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Proverbs 19:17

**Peter Pollock has a great carnival going on and today the topic is Community.....I wanted to join in (although this was written a few weeks back) My angle/thought on "community" is our obligation to bind together and help others in need as Jesus calls us to.
Hop on over to Bridget Chumbley's place and be blessed by all the wonderful bloggers who are sharing their thoughts on "community".



(*this is a longer than usual post from me.....but I promise I deliver a good message if you stay with me)



"He who is kind to the poor lends
to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done."

~Proverbs 19:17

So at first glance....this almost can contradict one thing I was always told "do not give to receive". But as I am digging deeper in my walk with Jesus....receiving doesn't necessarily mean in the tangible materialistic way that the world has us programmed to think. No, our God rewards us in so many more wonderful ways that far outlasts any money, treasure or possession. Yes......ways that you cannot put a price on such as peace and joy.

It is no mystery that money cannot buy things such as happiness and real peace......(sure, it can help when the electric company is calling for their money or the oil tank is low)....but just turn on the TV or flip through the latest edition of People magazine and see how miserable and lost many superstars are, who have all the money at their disposal. I wouldn't trade my shack on a Rock for their castles built on sand ever! (and for the record, I don't live in a shack....I live in a cute and cozy 1800 sq ft. contemporary ranch that yes, can get a little tight with the six of us and it might not be full of lavish furnishings and expensive collectibles....but it's full of comfortable furniture, hand-made art due to years of creative little hands.....and busting out the seams/walls with love.)

So getting back to being kind to the poor.....I'd like to share something that Josh and I experienced over the past weekend.

We saw an ad on Craigslist for some barn/fencing supplies. Not sure if you've ever priced livestock feeders, hardware and gates before, but finding them used at a good price is a score! So I gave the lady a call and made arrangements for Josh and I to go over her place the following day. (because surely I am not stupid or brave enough to go answer an ad ALONE that talks about someone needing some cash as they are getting out of the horse business, barn is starting to fall apart, etc. To me, that might indicate that there is a lot of space up in the abandoned hay loft for a body to be found, no?)

So we headed out first thing Saturday morning. We were on a time crunch, so I told Josh that when I originally called on the ad, the woman, Franny (not her real name of course) sounded a little rough....I just assumed I woke her up or maybe she was a little under the weather. But I gave him the heads up because it seems that we always run into some nice, but quirky people in our travels who love to talk and talk and talk. And it seems that God has my path cross with people who always want to talk about what is going on in their life to me. I guess I must have something on my forehead that says....tell me what you are going through. Most of the time, I am thankful that people feel comfortable enough to share what's on their heart and I know that God wants me to use this time to witness.....but if I am gonna be straight with you, sometimes I just want to buy my nachos and salsa and get home!

(this is in reference to a cashier who told me of how she just had nachos with an old friend who she hooked up with due to FaceBook. And how if she didn't take her step dad's name when she turned 18, then she would have been in contact with so many other friends on Facebook. In fact, she wouldn't have missed her 20th reunion if she had her original last name that she had in elementary school. But she hated that name because her dad walked out on her mom when she was seven....so no-one knew how to contact her.

Hmmmmm, all I said was that I needed my nacho fix while paying.

*note to self.....if in a hurry, do NOT make eye contact or speak.....just smile and say thank you while walking away)


Back to recapping the conversation on phone...

Franny told me that she was getting rid of the items due to an impending divorce and how she needs to start getting rid of stuff because she is planning on moving. But first she needs a job because she has two older children, one who has a broken pelvis due to a motocross (but he was wearing his helmet) and the daughter doesn't work because she is on drugs. She wants to keep some of the feeders because she plans on moving to another place and get horses again and maybe start breeding Mastiffs again. She used to breed Labradors because they were a sure flip for money, but her Lab died last year from a tumor they found in her uterus.

Yes. I got this all in the first three minutes and here I was only calling to get a deal on some feeders. I can not make this stuff up.


We arrived at the driveway and it had wrought iron gates with gorgeous stone columns. The gates appeared that they were rusted open and there was brush growing through the broken iron wagon wheel accents.

We drove up the dirt driveway.....it was probably about 1/6 mile before we saw the barn on our left. First thing we notice is the roof, or what was left to it....it was collapsed in some areas, and the tarps that were covering the other part were flapping violently in the wind. There were pastures on each side of us.....individual grazing areas that you could tell have been neglected over the past year(s) as fencing was down....overgrown brush everywhere.

Then we saw her.

Franny was a middle age woman with long frizzy hair who was dressed in ripped jeans, flannel shirt and had a baseball hat on. Perfectly normal for a farm gal (infact, looking at how I just described her....I kinda fit that description). But as we got closer, she looked alot older....but not in a typical natural aging way....more of a hard life "older". She appeared to have mascara/eyeliner on from the night before....slightly smudged. She held a coffee cup and cigarette in one hand and waved with the other. She started walking over to us, then bent down to grab a branch out of the way and her hat fell off. There was a line where golden streaked hair met three inches of gray and black roots. She grabbed her hat, stood up while adjusting her pants and her top button popped open on her shirt, exposing her bra a little bit. She didn't notice or care.

oh boy. I whispered to Josh......let's make this QUICK. She looks like she is still loopy from the night before.......Grab the feeders, pay her and let's get out of here.

But as I got to shaking her hand....I looked in her eyes and the only word that came to mind was broken. Although they squinted a bit with her smile as she said hello.....all I saw was sadness and emptiness in those eyes. It was then that my conviction began. A feeling of guilt, sadness and pity started to come over me.

We got to talking with Franny as we were walking along her property to look at some other gates/equipment she had available.....and found out more of her story. She told us about how her husband walked out on her and her children and left them with nothing. Apparently he was a prominent business owner who made some poor decisions with his company and was charged with some other crimes as well. She spoke about how she's been scraping by this past year and it's time to sell the farm/house and find a new place to live.

As she was talking about her hardships....and there were many, including an affair and abuse.....I started to think about how she must have been living to where she is now.

As I looked around, I could tell that this property definitely was a gorgeous 140 acre farm at one time. I imagined perfectly manicured pastures and horses grazing.... an equestrian paradise.

And to look at it now.....the dilapidated barn, rusted lifeless tractors and the overgrown pastures was a representation of Franny's life. I can imagine her to have once been dressed in high end clothing, hair and nails kept neat and walking about her property with pride and joy. The breed of horses she mentioned that they raised are a very expensive elite breed. And now she tells us that she gave them all away for free.....in fear that she would not be able to feed them over the winter.

Before we knew it, an hour had passed. Franny poured out her deepest secrets to us. At times she welled up with tears.....and at times, I did as well. We exchanged contact information and Josh told her he would see about any job openings that might be available at the casino. I gave her the number of my friend who does real estate.....not to pour salt into her wound, but to know that my friend is honest and fair and would not take advantage of her in the desperate situation she is facing. I ended the conversation by hugging her and telling her that I would be praying for her. She lifted up her eyes, now sobbing and told me that she prayed everyday too.

We left Franny feeling heartbroken. We talked all the way home about her and her hardships. Something was weighing on my heart. I just felt that although we don't have much, I wanted to help this woman some how. We talked and prayed and decided that we were going to visit her again this week and tuck a little extra money in an envelope for her. Matthew 6:1-4 reminds us to not talk about or announce what we are giving.....so forgive me for mentioning this.....(and believe me, it isn't anything to boast about)...but I wanted to talk about how we are supposed to/commanded to reach out to poor, broken and lost as Followers of Christ.

Now when we got home, I called my friend to let her know that I passed her number along. She too had heard about the story of this family.....but also heard a different version. Her version was that the wife of this prominent business person had issues with drugs and alcohol and drove the business into the ground.

Of course, from what we saw and being completely honest.....this was not a story that could not also be true. And it very well may be.

