Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

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To the little girl at Chick-fil-a…. June 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 10:21 pm
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IMG_0132Our youngest son Caleb was almost 4 years old when we took a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. Our beautiful vacation had come to an end and we finished up our last day with a robust breakfast of eggs and bacon. With bellies full, all three kiddos were loaded into the momma minivan for the road trek home. Now, a road trip for the Nelson clan would include any ride lasting more than twenty minutes, as the whines and cries come quickly thereafter…’Are we there YET??’ But for this venture we had borrowed some portable DVD players, so Scooby Doo would be providing some relief and respite for this two hour trek. Yes, the  road was ours, and it was a gorgeous day for a drive.

I noticed from the get go that Caleb appeared a bit out of sorts. He was very quiet (odd for him) and would let out a whimper from time to time. At about the half way mark I asked if anyone needed to use the bathroom, as the town of Shelby was in sight. Caleb said that he needed to go, so into the good ole’ Chick-fil-a we went. We scurried our way to the bathroom in back and I took him into the ladies room with me. The quarters were quite small and as Caleb and I pushed open the door, we were met by a beautiful young girl about three years old herself. She had a stunning white and pink dress on, complete with tulle and ribbon flowers, with lace and frilly socks to match. Her hair was golden with fresh curls pulled back in a satin pink ribbon. She could have been on toddlers and tiaras. Mom too was all gussied up and gorgeous in her own striking dress with heels that I would break an appendage in. As these lovely girls were primping in the mirror, I tried to maneuver quickly around them to the nearest stall. What happened next came straight from a mother’s horror flick…..a nightmare indeed, which seemed to play out in agonizing slow motion. In a blink and with NO warning, Caleb projectile vomited every last ounce of his morning eggs and OJ. This colorful combination of filth found its way directly on to the back of this young girl’s perfect dress, and even dripped from the frills on her socks. Pandemonium quickly ensued as both mother and daughter were wailing in disgust and protest. All I could do was plead and beg for forgiveness…’Oh..I AM SOOO SORRY!!’ I felt utterly helpless as I watched this poor mother frantically trying to remove the vomit that now covered the back side of her daughter…it was even in her hair. It was a truly horrible moment. As Caleb himself started to cry uncontrollably, I just kept repeating over, and over, and over, how very sorry I was. A Chick-fil-a worker came rushing in as it was quite a scene. She was an older woman and she too chimed in with disapproval…’Oh my, you poor, poor girl…’ She then turned and gave Caleb and I a glare of complete and total condemnation. By now my voice was raising and cracking into tears..’I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’….There was no acknowledgment whatsoever of my pleas. There was crying all around, and  Caleb and this little girl had reached a fever pitch. And then I just exploded, right there in the bathroom. I had my own projectile vomit come out of sorts as I screamed at a volume that I did not even know I was capable of…’HE IS JUST A LITTLE BOY…..FOR THE LAST TIME, I AM SORRY!!!!’ …..Total silence followed. I scooped up my toddler and hightailed it out of there…

Some things truly seem impossible to forgive.

True forgiveness can be a tricky concept. Some people feel that a sincere and genuine apology must be made by the one who has hurt or offended them before they can extend this gift. Many people spend many years, if not much of their lifetime, resenting another for a hurt or pain that they have not been able to release. I know I have felt certain that I have forgiven an offense, only to play it over and over in my head and still drudge up feelings of resentment for that person.  Holding on to any resentment at all is like clinging to a piece of cancer, and it soon spreads like wildfire and leaves brokenness and bitterness. The one who cannot forgive, is the one who is hurt the most. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, it is the mark of a humble and submissive spirit and heart before an almighty God. We are called to be peacemakers in a world that is not ‘fair.’ If you truly want peace and joy in your life, then you must give up your ‘right’ and ‘need’ for a fair life. You will be hurt, you will be disappointed, and you will cry tears of pain….sometimes at the hands of those you love. . It happens to all of us. What you do with the offenses and hurts is what makes all the difference in the world.

