One month ago today I left my Guideposts weekend, and truth be told, I’m still unpacking my time in New York. So while I’m truth telling, I might as well tell ya my suitcase is also still on the floor. And there’s no better time than now to completely unpack it.
Because exactly two years ago today, I left life as I knew it when Mom left here for Heaven at 57. My hospital suitcase remained cemented on the floor then too for weeks—and weeks. Until in a desperate dialogue with God—in one of those “fist-shaking, life-quaking” moments—I implored, “WHY’d you let it happen like that? Just her and me. With futile blows of air, to no avail. And WHAT am I supposed to do now?”
I begged for an answer, sitting on the cold tile floor, head hunched over, hugging my knees and rock bottom, tunneling through my own ground zero.
And then my eyes shot across the floor to my suitcase, before my hands followed suit. I flipped it open to find my journal. Lost and abandoned. Now found. I’d been looking for it from day one to let my pen and my heart scream out. And now a soft banner flew across my mind, as I read the rippling words and listened to the whisper: “Just write.” Not in the darkness of a bed-side drawer, but with the light of the world—and the Word.
God used the Guideposts selection as a sweet affirmation of those words. But it’s what He did after the mansion and in the city that grabbed my attention and stole my heart.
It wasn’t the high rise corner suite with sweeping views of Central Park. And it sure wasn’t my man and me being picked out of a crowd for front row seats at Letterman. It wasn’t even the highlight of getting up close and personal with Lady Liberty on her birthday.
Instead, it was God taking me from the top and letting me see—and love—those scraping the bottom. My first chance came as we exited a church across from Ground Zero. We took off down the sidewalk at a New Yorker pace, and then noticed the turned heads, the double takes, the slow glances of fellow passerbys before discomfort and conscience sped up their feet.
My eyes locked in on what caught their attention and scared them away. She was in her 20’s, sitting on a cold cement slab, head hunched over, hugging her knees and her own rock bottom, across from Ground Zero. Holding a sign: Homeless. Hungry. Maybe for food. Maybe for drugs. But no doubt for LOVE.
What am I supposed to do now? I thought, as I passed her up too, right after dispensing my own uncomfortable glance. That was just before the whisper and the rippling banner that turned me around: “Go tell her I love her.”
Right now? With all these people? But my doubts couldn’t stand up under the heavy weight of love. So I earned my way in with a few dollar bills, but I didn’t get her ears or her eyes until I said, “Don’t let the lipstick and the jewelry fool you. I’m really no different from you.”
Her grey-blue eyes, the color of my daughter’s, rolled up and away in disbelief. So I kneeled down beside her and told her my story. And God’s. I got her ears and her eyes—right before her heart.
And then I loved her, and I hugged her, as I inhaled the smell of months on the streets and the timeless scent of grace.
I felt God breathe new life into both of us, rebuilding beauty from ashes and replacing broken pieces as I unpacked His truths.
After three life-changing, God-orchestrated encounters with women along the streets and the subway, God reminded me why I’m here—why we’re here. Maybe to write. Maybe to speak. But no doubt—to LOVE.
And to top off the three, he gave me one more. Over and above, like only God does. Just as we made our way through the subway, I followed the sound, to a girl and her bagpipe, playing God’s tune—Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound. Reminding me that my purpose was once lost, but now it’s found.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3
Thanks for reading along and allowing me to share my time in New York and even my luggage with you.
It would sure bless me if you’d subscribe to my regular blog posts, and I hope to bless you right back with a free printable. (Just scroll to the bottom or hop over to the sidebar to subscribe. The free printable for a Sonshine Box will be in the confirmation email.)