This story I am about to offer is shared with full permission by one incredible and brave young woman.
Some people get excited over sports, concerts, a special vacation.
And for others it's a new bag. A new pair of shoes. A pretty lipstick.
And while all of those things are wonderful and of course can make one happy, I happen to get really excited over an empty corner and let's not forget my obsession with newborn babies as well.
But I especially love an empty corner.
It may sound strange to some people.
Most people may not even notice it during their daily commute.
But for whatever reason God made me to notice the details.
Here is an example...
At the beginning of the summer we were driving down a beautiful street with all of the babies in tow and there before my eyes was a beautiful, vibrant, young woman.
She was standing on the corner. The one that was supposed to be empty.
And she was expecting.
She wasn't expecting a bus. Or a taxi. Or a friend to pick her up from work.
She was expecting a baby......... Remember my obsession?
Now there are two things I am not going to put up with in life.
One is a woman standing on a corner that should be empty and two is that same woman standing there expecting her first born gift.
I pretty much had a panic attack and my husband knew what was about to happen.
I had to talk to her. I had to meet her. I had to help in some way.
It was beyond me. It was all Him.
It didn't have anything to do with me. And everything to do with a Daddy who wanted to reach His daughter and pour out love and mercy and goodness and grace and meet every single need she had.
I asked her the most important thing first.
"Are you safe?" She looked at me and smiled and slowly nodded.
But I've lived long enough to know that a simple smile and slow nod don't mean a thing.
She wasn't and I knew it. I could feel it.
And she wouldn't be standing on a corner selling the homeless paper to folks if she was.
I asked her name ....
I asked her what she needed. She wouldn't really tell me.
I asked her if she had a place and she gave me that simple smile and a slow nod one more time.
I just wanted to meet a need. Even just one.
I didn't want to interrogate her. I didn't want to question her. I didn't need to know all the details. There wasn't an ounce of judgement in my heart. I just wanted her off of that corner and safe in a place of her own getting herself ready to become a mother.
And so that is how it began......
I came home and tried to figure out how to reach her , how to connect, how to help.
I posted a note on FB telling everyone whom I was connected with that there was
"An opportunity to demonstrate His love standing on the corner" and gave the address.
I bagged up almost all of my maternity clothes and put them in the car to give to her.
I talked with my husband , I begged him to let her live with us. I talked about her and talked about her
to try and figure out what to do.
And then it was like she disappeared.
I would drive by, many times, and she would not be standing there.
Then one afternoon, my friend Vanessa texted me and said "Sibi, she's there today!"
It was the week we were leaving to go on vacation, my husband just so happened to be home and the 12 passenger van we rented needed to be picked up earlier than we actually needed it. By a couple of days.
God is in the details!!!
As soon I received that text I told my husband and we loaded up all five children and wheeled out of the driveway to go and rescue this precious woman. We were going to bring her home with us!
It felt like Christmas to me......
By the time we arrived she was gone.
I just knew she had walked down the street to the grocery store to go the bathroom! (9 times pregnant me just knew this !)
We drove around looking and nothing. Looked through the parking lot, nothing. And then I spotted her,
sitting on the lawn furniture under the grocery store awning eating a peach.
I left my husband and children in the car and prayed and asked and hoped and begged the Lord to do the talking.
I talked with her and asked her if she remembered me and hugged her. She said "I remember you, you smell so good. You are the lady who gave me all of those beautiful clothes. You smell just like the clothes you gave me."
I was crying. She was crying.
Because I know what it is to just want something that smells good. That smells clean.
Crying because I know what it is to stand on the corner in life and want......
We all do. We've all stood on the corner in one area of our life or another.
We've stood on the corner of unanswered prayers. And the corner of waiting for our marriages to be restored. We've stood on the corner of financial despair and the street of "Is this all my life is ever going to be?"
I've been there. I've stood there. And many times I watched people drive right on by during some of my darkest hours. Like I was part of the scenery.
I cannot be that person.
The one who doesn't notice. Doesn't see. Doesn't hear. Doesn't feel.
We are all God's children. And we are all called to represent His love to every single soul on this earth.
I said to her, "We came to get you. We want you to live with us. We want to help you. We want to take care of you and your baby."
She was just weeping and sobbing in my arms.
She was so gracious and kind and had such a sweet spirit.
"But why? Why would you want to help me?"
Sometimes life has beat you up so bad, you can't believe anyone even cares, much less wants to help.....
She told me how she had been busy saving her money selling the homeless paper and how just two days prior she had finally found an apartment complex who would work with her and offer her a lease.
Apartment complexes will not rent to someone who is trying to get ahead in life and can pay rent in advance?? They won't rent to someone who doesn't have a current address??
She told me about how the state would not allow her to get food stamps without an address.
