Tag Archives: gifts

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

Red flowers with the words, "Kindness:  a gift that keeps on giving"Kindness:  A Gift That Keeps on Giving

by Lydia Floren

It’s cold up here in Wisconsin, so when the weather finally warms up, most of us folks try to stay out of doors as much as possible.  For me, that means spending lots of time in my garden.

Map of the United States, with growing zones highlighted in different colors

Gardening is different in the Northwoods.  We are in the “3b” USDA cold hardiness zone.  The little purple stripe on the tippy top of the map.

What that means is that the growing season is short, and only certain types of plants will survive. I have learned that perennials – flowers that come back every year – are the way to go. Several friends and neighbors have shared extras perennials with me over the years (and most of them I have managed to keep alive).  For example, Liz gave me some hostas, and my neighbor across the road some angel’s wings. Rhoda donated some bee balm and a rose bush I can’t kill (I am quite good at killing roses!).  Lori contributed a bunch of day lilies and ferns, and I think some purple iris (was that you, Lori?).

Perennial blessings

Anyway, the explosive color in my yard summer after summer is in largely due to these dear folks’ kindness. These flowers bless me and my family every year, and many others who happen by, for some reason or another.  Often they remind me of the friends who contributed so generously to my garden, the memories prompting me to give thanks for the friend.

Memorable kindness

Gifts that keep on giving can come in all kinds of packages.  They might be plants, or tangible presents people have given, like the afghan Karley crocheted for me, or the little pillow Debra gave me for my birthday one year.  But the kindnesses that I most vividly remember are often the ones I can’t see or touch.  Terri, for example, taking an afternoon  to shop for clothes just for me.  Karen sending her boys over to help me sod the backyard, before Michael and Kiley’s wedding reception.  John Larson making me feel like a part of the team, when I started practice in Bloomer.  Ms. Paula patiently listening, as I tearfully shared some small concern about my kindergartener. John Markquart rescuing me on the side of the road, where I was stuck in the snow.

And my sister, Becky, painting my toenails while I was flat on my back after surgery.

Two sisters, heads close together, smiling

Kindness endures

Kindness endures.  It lasts long after the ground freezes over, the polish wears off, the clothes are discarded.  A kindness – especially an intangible kindness – is remembered and shared and multiplied, traveling far beyond where you think it has gone. And, while many can be touched by it, kindness invariably blesses the giver most of all.

So, if you feel that nudge to share an extra smile, or go out of your way a a bit, or give away some of what you have, do it. Kindness is never wasted. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Be kind and compassionate to one another.  Eph. 4:32

What memories do you have of someone being kind to you?  Please share. We would love to hear from you.

Ferns, with the caption Kindness lingers long after it is given.

The Secret of Surrender

10:29:15 Hugh Jackman on stageby Lydia Floren

Let me tell you a little secret about me:  I am a clandestine celebrity watcher.  Yes, I am one of those people who scan the headlines in the grocery checkout lane.  At the hairdresser, I’ll scroll through the latest People magazine.  I might even be known to [gasp] Google a star of my favorite TV show.  I make excuses for this somewhat silly voyeurism:  “I need to be aware of what is going on in Daniel’s world,” I’ll tell myself.  But truthfully, I probably know more about some stuff (the unimportant stuff) in Hollywood, than does my actor son Daniel, who actually lives there!  Besides, my “star watching” started long before Daniel chose his career path and moved to LA.

OK, now that you know my little secret, you shouldn’t be surprised that my favorite part of the Sunday paper is Parade Magazine.  Which gets me to the part that might actually interest you.

Not too long ago Parade featured an interview with actor Hugh Jackman, aka “Wolverine”, of the X-Men.

10:29:15 Jackman

In the article, Jackman unabashedly acknowledged his Christianity, and described how his faith is intertwined with his work.  Here are his words, as quoted in Parade:

“I’m a religious person.  This is going to sound weird to you.  In Chariots of Fire, the runner, Eric Liddell, says, ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’  And I feel that pleasure when I act and it’s going well, particularly onstage.  I feel what everyone’s searching for, the feeling that unites us all.  Call it ‘God’.  Before I go onstage every night, I pause and dedicate the performance to God, in the sense of  ‘Allow me to surrender’.  When you allow yourself to surrender to the story, to the character, to the night, to the audience, transcendence happens.  And when that happens, there is nothing like it on the planet.  It’s the moment people experience when they fall in love, which is equally frightening and exciting.  That’s what it feels like.”

I think God wants each of us to experience moments like Liddell’s and Jackman’s.  These moments come when we surrender ourselves to Him.  When we relinquish control and just trust Him, we become a conduit for His Holy Spirit to work through us.

God wants us to “feel His pleasure”, as we do what He made us to do.

When we do, it is as if Jesus murmurs in our ear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Master.”

How have you seen God work through you when you surrender?

p.s.  Here’s a link to the Parade article on Hugh Jackman:
http://parade.com/426939/dotsonrader/the-hugh-you-never-knew/