Guest Contributor Jeralyn Hunter

Each month we are looking for a guest contributor to send us a story that will renew our spirits as we read.  So send me something!  I would love to hear from you! Enjoy this story that will be told over the next few days. The 2nd part will be Friday and the 3rd on Sunday.

Alex sneakers (2)

Leftovers

by Jeralyn Hunter, Guest Contributor

It never seemed to matter that I was there; until I wasn’t.  I was late to Alex’s cross country meet, and I was a little too quick into the parking space.  I let out a deep breath, exhaling all the work I left behind.  Tossing my name tag in the backseat, grabbing the phone and stuffing a couple of bucks in my pocket, I was off.  I was not too sure as to where… and I was not alone as we walked the lot.  At least we would be late, and lost, together. It was cold.  I was glad I found at least something warmish in the back seat buried under about 2 months of paperwork.

We heard a makeshift loud speaker and quickened our pace into the clearing.  I knew it was an old football field by the somewhat deformed goal posts on each end.  Their shape mimicked an antsy first grader learning cursive “Y’s” just after a lunch of pop, Cheetos, and brownies with sprinkles.  Long gone were the bleachers, yard lines and numbers that would have been my other clues.  The microphone’s clarity was not any better; something like Charlie Brown’s mom directing us to do – who knows what, who knows where. The team was dressed in their green and whites; once deep forest green now faded from years of lockers, gym bags, floors, and late night washings with too much soap.  They reminded me of the dried up edges of the split pea soup my mom tried to serve us as kids…..once.

As they lined up, I could see him; with the brown curls sticking out of a not-so- white baseball cap.  I resisted the urge to wave wildly and call out ‘Hey Buddy!” Instead I did a ‘cool’ nod.  In return, he glimpsed my way, the relieved – “she didn’t freak out” –   kind of glimpse, and we were both glad I came.

            As they came running down an overgrown trail and flew out of the woods, we saw an entertaining progression of runners: Runner number one ducking the oak sapling that strayed into their path, flapping it back just in time for the second runner, to take in the face.  The third, taking in the oak fatality in front of him, dodged left, just in time to sling the sapling back onto the fourth in line.  I felt sorry for the evens that kept getting swatted, but it was kind of comical to watch.  Thankfully, he was in fifth.  I could see a trace of a limp in this first mile, but he was on a good pace so far.  He had dropped back a few places by the time the top six came barreling down the sand hill again, spilling out onto the field.  The discomfort had obviously progressed, his face echoing more than just the pace of the race.  His base was wider but it was the flailing of his elbows each time his feet hit the ground as he took the corners that stuck in my head.

It’s just my ankles; they really hurt,” he had said plopping into the passenger seat when I picked him up after practice last week.  “How long are shoes good for anyway?”  Somewhere between “I really don’t know, you just need more time, and I am sure you’ll be fine,” I got out of buying him new ones. He got to choose dinner; pancakes or waffles; sausage or bacon ….. a shallow consolation I knew.

 As he ran by, a wave of guilt came over me, like a wool coat on a summer day: Hot, stuffy, and heavy, not to mention annoyingly itchy.    Not his best time in a race, but not bad either.  The end of the race eventually brought him to my side with the gimp of an elderly man attempting a three-legged race with an invisible cane.  Neither pancakes nor waffles were going to cut it, tonight.

Part Two

The hobble back to the parking lot was a long one. I really didn’t know what to say; so I just carried his half empty water bottle and soup colored sweats, in silence.  We stopped for some purple Gatorade and skittles on the way, and guilt restrained my usual commentary on the fillings at the dentist last month. From there it was an awkward ride home: he in his world, shifting the weight off his feet, and me itching in a wool coat trying to think of something to say.  It was only the second meet of the season.

He was not one to complain, not one to ask.  That night he did.  “I need new shoes,” came the statement posed only slightly as a question.  “Ankles still bothering you?” I’m not sure why I asked. I could see the wincing on his face as he came down the steps into our living room.  I went into a long-winded spiel of it being Monday- middle of the week stuff and work schedule, and payday is Friday; kind of half committing to think about going out Saturday and looking. He exhaled the teenager way and turned into the kitchen, I turned back to my book but my eyes stayed fixed in place.  Things had been tight and they were only going to get worse. 

We were in the middle of adoption proceedings, and it seemed as if each corner we turned, more and more zeros were being added behind the numbers.  The final payment for our agency was looming ….   and this was only just the beginning; only half a tank of gas, Aldi cereal, and the 40% off milk at the Meijer gas station- just drink it first and with Ovaltine and no one will be the wiser; and now running shoes?   God had called us to this adoption, we had obeyed, and He had been faithful.  But, running shoes were not in the budget. 

