Lend to the Lord

 

wooden caribbean house

She stared at my soft red comfy sandals like they were a pair of red bottom Louis Vuitton’s. They had shiny red beading on the straps and cushy padding under the feet. They were a gift from my mom when she vacationed in Florida. So they were special. Moments later, “Belle’s” eyes glanced at my skirt, then my pretty summer blouse, hair and makeup. It was easy to see the desires of her heart… to feel pretty, get all dressed up, yet my spirit grieved. These were simple things I picked-up on sale, never counting the cost till now.

The room felt still. But, a shift was taking place. A still deep rumble that only animals hear before the terrible storm. It was mid-July; we were vacationing and decided to visit distant family members on the island. And, they would be what society labels as poor. Life can be so extreme…laying pool side in the afternoon at the five-star resort; then, we are dining at an old wooden house in the hills of the Caribbean under the shadows of an orange sunset. The shift was in the contradiction.

Without a thought, I took off my shoes and asked her if she wanted to try them on. “Yes,” she shouted, before I finished my sentence. “Belle” quickly slipped her feet in and suddenly distance was a thing of the past – we shared the same shoe size! Her face lit up! Oh yeah, she discovered the cushy padding. “Belle” danced, took a few more steps and adored watching herself in the mirror, imaging something fun I’m sure. We were about the same age but she was acting more like a teenager. With all the excitement, the room remained still. But there was a change…even though naturally things looked the same.

Earlier that day, I felt lead to pack a second bag one of those just in case thoughts. We brought gifts for our family but a change of clothes for the evening would be good. A hand towel, mosquito repellent and I tossed in another pair of sandals, for whatever the reason.

I watched “Belle” dance a little longer and smile some more as she began to take off the shoes. “No, no you can keep them,” I urged. “Belle” stood still. The music that played in her head stopped. Then, someone in the room shouted “But, you won’t have shoes!”

A way was made when I didn’t understand, a lesson was learned and a blessing was received with little given. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.”  Lending to the Lord…this means all things are possible.

The Bread of Life

 

homeless person at water

From a distance, it was obvious where she lived or existed. Her clothes were crumpled and her shoes well that was a few seasons ago. She was a petite woman under her baggy jeans and loose-fitting dark blue sweat shirt. Her pretty almond complexion camouflaged her unwashed face. As we walked towards each other, I saw her she had a beautiful smile.

My son and I just left a community board meeting and he was carrying the tray of sandwiches. Our goal,  feed the homeless with the excess from the budget. We stopped and asked if she wanted something to eat? My son removed the plastic lid and placed the tray in front of her. She didn’t move. She stared into my eyes and I saw that her eyes were big and brown just like mine. She too had grey hair but mine was colored. It was a very awkward 10 seconds. No one moved. Finally, I said, “Help yourself. Take one…I don’t know what you like.” Why did she want me to choose? Why did she want me to hand it to her? What was she ashamed of…life?

I had to encourage her one more time, “It’s okay.” Slowly, she raised her hand from the side of her jeans that held traces of places where she spent her time. Her fingernails were long, yellow, chipped and black dirt crusted under her nails. But, gingerly she placed her hand over the tray and with poise, grace and dignity she made her choice. We smiled. She believed that she wasn’t worthy. She believed that we couldn’t overlook her flaws. Why? We too had flaws. She just couldn’t see them.

Scorned, rejected and abused she knew that all too well. But, kindness that was foreign in her Native land.  We gave away all the sandwich’s that Thursday evening with the same stipulation everyone picked their own. And, all alike used their manners something they thought, we didn’t believe they possessed.  This would seem like the best place to end the story. But, I passed by her on the way back, as she clung to the light-post and whispered in my ear, “I’m lost,”…this was not about her receiving her favorite ham sandwich…this was about the bread of life.

Mom Gave Me Cardboard, Again

toys r us blog pic

First time parents are nervous. Typically, the fears are: ‘make sure you’re supporting the baby’s head, don’t’ drop the baby, and my favorite, I don’t know what the baby wants we’ve tried everything.’ Time goes by…days turn into weeks, weeks into months but slowly the parents begin to understand the needs of their infant.

