“He was targeting blonde sorority girls” was what I heard when I turned on my radio on Saturday morning May 24. I listened intently to the rest of the news cast. “A shooting at the University of California Santa Barbara last night….” that was all I heard my head started spinning as I fumbled for my cell phone. I was in the car going to a friend’s garage sale. My cousin attends UCSB and she is a sweet, pretty blonde sorority girl. She is a serious student with an enormous sense of humor and love for everyone. Calling her mom I could not dial my phone fast enough “hello” she said. All I said was her daughter’s name and she said “she’s OK”. Relief flooded me as my heart almost beat out of my chest.
Family is family is….even though we are not close in proximity all of the time we are always close in heart and love. Through the years we have celebrated birthdays, Christmas, gradations, weddings, weekend barbeques, beach camping trips, all of the things families do. There is history. The heart strings run deep and strong. Nothing draws you to a more polarizing place than thinking one of your precious family members is in trouble. It is kind of like when Christopher Reeve sees the penny in the movie A Moment In Time. He is hurled back from his comfortable place of existence with the love of his life in the past to the present where he really belonged.
People go along living their daily lives, getting up having their coffee, brushing their teeth, picking out their clothing for the day, writing their “to do” lists, walking their dogs, going to garage sales all the while thinking and knowing everyone they love is OK then you turn on the radio. “Two of the students killed were in front of a sorority” is what I heard. My heart breaks for those who were killed and for their families. That poor father who came on the news and spoke of his son Christopher. I have prayed for him a lot. Texting with my cousin later she said she was going to be OK. I believe her. I am hoping that this will not define her college years. She says that they are strong and staying strong #staystrongIV.
That same day we went to a park at the bay to a family birthday party. Most of the family was there celebrating the birth of a one year old! It was glorious. The talk was of our cousin and how we all wanted to just hug her right then and let her know we loved her. Several of us had contacted her and she assured us she was OK. I know God is in control of all of this. There is evil in the world and will continue to be until He comes for His church. As I was walking back to the car right by the back tire I found a penny “well look at this” I said to my husband. I had not noticed it as we had gotten out of the car 4 hours earlier. In God I Trust for my family, my friends, for humanity.
I must have that face that makes people just want to share their life story. I went to a neighborhood garage sale today. Scored big time as I channeled my “inner Jodi Hattox”, a dear little lady at my church who says to me every Sunday “you will not believe what I got yesterday for a quarter”! I got an entire huge tub of play camping toys for a $1 tub included. The young lady sitting at the keyboard in her driveway said “just want to get rid of it”. Inside the tub was a penny. I pondered keeping it since I actually purchased it for $1 (making it truly only .99) but I gave it to her. So I am blogging about it - the penny I mean. Since my team teacher at school and I wanted to do an end of the year indoor camping experience with our kids this was perfect!
Now back to the comment about my face. After the yard sale adventure (and believe me it was!) I went to get my car washed. It had weeks and months of grit and dirt caked on it. Perhaps the dirt was holding the car together I was not sure. The sign said “FREE VACUUM WITH CAR WASH” and that was for me. In the floor of my car were old red jelly beans, pieces of little gravel and sandy stuff, Starbucks straw papers and something looking like a dried caterpillar. Going in I saw a very stern looking lady behind the cash register. I told her I came to this station because of the Free sign. Anything free was good enough for me. She said “not only do you get free vacuum but you also get .20 cheaper on your gas. People just don’t know that.” I said I needed to fill my tank and she said she would help me get it all figured out. The encounter I was about to have was definitely designed by God. This precious lady said “so glad to feel better today”. “Did you have the flu?” I replied. “Oh no, I wish! I have the worst periods” (men you can stop reading now - ladies you will so sympathize). “I have this burning all over (as she was doing a circling motion around her abdomen).” “Do you have endometriosis?” I asked. “No I have fibroids. I want to have a baby but I am 46. I don’t want to give up. The 800 motrin doesn’t even help me at all. The doctors say they can’t do anything else. My husband and I we have the money and are ready. It will be in God’s time.” “Don’t give up I will pray for you. What is your name?” I inquired. She told me her name. “Are you a Christian?” was my next question. “I am catholic I believe in Jesus Christ.” “Sweet sister you can count on me to pray for you. I will be checking on you don’t ever give up”. Now I ask you - who tells a random stranger a story like that? I mean it really? Would you tell some lady off the street about your female issues? God has a way of putting people in our lives if we just open up to the opportunity and LISTEN to them.
