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Posts Tagged ‘Mothers’ Day gifts’

Jo 17There are some great perks in selling my books at a school Mothers’ Day market each year. One definitely is watching the children try to decide what to buy their mothers and grandmothers. The youngest students tend to have only five dollars at the most to spend—although this year, I saw one girl waving a fifty dollar note around! Yet, whatever amount they have, each one comes hoping to find something they are sure their mother or grandmother will love—and it is all quite heart-warming to watch.

I couldn’t help but smile as I saw one class sitting together, waiting for the stragglers to finish making their choices. Almost all of them were pulling their prized purchases out of their bags and proudly displaying them to their friends. Some had bought special cards to write in. Others had found sweet smelling candles or soaps. Still others had decided on some jewellery or clothing item. One little girl held up what looked like a rather large, garish, bright red satin cross on a ribbon, complete with white crocheted edging. Hmm! Her face was pink with excitement, as she lovingly stroked her precious gift. In my heart, I hoped and prayed her mother would be delighted when she received it—or at least pretend to be! I could not imagine any mum wanting to wear it, but I hoped this little girl’s mum would think of some special use for it.

Now I go to these markets with other hopes as well. Yes, I hope I will sell a good number of my books. But beyond that, I hope that the books I do sell will be read and enjoyed by the mothers or grandmothers who receive them and that they will draw them closer to God in some way. Can you imagine how lovely it was then when a young girl came bounding up to my table early on with a beaming face and pointed to my latest novel, The Inheritance.

‘Oh, I bought that book last year for my grandmother and she really, really loved it! So she wants another one of your novels!’ she told me, almost breathless with excitement.

Not long after, a staff member came by and pointed to my first non-fiction book, Soul Friend.

‘I bought that as a gift for a friend in Canada last year—and she thought it was wonderful! She’s now in the middle of lending it around to all her friends there.’

How encouraging both these conversations were for me—as I know they would be for any author. We write in the hope that our books will strike a chord with people, but we never know if that will happen. After all, our readers have different tastes and needs—and that’s okay. So I have learnt to be grateful when I receive such positive feedback, but not to set my hopes on such things. Instead, I know I need to keep my eyes focussed firmly on God, the best encourager of all, and trust the One Who gives me deep and lasting hope—hope that will never disappoint.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5-6

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As I surveyed our garden this week, I was thankful for the season of winter. Many plants seem to have gone into hibernation—even some of the weeds. What a bonus! But the little, unpretentious nandina shrubs are looking delightful in this cooler weather, with their deepening red leaves. And our hardy, old camellias make a colourful display too.

I noticed a tiny chrysanthemum bush I had only recently popped into the garden near our front door. It was originally given to one of our daughters as a potted plant on Mothers’ Day. She had tried to care for it in her inner city apartment, but alas—its lovely red-gold blooms soon withered, along with the plant itself. A lack of direct sunlight did not help. Neither did the presence of two inquisitive cats who loved to nibble those green leaves! So she bequeathed it to me.

With no great hope this little plant would survive, I put it in the ground, alongside my own Mothers’ Day chrysanthemum I had replanted earlier, which seemed to be doing okay. In contrast, my daughter’s plant looked ready to cuP1040098rl up and die at a moment’s notice. But, to my surprise, within a few days, that poor little plant began to perk up. Its leaves became distinctly less yellow and wilted and soon began to approach something much nearer normality—give or take a few holes from those curious cats! Now, it is the same healthy, deep green colour as its neighbour. It might still look somewhat scruffy and nondescript—but it is obviously living and breathing again. And my hope is that, in the summer, we may even see some more flowers emerge on it.

In quite a confronting way at times, I have found myself identifying closely with the whole process of rescuing this little, ailing plant. Often as I approach our front door now, I glance to my left, notice its green leaves, and hear that gentle voice of God, whispering into my spirit:

Jo-Anne, remember how I have rescued you—yes, once way back, but many times over in different ways since. Keep looking to me, just as this little plant is responding to the warmth of the sun on its leaves. Then you will grow strong and flourish, blessing many. Then you will fully be the person I created you to be.

In a lovely, personal way, this plant has become like a little parable to me, bringing home all over again the kindness of God at work in my own journey.  Way back, God found me and brought me into the kingdom of light, breathing new life into me through the Spirit, giving me a second chance. Then, over the years, God has nurtured me with such love and understanding and persevered in giving me chance after chance to grow. In Ephesians 2, the Apostle Paul writes:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world … But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ … Eph 2:1-2, 4

I’m so glad God specialises in second chances—aren’t you?

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