How do we strengthen each other? One woman at a time. God sets divine appointments every day of our lives: in the grocery store, at the restaurant, on the playground; everywhere we go! Each morning I pray that Jesus would give me eyes to recognize the women who feel alone, are struggling, and need to know God SEES them. I ask, He opens my eyes, and He gives me simple words that speak life. Tears fill the eyes, and gratefulness is given to a Savior that knows where she is. When unable to reach her with audible words I write a note and slip it to that woman He loves so much. I hope these stories encourage you to speak that small Word that tells women Jesus knows right where they are. If you care to share the divine appointments of your life I would love to hear! (These note cards are available for purchase, here)
The Young Soul at the Bath and Body Store: I am wearing my (in)courage t-shirt; the one that speaks of love and community and real life. She asks about it and I explain its heart. I tell her to take strength in the fact God is always with her. Her face lingers in my mind. Knowing I should have extended an invitation to meet, I ask God to forgive me and call that store. I give her my email address and ask her to be in touch if she ever needs a friend. I am praying God will bring us together soon.
The Woman at the Box-Mart: She is older and responsibility is on her face. God prompts me to tell her, “I don’t know what you are facing, but God knows. He is with you.” She pauses for a moment and then turns to say she had lost her career-job not long ago. She says, “I receive that (from God).”
The Flight Attendant: She does not smile; her face shows the strain of containing a heart that could burst. Her words are not curved with kindness and love; she is obviously wresting with something. I leave her a note: “Jesus wants to take your burden away.”
The Teen Girl: She says she doesn’t feel like she is doing anything big for God. I say, “The fact that Jesus lives in you is proof that He is doing big things through you.
The School Nurse: She is so helpful in caring for my daughter. With an encouraging voice she looks at me and says, “Don’t worry we’ll get through this.” I can only smile and tell her that God has always cared for her in the past and it would be foolish for me to worry, and not trust Him, for this.
The Flight Attendant: She is sweet and is doing her job well but she has the look of burden on her face. I can tell there is a story. I write her a note that says, “Whatever you are going through, Jesus knows and He is with you. You are loved with an everlasting love.”
Lisa, the receipt checker at the wholesale store: I’ve seen Lisa many times before. She always wears a smile. This time, after exiting the store, I stop and write a note: “Jesus knows your heart”. I tell her I have a card for her and as I turn to leave she oopens it. She touches my arm and gives me a huge hug. Those big brown eyes tell me God has spoken to her.
Abby, the cashier at a clothing store: She is an older woman and her face is worn. My spirit tells me she has worked hard to provide. While waiting, I write her a note, “Jesus sees your hard work” and I slip it to her after I check out.
Diane, the server at a conference: I am standing in line at the buffet and I hear Diane talking to her friend. She is going on and on about a tote bag all of the attendee have received. I touch her arm and say, “Do you want a bag?” Her grin becomes a huge, “Yes.” At first I thought I would just purchase this $10 bag for her but after going to my room to fetch the money, I realize I do not need another bag. I empty the contents of mine, give it to her, and tell her Jesus loves her so much. This dear woman was filled with an incredible joy by a simple gesture, that cost me nothing.
Kim, the cashier at the cafe: She is so kind to me and as I sit at the table I watch her give a meaningful hug to another woman. Her hug is full of mercy and she takes that extra moment to hold on a little longer. I am getting ready to leave and I lean in, across the counter and I say, “God sees your kindness.” Her eyes fill and she softly says, “Thank you. You made my day.”
Carol, the office manager of my dentist: I fill out the medical questionnaire. As she reviews my history, she asks about my cancer treatment. Chemo? Yes. Radiation? Yes. How are you doing now? I am blessed and living in the kindness of God. She has had cancer and her Her father is living it now. My heart breaks as she tells me more. She shares that she is growing in her faith. God has me there to listen and many words are not needed. My thoughts have often gone to her and I lift her name to the One who loves her so very much.
