Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy 11th Birthday Ethan


Eleven years ago today, God
Thought I needed to be reminded of 
His incredible love for me
And gave me the gift of you. I can
Never thank Him enough.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Touched by an Angel in Walmart?

My plans for the evening had gone south.

And since I didn't fancy spending the evening with the three people I share living space with and since I also  needed a new can opener, deodorant and a birthday card (in that order) I decided to go to Walmart.

It was only when I pulled into the car park, that it occurred to me I still had my house clothes on. A floral shirt, old jeans and green Christmas socks. What did I look like? But who dresses up to go to Walmart anyway? Oh Lord. I could only hope and pray that :-

a. I wouldn't see anyone in Walmart that I knew.
b. I wouldn't get my photograph secretly taken for  "The People of Walmart"

Have you ever seen "The People of Walmart?" If not click here at your own risk. You were warned!

So this had to be a quick trip. Too bad. I wasn't in a hurry to go back home.

I got the first two items, and then went over to the greeting cards. I spent a few moments browsing, when I  heard a voice..."My, that's a lot you're carrying there." It was an elderly gentleman. Dressed casually but smart. Perhaps in his mid-seventies.

At first I thought he was talking to someone else, but we were the only ones in the aisle. He didn't look crazy, so I assumed  he must be talking to me. But carrying what? I only had two small items in my trolley.

"Excuse me?"

"I was just thinking it looks a little heavy for you to carry"

Was this sarcasm? "What?" Perhaps he was a little crazy.

"Oh..," he said laughing. "...not what's in your basket, I'm talking about what you're carrying on your shoulders. Looks like it's a heavy load".

I was speechless. Was he a mind reader?  How did he know I was worrying in Walmart? Was it that obvious? Written on my forehead? I didn't quite know how to respond.

"I was just going to get a coffee .Care to join me?" he said.

I'm not sure why, but I nodded, dropped the card into my trolley, and walked with him to McDonalds. He ordered a coffee. I ordered an orange juice (and a sandwich of high calorific value - yes I'd already had supper, but it was that kind of day.) And before I could get the money out of my wallet, he thrust a twenty dollar bill into the cashiers hand. He paid. I felt a little guilty, but he was quite insistent.

We sat down and there was no awkward silence. We began talking about the weather. Seriously we did. Just weather. For about 15 minutes. The mild winter. The early spring. The gusting winds this evening. Weather. And yet somehow it was the most refreshing conversation I'd had in a long time.

After a while he got up to leave and we shook hands. Then turning he said... "God has only given you two hands, so don't carry any unnecessary bags."  Then he added with a chuckle... "Especially now they charge you 5 cents for each bag. You take care now."

And then he was gone.

I went to pay for my items plus one more. Some gum. Then I realized... he didn't buy anything!

So what exactly did he come to Walmart for?

Maybe he was lonely. Maybe he was just a kind old man with money and time to spare. Maybe he felt sorry for me, because I was dressed like one of the "People of Walmart" and looked like a hobo. Maybe he had Alzheimers and forgot what he came for. Or maybe, just maybe, he was heaven sent for such a time as this. I don't know if he was an angel (the jury is still out on that one), but he was most certainly a blessing in disguise.

I hung around for a while to see if he would come back. He didn't.

I know you can always find a bargain in Walmart, but sometimes you can find more that you bargained for. And in keeping with the logo, his advice saved me money and aimed to help me live a better life. And what did it cost me? Nothing. A mere 15 minutes of my time.

Some of the best things in life are free. Like good advice. So I took it and tried to let go of the the issue that's been bothering me. Hakuna Matata.

Of course I will go back to Walmart.With a better wardrobe choice next time. And you can be sure I'll wander up and down the greeting card aisle. Because well, you never know!

Hebrews 13 v 2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mission Accomplished.

 We were on a mission.

She was cold, tired and hurting. At 1 hour 46 minutes and 15 seconds she ran across the finish line. Her race was over. And by all accounts her mission was accomplished. Almost. She still had something left to do.

So she grabbed a bottle of water, collected her finishers medal and put on a thin plastic poncho to protect her from the extreme cold wind. Then she started running again. This time in the opposite direction. Running back.

She ran for about half a kilometer until she saw one of the runners from her group. Then she turned with them and ran them home. All the way to the finish line.

She did this again. And again. Approximately 9 times until all of her runners were finished.

She is Angie.

"'Leave no man behind"

You will hear this phrase used by the military.The U.S marines. It's like an unwritten code between soldiers.When they go out on a mission, no matter how tough the battle is, they will
 never leave a soldier behind. Ever.

Angie is a marathon instructor and I am one of the runners in her clinic. She knows a lot about marathons, because she has run many of them . She knows about the physical and mental stamina that is needed to endure and complete the race. She knows it can be tough out there. So whenever she takes us out for training or for a race, she practices a code. A clinic instructors code. Leave no runner behind.

Since she is fast, Angie is usually one of the first to finish. But she's never truly finished until the last runner gets to the end. Sometimes she has to wait for us, sometimes she has to call us and on occasion she may have to drive to find one of us . But we're never left alone.

On Sunday I was on a mission too. A simple training exercise. It should have been easy, but shin splints made it feel like mission impossible. Still I soldiered on. And just when I thought I couldn't go any further, there was Angie running toward me. She came back for the last runner. Me.

We were 600 metres away from the finish line. At the end of the race there are always crowds, cheering, music and festivities. I tuned out all the noise so I could listen to the voice that I've come to know and trust during my training. Angie. She ran alongside me with encouraging words until I got to the finish line.

After the sweet exchange of salty tears and much saltier sweat, she said "You did it Elaine, you did it."  But I knew it I didn't do it on my own. It was a team effort. We did it together.

At 2 hours 23 minutes and 45 seconds I stopped running. Then and only then could Angie finally stop running too. I realized that although mine was a solo mission, Angie's wasn't. Her mission ended when mine did. Mission accomplished.

I am glad that when I race, I only have worry about getting myself to the finish line. But I am so grateful for the leaders like Angie, Colin, Monick, Megan, Dom and Diane who make it their mission to bring every last runner home.

March 4th 2012