December 18, 2003
Encouragement for Today
The Hands of a Woman
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." Proverbs 31:20
On a shelf in my living room sits a black and white photograph, taken in the early 1900’s, of a young girl with her hair pulled back by an oversized bow. Her dress is typical of the times with puffed sleeves and a brimming lace collar resting on her shoulders. She isn't smiling, and she appears to be somewhat awkward, timid, and I dare say, even afraid. This is a picture of my grandmother Anderson on her wedding day. She was fourteen-years-old.
As I gaze at this amazing woman who bore twelve children and miscarried eleven others, I am always drawn to her hands. Hanging uncomfortably at her side, are hands that seem much too large for her petite frame. "Anderson hands," my mother calls them. I surmise that God must have known this little lady would need a big heart and big hands to embrace all that life would send her way.
Like my Grandmother Anderson, all of us mothers need big hearts and big hands. Our hands grip the bed rail in pain in the delivery room, and then gently caress a new born for the first time. Before long, those hands are changing diapers, washing bottoms and faces, cleaning spit-up, wiping tears, rocking sleepy heads and placing babies in a crib. Then they are holding a toddler’s chubby hand and grabbing out of harm’s way. Tossing a ball, preparing holiday dinners, setting a festive table, tying packages for birthday parties and Christmas presents. Coloring and cutting out shapes in workbooks. Picking up leaves and bugs for collections. Pushing a swing and letting go of a bike as the child first learns to peddle on his own. Sewing party dresses and mending torn baseball jerseys, washing scraped knees and spooning out medicine. Holding the sweaty palm of an awkward adolescent while dancing around the den, tying the knot of a neck tie and pinning on a boutonniere for a first party. Writing letters to children away at camp, or folding hands in prayer asking for the Lord’s protection while they're away. Tightly grasping the steering wheel while chauffeuring children from one place to the next or gripping the seat as a teen first learns how to drive. Hands that wave goodbye as a son drives off to college and hands that adjust a cherished daughter’s wedding veil. A mother’s hands are loving hands, disciplining hands, grieving hands, protecting hands and providing hands. They embrace the child and then, when the child is ready, she opens her hands and lets go.
Looking at my own hands today has brought me back to how God holds each one of us in the palm of His hands, doing much the same as we do for our children. God’s hands are loving hands, disciplining hands, grieving hands, protecting hands and providing hands. God embraces us, His children. While He lets us go in the respect of free will and the choices we make, He never lets us go from His embrace and love.
My Prayer for today:
Dear Lord, thank you for holding me always in the palm of your hands. I pray that today, I will use my hands for good: to help a child, to give a hug, to pat a back, to cook a meal, to touch with kindness, to caress with love. I lift up my hands to praise you and fold them in prayer to intercede. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Go back and think of all your hands have done over the past week. Make a list of how you have used your hands to love others.
Make a list of how the touch of other people has encouraged you over the past week.
Make a list of the ways you have seen the hand of God work in your life over the past week. If this is a difficult exercise for you, pray that God will show you His working in your life and begin your list today.
As a mother, sometimes we don’t see the significance of our daily routine tasks. Today, stop and think about all your hands do in any given day.
Proverbs 14:1 says that the wise woman build her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. What are some ways that we can tear our house down with our own hands? Are there any destructive uses of your hands that need to be eliminated?
Think back to all the ways your own mother loved you through her hands. You may even want to write a list or even write her a letter of thanks.
John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. (That includes you and me.) (NIV)
Luke 13: 13 "Woman you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straighten up and praised God. (NIV)
Mark 8:25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (NIV)
Matthew 19:14, 15 Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belong to such as these." When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (NIV)
Isaiah 49: 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. (NIV)
Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman build her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (NIV)
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes
Intimate Moments with God compiled by Linda Evans Shepard
Baby Boot Camp by Ginger Plowman
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman