To Ukraine, with love: A project by Sasha Carpenter

August 8th, 2015

Some of you remember meeting Sasha Carpenter here on The Blessing of Verity in the past.  We have so much respect for her and her parents, Brian and Stephanie Carpenter, and for the orphan ministry they share as a family.

This week Sasha asked if I would be willing to help spread the word about a letter-writing project that she is currently working on.  Please visit her new website, Planting Flowers of Freedom and Peace, to find out how you can offer a small act of kindness that will make a positive impact on someone else’s morale.

From Sasha~

The letters will be going to many different people, some soldiers, some widows or others who are left behind in the war regions. They may or may not be Christian. It is a unique opportunity we are given.Please do not feel intimidated. My advice is to perhaps type two letters, one to a Christian, and one to someone who is not a believer.(Although you can write as many as you want!) The person delivering the letters should be able to get the letters to the people who would most appreciate your message. Just letting Christ’s love shine through is the most important thing.

 

Thank you so much for checking out Sasha’s website and for helping her with this project, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

A record of kindness

August 6th, 2015

 

NOTE:  The following blog post has been waiting in my drafts, unfinished, for more than a year now.  I thought perhaps it was time to publish it, as is, with only this added note–special kids attract special people.  The kindness of strangers is a precious gift in a sometimes cruel world, to be received with a thankful heart. 

 

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As Tommy’s nurse and I walked through the halls of the high school toward his classroom, pushing Tommy in his wheelchair, two teenage guys walked down the hall toward us.  One of them glanced at us and looked away.  The other…well, I’m so used to strangers either staring, or looking away, not wanting to stare, that it took a moment to sink in, but when it did, the tears sprang to my eyes.

“Hi Buddy!” he said casually to Tommy as he passed.

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When the lady behind the hotel registration desk heard that we’d forgotten to bring our handicapped parking placard, she immediately insisted on moving her own car so we could park near the entrance.  Then she and another lady stood behind the counter and beamed hugely upon our little band as we trooped through the lobby, all thirteen of us with loaded luggage cart, two wheelchairs and a double stroller.  “What a beautiful family!” they said.

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We saw the teacher’s aide holding the little girl’s hand as they walked behind the rest of her school class through the zoo.  “Look, children!  That little girl has Down syndrome!”  I didn’t expect to see them again, but later, on one of my trips in and out of the restroom to change diapers, lo and behold, there they were!  This time, as the aide hurried her toward the restrooms, the little girl was in obvious distress, talking through her tears about how hot she was and how she needed the bathroom.  The aide spoke kindly and reassuringly to her throughout the whole episode in the inimitable style of a spunky southern black female.  “I know you need the potty, honey.  I know it’s so hot!  We’re almost there!  Now do you feel better?”  And so on.  As she stepped out of the stall next to ours, I was compelled to say something, so I opened our stall door and patted her on the shoulder before she walked away.  “I just had to say, ‘Good job!’  I have…[throat closed up, then tried again]…two…[choked up again, so Mindy finished for me as the aide and I looked into each others’ eyes, mine now filled with tears]…little girls with Down syndrome…”  She smiled and said, “I understand.”

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The man who followed us out of the zoo to our van at the curbside in the pouring rain and held an umbrella over Tommy’s head until I got him settled in his car seat.

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The lady in the waiting room who practically ran across the room to hold the doors open for us on our way out of the doctor’s office with a wheelchair and double stroller, and explained that she knows how challenging it can be to maneuver them in tight spaces, because her mom is in a wheelchair.

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The warmly smiling faces who walked toward our family of thirteen, including three with obvious special needs, as we sat together at the ballgame.  “I knew I loved you as soon as I saw what you were doing,” she said.

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The staff member at the ballpark who came up to me as I squatted next to the wheelchairs feeding the children.  Held out his hands and gave me four soft toy baseballs.  “I only have four left, and I saw that you have some great kids here,” said he.

~Originally written July 5th and 12th, 2014

Dear Tommy

July 31st, 2015

We haven’t been the same since you left us to fly to Jesus.

One year ago.

This day will always be covered in deep black on my calendar.  It may have been your very best day, the day you were born into heaven, but it took me to hell and back.  I didn’t think I could survive the agony, and sometimes I didn’t want to.

We spent today at Black Rock creek.  We weren’t at home with tragic old memories, we were out in one idyllic corner of God’s world making pleasant new memories.  You would have loved every minute of it.

From that traumatic instant when I realized you were really gone, our loving heavenly Father has taken me through the painful wrenching away of my grip on all transient hopes, all that He has not firmly promised us in His word.  Any giddiness that used to be part of me has turned sober.

I have lost the ability to be excited about possibilities that may or may not come to pass.  My constant awareness is that only He can see beyond the solid wall of the Now into the Future.  And that He may have incredible suffering stored up for my next moment.

Our Father used it, and is still using it, to wrench me away from attaching significance to my own emotions.  They jump up and down like yapping little puppy dogs and have no bearing on the reality of His plans for my life.

He used it to wrench me away from attaching significance to the vacillating opinions of others about whom I am.  He calls me to look into His face alone, to worship Him.  When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”    

No longer am I a forward-looking person, always on to the next thing, expectant that He will give me good gifts.  Now I savor the gift of every joy He gives me Now, in this moment.

And this moment.

Sometimes it seems that I now insist that our family walk by sight and not by faith.  But He keeps on taking me past my NO signs to the exact places I said I would never go, the exact places He intends for me to go.  Ever the next lesson in, “It’s not all about me and how I feel.”  Ever the next need to trust Him.

How can I be sorry you are there rather than here?  I, more than any other person, know how painfully restricted you were inside your hurt mind and body, unable to enjoy what most of us take for granted.  But those things He created for us to enjoy are dim shadows of our Creator, and now you are enjoying Him!  Living and worshiping Him freely in a place that defies description.

I’m not sorry that He had mercy on you and took you home.  But I miss your no-holds-barred smile, your delighted giggle, and the sweetness of your innocent spirit.

There is so much more I want to say, but it will have to wait for the next time.  Maybe for the next time I stop to visit your grave.

In this past year, our Father has kindly given us small, brief glimpses of how He has already used something so horrendous as your death to bring about great good in the family you left behind.  And the faith to know that the reality is so much greater than what we are glimpsing.  When I am looking into His face, I am thankful that He chose us to be your family, in spite of the suffering.

Being your mother has been the most traumatic, the most stretching, the most horrifying, the most tender, the most excruciating, the most revealing, the most life-changing experience He has granted to me thus far.  It has shown me more about who our Father really is and what His grace looks like.  Maybe someday I will come to understand it all as you do now.

I love you,

Mama

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