"The Easter Basket Lady" strikes again

Easter baskets cover Lee Hardy's home in Palmetto, Fla.

Take a look at this photo.

This makes me smile in a big way! Easter is nearing, which means it’s not just spring… it’s Lee Hardy Season. What a wonderful, generous, loving woman. Anyone who gets the chance to meet her is instantly better for it. Trust me.

I met Lee Hardy a few years ago. I heard there was a woman in our community buying and filling Easter baskets for kids whose family probably couldn’t afford to get them one. How heart breaking! Lee fixed all this by buying all those tasty Easter goodies and colorful baskets with her own cash! What a saint, that Ms. Hardy (not to mention a financial commitment!) I remember visiting her home for the first time. I could barely squeeze through the front door because she had HUNDREDS of completed baskets blanketing the floor. I assume she had carpet, but I never saw it.

Ms. Hardy, who just celebrated her 70th birthday a few months ago, was the cheeriest, most joyful person I’d met in a long time. I did an interview with Ms. Hardy and she just oozed Jesus. After about an hour of recording, I encouraged her to keep working hard in her mission to put smiles on needy kid’s faces. She’s provided free Easter baskets for over 13,000 kids in her town over the last decade-plus. Heaven cheers for women like Ms. Hardy!

I do, too. Earlier this week I spoke to Ms. Hardy on the phone. She sounded a little sad. She’d lost a loved one in recent weeks and didn’t put together as many baskets as in years past because of it.

“I only did about 200 this year,” she solemnly admitted. She sounded a bit defeated.

I told her that was nothing to feel down about.

“Don’t think of it as ONLY 200 baskets,” I told her. “Think of it as 200 children who get an Easter basket.”

Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines author Bobby Lewis poses with Lee Hardy at his book signing in Sept. 2018

I think we fall prey quite often to the sin of comparison. We compare our lives to other’s. We compare our possessions to our friend’s. We compare contributions and condemn our ‘mediocrity’, which leads to empty, joyless feelings.

The devil would love nothing more than for us to feel like our gifts aren’t good enough. If he can convince us of this lie long enough, he hopes we will give up on gift-giving altogether.

Don’t let him win.

God commands us to contribute in our own ways to the best of our abilities. Our invisible heart-posture matters far more to our Heavenly Father than the physical (comparable) outcome we can see. After all, what we give, however big or small we perceive it to be when viewed side-by-side with others, or even our own past achievements, all can grow into a God-sized blessing.

2 Corinthians 9:11 says “Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when you take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”

Lee Hardy was a little down on herself because she remembered what she’d accomplished in past years. Her goal was to do 1,000 baskets one year for needy kids. She topped out at 800. Most years she was able to scrape together enough cash to buy baskets and toys for about 500 children. By comparison, her 200-basket total in 2019 falls well short of her expectations.

Yes, 200 is less than 800. But in God’s eyes, she’s been generous 200 times over.

I got a text from her granddaughter last night. It contained a few photos of this year’s haul of baskets. My favorite photo was of Ms. Hardy, smiling, holding a beautifully wrapped Easter basket. She’ll hand out her 200 baskets on Good Friday at a nearby park to anyone who needs one. It’s a first come, first serve blessing. The photos are encouraging to me. I hope she sees all the good she’s done. Not just this year, but in the last decade or so of blessings.

This is what joyful Easters are made of.

You can read Lee Hardy's story in the GIVING chapter of Finding Joy Beyond The Headlines.

© 2019 by Bobby Lewis