Balloons and Blessings

BalloonsBlessings arrive in all shapes and sizes. Mine come disguised as nephews and nieces complete (fortunately for me) with all the stories, episodes, events, tears and joys of each.  Observing a hot air balloon the other day reminded me of Sam when he was around three. The time frame was B.C. (before computers).  My sister Carol would make trips to the bank from their acreage north of Grand Island. Sometimes this was a weekly outing because there was a time when people actually traveled the distance to talk with a banker or clerk behind the counter rather than transferring on line or using the latest phone app.  For Carol and Sam this could be trial and error, a test of wills however you wish to define it. Sam was never too thrilled to travel in the car seat and my sister was creative in keeping him occupied. She often took advantage of the “free balloon” offered by many restaurants, retailers and of course the bank. Once secured in the car seat he was content for the duration of the ride playing with the latest toy.

One particular trip had Sam happily clutching his balloon (“No thank you mamma. Don’t tie it to my wrist like I’m a baby. I want to do this myself”) when the inevitable happened. The wind came up, the balloon likewise soared upward along with the cries of a three year old. “Agghhh! My balloon. My balloon. Mine!”   My quick thinking sister ever ready with a response to any cry of frustration (I imagine that’s built-in for mothers) exclaimed, “Sam! Where’s the balloon going?” “What? Agghhh! Up! Away!” “But Sam what’s up there?” “What? The clouds!” “No, past the clouds Sam. Remember, what is above the clouds?” “Heaven?” “Yes Sam, heaven! And who’s in heaven Sam?” “Jesus!” “Yes! Jesus! And you know what? The balloon is going straight to Him! You just gave Him a present! Thank you Sam! Think of how happy He is with your pretty balloon!”  (Really quick thinking there Carol. Not sure I would have responded like that).  The cries died down eventually. The tears subsided eventually. Sam was not entirely convinced, but he did manage the trip home minus the balloon.

Cut to another week, another trip to town and yes – yet another balloon; this time the balloon string was tied safely to Sam’s wrist, but in the effort to navigate a three-year old into the car seat, the string became undone.  Once again the bright ball of latex drifted upward. Carol braced for the obvious anger, shouts and tears.  Instead there was one anguished cry exclaiming, “Agghhh! I suppose Jesus wanted that one too!”  My sister laughed and hugged her son. There were no more tears and the ride homeward was a lesson on gifts and joy.

Again, blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Our heavenly Father gives us gifts. James 1:17 reminds us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

It makes me pause. Do I appreciate what I have? Or, do I just “expect it – take it for granted”? Everything I have is from God, and yet I don’t have anything, because I don’t possess any part it.  It all is a gift, my life, my family, my home, my Christian sisters. Do I truly cherish what my heavenly Father gives me?  He gives and He takes away. Do I complain and mourn the losses?  Or am I overcome by the sheer, unbelievable love of my Father, who knows not what I want, but knows what I need and in some cases, what I no longer need? Am I thankful; understanding that when he chooses to bless, who am I to cry when the situation changes? (“…out of Fatherly divine goodness, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all which it is my duty to thank and praise Him. This is most certainly true.”) [Wow! That came back in a flash!] We are called to be the firstfruits. Those firstfruits were the first and best offerings given to God. Simply put; when my God gives, then I need to reflect that love and give back to him and to others. Does Jesus want that one too? Yes, Doneta he does.

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