This morning, I can’t help but count gifts.
In the past few days, I’ve witnessed moment after moment of people really truly loving each other, and in the spirit of Counting Gifts, I want to take a moment to celebrate these little tiny stories that mean so much.
My dad and I walked into my favorite deli near my house. The man behind the counter was boisterous and talking with big gestures and laughing with everyone- as he always does- always talking about being back in Queens in his thick New York accent.
He struck up a conversation with my dad about New York and the east coast and everyone affected by the hurricane.
The man got to tell us about his family and his home and ended the conversation with a quiet but heartfelt request.
“Pray for everyone effected.”
I don’t think he could have imagined that we actually would.
The day finally came for me to get the iPhone 5 and I walked- almost skipped- into the Verizon store. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 75, there’s just something about a new toy.
Within a minute, I was deep in conversation, talking and laughing with the woman behind the counter. As she got my information, she started asking me about Georgia, “now what did you move there for?”
As I began to tell her about my job, and about the World Race, she stopped dead in her tracks. She set everything down, walked around the counter and stood 6 inches from my face, smiling as she peered into my eyes, telling me that she just had to know more.
She asked me a million questions about my job and the Race, and as I was about to leave she told me “I don’t even know you, but I can tell that you’re going to do really great things.”
I left without the iPhone (having to wait for it to be shipped), but skipped out of the store anyway- my heart full to the brim.
My best friend’s mom is one of my favorite people in the world. She’s known me since I was 8 years old, and has seen me through most of my life- especially the weird parts.
It’s miraculous to me that she still loves me even after seeing me through my awkward teens, thousands of sleepovers, getting in trouble with her daughter, and raiding her refrigerator as often as I can.
But she does, and she loves me deeply.
On Saturday night, I had the unbelievable pleasure of spending the evening with her and my best friend. The three of us sat curled up on the couches, watching the snow fall outside, and talking about life and God and the things that we see and the things that we know.
At one point, we began talking about the way that we see ourselves as women.
We pick ourselves apart, never satisfied, no matter our size or our shape.
We beat ourselves up thinking that if we do, then other people wont have to- and maybe that will be less painful.
And then in a really quiet moment, my sweet adopted-mama looked at us seriously. She told us that we need to be gentle with our bodies- and that we need to love and honor ourselves because we’re the dwelling place of God.
Her eyes filled with tears as she looked at us- seeing us deeply, knowing our hearts and our souls and what we looked like with braces and almost whispered,
“You girls are beautiful. Absolutely, perfectly beautiful.”
I came home last night with what can only be described as a tired soul. Traveling and catching up and long weekends and late nights had led me to a place where my heart was so tender, I knew I could cry at any moment, for no reason at all.
I thought that I needed time to catch up- time to get work done- time to unpack my suitcase, but God knew better.
I spent last night in footie pajamas, laughing with my roommate as we set up our brand new, stunningly beautiful, 7-foot Christmas tree. The air was filled with the sounds of Little Women playing sweetly on our TV and the smell of freshly baked brownies.
In the glow of the tree, my soul began to unwind, taking in the breath that it so needed.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, I then opened the front door.
Sitting on the mat, quiet and unassuming was a purple box. Flowers. Just for me.
Such an unexpected surprise that wrapped around me like a warm blanket- filling me with love down to my core.
And then to top it all off, I opened my mail this morning to get a letter from one of the world’s most beautiful women.
My friend Carly was in my small group when I lived in Boulder. She and I met coming back from a mission trip in Jamaica and spent the next year, meeting once a week, talking about life and becoming the sweetest of sisters.
Carly is one of those people who sees beauty in everything. When I picture Carly, I always imagine her in a really twirly skirt, sitting in a meadow full of wildflowers, taking pictures of all of them, with one of them tucked safely behind her ear.
Carly understands what it means to be God’s little girl better than anyone I’ve ever met- and I’m not even sure she knows that. Being around her brings me closer to Him- I love her a lot.
I opened up her letter, full of love and encouragement and color, and immediately began to cry.
This woman sees me and loves me and helps me understand that God sees me and loves me even more- something that I had just prayed to understand more fully, this morning.
Today, my heart is so full that I just have to give some of it away. I wish I could buy you all flowers, or send you each a personal note of encouragement and love- but this will have to do.
I pray that today is the kind of day that fills your soul with love. I pray that today you have a moment to see something truly beautiful.
Today, I pray that you take a moment to write a note of encouragement or to tell someone how much you love them.
I pray that you take a moment to sit, quietly, letting a blanket of God’s love come and wrap around your shoulders.
At the end of Carly’s letter, she asked me questions that made me really stop and pause for a second. They were questions that I hadn’t thought to answer in a long time, and I really feel like they were questions to bring about a much needed pause today.
Maybe it’ll be the same for you.
Tell me of your dreams…
Where are you longing in your heart?
Where are you deeply satisfied?
What prayers do you need someone speaking over you?
I would love to pray for you specifically, give you a word of encouragement and hear what God’s doing in your life. Please feel free to email me! Stephanie@StephanieMayWilson.com