As I close my eyes, I can almost see
The closing of a symphony
Divinely written, for all to hear
As Jesus made His love so clear
One humble child cried out for more
And heaven heard echoes – “Encore! Encore!”
So, in case you have lived in a hole for the last few months, a life of your own and somehow missed this blog I re-posted…please oh please take a moment and read it. “An Eternal Symphony – One God, Two prayers, Three beds” is a story of His divine symphony; and it is crucial to understanding the “Encore, Encore!” of today.
My partner-in-crime (aka. Thing One) wrote that beautiful blog about one of the coolest things God has done in my life lately. What a blessing it was to even be used. No, really. The fact that He knows my every thought, intent, motive, desire, and not only loves me still, but also uses me on the occasion to bless others – it is darn near unbelievable!
So, Thing One is basically the yin to my yang. Or maybe she’s the yang to my yin? We aren’t sure who is who. She helps keep me grounded when I want to give away all her our money. She helps my emotional roller coaster level out when I get into a tizzy – generally about how crazy-blessed everyone is around me, yet they care not for the poor, the homeless, the widowed, the orphaned. Anyway, God has made it very clear He desired to mess me up in a major way, as He grows in me a heart to pour love, mercy, grace, and joy to the least of these. Those who society has forgotten, ignored, judged, and abandoned. These are my new homeys. I am blessed by them.
Anyway, so when God introduced me to my friend Tony, who by the way, is a hard-working, employed, tax-paying, insurance-carrying, (not-that-it-should-matter) single-Dad on that divinely appointed fall day I had no idea how He would continue to show off. What Jennifer didn’t mention in her blog was the next conversation Tony and I had after God gave his precious kiddos each a bed to sleep on. Our phone call went a little something like this –
Me: Ok friend, I respect that your first instinct was to attain the things you needed for your kids. I love that about you. But, could you please tell me something you want, just for you? Not a need, a want?
Tony: No. Absolutely not. You and your friends have done so much for me. Thank you, though.
Me: C’mon, Tony…please?
Tony: No. The beds are more than enough.
Me: Seriosuly, dude, just tell me something. Just for you. Not a need, a want. I can’t buy you a car or anything, although God could, but what would you want if you could get it?
Tony: Caroline, I am fine. I don’t need a thing.
Me: Hence the word “want” not “need”. Tony, quit arguing, you know I can take you, right? (This would be a good time to mention that my new friend Tony is an almost six foot tall, 230 lb. large black man with arm muscles larger than my neck. But, still, he could tell I am fierce. He was scared!)
Tony: Ok, ok, Caroline…if I had to pick something that I really just want…I’d have to say…(insert sigh of hesitation)…a washer and dryer.
Sweet man. Still thinking of the best for his family.
Thankfully, before my loud mouth could say the words “That isn’t a want, Tony, that’s a need.”, God reminded me that to some people, owning your own washer and dryer is a luxury. It is a want, not a need.
Me: Ok, friend, let me see what God can do.
In true me fashion, I told a few people ok, everyone I know and asked them to keep their ears peeled for a washer and dryer available to donate. I had friends hunting on Craig’s List for me. People prayed. It was awesome.
And, I kid you not…by that time next week, we had three different sets of washers and dryers fully donated by people who’d heard this story. Not one. Not two. But three different sets for Tony to choose from. Wow.
Tony needed beds. Within 24 hours, he had beds, mattresses, bedding, and much more.
Tony wanted a washer and dryer. Within a week, he had three different sets to choose from.
Man, God, you outdid yourself.
But, still, He wasn’t done.
The craziness of the winter months came, with holiday-madness taboot. Tony and I texted every once and a while, updating each other on how we were doing, how good God is and how great it is that He introduced us. With every conversation, Tony expressed his overflowing gratitude for all God had done.
Then, it happened.
I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize.
It was Tony.
“Hey Caroline, how are you? It’s Tony.”
