Thursday, June 11, 2009
I put the key into the lock, took a deep breath ... and twisted it to the right.
The clah-clunk of the releasing mechanism announced that I could enter while the smallest of squeaks emanated from the front door when I pushed it open and stepped inside the foyer.
I was there for one fairly straightforward and simple reason; to make one last walk-through in the house to make sure we hadn't left anything behind before I signed the documents that transferred ownership to the new owners. But, instead....just as quickly as I entered the foyer, grief came tumbling all around me and memories streamed through my mind's eye and I was drenched in sobbing breaths and fast, salty tears that were a torrent down my cheeks.
I stepped onto the carpeted stairs and moved one slow, heavy foot up the steps in front of the other until I got to our bedroom and stopped. I stood in the center of the room, admiring the calming celery green color that Mr. Smart Guy had picked for the wall paint, and I listened.
I heard us talking about and praying for our boys over the years. I heard us maturing and figuring out how to love each other better. I heard the last conversation we had in this room finalizing the Coastal Craziness plan and how we knew it would be hard but we knew it was the right choice.
But, as I stood there, I don't think either one of us knew the depths of difficulty and the emotional toll it would take on us. I closed the doors quietly shut on the room and turned down the hallway.
I went to the laundry room, still able to smell the fresh linen scent and I watched.
I watched Army Guy, in for the weekend from Virginia Tech, grab his clothes off the clothes rack and head off to put them away. I saw Dan the Man open the dryer in search of his then-favorite shirt at the time to see if it was clean yet so he could wear it. I heard Theatre Dude yelling from the laundry room to see if I had washed and/or dried all of his guitar picks that might have been in his jeans pocket when I did laundry 'cause he couldn't find any of his picks. And, I could see each of our puppies on their first day with us and how we lovingly set up their crated homes in the laundry room.
I stepped outside of the laundry room and stood on the landing and just looked at all of the open bedroom doors and both of the stairways that went downstairs. None of the rooms were ever just one boys room. The rooms have always been interchangeable and have morphed into whatever our family needs were at the time.
And, I saw them become ...
bedrooms, offices, music rooms, guest rooms, reading rooms, foster guy rooms, Katrina family rooms and ... anyone who needed a safe place to stay for the night away from the chaos of their life kinda rooms.
And, I could feel my heart swell with love for each person that has been in our home. I pray that their memories of staying here have made a small but lasting difference in their life.
I began to descend the steps into the living room that opened up with the kitchen. I could already see the many ...
birthday bashes, cancer-free celebrations, chick nights at the house, Prom pictures, Superbowl parties, Smart Guy and his friends discussing their conspiracy theories, the movies we've watched, Homecoming nights, and, most importantly and most heartwarming, the conversations we've had. The talks of politics and current events and shopping finds and new recipes and cool new bands and rock concerts and heartbreaks and conflict and careers and purity and freedom and boundaries and love and God.
Lastly, I stood in the foyer. I thought about how many times in the past years I had stood in that very spot saying hello or goodbye to people I love. And, even though I was still sobbing, a smile began to emerge on on my face.
My family has lived a lot of life within these walls.
I put the key into the lock, took a deep breath ... and twisted it to the left.
The clah-clunk of the locking mechanism announced that the door was indeed locked and I was no longer permitted to enter.
And, now it's their house.
They don't know it but I prayed for them while I walked into each room of the house. I asked God that he would bless their family with the fullness of love and joy that we have found while we lived here. I asked that their pantry would always be full and they would not be hungry beyond their means. I prayed that their children would find friends in the neighborhood and that they would love going to school and learning. I prayed for the marriage ... that it would only get better in the years that they call this house their home.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I saw him from a distance with a small cardboard sign in his hand even though I couldn't make out what he had written on it. He reminded me of that man I saw in San Francisco a few months ago. This man, though, stood facing the cars that were coming in the opposite direction of where I was waiting at a stoplight. I watched him hold the sign up gingerly and wait patiently. And, I thought...
- He looks pretty clean and well kept for a street beggar.
- His shoes were in fairly decent shape which is odd.
- His clothing wasn't ripped nor earth stained, both of which are indicators of a homeless lifestyle.
I thought to myself, "Well, he doesn't look that poor so I guess I won't give him any money." And, then... I remembered what I read yesterday!
"Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld for the Lord is able to make him stand." Romans 14:4
I was embarrassed and humiliated by how quick I was to judge this man, this stranger, as though God needed me to decide if the man was poor enough for my standards to receive my help. Gosh, moments like this one can be so heart leveling and I was leveled! I was reminded that we all need help in one way or another and it is not our place to decide the worthiness of the recipient but to always be ready to love and to give what we can every chance we get.
Well, the light turned green and I pulled up to Starbucks to get my coffee. I thought about giving that man on the corner some money, now that my heart was in the right place, but I didn't have any cash on me at all. Well, lo and behold, I was getting my debit card out of my wallet and peeking out of one of the pockets was the corner of a $20 bill! A miracle really because I had no idea it was there. So, I decided to pay for my coffee with the cash and then give the man on the corner the rest of the change.
In order to make my way to the side of the intersection that he was on, I needed to go out of my way and not go directly on the path that would take me to my next destination. To say the least, I was inconvenienced. And, so it goes with giving to others. There should be lots of times when our giving is inconvenient and sacrificial and done with honor towards another. It moves our motives for giving to be in the place it's supposed to be .... in loving our neighbor more than ourselves.
I weaved through the parking lot to get to the corner that the man was standing on and pulled into the lane nearest him. I rolled down my window and waved at him. Thankfully, he saw me and began to make his way towards me. And, I thought ....
- His skin looks so weathered and dried out.
- His walk shows a lopsided gait that favored one side.
- He had been crying and I saw the shame in his eyes.
I put the dollar bills in his hand and he could barely speak as I greeted him with a "good morning". He said softly, "It will be now".
And, at that moment, I was reminded that I'm never too busy or overwhelmed to help someone.
I pray tonight that he finds shelter, food, friendship and that when you see him ... you'll give much more freely to him than I did.