Tag Archives: gifts

Little Things

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…mean a LOT…

For most of us, it really doesn’t take a lot to bring a smile, a laugh or a moment of warmth.  A small gesture can yield large dividends in terms of improving morale or offering someone a boost.  If you are like me, those little things are memorable.

When I see someone leaving work to go get lunch, I’ll often joke, “Bring me back a cookie!”  One day my friend Jason did!  Happy making.

 

After I wrote a blog post mentioning that my childhood neighbors had taught me how to pray the rosary, but I had long since forgotten how, a sweet surprise from my friend Jenny showed up in my mailbox

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A couple of Saturdays ago I showed up to work and found a note left for me, in high-tech style, from my buddy Rand.

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#Workhusband Steve brought me a feather.

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In fact, I have a lovely little bird figurine at home that holds a collection of feathers too large to laminate for bookmarks.  Each feather in this arrangement was a gift from someone.

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My point is this: each gesture I mentioned here probably was not much to the person offering it…but the impact of such thoughtfulness was immense for me.  It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day.  I want to challenge myself to show such little kindnesses each day.  Little things really mean a lot.

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Thoughtful

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Sometimes the sweetest gifts are free…

Readers of this blog know that I collect feathers, and I have for several years.  I don’t remember how I got started with it, but at some point I saw a pretty feather someplace and decided to pick it up and take it with me.  For the longest time I simply stuck them into my Bible or other books I was reading, and many of my books still contain feathers.  I came across one the other day and it both surprised and delighted me.  I hope the people who inherit my books someday will have the same reaction.

Larger feathers, or ones from trips or momentous occasions, I have laminated on pretty paper or photographs with a description of when and where I found them and why they are special.  These make wonderful bookmarks as well.  I have also included them in notes or little presents to people, taping a small feather to a letter or the inside of a book.

Several people have spotted feathers and photographed them for me, sending the pictures via e-mail or on social media.  Those are always nice surprises and they tickle me to pieces.  And a few people have found feathers, picked them up and saved them to give to me when we saw each other next.  A couple of these “feather presents” came earlier in the summer, just a couple of days apart.  My friend Ann Rita is an avid hiker, and on one of her excursions she found a gorgeous dark-brown-and-white striped feather and picked it up to bring to me at church.  It is gorgeous and unique, and sturdy enough to use as a writing instrument like they did in the olden days.  Just a couple of days after that, I met my friend Marc to practice music and he said he had a surprise for me.  He had found an enormous, shiny black feather and saved it to bring me because he knew I collected them.

A couple of years ago my cousin Judy sent me one tucked inside the pages of a magazine featuring Alton Brown, my favorite food personality (and nerd crush!).  Rebecca and Karen, friends I have sung with in Knoxville Choral Society, have also contributed to my collection.  Rebecca brought me a huge, HUGE turkey feather from a trip to North Carolina.  Karen’s property has geese and she gathered a baggie full of soft grey feathers and brought them to me at rehearsal one night.

Most recently, my sweet husband Jeff was outside our house and something caught his eye.  It turned out to be a blue jay feather, with black stripes and a white tip.  It’s unlike anything else in my collection, and he could easily have just left it on the ground where it had landed.  He found it on the 3rd anniversary of my last visit with Aunt Ruby before her stroke.  I hugged him so hard I think it surprised him!  And I may or may not have cried in private a little later on for that precious gift from God letting me know that Aunt Ruby is indeed with Him.

Any time someone sends me a feather picture, or actually picks one up to give to me, I am amazed at their thoughtfulness in doing so.  For that moment, a person remembered me, and chose to let me KNOW that they remembered me.  That in itself is a gift, just as much (or even more sometimes) than something purchased with money.

Thoughtful gifts don’t need to be expensive…and expensive gifts aren’t always Thoughtful.

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The Comfort/Sanity/Happiness Kit

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Because we all need our marbles…

I enjoy giving goofball presents to people who appreciate my sense of humor and understand the spirit behind the gift.  Gag gifts between me and Reed at Christmas happen from time to time, although it is not an annual occurrence.  He started it when we were kids and he bought me a Chia Pet.  Over the ensuing years various crazy presents have passed between us, such as monkey dishes (I gave him a set the year after he presented me with a monkey lamp), bright pink slip-on sandals from him that decorated my office wall back when I had an office, and an extremely ugly “giggle jug” lamp that I gave him which had a goofy smiling face on one side and a frowny, but hilarious, face on the other.  My crowning goofball gift to him happened the Christmas I was able to obtain a beauty school head that a friend’s sister-in-law had worked with as she completed her training to be a hairstylist.  Score!  It was by far the goofiest gift I have ever given to Reed, or to anybody for that matter.  One Christmas, Reed overwhelmed me with 4 additions to my ugly necktie collection!  I actually wear my outrageous ties now and then, so this gift was priceless.

