Friday, December 26, 2008

God's Peculiar Light

I live and love in God's peculiar light.
Michelangelo

It was a Christmas of light and hope. All week long, I lived and loved in God's peculiar light.

Christmas Eve. I was at my childhood home, waiting for two of my college-aged brothers (I have three) to get home. One was rushing home from a catering job he had worked. The other? Where was Sam? We needed to hurry and pile in the car and take off for our grandmother's house, where we were to spend Christmas morning with family. Soon Sam pulled up. He came through the door calling my name.

Come and see, he said, grinning and breathless.

We walked together to his car, where Sam opened the back door to reveal box after box of shoes. Bag after bag of socks. I gasped.

It's for your shoe drive
, he said simply.

But Sam had already given five pairs of shoes for my Shoes for Orphan Souls campaign. He did it to help reach my goal of 250 pairs of shoes by Valentine's Day, which is a lofty goal in my tiny, economically-depressed community.

Sam! You shouldn't have done this. You've already done more than enough! I told him.

I didn't, he replied.

Turns out they were from Tony, a man who works at the small hardware store with my brother. Sam explained that Mr. Tony doesn't have a car... doesn't have much, really... but is the happiest, most cheerful man Sam's ever met. He lives alone and makes his house payment, gas bill and buys food, my brother explained. But sometimes Tony doesn't have the money to keep his water on. You'd never know it, though. According to Tony, he's blessed beyond measure.

So how did he buy all these shoes? I asked. Mr. Tony, it turns out, won a raffle he entered at the hardware store a few weeks ago. His prize was a $100 gift card to WalMart. As Mr. Tony was getting dressed Christmas Eve morning, he pulled a pair of socks from his drawer and remembered a long-ago Christmas. He told my brother that he recalled, as a child, getting a new pair of shoes and socks for Christmas. It was all my mother could afford, Tony told him. She'd saved a dollar to buy each of us something that year. I got brand new shoes. I loved those shoes.

So Tony knew what he would do. He walked to the hardware store on Christmas Eve and gave my brother that entire gift card, instructing him to hurry to WalMart and buy all the socks and shoes he could.

I cried. And as Sam and I transferred the shoes and socks into my car, we decided: we had to do something wonderful for Mr. Tony. Right then. Before we left for Christmas at our grandmother's.

We didn't have much. Sam makes hourly wages at the hardware store and I've been out of work since early November. What could we do for Mr. Tony? We were still trying to decide when my other brother burst through the front door with an enormous cardboard box. Help me, Smitty! he yelled. Sam winked at me then reclined back in our father's armchair and yawned loudly. The box, then, was dumped in his lap. (Brothers.) Sam groaned. The box was weighed down with leftover gourmet food from that catering job: turkey, beef tenderloin, salads, dips, breads, candies, sweets and a sweet potato pie. There's no room in the fridge, Sam told our brother. Then he looked at me. We grinned at each other.

We took the box, along with a tin of homemade fudge, to Mr. Tony's. His house was rundown. Shabby. We knocked on the door but Mr. Tony didn't answer. Fearing dogs and cats would tear into the box, we eased open his front door and put the food just inside. The house was well-kept, but cold and dark. A lonely couch and a space heater sat against one wall. That was it. No TV, no lamps, no tables or pictures or Christmas tree or strands of lights or presents or anything. Just a couch and a rickety heater.

And he gave his Christmas to us for the orphans, I said. The three of us looked at each other. Then quietly, Sam backed out of the drive and turned on Christmas music. In the backseat, I tried to blink away tears.

We live and love in God's peculiar light.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
... And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.
-Isaiah 58:9, 10

41 comments:

linda t said...

Wow... what a precious story Brin.
I am inspired. To give my life away. To look to Him.

Now, may the Lord bless you and your brothers.
Thanks for sharing.

Michelle said...

What a wonderful touching story, Brin. This year was the year of giving away for me as well. I have donated to three charities, helped with one and I so terribly wanted to join in on taking some young kids from an orphanage shopping for Christmas but missed the event. :( It broke my heart but I will find a way to give more this year! You and The Lord are truly an inspiration to me.

So blessed! said...

OK...now I am crying again. Isn't God good that way. That is what Christmas is all about...showing people the true reason for the season.
Again, I am inspired by your comments. Be blessed!

Donna said...

I thought I was through crying over Christmas miracles. And here I am again, crying. Thank you so much for sharing with Mr. Tony and with me. You bring so much to so many lives!

Amy said...

What a beautiful man!

Sherry said...

I am so glad I read this before going to my blog and posting (and griping) about the no-show guests at dinner (noon) today. THIS puts everything into perspective!

"There shall be showers of blessings..."

Whizbee77 said...

Thank you for this post. Heartwarming. Truly.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Awwww... that made me cry.

We need more hearts like his in this old world today.

The Chatty Housewife said...

What a beautiful and well written story. Thank you so much for sharing it. As I sit here and catch the tears threatening to spill down my cheeks, I wonder where in my life I could spare for those less fortunate!

Jenn said...

Most of us have been blessed beyond measure. What a joy and a priviledge it is to give. I wish everyone in the world would get that one day. Happy New Years Brin & Family.

betty r said...

That is a heart warming story..thanks Brin for sharing! Truly the spirit of Christmas, giving to others in need!

Jess said...

