The first gift:
...is our minister and friend, Rev. Valerie. She gave so much support to my sister, to me, to our family, through Floyd's illness and death, providing practical advice, or simply giving a hug and sharing stories, whatever was needed. From lifting our spirits with laughter, to contacting the UCW and arranging for meals to arrive, to just being there with loving compassion and her peaceful presence as though she had all the time in the world to spend with us, her strength and comfort was a gift from God.
The second gift:
...is a beautiful prayer shawl. Valerie was leaving the hospital one day, when she pulled two prayer shawls out of her bag and wrapped them around our shoulders, saying "May you always feel the arms of God around you". These shawls are made by the women of a local prayer ministry, who knit (or crochet) them while praying thoughts of healing and comfort. The miraculous feeling of peace and comfort that comes from wearing my prayer shawl is another amazing gift from God.
This photo is actually of my second shawl. My younger daughter laid her eyes (and hands) on my first shawl, and immediately wrapped it around herself then didn't take it off for days, even wearing it to bed. Feeling that the prayer shawl was meant to go where it was most needed, I let her keep it for her own comfort, although also felt very torn because it was such an incredibly special gift to me. Ever thoughtful and understanding, Valerie arrived a couple days later with another shawl for me. (She also brought shawls for my older daughter and my niece, so we all can be wrapped in God's arms.)