She Left Me One

It was the chaos of the noise outside that grabbed my attention.

The barking of our dog that lasted too long…it was too shrill. I could hear his body hitting against the chain link, trying to bust out of the run that contains him.

The afternoon sun tilted down and the clouds had begun to gather and I stood there unsure of what I was seeing.

Our gate stood open, unlatched by a woman who had wandered in. Bright pink hair sticking out every which way, her body bent over, almost falling over, into the daffodils planted years before we moved in. Her movements were erratic, grabbing and yanking at the tender plants that had recently broke through.

Barney’s barking mixed in with her shouting and I kept standing at the window.

They were just flowers. Flowers I look for at the end of a long winter – their cheery yellow faces brazenly blooming while there is still a chill in the air. They were flowers I couldn’t kill even if I tried – evidence of our Good Creator and His faithfulness each day.

They were all gone.

Her head, crowned with pink, was bent over her arms and spilling out of them were all of the daffodils that grace the front yard. She danced and spun across the patch of grass, twirled out the gate all the while looking down at her bounty, gently crooning to the petals that were already beginning to droop.

“Hey Kimberley, a lady just took all your flowers!”, one of the kids across the street yelled at me when I finally came out to assess the loss.

“Yeah…I know, Alex”,  I called back.

“She took ALL of them!!”, came his aggravated response.

“It’s okay, Alex. They’ll grow again next Spring.”

His sweet face showed that he didn’t agree with me at all.

We wake up to voices in the street.

Voices I don’t recognize and I lay there frustrated.

Who needs to be yelling at another person before 6 in the morning? I roll over and pull the blanket up over my ears.

I’m awoken again to more voices and this time I recognize the names they are calling and I fly up and out of the bed.

Police cars are everywhere, doors open and flak jackets and helmets on, rifles trained on the house 2 doors down from us.

I race down the stairs and stand at the window.

Tony’s hand on the small of my back.

I can’t keep back the tears.

They come out backwards, one by one, hands raised and kneel down onto the grass. I understand the need for caution, but the faces I see, the names I hear…we love them. Our own children pray for them. I’ve washed clothes for some of the them. I’m terrified that one wrong move and I’ll watch one of them die.

We move out onto the porch slowly, and I can’t stop the tears. They need to know that they are seen and loved.

10 minutes stretch into 30 and suddenly everyone is released. Tony leans over and suggests that we head inside the house.

I stand in the kitchen and I hear his voice calling my name,

“Kimberley, we are going to have a few extra for breakfast. Can you get the waffle maker out?”

My table fills up with gang members and we work quickly to get them fed. All I can think is how I want them to know they are loved, not just by us, but by Jesus. As I set the table for them, all I can do is pray, not just that they would be surrounded by Peace, but that this wouldn’t be our last opportunity to serve them.

I wandered through Costco later on shaky legs.

Alex was wrong about one thing, and I didn’t see it right away.

My pink haired visitor didn’t take all of the daffodils.

She left me one, whether she meant to or not.

When she first took my daffodils, it felt like she ushered in a season of darkness…or hopelessness. Joy seemed nowhere to be found.

She came into my yard broken, with a mind that was altered by whatever drug she was on, but she knew she needed beauty. She needed to gather it up and touch it in her hands. It couldn’t be abstract for her…it needed to be tangible.

But when she left with my flowers, she seemed to take my hope with her…

 

I turned 38 yesterday, a new year dawning fresh. I opened my eyes and for the first time in months I felt the faint stirring of hope. It has been a season of questioning, of feeling like a failing, unable to even utter a fully formed prayer.

I pressed in next to the warmth of my husband on the couch in the late quiet after all the small ones were in bed. Laughing at some silly show we were watching online when a knock came at our front door.

I glanced at the time, 11:38pm.

That can’t mean anything good.

It’s a mama from down the street with her daughter, terrified because the other daughter is missing. Have we seen her, do we know where she went, did we hear anything?

We sit on the front porch with her trying to help in any way we can.

I give her my number and she takes mine, tells me she will let me know when she hears anything.

12:20am, I get a text that the police have been called.

I crawl into bed praying, imagining the worst.

1:30am and my phone lights up.

I glance down,

“We’ve found her”, and I take a deep breath.

I live in a neighborhood with a culture that isn’t my own in a country that I wasn’t born in. I’ve made mistakes and messed up and blundered more times than I’m sure I’ve gotten anything right. The joy that I felt in the beginning of our ministry has turned bleak with the despair I’ve wrestled with.

But last night after knowing she was found,

Hope found me.

Jesus said that His people were “the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Through Paul’s hand, Jesus reminds that we are His workmanship, created in Him to do the good works He has prepared for us beforehand.

It’s His will that has been placed there on the corner of 4th Street…not mine. It is Jesus Christ who wondrously chose me when I was so unworthy of Him and placed me where He has so that His light can be seen through all my imperfection.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

So let the flowers be taken, the quiet that I long for, all the outward things I cling to that are not Christ.

Let it all be taken so that others can draw to the beauty and grace and mercy of Jesus.

 

I keep thinking of her, dancing away from our house, arms filled with flowers, yellow daffodils bouncing in the late spring sun…

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