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

The Quilt Squares of Blessings

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The Quilt Squares

My mother-in-law picked it up at a garage sale years ago, thinking of it as a project starter.  Someone had lovingly and tirelessly embroidered quilt squares of the state flowers for all fifty states.  More time passed and my mother-in-law no longer quilted due to health issues.  She passed the quilt squares onto me.

Since I don’t quilt, I planned to donate the squares to charity.  Before I could, I remembered a friend that enjoyed quilting and instead passed the potential project to her.  More time passed (years, in fact) and I forgot all about those quilt squares until…  This dear, sweet friend presented me with the quilt she had envisioned and completed.  It was beautiful and it was mine.

Those squares had looped back around becoming more beautiful with each person’s blessing upon it.  Just like the nature of blessings.  Blessings grow faster and bigger as they are bounced around and shared.   Blessings surround us and are a tangible reminder that we are loved.  Blessings can still take us by surprise.

When I look at this quilt, I think of the link from that anonymous person who acted upon the seed of an idea to the family and friend of mine that carried forth that idea.  By going through others, those quilt squares connected us all together with a trail of blessings to treasure.

John 1:16

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.