The greatest and most exceptional picture of true forgiveness can be seen in the life of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and despised by the very people whom He loved and came to save. His hands only extended true beauty and grace, as He healed people of their sickness and pain, and yet those hands were pierced with mankind’s jealousy and hatred. His words were like cleansing balm to the brokenhearted and He extended love to all who were willing to accept it, and yet His name was and is belittled and blasphemed on a regular basis. And yet as He hung on that brutal and torturous cross, He did something that is not even humanely possible. He cried out to Father God to forgive those who had hurt him the most. He called out forgiveness to His very executioners. They were not extending any kind of ‘true’ apology His way at all, but He was extending true mercy and forgiveness,…in full measure. What an astoundingly beautiful and gracious Lord He is. He has not changed a bit, and continues to offer forgiveness to anyone who calls on His name. We are not worthy, and yet He loves us deeply. We are to extend mercy to others, just as He has done for us.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you….Ephesians 4:32. …

As I peeled out of Chick-fil-a that afternoon, I was not truly sorry at all for the events in the bathroom. I might have yelled it countless times that I was, but somewhere in the chaos I stopped feeling sorry and started feeling plain mad. I was certain I was justified in my feelings, since Caleb did not MEAN to vomit all over that sweet girl. Now I have had much bigger offenses and issues in the forgiveness category to deal with through the years, but it is funny how this is the one that God put on my heart to share today…. I realized that my heart was not right, and I asked God to forgive my anger and resentment over it. As I prayed out loud in the car shortly thereafter, I felt a release of the anger and a true peace come over me. I wished I could go back and find that mom and that little girl. I wanted to tell them that I was truly sorry, and that this time, I meant it.

Today is the day to extend compassion and forgiveness….no matter what.

Yep, that’s Caleb up there at the top of the post. Who could stay mad at him??!!


Angels Among Us June 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 2:21 pm
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I cannot recall what I was in fear and worry over at the time, but I know that it had to do with my son Nathan. He was in the first grade then and I was busy trying to plan the next thirty years of his life! I continue even now to walk that dark road of worry when I consider how Nathan will spend his adult years. Although he is a ‘high functioning’ boy with autism, it is hard to fathom him being totally independent one day. God reminds me that true trust and faith in Him is a daily walk, and tomorrow is in His hands…But on this particular night I recall feeling heavy-hearted over things to come with the private school Nathan had been attending. I had just finished working a long RN shift in the ER, and was doing my weekly Trader Joe’s run just before the store would close. I made it to the check-out with minutes to spare. I recall the clerk trying to engage me in conversation. She was very pleasant and sweet, but my answers were short as I only wanted to get on home. I figured I was ‘done’ for the day. Somewhere I sneaked in the conversation that it had been a ‘rough’ week, and with that I made my way out of the store. Just before I exited, this very same clerk came rushing my way with a large bouquet of gorgeous flowers that they sold in the store. I was stunned as she handed them to me and said something about hoping they would bring a smile and encouragement my way. She slipped back in the store before I could even speak. I stood in that doorway stunned and humbled. As I made my way to my car, a flood of emotions enveloped me…

Flowers had become a precious love letter that the Lord had used in my life various times before. I believe many people have tangible touches from God that are just for them. Such touches are personal reminders from a loving God that He is indeed still there and has it all under control. For some people, it might be a certain type of bird showing up at just the right moment, for others, a particular song may come on the radio when they need it the most, etc. I hear this many times, and for me, when I start to feel alone and lost, the Lord will sometimes bring flowers into my life in all kinds of ways. Such moments fill my whole being with awe, as I consider that the God of the entire universe has eyes to see one hurting heart. Yes, He delivers flowers! In fact, He has a very long errand list every day, and desires to find willing and obedient people to help carry out His blessings. He looks for vessels to deliver His love…people with eyes to see and ears to hear the heart of God. That clerk  listened to the message God placed in her heart that moment, and it brought profound joy into my life. Now God could easily perform His acts of love without human help, but how marvelous that He uses every day people to be His hands and feet. If you are willing, He will most certainly use you. What an unspeakable honor!

Those flowers became the centerpiece on our dining room table for two weeks. They remained vibrant and healthy all that time, and brought such comfort and light to our home. Every time I looked at them, I thought of the Lord and his faithfulness, and I as well thought of that precious clerk at Trader Joe’s. I wrote her a letter and returned many times to the store in the following months in an attempt to find her. I wanted to thank her and let her know what her kindness had meant, and yet she was nowhere to be found. I did not even know her name. In time, I was even forgetting what she looked like. Our encounter was so brief, and yet it had left such an impact. I prayed for her faithfully, and yearned to see her again. I tried to describe her to various employees, but only one shared that the person I was describing was no longer with them…but that he was not even sure if we were talking about the same person. Funny how I was so preoccupied with my own agenda at our first meeting that I hardly noticed her, and here I was aching to be in her presence just one more time. We miss so many valuable moments and encounters in this life when we are all wrapped up in ourselves and our own needs.

