I get email updates and prayer requests from my church regularly. This is something that's important to me because on a couple of occasions I have requested prayer for one reason or another myself. God wants us to pray. And He listens.
Earlier in the week I had received an email about a local family whose house burnt down. It came from a friend from Church, PJ, who headed this donation drive. God bless her and what a blessing she has been. They lost everything including their car in the driveway and their beloved family pets. It especially hits home for me because they too have three children. They have 2 girls ages 8 and 4 and a boy age 5. I cannot fathom this happening to my family. I cannot imagine the years of memories packed away in photos, in family heirlooms passed from generation to generation, in every room, with every turn.....gone. Gone. No bed to sleep in. No toys to play with. No way to cook a meal. All of those things you've worked a lifetime to get...gone. Gone.
He struggled to get his dogs out, the dad, but wasn't successful. If you're a pet owner, you know that your pets are a part of your family. When you lose them it's like losing a loved one. Added to a family's normal love for their pets, these people work at the SPCA and are passionate about animals.
Living in a one room tiny hotel, a family struggles to be humble and accept donations from strangers, feeling like beggars. I can see the shock in mom's eyes as she jokes about not having to take care of her family's recyclables. And I watch the joy in the children's eyes as I hand them my children's old toys, backpacks, clothes. It matters not that they've been used and abused by children before them. We move out of the way as they scoot back and forth in front of their makeshift home. A small distraction from the horrible tragedy that they grapple with.
I feel God calling me to help this family in every way I possibly can. An overwhelming calling. I've gathered old books, a couple of backpacks, loads of food, toiletries and laundry items, scooters, and my boys even gave away their old Nintendo game cube and a few games. I was very proud of them. I cleared out my closed of the clothes I no longer fit in or needed. I also cleaned out my middle son's closet for their boy. And I baked them a batch of cupcakes. It's the least I can do for a family who has nothing. I will continue my efforts as I think people tend to step up in the beginning and slowly forget what an awful thing they've been through.
I'm not writing about what I've done for them to look for a so-called pat on the back, I'm writing about it because I want to show you how God is working and about paying it forward. As I stood in the parking lot in front of their room, I got teary eyed as I assured the family that even though it's hard for them to accept these gifts, we wouldn't be doing it or offering if we didn't want to help. I gave them my phone number and told them to please call me if there was anything at all that they needed...a meal, a ride, anything. And I meant it. Their misfortune ends up being a blessing to those of us who feel the calling to help.
I have been blessed in my life by different people at different times. Weather it was a meal when I didn't have money to buy groceries, a vacation when we couldn't afford it, school clothes and supplies for my kids. PJ is also my dog/house sitter and this summer offered to come for payment of a couple of batches of cookies so we could go away. There wouldn't have been a vacation if not for her generosity. The past two years I have been the recipient of a scholarship for a women's retreat in Pennsylvania because I didn't have the money to pay for it. What a blessing the Women's Worship Weekend has been for me! There have been so many times over the past year that people have blessed my life at the perfect time and now it's my turn to pay it forward. The love of Jesus working through my life to theirs. Praise God!
Last night PJ popped up on Facebook to chat with me and the phrase that sticks in my head from her is "loving the love flowing!". Agreed, PJ.
If you've been blessed....pay it forward!