But we are still heading over tonight.....to drop off this gift. It is not our job to judge this woman....it is our job to give/help without expecting anything more from her. In our hearts, we pray that she uses this money to put a dent in her electric bill or buy some groceries. If she chooses to use it for drugs/alcohol.....then so be it. God knows our heart and intention.

When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. ~Mark 2:16-17

And who are we to judge? And can I tell you something else that has been placed on my heart after meeting this woman? Who are we to think that what happened to this woman, could not someday happen to us? Not necessarily turning to drugs/alcohol if that is indeed the case......but being in this state of helplessness and desperation? Franny is just one example of the bondages that the enemy sneaks in and holds us captive. She is displaying it for all the world to see.....how many of us have our own private hells and bondages? We all have times of feeling broken and desperate, it doesn't only have to be a financial brokenness. And while we are on the subject, in this fallen and unstable world, I believe that we all are one or two mistakes, weaknesses, screw-ups, poor financial decisions, lost employment, or unexpected sickness from our worlds being turned upside down like Franny.

Think about it.

So with that.....I'll leave you with this.....

Proverbs 19:17 tells us that when we give to the poor (or the lost, the broken, the desperate).....we are lending to Him. And from what I know about our God.....He never leaves a debt unpaid.

Peace and love~
*~Michelle~*

40 comments:

Andrea said...

When a surprise comes after a sacrifice it is icing on the cake. GOD continually outdoes HIMSELF. I am truly amazes!

Great post!

Blessings and hugs, andrea

PS: You have an award at All God's Creatures.

Loren said...

Michelle,

This post touched my heart and if you haven't ever read "The same kind of different as me" and the second book "What difference do it make?" PLEASE DO!(written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore)
You will see that you have been led to do what the Lord has asked of you and without judgement. Release your gift in love and the Lord knows your hearts and what she does is her deal. Bless you my friend and I am soo glad for this divine appt. May we all be as you were .....like Jesus!

Praying for Franny and for her husband. May he see the web of deceit and return to HIS Father!


Bless you Michelle and THANKYOU for sharing!

christy rose said...

What an excellent post Michelle! Just this week, we had a similar experience too. A woman, in her forties, who has had a hard life with drugs and alcohol was in need of a bed because she had just recently had back surgery. She had mentioned on facebook that she was looking for a twin bed because she was sleeping on an air mattress and it was no longer holding air. Remembering God's redeeming mercy and grace, we gathered up an old twin bed frame from our basement that was not being used at the moment and headed to the local mattress store to purchase a new mattress to go along with it. My husband and oldest son and I delivered it to the place that she was living and set it up for her. Needless to say, she was touched and ever so grateful, feeling as if she did not deserve something so nice and new. She was only expecting someone's old hand me downs. But, God so loved her that through us, He revealed His plan of provision was not based on what she deserved but on the greatness of His love for her. I love it when God's glory shines in the lives of His people and the ones they touch feel His mercy and compassion.
Great post and inspiration to extend the compassion of our God to everyone!!
Love,Christy

Joyce said...

This was an excellent post. The giving without judgement is so often where we fall down...in these days more than ever I think any one of us could find ourselves in need of compassion and practical help.

Thanks for sharing this today.

Bina @ Bina's Pad said...

I read this and was in tears before I got to the end. Beautiful, my friend...just like your God focused heart...absolutely beautiful. I will be praying for Franny...and for you guys as you minister to her heart.

Kristina P. said...

You are her angel! My husband recently lost his job, but I know how blessed we are and are in a much more fortunate position than a lot of people.

Deborah Ann said...

I LIVE for stuff like this! We stopped giving to big fancy churches a long time ago. We give when and where God tells us to. Sometimes it's to little old ladies, sometimes it's for a person with a broken heart, and sometimes it's even just empyting our jar of pennies at a lemonade stand.

Um, word of wisdom? I would give her a gift certificate to a grocery store instead. That way she can buy food instead of drugs or alcohol.

Luv ya!

