Finding Grace in Hard Times

"In the United States, botanists joke that even the greatest oak
was once a little nut."

The last few months have been pretty stressful for my family. My husband
Michael has had some health-related problems and our lives have been
filled with long doctor visits, trips to the health food store, and all
kinds of healing regimens necessary to get him better. In addition to
providing him with care, I've had to pick up a lot of the slack regarding
the construction of our new home, along with the normal daily routine of
running our community and keeping things moving. As many of you who have
taken care of loved ones know, it can be quite a challenge. It's been a
valuable reminder of the importance of asking for help -- whether it's
comfortable to do so or not :).

While most days I'm able to stay in the moment and do what I need to do,
there have been times over the last few weeks when I've felt completely
overwhelmed and exhausted. One day, feeling totally spent while driving
to a meeting, I started to pray. I asked God to support me, to give me
the energy I needed to keep going, and to show me clear signs that I'm not
alone. After several deep breaths and a few tears, I continued on my way,
feeling better. That afternoon, when I arrived home, I noticed a tiny
acorn sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor. As I walked over and
picked it up, I thought to myself "Hmm, I wonder how this got in here?"
and quickly tossed it in the garbage.

The next morning, I left early for an appointment with my doctor. When I
arrived at her office, I was ushered into the exam room, where I kicked
off my sandals and sat on the table waiting for her to come in. A few
minutes later, as we were catching up on our lives, she looked beyond me
and said "Hey, is that an acorn in your shoe?" I turned around and looked
over at my rubber soled sandals, and sure enough, stuck in a hole at the
bottom of one of the shoes was a small acorn. I chuckled to myself and
immediately thought of the one in my kitchen. I made a mental note to
look up the meaning of "acorn" on the web when I got home. Unfortunately,
by the time I finished running my errands later that day, I completely
forgot about the incident.

Two days later, as I returned from the grocery store, I walked through the
front door with bags in hand and turned to close the door behind me. When
I couldn't get it to shut completely, I looked down at the threshold and,
much to my surprise, found another acorn. Perched proudly in the middle
of the threshold, the little nut was preventing the door from closing all
the way (note the symbolism). I reached down and picked it up, placed my
bags in the kitchen, and went straight to my office to look up the meaning
of acorn. Among several items, here's what I found:

"Acorns appear only on adult trees, and thus are often a symbol of
patience and the fruition of long, hard labor."

I felt the touch of grace in that moment. Reading that line made me feel
comforted in some way. It gave me hope and provided me with a reminder
that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for.

While the acorn symbol meant something to me personally, the bigger
message was also clear. When we find ourselves in times of great need,
wondering whether or not we have what it takes to go on, it's the perfect
time to enlist a little Divine support. Whether you write a prayer in
your journal asking for help, sit quietly and ask for guidance, or scream
out loud in the car begging for relief, experience has shown me that your
request will be heard. If you pay close attention, there's a good chance
you, too, will start to see the signs.

One way to recognize messages of grace is to notice what keeps showing up
in your life. For example, you might watch for . . .

~*~ Objects -- Are there certain objects that keep crossing your path? If
so, go online and check out the symbolism of those objects.

~*~ Songs -- Do you keep hearing the same song while driving in the car,
watching TV, or shopping in a store? Listen closely to the words or pay
attention to the feeling the song inspires.

~*~ Messages -- Do you find that certain phrases, words, or slogans keep
appearing while you're reading the newspaper, surfing the web, or having
conversations with others? What might they be trying to tell you?

~*~ Grace Cards -- If you use our Grace Cards or the "Touch of Grace"
button on our homepage, does the same card keeping showing up? Remember,
the online grace button has all 50 cards programmed into it, so if you get
the same card, it's a clear indication that you need to pay attention to
its message. During the first month of Michael being sick, just about
every time I pulled a Grace Card I'd get "Support."

These are just a few of the ways that we get signs of grace in times of
great need. If you keep your eyes open, you might be surprised by how
quickly they show up.

Last week I visited a friend's gift shop in downtown Boston. As I walked
up to the register to pay for my items, guess what I found? That's right.
A big basket of silver-plated acorns with a sign that said something like:
"Acorns are a reminder of strength and longevity." After sharing my story
with the owner, he placed an acorn in my package. "Here, hold onto this,"
he said, "let it remind you that you are never alone."

Sounds Divine to me . . .


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