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Be blessed & be a blessing
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“Everything I have is a gift from you, I have passed on the message you gave me.” (John 17:7)

My friend Lisa use to say a catchy phrase on her answering machine, “Be blessed and be a blessing.”  I thought the phrase described my heart’s desire so well that I decided to claim the phrase as my own. (Sorry Lisa!)

What I find so interesting about the phrase is that whether I share it with others as a word of encouragement or just hold myself accountable to it, when applied, it really sums up the entire gospel of Jesus Christ.  

In John 17:7 Jesus acknowledges that everything he has is a gift from God (he is blessed.)  In turn, he passes on the gifts to us (he is a blessing) which means we too are blessed and have the ability to be a blessing.  

I was privileged to experience this beautiful principle in action just the other day when a spry looking gentleman in his 70’s walked up to the deli counter at DeVinci’s where I was busily serving up tasty raviolis, chicken stroganoff and other specialties.   The gentleman ordered a chef salad and commented on how he would love to have a piece of the deli’s famous Foccacia bread but for health purposes thought it best to pass.  Naturally I was impressed because anyone with the ability to say no to DeVinci’s soft, buttery, freshly baked Foccacia bread has to be a person of great discipline.   I prepared the man’s chef salad as requested, exchanged pleasantries, wished him a good day and sent him on his way.  

Two days later the gentleman returned and once again ordered a chef salad.  As I was spreading the newly cut chunks of turkey, ham and cheese on top of the salad, I commented on how I remembered that he had to pass on the bread even though he didn’t want to.   Apparently that one small, almost insignificant comment triggered something within the man as he stopped in his tracks, looked me right in the eye and said with the most sincerity, “Thank you for remembering me.”   

The look in his eyes of appreciation stuck with me for the rest of the day.  I was glad to know for that moment, perhaps I was a blessing to someone in need.   Five minutes before I clocked out, the same gentleman rushed through the door holding a vase with two beautiful tangerine colored carnations, surrounded by baby’s breath.  Catching my attention, he marched straight toward the counter and handed the flowers to me.  He explained that he was the owner of a local floral shop and put the flowers together especially for me.   He then said, “A lot of times older people are over-looked, thank you for being so sweet to me and remembering me.”  

I’m not sure if I looked as shocked as I felt but I thanked him emphatically and waited for him to leave before walking to the back of the deli to blubber like a baby.  It had been a long time since I had received flowers.   And of all the flowers the man could have chosen from his shop, he chose carnations which happen to stir warm memories of how my father used to bring me carnations as a little girl.  For me, carnations represent a pure and unconditional love.  After my quick blubber session, I wondered, could it be that God wanted to remind me of His unconditional love through this man’s simple act of kindness? Could it be that God somehow used me to remind that gentleman that while people may over-look the elderly, God never does?

This simple exchange between a counter person being friendly, taking a moment to acknowledge someone on a personal level and a customer responding in the same manner not only is a perfect demonstration of being blessed and being a blessing in its purest form, but also fulfills God’s greatest command to love Him and love others by sharing the gift of caring that He’s placed in us.


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