Handprints and Hydrangeas: Giving and Getting


I can’t wait to share my day with you. I decided this morning that today would be different.

But first, let’s back up to last night…

I did what I normally do before falling asleep (which is not an easy task since restless leg syndrome has taken over the end of this pregnancy). I scrolled through Facebook and then checked out the “For Sale in…” pages hoping to find some good yard sale ads for today. I thoroughly enjoy a good yard sale; it’s like a treasure hunt, and the boys have gotten some great things with their pennies.

I woke up this morning and reached for my phone, planning to look again. But I had this gut feeling telling me not to. You don’t need anything. Instead of going to do something for you, why not do something for someone else today?

I already do a lot for my family and my patients. Isn’t that enough? What would I do with today anyway?

I couldn’t shake the feeling. I knew I wouldn’t find peace until I pursued the chance to be a blessing to someone else today, instead of filling up my car with treasures I don’t need. Maybe I can find somewhere fun to take the kids…the nature station? But the feeling I had said, You entertain and teach them all the time. Go beyond your family.

Then I remembered the email from the church secretary that said the church was collecting school supplies for kids in our county. GREAT! The boys will love doing that.

That’s good and all, Kristin, but they won’t even see the kids they are helping. You can do more.

So I sought advice from my dear friend Pinterest to see what “random acts of kindness” she could recommend. I got a kick out of one pin which indeed had very random things such as “Return a rogue shopping cart” and “Let a car merge”. The best one was “Become an organ donor” (um..wouldnt that entail some kind of accident leaving me hanging on only with life support?!). Yeah yeah yeah, I know what it really meant.

One thing on EVERY list was “visit a nursing home”. I immediately thought of my sister, who takes her kids frequently. They are such a blessing they are to those people. I mean, check this out…


I kept skipping over that suggestion as my list of excuses grew:

I don’t know anyone in our nursing home.
I don’t like nursing homes. I can’t handle the smell.
The boys may take germs in there. (Like they would actually get close enough to anyone to spread germs).
We might leave with new germs.
So many of the residents are not in their right mind; they wouldn’t even know we were there.
Surely they have families who visit them.
I seriously don’t have any shirts that completely cover my belly anymore, and I don’t want to wear a dress today. (Do you really think they care?!)
The boys are not going to cooperate, much less enjoy it.
And the list goes on…

And God’s response:

Perfect place. Jesus would have gone. It’s not a place that will bring you glory. It’s not a place where anyone can give you anything (in the way of stuff or social advancement) so there’s no temptation to do it for your own benefit. Some would consider these people among “the least of these”. Many are confined to the same small space every day and need reminding of my love and the life that exists beyond those lonely walls.

And dear Kristin, you need reminding of how special every single person is because they are made in MY image.


Ok ok ok. What more did I need?! One more thing…

I called my sister, halfway hoping she would talk me out of it. Getting out of our comfort zones is so hard.

Of course, she agreed with God.

So we made cards and cut the best hydrangeas from the bushes out front. The boys were really in to these projects. I’m telling you, it was like Mason knew Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t a piece of cake. My 2 year old got very whiny, my 4 year old got bossy, I got hungry, etc. For some reason, though, I was a much nicer and calmer mom than I normally would be under similar circumstances. I guess it’s easier to be this way when I’m focused on doing good for someone else. When I seek to satisfy myself, I end up frustrated and grouchy because nothing ever goes as planned.

There’s that voice again.
Go. Love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t have to go on a big mission trip when there’s people right here.

So off we went with our hydrangeas stuffed in empty jelly jars which we recently emptied more quickly than I’m willing to admit. Mason dressed himself in a tie dye shirt and plaid shorts because he wanted to look extra good. He topped it off with a whistle necklace. SURE, WHY NOT?

I wasn’t sure what to expect but tried to keep an open mind. We were immediately greeted by the activities director who, of course, was sweet as pie. She was just the guide we needed in this place where we knew no one. She knew exactly who would appreciate flowers and cards.

And, as you can imagine, the rest of the experience was a blessing to us. Ms. Geraldine was overjoyed with fresh flowers, Patty was tickled by a card covered in tiny handprints, and Roberta loved talking about the fact that I’m going to have another boy.

Absolutely nothing went as I had it in my head. It didn’t stink (even with a sensitive pregnancy nose!). The boys didn’t hide behind my legs; in fact, they handed out their own cards and actually said a few words. They weren’t bored; they especially liked the stuffed cat that acted real. Almost everyone we encountered was “with it” enough to hold a conversation and express their gratitude for our visit.
Best of all, we left knowing they wanted us to come back soon.

I’m reminding me and you of some things we already know:

Giving to others is way better than receiving. Plus, we end up receiving more in the end.
Serving our families is great and necessary, but teaching them to step out is what Jesus would want us to do.
Going to church is great, but going out and BEING the church is better.
Seeking stuff for ourselves leaves us unsatisfied and sometimes depressed. Get out of that funk by giving.
Doing things like donating school supplies is a GREAT THING, but don’t forget to do things that will put you face to face with the people you’re giving to.
Saying yes to a new task is uncomfortable and awkward, but after the first step it’s easy!


Lastly, some relevant scriptures:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 6 to do and give in secret and we will receive our reward in full. It may seem ironic, then, that I’m sharing today’s events with the world, but my hope is to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and love on people. We can all do something to be a blessing to someone else!

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  1. Kristen , this has truly touched my heart. It’s what I needed to begin a great day! What a blessing you are to me, and to all who know you!!!! I love you!!

  2. What a beautiful story, by a truly beautiful person. Thank you for your true Christian love that you show to so many.

  3. Kristen, my Mother-In Law was in the rest home so I know how important it is to those in the home. I saw it first hand. And any little thing I did for them meant so much. You and your family are such a blessing. The boys are so blessed to have you two as parents!

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