Wednesday was the most overwhelming day of blessings! I didn't know I could feel so overwhelmed with such amazing and spiritual experiences, but I think with all of the excess of crying I was thinking, "Okay, okay, I get it, Heavenly Father loves me more than I can imagine, but he knows how emotional I am so let's tone it down a bit, eh?" I'm kidding but really, I couldn't believe how near the Lord was by my side this whole week that I could hardly handle it. I've never felt so comforted as such a time when I needed it most.
As you already know of my awful day on Monday with my car being broken into and all of my art supplies of over $3,000 being taken. I know to some, you won't understand why it was such a downer time for me, but those out there who may be artists or know of something that they are so passionate about, and have it all be taken from you - nothing is lousier. All week I have been praying so hard for my paints to show up. For them to magical be sitting on my doorstep because whoever stole them was too embarrassed to face me and apologize. Or, magically, I'd find my whole entire bag of paints and brushes in church dumpsters - just something. And no, none of that ever happened.
Zeke has been out of town this whole week, which made it even harder. So being alone, and alone in the dumps was kicking me pretty hard, and I was trying to have a good attitude about it, but whenever I'd think of what happened or retell the story to someone I'd just cry and cry. I needed family. Then Wednesday rolled around.
I woke up to a surprise at the door, and my dear friend Kristi had mailed me fresh flowers and a cafe rio card with a letter written all the way from Seattle. It was refreshing to wake up to it. My friends get me, and they know how much painting and art mean to me and they get how I'm feeling and for that, I am so grateful. Once again, when I read her letter, I cried and cried. My face is now so swollen, I don't know if it will ever deflate back to it's normal state - or maybe its just all of the cafe rio I've been eating to tame my emotions. From then on, I was feeling better about my situation. A couple of days had gone by and forgiveness was in my heart as well as a sense of hope. That night was my painting class and so I knew I had to stop at the art store to purchase and restart with just the essentials to get me through my last two paintings of the semester. I was determined to go at it with a really good and uplifting attitude.
Despite the negativity that goes on in the world, and despite my hard week, Wednesday was a day filled with good good people. I stepped into the family owned art store to begin my new collection of oil paints and brushes after having it all being taken from me. Being overwhelmed, the lady asked me if I was looking for anything in particular and I began to tell her my situation of my car being broken into and all of my supplies being taken. I could see the sincere pain in her eyes which then led me to crying hysterically (for about the 20th time) and she embraced me quickly and gave me the longest hug as I continued to sob. After pulling myself together she helped me gather what I needed to get me through my last final paintings of the semester. While checking out, her husband, who owns the store, overheard my story and showed his concern as well. Before leaving, I thanked her for the hug and comfort. As I was walking to my car I continued to cry again because the sweet comfort of a stranger was what I needed. Once I got into my car I noticed the woman was running to me with her arms filled with tubes of oil paint and she said,"My husband and I really want to give these to you during this hard time. Just pay it forward, okay?" as she touched my cheek and gave me a final hug. It was the touch and hug that any mother would give and again I began bawling in my car over the generosity this couple was filled with. I've been praying for my paints to show up, but despite it all, this was a tender mercy from the Lord and I've gained more and learned more from that selfless act of kindness then I ever would if I found my bag of paints and brushes. I have so much to be thankful for and I will forever remember this couple whom I am so grateful for.
I sat in my car after that experience for maybe ten minutes just sobbing and thanking my Heavenly Father. It wasn't about the fact that I now had a good starter collection of paints. The fact is, though I lost over $3,000 worth of supplies that will take me years to get back, I can still afford to begin the collection again. Obviously not all at once, but little by little. It was the gesture and the selflessness of this couple. It was the love that was filled in their hearts when they saw the pain in my face. It was them understanding and feeling deeply sorry for me. They were angels sent to show me love and give me hope and to give me comfort when my family was away. It's hard for me to explain how I truly felt at that moment. It was an experience that is indescribable. I've never been so touched in all my life. I've never experienced first hand the good that comes from strangers - and it was nothing short of unbelievable.
Once I pulled myself together, I managed to get to school tear free, until I called Zeke to tell him what had just happened and I couldn't even spit the words out I was crying so hard because I was so touched. I walked into class with bloodshot and swollen eyes and a puffy face. Clearly, everyone knew I was a headcase. I guess my teacher Sue had informed the class what had happened and if anyone could fully understand the devastation of it all, it'd be Sue and my classmates. Sue gave me a warm hug and said some uplifting advice and then an older man in my class slipped me a twenty and said, "I know how it is and this is the least I could do to help." I politely refused his offer and then he politely refused my decline of his offer and gave me the same look that the woman at the store gave me and he just begged me to take it and once again.... I was bawling. I have never in my life had that many people within such a short amount of time show their service, their love, anything... and I knew it was blessings from my Heavenly Father looking out for me. And to top it all off, about five minutes after... I get a phone call from my sister informing me that her and my Mom, who were flying to California the next day, had a four hour layover in Salt Lake City and wanted to grab dinner! Heavenly Father has done it again, what a personal touch to all of the tender mercies I have been given- Family. I just needed my family. And if I couldn't have Zeke, of course I would need my sister and my Mom. Honestly, what are the odds? There are no odds, my testimony has grown so deeply this week over the love and understanding my Heavenly Father has for me. The morning flowers and note from a friend, the hug and service of a stranger, and the charity of a fellow artist and the surprise dinner with family from across the country all in a matter of 24-hours. It was incredible.
I don't even need my bag of paints and brushes anymore. Those tools have been replaced with so much more. More than I could ever imagine. My heart is full. My spirits are lifted, and though I was physically alone during the hard week, I had loving phone calls to get me through the nights from Zeke, I had friends and family reaching out, and I had giving strangers and it was all done through the hands of my Heavenly Father. He knew I didn't need the bag of paints and brushes, he knew I needed something deeper, found in the hearts of us all. I needed a lesson, I need an experience to show charity, love and selflessness and I needed to understand that He knows me, and He blesses me and He understands me more than I understand myself, and I am never alone, as He is always holding my hand. And now, I
need to pay it forward, and I've never been happier to do so.
Though we are a few weeks shy of Thanksgiving, I won't forget this particular one as these personal occurrences were during the perfect month to step back and just give thanks. I am so excited to jump on that plane with the Zoo to Georgia to be with my whole family for a week. But before I do that, I need to send some personal thank you cards to a certain couple who really made November so special.
Happy early Thanksgiving. Are you just as ready for all that turkey and pie like I am? Let's go.