Somewhere between a couple of weeks and months down the road the house is suddenly filled with every kind of toy, almost ever made. From a red rubber hammer to a soft floppy doll or those colorful rings that every child must learn to stack before crawling.  Look back, this little tiny person is management material.

Your once uncluttered home is now a toy factory. But, the children are entertaining themselves with pots, pans, the plastic bubble wrap the toy came in or the ready-made fort built from the washing machine and dryer boxes.  As a consumer, it seems to me that I’m really buying bubble wrap and cardboard. Maybe this should be the gift? What did the retailers sell me?  Consumerism and consumptionism…they got us through the kids. Who’s in charge here? This is what got me thinking.

We sorta had a stock pile…and were well on our way to filling a small warehouse. You see, we were on the second kid and this one was a boy. So on top of the stuffed animal collection, pretend kitchen stuff that she will eventually want a dishwasher or cleaning lady for, and the dolls that had all those clothes and shoes, yet ,they were never going anywhere…the house was overrun. Expensive colored plastic that played annoying music or grinded you’re gears with the pulsing sounds of sirens from a truck of some kind. So I asked myself why are we doing this. Looking back…I think my concern was becoming a toy hoarder. Is this possible? Hmm, this phobia should hit the medication market soon.

I decided the second kid would never learn where or what the Toys R’ Us store was. Oh yeah, you read it right. We let the “The Boy” think the stores were only in the United States. As a family tradition, we  always toy shopped when we visited the States but as for home, “So sorry honey, Canada just doesn’t have one.” His sister, well she was old enough. She kept her mouth shut…cause we bribed her. “The Boy” was clueless for years and the store was far from the house. We saved a lot of money avoided the endless sounds of whinnying and never missed the pleading, “I want that! Can I have that please, oh please?” That bit of drama passed right on by our house.

So when the “The Boy” was about five we took him to the newly built “Toys R’ Us.” He was so excited a store finally arrived in Canada.  Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

A time for everything…

miss u

I started the blog “Life Changes” because I learned to adapt, accept and be thankful for life’s sudden changes. The thing with change is that you never get what you expected. Time has taught me to receive change and discover the treasure that God has buried inside the pain of the new thing.

The pain, two powerful words that require endurance, encouragement and finally acceptance. And, within that rests the new thing…a new perspective on life that springs from the waters of your tears. I spoke with “Mommy” on the phone that Saturday night, not so long ago, and she delivered sharper lines and her sense of humor should have been playing at a theater near you, but it would have to be rated R…for keeping it “Real.” I hung-up the phone never thinking that would be the last call where things were the same.

The next day, Sunday morning…no answer…called and called again – nothing. By mid-Sunday afternoon…the ambulance arrived. Diagnosis, “Mommy” had a stroke and she will never be the same. Tears, shock, disbelief, one more adjustment in life to make, dazed,  confused, angry and so wounded. How will “Mommy” come out of this? To describe the initial prognosis as challenging would require one to also believe that Niagara Falls is a great spot for surfing.

But, “Mommy” struggled, rested and never regressed. Her strength came like soft silent mist above the midnight waters slow and seemingly unsteady. Suddenly, “Mommy” stood on her own, walked without assistance, repeated what she heard us whispering downstairs in the kitchen, and reminded me a couple of times about something that I forgot to do. Slowly, she was coming back. I embraced the “New Mommy.” Sometimes she is sad, angry, frustrated but still very funny and  sharing a catalog of new stories. When “Mommy” was young she only wore red nail polish and there was some guy named “Allan G” that she loved before my father, wonder if Dad knew about him…hmm what’s the back story there?

The page turner, my parents had their own “Fast & Furious” moments shall we say. “Mommy” was Daddy’s “Ride or Die Chick.” Red nails clenched and arms  wrapped around his waist, hanging on the back of his red motorcycle cruising the streets. Now, this explains a lot! “Ride or Die Chicks” have stamina, endurance and tenacity. Once, I accepted the pain of change and uncertainty, I received my gift from God…the “New Mommy.” This much I can tell you not everything can go in print.