This past Saturday we were in Fort Collins giving out Easter blessings bags that we had put together for the homeless. The Easter blessing bags were a small cellophane type Easter bag and in the bags were socks, paper, pen, kleenex, granola bars, a comb, deodorant and an Easter devotional about Jesus' death and resurrection. We had 25 bags to give out.
This past Saturday we also had the pleasure of working with two Middle School girls. They had chosen to work with Soaring Wings Ministries for a class project and had raised money to purchase and fill 45 backpacks. All together we had 70 bags to give out to the homeless. You would think that it would take a long time to give away 70 bags but that is not the case. As usual, the blessing bags went quickly and we finished giving out the bags within an hour. As usual, the people were very polite and very grateful to receive the blessing bags and as usual we were blessed to give out the blessings bags as much as the homeless were blessed to receive them.
As usual, there is one homeless person or family that stands out in our minds and captures our hearts in a special way. Usually, it is the most vulnerable of the homeless and in this case it was a little girl who appeared to be about 8 or 9 years old. She had blond hair, wrinkled clothes and a slight frame. She was with an older person who was her caregiver. I don't know how this person was related to her but it was obvious that this person was watching out for her and also watching over her. The girl was shy and did not say much. I had a child's sweatshirt with me that I was looking to give to someone and it looked to be just her size. I asked her if she would like to have the sweatshirt but she didn't answer me and didn't say anything. I told her to take it because it looked like it would fit her perfectly and I wanted her to have it. She took the sweatshirt from me without saying a word. We gave her one of the adult Easter blessing bags and we also gave her a child's blessing bag filled with candy, a child's Bible card game, some crayons and a pad of paper. We also gave her and her caregiver some water. They said thank you but that was about all that they said. We saw them walk back to their vehicle and as usual we saw that they quickly opened the blessing bags to see what was inside them. I was so glad that we were able to reach out to this young girl and her caregiver. As usual, I wish we could have done more.
As usual, some wonderful friends had donated blankets, sweatshirts and jackets for us to give out to the homeless. This past Saturday we took the 5 jackets and the 1 blanket that we had left hoping that we could find someone who needed them. We never know how many blankets or jackets we will need or if we will even run into some homeless who will need them at all, but as usual, God has everything planned out for us. All we need to do is to be obedient and faithful in reaching out to the homeless. We saw a group of 6 young men sitting on the ground, under a tree in downtown Fort Collins. We gave each of them a blessing bag and then we asked them if they needed a jacket, sweatshirt or a blanket. Each young man took a sweatshirt and one of them took the blanket. As usual, they were so grateful to receive them and as usual we had just enough sweatshirts and blankets for the 6 young men sitting on the ground under a tree. As usual, we once again realized that God had completely and easily planned the distribution of our hand full of blankets, jackets and sweatshirts.
As usual, our time spent in distributing the blessing bags in Fort Collins was a huge blessing to us. We ended our time there feeling that we had once again, in a small way, lifted the spirits of some very needy people. As usual, it felt very good to be on the giving end of the blessing bags and as usual it felt very good to be reaching out to the needy in Fort Collins.
As usual, we were blessed and encouraged to have others share in our work of reaching out to the homeless. We were so happy to work with two teenage girls who were giving of their time and money to serve the homeless in Fort Collins. We knew that there were so many other things they could have been doing on a beautiful Saturday morning but instead they chose to help improve the lives of some needy people. It was such a blessing to see them use their time and talents in such a meaningful and unselfish way. We know that they were also blessed to be on the giving end of their blessings bags school project.
We left downtown Fort Collins having reached out to over 60 homeless people with a blessing bag. As usual, we left with the wonderful feeling that we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do and doing it in exactly the place where He wanted us to do it. As usual we left downtown feeling very blessed and very grateful for the opportunity to serve the homeless in Northern Fort Collins. As usual, we know without a doubt that there is no better place to be than living in obedience to God and that there is absolutely nothing usual in the "as usual".
Soaring Wings Ministries
This past Sunday we hosted our 3rd annual Ladies Afternoon Tea at Soaring Wings Ministries. It is a spring time event that I always look forward to and this recent Ladies Afternoon Tea was, as I expected, a very special time. There is just something about sitting down with friends and enjoying each other's company while sipping hot tea and eating tea cookies and sandwiches that is nothing but delightful.