The next morning I sank into my chair in the corner of our living room and settled myself under an afghan to begin Our meeting.  Three were still asleep in their beds and the four legged ones were lumbering over each other vying for their place on the ottoman; all too ready to begin their first of wave of too many naps today.  I had in hand my coffee with too much creamer, and an English muffin with the usual, peanut butter.  The lab won out on the ottoman, and deftly placed her head on the pillow, just enough to spill drool into my lap from the mere imaginings of my breakfast in her mouth. I pulled out my Bible from its resting place between the cushion and the armrest and turned to the book of Matthew.  Meeting in session.  Sunday’s sermon on five thousand full bellies from one willing kid’s meager lunch was still resonating in my head.  The story of God’s unlikely avenue of provision; was a gross understatement of turning five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands with baskets and baskets of leftovers.  We, too, had witnessed God’s unlikely provision; the home study, documents, the dossier, finances, the basement, each step we had heeded his direction, and “loaves and fish” had been provided.    I lingered on into Matthew 16.  The disciples were apparently having a misunderstanding over forgotten bread. 

“You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?  Do you still not understand?  Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?” Matthew 16:8-11

 This morning, God was telling me to stop thinking about the “bread” and to start remembering The Provider; believing in him and his provision for us to walk in obedience to His call. With a shift in perspective, that morning I took my eyes off the ever-looming numbers, turned to the Provider, and I prayed for a pair of running shoes.  It was Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, Thursday and finally Friday.  No shoes.

Part Three

I read Matthew 16 again this morning. I prayed for trust in the Provider, and the pity party that I was already forming as I faced the fact that most likely I was indeed going to suffer through shoe shopping with my son tomorrow morning.  In our table time Julie had again prayed for her brother and sister in Africa for food in their tummies and blankies to run their fingers over, and Katie had prayed for hugs in their hearts and to please let them come home soon.  I silently prayed to not think about “bread”.

It had just finished raining as I headed for the bus. The air was heavy and smelled of the many dead or dying worms on our driveway. To be honest, it matched with the mood that was brooding in my heart.  I looked forward to our Friday walks home, since our work schedules kept us running the rest of the week.  As we stood in my neighbor’s driveway, I did not hear the proverbial roaring of thunder, I did not see the heavens parting, or a bright light signaling a heavenly event was in process.

 I simply heard the question.

“You wouldn’t know anyone who could use a pair of ladies size 8 running shoes do you?”  She had worn them …endured blisters, and was giving up….. on them.  Her next step…donating them.[B1]   I really don’t know what I said.  I am most sure it was not eloquent.  Something between “yes” and “what color,” “Wow!” not to mention “thank-you.”

As she ran into the house to get the shoes, I admit I was confused.  I was positive I had mentioned to the Lord that they were for our son.  I mean He is omniscient, He was at the race too……  Right?    Despite my question I knew that God had answered my prayer.  Humble, grateful, and a bit puzzled, I thanked her again, and walked across the street and up our driveway with a shoe box in hand. 

Two roads were going to intersect….a crossroads.  For a moment, just a moment, where two people meet and your paths cross and you find yourself standing in the same place, the same geography, and the same circumstances; looking down on the same pair of running shoes.  The intersection is only a small part of two bigger stories, and two different journeys. This was so as I stood in the doorway to my son’s bedroom that evening with shoe box in hand[B2] 

At first glance he was impressed. Mizuno’s? That was a positive for him. Then I opened the box. Teal green. In case you were wondering, the shoes were bright teal green, light grey, black and silver. It did not take him long to put the pieces together and the scenario before me started turning south.  The “W” in front of the eight, the teal green, and my over enthusiastic “sell”.  Soon we stood in stalled silence.  His response was his hands deep in his pockets.    

Then He spoke to me: “Let it go. Walk away, this is My story now.”  I left the box on his chair, quietly turned around and walked down the stairs.  In that moment we were at a crossroad: I had an answer, he had a challenge.   

 Saturday came and we did not go shoe shopping.  I believed God had provided, I felt a little like the disciples as the picked up the baskets and baskets of leftovers…. Amazed at his provision and then some.  We prayed for my son’s journey to that end.  It was a long, quiet weekend.

Sunday evening he came down with a shoe in each hand. “Mom?” I looked up from scrubbing the stove top for the third time. “What do you think we could do to make these work?” It was a quiet but momentous concession. I dropped my Scrubbie. My husband closed out the computer and he and I spent the better part of two hours armed with black sharpie pens, making it work.

 I was not witness to what went on in our son’s heart and mind that allowed his hands to move from pockets of refusal to hands of acceptance and finally to shoes on his feet.  It was His journey, and his hands moved; for that we are grateful.

I will tell you that over our fireplace sit three medals and four ribbons from an awesome cross country and track season.

Running shoes and Leftovers.

 Alex running (2)

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4 Comments

  1. Trish said,

    September 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Great story!!! I have to say though, I feel a little like a kid in children’s church who has just been told the most exciting part of the story and has to wait until next Sunday! Awwww! (At least I only have to wait until tomorrow . . . .)

  2. Trish said,

    September 6, 2009 at 12:00 am

    oops, Sunday!

  3. Trish said,

    September 8, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Great story, Jeralyn!! Thanks for sharing. So cool to see how God works in other people’s lives. He always provides our needs for sure! Keep up the writing!

  4. blonde40 said,

    October 12, 2014 at 4:30 am

    I love where this is going…
    I struggle to trust and obey.
    1 income…returning to school…2 in high school.
    How does one hold on to the unknown future?
    Keep writing, Jeralyn. I hope its not the only way that we can keep in touch.
    -Karla ex-SHNRS


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