Posted in Family, food, life, Scripture

Food Truck

“When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

There’s a new food truck in town.  For the past several years I have begun my day by walking for exercise.  I take several different routes but one of my favorites is around the lake at the city park.  It was there I met Bubba the goose (for past readers he said to tell you hi), saw the power of integration in the goose families (they are doing fine), saw a man waging a war with people I could not see, and saw the new food truck in town.  Let me explain.

We walkers see two kinds of exercisers.  Some people come and go and some are regular as clockwork, they show up to walk each day.  Like Forest Gump they start running—or walking—and just don’t stop.  These folks become unofficial friends.  We may not know each other’s names, what we do for a living or where the other person lives but for those few minutes at the park our lives intersect. And then, there’s the “food truck.”

She loves dogs and really animals.  She walks her dogs every day in the park…and there are several.  But what is interesting is that for a long time there was a cat walking with her.  I mean a lot of people walk dogs, but a cat?  The feline wasn’t on a leash but would just quietly walk behind her and the dogs.  Talk about intriguing.  So after a while I just had to talk with her.  It turns out it wasn’t her cat at all.  She met the cat one day while walking and it looked a little thin so she started dropping some dry cat food on the sidewalk and …well the cat had breakfast and hung around for dessert. There was a new “food truck” in town.

Sadly, one day our feline friend wasn’t there and I learned that he was hit by a car and didn’t survive.  We mourned together…a lady I didn’t know losing a cat she didn’t own but we paused and grieved.  But before long, there was another cat.  I first saw him on the sidewalk about a block from the park and he was having breakfast on the sidewalk and I knew the “food truck” had been by.  The relationship wasn’t as tight or as long but she had made a new friend by meeting a need.

Well, one day I was again walking in the park and ahead I saw several squirrels having breakfast.  Yup, the “food truck” fed squirrels too.  And then a few days later I saw several ducks gathered on the walking trail.  Turns out ducks like cat food and they too were having breakfast.  The “food truck” was a hit in the park and everyone was invited.  But the funniest part was yet to happen.

So I am walking, and across the narrow lake I can see her walking her dog.  Behind her is a group of ducks having breakfast.  Then on my side of the lake there are three ducks and they are on the move.  They are waddling as fast as their little legs would take them and they are quacking up a storm.  Again, my duck is a little rusty but I believe they were saying, “Hey wait for us.”  So huffing and puffing they waddle down a small peninsula and jump in. Paddling furiously they headed straight across the lake.  Like kids chasing the ice cream truck they swam on.  It was my last lap for the day but the last time I saw them they were on shore and hollering, “Wait, we’re coming.”

I don’t know my friend’s name but I do know her impact.  Her acts of kindness to animals makes her a hit with them and with me.  She just seems to care and really, besides this strange sort of fan club, gets no other reward.  She just does what she thinks is the next right thing.  I wonder how different our world would be if we did the same.  Jesus did.  The Book tells us that when He saw people—He didn’t see social class, He didn’t see color—He just saw people and He had compassion on them. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd or maybe like ducks needing breakfast.

Compassion is best defined as simply love in action.  Its seeing a need and then doing what you can to meet that need. Imagine today taking the time to show kindness to someone having a difficult day.  Imagine today taking the time to give someone a smile when they are only used to frowns.  Imagine today doing simply the next right thing—without reward, without expectation—simply because it is the right thing to do.  It might just be amazing.  It might just look crazy…like a cat following a lady walking her dog. It might just be game changing.

In a few minutes, I’m going to do my walking thing.  I don’t have any cat food.  In fact my shorts don’t even have pockets but I can pack an intentional smile for someone who needs one.  I can do that.  Sometimes Jesus gave out free lunches to crowds—big crowds.  Sometimes He healed broken bodies and spirits.  But something that I think we overlook is that He probably smiled…a lot.  Imagine His joy as He shared and showed compassion—love in action. Like the cat, like the ducks following the “food truck” people followed Him.  Not just for the bread, though some did, but because around Him they felt safe. They felt loved. They found a place where they could rest from the craziness of life.  We can too.  He’s got this.

Posted in Family, life, Scripture, wisdom

Here Kitty, Kitty

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” Proverbs 7:5

“Dewayne, we have a problem.” It was Judy and it was what greeted me as I was going out to the garage to get something I needed.  I think I know how it must have felt when the crew of Apollo 13 uttered those now famous words, “Houston…we have a problem.” I had started painting our upstairs bathroom. You need to know I am no Leonardo da Vinci and this was not going to be a Mona Lisa. Into that throes the news came.  “We” have a problem. 

I quickly explained to Judy that I didn’t have time for a problem.  My paint was drying and some of it was in the wrong place—like the floor.  She told me there was a cat trapped in her car.  Wait.  What?  Well, the night before she had told me she saw a cat go in our garage and I should check before I closed it up for the night.  About 9.30, I went out and did the “Here, Kitty, Kitty” thing, shined my flashlight around in the corners and such.  No cat. “Good.” I said.  Or not. 

So it turns out our homeless friend didn’t move on—it moved in.  The crazy part was that it took up residence in the engine compartment of her car.  Silly cat.  I was going to say, “stupid cat” but I thought you might think me harsh.  So anyway, I left the drying paint in the bathroom to attempt a rescue.  It was about then that I discovered why it is so expensive to work on Volkswagen cars.  You open the hood to only discover that every square inch is stuffed with something.  And somewhere in all of that was the cat.  Silly cat. 

A friend was there with Judy and all three of us looked and prodded, we called and cooed and nothing—just the occasional meow of the cat. Judy volunteered to look if I jacked up the car to see if we could see anything from underneath.  I did and she couldn’t.  It was time to call in the calvary.  I called my neighbor Jared who manages a local tire place.  Surely he would have an idea.  As we waited for him to come, we continued to prod and poke, coo and call.  In my sweetest voice I kept saying, “Hey silly kitty, come here silly kitty.”  I wanted to say stupid cat but I was trying to be Christian about this whole deal. 

Then it happened.  The cat, who turned out to be the cutest kitten south of Chicago, wiggled out of its tight spot and ran to the corner of the garage.  So I moved from poking and prodding under the hood to poking and prodding in the corner filled with stuff we didn’t need.  Cute or not this kitten was about to mash my button. Not to bore you with details but four grown adults spent the next ten minutes chasing this cute little silly kitten from one corner of the garage to the other.  From behind the washer and dryer to the corner of no return, we played hide and seek. Finally, the cute little kitten saw the light of day, ran through our friends hands and legs and out the door.  Game. Set. Match. 

The cute little silly kitten was on the run and that was all that mattered.  Jared went back to work, the ladies went on with life and I went upstairs to scape dried paint off the floor. I know I heard this kitten laughing from across the street.  So what is up with all this?   Surely the kitten knew better.  Surely he or she knew the danger of living under the hood of a car—but probably not.  To the cute little kitten it was just a place to hide. 

You see the kitten wasn’t silly, the kitten wasn’t stupid (well, not real stupid anyway). The kitten just lacked experience.  It was naive. It hadn’t lived long enough to understand the dangers of garage living.  And do you know what?  That is true of a lot of us. Solomon, the wisest guy to ever live, wrote in Proverbs, “I saw among the inexperienced, I noticed among the youths, a young man lacking sense.”  And the crazy part it was nothing to do with age.  We have all made some crazy decisions at one time or another. Too often we just throw common sense to the wind and well, we end up with a train wreck. 

God is in the train wreck avoidance business.  That’s why He led the half-brother of Jesus to write in James 1:5, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” If we would do that one simple thing we could avoid a lot of painful situations.  Just stop for a moment, ask God if this is the wise thing to do, and wait for an answer.  By the way, silence might be an answer, so don’t miss it. 

Well, I hope our cute little kitten found a new place to live and hopefully it isn’t in someone’s engine compartment.  And I hope we will learn to trust a wise, loving Father to give us the wisdom we need to live better lives with fewer regrets and better consequences.  You know He loves you, don’t you?  He wants you to come to Him and rest in the safety of His arms.  He wants you to know He has this.  And He does.