Sharon’s Hands

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash                      

She … willingly works with her hands … she extends her hands to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy … give her of the fruit of her hands.–Proverbs 31:13, 20, 31 NKJV

One Saturday several years ago, my friend Sharon treated me to a girls’ day out. The daylong event was a “HeartSpa Getaway” held at a local Christian campground and included activities to nourish, refresh and renew both body and spirit.

In addition to enjoying inspirational music provided by a women’s singing group and searching soul and Scripture, we also pampered our hands, faces and feet.

Our first pampering station was for our hands. First we rubbed them with an exfoliating scrub, then slathered on a soothing lotion. The next step I was a bit hesitant about—dipping my hands in a crock-pot containing liquid paraffin. I was afraid it would be too hot. But it wasn’t, and as soon as I brought my hands out, I was instructed to hold them together in a prayer position. My folded hands were then encased in a plastic bag and wrapped with a hand towel. While we waited for the paraffin, plastic and towel to do their therapeutic work, we were to pray with and for our partners.

Sharon and I clasped our towel-clad hands and began praying. As I prayed for Sharon, whom I’ve known for over 40 years, I envisioned her hands—long and slender, with nails clipped short so they wouldn’t interfere with the work she has to do.

I remembered when these hands brought me homemade chicken soup when I was in bed recovering from my second C-section. She hadn’t known it, but I’d asked God for some homemade chicken soup when I was still in the hospital.

These hands, I realized, have spent a lifetime doing for others—cooking, cleaning, mending, gardening, canning—the million and one things that need done for a family. These hands have written countless notes of encouragement, slipped uncounted dollar bills into scores of needy hands. They could be counted on to do what needs to be done. They’d held sick children, changed messy diapers, cleaned up puke, scrubbed bathrooms, cut hair, washed dogs, wrapped gifts, rubbed backs, blew kisses, prepared Bible lessons.

They’ve been bitten, blistered, burned, calloused and cut, yet still wave a friendly greeting in a grocery store, on the street, in church. As busy as these hands are, they always take time to comfort. They’ve been clasped together in prayer for others, and they’ve grasped the hands of others as she prayed for them.

The hands are the instruments of the heart. Sharon’s hands are giving hands, for her heart overflows with kindness, compassion and love.

I thought of my daughter’s dog, Tess, rescued from an animal shelter. Tess was afraid of hands and slinked away in cowering fear when a hand, however loving, got too close. Who knows what cruelties were inflicted on her by hands that wanted only to dominate or harm?

Hands can hit, pinch, pound, punch, slam and slap. A closed hand is tight and tense. Hands that grasp and cling when it’s time to let go cannot be open to receive.

Sharon’s hands are no longer supple, smooth and nimble. They bear the scars of a lifetime of love. But they are not empty. They overflow with blessings poured out from her heavenly Father, blessings she passes on to others.

I have no choice over how pretty my hands are—whether they’re long and slender or wide and knuckley. But, as Sharon likes to say, pretty is as pretty does.

I choose what these hands do. They can lend a hand, pass on a hand-me-down, give a hand up. They can be the hands of God in a needy world.

Have you taken a good look at your hands lately?

Dear God, thank you for Sharon’s hands and the many hands that have met my needs over the years. Bless them, O Lord. Forgive me for the times my hands have hurt others, and help me to forgive and forget those hands that have hurt me. Show me how to use my hands for Your work. Amen.

Read and reflect on Proverbs 31:10–31 

To My Husband on His Retirement

Dean, beaming, on his last day at work after his co-workers presented him with this cake

When the time of his service was over, he returned home. – Luke 1:23 NIRV

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 ESV

Finally, the day has come. Your retirement. We’ve dreamed, planned, worked, and prayed. For years.

I have to admit: I’m a little scared. Because, after over forty years, there won’t be a regular paycheck every two weeks. Time to test the faith we profess: that God will supply everything we need (Philippians 4:19), so we don’t need to worry about tomorrow or the tomorrow after that or all the tomorrows God has in our future here on earth (Matthew 6:25–33).

My heart and spirit know this, but I’m having a little trouble convincing my head, which has always been the practical part of me. The part that wants to see before I believe.

But how much more do I have to witness?

God has always been there for us. Remember how He provided the heating oil we needed the first year in the “house”? Or a repairman for the recycled furnace?

I used quotation marks around house because it wasn’t really a house yet. It was a concrete block cubicle, an unfinished basement into which we moved when our first child was four and our middle child was 11 months old. The third one, a surprise, came along four years later when we’d just moved the bedrooms upstairs.

Dean takes a break from building the deck.

Our house-in-progress took over 30 years to complete. But complete it you did – while working 11-, 12-, sometimes 14-hour days. And finding the time to take us camping and being the husband and father we needed. Not only did you teach our children by example the value of hard work, you showed us all patience and steadfast love in action.

I’m so looking forward to the time together. At last!

It took me several weeks to get out of a funk after spending every day with you during the 10-day vacation we took exploring Michigan this past summer. I missed you terribly when we came home and you went back to work.

The high point of my day has always been the moment you walk in the door after work.

And now I get to be with you all day, every day. Except the days you go hunting or fishing. Or when I push you out the door so I can get some writing done.

My brother cautioned me to “be gentle, understanding, and patient” as you transition to retired life. To which I answered: “All of which I am not.”

And now, after four decades of faithful, loyal service to your employers, you deserve a long, healthy, happy retirement doing the things you didn’t have time to do all these years – hunting, fishing, going for long walks in the woods with your camera, and heading out with the camper (and me) to explore this beautiful country of ours.

I love you. Always and forever.

Bless this wonderful man, Lord, exceedingly abundantly above all he can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He deserves it. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 92:12–14

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.