By Cathy Leestma

It may be the big things in life that grab our attention, but it’s the small change that saves the day.

It was an unusual gathering of women that met in Alice’s home. Most were of similar position in life, mothers of school age children. Their weekly hour together provided a respite from the sometimes all too ordinary days of laundry, shopping and planning meals.

This was an hour dedicated to each lady sharing through conversation and prayer her concerns of daily life. They were not of one particular faith, race or economic status unless you considered just barely getting by an economic status. But together, they possessed a depth of discipleship and encouragement to each other as if they were a man or woman of the cloth.

It was easy for the women to relate when one of them shared the stress of finances and how close she and her family were to going under. Her fear of the unknown future was not lost on the others. Indeed, what with the cost of raising children, medical expenses and the like, there were more days of fear than faith.

Groups like these tend to develop strong root systems, like perennials knotted together in a late summer garden. Alice’s group was no different. And this Wednesday would their last time together before the holidays. They decided to enjoy a special hour where each one would bring some treats or baked goods from their holiday tradition.

Alice’s co-leader in the group was Toni, a beautiful brunette with engaging dark eyes, deep dimples and a contagious laugh. Her gentle way and encouraging demeanor put everyone at ease.

A spirit of joy filled Alice’s home as the ladies gathered that Wednesday. After a time of oohing over and then tasting the treats, they gathered around her table. It was time for their check in with each other and the last one for a few weeks. As Toni’s turn approached, her joyful continence turned into deep breaths and gentle sobs. Tears flowed as swiftly as a mountain stream after the storm. It was as if a great reservoir of grief that had been held at bay exploded and cascaded down her cheeks. Unable to control herself, she laid her head on the table.

A silenced covered the group. No one had words to ease the pain. And in that moment the ladies realized that Toni, the encourager, had given to each one of them a most sacred gift. For if in this world, we are willing to be vulnerable with others, than grace, true grace will be revealed. One by one, the ladies came around Toni, laying their hands on her shoulders, sharing a hug, breathing a prayer.

Toni’s family was experiencing deep debt and frankly she saw no way out. No one in the circle that day could help her much financially so they gave her a much greater gift that costs little and is priceless.

Hope covered in love.

When the dishes were cleaned and the last hugs given with promises shared for a brighter new year, Toni walked out to her car, a dilapidated VW Bug. She paused a few yards away, not understanding the glint coming from the rusted roof. It seemed that when the ladies left that morning, they conspired to give her one more gift.

Sprinkled over the top of her bug was change, dimes, nickels and shiny pennies, a few quarters and even a dollar bill stuck in the car door’s handle. Heaven had come down in the form of a small amount of change. Hope covered in love.