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It was another cold, dreary, dark morning that I drove through on my way to work.  At that time in my life I was sinking down into some depression, finding it hard to cope with ongoing stress and pressure.  I really couldn’t explain why otherwise.  It must have been gradual but that month I realized I could hardly get out of bed in the morning and didn’t even want to decide what to wear or put on makeup.  The least little thing brought tears to my eyes.   However, little things encouraged me, too.  For example, when I drove through McDonald’s to get my diet coke each morning there was a cheerful worker named Mary who took my money just about every day.  She’s short, a little rotund, has a tooth or two missing, but always has a kind, cheery voice and smile.  I was amazed how much her happy smile blew a little gust of wind into my droopy sail, even if all she said was “thank you, have a good day!”  I told her that day, “Your kindness and smile make my day.”

In better times, little acts of love are still a blessing.  Today at church during the worship time, we were singing along when I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders.  I turned around to see a friend’s smiling face.  She pulled me close in a tight hug and whispered in my ear, “I just had the notion you might need a hug.  We love you and are praying for you.”

As I thanked her and turned back around, God blew a warm little breeze and lifted my heart.  Small kindnesses don’t fall unnoticed or unappreciated.  In fact, they might be used more of God than seemingly big displays of love and help.

Years ago a friend of mine in our church in New Mexico told me of time when God used what some might think is nothing at all to save her from sinking.  She had a really difficult upbringing, was accustomed to poverty, married a cruelly abusive man, struggled to just make it through each day, and felt utterly alone.  The only bright spot of her life was the youth group in which she volunteered at her church.  She reached a point one day when she just couldn’t take one more step or sail past one more wave.  She made a plan to kill herself, deciding she would first go to the youth activity that afternoon so she could see all of them once more.  She thought to herself, “If I knew that even one person loved me I wouldn’t do it.”

When she got to the church, the kids were gathering around the church bus for the planned outing.  She walked over to join the group and quietly stood by waiting as the youth leader began to give instructions to everyone, “Okay, we’re ready to get on the bus and head out, but before we do, I just had the notion that we should let Julie know how much we appreciate and love her.  Why don’t you tell her before you get on the bus.”  The kids and other adults lined up and one by one embraced her, saying “I love you, Julie”, “I’m thankful for you,”  “I’m so glad you help out here” and more as she dissolved into tears.  That youth leader’s willingness to follow the nudge He felt from God saved Julie’s life….literally.   She had given up hope but God had a plan to keep her going and not get off course.  The words and hugs from each of those kids and adults were little gusts of wind for Julie’s tattered sail – sent by an amazing, loving God.

God’s Spirit is described as a wind in the Bible, a wind that blows whichever way it chooses, unpredictable.  When God’s children, who are filled with that Spirit, love in His name we become those cheering, encouraging, and even life-saving little gusts of wind.

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