She Had a Gift


I first saw it in her eyes.

They were glued to the dancers, following their lithe movements, gracefully dancing along with them.

Then I heard it in her voice“Oh, I wish I had my sketch pad!”

We engaged in conversation—me and this white-haired old lady in a wheelchair in a nursing home cafeteria. Her lucidity surprised me, and pulled me in deeper.

Together we watched the ballerinas leap across the cafeteria floor. But she was creating an even better scene in her mind’s eye, using her artistic vision. She said she wished she could dim the overhead lights, scale back the front lights, and use a spotlight on the dancers.

She had a gift. She wanted to use it.

Her vision was strong and active. So was her graciousness. She talked of how lovely the girls were; how wonderful it was that they were performing for them; how much pleasure they were bringing her.

But I asked for a little more. And she gave.

She told me that she was indeed an artist, as I had suspected.

In particular, an artist of stained glass. She had done several of the church windows in Huntsville. She spoke of her gift with both pleasure and gratitude, a gift well-used. She said she toys with the idea of using it again, but it is too involved, and she couldn’t manage.

Her name? Fran. And she wanted to know mine. We exchanged thank you’s for the joy we had brought into each other’s day.

Yet I was able to walk away, while Fran remained behind in her wheelchair.

But the next time I drive by a church in Huntsville and notice the sun reflecting off a design on stained glass, I’ll think of Fran.

And her gift of a life well-lived, then and now.

* * *

Do you have a gift that you used in your youth, but no longer use? How could you still share it? Please share in the comments.

revised from the archives

30 thoughts on “She Had a Gift

  1. Michele Morin

    This reminds me of how much I miss my music. If someone had told my high school self that I could survive without singing and playing the clarinet everyday, I would not have believed them. I still sing, but not often — and even though all my kids play instruments, I never take the time to get mine out and jam with them.
    My mistake, right?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Music is super important to me, too, Michele. I’m like you: I still sing, but rarely do I play an instrument, in my case, my piano. Yet it’s right here with me every day. I agree with you that it is our mistakes, and ones we can rectify. 🙂

  2. Carol

    My thoughts turn to my mother who is now in a nursing home. Her gift was taking care of her home so that she could offer hospitality. So good that you spent time with this artist, allowing her to tell of her gift.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your mother and my mother must have been similar, Carol. My mom had the gift of hospitality as well—I wish I had inherited it more from her. There were always people in our home as we were growing up, and she always had food prepared for them all. It’s truly a gift.

  3. Kathryn Ross

    Hi Lisa!
    I’ve had similar encounters with some amazing elder citizens who, alas, don’t have the physical gifts to compliment their intellectual and artistic gifts anymore. What wonders they have seen and done in their lives. I wonder, myself, if I’ll be them someday, too. A lovely encounter. Lives matter. Artistic lives leave legacies. I’m glad you have those windows to bless you with her gifts.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I often say I don’t want to outlive my usefulness, but it’s not always up to us. So I love your beautiful comment, Kathryn: “Artistic lives leave legacies.” True. And yes, I am indeed thankful for the beautiful stained glass that Fran leaves behind as her legacy.

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    What a wonderful story, Lisa. You remind me of Mother Teresa, living life as a mirror that reflects God.

    And yes, I had – and have – a gift, one that I won’t describe, but it allowed a lot of people to not die at the hands of really bad men. And I still have it; woe betide any who hurt or threaten my friends. Those who sow the wind will, in this case, reap something far worse than the whirlwind.

    Orwell said that good people sleep soundly because rough men stand watch in the night, ready to do violence on their behalf.

    Once I thought I could put it behind me, but no more. Ring the bell; I will come. One more time.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      And that is indeed a gift, Andrew. It’s one that we recipients often don’t think about until we need it in the spur of the moment. But thank you for your loyalty to the safety of others. That blesses!

  5. Sharon

    How lovely, dear Fran. It is truly wonderful when the Lord gives us opportunities to use our gifts. I know that it’s a privilege and a blessing when I feel like I am *in His groove*!! Hopefully Fran still has the chance to do some sketching and such!

    Thank you for your beautiful story today. It also teaches me to take a moment when I see something of beauty, and remember and thank the artist, even if I don’t know who it is.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it’s definitely a good feeling when we’re in His groove (I like your wording!). I don’t really like thinking about growing out of that…well, I guess we just grow into a different groove, yes? Just like we grow out of our roles of active parenting to being empty nesters, etc. The overall mission stays the same, but it just looks different from season to season. Blessings to you, Sharon–I love the way you use your gifts of writing and encouraging others.

  6. floyd

    This is the example of serving God by serving others and then getting so much more in return for your obedience.

    I know it’s an old analogy, but each and every person is a walking, living, breathing book… what a gift it is to turn the pages.

    Thanks for the reminder to be engaged.

  7. Meghan

    What a gift, and I can relate to wanting a sketch pad or notebook at some of the most random but inspiring times. I hope to live a full life, giving my time and talents unto the Lord. I thought singing was my thing, and I love to sing and still do at church at times but God keeps calling me back to writing, which is something when I look back on -I actually did even as a small girl. I didn’t realize how it was woven into me years ago but I can see it in all the essays, a few published in contests, my own stories as a toddler -stapling pages together and illustrating too. So I pray if this is where He wants me, He will lead me in the days ahead for His body and His glory. Thanks for sharing this and making me think with your question. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It sounds like you have many gifts, Meghan. I love that you can trace back your love of writing to your childhood days. One of my daughters was that way: she made book after book of stories and illustrations and won writing contests. However, she doesn’t write much at all these days but hopefully one day she’ll get the opportunity to pick it up again. Praying the Lord continues to guide you to use your talents in special ways!

  8. Jean Wise

    Amazing how when we use and share our God given gifts, so much good emerges that connects and lives on. Your post made me realize that even more deeply. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Jean. It’s nice to know that our gifts can live on, even after we’ve finished giving them. I did have a wonderful weekend with both my daughters here taking bridal portraits! Hope you had a great weekend too.

  9. Laura Thomas

    Oh what a gift for YOU to have had this special encounter! The elderly have such a wealth of experience to share… thank you for reminding me to take the time to actually stop and converse and LISTEN to them. And her particular gift of creating stained glass windows will be enjoyed by generations to come. Wonderful! Stopping by from #CountingMyBlessings 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it was definitely a gift to me to receive the story of this woman’s life. I’m thankful that the Lord planted me there at that time and place because otherwise I never would have known. He’s good to do that for us! Have a great week, Laura.

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