On The Receiving End

I am a doer, a helper and an encourager. I am in my element when I have a task list, project or place to lend a helping hand or listening ear. I look for ways to help make life easier for others. In giving, I am filled and come alive with passion and energy. I have learned that these attributes are spiritual gifts bestowed to me from above. I was taught from an early age that “it is better to give than to receive." Giving has never been difficult for me and I am always looking for ways to live this verse and mantra out in my daily life at home, work, church and in everyday interactions with people. While I believe that giving of our time and talents is an important part of living out the Christian faith, it wasn’t until just recently that I began to learn what a beautiful gift receiving is as well.

I have enjoyed some wonderful celebrations and been gifted many special gifts, treasured words and acts of love and encouragement over my lifespan. But it wasn’t until this past March, on my 38th birthday, that God really wanted me to experience a most powerful expression of love and gratitude from so many family and friends. I awoke to a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers, cards with heartfelt sentiment and an original sunflower painting by a local artist from my husband and two boys. More sunflowers and tulips were delivered to my classroom during the school day. My cellphone was filled with texts, missed calls and voicemails, and my Facebook was flooded with heartwarming messages. My mailbox at home held cards and gifts from those afar and friends dropped by to deliver more flowers and an undeniably unique veggie tower cake. I enjoyed multiple birthday meals out with my parents and friends. And on the weekend at church, I received even more cards, several books and a beautiful new personalized Bible. I was blown away by the amount of intentional thought, time, kindness, love and generosity extended to me!

My heart was overflowing and a permanent smile imprinted on my face with many thanks to those who had loved on me so hard. It was in these feelings that I realized how often I am closed off to receiving. I don’t do "receiving" well. It is hard for me. I get embarrassed by the attention and don’t like to be in the spotlight. I oftentimes feel guilty or undeserving. But on this birthday, I began to realize that there was a lesson to be learned in receiving well.  What I didn’t know was that God was preparing me on my birthday for the receiving I would need just a few weeks later when a series of events unfolded that made me feel like my world was falling apart. 

I literally went from feeling high on life just a few weeks prior, to feeling crushed, alone and afraid. I was drowning in emotional distress and every time I came up for a breath, another wave came washing over me. I continued giving (because that is what I do best) as much as I could while struggling to stay afloat. In the midst of what was one of the most difficult times in my life, a flurry of giving came my way that provided the encouragement and strength I needed to see me through to brighter days and restore my hope and joy. A surprise kidnapping by a group of fun-loving friends took another friend and me to get pedicures, break bread, laugh and share a late night meal together! I received multiple dinner invitations in the middle of the week's chaos to love on me and my boys so we weren’t alone in our sadness. Letters, cards, texts, phone calls and prayers came always at just the right time. Open doors, comfy couches, pillows for my lap and a place to share my tears and fears were offered. A friend showed up on a Sunday afternoon to sit out back with me for hours, listening and offering comfort while I shook and cried. Friends took time to walk and run for miles by my side. Surprise gifts were delivered to my school to let me know I was thought about, loved and cared for. Texts and words of encouragement from my biggest spiritual mentors, my dad, Grandma and mother-in-law came at the perfect times. My husband showed love and compassion for my pain. Time in the sun, toes in the sand and feet in the water helped me. The extra hugs and expressions of love from my most precious sons, and constant checking for tears to see if  their mommy was okay today, warmed my heart. A surprise dinner organized by many of the most diverse and beautiful souls I have met, expressing their gratitude, absolutely moved me. I received a treasured charm bracelet to carry me through my next season of life. 

As I think back on these two most recent examples of being on the receiving end, I am completely overwhelmed by the love poured out to me. I can now attest to how good receiving feels, especially if we open our hearts to it. A greater lesson I learned in these experiences is the connection between acts of love, both given and received, and the love our God has for each of us every moment of every day, no matter what our circumstances or current emotional state is at any given time. We need to be open to embracing the love and attention our savior, Jesus, has to fully receive the unconditional love and adoration He has for us. How awesome that we can feel His overwhelming love through the actions of others. I will continue to give because I know it is what God wants me to do, but I will now also be more open to receiving the love and gratitude that comes my way. I am so thankful God continues to put all the right people in my life to remind me how loved and cared for I am. Not only by each of them, but by Christ as well. So very thankful to be on the receiving end!

Kami's greatest joy comes from being a mom and raising the two boys God gifted her and her husband. She loves God and people, and lives to encourage and help make life easier for those around her. She loves anatomy and the human body and shares her knowledge and love for people as a high school teacher. If she could be paid to provide encouragement as a professional card/letter writer, she would. Kami is a list maker and taskmaster (her husband and family may refer to her as The General). She wakes early and crashes hard at night. Aside from time with her boys, she always makes time to run, read and dig deep into His word,  journal, pray, and spend time with close friends and family. She loves and lives with her whole heart.