Wow...Just, wow....I am bawling as I read this and inspired beyond belief.
What a great story to think of as we begin a new year.
Thanks

Jess said...

Oh...and is there a way we can donate to your 250 goal???

wanderingbtrfly said...

That's a beautiful story, Brin, and a beautiful verse to go with it. Thanks for sharing.

Randi said...

That's the best story I've heard. He truly knows that it's better to give than to receive. Thank you for sharing that ... the tears are still flowing.

Brin said...

Thanks, all. Tony's generosity and selflessness overwhelmed me this week and changed the tone of my entire Christmas. I pray he is blessed as he is a blessing!

Jess - Yes! I would be thrilled if you would help donate! We're accepting new shoes and/or socks for children ages 1-18. They don't need to be expensive, but they should be new. If you wish, you can send your donation along to this address:

South Union
Attn: Brin Wisdom/Shoes for Orphan Souls
159 FM 997
Daingerfield, TX 75638

For more information on the shoe drive itself, follow the Shoes for Orphan Souls link provided in the post. And thank you for your generosity and willingness to help!

Pearls To Hide My Neck said...

What a humbling story. I wish we do something for Tony just to brighten his day.
I will be sending shoes too. My sons help with shoes drives at their school. It's amazing how you can find great deals on shoes and socks.

Linda Z said...

Such a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it in your magical way!

My favorite parts about Christmas are getting to help families in need as well. :)

Sweet P said...

Brin, you are truly blessed and you and your family share those blessings with others! You have shown what the true meaning is for all of us.

traci said...

a beautiful christmas story. very touching. you, your brothers and mr. tony are precious souls.

Life At Camellia Cottage said...

How incredible, and what a blessing you have shared with us! There are angels everywhere, even in tiny run-down bare houses! Blessings, Becky G.

Terri and Bob said...

Wow.

thedomesticfringe said...

That was a touching story. God bless that kind man!

Glad you had a nice Christmas with our family.

daffodilhappiness said...

Wow. What a blessing to read that special story. God has blessed each of us, and we can see His Hand continually. Isn't the Lord good, that He allowed you to bless Mr. Tony in return?

Thanks for sharing. God Bless!

debbie bailey said...

Very cool pictures, Brin. Isn't it wonderful how God's blessings are all around if only we have the eyes to see? What a great story! What a wonderful world this would be if more people were like Tony!

Mia said...

Amen. Giving a gift unseen and unacknowledged is sometimes the greatest gift of all.

Jess said...

Brin -
Can we send cash or a gift card to you instead to use as you sit fit?(buy the sizes that are more needed etc..) and also avoid shipping costs to help the $$ go further???

Tina said...

God does amazing things and without a doubt that was God working in your life and that mans life. He wanted to give and God made a way. You needed shoes and boy did he provide. When you write one of your books you have to include this story. It just makes you want to say I BELIEVE!!
God has big plans for you!!!

L said...

That is such a beautiful story...very inspirational indeed!

Elizabeth Parsons said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story! Now please pass the tissues...

eBeth

Cathy said...

Awesome. .. I am blinking aways tears too.

Nina said...

very sweet. thank you for sharing and please ask your brother to say thank you to Mr. Tony for reminding us all what this time of year (and really always) should be all about.

Lady Laura said...

Beautiful and well written story! It's often been said that the people who give the most are the people who can "afford" it the least. Mr. Tony reminds me of the Widow who gave all she had and whose offering was more pleasing than those who gave out of their wealth.

What also came to mind while reading your beautiful story was that God will provide the seed. You had wanted to do something for Mr. Tony, but didn't know what and miracuously your brother appeared with a box of food that you were able to pass along to Mr. Tony.

Your story was touching. You have a way to uplifting and inspiring those to flock to your blog.
Happy New Years!

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I keep telling you Brin, your life needs to be a book! What a miracle, bless Mr. Tony, he's a angel and so are you and your sweet brothers! Sounds like this Christmas was one of your best! Amen!

Kay said...

Oh Brin.... I'm reading Mama's Way by Thyra Ferre´ Bjorn, about her faith, God answering prayers. This fits right in with God being our "Daddy" and loving us and showing us how to love and answering prayers through us and letting us help Him bless others.

Thank you Brin for sharing such a precious blessing.
(now I'm all teary)

tara said...

beautiful.

elsie123 said...

Great post, Brin.

Brin said...

Hey all!

I was just contacted by the folks at Buckner Ministries who head up Shoes for Orphan Souls. They reminded me that the best way to help is to check them out online:
http://www.shoesfororphansouls.org. There you can get information on how to donate, volunteer, or even start a shoe drive of your own! Definitely worth checking out.

Thanks!
Brin

Pearls To Hide My Neck said...

Brin, after you posted the website for the shoe drive I knew why it was familiar. My boys were part of the shoes and socks drive in December with their school. They have done quite a bit with Buckner. They go to an all boys school here in Dallas and just love the Buckner experience. My older son had a very, very profound experience with Elves in with Disguise thru Buckner two years ago and the impact has lasted (in varying amounts, ha) since. It is an awesome program.

Charm and Grace said...

Oh my, what a perfect way to end my evening. It is just past midnight and I am blessed by your story and the generosity of both Tony and you and your brothers. May you find God's blessings pouring out into your life in 2009 as never before.

Christi

Nen said...

Beautiful.