God’s Provision and a Pendleton Blanket

pendleton-blanketIt was a cool, fall-like day and I had the nagging itch to go for a run.  It was a weekend, so I decided to jog the trail on the opposite side of the river….a typical weekend thing that I like to do.  It’s pretty scenic and quiet…a good time to reflect on life and hang out with God.  So I laced up and hit the road.

As I was jogging down the path, breathing in the crisp air, my eyes and heart were drawn to a gal walking towards me.  She was pushing a grocery cart full of cans, clothes, food….basically her whole life stuffed in a basket being pushed with feeble, weather-worn hands.  As I passed her, I smiled and said hello, but I don’t think she noticed me….she was probably used to folks turning the other way or becoming conveniently preoccupied with their phones or whatever.

I continued down the path towards the end, where I usually turn around and head back the way I came.  My steps had a nice rhythm going and my body was warm, my blood pumping pretty good.  Through the rush of exercise came a gentle whisper in my soul….this whisper basically told me that if I happen to see the gal on my route back, that I need to stop and talk to her.  It was like one of those butterflies in the stomach feelings.  Almost like my whole being was on alert with the anticipation of seeing her, wondering what God had planned.

Guess what?!  As I followed the bend of the path, there she was, patiently pushing her cart, heading to who knows where.  So I listened to the whisper, or the Holy Spirit as I like to call Him and I stopped to talk.  I said something like “for some reason, I feel like I need to talk to you.  You mind if I tag along for a bit?”  She didn’t seem to mind at all, so I just walked with her for a bit.  I found out that her name was Karen and we talked about her life, faith and what it was like to be homeless, surviving off of the land and trash cans and shelters and hand outs and whatever she could get her hands on.  She gave me some tips on what trees were best to sleep under and other interesting stuff.  She was pretty street smart and really nice.

I didn’t have much to give her since I was out running and all.  The only thing that I had was the sweatshirt that I was wearing, so I gave it to her.  She seemed happy with it, but I wasn’t….I wanted to give her more.  So, after we parted ways, I sprinted back to my house (about 1 mile away) hoping that I could grab some food and clothes really fast and meet her at the end of the path in time.  So when I got home, I made an announcement to my wife and 2 boys that we were to quickly grab a bunch of food, some clothes, blankets, toiletries and whatever else was available so we could complete the mission of finding Karen.  After everything was gathered, we hopped in the truck and drove back to the river, where the path ended….guess what?!  We found her!

We basically just pulled up next to her and I reminded her of who I was and that my family wanted to give her a few more things.  We all participated in loading up her grocery cart with items that seemed pretty basic to us, but probably were necessities for her.  Along with the stuff that we brought from our house, I also noticed a couple of blankets in the back of our truck, so I gave those to her as well.  She seemed pleased, we said our goodbyes and that was it.  It was great.

Well, later I found out that one of the blankets that I gave her on impulse was a nice Pendleton blanket given to us as a wedding gift.  OOPS!!!  My wife wasn’t mad or anything, just bummed that I chose that blanket to give away and I can understand that.  My bad.

Here’s the cool part of this whole story….a couple of weeks ago, a family friend dropped by the house to deliver some Christmas gifts.  Really nice of her.  Guess what one of the gifts was?!  A BRAND NEW PENDLETON BLANKET!  My wife had told her this story in passing a while ago and our friend felt led to replace the blanket that we gave away.  Isn’t that awesome?!

I was so blessed not only by our friend’s generosity, but that God used her to remind me of His provision.  That blanket meant a lot to my wife and He replaced it.  What a practical, yet powerful thing.

God’s pretty creative and He never ceases to amaze me.  I had no idea that this story would blossom from a simple run on a fall day.  I hope Karen got some good use out of the stuff we gave her.  One thing’s for sure; we both scored some new blankets out of the deal!  Wink wink.

 

God Bless,

Paul

 

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Preparing for the Unavoidable

WillMy wife and I just met with a lawyer today to get a will made.  I have to admit, it’s kind of weird to think about.  You know, the whole “I’m gonna die someday, so let’s prepare” thing.  It really does reinforce the reality that life is short and that death is inevitable.

It’s strange to think of my boys living without me here.  That after I’m gone, all of my stuff will get divided.  That’s assuming that life will go as “planned”, without any tragedies or surprises along the way.

So, as I write this morbid post, there is the understanding that death is not a popular topic.  Some people avoid it like the plague.  On the other side of the coin, there are those who have a faith that welcomes death without fear.

Where do you stand?  Does the thought of not existing rattle your bones?  Does the uncertainty of “what’s next” cause fear and panic?  Are you looking for the “back” button so you don’t have to read the rest of this post?  For those of you who settle in this camp, I understand.

This world is full of uncertainty.  We think we have control, but we really don’t, at least not permanently.  The thought of losing that control is scary.  In order to tame the fear, we’re given self-help books to cope with what we are feeling.  We’re given drugs and medication.  We’re given advice on how we can “be our better selves.”  While some of these things are ok, they aren’t the solution to the fear, only a band-aid.  Death is still a reality, no matter what efforts we put forth.

There are also folks that face death with hope and courage.  They have faith that greater things await on the “other side.”  There are many different religions that believe very different things.

I happen to believe in Jesus Christ.  I believe that the Bible is the storybook of His life and a guide for ours.  I guess I can be tagged as a “Christian”, but I prefer the tag of “in a relationship” instead.  The relationship is not based on anything that I do, but on what Jesus has already done….contrary to the box that religion likes to place people in.  My relationship is fluid, constantly changing and full of grace.

Through my faith, I trust that a place called Heaven awaits.  I obviously have no idea what it’s like 1st hand, but I hear it’s pretty cool…..no sickness, no pain, no guilt or shame, no jealousy or envy, no death, only life, only peace, only joy….sounds pretty good to me.

The cool thing is that this hope is available to everyone…..without religion, without rules, without guilt or shame…..only belief in Jesus…who He was, what He did, and what He provides for those who love Him.  We don’t have to be afraid.

Or we can choose to believe in nothing.  It’s a choice that we have the freedom to make.

As I plan ahead, it’s not out of fear.  It’s out of the need to provide for my boys, that’s all.  I love my life here, but I know my next life will be awesome, far beyond any stretch of the imagination.

God Bless,

Paul