Do you believe being broken can bring blessings? This story stirred recently when Wanda Smiling stopped by Tim’s Gift to pick up a beautiful framed print, donated by Tickled Pink, that she won at the Rise Up – Restore Conference. However, the story started the day of Rise Up when Wanda felt a tugging in her heart while manning her vendor booth in the back of Prestage Hall. Her story teaches divine lessons of how God brings blessings from brokenness.
Wanda Smiling is a two time cancer survivor who works with a local Hospice agency, coordinates volunteers, enjoys bowling, and loves helping people. I met Wanda during the winter of 2011; she bowled in a league with James. When he introduced us, a friendship clicked. Our connection included being cancer survivors, working in Clinton, and helping others.
Wanda and I worked closely with The Chamber of Commerce in hopes of developing a program to unite volunteer efforts in Sampson and surrounding counties. She stopped by Tim’s Gift often with words of encouragement and opportunities for Tim’s Gift volunteers. Her passion for helping people in need and including volunteers in the process show the character of a caring person.
Shortly after James passed away, Wanda came to Tim’s Gift with words of sympathy and a listening ear. Writing about listening brings my beloved James to mind. One night after dinner, James and I raced to our favorite chair for cherished conversation and cuddling. We cackled with delight while wrapping up in our soft blanket. Having someone to love, listen, and look out for you: priceless gift from God! I’m wiping tears and praising God as I type.
That night, James told me his brother, Donnie, had great big ears. James held me in his arms with my head resting on his chest. Our hearts emptied story after story of the brokenness we experienced during their (Sarah and Tim’s) battles with cancer, their passing, and adjusting to life without them. James talked about Donnie with great admiration and brotherly love. He said his brother stuck by him and ‘listened’. James said Donnie was the one he kept pouring his heart out, unloading his brokenness, and apologizing for being a burden to. He said Donnie always smiled and said, ‘brother, I’ve got big ears”!
Do we have big ears when people who are broken look to us for help? Wanda’s ears were big the first time she visited me after James passed away. I talked and talked about how wonderful he was and how God blessed us to love again, and she listened. Listening is a healing force from friends with big ears. God is always listening. Oh how sweet to know He is on call…morning, noon, and night!
Wanda’s ears were listening as Cedar Point Church Choir praised the Lord during the afternoon session at Tim’s Gift Rise Up – Restore. Leaving her vendor booth, Wanda moved closer and listened intently as they sang – ‘how great is our God’ – over and over… powerfully and purposefully!
Three weeks after Rise Up – Restore, Wanda called Tim’s Gift with an urgency to share her blessing. She told how she almost called and cancelled being a vendor at Rise Up. The week before Rise Up – Restore, Wanda found out she had cancer again. Instead of cancelling, she went forth in faith – concealing the brokenness she was dealing with inside. It was at Rise Up, when Cedar Point Church Choir sang about how great is our God that Wanda felt a tingling, warm, peace flow through her body. One week later, a doctor’s report revealed healing in places where cancer had been. Wanda’s joy flowed through the phone connection sharing the good news that God still brings blessings from brokenness.
The Saturday after our conversation, I was a guest speaker at Cedar Point Disciples Church. God’s timing was perfect, for I was given the joy of sharing how their choir worked hard in preparation for Rise Up, took time from their Saturday schedules to go, witnessed through songs, and helped deliver a message that drew Wanda to the place where healing happened. Oh, how I love Jesus!
Our phone conversation ended with me asking her to stop by Tim’s Gift to pick up a framed picture she won at Rise Up – Restore. She promised to come soon and shared one last comment that stuck to my gut like glue, “Becky, I am so thankful I went to Rise Up. I almost backed out but something kept urging me to go. Something amazing happened inside me while Cedar Point Choir sang ‘How Great Is Our God”! I know I was healed.
A few weeks later, Wanda came for her picture. We stood inside Tim’s Gift sharing stories of praise. She told of treatments with promising results. Don’t you just love it when God does things in our lives that cannot be explained? I would love to hear every story stirring right now inside hearts of faithful readers who understand just how great God is and testify of blessings from brokenness.
Wanda’s picture had been placed behind a table for safe keeping until she picked it up. When I lifted it up, we realized it was broken. The beautiful print (inside the glass) was still in good condition, but the covering that protected it was broken. I felt sure Wanda wouldn’t want the broken picture; I was wrong. She said, “I still want it Becky, just like it is! It will remind me of Rise Up.”
By this time, we were both in tears and telling one another this was all happening for a reason. We admired the broken picture with a completely new perspective. What appears broken on the outside can be blessings of healing and happiness on the inside.
I handed Wanda her picture with words flowing like a wide open faucet. “God filled up the Expo Center with His Holy Spirit at Rise Up – Restore. When you rose up and went instead of staying home and getting stuck in pity, God saw your faithfulness. When you moved from your vendor site and focused on God’s calling, He heard and healed. God saw you were broken and brought blessings that will give you good news stories to share wherever He leads.”
Wanda and I celebrated with tears and cheers while holding the picture that will forever remind her of the day heaven came down, glory filled her soul, and our Savior made her whole.
Thank You God for binding brokenness and bestowing blessings.
Becky Spell Vann is the owner of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.