These precious treasures can speak volumes. Money was set aside to purchase the yarn, or the fabric or materials, for contrary to what "they" say, making an item isn't always cheaper. Often, colors were chosen specifically with you in mind. Hours spent stitching or knitting were spent crafting the one-of-a-kind piece.
Once the handmade item was finished, the giver wrapped the gift and presented it to you with no strings attached. All of her personal expression and creativity, she entrusted to you. She doesn't know -- unless she lives next door -- whether or not you'll put the item in next year's garage sale. She doesn't place the expectation on you that you'll keep it forever because of her efforts. It's yours to do with as you will. It's her gift to you.
Over the course of my life, I've been blessed to receive many such handmade items, from dolls my mother made for me when I was a child to crocheted blankets I received as gifts for my children when they were babies.
While all of these handmade items are beautiful and treasured, I have two that are absolutely precious to me. It's these I want to share with you today. You can see them in the pictures throughout this blog post. One is a knitted baby blanket I was given at the baby shower for my daughter. The blanket is knitted with a variegated pastel yarn (how did that knitter know I loved variegated yarn?). The other item is an embroidered placemat and napkin set featuring bright yellow daisy stitches with orange french knots. They were given as a wedding present to me and my husband.
What makes them so special?
The knitter of the blanket is blind,
and the stitcher has cerebral palsy.
I'm truly humbled to think of these women and the time their creations took and with what trust and love they gifted them to me. I know the knitter only saw colors as a child. I wonder who helped her pick out the the yarn for my baby's blanket. Who along the journey of her life took the time to teach her how to "feel" the knitting needles? Which of us would give something we created that we could not see?
I saw the hands of the woman who embroidered my placemats. Who threaded the needles for her? Who managed the scissors? I know it was a sacrifice of love between her and her caregiver working together to embroider those pieces.
I've been thinking recently of the words of a song that was popular when I was a teenager. The words of the chorus say, "If I am called to sacrifice, it will be worthy of my Christ. I will not offer anything that costs me nothing."
I believe the song was based on I Chronicles 21:24. In this chapter, King David has seriously sinned against God. His direct disobedience resulted in the death of seventy thousand men of Israel. David longs to repent. He comes to build an altar at the threshing floor of Ornan where the Angel of the Lord is waiting for his sacrifice. Ornan wants to gift the meat for the offerings to the great King David, but David says to Ornan that he cannot offer to God something "without cost."
"And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price; for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost." I Chronicles 21:24. (This story is also found in II Samuel 24.)
I am ashamed to say that many times I have offered to God things that have cost me little effort -- a carelessly sung hymn during church, a hastily prepared Sunday School lesson, the quick devotional read before I start the day, a routine "thank-you God" prayer before I go to sleep. When was the last time I really sacrificed for God? My time, my finances, my . . . anything?
Malachi, you'll find the children of Israel suffering from the same problem. They were offering God some less-than-great sacrifices. The best animals were to be offered on the altars, but the Israelites were offering "polluted bread upon (the) altar" and "the blind for sacrifice." Instead of the spotless lamb, they were choosing the "lame and sick" to offer before God. (Malachi 1:7-8) Later in verse 13, the Lord asks "Should I accept this of your hand?"
This week, "if I'm called to sacrifice," like the words of the song mentioned above, I'm praying that I'll be ready to pay for the full price. (I Chronicles 21:24)
How about you?
"Should I accept this of your hand"
saith the Lord.
I encourage you to listen to the song "Anything That Cost Me Nothing" by Bobby Michaels, especially if you've never heard it.
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