Monday, January 20, 2014

Shoes and a Paul

Years ago there was a couple in church with us that I begin to beg to teach a Sunday School class. Joey had been in a men's discipleship class with the Todd and I had been with Shirley and their children serving in different areas of the church. But each time I begged Todd said no. Until the summer of 2009 he called and a small group was formed. They invited us Into their home and explained the rules, the commitment, the accountabilty .... There was even a piece of paper to sign. I was terrified. 
The first time I hosted the small group at my home, I cleaned for three days. I labeled the food.  It said, "fried chicken, chips, salsa..."  Shirley put her arm around me and said if you ever do this again, you are out of the group. She began to take off my makeup and my mask. I was a mess. It wasn't long until I broke my ankle. Helpless. Broken. And finally still. I don't remember her ever leaving me from the hospital and even at home. I pushed and she stayed. That was always my go to, to push away but she wasn't leaving. She and countless others moved me broken into a new home. She threw away half my belongings and had me so blissfully unorganized and surprisingly it was okay. The girl I used to be was starting to fade. 

She didn't let me stay broken long. There was work to do. Daily time in the word. She had me reading scripture before the sun came up. She answered every crazy question I had about the bible. We read Radical in small group and we were all ruined. I don't know when all my makeup came off but I wasn't even the same person in the mirror. Then she said serve and we did it together. Then she said go. And we went on our first mission trip. Then our second. Then our third. 
Did I mention my kids? Todd and Shirley had them too.  Ball games and homework and discipline and babysitting.  Of course she bribed them with candy and coke but they have loved them. Tyler knew he wanted Todd and his daddy to baptize him. That day in the river in Belize will be etched into my heart forever. Todd stood in the river and looked at me as he read scripture. Shirley and I did what anyone would do...we cried. My kids will miss them more than I can bear to think about. Marlee already ask when and how much longer before they leave. 
She is the person who would give you her clothes off her back. She rarely ends up with her socks still on her feet in Belize because she has usually given them to a kid. So it is no surprise she showed up at my house this past week with shoes for me to wear on a upcoming trip.  She says she won't need them in Belize. I can have them. That night I slip them on.  A little too big but I can make it work. 

I know God is changing me and has but this relationship has changed me too. She is my Paul. As she is to so many others. And just like Paul she is on her mission and leaves for Belize soon to live full time. There is a couple of us who have started a new bible reading plan.  The other morning she sends me a text to see if I am up and reading.  I send back yes but I have terrible news Paul and Barnabus separate. As God in sovereignty would have it we are reading Acts together before she leaves. Now we are really just Shirley and Marsha. I know that. But I am just saying, this Barnabus is tender. Separation is hard but good. 
One day in Belize this summer she took me to the house she would be moving to to call home. I cried for the rest of the day. The next morning I crawled out of bed and she and I had devotional time on the beach with the bugs. I wrote on a scrap piece of paper and put it in her pocket. "The gospel is worth my friend."  I believe it and so does she. So what to do when Paul,leaves? You slip on the shoes that are too big to fill and you try. You keep on the mission before you.