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

This story would go so well on the ARK blog I have started. I just wish more of us would share stories like these so that so many people just stopping by could see how simple things make a difference in the lives of the people we touch each day.

I am sure God will bless you and Josh for treating this lady with such kindness!

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Just Breathe said...

I'm sorry, I didn't have time to read your entire post. I know what your talking about, we should not give to receive something in return. I have always lived but that too! But God rewards us in His way for being good, kind people.

RCUBEs said...

"Deut. 15:7- If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks."

This came to mind as I read your awesome post. God bless.

Beth E. said...

This is such a touching, thought-provoking post! You are so right when you say this...

"We all have times of feeling broken and desperate, it doesn't only have to be a financial brokenness. And while we are on the subject, in this fallen and unstable world, I believe that we all are one or two mistakes, weaknesses, screw-ups, poor financial decisions, lost employment, or unexpected sickness from our worlds being turned upside down like Franny."

Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

Blessings,
Beth

Shirley said...

Wow! You know...we were talking about this very thing, saying the same thing, in Disciple class tonight.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I think you did a GOOD thing with that woman and the Lord will bless you efforts and prayers.

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

P.S. People tell me things, personal things, all the times and many times will interupt themselves saying "I don't know why I'm tell you this". I think the Lord has blessed us with listening ears and sympathetic hearts.

cindyhan111 said...

excellent Michelle... the Spirit is doing his job, I literally just finished a post with very close to the same message!

always a prayer for you!!!

Denise said...

Thanks for sweetly touching my heart.

Faith Imagined said...

I saw Josh Hamilton, the professional baseball player, speak last night.

His testimony is awesome, and he gives all glory to God.

He said something that I thought was very cool. When God finally got a hold of his heart, Josh was high.

God can work in the hearts of people even if they are high on drugs, high on pleasures or high on materialism.

I'm glad you gave that woman the money. We are accountable to God alone. We are not accountable to what others do with our obedience.

God will show us what He wants us to do with our resources. We just need to keep our radar directed to Him.

BTW - I'm glad your God-time is rockn'! I would love to hear what the free spirit in you is doing!

The Things We Carried said...

Simply beautiful.

COUNTRY MOM said...

Michelle, What a blessing it was to read this post. With many tears I type to you... I appreciate you and your friendship so very much. I was moved at how much Franny told you in three minutes... Not that she told you so much, That you listened to her every word. What a blessing it is to read such a great post. You are an amazing lady, Not just for giving... For Praying and being a Great inspiration to everyone. God Bless you and your family.

I am Praying for Franny and her family. Have the best weekend. Blessings, Audrey

I'm Jen. said...

As always, an excellent post by you Michelle.

I often have to remind myself it doesn't matter what the person does with the money I give them -- it just matters that I give it freely to them. That's what God calls me to do.

Alicia said...

Oh my gosh, this made me want to cry for her. It's totally divine appointment that you were there. Praise God that you were able to minister to her. Who knows if she has anyone else to talk to, right?

And about you giving her money, that is wonderful God knows the reason you are giving to her, and that is between her and the Lord for whatever she decides to do with it.

Please keep us updated on her, if you can.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for obedient to the Lord. I read this through tears. You words are so true, any of us could be in that some position. This spoke to me, big time. It does not matter what the person does with the money, I am to just be obedient, and not question what God is telling me to.

ransom33 said...

Dear Michelle,

I am praying right now that you continue to trust in the Lord and to be moved by His spirit for the poor and broken-hearted. Like you said, you know when you know that the spirit of God is stirring your heart with compassion and love for others, and you have to follow that prompt because for one thing, it will not go away and you will not rest til you have.

It is interesting that I have recently spent weeks working on a post all about helping the poor too and I strongly believe God is challenging His Church to start putting faith into action and not to just talk about it with pride and hypocrisy.

I love your spirit and the fact that even through such a tragic story, you can still write with humour and make me laugh.

God bless you and your family

Mercedes @ www.ransom33.wordpress.com

Mimmy said...

