The handmade baskets in the store window lured me to go inside the funky little store. The display was gorgeous—there were baskets of every shape and size. I picked up one of the more exotic ones and turned the price tag over. It wasn’t cheap, but I wanted it, even though I wasn’t sure where I would put it in my little cottage.
“How do you spend your money?” I heard God whisper to me.
“Is buying a basket that you don’t need a good use of your funds?” God asked.
I did a quick review of all the financial responsibilities I have. “No, not really,” I said.
“It’s more than the math,” God said.
“What do you mean?”
“Spending your money in order to satisfy your ego doesn’t grow your heart. But giving to someone in need does, for giving is at the center of my Heart; it is at the center of Love.
I thought about God’s immeasurable generosity and put the basket down. “There will be better ways for you to part with your money; ways that share love—ways that grow your heart and soul,” He explained.
I walked out of the store emptyhanded but with a fuller heart, more conscious of the gift that comes with giving. I’d find better things to do with my money than to waste it on the desires of my ego.
A family of crows has taken up residence in the heritage oak. They shout at one another early in the morning, their jagged squawks grating on me in these gentle hours. I cringe, wishing for the songbirds to awaken.
“You don’t appreciate my crows?” God asked.
“They are so boisterous this morning. I’d rather have some peace and quiet.”
“This is how they wake up. They greet one another,” God explained. “I designed them to be communicative.”
I thought of the hubbub in my home when my four children were little; the excited voices, the burst of early morning energy. My heart softened with the memory.
“You can do that with everyone, you know,” God said.
“Listen with your heart,” God said gently. “Every living thing has my Hands in its making. Listen for that.”
The crows continued their raucous calls. I turned toward them and listened with my heart so that I could hear God’s Hands in their voices. Soon their calls sounded like a symphony greeting the rising sun, saying hello to the miracle of a new day.
God gave us a spirit of power, love, and self-control.
~2 Timothy 1:7
“You’re thinking of tackling a new challenge,” God whispered to me on my morning walk.
“Yes. I am. I’ll need your help,” I answered. A pair of geese on the pond called out, then slowly rose from the water. I watched them until they flew out of sight.
“I’ll be with you every step of the way,” God assured me.
“I’m glad because it’s a pretty big dream. It’s a bit intimidating.”
“New ideas and endeavors often require you to stretch beyond your comfort zone,” God explained. “If you trust my Spirit, and you are willing to risk some stretch marks, let’s make your dream come true!” I could hear the smile in His voice.
I put my hands on my belly. “I grew four babies in here, two at one time even. I’m comfortable with stretch marks,” I said laughingly. The geese circled back and flew overhead, calling, calling. They sounded excited, eager to greet the new day. With a gentle sweep of their wings, they landed gracefully on the pond. I watched them as I stood in the cool of the morning, breathing in God’s sweet breath of hope and His plans for my future.
Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
I cut back the salvias and took out the last of the annuals from the flower garden in preparation for the coming winter. I’d miss their beautiful blooms, but it was time. The afternoon sun was warm, but losing its powerful summer punch. I worked quietly, listening to the drone of the bees still in search of pollen.
“They brought you a lot of joy, didn’t they?” God said.
“Yes,” I replied as I tugged on a stubborn root.
“It’s good to appreciate things when they are here, for everything has to come to an end.”
“I wish that they didn’t though,” I said honestly. “Impermanence is challenging.”
“That’s because you can’t see the big picture, ” God answered. “You can’t see the true workings of my creation. But you can trust that everything is in perfect order because everything returns home to me, Sparrow.”
“So I don’t have to feel guilty for taking out these spent annuals?” I asked.
“No. “They are in my care.”
“I’m glad I don’t have to be sad that their days are done,” I said.
God knelt down next to me and took my dirt-covered hand in His. “You don’t have to be sad at all,” He said and gazed deeply into my eyes. “You just have to love llife—death—the mystery of it all—and me.” He squeezed my hand then let it go so that I could carry on clearing out the faded glory of summer.
The birds at the feeder kept me entertained as I folded the laundry. I watched them from my bedroom window. Two brown birds I’d not seen before clung to the wire mesh, pulling black oiled sunflower seeds out, one by one. I’ll have to look that one up in my field guide. Should be easy, its a rather ordinary bird, I thought to myself.
“Ordinary?” God questioned.
“Isn’t it?” I asked.
“Every living thing is special; unique in its own way. When you look at life, any life, and say that it is ordinary, you deny the power and glory of my work,” God said.
“I’ve never thought of it that way,” I said. “I’ve always thought that some animals were more special than others, you know, like some people are more special than others.”
“People worry about being special. They work so hard to be better than others, but they don’t understand that they were special to begin with. And everyone is equal.” God explained. “Your looks, bank account, career—nothing makes you better than others.”
“You mean I don’t have to work so hard to be special?” I asked.
“Not in my eyes. You can’t earn my favor. I’ve already freely given it to you, to everyone.”
“You mean grace?”
“Yes. grace. And the miracle of life,” God answered.
I looked back at the feeder at the brown birds still enjoying their lunch. “From now on, I’ll look at all of life as extraordinary. And I’ll stop trying to impress you and others,” I said.
“Just be you. You’re enough. Everyone is enough, just as they are,” God said and winked at me. I winked back and returned to folding my laundry.