Divine Signs

Truffles from heaven

Thoughts on how to appreciate God's choice gifts of grace
by Kali Schnieders

What's a truffle from Heaven, anyway?

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." As each day passes, we often find ourselves overlooking the ordinary events in life, and concentrating on those times associated with strong emotions.

Perhaps today life will offer you some great thrill-a newfound friend, a marriage proposal, the birth of a child, or an exciting new job. Or maybe what will come out of the box is an assortment of heartache: sudden, irreversible, the kind that forever changes the way you live and relate to others. Wherever you find yourself at the end of the day, whatever the mix of life's unexpected ups and downs, you can count on each day containing truffles from heaven.

Chocolate lovers know truffles are small, gourmet delights. "God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loves us," * knocks on our doors daily, offering truffles of hope and encouragement, comfort and love.

Heavenly truffles originate with God, not with us. They cannot be conjured up. They arrive; choice gifts personally selected from the riches of His grace and gently placed in the palm of your life.

Every truffle has its own unique nougat center message from God. Our part is to slow down, pause long enough to recognize and receive the truffles God send in a very personal, usually unobtrusive way.
        * Ephesians 2:4

Kali Schnieders
Dallas, TX

Kali Schnieders is the author of two books and a professional speaker known for her combination of humor and down-to-earth warmth. Her touching stories are based on personal experience and sweetened with spiritual perspective. Here is a sample chapter from her book, Truffles from Heaven.
My White-Chocolate Truffled Knight

I had not minded being an only child, really. At least not until 1989, when I found myself pacing in the waiting room. I'll never for get the surgeon rounding the corner in his pale green garb, pulling at the strings of his surgical mask. His gaze fixed heavenward. I could sense that he desperately wanted to avoid my pleading eyes. His expression was pure compassion as he drew a deep breath, and soberly delivered the heartbreaking news.

My mother was dead.

Death was sudden, unexpected, unthinkable. Mom had just been admitted to the hospital for a routine angioplasty. We'd been through this before. Thirty minutes into the procedure the nurse had said, She did well, the doctor's just finishing up. Go on downstairs and get a bite to eat.

Halfway through my hamburger, the nurse returned -- something had gone terribly wrong. I dashed for the waiting room as if my mother's survival depended upon my arrival, as if my running could prevent the turn of events to follow. But I could not outrun the hideous day that would forever change my life.

With my dear Aunt Fran and uncle Bob at my side, long tortuous hours in the waiting room began. We prayed for a word of hope. The kind nurse appeared occasionally offering medical updates. Her technical jargon confused us, but her facial expression always told the truth; the nurse's eyes became our windows into Mom's condition. It's easy to see the difference between cautious optimism and grave concern in the expression of a compassionate soul, and at different times, the nurse reflected both emotions. After each word of hope, our fervent prayers would resume.

Death continued its ping-ponging of our emotions until four hours later, when we were given the final verdict all hope was now gone. The surgeon explained, "Her brain was deprived of oxygen for much too long; we'll. need your permission to remove life support." I asked for a moment alone. I could not make this unalterable move without prayer. I sought out the empty hospital room where Mom had spent her last night on this earth -- a place where I might still sense her nearness, and smell her fragrance.

Through spirit-wrenching sobs I bent my knees, remembering the last words I'd shared with Mom. "I love you. I'll. be right here waiting. I'll. see you in a minute." I had no way of knowing how long that "minute" would be. I bowed my head in desperation. pleading with God for some miracle, but only for a moment. Then a great release occurred, and I found myself offering a very different kind of prayer. I was given new strength, strength beyond my own flesh. My sorrowful prayer reached toward heaven (or as I think back on it now, perhaps heaven was reaching out to me).

"Lord," I cried, "You have blessed my days with my mother's love, but I must accept the truth. She doesn't belong to me, but to You. She was only on loan. Today, in Your wisdom, You are calling her back home. My heart is breaking. Lord, but I give her back to you with gratitude for the love we shared for so long. Please give me the strength to live in her absence." Now for the first time since my parents' divorce thirty years before, I felt utterly alone.

