Summer wanderings

It’s Wednesday night. Blog day. So many writing roads I could take. When my sister asked “how did you manage the heat?” I told her the story of how we took refuge under our mamosa tree and then somehow ended up wandering to the nearby park where Elaina jumped in the wading pool clothes and all. She refused my offer to go there earlier in her swim suit. It’s way more fun this way. She picking up her mama’s love for spontaneaity and her daddy’s need for evidence. She had to check the whole house tonight to make sure that I had actually gone for a walk before letting Forest put her to bed. I laughed when Forest told me because he is the one who has to verify my statments with google or some other source. “Why can’t you just believe me?!” I cry. I guess because sometimes, very infrequently, I am wrong. After five years of marriage, I am learning to not take it personally…. most of the time.

Okay, on to another topic…. do you know those weird times where everything around you seems to be giving the same message? This week it has been helping the poor. A friend gave us some old Adventures in Odyssey tapes. Yes, cassette tapes. The ones that you rewind and flip. I spent my whole childhood riveted by the stories told in the fictional town of Odyssey. There is something about audio dramas that get stuck in my heart more than movies. I think because they require my imagination to fill in the blanks.

The story I listened to yesterday was about this old man who prayed every night that we would see God. One night in a dream he heard a voice say, “look out your window tomorrow and you will see me.” The next day he brushed it off as silliness but he couldn’t avoid looking out the window. “What if it is true?” He wondered. He would forever regret missing such an opportunity.

As the day went by he didn’t see God. He saw a neighbour shoveling snow who needed some food, he saw a woman and a baby who needed comfort and money, finally he saw an old lady and a boy who needed a kind mediator to break up their argument. During his prayer that night he told God how silly it was to believe a dream and he shouldn’t have expected to see him. As he slpet though he heard the same voice say “You did see me. In the people that you helped.” Without realizing it, his dream had been fulfilled and generosity took on a whole new meaning.

I also heard from the prophet Isaiah how God longed to see his people caring for the poor instead of exploiting and abusing them. I have always had a hard time reading the prophetic books in the bible. God seems very angry and vengeful but this week I saw it in a different light. When Babylon defeated Israel, fulfilling Isaiah’s words, they took away the rich and left only the very poor in their homes to take care of the land. The poor who were so severly mistreated and robbed by their own countrymen found justice.

In the few quiet moments that I have in the day, usually in the washroom lol, I am reading a book by Ellen Vaughn called Radical Gratitude. Today’s chapter was called “Go!” She told stories of dancing with prison inmates in Peru and a former witch doctor in India as well as stories of friends who created a hospital in Russia and others who went across the street to help their neighbour’s in need. Neighbours who had plenty of money but no one who cared about them.

Finally, today I pulled down the common book of prayer, which I rarely read, and this is what it said for August 4 and it had this quote by Mother Teresa:

“God has identified himself with the hungry, the sick, the naked, the homeless; hunger, not only for bread, but for love, for care, to be somebody to someone; nakedness, not of clothing only, but nakedness of that compassion that very few people give to the unknown; homelessness, not only for a shelter made of stone, but that homelessness that comes from having no one to call your own.”

So now I am wondering what should I do? My mind usually goes to the extreme. Volunteer somewhere? Travel to another country? Not possible right now for several reasons.

I think really the call is to have “restless eyes” as my pastor says. Who needs a friend or a smile at the playground? Who around me looks very rich but inside is poor? How can I use my money to help those who need it? I love dramatic stories and before I got married I intended to be a single missionary out in the wild somewhere. Didn’t quite turn out according to my plans. I mentioned in my last post about monotony in life. I think especially when it is not matching up with all of my dreams. And exciting tv shows don’t include taking whiny toddlers to the bathroom and staring at a phone on a quiet day hoping for messages.

This week the story of serving has poked through my bubble of discontentedness. Ellen Vaughn writes, “… in the first world, television and magazines profile the lifestyles of the super rich, as if they are the standard by which we should all assess our own material existence. Accordingly, many average Americans [and Canadians] – even though they enjoy a lifestyle better than 99.4 percent of all the human beings who have ever lived-strain for more” (p. 215). I could just feel guilty about that or I could be mobilized.

When I think about all of the ways that God can lead me into love, life is never boring. Or at least it doesn’t have to be.

It is usually only my husband who sees this but I can stir up a pretty good storm of complaning when I focus too internally and get stuck in trying to build my own kingdom. Or trying to be a head when maybe I am called to be a hand.

There are intentional choices that I can make to be generous, especially with finances, but maybe helping others will also be like wandering with Elaina to the park and jumping into the pool without a swimsuit. Not striving or trying to be in control but embracing where I am and who I am with.

It is exciting to think about what will happen…

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