They lost everything in the tornado. Well, not really everything. They still have the clothes they were wearing and their lives. Just about everything else is gone, and it is a heart-breaking situation.
A local organization is scheduled to build them a new home, and I'm praying it will be a safe and lovely home where they will be happy for the rest of their days. There is, however, the small problem of furnishings. It's a big job, and the only way to handle it was to give it to God and wait.
A friend of mine called. She was moving and had a few things she didn't need. Did I know anyone who could use them? Yes, I did! Those things included an older chair and ottoman. Another friend knew a man who did upholstery. I found a coupon for 40% off of one piece of upholstery fabric, and all I needed was one piece, albeit a big one! I chose blue demin. Blue is their favorite color and demin is the mother's favorite clothing. That's not usually the way I pick fabric, but it's the explanation I gave. The truth is that I saw the denim and knew it was right. When the upholsterer came to pick up the chair/ottoman, I explained what we were doing and that there was no rush. We just needed it by some time in July.
He arrived with the chair and ottoman today. (His price was insanely low. He, too, wanted to be a part of the fun!) I still find this hard to believe, but the mother and her son just happened to arrive at the same time, and the upholstery man got to be part of the excitement when they saw the chair, as did the friend who introduced me to him. I whisked her into my office, saying I wanted to show her something, explained that the chair and ottoman were for her new home, and how many people had been a part of the gift.
She was afraid to sit in it, for fear she might get it dirty. Once she did, she settled in for a moment and sat, just rubbing the fabric. That denim chair feels like the most comfortable pair of jeans you've ever worn. She understood the denim perfectly. In a flash, she had her arms around my neck, sobbing her eyes out. There wasn't a dry eye in the room, nor a single Kleenex! The tears finally stopped when I brought out a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom, laughing and saying it was the best I could do.
At eighty-five years old, it is the first "new" piece of furniture she's ever had. Thrilled, astounded, grateful, shocked. There aren't enough words to describe her beautiful response. "No one's ever done anything like this for me," she said.
She's not accustomed to getting help. She wanted to pay something. I laughed and told her that all the people involved had given what they did to Jesus and He had given it to her. She needed to take her thanks up with Him. It was the absolute truth.
It was so much fun! I could not have bought that much fun for any amount of money, and it has left me smiling all day. We've all smiled all day, and that is because it is more blessed to give than to receive. As thrilled as she was, I was way more thrilled, way more blessed. In the end, it seemed like I was the one receiving the gift, and she was the one doing the giving.
I've had great joy in the giving, but I've also been ashamed of how much I take for granted in the midst of all the blessings God has given me. I'm ashamed, too, of how many opportunities to help I have let pass me by. Really, most of us could do more. We could help more, do more, get by with less. If we reused instead of replaced, we could use the money we saved to do something amazing. Something like help someone who is truly in need.
I'm not telling you this story to make you think I'm a great philanthropist or to tout my good deeds. In fact, I fret that telling you will steal my blessing in the giving, and I know LOTS of people who are much more generous than I. The reason I'm writing this is to share the experience in such a way that you, too, will want to find a need and meet it.
Jump in and join the fun! You'll be glad you did!
Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’
(Matthew 25:40 MSG)