It was 5:30 PM on a Friday afternoon when the Kids Club kids boarded my bus after their field trip to the Natural History museum. Ms. Liz stepped aboard to pass out a snack to each of the students: one package of Nature Valley granola bars. As Liz walked away from our bus with the box of granola bars in hand, I felt a tinge of hunger in my stomach. Looking back at the students, I asked, “Who grabbed a snack for Ms. D? I feel hungry.” An awkward silence fell over the bus. Angelina, seated in the first row of the bus, glanced down at the two granola bars sitting in the wrapper she had just opened. She looked up at me. She looked down at the package again. With a smile on her face she said, “Here, Ms. D! This is for you!” as she extended her hand toward me with a granola bar in her palm.
My first instinct was to feel bad for taking food from a child and say, “Thank you, Angelina for your kindness but you can keep it.” However, something inside me, perhaps intuition or perhaps the Holy Spirit, told me to take the granola bar with a grateful heart. I sincerely thanked her and consumed the granola bar. Twenty minutes later, we arrived to the neighborhood and as the students were disembarking, Angelina stopped in front of me, smiled and said, “Have a good weekend, Ms. D.” I looked her in the eye and said, “Thank you, Angelina for sharing your granola bar with me. That was very kind of you. I was really hungry and that granola bar was just what I needed.”Then what I couldn’t anticipate happened. An emotion came from the deepest part of her little body. I could see it rising to the surface as her face became over-loaded with emotion. She pushed her lips together as her brain processed and searched for the words to say. She looked as if she would burst. Then without a word, her arms shot up from her body, she threw them around my neck and hugged me reminding me that actions really do speak louder than words. I responded, “You have a good weekend too, Angelina.”
As I sat on my flight early the next morning, I pulled out a book, “Giving and Getting in the Kingdom.” The content of the text was good but my mind kept trailing back to the real life lesson in Angelina and what she taught me in our exchange just 12 hours prior. She showed me what it looks like to be “a cheerful giver” and the importance of inviting and allowing others to “be the blessers.” I expressed a need and Angelina had the means to meet the need. She wasn’t mourning the personal sacrifice but was excited about the opportunity to bless. She gave not out of guilt, not out of obligation, and not out of expectation that it will be returned but instead gave out of love with joy. I thought to myself, I want to give like Angelina.
My thoughts trailed to Spring2Action on April 9th. We praise God for His on-going provision through our generous extended family. Casa family members far and wide responded to promptings on their hearts, gave generously and raised $90,000 in 24 hours. As I thought of Angelina and those 540 friends who contributed, I imagined a giant hug around our community, much like Angelina, putting into action what words would fail to express. Those 540 people were not mourning what they “gave up” in order to give, but were instead saying, “Thank you for inviting me to participate, to love and to be a blessing.” That’s how the up-side-down Kingdom of God works as God refines our vision to see things not just differently but more clearly.
Casa family, thanks for the giant hug on April 9th! Consider yourself hugged back. May these awesome reminders from Angelina and God’s provision through Spring2Action 2014 spur us all on to greater acts of love, kindness and generosity so that the world may see the strange, upside down Kingdom and say, “I want to be a part of that!”