IMG_190131 Days Walking Through Chronic Illness

day twenty~seven

“Christian hands never clasp

and He doesn’t give gifts for gain 

because a gift can never stop being a gift~

it is always meant to be given.”

                                                                       Ann Voskamp~One Thousand Gifts

It was the first hardest days, when I was given the greatest of gifts.

The previous summer, precious grandchildren had spent many a sultry afternoon playing in our back yard.

Their favorite activity; why digging of course. Multiple toys, balls and swings, sand and buckets, the water hose, all tossed carelessly aside.

They somehow discovered the gardening tools, Papa’s little shovels, the watering pails and such.

Their goal, to dig a tunnel they could crawl through, complete with flashlights and headgear. They came pretty close to meeting their goal.

As more holes than yard, became the norm, we soon locked up every digging, scraping, earth moving tool we could find.

Persistent little sweets, dug on, with their hands of course.

The battle lost, we relaxed in the deck chairs and watched, amazed. Resigned to bringing in dirt later in the Autumn. Thinking the “digging phase” soon would pass.

Summer ended with falling leaves, acorns, and squirrels scurrying about in the yard. The holes filled in.

January stormed in, the January it all changed. Several months had passed, two of the older grandchildren came to spend the day.

One, a man child with a big ole tender heart and a love for the outdoors.

He had been out in the cold all morning toiling away. I eased to the window to take a peak, and there I found him digging a hole.

I threw up the window and called out, “you know you are not supposed to be digging in the yard!” 

Big grin, minus a few teeth, smiles at me and waves, says the sweetest thing. “Nanna, when you see what I have made for you, you will be happy I am digging this hole.” 

Too weak, too sick, I gave up the fight. However, I was intrigued to keep taking peeks.

By this time, the children knew things had shifted at Nanna and Papa’s house. Not quite understanding the details of it all, they had, however, caught on to the counting of gifts. Became involved in it, named a few.

I watched the man child as he toiled and labored. Jacket tossed to the ground. Cheeks kissed pink with cold.

Over his shoulder, there rested something bigger than him.

I watched and watched, ’till I figured it out. Leaned upon his scrawny seven year old shoulder there leaned a cross.

He single handedly struggled and dug, never once letting the treasure he had built, drop to the ground.

Tears rolled down my face, as he placed the cross he had built into the hole he had dug.

Lovingly, selflessly, put together with his own hammer and nails, complete with camouflage duct tape. Tapped down in the hole he had dug, leaning just a little to the right.

I was undone.

Acting surprised when he called for me to come and see his precious gift, made just for me. Excitement humming through his voice, “Nanna, now aren’t you glad I dug that hole?”

“Yes, son, I most certainly am.”

Papa made it home to see, came undone, same as me.

He and the boy, they labored and strained and steadied it up, cemented it in.

When it came time for us to move, we both knew, that wooden cross was coming with is. Cement slab and all.

My gift proudly resides underneath the place just beneath where the sun rises in the east.

It is the first thing I see every morning, the last thing we see at night as we lock up.

I often find myself leaning on it when I take sweet Lola out for her morning walk.

Leaning on the deck rail, steaming coffee in hand, remembering the day it was made for me. Savoring the grace.

Times I glance towards that place, where my wooden cross resides, utter the hard prayers.

We are prone to forget in the darkest places of our valleys, the most violent of storms, God is there.

There, when I was grappling to count the gifts, stood a wooden cross put together by a small boy.

The tenderest, priceless gift, there within my site, in a place where occasionally I feel a bit confined.

Grace will meet us in beautiful, unexpected places, where threads of hope are thin and bare.

If you are struggling today, I urge you, look through the window, beyond the holes, the dark and the hard, the storm you feel might take you under…and find the grace.

Dig if you must. There in the hole may lie your greatest treasure, an unexpected gift.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…

Galatians 6:14 KJV

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn