Hello and Welcome

Hello. Welcome to my new blog...'Between the Jackets'. What's it about? Life. Everything that happens between the jackets of birth and death. The real story. It's about people of all shapes and sizes, different personalities, unusual struggles, and funny situations. This also includes children, animals, crawling, creeping, and swimming creatures.

Let's face it, some days life serves you a big plate of worms. Not very tasty in my opinion. Other days it's a 'picture perfect' stuffed turkey next to a crystal dish filled with cranberry sauce. Yum! And please don't forget there are going to be those 'cheeseburger and fries' days, which essentially boils down to the funny, awkward, and in between moments of day to day living. Because life is pretty much unpredictable, I'm going to do my best at getting it right. Some days I know I won't. The best books and stories ever written come from personal experience and the struggles we face every day. These struggles we eventually overcome and, oftentimes, laugh about. They are the hidden treasures that make up the space 'Between the Jackets' and are well worth remembering.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Real Angels Among Us Two

Real Angels Among Us Two

My daughter and her family moved to Austin, Texas in May of 2012. Having your children move from the valley where they grew up is not something any parent looks forward to. Once packed and ready, my husband and I accompanied her family by driving across several states and into Texas in a BIG moving truck and their black Honda van. My daughter and I drove in the van with the children, while Greg and my daughter's husband drove the incredibly noisy moving truck. In the van the children watched endless videos, they cried, sang, their dog howled; it was a long boring ride for them. The four adults took turns driving to keep from falling asleep on the road. Bathroom stops were many, as no one, including myself, ever seemed to feel the need at the same time. Hamburgers with fries got really old, but remained the meal of choice while traveling.

Once we arrived, though exhausted, we quickly got the truck unpacked and began opening their moving boxes. Greg and I didn't want to leave them until most of their home was set up. That included getting the washer and dryer going, setting up beds, unpacking all of their kitchen boxes, situating dishes, pots and pans, and food, and hanging as many pictures as my daughter and I could talk our husbands into before Greg and I needed to leave. What a job!

I remember worrying when Greg and I left if our daughter and her lovely family would be okay in a new location...so far away from home. While visiting her in September of this year, my daughter told me of a new blog she and a dear friend of hers recently created together. I couldn't simply write one book on this particular daughter's experiences...I could write an entire volume on the many inspirational projects she has done throughout her short life span. I should have known she would continue to love and inspire all those she comes in contact with by choosing to actively care about others.

The address of the new blog is www.eponymrevival.wordpress.com...and it's simply amazing. My suggestion would be to visit her site immediately, as it will completely catch you off guard and have you believing once again in the unique ability within us all to be kinder to those in need of a helping hand, and to those of us who need to feel God's love. 

Essentially, each month these two sweet women issue a challenge to everyone. The challenge involves sharing acts of service with those around us. Their mission statement: "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." They joyfully invite anyone who wants to participate to accept their monthly challenges. These are the kind of things in my opinion that build integrity and faith...and remind us that we are children of a very loving God.

In October the EponymRevival challenge was to deliver a sunflower to someone whose day you could brighten. One sunflower or ten, one delivery or twenty...it didn't matter. I'm going to copy and paste her personal challenge story here, as it is, I believe, very much connected to the first story I told in my own blog titled, Real Angels Among Us.

My daughter's story:

Kae and Joy set out to “Take the Challenge” of the month.
Before heading out for the evening to deliver our flowers, relates, Joy, we decided to say a little prayer for guidance, asking for eyes to see who might really need a flower that night. Our hearts were full, and we were totally excited for the evening adventure. In a 1980 Ford Bronco, armed with a bouquet of yellow Gerber daisies, and a prayer in our hearts we headed out.
As we were driving, observing, and talking…we saw him. A man sat slumped over on the ground, cross legged, his head hanging in his lap. The tense way he held himself told us immediately that he was in obvious pain. What kind of pain? We had no idea, but knew we needed to stop.
Handing him a flower, we introduced ourselves. At first you could tell he questioned our sincerity, but he was very open to talking and, in fact, quickly stood and straightened his posture. As we stared into his face, we could see that his eyes carried many stories and life experiences. His clothes and body had seen better days. Standing in humble circumstances with an ace bandage wrapped around one foot in a brace; we asked him if his foot was being taken care of properly. He assured us that it was.
We kept talking and discovered that he used to be a bull rider. We said, “Wow you have to have guts to do that.”
He replied, “You have to have heart.”
We could tell this man had been through so much in his life, and he definitely had what he called “Heart.” We again asked him about his foot. He was obviously favoring it.
Peering at us he asked, “Would you like to see it?”
“Sure,” we replied, a little hesitant. As he pulled back the ace bandage our hearts fell. We would never have guessed that such a major injury lay beneath a simple ace bandage. He explained that he had recently been hit by a car. The layers of skin had been torn away on one side of his foot, leaving flesh and bone exposed to all sorts of infection. He told us that he was taking care of it, but we knew better.  We knew immediately our prayer had been answered, and this was exactly where the Lord needed our help today. Still concerned for his welfare, the next day we took him the necessary items to care for his foot properly, and helped with getting him the right medical attention.—a hospital where he could go to receive treatment.
As we continued to hand out flowers that first day, we handed a flower to an old man who couldn’t speak a lick of English. In Spanish he said, “What is this for?”
“Just to say we love you,” we replied. “We hope you have a wonderful evening.” As he walked away he repeatedly looked back at us, giving us a smile that warmed our hearts. We were grateful that we warmed his.
We stopped by a trailer where we found a beautiful mother and her two children. We gave each of them a flower, and again, the door to friendship was immediately opened. We had a wonderful conversation with them and explained we would be back. We could see this single mother would be grateful for any assistance, and therefore, we made plans to take clothes back to both of her girls.
One type of service as quoted by Linda Burton is, “First observe, then serve.”
One woman was hauling branches out of her yard, and was not interested in receiving help. She stared at us quizzically, wondering from her looks about our true intentions. As we handed her the flower her entire countenance changed. With a softened heart she said, “Nobody does this anymore…you have made my night. Thank you.”
We stopped by a friend of ours to give her a flower. She reminded us that “yellow means friendship” and that’s exactly what the flower became for her. With tear-filled eyes, we could see and feel that she was very grateful for the gesture.
Finally, we came upon the beautiful Indian couple in the picture up above. They are here from India visiting their son and his family. The sunflower for them had a much deeper meaning. This flower took them home to their native country, and they taught us about what we were really doing that evening. They explained this beautiful flower always follows the sun. For us, this meant, “the Son.”
As I relayed these special experiences to my husband that night, tears filled my eyes as I thought of the pain the man with the injured foot was enduring. I was humbled by his courage, and grateful for the conveniences that lay around me in my home. Amazing how a simple flower opened the door to a friendship of trust that led to a far greater level of service. I was grateful we were able to be the Lords hands through our service.
Mathew 25:45 “…Verily I say unto you, Inasmmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
We learned first hand that one of the best ways to follow “the Son”  is to serve and love our fellow men.
We are sharing our experience not to boast, but to inspire. “When you receive, give. When you learn, teach.” 
My daughter and her friend shared something unique with many, and keep sharing, but the story I found especially fascinating was the one about the homeless man slumped over on the ground. They were able to brighten his day no doubt by giving him a lovely sunflower, but they went above and beyond when they took him medical supplies and an address where he could receive medical attention the next day. Now here's what she didn't tell in her blog that hit me so hard.
I was visiting her the day she and her good friend took the man the medical supplies. She came home after the experience and related everything to me. Ever the mother, I warned her of the many dangers of helping the WRONG man. What if she'd been robbed or beaten? She reminded me they had prayed about finding the right person, and they both felt they had been directed by the spirit of God. Yes, I really do believe God works through the hands of his children, but it's also important to be ever cautious.
"Mom?" she asked later that evening. "There was a strange guy there today, though. I can't quit thinking about him."
Great! "A strange guy?" I asked, fighting to stay calm.
"He wasn't there yesterday. When we got there today and found the injured man, this particular man was going around to some of the other men helping them. He was dressed more like them, but doing the same thing we were doing. Something about him struck me as odd.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"He was turned away from me, but I walked up to him and said, 'My name is Amber Giles. I'm here to help. Do you mind if I ask your name?' and I held out my hand for him to shake. It took him a moment to turn around, but when he did, he had the most beautiful blue eyes I think I've ever seen. His eyes were so...," she hesitated, "alive."
Her observation completely caught me off guard. I returned momentarily to another place and time, to a Burger King/Convenience store one cold winter morning in Driggs, Idaho. I thought of my own blue-eyed stranger and the unusually odd disappearance of he and his companion. I thought of the warning the blue-eyed stranger had given me...not to drive that morning to Idaho Falls. He, too, had eyes that seemed very much alive.
"He reached for my hand and shook it," continued my daughter. " Then he paused for a moment to study my face and told me...'My name is Gabriel.'"
"Gabriel!" I nearly shouted at her. "The angel Gabriel?"
She shrugged. "I'm not saying he WAS the angel Gabriel. But when he shook my hand...goosebumps rose up and down my arm. He seemed different...special."
I couldn't help smiling. So why not the angel Gabriel? "Maybe it was him," I told her. "Is it so impossible to believe there are ministering angels among us?"
Later that night I looked up the angel Gabriel on the internet. Wikipedia states:  In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God. Gabriel is mentioned in the Bible once in the Old Testament and once in the New. In the Old Testament, he appears to the prophet Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke, Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary and to Zechariah, foretelling the births of Jesus and John the Baptist, respectively. 
Another site stated: The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." The name "Gabriel" has been interpreted "Strength of God." 
Yet another stated: Angels are messengers from God who are directly concerned with the doings of this earth. Rather than mythical beings with wings, they are men, in a spirit state or in a resurrected state. The Bible Dictionary (LDS annotated King James Version of the Bible) states the following:  These are messengers of the Lord, and are spoken of in the epistle to the Hebrews as "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14). We learn from latter-day revelation that there are two classes of heavenly beings who minister for the Lord: those who are spirits and those who have bodies of flesh and bone. spirits are those beings who either have not yet obtained a body of flesh and bone (unembodied),or who have once had a mortal body and have died, and are awaiting the resurrection (disembodied). Ordinarily the word angel means those ministering persons who have a body of flesh and bone, being either resurrected from the dead (re-embodied), or else translated, as were Enoch, Elijah, etc. (Doctrine and Covenants 129).
One might ask, "Why were angels so prominent at the Savior's birth? And why were they such an important part of His life and ministry?" The answers are twofold. The first pertains to the nature and mission of the personage whom they were heralding--a divine Being, the Son of God, the Only Begotten in the flesh who came to earth to save all of God's children. The second concerns the ushering in of a new dispensation, a period of time when the gospel would be restored in its fulness. The ministry of angels is to assist in the ushering in of dispensations (see Moroni 7:29-31).
Angels are sent from the heavenly realm to "deliver God's messages, to minister to His children, to teach them the doctrines of salvation, to call them to repentance, to give them the priesthood and its keys, to save them in perilous circumstances, to guide them in the performance of His work, to gather the elect in the last days, to perform all needful things relative to His work."
So was the blue-eyed stranger my daughter met really the angel Gabriel? And who was the blue-eyed stranger I met in Driggs? These thoughts certainly cause one to stop and ponder. Perhaps my daughters and I will get the opportunity to ask Gabriel himself one day? Until then...we've got some incredible experiences that are well worth remembering.