Abby’s Pizza Widow

Last Wednesday night, at his mom and Bob’s, Ricky went to pay the Abby’s pizza delivery person and I faintly heard her thanking him…more than a normal “thanks”. As the front door closed, he came back into the kitchen and I asked him, “you tipped her more than normal didn’t you?” “Yeah.” He admitted with a smirk, “she walked back to her car crying.” “What?” I said, “we gotta ask her if she needs prayer!”

Angel piped up, “Is she gone yet?! Go go go!”

So with that extra boost, I had to go. I slid Braylon’s slides on and scurried out to catch her before she left. She was head-down, texting. Her headlights caught me waving and she looked up, surprised. Immediately she rolled her window down and asked me, “Was it a mistake?” referring to the tip, and ready for disappointment. I didn’t know how much he gave her. The point was that he acted in obedience. I could still see her tear lines on her face. “Oh, NO! That was no mistake.” Her tears gave me the perfect opportunity to ask, “Are you okay?” It was less awkward than starting out with “Can I pray for you?”.

She paused as I bent my knees and looked in her eyes, carefully gauging her comfort zone. “Yeah, I just…” She was having a hard time finding words. So I thought it was good timing to ask, “Is there anything I can pray for you about?” Her answer was unexpected.

“I lost my husband five years ago” she replied so transparently as her emotions kept trying to interrupt. “This time of year can just be so hard for me.”  We talked some more and she welcomed a prayer right there in the driveway. As I placed my open hand on top of hers, she took her other hand and put it on top of mine, a gesture of trust, vulnerability and faith.

She had been married to him for over 25 years. I don’t know what I prayed really, but I do recall bringing up God’s names, The Comforter and the Prince of Peace. She was so genuinely joyful as we finished talking, and thanked me twice for coming out to her car. This was the work of the Spirit. It was not because of me, or Ricky…it was because of the goodness of the God we’re getting to know more. We’re learning it’s His grace that gives us the boldness and power and a really cool sort of intuition we need to “go” when we’d otherwise stay where we are. It really is all about His love. His pursuit of every heart, through us. I love it!

A few days later, the Lord kept bringing her back to Ricky’s mind and so we stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up a card, and some gift cards for her – because maybe she needed some extra Christmas money and some gas money since as a delivery driver you have to pay for your own gas. We wrote in the card and dropped it off for her at Abby’s and found out she’d be working that night (last night). We don’t know what this will yield. But we know it will be good. Because we were representing a giving, loving God to this woman who was in distress. I know this Christmas will be different for her though. In a good way.

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The Someone Else

The kids are out of school all week – Thanksgiving week.

I met with a new friend who is interested in spreading awareness about sex trafficking. So the kids had to come along to Starbucks, but were patient and colored and read and played quietly for over an hour. Before we went there, we noticed an older gentleman by the exit, asking for food on a cardboard sign. It read, “Just Hungry”. The kids and I discussed that we’d see about buying him lunch if he was still there later.

After my meeting, I was hungry too, and in my search for food as I drove through Tualatin, I noticed that man was no longer standing there. But a young man was…also holding up a sign, and stood on the other side, toward I5 north. I rolled my window down and asked him if he’d let me read his sign. It said, “Clean and sober over 1 yr. Anything helps.” I yelled “would you want lunch?” to which he replied happily, “Yes!” and off I drove through my green light, still looking for a place to buy food. I ended up at Subway. As I told the Sandwich-Artist my order and how one was for a homeless man, he asked me what the man looked like and where he was. I told him, and his reply kind of took me off guard, “Yeah, he’s not homeless”, he said with a smirk. “You know him? I presumed he was homeless” “His name is Wade. He’s actually got a nice home and a nice vehicle too”. Well, I didn’t change my mind. I still bought my two subs and left, and said a little prayer as I drove off. What should I do, Lord? I then shot the same text to Ricky. He quickly replied, “Drive around looking for another one”. So we headed south on Boones Ferry. Perhaps there would be someone at the Wilsonville exit. Braylon was swift to ask, “Uh, mom? Where are you going? You promised that one guy lunch.” “Well, I don’t know if you heard the man in Subway, but he knows that guy…and it seems as if he’s not really in need. Me and Daddy think we should look for someone else to give the sandwich to.” And a few minutes later, we came to the Wilsonville exit.