There are many things that I enjoy about "having tea". The special little cookies and sandwiches are always delicious and I love drinking tea out of a dainty tea cup, but the thing that I enjoy most about "having tea" is that the pace of life is slowed down for just a short little while. "Having tea" just cannot be rushed. "Having tea" requires that you take a break, relax, linger, enjoy the moment and enjoy the company of those who are "having tea" with you. Have you ever tried to rush through tea while sipping tea served in a tea cup on a saucer? It is very difficult. "Having tea" in a mug (or horrors of horrors, a styrofoam cup!!) isn't the best way to drink tea because a mug or a styrofoam cup usually implies that something else is going on at the same time. When I am working on a project like grant writing, or cooking in the kitchen I will grab a mug of tea for a pick me up, or if I am out and about doing errands I will sometimes grab tea at Dunkin Donuts or Paneras and the tea is served to me in a paper cup because I am on the go. But, when someone serves me tea in a tea cup with a saucer I have no other inclination but to sit down and enjoy the tea and the person having tea with me.
"Having tea" almost always lures you into putting aside all other distractions and focusing on nothing but the moment. Meredith and I both said that one of our favorite things about this past Sunday's Ladies Afternoon Tea, wasn't the food or the tea itself, it was instead the fellowship and the time that we had to enjoy the company of our wonderful friends. There was nothing to distract us from the pure joy of enjoying each other's company. No cell phones beeped, buzzed or rang. No one had their cell phones out checking Facebook or looking at text messages. No one was watching television or reading something. We were nine ladies of various ages, various stages in our lives and from various towns in Colorado who sat and enjoyed one another for two hours. While "having tea" we shared the stories of our lives, laughed at some silly situations that we had experienced, shared some of our hopes and dreams for the future, talked about how God provides for us in so many ways, shared ideas for fun family times and places to visit, and as the tea ended we were already looking forward to the next time when we could all visit together again.
We also had three little girls at the tea and they only added to the delight of the afternoon. They did not linger at the tea very long as they had another agenda that was more appropriate and fun for three little girls. They retreated to our granddaughters room and entered the world of "dress up". But the agenda of the three little girls was the same as the nine ladies "having tea" and that was to enjoy each others company. Rather than "having tea" the little girls connected with each other with dress up clothes. They giggled, laughed, made up cute little songs and later in the afternoon the ladies at the afternoon tea were treated to a fashion show by three very cute little girls. Just like the ladies, the little girls were not entertained by tv, cell phones or electronic games....they delighted in being together and in spending time with one another.
As our afternoon tea was ending and we were saying good-bye to our guests, I was left thinking to myself that spending unrushed, unhurried, uninterrupted time with one other is a very good thing. I don't need to tell you that life is rushed and hectic. The Ladies Afternoon Tea, wasn't a delight because of the food and the tea....it was a delight because of the time we spent with each other. As I was cleaning up our tea cups and saucers after our guests left my thoughts turned to the story in the Bible when Jesus spent time with Zacchaeus. I thought of Zacchaeus because of the little children's song that speaks of Jesus going to Zacchaeus's house for tea. Just to make it clear the Bible does not say that Jesus had tea at Zacchaues's house, but who knows, maybe their time together at Zacchaeus's house did include "having tea". I think that Jesus was probably very busy and probably had so many other things that he could have done that day rather than go to Zacchaeus's house but Jesus, being Jesus, knew what was important and knew what mattered. Jesus knew that it was very important to spend time with Zacchaeus at his house. There is so much more to the story of Zacchaeus and why Jesus chose to go to his house since Zacchaeus was a wealthy chief tax collector, but that is more than I will be writing about in this blog. The point is that Jesus took time to be with Zacchaeus and we should follow His example.
I know some of you won't be interested in "having tea" with dainty little tea cups and saucers....it just isn't your thing, but remember, it isn't about the tea, it is about spending uninterrupted and unrushed time with friends or family and enjoying each other's company. The idea is to find something that you enjoy doing and then take the time to share that with at least one other person. If you like the idea of sitting down and spending time with someone over tea I encourage you to grab some teacups, saucers, a teapot and some teabags put the tea kettle on an invite someone to join you. I can almost guarantee that they will be so happy to spend time visiting with you over tea. "Having tea" is such a simple uncomplicated thing but it is so very nice. I know that here at Soaring Wings Ministries I am going to try to use my teacups, saucers and teapots more often. I love spending uninterrupted and unrushed time with people and I can't think of a better way to do this than "having tea" together.
Time for me to go put the tea kettle on!
Looking forward to "having tea" with so many of you,
Soaring Wings Ministries
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries