I’ve pinned many things on Pinterest. Most of them just nice ideals, but a few I’ve taken and actually followed through with. The Memory Jar being one of them. The concept is this: Jot down anything you want to remember from that year. Then, at the first of the year, you read back through them and think back on all those things that made you smile.
I set out last year to jot down any notable occasions that I wanted to be sure to remember going into this year. And though I wasn’t real consistent with it and even skipped several months at a time, I still ended up with quite a fair amount. Of little reminders of how I am blessed in this life.
They are really quite varied. Most are rather simple. An encouraging word from someone I may hardly know. An unexpected hug from a CR Kid at church on Sunday morning. A reassuring arm around me from my Dad at the end of a particularly discouraging day. All simple in nature, though special to me nonetheless.
But, there’s one that stands out. One that is not only scribbled on a little piece of paper, but etched on my heart as well.
At the beginning of last year, my Bible Study ladies agreed to do Blessing Bags. Typically, these bags are merely Zip-loc bags filled with travel sized essentials (toothbrush, soap, tissues, deodorant, gum…) for those in the community who are in need. Generally, homeless people. Well, we all took our bags in anticipation of who God would place in our paths to receive them. And I wasn’t sure why, but my neighbor, Mandie kept coming to my mind.
Now, Mandie does not make a very good first impression. I’ll confess, she unnerved me at first. She no sooner moved in next door to me and the fighting commenced. Day and night. The cops were called countless times on account of her and her partner fighting. And I’ll admit, I was not thrilled. At first, it unnerved me. Then, it just irritated me. But, then I started to get to know her better and it just broke my heart for her.
I have no idea what her background is. I think it would be safe to assume that it’s not been an easy road for her. She’s rough. I won’t lie. Yet, she’s always been respectful toward me. Always polite and kind and appreciative. And it wasn’t long before I just saw something in her that nobody is quick to see in her. Something buried deep beneath the tough exterior. Something redeeming.
So, even though I had intended on sharing my Blessing Bag with a random person on the street, I felt it impressed upon my heart to share this one with Mandie. See, she had just told me that I should be glad, because they’d be moving out soon. And honestly, there was a part of me that was relieved. Relieved to know all the fighting would stop. But, I admit, I was a little sad, too. Not only sad for her, because she had no idea where she’d go from there, but sad that she was quick to say that I’d be glad to see her go.
Though she was not homeless, she was getting evicted, with no place to turn. They already had nothing. No furniture. Very little food. And she tried to hold a job down the best she could, without a car. And I couldn’t think of anyone better to bless with my bag than her.
So, I upgraded her bag to a clear plastic cosmetic bag, took out some of the hygienic items, as not to offend, and added some food items and a Wal*Mart gift card. And then I began to pray. “Father, if this is of You and You want this bag to go to Mandie, please make a way before they leave.”
A couple evenings later, there was a knock on my door. It was Mandie. She needed a couple of eggs. I smiled immediately and told her “Sure. I’ll be right back.” Stepped back in, grabbed a couple of eggs along with the Blessing Bag. Then, I stepped back outside, handed her the eggs and said “Here you go. And here’s a little something I wanted to give you before you leave” and handed her the bag.
She wasn’t sure how to respond, so just said “Ohh, okay… thanks!” and headed back for her apartment. And I to mine.
I no sooner got back to my dining room and my knees hit the floor. “Lord, thank You for this opportunity. Thank You for seeing in her what I’ve come to see in her. Thank You for caring for her and thank You for using me to show her Your love. Please use this meager bag to speak Truth into her. To let her know that she is loved.”
I was hardly finished with my prayer when I heard a rustling at my door. I stopped. Looked over. Waited. And then the doorbell rang, followed by footsteps sprinting down the breezeway and a slammed door next door.
Smiling curiously, I headed over to my door. I opened it up to find the sweetest little hand-written Thank-You note on a notebook paper hand-cut-out heart simply saying: “Thank U – Appreciate it – Came Just In time!!”
I never saw her again after that night. They were gone before I knew it. But, this moment in time will stay with me.
Simple words. On a simple piece of paper. But, sometimes those come to mean the most.