It was a beautiful morning for watering flowers. Children were busy all around. Two in the hammock giggling, one strategically building roads in the sandbox, and one on the deck beside me, plucking the last bit of color off of my favorite rhododendron bush. Just as I was considering suggesting that the dying flowers stay on the plant so we could enjoy them just one more day, my newly-turned six year old placed another petal into his bowl and said, "I'm making a salad for Mrs. Robertson."
Now, young imaginations are hard at work most days at my house, so hearing make-believe lines peppered into daily conversation is nothing unusual around here. But this comment was different.
Chase and I had just visited the Robertson house together. They're a couple from our church in their mid-eighties, and Mrs. Robertson is sick. She has been battling cancer for some time, and is quickly running out of treatment options.
Two weeks earlier...
It had been awhile since I'd talked to her. I'm a busy lady at church, you know. There are children to deliver to classrooms (and you'd better believe, if we're running even slightly late, someone will surely need to use the potty!), nursery duty to tend to, and if I don't speed walk through the foyer, someone might occupy our favorite pew before we can get to it first. I'm a mom on a mission to sit down before the music starts, and I remind myself that if I make eye contact for too long, I might just get stuck in a conversation that I didn't have penciled into my agenda for the morning.
So I snuck - or so I thought - through the back, less traveled halls of the church to retrieve the boys for the service that was about to begin. And there she stood, reaching out for my arm as I began to pass. Her body was frail, but her eyes - bright and hopeful - drew me in. In an instant, the Lord refocused my agenda, and we talked until my children were the last ones to be picked up. I left the conversation blessed by her quick wit, optimistic spirit, and full trust in a good God. Before we parted, I leaned into her face until our noses almost touched, and made her promise me that if she needed something, that she'd be sure to call.
A week and a half later the phone rang. I didn't think she'd do it, but it was Mrs. Robertson on the other end. She hated to be a bother, but I had insisted that she call. It had been a rough week. Chemo was taking it's toll on her tired body, and she was devastated over the fact that she wasn't able to muster up a good meal for her husband in days. "Tell me his favorites," I said, "and I'll be there tomorrow."
Little did I know what a treat Chase and I were in for! While the women talked about food and children, Chase toured their home with Mr. Robertson, admiring trinkets that they had collected over the years. Chase was especially fond of a little wooden snake, a souvenir from a visit with their missionary daughter. We listened to their stories from years ago, intrigued by their many adventures, laughing often. I shared that baseball season was in full swing for our boys, and found a common connection from their child-raising years. If Mrs. Robertson was feeling up to it, they would try to make a game.
Our visit ended much too soon, but with a full heart, I promised that we'd be back. I left with the same feeling you get when you go on a mission trip with the best intentions of blessing others, and you return only to realize...
... you instead are the one being blessed.
I try not to take those back hallways any more on Sunday mornings. And now, I allow a little extra time for some intentional eye contact, praying that God would help my eyes to connect with just the one that He has planned for me that day.
Because you never know when you're about to be blessed.
"She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy."
and extends her hands to the needy."