June 9, 2012

When giving is good for your soul ... Part 1

Our packing list was really pretty basic. Bring only the necessities.

Scrubs, Cipro, malaria prophylaxis. A journal ...

Do not bring a hair dryer. We will know who you are ... that's what the note said.
Quite frankly, I've never seen a more darling group of gals with messy hair.

I was an out-of-towner and couldn't drop donations by the office. They said we would keep our Cipro and undies close, but all donations would go under the plane. I wasn't flying out with the group. I hadn't planned on donating this time. 

Five days before we left, I had my little crew in the attic. Ben was playing trains the way he does- pushes one solitary boxcar from the back with just two fingers. He goes steady, around and around that table.

And that particular day, he just kept walking around that one storage bin-  filled to the brim with little shoes.  Big memories.

They were my babies' shoes and I could see all three of my children in those tiny soles. Even now, I know they are just things ... just rubber and leather all bound together.

But it can be hard to give away sentiments ... and my mama-heart is bound up in all their running and climbing and fast out-growing.

I had tried before- to give them all away. Some little person could use these, I would say.

But I was holding onto every footstep. I had grown up right alongside them, after all.  Three babies later, I'm standing a little taller in my own big-girl shoes.

But we were upstairs and Ben just kept walking into that box and it was clearly an obstacle.
I wondered if it was an obstacle for me too. There was the box and then there was me, holding on tight to things instead of giving away what was never really mine.

I wondered. Can I give away rubber and leather? Can I create some space here in this attic,
here in this heart?

The next day I put out a quick word, barely audible.
"Hey all, if you have little people shoes- I'll take 'em with me. Next week they'll be on little feet."

And then the text messages came.

I overnighted a box to you.

These were hard to give away, hope you can use them!

Made my heart sad to remember my babies  ... but happy to think of these on new feet. 

I told them all how I could relate. I had done my share of hanging on too.

The next afternoon my door bell just kept ringing. Sweet mamas on my doorstep with bags of tiny soles for tiny people. Little shoes covered my little floor. As the momentary clutter grew, I could feel how the giving away was already making new space on my inside.

My middle gal, and best helper, joined me in the sweet chaos. We sat in the center of it all, held hands and whispered big prayers over little feet ... little lives so far away.

At the end of the day, my doorbell rang one last time. Through channels of mail and people, my
heart friend had sent a tiny gift bag with a sticky note. All of the other generous women had done what I had done ... given from our excess. But my friend had gone shopping.

I sat at my kitchen table and I opened her bag and I had a little cry.

And inside that little bag? She sent just one. perfect. pair. of shoes.

They were brand new and picked out and paid for with one little soul in mind.
And on the sticky note? Just this:

The night before I would fly, my Todd and I kept each other company. I stalled and stared into my tiny suitcase and shifted my protein bars that required way too much space. He encouraged. And he sorted and matched and tied together and packed a gillion little shoes.

I was stressed and afraid to fly so far away. He lined them up in rows ... told me to take a few pics.

A few days and a few thousand miles later, I helped unpack onto hot pavement.

And right there, I knew that all of the miles these little shoes had traveled were just a glimpse of what will be.

And all of the milestones and grateful mamas here at home? Oh friends, now there are many more of those too.
Because in the giving away we get to watch the blessings grow, multiply, travel.

So, to you-- my sweet mama friends-- thank you. Thank you for giving.
Right now, a lot of little somebodies, and their mamas, are thanking you too.

     photo credit: Kris Kundrock

And by the way, I can't wait to share Part 2 with you. Oh my...

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