Thursday, September 17, 2015

Courage Is Contagious

I was thinking the other day about why I created this blog 3 years ago... not for you, not for me but for sweet Malia to remember and have in writing how much she is loved and cared for.  Also, to have a place where we can store memories, pictures and fun times that our family can look back on.  We've now added Ayla to the mix and our family feels complete.  These are the people - Aaron, Malia and Ayla - that I get to do life with and journey through all God has in store for us. I want to get back to documenting our journey so that now Malia and Ayla can look back together and remember all that God has done for us and through our family.

Yesterday we experienced something that felt life changing.  One of those times that in the moment it feels small and you have no idea how it will turn out.  But as you reflect back you realize the significance and impact that moment had on your own heart.  It just makes me wonder about and pray that it has a lasting impact on our daughters... on their hearts, their motives, on the way they see others.  I hope it cultivates a lifetime of compassion and a desire to give more than they receive. This is a long post but I just don't want to forget the little details and I don't want our girls to forget the impact they can have on other's lives.  

We had two of our close friends in town from Montana, Jenny and Joe with their sweet 1 year old daughter Leah.  Someone had suggested that they visit Voodoo Donuts while they were here.  We ventured downtown, found parking and started walking up to the shop.  As we walked in we encountered several people who appeared to be homeless asking for money.  We quickly walked by pulling our children a little closer, acting somewhat oblivious and honestly pretending we didn't hear all the requests.  This isn't something I am proud of but it is a reality some days.  I've got my eye on the prize (donuts!) and with 3 small children in tow it seemed best to keep walking past and not engage.  

Once we got inside Malia locked eyes with THE donut.   It was the neon pink, bubblegum flavored donut with shimmery sprinkles and a piece of bubblegum covering the center.  She doesn't get treats very often but I was suffering from a small case of mommy guilt.  Last weekend while at the Colossae retreat we let her get an ice cream cone. I ordered her my favorite (mint chocolate chip) and she loved it.  It was melting quickly and she was having a hard time keeping up so every once in awhile she would hand me her cone to eat some of the ice cream.  I would then give it back to her and she would continue eating. I got caught up talking with friends and Malia handed me her cone, it was almost gone.  I held it for a couple minutes and without thinking put the entire thing in my mouth and ate the rest... Ooops. Big mistake, apparently she wasn't done eating.  She was so heartbroken, I ate her ice cream cone and I didn't even ask if I could have it, mommy fail.  So I knew this was my chance to make it right.  So a pink bubblegum shimmery donut it was.  She was so excited to eat it.  

We went outside, sat at the picnic tables and started eating our donuts while the girls played around the table a bit.  We were still surrounded by several people asking others for money, another lady was laying down and rocking uncontrollably on the bench next to us, tourists were getting trapped giving one person money and then being hunted down by others who had seen they were willing to give.  We talked and ate and tried to ignore all that was going on around us.  

I happened to get up to move Ayla's stroller and realized a man was standing right in front of me. He was really dirty, his hands were shaking and he just kept mumbling.  He said, "I am so hungry... I am so hungry.  I just got out of the hospital, I didn't get breakfast and I'm so hungry. I just want a donut, I am just so hungry..."  In that moment I actually heard him, his requests were no longer background noise but a real person who was hungry. I couldn't just ignore him, I knew I needed to do something. I went back to the table and looked in the pink Voodoo box for a donut. And there it was... Malia's prized pink donut. My first instinct was to just grab it and give it to the man but flashbacks of the ice cream debacle raced through my head, I didn't want to break her heart again by taking her food.  I didn't know what to do.  I had up to this point tried to shield Malia from what was going on around us but in an instant I thrust her into the middle of it all.  

I got down to eye level with her and said, "Malia, this man is hungry.  Would you be willing to give him half of your pink donut?" She responded, "why is he hungry, mama?".  I said, "he doesn't have any food to eat sweetheart and he is starving."  She quickly said, "yes, mommy I can share my donut."  She headed straight to the box and I helped her pull her prized pink donut apart.  Without missing a beat, my 2 year old daughter walked right over to this trembling, starving man and looked up into his eyes and held out her pink donut.  He reached out his filthy hands and looked down at Malia with weeping eyes.  He said, "she is a kid, how can I take food from her."  Malia would not be deterred.  She stood there looking at the man and motioning for him to take her donut.  He finally reached out grabbed the donut.  He looked up and made eye contact with me and said, "thank you, God bless your family."  

We made our way back to our car.  The man ended up following us and stopped us again.  He looked right at Malia and said, "thank you for feeding me."  As he walked away we saw Joe and Jenny, our guests from Montana, were stopped by a woman.  She said she had missed the breakfast line at the Union Gospel Mission and was desperate for a cup of coffee.  Without hesitation, Joe said, "I will buy you a cup of coffee" and off they went to the coffee shop together.  

And it struck me - we had all spent a good 30 minutes ignoring the requests, shielding our children, pretending like this was not all happening around us and all of a sudden Joe is walking down the street with this woman to take her to a coffee shop to buy her a drink. Now we are smiling and engaging the people around us regardless of who they are and what life circumstances they are facing.  What changed?  What was different? I think a 2 year old little girl changed everything in that moment.  I think she had courage and it was contagious.  She didn't notice that this man was likely homeless, she wasn't scared that he mumbled and was shaking.  His dirty fingers didn't phase her.  It was simple, she heard that a man was hungry and she fed him.  Isn't that what we are all called to? If you hear that a man is hungry, feed him. 

My prayer for our daughters is that they would always have eyes that see people, not people's circumstances.  That compassion and love would rule our family and that our daughters would always be courageous as they seek to serve others. May I have the courage and faith of my 2 year old daughter to not simply pretend I don't see what is going on around me but to actually do something about it.