The kids loved this so much last year that they wanted to go again.. It’s such a fun experience, and we couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to go. Who would have thought we would be coatless on a December day in central IL?! It was perfect! So glad our friends could join us too… The experience of “kissing a reindeer” is one you can’t miss
Let me preface by saying, if you’ve read any of my blog shares, I’m an open book…. As I love to quote good ole’ Dr. Phil, “those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing”… I truly feel that way! Transparency is all about being REAL and connecting w/ others, knowing that we are all created by God, loved by God, and just as He intended us to be.
I share this story, because I believe w/ all my heart that God’s goodness never fails. He never ceases to open doors and present us w/ opportunity to share the same love that Jesus shared. W/ that being said, praise God, and all glory to Him… For showing us an endless grace and love that we, as broken sinners don’t deserve, but receive abundantly.
My husband booked us last minute tickets to head to Las Vegas, for a car show convention… I welcomed the time to sneak away w/ him to a place I’d never visited. I attended the show w/ him and our good friend, for a couple of hours the first day, and then headed off to explore the city. It’s a blessing to have a husband who says, “Sure honey, enjoy yourself and be safe!” and then sends me on my way..
The next day of our trip, I dropped my husband & friend off at the convention and started to head from downtown Vegas to a nearby outlet mall. When I came to an intersection, I saw a homeless man standing on the street. We do our best to teach our kids, that if you feel the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart, and feel safe, share what you feel like giving. The Lord has blessed our family in SO many ways, and through the gift of His word, written in the Bible, we believe that He blesses us to bless others.
I motioned to him that I had some cash for him, and he came over to the truck… I gave it to him and he thanked me, looked at the money and his eyes lit up and as he leaned towards me for a hug. Made me smile that he was genuinely thankful. He said he was going to get something to eat, and darted off running towards a McDonalds on the other side of the intersection.
I sat there for a moment, and as my light turned green, my thoughts said “I’m not on a schedule today, I have no where I HAVE to be”… So I proceeded through the intersection and turned into the McDonalds. I found this man still at the counter, having just placed his order, and walked up beside him. I told him, just keep what I gave you, and I’ll get your lunch. He thanked me again, and told me that it was his birthday. I asked him if I could sit w/ him for a bit while he ate. He dug into the food, and couldn’t eat fast enough. He was truly hungry and I’m so glad he got a warm meal that day.
We talked & talked, and I told him that I am a Christian. He shared his story w/ me, and it was heartbreaking to hear what all he had been through in his 31 years. As he told me about an accident that he’d experienced at 10 years old, my heart broke even more. He lived in California w/ his family and he was shot in the chest, during a drive by shooting. He pulled the collar of his shirt down to reveal his heart, literally beating on the outside of his chest. It was completely revealed beneath a thin layer of skin and protruded about two-three inches, beating rapidly. His ribs and chest wall had been shattered by the gunshot, and it was a miracle to even survive. Shortly after, his family moved to Oregon to separate themselves from the crime filled city where they had lived. When he was 13 years old, he sadly discovered his brother deceased (he was 17) from a freak accident caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. He started to cry as he shared this w/ me. This young man’s name was Clearance Luke, but as a kid he was nicknamed “Heart Attack”, for obvious reasons.
It was such a blessing to spend time w/ him. We talked about faith, and God’s plan. Clearance has been homeless for ten years, and has been unsuccessful getting work, because he says he is a liability for a company to take on his medical condition. Carrying a single backpack and living under a viaduct, he could very well be the most humble person I’ve met. He had such a positive attitude and visits his mom when he can, but doesn’t like to ask her for help. He said he saves for a hotel room every now and then when he can. I asked him how much he comes up w/ to stay in one, and what he currently had for cash on him. I gave him the difference and made him promise me, that he would get a hot shower, and sleep comfortably in a warm bed that night. W/ a huge grin on his face and eyes beaming, he said “Oh you bet I will! And I’m gonna watch TV!”…
We left lunch that day, and I was more filled w/ joy & love than he was, I guarantee you. He asked if he could give me a hug, and of course I agreed.
Every single one of us is a child from God. We all have a story, we all have struggles, we all just need to be loved. Sure there were some looks from strangers also having lunch that day, but my hope is, that it left them wondering. I’m not always good at recognizing those opportunities that God places in our path, but that day, my eyes were led to be wide open. I pray for Clearance. I pray that God gives him what he needs for this life, and fills him w/ the strength and love that he needs. As I drove away, I looked over to see this billboard from the expressway;Dear Heavenly Father, You sure are! Thank YOU. Thank you for the blessing of meeting Clearance, and the freedom to spend some time w/ him that day. I’m humbled by the moments and situations that I am led to, and my heart is full. I praise you for all that you have blessed my family w/, and don’t know how I have been even slightly deserving. I thank you for the opportunity to pour your love onto another individual and share your blessings. Amen!
“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” -Luke 10:27 NIV