31 Days: Day 7 – When outreach doesn’t go like you expected

I shared a story a week ago about a visit to the nursing home. One in which changed my outlook significantly and kept a visual in my mind daily for several weeks. I was so excited to come back here and share the results of my follow-up visit with Ms. Linda.

I envisioned she would be so totally excited about the verse of scripture I had written out for her on the beautifully handmade card. I figured we might even have a good cry together while hugging. Who knows, maybe she’d even pin it on her bulletin board to remind her of God’s love for her.

With a skip in my step I found Ms. Linda and wheeled her into the activity room where I showed her the card and read it to her. When I was done reading I handed her the card with a twinkle in my eye and a huge smile on my face.

And with absolutely no expression whatsoever on her face she handed the card right back to me.

I thought maybe she didn’t understand it was for her so I said, “Ms. Linda, I made this just for you to keep if you’d like it.”

And she handed it back to me again.

I was trying hard to figure out if I should cry or laugh. I’ve never claimed to be a great card maker or artist but was it really that bad?! I knew God put it on my heart to go see her. And I felt like He had showed me those verses about Him singing over us so I could share that with her. But maybe I missed it completely. Possibly I heard wrong??

I tried one more time to give the card to Ms. Linda but she just politely handed it back. So I changed the subject. We talked about her upcoming Dr’s appointment and I asked her if she went to the Valentine Party that day. And then I decided I would be funny (or stubborn?) and hide the card in her wheelchair for a nice surprise later. Surely I would see it in her room at some point. We said our goodbyes and I was still mystified by the whole giving back of the card.

Apparently Ms. Linda found the card later and ditched it because when the kids and I went to deliver Valentine cards a few days later the verse card was no where to be seen.

I introduced her to my kids. Mitchell looked at me and whispered, “Do I give her a Valentine Card?” I subtlety shook my head No. It wasn’t that I was mad at her. I just knew we had other people we could give cards to that would keep them. Ms. Linda didn’t talk much. She smiled at the kids and they told her God loved her very much. She stared out her window and kept looking quietly. We said our goodbyes and on the way out the door she shocked me with these words…..

“Thank you for that card the other day.”

What? Are you serious? I was so confused.

But I just waved goodbye and said, “You’re welcome. He’s still singing over you Ms. Linda.”

What God showed me later in the middle of the night – seriously woke me up to impress this on my heart…. is this: I must be very careful to test my motives when I am reaching out to people in the so called name of Jesus. Because if I’m not doing it solely for Jesus alone and instead am looking for a desired or expected response that makes me feel good or makes me look good or anything other than “Because of Him” then it’s done in vain. It might serve a good purpose and it could still even meet a need but it doesn’t have any eternal value. I was humbled at several things that the Holy Spirit pointed out to me through that visit. He began to pull back layers for me to see my pride in serving Him. He wants nothing to do with that and neither do I. I am so thankful for His revelation and his forgiveness. It’s not fun seeing and confessing these things but it’s necessary for true growth.

So no, I’m not mad at Ms. Linda for handing that card back to me. How could I? God keeps using Ms. Linda to teach me more lessons about Him. About me and my need for his love and His singing over my own self. And I thought I was the one reaching out to Ms. Linda. She has taught me more than she’ll ever know and I’ve just met her this month.


  1. I love this!!! It is beautiful on so many levels. Your card really spoke to her and in return her lack of speaking spoke to you. God is crazy awesome and sometimes we just feel crazy while He is doing all sorts of awesome things around us! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a quirky lady Ms. Linda is 🙂 I’m glad God gave you each other.

  3. What a great story! That pure in heart thing is so unattainable but I still have the desire for Him to keep revealing that next layer of pride or whatever else that gets uncovered in ministry. I am so thankful for grace and mercy and that God works miracles anyway despite my sins. Blessings to you! Love, Rachael @ Inking the heart

  4. I love this – the fact that God used you AND her both. He is amazing like that isn’t He?! I also love one who will spend time in a nursing home. It is not always an easy place but one where love is so greatly needed. Thank you for your insight : )

  5. It is so hard to do things for others in a totally altruistic way, isn’t it?! The truth is, doing things for people often does make us feel good. I don’t think that it is wrong to feel good. But I do think that it is better if we don’t brag, and we don’t feel like other people have to know what we did for it to have value.

    • I agree with you about these things and you make a great point about it not being wrong if it feels good. I sincerely hope I’m not coming across as bragging in this post or series because my intent is to give ideas not to brag. The value in reaching out to people is not recognition but knowing we’ve helped someone.


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