Last week, a man came into my office. He donated a small amount of cash straight from his pocket. I recognized him; he'd donated before when there was a huge outpouring to Haiti. He shared that he was now unemployed, but that when he was at his lowest, our center had helped him and he felt that he needed to give something to others who needed it more than he.
It stayed with me all day, this man who gave, not from his abundance, but from his own need. I even referenced him in an article I wrote a few days after that.
On Tuesday, he came into the center again, asking for me, and was directed to me. He wanted to know if I had a minute for him. He said, "I want to plant a seed." Again, he reached into his pocket, this time pulling out a $100 bill. As he lowered it to my desk, he said, "My God supplies all my needs according to His riches." This is a verse from Philippians and he said it more simply and earnestly than I'd ever heard it before, that it nearly broke me.
He asked if I'd pray with him and he placed his hands on the bill. I put mine there, too, and he prayed aloud one sentence...no running words or prettiness to flower-up the prayer, just "Lord, please use this to bless someone today." I can't remember if he even said, "Amen." I do remember that he looked up into my eyes, and said, "I don't know...maybe a single mom who doesn't have anything for her kids. I just ask that it all goes to one person to encourage them."
He hugged me...or I hugged him...and then he left. I can't believe I didn't ask after his job, or how he was doing. He never said. For all I know, he's still unemployed. I guess that's between him and the Lord. I know only that I am forever touched by this humblest of acts. I shared his details with all the staff and volunteers, as I'm sharing it with you now.
Before I continue, for those of you who do not know me, I come from a perspective of faith. That will surely color my words, and I make no apologies there. This is unabashedly a story of how I see God's hand in our world today, receiving the genuine prayers and sacrifices of people to multiply the love until we cannot but see Him.
An hour later, I took a call from a church. The woman on the phone told me of a lady with 4 children who was just out of a domestic violence situation. She was too late for the Christmas sign ups, and she had nothing for her kids. I knew. So, I replied, "I believe I have her hundred dollars on my desk now." I told her the story, then added that our policy doesn't allow us to give cash to people, so I'd convert it to a gift card that she could use to shop. We made arrangements for the lady to visit and then we hung up.
Wait, God's not done. The same lady called back about ten minutes later. She said, "you know, I really feel like I need to add to it. Can you make the card for $200 and I'll bring you the money?" oh yes, I sure can.
When the lady called as instructed, we made an appointment for her to visit. I asked if we could also help her with groceries. A teary and small voice said, "if you could, that would be wonderful." Gratitude. One of the most beautiful responses in all the world.
She came in and I briefed the volunteer on all of this, stressing that she was to be clear to the lady that this is not usual, that her thanks are not ours, but for God, who made this special provision for her before we even met her.
Wait, God's not finished,
My volunteer had such an odd expression, looking at me, and she said, "you aren't going to believe this." she slipped a ziplock Baggie from her pocket, "my neighbor slipped this under my door with a note asking if I was going to the center today and could I be sure someone who needs it gets it?" It was a $25 gift card to a grocery store. Our lady received that as well.
I have cried for two days. The blessing is mine, the staff's, the volunteers, the man who gave, the neighbor's the lady's the woman from the church's, the children, and hopefully, now yours as well. I know that many people believe prayer is meaningless, but I am not one of them. We get donations all the time, and we do great good with each one. When we remember to look beyond ourselves, and surrender our acts to that which is greater than ourselves, this is what happens,
This place, too, our little VR...I have story after story of people giving with simple grace. Once a member and her kids crocheted 100 hats and sent them to us in time for Winter when people were living under a bridge here. A member took his kids shopping and mailed us warm sweat suits. A member donated thousands of dollars from his business. Another made sure our web site was good, and sent us auction gifts, and gave our cookbook out as employee Christmas gifts. A member organized an auction/giving opportunity and thousands were collected. A member created graphics for our publications. Many members sent periodic small donations, even from their own need. A member and her sister sent a gift card they were going to shop with, stating, "we know you'll do more good with it."
Sacrifices great and small. I am SO privileged to get to witness the great capacity of human love for fellow mankind. It's my job not just to distribute it to those in physical need, but back out to you. Know that you make a difference, a bite of food in hunger isn't just that to a hungry person. It is love, hope, and encouragement. Warm clothes are a hug and a grace.
You make a difference. You already have. It matters so much. Thank you for your hearts. Keep them cared for. Please never neglect your heart, buying into what the world would tell you to the contrary. It isn't government or luck that changes the world, it's the simplest act, prayed for, and surrendered quietly.
Merry Christmas, and because even my atheist friends know that I mean this with sincerity and love, and so they can sweetly receive it from me, God bless you and your families and friends.
Words fail me right now, just know that you are as a cog in this great machine that we call faith and you won't go unnoticed.
G-d bless and have a wonderful Xmas.
You are such a wonderful woman, and God works wonders through you. I pray He continues to do so, not just for the people you help, but for you and Barry as well.
I caught a glance of your angle, knowing you was online. By the time I got sat down to write, you had logged off. :(
While I don't 'see' you often, you and your family stay in my prayers. When I think of the good in life, of those that make a difference for others you always come first on that list.
Blessing to you and your family this holiday and always.
This moved me to tears, the happy kind. What you and your charity do for others in no small thing, and the good people that have helped with their donations as well. Merry Christmas :)
Well said, Joli.
The world is full of many good people, yet so often we only hear about the bad ones.
You are one of the great ones. The whole world should know of the wonderful things you do that inspire people to be their best.
Merry Christmas, from your heathen friend. :)
Your heart sings in your words, Jo. Reading this, I feel your love in a way I have come to miss. It's this that makes you the treasure you are.
Merry Christmas, and may you touch the spirit that moves us.
My favorite is sketch paper, or a maybe handmade paper. The kind made from really pulpy bits. I love just running my fingers across a page and experiencing that quiet moment of texture. It makes me want to write...really write something worthy of paper.
A few weeks ago, Stabb and I went to the Ren Fest and a vendor there binds his own paper in leather covers. I can look at them for hours, wishing I owned each one. My wonderful husband reminds me that for our first anniversary, the Paper Anniversary, he gave me such a journal.
He's right. It's a beautiful thing, three classical women, muses I suppose, embossed into the brown leather cover. The paper is that wonderful ripply-edged sort with a fibrous feel that draws my fingertips down its surface like magnets singing love songs to paperclips. But I can't write in it. He doesn't understand. But it would feel like vandalism.
Instead, I dream of the words that I might one day ink into its pages. When would I know that, yes, finally, I had crafted words which could be pressed into the precious leaves?
And I wonder, would some person in a distant day run his fingers along the page and sigh as I have over the clean sheets, my friends, taunting me softly from the second shelf of my favorite daydream?
I can so relate to this. Like yourself, I love the feel and look of beautiful pristine journals with interesting paper and/or artful bindings. I have several that sit empty on my bookshelves. But as I have grown older it occurs to me that these lovely books will have much greater value in my absence if I have actually make use of them. If I can convince myself that whatever I might express (drawing or writing) is worthy of the book itself, the book begins to take on a new purpose. Consider this: Would you prefer to have a beautiful set of unused stationery sitting in your desk drawer or would you prefer to have hand written letters to be saved and treasured which were penned by someone you loved? Use those journals dear lady. You will not diminish their beauty. Your expression will make them into a lasting piece of art that only You can create.
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