Nancy, the young college graduate who serves at an event: Nancy has the workmanship of God’s hand all over her. She is serving hundreds of women at an event. She comes to my table and I ask, “Do you work here full time, or just for events?” My words sound strange when they come out (what kind of question is that?) She answers that she is a college graduate that has been looking for a job for two years. This employment is on an as needed basis. I encourage her to press into Jesus, ask what He has for her and walk in confidence that the job He wants her to have is waiting.
Lindsay, my new friend: A mutual friend tells me about Lindsay. We have a lot in common but I lose track of time and forget to contact her. Several weeks later, our mutual friend mentions her again. This time, I Google her blog and email her my gratefulness for her heart and her story. She is right back in touch and, in the middle of a crazy busy week, we schedule to meet over coffee. The moment we see each other we are fast friends! She had prayed the same day I emailed her and asked God to bring her a friend who understood the struggles of cancer and the difficulties of birthing a ministry. I have had this need, deep in my soul, that I could not put my finger on. We have decided to be accountability partners that will pray and live this life of cancer recovery & ministry development. She is the answer to a prayer I could not articulate. Jesus always knows our needs before they are spoken.
Beth: God crosses my path with this precious soul about every 4 weeks. She has become my friend. Her daughter has been fighting a serious diagnosis. She walks in peace and Hope of Promise radiates from her face. I SEE the peace that passes understanding. She says I give her strength and I can not imagine how. She fills me up, reminds of God’s unending kindness and gives me what He has given her. From time to time Jesus brings this dear soul to my mind. I pray for her and I ask to be worthy of what she sees in me and her friendship.
Laura, the receptionist at the doctor’s office: I am frazzled! The day has just begun and I am already behind. My son and I walk in late to his appointment. Laura is doing ten things at once. She is the picture of how I fell inside. Just a little earlier, God had impressed my mind – I am walking in His hand. I am still letting this image soak in, praying it will give me peace for the day. I am praying it for me, and I am praying it for her because we are in the same place. I pull her aside and quietly tell her how I am feeling, how I see my insides in her outsides, and how God wants us to know we are both in the palm of His hand. God is strengthening us in the Truth of His sovereign hand.
The woman cleaning the public bathroom: I walk by and see her face because it radiates with joy. “Jesus, do you want me to speak to her?” My heart hears, “Yes.” When I turn around the corner she is gone and I wonder if I heard His voice or my own. I think, “If I see her again, I will know.” Two hours later I do see her, but this time she is across the park and I can’t get to her. “Please bring her closer.” A few minutes later, I gently touch her arm. “I could not help but notice how much joy you have in your work. Your face just shines. I believe Jesus wants me to tell you that HE sees your joy, too.” Her eyes tear and that beautiful smile gets bigger. “My last job was only one day a week and I just got this job last week. I am so thankful.” Twice she says, “I just want to take care of my kids. I just want to take care of my kids.”
Susan: I’ve not seen Susan in seven years. My friend and I are having lunch at the restaurant that Susan and her husband built. She approaches me and asks me about my oldest son, Trey. Not only did she remember me, but she remembered my boy’s name. I look at her, really look at her, and ask how she is. She says she goes out on a date here and there but nothing big. I figure she’s divorced. After lunch, I wait for her. She comes from the back and I tell her, “Thank you for remembering me, and thank you for remembering my son, by his name. I want to also tell you that you are not alone. God is always with you.” We chat for a few minutes and the things she says seem familiar to me. I tell her about my cancer and I realize her husband has passed; he died from lung cancer. I can tell she is struggling; still trying to get a grip on her loss six years ago. Even in her uneasiness she is strong and moving ahead for herself, and her daughter. Her face, her voice; they are resilient – even in the unknown. She is the reality of the woman who is left to the business of raising a child without a husband. Her God-Strength, in her vulnerability, humbles me and causes me to think deeper of these. She will always live with cancer because it has altered her course… forever. My heart is heavy and I pray for her, and myself.
