The Invitation Game

As I walked the neighborhood delivering invites to our next church social, I fingered the roll of tape and stack of invitations in my pocket, and decided this time to knock. After a while, labored footsteps grew louder and finally, a heavy woman wearing pajamas answered the door. “Come in and stay a minute,” she said, already walking away from the door and directing me to the couch. If she saw the invitation in my hand, she didn’t say. I knew of this woman. She was one of the first to build a home in the neighborhood. She was a widow, and did not attend church anymore. I sat obediently as she told me about her new pacemaker, her swollen knees and ankles, and how, due to the inexperience of a student doctor, a pin was left in her foot during surgery that gives her pain with every step. I listened and asked questions as the sun lowered in the window behind me. I could feel my cellphone buzzing; I promised my daughter I would take her shopping. Continue reading

Gifts from Strangers

Over the past few weeks following Jane’s heart surgery, our family received many gifts: meals, kind words, help with children, and numerous crafts, toys, and cards that otherwise helped fill our stomachs, alleviate stress, and pass our time.

It is especially humbling and poignant to receive from those we don’t know well. A girl who played soccer for Ed made Jane a blanket to comfort her in the hospital. A couple at our church reached out to inquire how Jane was doing, as they had fasted for her. A neighbor whose children are grown asked if it would be alright if he brought Jane a doll. School friends visited in the hospital and at home, and those we know just as acquaintances brought cards and gifts. On top of this, my siblings and parents have revealed their generosity in thought and deed. Last week, we even received an anonymous gift to help with Christmas. Continue reading