Being a friend to others

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Would you want to be friends with you? This story stirred while listening to Jon Voight share about his friendship with our President on Life, Liberty, and Levin while resting from cleaning up after Florence and browsing through the friend list on my phone. My sister’s lectures on the importance of responding to friend requests in a timely manner surface as I investigate bios before accepting or deleting a friend. Cautious, prayerful reservation before adding friends is wise, for some are not what they seem. Faithful friends stand with you through storms and sunshine. Fickle, fair weather friends fly away when needed on sad, stormy days.

So, ‘for such a time as this’ when the world’s stage is filled with those who mock the meaning of tested, tried, and true friendship, prayerfully choosing friends requires discernment and devotion to our Creator and Best Friend Forever and ever!

So, who would want to be friends with you or me and who would we want to be friends with us? Writing peoples’ feelings about friendship can stir memories and miracles shared with friends through the years.

Christie Brinkley comments that ‘Sharing your smile with the world is a symbol of friendship and peace’!

Helen Keller shared, ‘Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light’!

Hubert Humphrey said, ‘The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.’!

Ralph Waldo Emerson makes baby boomers smile, ‘It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them’!

Euripides believes, ‘Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness’!

My belief is that true friends share love through seasons of sunshine and storms, in times of trouble and triumph, and will either rise up to help in times of need or sit back and wait for someone else to come to the aid of their fellow man and country! A tried, trusted, and true – most of the time – golden friend is a gift from God. Yet, the Best Friend, God, will be there all the time, promising to never fail or leave us!

God was with us through the recent hurricane that hit eastern North Carolina with a slow, steady, vengeance. Families hunkered down together to wait out what would become a historic storm reeking havoc and wrecking homes as it slowly plowed through the Coastal Plains and plundered the Piedmont.

Pictures of people’s little corner of the world being turned upside down flooded face book. Friends far and near connected through various means of social media sending storm news of friends helping friends to all parts of God’s creation. Storm stories were swapped as sentiments from friends worldwide were centered on the Old North State! While waiting for rains to cease, family and friends connected with strategies to step forth in faith after the storm.

The big windows at The Learning Station have provided space to share Good News stories with people passing by and parents picking up precious cargo for twenty nine years. My mother loved seeing the window displays, so the two messages divinely downloaded and put up in a hurry before the arrival of Florence are bound to be broadcast throughout heaven by my dear mama!

Helping Hands and Sharing Love is a universal challenge for all of God’s children to embellish with excitement. When storms hit, little children of the world – red and yellow, black and white – can rise up in loving unity with helping hands and acts of love that fill the devil with fright. Embracing ‘what Jesus would do’ through storms and their aftermath is happening in our hometown and beyond county lines. People are extending ‘Helping Hands and Sharing Love’ humbly, heartily, and happily…giving hope and help to those in need and getting God’s attention! For every act of kindness lovingly done ‘for friends – by friends – or strangers made friends – from Florence’s fury, we are placing a hand in the window at The Learning Station. Please accept the challenge to help others and share God’s love ‘for such a time as this’ when storms are hitting hard and God is watching how His children respond. Do we go back to business as usual after clean up or give God the glory for being alive and well – while trusting Him to take care of us as we suffer losses that break our hearts but can be replaced.

With 40 testimonies and happy hand prints already placed in the window, we are trusting God to touch hearts of people near and far to send or come to Tim’s Gift to share their stories in person. We believe hand prints will completely fill the window for the world to see the wonder working power of Christ our King through the children He created to give helping hands to one another and share His love!

Patty Cherry’s account of helping hands will bring tears to every woman and cheers from every man reading this love story. She told of being in a local motel lobby when the owner asked her to talk to a lady in distress. Patty took the phone and heard a wife’s plea to help surprise her husband, who came with a convoy from a mid-western state to help restore power after Florence. The distraught woman wanted to know where to order a cake and have it delivered to her husband’s room when he returned from working in the swamps of Sampson repairing broken lines. Patty took the reins and offered to order a special cake from Burney’s and deliver it personally. The wife was overwhelmed with joy for that day was her husband’s birthday and their anniversary. Patty called Denise with the special request, picked up the cake made with love, returned to the motel and asked a friend in the lobby to lend a helping hand. The two of them headed upstairs to surprise the dear husband – far from home – on his anniversary and birthday.

When the tired linesman opened his door, Patty began singing Happy Birthday as her friend handed the surprised husband his cake. The special visit from strangers made friends and gift from his wife will long be remembered by him, his wife – who was overwhelmed by Patty’s helping hands -Patty- who was filled with joy from sharing the love of Jesus in her heart -myself – who teared up while hearing Patty tell it and still wiping tears as the Holy Spirit flows while writing my friend’s story.

In closing, I came to Tim’s Gift before daylight to meet deadline, locked the door, and settled at my desk to write the rest of this story. While trying to do so, seven people have called or stopped by to share blessings and burdens they have encountered through the storm. Mrs. Emma called to say the check from Tim’s Gift written to her doctor was more than the charge. She asked could she bring the extra money back. Telling her to do what God put on her heart to do with the extra seemed right. An hour later, with deadline looming, she knocked and I opened the door to my own surprise. She stood with a beautiful angel with outstretched arms and gave it to me. Then, her husband brought a cake for the Sonshine Kids, a box filled with food to give wherever needed, cleaning supplies, and a box of devotion books to share with people who come to Tim’s Gift. Again, I wipe tears as we joined hands and praised God with a joyful noise.

Her desire to still give back the extra money stirred my heart with a resounding, ‘no Mrs. Emma’! She surely surprised me and made God proud to see generosity not greediness, humility not haughtiness, honesty not hurtful deceit, and loving not loathing attitude from her compassionate heart and caring hands.

She beamed with joy when I told her to use the excess blessing however God led her. Her smile told me the good Lord had already planted seeds of helping others in that dear lady’s heart. She squeezed me tightly and promised while walking out the door so I could meet this deadline…”I’ll be back to tell more stories of sharing His love”!

Resting my fingers on the keyboard while watching them drive away, all I could say was…”Wow, I am so in awe of You God”! Oh, how I love to tell the stories of Jesus and His love. Want you please take time to share your stories of helping or being helped by friends…sent by Him?

By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift Love Ministry.

Becky Spell Vann is the owner/operator of Tim’s Gift Love Ministry.