Homeless people cannot get food stamps without an address? They are homeless!!!
She told me about the shelter where she had been staying and how cruel they were to her.
"The battered women's shelter? The battered women's shelter is mean to the battered women?"
"They are so mean to us that most women just go back to their abusers"
I. could. not. breathe.
Deep breaths because it was like a holy anger rose up in me. Deep breaths that this woman couldn't get ahead if she tried. Deep breaths because the system doesn't make any sense to me and I don't know if I can fix it but I am going to try even with five babies in tow. Deep breaths because the shelter that should have been her shelter is filled with women who don't know how to help without judging. How to love without hate. Deep breaths because the shelter is not a shelter for the hundreds and thousands of women who are domestic violence victims and who find that the empty corner on a street is a better shelter. Deep breaths because this state that I live in is in the top tier for death to a woman by a DV incident.
In that moment I knew I could not repair all the damage, all the injustices. I could not undo all the hurt and all the judgement that had been cast her way. I could not create a reenactment of all the people who had just driven by her day after day.....like she was part of the scenery.
This precious child of God carrying another precious child of God overlooked, rejected and cast down.
I hated it all. I was so angry I didn't know what to do.
But He could do something through me and I was willing. My family was willing.
I told her that God was going to deliver a truckload of blessings to her new place.
I asked her what she needed even though I knew it was anything and everything.....
And it was. She had nothing other than a bed for herself.
Within hours of posting about her need on FB, this is what was delivered to my garage for her.
Delivered to my house from about 10 women. Did you know that 10 women can change the world?
I happen to have an incredible neighbor who has some really special friends who gathered, bought and delivered almost everything you see here....
I was blown away by the loved poured out for "J" and her unborn daughter. This is not including the large gift cards and money these precious women offered as well.
Remember the rental van they needed us to take a couple of days early? Free of charge of course.
God had a bigger plan in mind.
Can you imagine waking up one day and having absolutely nothing for yourself. Nothing for your unborn child and hardly a dime to your name?
And then waking up the very next day and God all by Himself decided to send a 12 passenger van to your brand new apartment full of every single thing that you and your sweet baby would need and more.
I was awestruck. The details blew me away.
Awestruck at how the bedding one friend bought was the exact color scheme she wanted.
Overwhelmed at the swing someone gave was the swing she had looked at for months in the store.
Beside myself that the crib and changing table that someone gave matched the highchair someone else gave and was exactly what she really, really wanted.
I'm talking down to the diaper bag.
Every, single thing she needed was provided and was exactly what she wanted or even better than what she had hoped for.
God all by Himself....
Took a homeless pregnant woman standing on the corner and gave her a place of her own and filled it with every single thing she needed and more....supernaturally.
The one detail that I really could not believe and that just blessed me more than I could ever put into words here was the phone call between us while we were driving to deliver everything to her.
I was excited. She was excited. I could hardly wait. She could hardly believe it.....and then she said this...
"Sibi, thank you for giving me the best birthday I've ever had in my life."
You mean that God orchestrated Heaven and Earth to give this daughter of His an outpouring of earthly demonstration to show JUST HOW MUCH He loves her and He chose, out of 365 days in the year, to align every, single thing to happen on the anniversary of the day she was born?
God all by Himself.
You know I had to stop and get a cake. :)
Turns out that God loves empty corners even more than I do.
I share this story today to give God every ounce of glory and to thank those who so selflessly gave to help this incredible young woman. Also I wanted to share in hopes that maybe someone reading would be stirred to action the next time that prompting comes when we see a homeless man, woman or child.
That prompting that rises up within us is Him.
Prompting us to stop. To offer. To give. To sow and to demonstrate His love.
We do not know the width or the depth of the stories standing there.
It's not always what we think it is. Things are not always the way they seem.....
And there may be the chance to change the world because we saw a child of God instead of a "situation" standing there.
Thank you to my incredible husband who moved and packed and delivered furniture and things over the course of two days with second degree burns on his hands, and never once complained.
You have His heart honey. You teach me by example...
Thank you to my beautiful gift of a girlfriend Vanessa who has been His hands and feet in my own life more times than I can count. Who got the word out and orchestrated and organized with her amazing friends and for that I am truly grateful. Thank you to Benning, Jordan, Janie, Lena, Donna, Ashley, Julie, Shirley and Melissa.
Thank you from the depths of my soul. You all inspire me. You are world changers.....
May He bless you all one hundred fold for your extraordinary kindness.
You are an incredible, amazing, beautiful woman who has yet to even tap into the gifts, talents, purpose and tremendous call that is on your life.
You are also His pearl.......you just haven't discovered it yet. But I see it.
I see in you what you cannot see for yourself.....
The best is yet to come my friend.