We chatted ok, I talked and talked, shocker! a bit about my kids, our holiday break, and so on and so forth. Then it happened. I asked how he was doing? His voice broke.
“Caroline, I wish I had better news.”
My heart sank.
“But, man, I didn’t want to call you. I hate to even bother you again, after all you and your friends have done to help me and my kids. But, I don’t have a choice. Caroline, we’re in trouble. I need help. I’ve called on God, and so now I’m calling on you.”
He proceeded to tell me about the confusion with his new job he’d just accepted in November. This was a great opportunity for him and would be the highest paying job he’d ever had. But, he wasn’t aware about the time-period where the GM plant would be shut-down and he would receive no income. Ugh. Can you imagine? No income.
He had no time to prepare for this, and was now facing eviction from his apartment. He didn’t have enough money to pay his rent or his bills. He’s been turned down for unemployment and food stamps (since he technically was still employed) and was facing a tough reality. “I just can’t let me and my kids lose our apartment. I don’t know what to do.”
God knew Tony’s humble heart. He, once again heard the plea of a desperate Daddy, doing all he could for his kids, and He answered His prayer.
Tony’s facebook posts the morning before he called me –
“Lord I know some things in life happen unexpectedly and we have no answers, no resources, and basically no control of. But your grace, mercy and power along with our faith u can make the unthinkable and impossible work. This is my prayer today and now I can relax and be stress free because u have it already worked out in your name. Amen!”
“Even when I get discouraged I am still waiting on God. He taught me too many lessons when I get impatient with him.”
I prayed with Tony. I assured him I would do anything I could to help. I told him I’d call him back as soon as I knew something.
The conductor bows His head in gratitude as the cheers raise to the heavens. “Encore! Encore!”
When I received Tony’s phone call, I happen to be with Thing One one of our favorite new churches full of some of our favorite new people. Check it out, it’s amazing!
I immediately told her Tony’s story and we discussed what we should do.
Me: “Let’s just go on facebook and see who all can help out. Everyone will want to!”
Jen: “How ‘bout we contact a few people who know our story with Tony and see if they want to help, first, before we announce it to the world.”
Me: “Oh, ok, that’s probably smarter.”
Yin to my yang. Yang to my yin. Whatever.
Then the cheers began from the back of the auditorium, as the conductor received all the praise He deserved.
From my cousin stationed in Korea – “Encore!”
From another cousin and her Bible study group in Nebraska. – “Encore!”
From a single-mom friend of mine, from my writer’s group, who is struggling for her own fresh start from abuse and danger. She heard Tony’s story preached at her church, and when she heard the newest development, she immediately got out her checkbook to help. – “Encore!”
Super neighbor and Fav friend both helped (again!) even though Fav friend has since moved halfway across the country. – “Encore, Encore!”
My accidental friend, who met me through a mis-sent email in the first part of this story, now a treasure to me, who already gave three mattresses to Tony’s precious children. – “Encore!”
The blessing of a friend who owns my kiddos’ preschool, and four of her teachers, as well. Oh how I love those ladies! One of them even gave up the cash she’d received for Christmas to get to spend just on herself. Instead, she gave it to Tony. – “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!” “Encore!”
Friend after friend. Servant after servant. Reached into their hearts with love, and even more importantly, into their wallets for real, tangible help.
The next morning, Thing One and I drove to Tony’s apartment complex office and wrote a check. In less than twenty-four hours, we had enough money to pay his rent for two months, and give him a check to pay his utilities and water bills as well.
Over two-thousand dollars in less than 24 hours.
The conductor stands back, pride gleaming, as His child after child anxiously cries out “Encore! Encore!” in hopes to hear His eternal symphony once more.
And we heard it.
Loud and Clear.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Ps. These are the pictures of the three Thank You notes Tony’s kids wrote to all of us. Read and be blessed by Tavi (age 13), Dorian (age 12) and India (age 11).