Jeff: He’s the produce man at my grocery store and I have seen him often. He always says hello with a smile and a nod. Today, I am walking three feet off the ground. I’ve reached a cancer milestone and I am celebrating Jesus’ kindness. Jeff asks me if I am preparing for a special occasion. I explain my joy and he tells me about his 83 year old mother who is battling cancer for the second time. His heart is breaking because he does not want her to live the last of her days in chemo. I ask her name, and promise to pray for her. A few minutes later, Jeff gives me two bunches of flowers. I know the flowers are directly from Jesus. I think of Jeff’s mother, Peggy every time I enter that store and I pray for her. Jeff gives me an occasional update and when he is not there I wonder and pray some more.
Sharon, my waitress at Cracker Barrel: Sharon has huge eyes that are bright blue and her face lights up. I cannot help but notice and tell her there is light in her eyes. Jesus prompts me, “Whatever you are going through, Jesus knows.” Her eyes well with tears and she puts her hand to her chest. She tells me how much she needed those words. She begins to tell me that she was raised in the church, but is unable to go because she works on Sunday mornings. Wouldn’t you know… our church meets on Sunday nights!
Mary: I am sitting at the traffic light and, at the very last minute, I decide to swing by the paint store. After all, it is only across the street. There is another woman there and we agree we love the same coral paint number C 1043. I feel compelled to linger. We exchange some small talk about our little home improvement. As I wait, by her side, she tells me more of her life and her ex-husband who is terribly ill. She cares for his physical illness while battling her own. Her children live far away, she has no friends, and feels very alone. I look her in the eyes and say, “You are not alone. Jesus knows exactly where you are and He is with you.” The tears come and come. She tells me how hard it’s been and how she sees no reason to go on. We both know God has given us a divine appointment and we confirm it with words. I tell her I will be her friend. We hug, tears still streaming, and I put her number in my phone. Mary and I are friends now, I’ve invited her to church. I call her and coffee time is in the works!
The woman at the front office of our school: I can’t put it off any longer – I have to pay for the yearbook TODAY. I vaguely know the woman at the front desk. She is talking to me about all of the dreams she has given up to raise her family. There is no regret, just reflection. She was a model with a very promising career, now she is a staff member at a school. I listen and I tell her I am grateful her road took a turn. She touches the lives of every student, and adult, that enters that school. They must go through her to before they can get to where they need. Her purpose is one that cannot be measured and she is not “stuck”; she is moving forward and every one of her tasks (even the most mundane) have purpose in Him.
Barbara: I walk by, her head is down and Jesus gives me a reason why I should speak to her. As I enter her office, I see that she is sad. Her mother has died. Her voice is soft and she is sad but she is also in wonder. She shakes her head, and softly says, “My dad took care of her until the very end. He took such good care of her.” I am soft, too and I say, “Your heavenly Father takes care of you that way, too.”
My young waitress: She is a very good waitress. From time to time she checks on me and my friend to see if we need anything. My friend excuses herself and the young woman comes to clear our table. I feel the need to tell her she is beautiful, even when the world tells her she is not. She shares that she has just moved here two months ago, by herself (brave, girl), and she feels alone. Her family is far away and she misses her mom. She is doubting she has made the right choice. I tell her she has a Father in heaven who loves her more than she loves her mom. She is never alone, He is always with her.”
The woman at the deli counter: I am at the deli counter of my local organic store. The woman behind the counter asks if she can help me and I tell her I had recently been sick, I am trying to eat better. She tells me she almost died a few years back. She goes into detail and I listen. I say, “I am blessed, and God is kind.” She grew up in the church and all that “religious stuff” but she has doubts. I look her square in the eye, put my hand down, and say, “Jesus is as real as this counter between us. He is waiting for you to talk to Him.” She still has doubts but I can see her mind remembering, and reconsidering His work in her life.
My cashier at Target: She is young; a girl in her late teens. Her face is round and her figure is full. I tell her she is beautiful and God has made her perfect. She says she’s got her grandmother’s face and figure. She lowers her head; her grandmother is sick. My heart is sad and I speak Truth into her life, “This is not the end for those who know Jesus. There is a place waiting for us, where we can be together forever.” Her grandmother is a Believer and she is trying to get her grand love to believe it, too.” I pray for her as I leave that store. I want it for her, too.