And there he was. The someone else.  We turned around and parked in a perfect spot nearby where he stood. As we approached, the sound of the freeway drowned us out, so when we said hello, and he saw Braylon and I, it shook him a bit. Bray didn’t ask him his name like I suggested, but asked him if he’d like a sub sandwich, and handed it to him. He was very thankful.  I got his name, “Raymond Woods”. Before either of us could then ask him what his story was (because we all have one, don’t we?) Raymond told us he has been battling cancer. Colon Cancer. He’s been ok for the last 7 months, but needs to see a doctor to make sure it hasn’t returned. He said he’s travelling from WA to CA., in an old van, but it only gets 8 mpg, so he tries not to drive too much.

His skin was leathery and wrinkled, probably 50-60 years old. Most of his teeth seemed to be missing, and his eyes were a soothing baby-blue hue which off-set his unshaven cheeks and chin dotted with unruly salt-n-pepper hair.

Angel was in the front seat of our van, watching, as I asked Raymond if he minded if we prayed for him. I’d never done that before, not like this. It was surprisingly easy and comfortable. And I was glad it wasn’t raining at the moment. I took his cold hand in mine, noticing his long, dirty nails. Braylon followed suit, later telling me he didn’t want to hold it tight, so he held it loosely, but also noticed how cold it was. I knew that serving the homeless last Thursday with Bridgetown Inc. prepared Braylon’s heart for this moment.

I prayed for a minute, in Jesus’ name, for Raymond’s health, healing, fulfillment in this life, and provision as he travels to California.

He thanked us again and off we went. As we turned the car around again to head home, Braylon was filled with excitement. He said to me, “Let’s go to the Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of stuff, and go around looking for homeless people to give stuff out to, all the rest of the day! And we can get a few things for me too, there at the Dollar Tree.” How could a mom not smile at that? What a incredible, kind, and honest little 10-year old I have. Angel chimed in, “Me too! I want to too!”

It was a beautiful opportunity God gave us, to be a small part of His story, and be used to possibly make some kind of impact on him. And he on us.  On the way home, I told Braylon and Angel how what had just happened ties into scripture…as  Jesus said, “when you did this to the least of these, you did it to me.”..and conversely, “when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.”

 Today, Raymond was Jesus. And in a strange way, we got to be, as well.

Who knows… one day we may be the someone else.

 

I’m a Struggling Mom

The other day, I was talking to a friend and she said her ex had a issue with her letting me watch their little girl. She said he asked her, “isn’t Angel’s mom … isnt she that struggling mom?” Later when she asked him to explain why he said that, he said something about a birthday party, and I immediately remembered what he was referring to.

Their little girl had a birthday party a few months ago to which I showed up without a gift. I still don’t recall if the reason was because I ran out of time or didn’t want to spend our money on buying a gift for a little girl that, at the time, I didn’t know. I remember being exhausted that day and driving away from the party feeling inadequate and a little guilty, but hoping that it wouldn’t matter.
I’d asked that man a day prior, if she had a certain Barbie movie which I had already wrapped up ready to give her, but he looked at me, smiled and replied to the affect of, “yep, I’m afraid so. I think she has all the Barbie movies.”

So it looks as if he, many months later remembered that about me… perhaps it was in combination with another judgment based off of something else…maybe how I look or what I drive (not sure) and found it appropriate to assume I was struggling mom. I don’t know why, but that just didn’t sit well with me for several days.

I realized that I had this pride welling up inside me that fueled a desire to call this guy up and rattle off how we’re making more money than ever (possibly inadvertently interject a figure there), and how I used to teach preschool and early childhood development classes in Texas, and how dare he even conclude that because a parent doesn’t show up to your child’s party with a gift, they must be struggling and therefore probably unfit to watch your child… (and whatever else my big ol’ pea brain could come up with as a defense against his unfair label).

But how foolish. So many times when I’ve thought of words to use to retaliate, they are nothing but prideful and just… LAME.

God is teaching me a fresh level of humility. One that forces people to make a judgment of me by my lifestyle – not by whether I bring a gift to a party, and not by my words (praise God!). But to be still, be quiet, and be a light by the way I live.