I have been working on an idea for a comfort/sanity/happiness kit to give to friends and family who need one or all of those things, especially in times of sadness or stress.  It would contain things like bubble wrap for stress relief (who doesn’t LOVE to pop bubble wrap?!  Again, when I had an office, I kept bubble wrap in it to work off my frustration);  A Slinky, for the soothing sound it makes as it passes from one hand to the other; and some jingle bells for those moments when a little music is needed.image

And definitely some marbles.  Who among us doesn’t occasionally feel like we have lost our marbles?  The gift of marbles assures the recipient that, no, you haven’t lost your marbles, because right here they are!

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The comfort/sanity/happiness kit might contain other items like bubble bath or a scented candle, a mix CD of music tailored for the recipient (a few people still actually use CDs, I think!), a book the recipient might like, a special snapshot, a recipe, or a jar of bubble-stuff to blow bubbles at the world. It’s a lot better to spread bubbles than profanity (although, I’ve been known to spread both!).  The only limit to the kit is one’s imagination and the desires/tastes/needs of the person who will receive it.

What would be in YOUR comfort/sanity/happiness kit?

The contents of mine would vary day by day…but I would always want, and need…

My marbles.

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Walking Shoes

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A journey of a thousand miles…

I am a casual dresser most of the time.  My work environment is informal so my attire often consists of jeans and sneakers.  In recent years I have rediscovered a fondness for what I used to refer to as “boy tennis shoes”, which are Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  They are comfortable, cute and available in every color imaginable.

A couple of the fellows at work have Chucks in colors that I also own, and they kindly agreed to allow me to photograph our feet in our matching shoes for this blog.

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The smaller feet in the pictures are mine.  The blue shoes belong to Jacob, and the red ones are Matthew’s.   Big feet and little ones side by side in matching shoes are sort of comical…but for me, the images remind me that we are all journeying through this life, walking side by side with our neighbors, yet each of us on a unique path.

Imagine me trying to walk my path in Matthew’s shoes, or in Jacob’s!   My little feet would have trouble keeping those shoes on because they are much too large for me.  And Jacob and Matthew could not even begin to fit their man feet into my tiny girl shoes!  Our footwear looks the same, but my shoes were made to fit me, just as theirs were intended to fit them.

I think our gifts, talents, personalities and experiences are just like our shoes.  God equips each of us with a set of tools—shoes, if you will—for life’s journey.  My shoes might look like someone else’s, but they fit me alone.  And the longer I walk in them, the more miles we cover together, the more my shoes take on the shape of my feet.  The toes scuff up in a certain spot, the sides wear in a particular fashion, and the soil on the soles is unique to my path and the places I walk through.

I am thankful for my “shoes”, the gifts of God that take me along the path of my life.  I am grateful for the gifts of others whose journeys intersect with mine along the way.   Lord, guide my steps.

“Trust in The Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Thanks to Jacob Simms and Matthew Lloyd for sharing their shoes with me!

Gifted

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Everything in my life came from somewhere…

Sometimes I am just plain overwhelmed by how gifted my life has been.  It seems as though everywhere I look, there is something to be grateful for, some gift I’ve been given that warms my heart.  Whether tangible or not, gifts surround me.

As I chose today’s clothes and accessories to wear to work, it dawned on me that many of the things I’m wearing were gifts from important people in my life.  The denim jacket with the Cinetel logo embroidered on it came from my friend Sam, who gave it to me as he was moving away from the area years ago.  I was too large to wear it when he gave it to me, but since weight loss surgery and shrinkage have happened, it now fits with room to spare.  It’s a warm reminder of Sam’s friendship and the laughs we’ve shared over the years we’ve known each other.  When I wear it, it’s like a hug from him.

I am wearing the Vicki treble clef earrings and the Olivia bracelet I mentioned in an earlier post called “Hand Made”, shiny reminders of these beautiful women whose lives have touched mine as we crossed paths through faith and music.  Such gifts are a tribute to their thoughtfulness.  While I treasure the jewelry (and I definitely do!) I treasure the women and their friendship even more.  Each of them is entering a new phase of life right now.  Vicki is getting married in 2 weeks and Olivia is finishing up her doctorate and about to begin a new teaching position.  My prayers are with them both as they continue on the paths God has set for them.

