Gotta hand it to ya
I'm a hugger.
I hug old Santa bell ringers, new visitors to church, my kids, my husband while he is trying to explain algebra, the woman at TJMAXX who speaks Italian-ized english and too many other people to mention.
I'm also a hand-holder.
I reach over in church and hold my tween's hand that usually has candy still stuck on it from Sunday School. I slip my son's long fingers into my own and squeeze them to let him know that I love him to the moon and back. I hold my husband's hand in a very unique way. Two fingers wrap around one side and the rest off the other. I have a special way I hold his hand in church, in the van when we are going somewhere and we have to reach our arms out a bit more, and when we are cuddled-up watching a movie.
Touch is very important to me, and once I heard that teen boys and adult boys became wary of hugging their Mom's I was on that like "white on rice" in this home. That just wasn't going to "fly" with this Mom.
Touch reminds me that we are "okay" with one another, that you appreciate me, and that you are my friend.
My husband does this endearing thing with my hands every so often that I shrug off but deep down love to the depths of my soul.
He closely examines my left hand, turns my wedding band a few times, commenting on how he remembers the day we were married, then holds out each finger studying it carefully.
He thoughtfully tells me all that these fingers have done. All of the dishes and hair combed, diaper changes and letters they have written.
He tells me that these hands have held six children and hugged countless people, they have written blog posts to encourage, wiped tears and knit hats and socks and scarves.
He goes on to hold them both in his own big hands and comments on how small they are, how petite. How they have been poked with IV's and covered in paint, how they have peeled dozens of peaches and picked up heaps of dirty clothes.
He just takes a moment and appreciates all that my hands have done in these 40 something years.
He knows about the scar on my left hand and the pencil callous on the right middle finger. He even knows that I like to hold my right first finger with my entire left hand when I am anxious about something, like some chew their nails.
He loves when I wear purple nail polish- a very specific shade that's deep and pastel, and has felt the groove that my wedding rings have left in my left ring finger many times.
It is just lovely and though I pretend that these hands are ordinary and chubby and even a bit stumpy, he will have nothing of it.
The more I find to criticize the more he finds to remind me of what they have accomplished.
It's just one of "Our" things.
Our hands are an extension of who we are.
And they sure take a beating don't they?
I've burned and cut and pinched and blood blistered my hands more times than I can count.
I've refused hot pads and forgotten knives were as sharp as they are and even hit them on a door or corner forgetting it was there.
Most times I take them for granted but here and there I get them fancy lotions and things.
A few weeks ago I treated myself to a mani/pedi with an amazing Groupon at a small business close to home.
I brought along my favorite Zoya nail polish (Thanks to my friend Janelle who helped me find beautiful non toxic polish. Check them out.) in a a lovely Valentine's pink.
Seriously this is a perfect cross between red and pink and it is PERFECT.
While a dear girl painted my toes I noticed she had heart jewelry on.
I made a comment that Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday and wait for it- it was hers as well.
She asked me how this came to be and I was able to freely begin with a bus kid being so loved by a woman at church and unfold a beautiful love story between the Lord and I.
As she finished my hands I shared with her that she too can know this unconditional love that all the doilies and Construction paper hearts in the world pale in comparison to.
And I smiled as I left knowing that these silly little hands could be the hands of Jesus to one who needs to know real love.
Hands. Insignificant hands.
In weather like this I am keen to try and keep my hands warm as I take my walks down the parkway.
I've figured out that mittens are best for me. My little fingers like to stay together. And If I leave a bit of space at the top of the mitten, my fingers seem to stay the most warm.
So there I was, out on my walk, feeling burdened about one of my kiddos and wondering how to encourage them.
Then I saw it.
It was neon and tiny, but it was there.
The same beginning and ending of all of my three girls to be exact.
I deducted that it had to be a piece of a sale's ticket from somewhere but how it got on my mitten and how it split leaving two letters I cannot say.
And as I looked at these tiny letters, immediately the Lord reminded me that my girl was physically in the palm of MY hand but on a much larger scale, literally engraved in the palms of Jesus' hands.
He told me to stop my walk and tell her these very thoughts.
Life-giving thoughts from Isaiah 49:16 - "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;"
I snapped a pic of my mitten and sent it to her reminding her that the Lord is much more trustworthy and capable than this Momma and HE has her in his safekeeping.
Isn't that just the most precious thought?
And My name is there beside hers.
And your name.
And it's much more than just Deena, or Joel, or Abi, Anna Lee and Alayna.
It's everything that our name means.
He has lovingly carved into himself all of our cares and concerns, our dreams and our difficulties, and our inabilities. Our frailties and our sufferings, they are all there.
Beside deep nail wounds are our deepest longings.
Everything that makes you who you are.
And He has all the power to keep us and sustain us.
One of my favorite verses is Colossians 1:17- "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."
We write on our hands to remember something that we don't want to forget, and Israel was afraid of being forgotten.
Maybe you too have been afraid of being forgotten?
Jesus tells them "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." Isaiah 49:15-16
I'm sure that I will fail and have failed my own children heaps of times. Though I love them and have as much compassion on them as is humanly possible, I have forgotten special events and to intercede for them.
But God will never forget them.
And he will never forgot you or I.
"Why Valentine's Day?" I'm often asked this time of year.
The bottom line is because every part of my life begins and ends with love.
It created me, it sustains me, it gives me purpose and constrains me.
It was love that went to the cross and willingly laid down hands to be nailed.
How can I not be so filled with this love that I want to savor it and share it for others to know that they too can have names carved into trustworthy hands?
May I compel you to use your own hands to send some love, type some love, give a heap of love to whomever you can this year?
Happy Valentine's Day friends.