Sunday evening I ran into my neighbours after having not seen them for a while. They are a very nice couple and I remembered to take a moment to thank them for sharing some veggies from their garden with us a few weeks before. I’d made a Roast Tomato Sauce which upped the awesomeness of my spaghetti by roughly 200%. They said they had more tomatoes for me and would be bring some over later, and by that evening I had two grocery bags full of gorgeous tomatoes, waiting for me to make some magic with them.

I set to work on Monday, planning to go ahead and roast the tomatoes in the afternoon so that we could have a good ol’ spag bol that evening. {Is that a totally British way of saying that or does it translate?} As I pulled some meat out of the freezer to defrost for the evening meal, I felt prompted to pull out extra, double the amount of meat sauce I was going to do, and give half to another family that just came to mind in a quiet whisper. I wanted to be a blessing.

{Story shared via Instagram that evening…}

The afternoon hummed along with the Tank skipping his second nap and deciding to play with water at the sink beside me instead (things got wet, but I got everything done and it was worth it!) and it seemed like the timing was going to be nearly perfect for me to run dinner over to my friend and get back in time to feed my crew.

As I worked through the afternoon, I pondered the thing that has been coming to me through the Bible studies I’ve been taking part in over the past few weeks. One is on Colossians and another is on Nehemiah — and one constant theme emerging and challenging me is the idea that, regardless of how challenging our circumstances may seem, we really need to get over being completely focused on what’s going on in our own lives, in order to look up at the Lord and ask what He expects of us, and to look out at the world around us and see where we can be a blessing to others.

I’ve been very, very focused on preparing for the arrival of our third child, taking on some additional work that is bringing us additional income (cool stuff — more on that later) and trying to cross things off a continuously growing to-do list. As a result, I have become a bit like a turtle, finding the walls of her shell so much in need of attention that she scarcely pokes her head out to see what is going on around her.

Considering our privileged positions with relation to a world in need, however, staying inside our shells is just not an option. If we are going to obey God — if we believe His Word and want to do what it says — then we have to keep looking up and keep looking out. We have to keep redeeming the time, making the most of the opportunities He gives us to be His hands and feet {Col. 4:5} — both to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and to the world that doesn’t yet know His goodness.

On Monday, when I spoke with my friend to ask about bringing over dinner, it just happened to turn out that her mother-in-law was going to be visiting for a week, arriving the next day. So somehow this just happened to be really good timing. She was busy cleaning her house for this unexpected visit, and her husband had to work late, so not having to figure out dinner for herself and the kiddos was great.

With a big pot of meaty sauce, noodles and the ingredients sliced up for her to throw together a salad, I was out the door with the boys, probably around fifteen minutes after I’d hoped to be leaving. Which, in these types of cases, is very good for me.

As I headed over to her place to deliver dinner, I was met with a wonderful sense of peace and joy. When we take the opportunity to serve and to bless others, aren’t we always richly blessed in return? Isn’t that why Jesus said It is more blessed to give than to receive?

The boys waited peacefully (glory!) in the van (watching a movie) while I dropped off the meal and caught up with my friend for a few minutes. We headed home to our dinner, and arrived to find a rather large tree branch draped across our driveway.

It had been raining, but there was still a dry spot where the van would’ve been parked if I hadn’t left.

That branch would’ve probably graced the hood of our “new to us” van — and possibly the windshield — with a little “love” {yes, damage!} if the van had still been parked there when it fell.

The encouraging lesson in all of this? Not only did I receive so much joy from listening to the leading of Holy Spirit and taking an opportunity to “look up and look out,” I also felt like that tree branch was just a beautiful confirmation about how good it can be to be where the Lord wants you when He wants you there.

How often — how many times a day — might we be narrowly missing something that would be such a discouragement to us because He is protecting us without us even knowing it? {And how many times might I have avoided a disastrous situation if I’d been taking the time to look up and follow His lead?}

Dear friends, where is your heart, where is your focus today? Can you take the time to look for an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Can you take the time to listen for that still small voice and follow His lead?

You have the power in your hands, to be a blessing to the world around you — and sometimes the opportunity comes as simple as a whisper to double up dinner, because you have extra tomatoes.