Burdens and blessings through the storm

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist
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Did the storm we weathered in September bring burdens and blessings your way?

Watching newscasts and Facebook posts showing extensive damage across our state surely humbled the hardest hearts. While dreading the clean-up process, I felt fortunate while dealing with minor damages to my home, Tim’s Gift, and yards I love to work in and make beautiful. Storm mode kicked in with a ‘get on it – get ‘er done’ mentality making me anxious to begin the process of putting my home and yards back together again.

Clean up began early Monday morning with the hum of generators resonating happy tunes throughout my neighborhood. Stopping for a bite of lunch brought little relief to my aching back and only a dent in removing the debris. Tons of pine cones and a billion branches still covered my lawn like a blanket.

‘Lord, please send some help’ was my prayer; ‘do it soon’ was my plea!

And the good Lord who looks after His children through storms and sunshine sent two sixth graders to my rescue. They were seeking ways to help people and get Beta points for community service. The precious lads approached my lawn mower and motioned for me to stop, telling me they noticed I had been cleaning yards alone and would love to help me. Wiping my brow, I told them God sent them. Garrison even suggested I go inside to rest and let them finish. Enjoying clean up together was my plan. So, we gave high fives to a challenge of getting the job done before dark. They needed three hours; I needed helping hands. We worked happily until dusk, talked about things intriguing to middle schoolers, took water breaks, enjoyed seeing the fruit of our labor, and joined hands to pray before Garrison and Hudson headed home. While enjoying a long, cold shower, I said lots of prayers for people God was sending my way willing to lend a hand and share His love.

When I surveyed Tim’s Gift for damage, I only found water lines staining the walls and the framed print with Believe turned upside down on the floor. The heavy picture scraped the plaster when it fell from its place underneath the small window. The ugly sight of the damaged wall needed to be covered, so I placed an angel tapestry where BELIEVE had hung.

The only damage to the beautiful picture was the central theme — believe — being turned upside down within the frame. Thoughts of trashing the picture rose inside. Then, I sat it under the angel tapestry and thought how God could easily trash us when we come unglued and are turned upside down!

God can turn our lives around the right way when we believe him to heal hearts, bind wounds, never leave or forsake us, protect, enlarge our territories, and be waiting to welcome us Home to Heaven when our work on earth is done.

While waiting for B.J. to figure out a way to get inside the glass cover and turn Believe right side up, the angel tapestry seems to have a divine place under the little window! We must keep Believing ‘for such a time as this’ when peace abounds amidst storms even with Satan trying to topple those who believe! People who came to Tim’s Gift after the storm have focused on the tapestry and commented on the angel watching over the little children. One man even tried to buy it. Shelia, from Garland, turned it all right side up when she said, “I entered the door and was drawn to the angel, feeling such a peace and calm after the storm. I love it”!

There is peace and promise when we believe in Jesus and trust God who is bigger than any storm, even when it turns our little corner of the world upside down…the Lord can put it right side up again!

When a massive convoy from Massachusetts rolled into Clinton to help us recover from Hurricane Florence, I stood at Tim’s Gift mailbox cheering and waving. Later that day, I headed to the EMS Center to see if they needed more food for volunteers. Food was plentiful, so I started to leave when ‘give them Bibles’ popped up in my mind; God was stirring. Returning a few hours later with a box of pocket Bibles, negative thoughts tried to stop what God put on my heart to do. Knowing the enemy creates inner storms hoping to interfere with divine directions, I kept going forth to greet volunteers with gratitude and giving a Bible to every person in the room, or so I thought. One gentleman named Tim asked to have a picture taken together when he saw Tim’s Gift on the back of my shirt.

Another said, ‘Ma’am, I didn’t get a Bible’ while walking toward the door where I was about to exit.

He introduced himself and said, “I know we are in the Bible Belt, but how did you all pull that off”?

He pointed to crates of bottled Coca Colas stacked near the food table. Realizing I didn’t understand his intent, he singled out a Coke in the bottom crate with the name ‘Christian’ on its label. Giving him a thumbs up, I was in awe of his attention to detail. He asked if we could make a trade.

Pulling a card from his pocket, he said, “I’ll give you my card in exchange for a Bible”!

“That’s a good deal,” I replied with a grin big as Boston, where some of the volunteers were from.

I thanked him for taking time to talk with me and pointing out a Christian Coke, tucked his card in my box of Bibles, shook his hand, and expressed my gratitude one last time before saying, ‘good by’!

Driving back to Tim’s Gift, I pulled his card from the box and realized it was from his church, New Hope Chapel, in Massachusetts. How awesome that this stranger made friend had witnessed to me by sharing about his church and a Coke having the name ‘Christian’ on its label. He was willing to step out in faith in front of his friends; yet, a few minutes earlier waves of fear tried to stop me from witnessing to strangers I would never see again. Feeling humbled, I asked forgiveness for moments of weakness when Satan’s cunning attacks can cause strong Christians -from sea to shining sea – to stay silent instead of speaking up for our Savior! The next day, I worked at my desk and watched the Massachusetts convoy moving slowly down our road under construction. The volunteers were headed to Kinston to help victims of a slow moving storm that saturated the Old North State. Rushing outside, I waved while praying they would be safe and would never forget their time in the town where I love to live. The sticker on my vehicle shares that powerful message…’love where you live’!

Watching until the last vehicle rolled out of sight, I stood in the morning sunshine and praised God for volunteers willing to come to the aid of their southern neighbors in need and a new northern friend who recognized Christian on a Coke and shared about his home church in Plymouth. His Christian witness challenged me to stand up for Christ at home or away from home where ‘strangers can become friends’ when we reach out in faith and trust Him… our Father and Best Friend!

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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.