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The gift of a blessing

Children need to capture someone’s attention, to steal someone’s heart, to be the apple of someone’s eye. I was fortunate as a child to have a loving grandfather who made me feel special. When I declared my fine arts major in college, he bought a portfolio for me to store the artwork I would create one day. I have memories of him watching me, fascinated with who I was becoming, affirming me every chance he had. I became aware of the power of a blessing.

Blessings are often confused with getting something — health, money, prestige. Blessings are gifts from above. Right?

Not quite. It is better to think of a blessing as having someone’s attention — to be the focus of someone’s gaze. The by-product may be a gift or a heart’s desire; the blessing comes when love overflows.

In grade school, teachers affirmed me and challenged me to reach farther, and I excelled. In middle and high school, there were those who saw my confidence and asked with a glare, “Who do you think you are?”

I was called to the ministry when I was 16 years old. Other church friends made commitments, too. Jim said he was called to be a pastor, Sandy was called to be a missionary, but I could only testify that I was called to follow Jesus.

My friends’ distinct callings were affirmed and they were ordained; I looked for my affirmation and was asked with a shrug, “Who do you think you are?”

In my college years, my church called me into the deacon ministry, the youngest deacon at the time. A few years later in another church, cities away, I was called to serve as student minister.

A decade later, in the northern part of the state, I was asked by the chairman of the deacons if I would be open to ordination to the gospel ministry, but the pastor closed that door, asking “Who do you think you are?”

Michael C. Blackwell, president of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH), is one of the few people who know these facts about my life. The first time he heard me preach,I was interested to know what this great orator of the Gospel thought. He listened as I bumbled my reflections of the experience; he told me I had done well. I shared how I felt fulfilled when proclaiming the Gospel but felt lacking because I had never been ordained. What he did next,

I will never forget. He placed his hand on my forehead, looked me in my eyes and said, “You are ordained.”

When God calls one, it is important for God’s people to decree the calling. In that moment, I felt blessed. This is not my only recollection of Dr. Blackwell’s ability to bless others.

Paige desired more than anything to sing. She listened to music, sang in the shower, hummed on the bus to and from school. Now, tonight, she would perform before the members of one of the largest Baptist churches in North Carolina.

Her cottage mother smiled as her voice danced through the music notes. The crowd clapped as Paige lowered her microphone. But as the last chord faded, the fears and voices from a past filled with abuse made her heart sink instead of soar. All she could hear was “Who do you think you are?”

The crowd rose to their feet as she walked from the stage. Dr. Blackwell was there to greet her. She immediately apologized to him: “It was the worst I’ve ever done.” Instead of tears of joy, tears of embarrassment flowed down her cheek.

He looked her in the eyes: “No. Stop right there.” On the floor before the stage, he told her she did a good job and asked her to say it too: “I did a good job.” “Again,” he said. She repeated, “I did a good job.” Slowly, her face reflected her belief.

Dr. Blackwell’s encouragement and affirmation was a salve soothing a gaping wound. He bestowed on Paige a blessing she would remember forever.

The gift of a blessing is one of the greatest gifts one can offer. Dr. Blackwell has given blessings for 35 years as BCH’s leader. It is right for all of us now to pause and say thank you, to focus our attention, and let our love overflow, returning the blessing!

Helping children know how valuable they are to God is one of our top priorities! Will you help us show this kind of love by making an online donation today? Visit

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