On Sunday my pastor said “we can close our garage doors and build our fences, close the front door and watch our TV or we can get involved in people’s lives - relationships are messy. Love is an action verb it is not just a feeling.” Amen to that brother. As I was getting ready for my free vacuum (oh, she also said if the 4 tokens weren’t enough just let her know she would give me more - don’t think she saw the jelly beans but who knows?) I found a penny in the floorboard. I picked it up and held it close. I do trust in God. He provided that “appointment” for me today with that precious lady. I will go back and check on her to see how she is doing but I won’t wait until my car looks like it has been in a Monster Truck Mud Rally!
Good Morning Beloved
A “revisit” blog from 2014. Still pertinent today as many in my sphere of life are trying to find a “new normal.
So many I know right now are adjusting to a “new normal”. It seems I have been bombarded lately with phone calls concerning life changing events in so may lives of the people I love dearly. My nieces lost their precious Grammy, my brother’s wife walked out on him which, in turn, made his daughter - another niece - grieve for her dad, my 9 year old granddaughter’s beloved teacher passed away, a close friend’s parents are leaving her life long home and moving to a senior complex and those are the tip of the ice berg. Several more phone calls along the lines of blow ups at Christian work places, people not keeping their word, jobs lost, families torn apart. One day I said to the Lord “there is just too much to pray about!” not to mention my own personal day to day “stuff”. As I was texting with one of my nieces she mentioned that it was very tough getting used to this “new normal”. I told her that it really is a hard walk but that God is carrying her right now and will put her down when she can walk on her own. He will never let her go but He will be there walking by her side and when she needs to be picked up again, He will. I told her to give Jesus her broken heart. He will hold it in His hands and take good care to heal it while she is grieving. She can trust Him with that broken heart. All of the above I have prayed with, loved, laid awake at night thinking about, cried over, mindlessly eaten too many potato chips while thinking about - you name it. These are life changing events that you don’t get over in a day. You can’t say “suck it up and move on”. It’s not like having a friend “un-friend” you on Facebook. This is real hard rubber meets the road kind of grief. Three different times in the last couple of weeks people I know have messaged me about finding pennies, how they thought of me and what it meant to them. It is interesting. When I started this penny collecting journey in 2004 I never dreamed it would spread out to people I know and love finding them for themselves and carrying it forward. One was found on a university campus, one in a workplace classroom, one while walking down the street. My boss left one on my desk. It is a good thing and a noble thing to Trust In God. I know He has all of these heart breaks and mind and body numbing issues in His hands. Today at Target I found a penny. 1986 it said on the bottom rim. IN GOD WE TRUST it read. Mr. Lincoln looking noble in his profile. I knew it was time to start writing again about the glory of God. When the people of Israel were in battle against Amalek at Rephidim Moses stood at the top of the hill with the staff of God raised above his head. While Moses’ staff stayed in the air the Israelites prevailed but when Moses would drop his arms the Amalekites prevailed. How long can you hold a large stick in the air? His brother Aaron and is friend Hur took a stone and put it under Moses so he could sit down and then they each took an arm and held it up so that the Israelites could fight the battle and win! Sometimes we feel like Moses but more times we are Aaron and Hur to someone who needs us to just hold up their arms (with our prayers and love) while they battle. As believers we “fight” on our knees in prayer. This past few weeks the Lord has chosen me to be Aaron and Hur to so many. What an honor to be in that position. The “new normal” is a large deal in so many lives. And He walks with me and He talks with me…….