Take it personally


Volunteers loaded the black vans with roses of every color, with tulips close to bloom, with balloons saying “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Jeff and I drove off in one last Friday morning, volunteering to help a local florist (a great friend of Manna House) with her Valentine deliveries.

Everywhere we later walked in—elementary school offices, Lowe’s, business complexes—women lit up when they saw the beautiful flowers coming.

Except one.

It was the last delivery of the morning to a small office building in Research Park. I walked in with a dozen red roses. The woman at the desk looked up. But instead of smiling, she scowled, “I thought I was avoiding all this since Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday.”

I smiled in sympathy (because I do understand the sentiment; I’ve been there myself). Then told her I had a delivery for Kristi.

“What?” she said. I saw the look of shock in her face: “That’s me!”

It changed everything.

Valentine’s Day was suddenly exciting and fun.

It became personal. And when things become personal, it changes everything.

When someone gives you flowers, when it’s your child who is sick, when the promotion goes to you, when it’s your car breaking down, your perspective shifts.

If you don’t want to be in the same place next year that you are this year, if you need a better attitude, if you want to grow in your faith and spiritual maturity, embrace personal encounters.

  • Get to know somebody unlike you.
  • Show up somewhere different.
  • Help someone you’ve been afraid of.

These might be angels unaware, the least of these, the manifestations of Jesus for you to meet, feed, visit.

I’ll never hear the story the receptionist told her friends that night about receiving red roses unexpectedly. But I can guess her view of Valentine’s Day was changed forever.

Be open to fresh encounters. Ask for them. Welcome them.

When you are directly affected, you are decidedly changed.

“What? That’s me!”

Take God personally. You’re the one he’s delivering to. The flowers are for you.

* * *

Have you changed your mind about something because of a personal encounter? We’d love to hear your story in the comments.

39 thoughts on “Take it personally

  1. Linda@Creekside

    How cool to have the shoe on the other foot … delivering with your man instead of receiving from him, the desk-woman receiving instead passing the flowers to someone else, smiles of sheer delight replacing well-worn scowls of discouragement.

    Your sweet challenge kicks off this Monday well. And I thank you for that gift, Lisa!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It was kinda funny that I kept oohing and ahhhing over the flowers as we delivered them because I always tell Jeff NOT to get me flowers on Valentine’s Day. He was beginning to suspect me. But it was joy enough to look at those. He gets me bouquets throughout the year when I least expect it and I like that better. 🙂

  2. Jolene

    Wow! This is a great reminder. I need to embrace personal encounters without fear. I often worry far too much about whether people will like me. Thank you for sharing this, and I hope you have a great week. I am stopping by from the #smallwonder link-up. 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know many of us (including me) share that fear with you, Jolene, wondering what others will think. My philosophy the past few years has been “just show up” to new encounters, and it’s taken the pressure off of wondering how others will respond. It’s more exciting to see how God responds instead. Thanks for stopping in this morning.

  3. TC Avey

    I love that the call to Salvation is an individual call…a call that once answered brings us instantly into a group, a family!
    God is interested in the smallest details of our lives. That blows my mind sometimes.
    He cares for ME…He cares for YOU.
    I pray everyone gets that deep into their souls…it will certainly bring a smile to a face!

    No better Valentine than John 3:16-17

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for sharing that insight, TC: it’s a personal call, but it brings us immediately into a larger family. God knows our needs and provides in so many ways, yes, the perfect Valentine.

  4. Jody Collins

    Oh, Lisa….this is a joy to read. These lines were powerful,
    “embrace personal encounters.
    Get to know somebody unlike you.
    Show up somewhere different.
    Help someone you’ve been afraid of.”
    And the result? WE are the ones who are changed. Take it personally, the flowers are for YOU….

