Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Butterfly....Some Flowers....and Brotherly Love

"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17
(KJV)

A friend in need, is a friend indeed.

I was approaching one of the most dreaded "firsts" since losing Mom.
My 46th birthday...
and the first one without her.
It had hit me hard all week.
I kept remembering things she and I would be doing....
during those days...
leading up to my birthday.

It is the little things I miss the most.

Just being with her was what mattered.
Knowing she was there.
Knowing she cared.
Knowing I had that security...
of a mother's love.
How blessed I was to have that enveloping blanket...
that dependable, secure force....
for so many years.

Zachary and I were rushing around...
trying to get out the door...
to meet my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.
We had been planning a day out together...
to celebrate my birthday...
for quite a while.
Their continual love, support, kindness, and sharing of sorrow
is a precious gift I treasure more than words.
They all know this isn't the easiest time in my life....
it isn't the easiest in theirs either.

We were running late, and I was trying to do some last-minute things
before we left, when I heard Zachary open the front door.

All of a sudden, he cried out,
"Oh, Mama!"
It was one of those tones of voice where you could tell he was on the verge of tears,
and I could just sense an impending meltdown.

I hurried over to the front door,
not knowing what I would find when I peered through the glass. 

What I found was a tall box that said "Flowers" on the side...
placed on the front porch.
Perched on top of the box,
gracefully resting.....
was a beautiful butterfly.


It was as if I could sense Mom's presence....
in the most real way....
as the butterfly stayed there....
for the longest time.
It would open and close its wings...
turn towards us, then turn back around.


"Zach, hurry and go get Daddy!", I urged.

I didn't want Kevin to miss this moment.
We took some pictures
(I tried unsuccessfully to insert them here...I will keep trying!)
and watched the butterfly for a few moments....
not wanting to disturb it or cause it to fly away.

It seemed it did not want to leave its perch on top of the box.
I guess the logical explanation was that it smelled or sensed the flowers inside,
but I like to think God placed it there as a source of comfort.
For that is certainly what it brought to all of our hearts.

We finally walked outside towards the box.
The butterfly fluttered around our porch,
flying this way and that....
landing here and there....
it seemed as hesitant to fly away
as we were in wanting it to leave.

Kevin brought scissors and opened the box.
Inside we found the most beautiful bouquet of lilies....
in three different colors...
orange, pink/purple, and white.


Below the flowers was a beautiful, heavy glass vase.


My heart was deeply touched.
Who were they from?

I picked up the card at the bottom.
It was tucked inside an enveloped that said,
"Someone is thinking of you."

Who could it be?

I half-expected to see Mom's name on the card...
so real was her presence....
on the porch.

Could she have ordered them before she died?
Could she have planned this, sensing she would not be here for my next birthday?

My hands trembled as I removed the card from its envelope.

Tears spilled from my eyes and flowed down my cheeks,
as I read sweet, thoughtful words....
written from the kind and caring hearts...
of a dear minister friend and his wife.
The card was signed,
"Carl and Becky Shaffer."

How could they have known....
the depths of what this would mean to me??

It was as if they sensed my need....
from hundreds of miles away....
and they knew this would be a hard birthday...
the hardest I've ever known.

I stood there and literally sobbed....
on the front porch.

"Don't cry", Kevin said softly,
as he stood close to me.

"I can't help it", I shakily replied.
"I just can't believe they would do this....for me."

The love and concern behind their sacrifice and act of kindness meant the world to me.
I could not stop the continual flow of tears.

Bro. Carl used to come to Ohio and hold revival meetings when I was a young girl.
He preached Dad's funeral several years ago.
He and his family left a campmeeting that was being held in the church he pastored,
to drive a few hundred miles....
to be there for Mom, my family, and me...
during that difficult time.
He had been a blessing to Dad in his walk with the Lord,
so it meant even more to have him there.


A few days after the flowers arrived, I received a beautiful birthday card from them....
another token of Jesus' love....
flowing from their hearts.

"...a brother is born for adversity..."

I am so thankful to have brothers and sisters in the body of Christ....
like the Shaffers...
who don't forsake you when you are down...
or when adversity strikes.
Who are obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit...
when it prompts an act of kindness.

It occurred to me that they will probably never know or realize the weight or the depths of
the comfort I received from those flowers.
I believe God put it on their hearts to send them.
And I believe with all my heart that He sent the butterfly....
to rest so gently on top of the box....
to let me know that Mom would have been touched by them, too.


The beautiful butterfly lingered....
long after we had opened the box and taken the flowers inside.

It landed on the railing of our porch...
on the side Mom used to hold as she walked down the stairs.



It flew to the purple crepe myrtle beside our porch,
and lit on a leaf on the cherry tree past the crepe myrtle.



I hated to leave home that day.
I wanted to stay near the butterfly....
and flowers.

As I walked towards the car to leave,
the butterfly landed on the driveway in front of the car and stayed still for a few moments.
It seemed to sense that I had to go.
Then it looked as if it were dancing in midair as it fluttered around the side of the house
off towards the sky.
As I watched it fly away,
it seemed to say,
"I'm happy....
  I'm free.
I want you to be happy, too!"

In that moment,
I felt loved.
I felt as light...
and free...
and happy....
as that butterfly.

The lilies have opened up so beautifully.
They grace our kitchen table,
and each time I pass by them,
I am filled with a sense of peace.
I am blessed to know the ones who sacrificed to send them to me.

Hebrews 13:1 whispers a gentle admonition to us all,
"Let brotherly love continue."

Not just when it is easy.
Not just when it requires no effort...no sacrifice.
Not just in the good times.
Not just when we understand our brother.

Brotherly love flows out of hearts yielded to God's will.
Brotherly love is a force that continues...always.
It transcends time...
and distance...
and all barriers.

Because it is a component of God's love.
It is generated from God's heart...
and it flows from one member of the body of Christ...
to another...
without restraint...
without regard to obstacles.
It is automatic.
And it never gives up.

Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
John 13:35



I think a bouquet of lilies...
is pretty good proof.






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