Monday, March 31, 2014

On What I'm Learning in 2014

I'm learning a lot in 2014. I used to think I knew everything and that I had my life together and that I wasn't a hot mess. Then 2014 came and God's been showing me stuff that I thought I knew but I really didn't.

Like about how life isn't just for my comfort, and how all this stuff I'm hanging onto could be used to help someone else, and about how to really see people when I pass by. I'm not good at any of this, but I think realizing that is a good first step.

I've already talked about how God doesn't want me to be comfortable here. But He's also been convicting me about the hoarding tendencies I have. I don't keep everything, and I'm really not a hoarder. But lately I've had several eye-opening experiences that have reminded me that I am holding on to stuff that I shouldn't be.

The first thing that happened was out of the blue. I was at a friend's house, and they had just moved and didn't really have all their furniture in yet. As she was showing me around she mentioned that their dryer had just blown up and their vacuum cleaner was also broken. It didn't even hit me until about five minutes later that her vacuum was broken, and I had a perfectly brand new one sitting in my closet at home that I had been trying to get rid of. Mom got it for me at Christmas several years ago, and it was an awesome vacuum cleaner, but it didn't really work well for hardwood floors because there was no way to turn off the brush. It just spun the dirt around the hardwoods. Unfortunately, we don't have a stitch of carpet in our house, so it wasn't really working for us. We got another vacuum that we use on the hardwoods, which left that perfectly good vacuum just sitting in our closet because I didn't have anyone to give it to and I didn't want to just throw it away. So, I loaded up that vacuum and dropped it off at my friend's house a couple of days later.

The second thing happened just last week. I was visiting Jill, another friend of mine who had just had surgery (the same surgery I had twice in 2012) and we were talking about all the things God's been doing in our lives. She is such an encouragement to me because of her openness and willingness to talk about how God is moving in her life. Anyway, lately she has been feeling like God's been telling her to feed the hungry. This led her to a young woman named L who was standing with a sign on the side of the road. Jill pulled up (because she is a brave little spitball) and said to L, "Hey girlfriend, what are your immediate needs right now?"

{Can I just press pause on the story and tell you how that one little sentence has rocked my WORLD lately?! How about that for obedience, and for bravery, and for complete honesty? Just pull up to a stranger and ask them what their immediate needs are and then figure out if there are any needs they have that you can meet. Woah. I admire Jill because that is so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn't have ever in a million years dreamed it could be that easy. But I'm seeing how easy it really is! Keep reading and you will see why.}

So Jill asked what her needs were, and L unzips her coat and tells Jill, "Well, I'm pregnant (she was due in 3 weeks!) and I really could use a car seat to bring the baby home in". This story is Jill's to tell so I won't give you all the details, but Faithful God had already provided Jill with an amount of unexpected money that she was saving to use to bless someone. So Jill gives L her phone number, goes home and gets the money, and comes back and takes L shopping so she can get the exact car seat that she needed. While they were shopping, they got to know each other a little better, and L revealed that they were living from hotel to hotel because her husband lost his job and no one would hire a woman who was 9 months pregnant. They didn't have family around, and she didn't have many friends because they had to move to a new city where hotels were cheaper.

So my amazing friend Jill, prompted by Faithful God, decided she was going to throw L a baby shower.

Yeppers. You read that right. She was telling me all this as she was recovering from surgery, and my mind started going about 100mph. Turns out, L is having a baby girl. She needed a crib/bassinett/pack and play, baby clothes, and all the stuff that you need to bring home a baby. When Jill got to this part of the story I about jumped off the couch. See, Jill and I were new friends, so she didn't know that we were foster parents. She didn't know that I just "happened" to have a Rock and Play Sleeper, a baby bathtub, tons of newborn clothes, some extra diapers and wipes, and pretty much all the stuff that goes with having a baby.


On the way home, I had a small wrestling session with God. When Jill mentioned that L needed somewhere for the baby to sleep, I thought immediately of the Rock 'N Play Sleeper that we bought when we had Hope. I mentioned it last year in a post, but basically it's this thing babies can sleep in where they are a little elevated and it helps them sleep way better (or at least it did for Hope) than they sleep in a bassinet. I've had that thing sitting in the top of the closet in the foster care bedroom for over a year now. Every time I walked in there and saw it I would get a little sad. It's a silly thing to be sad about but we bought it the night before Hope left our home, so she only got to sleep in it one time. I kept it thinking how great it would be when we had kids that I already had one. I felt like God was asking me to give it up, and to be honest I didn't want to. Somehow it had become a symbol of what we had in Hope and what we lost when she left, as well as a reminder of how much I wanted a baby of my own to put in it one day. God had to remind me that 1.) it was just "stuff" and 2.) that if I can trust Him to take care of me then I will never be disappointed.
Long story short, the Rock N Play came with me to the baby shower. I'm still not 100% sure why that particular item was so important for me to take. Maybe L will get to use it every night. Maybe it was more for me than for her, to see how much I was willing to trust and obey. I might never know.

But, I do know that it met an immediate need that L had. It didn't cost me much to let it go. And I know that it was the one item at the shower that she kept coming back to and admiring and talking about. I think it blessed her. But i wasn't prepared for how much it blessed me to be a part of that. There were just six of us there, but L left with so much stuff for the baby we didn't think it was all going to fit in her van! We actually had to rearrange stuff several times to get it all packed in. It was more than that though. I got a glimpse of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

There's a verse that has been helping me shift my perspective lately. I've been carrying it around and thinking on it a lot (although probably not as much as I should be). It's Proverbs 19:17: "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done".








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