    I’m continually inspired about how you make Jesus personal to everyone you meet.
    Thank you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      One of the other crazy things about that particular delivery was that it was the only one that had in bold letters “DO NOT TELL” who the flowers were from. I wonder if she was able to figure it out. It sure made me curious to know the circumstances behind it. But I’ll never know that either. 🙂

  5. Lynn Severance

    On the day of my 30th birthday, a floral truck stopped in front of my apartment. I had never received flowers before, let alone had them delivered. I came to find out that my next door neighbor in these townhouse apartments, who I knew, also had the same birthday day and she thought the truck had pulled up to deliver a gift to her from her husband, perhaps. No. The flowers were for me – totally unexpected and never forgotten. I can still see them in my mind’s eyes. More importantly, I remember how special I felt. The man who provided that joy remains a friend to this day. . .42 years later. . . and knows the honor he bestowed on me with that unexpected gift. Such dear memories you evoked in me, today, Lisa. Thank you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your story, Lynn! What a special surprise to find out the flowers were for YOU. And what a special friendship you’ve maintained over a lifetime. Precious memories. I’m so glad you shared this with us.

  6. Sharon

    This was such a good post – and I just loved the whole story! Yes, things change when the *message* becomes personal! And truly, isn’t that what the Incarnation is all about?? Becoming one of us to personalize the Good News!

    Because of a situation with my mom, I had to be away from my hubby on Valentine’s Day. But, when I called him on Saturday to say Good Morning, he said this: “When you get a chance, you might want to check the pouch behind the passenger seat.” Well, yes – there were two beautiful cards for me. When love reaches out and touches you in this way, the heart grows warm.

    Such a good hubby, such a good Savior!!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That is most definitely what the Incarnation is all about. There’s a message about just that that I’ve been waiting to see posted online; hopefully soon.

      What a sweet husband you have to plan ahead like that! I’m sorry you were apart from him on Valentine’s Day but it was a special treat to know he cared enough to think ahead.

  7. Jean Wise

    What a great story and what fun you had delivering flowers. The power not only in an unexpected gift but hearing our name called. And just think God knows our names and call us too. Thanks for sharing this Lisa

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Hearing God call our names…what a blessed moment that will be! I know he calls us even now with a voice that touches our spirits if not our ears, but I look forward to the fullness of it in the future too. Thanks, Jean!

  8. Laura

    How wonderful it must have been to see that woman’s face light up! I love your challenge to be open to new encounters, new people….places, experiences. I must admit, I’m a fan of the familiar, but I do understand that sometimes God pushes us in new directions. I think I’ll let Him lead the way!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can be very comfortable with the familiar too. I’m one of those that usually orders the same food at the same restaurant, over and over. ha. But occasionally God pushes me out of the nest and I’m so glad. Thanks for stopping by, Laura.

  9. Beth S.

    Oh, Lisa, I just loved this so much. It’s actually making me hold back tears. Such a beautiful and needed reminder to “Be open to fresh encounters. Ask for them. Welcome them.” THANK YOU!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Beth. We’re not always comfortable seeking out new encounters, but we’re almost always blessed by them when we do. Hope you have some inspiring ones this week!

  10. Laurie Collett

    Praise God that He makes us a new creature in Him, and that the Holy Spirit gives us boldness to leave our comfort zone and be His light in new encounters! Thanks so much for the beautiful post, and for your lovely comment on Saved by Grace.
    God bless,

  11. Beth

    What a wonder to remember that God calls us all by name. That the God of all the universe takes His relationship with me personally. Amazing Grace. Thank you, as always, for linking with Small Wonders.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it is SO amazing when we grasp (and I never totally do!) that the God of everything knows us personally, all our quirks and fears and habits. And he loves us right through them. What a Savior.

  12. Abby McDonald

    Loved this, Lisa! It’s amazing how our perspective can change in an instant like that, isn’t it? Today I’m smiling over the idea of Jesus giving me flowers. Thank you. -Abby (visiting from #TellHisStory)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I wonder what kind of flower Jesus would bring you today. 🙂 I’m sure he knows each of our favorites! Last week he brought me buttercups with the first blooms by my garage.

  13. Laura Thomas

    Such a sweet story! I’m so glad this lady’s day was brightened. Sometimes it really doesn’t take much to bring joy to a life, to put a smile on someone’s face. You are absolutely right, Lisa, t’s good to push ourselves out of our usual comfortable places and perspectives to reach out to others. Thanks for this 🙂 Stopping by from TellHisStory.

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