Today, we are back to our series. And I bring you another dear cyber-friend, JoAnne Bennett. If you get a chance, please visit her site Stories by JoAnne Bennett.
This time, we are on verse 16a of Romans 12, “Be of the same mind toward one another.” (NKJV)
Here’s JoAnne’s post…
Sounding a bit put off by my simple request for used children’s clothes, my friend asked, “How do you know this mother is for real? You must be careful,” she scolded me as if all human beings pleading for help were supposed to be scammers.
I could understand my friend’s legitimate concern for my safety, but to me her response sounded more like a lame, selfish excuse not to give.
Ironically, I had been searching through Craigslist for a family in need of some kid’s clothes that had been passed on to me when the words in a single mother’s post grabbed at my heart, “Fled out of state from a bad situation with my five children and only the clothes on our backs. Please can you help us, my three daughters and one son need clothes to start school soon?”
From my own personal life story, I never doubted for a second that this young woman’s story was true. I couldn’t just walk away from her plight, without trying to lend a helping hand.
From our brief, e-mail correspondence, I learned that this mother’s abuser was facing a hard prison sentence this time for his offenses. Several days after being brutally attacked in front of their children, a daring friend intervened by calling the police and an ambulance for her severe injuries that required hospitalization.
Nightmares, bed wetting, living in constant fear seemed to make her more determined to run as far away as possible. Hurrying to put their belongings in storage, she packed the car with what was most precious—her children and the family dog as they headed off to make a fresh start.
Never did I expect to get such an amazing response from friends, neighbors, word of mouth and ads in newspapers. I picked up items for the family from some of the nicest individuals. We literally arranged to meet on street corners, parking lots, shopping malls and in parks. One of the most unforgettable experiences came from a woman who admirably wouldn’t allow her loving spirit to be broken.
Two of her family members had been murdered by gang violence, not too long before she answered my ad. As she explained, “I wanted to return the gift of kindness that came from even strangers during such a difficult time.”
Thanks to my many new-caring contacts, we replaced the kids’ hot-weather flip flops with school shoes and provided winter coats for each child in their favorite colors. And, although the mother repeatedly stressed that she wasn’t worried about herself, a number of generous individuals dropped off the start of a beautiful wardrobe for her as well.
As I was almost finished washing, packing by sizes, and labeling over 24 boxes of clothes with each of their names, to add a personal touch, my cautious friend asked me if there was anything else this family needed.
Thinking out loud, I answered, “The little boy is going to have much less than all his sisters.” Right away I went back to what I was doing and never gave her question much thought until she arrived with a large shopping bag of brand-new boy’s clothes.
Obviously, she had a change of heart and decided that this family was for real.
When I went to deliver all the boxes to the single mother, I felt like Santa Claus hanging out with my elf, a guy friend, who came along to be sure I was safe. Waiting in a grocery store parking lot, a tall young woman with high-heeled shoes and short-shorts climbed out of a van with a crew of adorable children in tow. Quite honestly, at first glance, I thought oh, my, what did I get myself into. She looked like a hooker.
After a few introductions, I could still see a child’s gentle innocence under the years of abuse in the mother’s scared and battered face. While trying to help her find room for her kids as well as the many boxes, I watched her eyeing a box that had her name on it.
Before leaving, the young woman went back and opened her trunk again. Seeming to search for “her box, she grabbed out a pair of woman’s shoes.
Graciously thanking me again and saying she could never repay me for my kindness, she sat sideways in the driver’s seat of her van as she unfastened her stilettos. “Oh, that feels much better,” she smiled in relief while putting on her new loafers.
Lord, with your help, I accomplished what I set out to do as I remembered the words in her poignant post, “Fled with only the clothes on our backs.”
I believe that we all need angels at one time or another in our lives to help us through the tough stuff.
Sarah, you have such sweet, beautiful kids; what blessings! I was looking at your son and thinking that I was his same age when the police came to my house and took my alcoholic adoptive father away for domestic violence. And tragically, I never saw him again. Even at such a young age, I have never forgotten all the scary details. But I now know when I look into the eyes of a child or a hurting, young mother, what can help to make the painful experiences eventually subside. Take care!
“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Romans 12:16 NKJV