These are some scriptures that have come to my mind:

…so they may see your good works and glorify God who is in heaven…

…if any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition…

…think of others more highly than yourself…

…pray for those who mistreat you…

You know, I can’t help but wonder if this kind of snap judgement was also revealed to me to prepare me for what is to come when we move into a smaller place soon out of obedience.

There will be assumptions made as to why we downsized so dramatically. I need to be more prepared. But since God is then one who is asking us to make these life changes, I will only answer to God (and in that, to my husband who God has put over me).

Let them think what they will… and let me boast in my riches – not of any material wealth, but of my rich relationship with the One person I should seek to please. Closeness with Him and how he speaks to me – stories of his faithfulness – these are the boast-worthy things of life!

Yeah… I’m a struggling mom. I struggle all the time with my reactions to people and most recently, to my God and all that he requires of me as his follower.

I may struggle, but that’s OK. I’m learning to be OK with it. As long as I’m leaning on the Lord, being transparent, and trying to be obedient.

By faith, Chelan…

Hebrews describes a list of people who lived by faith…or at least had a faith-filled defining moment that changed history,  ie: “by faith, Rahab welcomed spies.” or “by faith, Moses’ parents hid him for 3 months, from the king, knowing they had an unusual child.”

I wonder what I’ve done that could be one day be recorded, “by faith, Chelan…” I’ve been thinking about it. What am I doing now that requires faith? Continue reading

give it away, give it away, give it away now

i just had to take a step of faith & do it. for years i thought i had to have eccess money to be able to give it away. that’s such a myth. we just re-allocated our funds a bit and cut back on a few things. when we finally sposored a child who needed care for longer than 6 months, it became clear. God will meet your needs regardless. and sometimes even more – even your wants – when you give it away. backwards thinking, i know. but it’s like some kind of spiritual law that i have yet to see or experience breaking.

when our hearts hurt with compassion to the point of action, God himself steps in and covers us. our needs are met!

He sees the heart of his child, who has a seed of faith,

Who wants to free this poverty, who wants to ease this pain

Of another one of his children…& He takes care of both.

A beautiful display of God’s provision ~ and our growth.

it’s pointless to put it off til you have the “extra money”. $32./mo. can be hugely instrumental in the hands of a trustworthy organization like Compassion International. when you finally give it away, you’ll see too…that what you rec’v in return and what your chosen child will receive will far outweigh the false security that $32. can bring when it’s sitting in your account.

there are thousands who await a sponsor. many of which have been waiting for 6 months or longer. give it a shot! if you’re not blessed & provided for, heck, cancel your sponsorship! but it’s worth a shot, don’t ya think?

 

a few links:

learning for life program

malaria intervention

choosing a child to sponsor

the AIDS initiative

compassion’s own blog – post, “live like we sing”

compassion is…touching childrens’ lives from across the globe

i’m writing once a month about a fave & trusted organization (compassion international) to help spread the word, so that we can spread the hope.

the first time i heard about it was years ago from mac powell himself, lead singer of third day (who just landed a gig on ‘the tonight show with jay leno’, on july 29th! -mark your calendars!!). it happened to be about when i remember praying, ‘enlarge my territories!’ from the ‘prayer of jabez‘. well, we finally got to trusting God enough to supply us the funds to support this cause, & it turned out to be pretty darn easy. we don’t even miss the $32…in fact, God has been really rewarding our efforts to give, in ways we never thought he would! i’m not kiddin’. we’ve seen major increase. you test it out & see for yourself! here’s all we did:

i just sat at the computer w/braylon, & together we picked a child his exact age. i signed up (choosing auto-withdrawal). soon we got a welcome packet w/the basics, wrote our 1st letter including a picture of braylon & a picture he colored for his new friend, & ba-da-bing! a few weeks later, how special did my little boy feel when opening a great lil surprise in the mail – his first letter back (translated from spanish by a tutor) & a picture drawn by his sponsored kid/penpal! it’s been wonderful.

today we get to send him a birthday package (we were able to choose a boy whose 6th birthday is the same week as braylon’s!) ~ ‘jhonatan’ will be opening up a gift: spiderman stickers & a card game to go with bray’s hand-written birthday wishes & verse. i am so thankful for this new way to share w/my kiddo how compassion & perspective can change lives.