Michelle, what a blessing you are to so many people. It has been my life's philosophy to give if I know someone needs it. It would be much better to stand before our Father at judgment having given to someone who did not need or who mis-used your gift. Having said that I do think it is prudent of us to be good stewards of our monies and if possible to investigate the people to whom we are going to give as much as possible. This is especially true in regard to people seeking help from churches. Our elders hold the stance that they will buy whatever it is the individual is requesting rather than give them money. We have paid for any number of full gas tanks, motel room, meals, bus tickets, clothes, etc. "Give and it shall be given to you, heaped up..."

Thank you so very much for your kind words on my blog. Your encouragement is very important to me.

Have a gloriously wonderful weekend and

God Bless,
Mimmy

Daveda said...

Oh, Michelle, I just love this post! Is this not what it is really all about? About showing the Love of God to others as we go about our journey with Him. Wonderful!!

wife.mom.nurse said...

What an incredible experience and moving post.

I felt like I was walking beside you...

Kim said...

Oh Michelle! What a wonderful post! I am teary eyed just thinking about you, this woman and your husband and your golden hearts!

I will be praying too.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Whether she did do those things or not, you have the right attitude. Who cares? Just love, love, love on people. that's Jesus.

COUNTRY MOM said...

Michelle, Wanted to stop by and say Hi. Hope you are having a great weekend. Blessings, Audrey

Billy Coffey said...

Beautifully written, Michelle. You touched upon a lot of what I've been pondering lately.

S. Etole said...

Thanks for living your faith.

2Thinks said...

Wonderful story. I remember Are you There God, It's Me Margaret. Read it when I was a tweeny bopper. Loved it.

I always wanted to raise our kids on a little hobby farm, as you have there. I wanted that to be a part of our home education. It didn't work out for us, but we did raise chickens in our family room right here in the suburbs and we did have mama and baby bunnies. Mama bunnies are not that good at caring for their babies at all. That surprised me, too. Many of ours died also. She had three litters and out of the three litters, only three babies survived from one litter.

A lot of people are talking about that book Same Kind of Different as Me, that Loren told you about in her comment- we sell a lot of those at the bookstore where I work.

I love the energy and feeling in your writing. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Annie K said...

Very touching Michelle. Thanks for sharing that and for having a great big heart!

E @ Scottsville said...

Oh wow, what a great little attitude she had "Well, I guess God just wants it to be you and me!" Wow.

I grew up raising rabbits. At one point in my life, we had over 200 in one huge barn... been there, done that.

The funniest part to me is that you guys all thought SHE was a HE! ha ha ha

Great post, Michelle. Great post.

Glynn said...

What came to mind as I read this was two things. First, the parable of the rich man who tears down his storehouses to build new ones, and how wealth and position and security as defined by the world can vanish overnight. Second, the contrast of your 1800-foot ranch home "bursting at the seams with love" and the formerly grand estate collapsing in on itself with emptiness. Great post.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Michelle, What a beautiful, inspiring and touching post. thank you!

PS -- and anytime you want to come to the homeless shelter where I work, come on down! Your heart fits right in and your spirit will lift our wings.

katdish said...

Definitely worth reading until the end, Michelle.

So often when I hesitate to give money to someone standing on the side of the road begging I think to myself, "God knows my heart, and He's the judge, not me."

Excellent story. Thanks for sharing it.

Bernadette Pabon said...

no matter what givng and receiving, work together, for you have given much, and much you will reeive.

No matter what this woman is or does, God has put her in your path, and you have responded to His voice.

Blessings for you and your family,

Bridget Chumbley said...

Hi, Michelle!

I'm really glad you posted this story. After you sent me the link, I knew it would be a blessing for others... and fit perfectly with the topic of Community.

I'm so happy we've connected!

Anne Lang Bundy said...

I think I have that same tattoo on my forehead that only I don't see.

And I'm encouraged to hear that you are one of those who sees beyond the roots and popping buttons to things like brokenness in eyes.

Funny what we see in one another when we have "community" in our hearts.

 

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