Here we are already in the second month of 2018. At times January felt like it trudged along day by day as the snow fell and the gray days outnumbered the sunny, but as I flip the calendar to a new month, I simultaneously wonder how we’ve arrived at mid February (the hubby's birthday, Valentine's Day, our baby's birthday, our anniversary all within 5 days...) it ALWAYS sneaks up on me.
As I sit and reflect on where we’ve already been this year, it’s easy to count my blessings. My heart is warmed by the memory of joy on our kids’ faces when we told them the news of not one but TWO snow days, the pride I feel when another store is stocked with art from our AMD team, and the satisfying tiredness that consumes me after completing a project I’ve poured my heart and soul into. My life is abundant with love and blessings.
But it doesn’t take long for my thoughts to turn to those who are going through enormous trials right now. In particular, a dear friend battling cancer. When people around us hurt, it’s typical for us Midwestern folk (myself included) to want to help in some way whether shoveling sidewalks in the winter or providing a warm meal. I was yearning for a way to help my friend, and in such times, I turn to this gentle reminder: “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Last night as I was sitting down to rest my mind, turn on 'This Is Us' and call it a night the Lord encouraged me to provide not only my friend, but women of the greater AMD community with the best gift I could – HOPE.
So, I decided to bless 10 brave women with a random act of kindness. We like to call it our 'beautiful blessing' - a sign of course... because that's what we do! Until now the AMD team has chosen people in our 'circles' that we know could use a little uplifting to bless with a sign of encouragement. But last night I felt like I needed to reach further than our circle... So I reached out to you all on Facebook and Instagram to share about a brave woman you know who was experiencing a hard season. In turn, I promised I would send out one of my signs to the first ten women to provide a bit of light in their darkness. I wanted to remind them that bravery resided in their own hearts and most importantly they are. not. alone. I was hoping for 25-30 responses from my followers, but I was overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love received in a very short time. Countless people sent stories of women who needed hope in their lives, as I read through every story and journey I was left with tears running down my face thinking about all the hurt that was being endured. Until I heard the Lord say to me, Allison it is not the women who are hurting that are reaching out... it is their friends, moms, sisters, co-workers, grandmothers, daughters, grand-daughters - it is these women surrounding and lifting up the women who are struggling that left ME feeling full of hope and peace and most importantly I saw God's love in action here first hand, it was absolutely beautiful. As I began to tell the 11th, 28th, 39th person that I already had 10 brave women to bless I received a random Facebook message from a beautiful soul named Kari offering to bless 5 more women. You guys I'm moved beyond words of the power of love. I laid in bed last night until 1:00 overwhelmed by how beautiful this world we live in is. How beautiful and generous our community is and how blessed we truly are. All because of one brave woman in Iowa fighting the hard fight, 15 more women have been blessed and my heart to bless more of you has been stirred. How? I don't know... When? I don't know... but what I do know is that God has a plan for each and every one of us that is greater than we will ever know, greater than we can even imagine and his love is beautiful.
As we move on toward next week’s holiday of love, I encourage you to offer up love and prayer to those around you. If you feel like you should bless someone - do it. If you feel you should tell someone you love them - do it. If you feel you are being called to a random act of kindness - do it. Take on this week “with brave wings” and be someone’s hope and encouragement.