About eight months passed and I figured I would never see my angel again. The Bible reveals something we should all take to heart in Hebrews chapter 13 verse 2….Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!… Yes, there are angels among us. May we never hinder all that God is and all that He is capable of….for nothing is impossible for Him. Do not doubt that you may have come across some angels from time to time. Such encounters will leave you with a feeling of wanting to know God more.

But then one day…..

Before I enter the hospital were I work, I ask the Lord to get ‘me’ out of the way so that He can shine somehow in my life. Unfortunately, I still get in the way much of the time!!…but He is gracious and merciful and never gives up… on any of us. As I entered those doors for a late evening shift one particular afternoon, I had no idea what God had in store. It was 3pm and a patient had just been placed in one of my scheduled rooms for various pain complaints. I got my blood draw and IV gear ready and went in to evaluate her. I immediately knew that this woman had struggles on a deeper level beyond physical pain complaints, as she appeared a bit disheveled and her eyes and face were red and swollen from obvious crying. As I began to introduce myself, one of our registration reps entered the room. I decided to let the rep get the paperwork/insurance stuff out of the way first so that I could really sit and listen to this patient one on one after. I was hopeful that she would trust me to share about her apparent sadness. As she was answering the reps questions, I felt a vague sense of recognition about her, but I could not place where I might have known her. We see so many people in the ER, and many are return visitors. She had a restlessness about her as she spoke and she shared that she was out of work for the time being. But it was her next sentence that almost sent me flying off my chair…’I used to work at Trader Joe’s’… My eyes were immediately opened then and total recognition came back to me. It WAS my angel, right before me. Of course…it was her! And yet she appeared nothing like she did that night so many months prior. What I saw before me now was a broken and hurting woman…. the woman who I had so longed to see again, who I had searched out many times, and who I had prayed for. In all of my human efforts I could not locate her, but in an instant the God of all things placed her right in my room in the ER…right into my hands. Who can fathom His wisdom? He needs no smart phone or GPS. He orchestrates the impossible. I knew immediately what I was being called to do.

The tears were coming to my eyes and I was fighting to hold them back initially. I grabbed her hands to hold them tight and asked her to look closely at me. Her face appeared exhausted and her eyes held such sadness. I wondered what trials had come upon my sweet messenger, and I knew it was my time to be a touch of God right back to her. As she looked at me, I recounted the whole story of my going into Trader Joe’s that night months prior and the struggles I was facing, and what a beautiful cashier had done for me. Midway through the story I could see that she too recognized me, and we were both trembling with tears. We embraced for a long time and it felt like heaven was wrapping its glory around us. I will never forget that moment. She then wanted to know all about how I was, if I was ok, if there was something she could do for me. She asked about my children and shared that she was a grandmother. She was selfless and genuine. And then she agreed to open up about her life. It turns out my angel was the victim of domestic abuse both emotionally and physically, for decades. Years of scars she carried, and yet she still had room in her heart for love. She was not bitter or angry. She had faith in the Lord and told me that she just knew in her heart to reach out to me that night, and to do it with flowers. What a gift of God that I could then be the one to reach out to her in her pain. I told her how precious she was in God’s sight. Scriptures came off my lips that God had intended just for her at that very moment. He gave me the words to say. My letter was so weak in comparison!! Yes, God had set it all in motion, and brought both of us great faith and hope in the process. The pain in this life can never compare to the glory and hope that are found in the Lord. I told her that she was an angel to me, and she said that I was her angel..forever. Oh, there were more tears indeed!
I learned that she indeed was moving to another state in the following weeks to try and start a new life. And so God allowed us to truly meet and know each other before our journeys would take us in different directions. I continue to pray for her and know we will meet again…either here or in eternity. After all, we are family in the Lord.

Come across any messengers of God lately? Get to looking…..

And if you are ready and willing, He will use you too.


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