On our last adventure trip to Las Vegas, Sweet Pea and I drove out into the desert to Primm, where there is a huge outlet shopping place.  That drive into the desert was astonishing, the rugged beauty of jagged rocks and a huge sky overwhelming me with a view so different from home.  That is where my white gold emerald and diamond anniversary ring came from, which I am also wearing today.  It was an early 19th wedding anniversary present.  The ring is beautiful and I love it…but the relationship with my husband is the true gift.  The ring serves as a reminder of what really matters.

I also wear a little silver bead and crystal cross bracelet.  This came from my cousin Judy.  She slipped it onto my wrist last August on a hot, muggy morning.  It was the morning we buried Aunt Ruby and my cousins had asked me to conduct her graveside service.  I think Judy knew I’d need a little extra strength for the day, and the bracelet carried her love and prayers with it.  It continues to do so and I wear it with love and gratitude.

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Thanksgiving following Aunt Ruby’s passing, our family gathered at my cousin Holly’s house for the first time without Aunt Ruby’s presence among us.  It was a bittersweet day, with both laughter and tears as we remembered the joy of Thanksgivings past when we gathered at Aunt Ruby’s house on Arnold Street.  My cousins presented me with a gorgeous pair of earrings, a love gift for preaching Aunt Ruby’s funeral and a reminder of the many roles she had served in our family, among them, the resident ear-piercer.  And the gem of choice?  Rubies.  Of course.  Doubly meaningful because Aunt Ruby’s name was also Mama’s birthstone.

 

 

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Everything I have, material and otherwise, came from someplace, from someone.  As meaningful and special as the material gifts are, they are just reminders of the true gifts, which are the people whose lives touch mine and the Lord Who brought all of it together in the first place.  He put me in the family He chose for me and brought into my path the friends He knew I would need to make my life rich, fun, musical and colorful.  

So yes, in all honesty, I can say that I am indeed greatly gifted.

Hand Made

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Genesis 1:1—In the beginning God created

I spent part of an afternoon recently with my cousin Jim (aka Bobo) and his wife Donna in the home studio where she makes original fused glass art pieces, jewelry, bookmarks, window hangings, Christmas ornaments and just about anything else imaginable that can be made with glass.  She had posted pictures on Facebook of art pieces/caricatures she had made of Bobo and his brother, Hazen, doing their favorite hobbies, golfing and fishing, respectively.  I was so taken with them that I asked Donna if she could do one of me singing, and she said she’d give it a try.  When she contacted me to let me know that my art piece was completed, we made a date for me to go over and pick it up.  And when she unveiled it, I squealed with delight!

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We enjoyed a wonderful visit, someplace other than a funeral home, which is where we tend to run into each other these days.  I looked around her studio and learned the story of how she got into working with glass.  The colors, textures and shapes fascinated me as I poked in every corner of the space, and Donna explained that each piece is one of a kind because when it goes into the kiln for firing, she never knows exactly how it’s going to turn out.  Colors and finishes change when they are fired.  That element of surprise is part of the joy of fused glass work.

Donna was a hairstylist for years before retiring and beginning this new creative chapter of her life.  I commented that doing hair was an art form and she replied, “Well, it should be.”  Her daughters are both creative as well, with enterprises and interests ranging from music to photography to embroidery.  And they’ve passed that creativity to their children as well.  It runs in the family just like brown eyes or blonde hair.

My friend Vicki recently sent me a surprise in the mail, a beautiful pair of handmade silver earrings shaped like treble clefs.  She wrote in her card that she’d seen them where a lady was showing her handmade creations and they made her think of me.  I’ve worn them numerous times since receiving them and people always comment on how beautiful and unusual they are.  And with gratitude,  I always share the story of how they came to me.

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Several years ago, my friend Olivia, who was a member of the fraternity I serve as chapter mother, made me a bracelet in the fraternity colors, with a heart charm and my initial.  It’s a treasured gift and a reminder of the gift of creativity that lives within her, and within all of us.

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I am primarily a musician, a singer.  But I also write, make scrapbooks and greeting cards, and take pictures.  My friend David told me years ago that all creative people have more than one outlet for expression, and I believe that is true.  There are writers who also paint, painters who also dance, dancers who also quilt, quilters who also play instruments…the combinations are limitless.  

Genesis tells us that “In the beginning God created…”, (emphasis mine) and that He “made mankind in His image…”.  It stands to reason, then, that we are all endowed by the Creator with the gift of our own creativity, in whatever ways it manifests itself.  I count myself blessed to come from a heritage of so much music and creativity on both sides of my family.  I may not express my creative instincts in all the same ways as my predecessors have, but I try to express myself to the best of my ability and in the ways that best suit me.  And I continue to explore new ways to express those creative urges.  God gave them to me to use, and I hope to use them to bless other people.