Returning home from the horror of the hospital, I sat in my dining room until midnight, numbly planning a memorial service. As an only child, the burden was enormous. All decisions were left to me, and me alone. I was dating Larry, but we hadn't yet discussed marriage. However, a widower himself, he proved to be a wonderful helper, showing me step-by-step what to do. The newspaper, the funeral arrangements, the flowers.

So much happened at once, my own grief mingled with the frantic activity of putting her things in order, and arranging a memorial service befitting her life. Like a rushing creek during a flash flood, my emotions were flowing over their banks, swirling, and threatening to take me under, unless I could find some branch to cling to for support. I grasped for Larry.

Slowly, painfully, Larry explained something my mind and heart could not accept. He told me he must be in St. Louis, instead of at my side, on the day of my mother's burial. "I'm scheduled to give a presentation to the top brass," Larry explained.

"Honey, for a mother-in-law's funeral, the company would he more understanding. If you were my wife, things would he different."

As it was, I was only a girlfriend. Isn't the company aware that even girlfriends need an arm to lean on in times of grief? I whimpered to myself. I begged Larry to skip the meeting, whatever the result, and come he with me. It pained him to say no. But to Larry's way of thinking, nearly twenty years with the company and his corporate future were at stake. Little did he know, the future of our relationship was also in jeopardy.

If I couldn't count on Larry to he there in my darkest hour, how valuable was our relationship? As I watched him walk out my front door, great feelings of resentment welled up inside, new deposits into my ever-growing pain. I felt abandoned by the one person I relied on, but those feelings would have to wait. Grief commanded my immediate attention.

Dawn greeted me with a heavy rainstorm. Oddly, I was grateful to God for the rain. It comforted me to imagine heaven in harmony with my grief. The day was dark and black, matching my spirit.

Upon arriving at the church. I waited with my aunt and uncle until the last possible moment before entering the chapel. Then the music called us inside- How Great Thou Art. My legs turned to rubber, I struggled to walk even as grief overtook me, and I turned to Aunt Fran for support. For a moment, I was confused by the look on her face. She wore a broad smile, then tenderly said, "Turn around, Kali." I turned -- there stood Larry.

He walked through the door and, without a word, simply held out his arm. Together we walked to our pew. Together we spent the next hour celebrating my mother's triumphant entry into heaven. Together our hearts were grateful; she fought the good fight, she finished the race. Never more than at this moment did I understand Christ's words, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (Matthew 18:20).

Later I learned "the rest of the story." After Larry's presentation in St. Louis the managers agreed he was more urgently needed elsewhere. (It is within God's power to move mountains and, when necessary, the hearts of corporate executives.) By the grace of God and, I'm sure, extra duty by unseen angels, permission was granted from somewhere at the top of the corporate ladder for the company jet to make one additional stop that day.

However, when the jet neared the Kansas City airport, the storm worsened. Low clouds and fog may prevent our landing, the pilot said. Will advise soon. The plane was within five minutes of diversion to another city when the fog simply lifted.

"It was eerie," Larry explained to me later. "Finally, we were given the go-ahead to land. I got in my car, drove to the chapel, and arrived at the last minute."

Just when I needed him most, I thought. Oh, yes, Lord, how great Thou art.

As I sat on the couch listening to this miraculous story, I recalled the beautiful final moment in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman. The scene where Debra Winger is swept up into Richard Gere's arms. Stunning in his dress-white uniform, he carries her away from her dismal factory job, whisking her off to he his bride. The whole factory erupts in spontaneous applause. Romance at its finest.

In my mind's eye, I could imagine rows of heaven's angels applauding my gentleman as he walked through the chapel door. In that moment, Debra Winger had nothing on me.

Sometimes when grief overpowers us, it's hard for God to get our attention to soothe us. Now whenever I need special comfort from God, I often close my eyes and dwell for a moment on the incredible, unforgettable ending to that day's story. The day God dropped a gift of strength and encouragement from the stormy skies of heaven, in the form of one gallant man.

No, I will not abandon you or leave you as orphans in the storm - I will come to you.  John 14:18 (TLB)

Visit Kali's Web site to learn more about Kali and her book, Truffles from Heaven, at www.trufflesfromheaven.com

Both Kali's essay and sample chapter are excerpted with her kind permission. Copyright (C) 2005  Kali Schnieders. All rights reserved.

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