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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gathering the Goods

Standing at the children’s clothing table, I held up a pair of nearly-new jeans. I added the jeans to the growing collection in my grip while I moved to the stack of tee shirts. It’s challenging to hold onto a fistful of clothing while stretching out a little shirt to check on the size. Early in the garage-saling game, I’d learned that whatever I set down disappeared, so I clung to my stash. Even clothing labels with clearly legible print didn’t help me; I had no idea what size to buy.

“Need some help?” I turned to see a cheerful woman at my side.

 “Yes, I could use some information. I’m trying to find clothing for boys, ages four and six.” The lady nodded for me to continue. “I don’t know what size I should be looking for. When I was six, I got my first pair of blue-jeans, and I know they were a Size 6. Does that mean that the boys should wear a Size 4 and Size 6?”

Laughing, she said, “that depends. Are they big boys or small boys? My Timmy is four and wears a Size 6 right now. He’s growing like a weed; I’m not sure he’ll be in that size for long.”

“So, this is your table? I guess that’s why the kids’ stuff is in such pristine condition for used clothing.”

“Oh, Honey, you don’t know the half of it! Who would have thought marrying the linebacker of the football team meant my boys would never wear out a single pair of jeans? I told Frank, if that kid grows any faster, I’m going to have to buy four different sizes just to keep pants on him for the rest of the month.”

The chatter repeated in a similar vein at every garage sale I hit. While I found the mothers’ comments entertaining in the beginning, I soon felt overwhelmed. Without having the boys there, how could I know what would fit, or if they would even like what I picked out for them?

Finally, I did what I should have from the beginning. “Dear God, You know those little guys and how big they are. I haven’t even seen a photo of them. Since the social worker has no idea how much longer we’ll be waiting for the courts’ permission to cross the county line, the children may have already grown out of whatever size I buy now. On the other hand, Martha said that the second the permission is granted, the boys will be in a car and on the way. I do need to be prepared. Please, Father, help me purchase just what the kids will need. Amen.”

I put the key in the ignition and pulled out into the street. I’d not gone far when a big sign caught my eye: Bunkbeds Cheap In excellent Condition. Beds! Of course, the boys would want bunkbeds, wouldn’t they? Didn’t all kids love bunkbeds? I jerked the steering wheel to the left, narrowly missing an oncoming car. Oops, better pay more attention.

The sign had been accurate; the beds looked great. I moved over to talk with the salesman. “The mattresses are included, right?”

“Yes, of course, and they’re in terrific shape. Just look at the firmness.” He punched down on each as he spoke. “You’ll not find a better set in any second-hand store; even the newer models don’t have the stability of this set right here.” He said, shaking the corner posts to illustrate his point.

I agreed to purchase the bunkbeds, wondering if my father had plans for his pick-up for that afternoon. I had to find a way to get the set home, a mere 192 miles away. Maybe my parents could store the beds until I could arrange for transport.

I followed the man over to his desk, but along the way my eyes fell on another item. A crib? I don’t need a crib, I told myself. No way even a small four-year-old boy would sleep in a crib. Nevertheless, I moved over to check out the baby crib.

The salesman noticed my change of direction, gliding over in two giant strides. “Now, this is one fine crib. Look at the features of this model,” he said, pointing out all the things good about the used crib.

I never heard his pitch, because I had an argument going on inside my thoughts. I just couldn’t see why I needed to buy the crib. On the other hand, I couldn’t get away from the idea of buying the crib. Was God trying to tell me something? Maybe He knew of a baby that needed that crib?

“Okay, you offer me a good deal and I’ll buy the crib IF you have a good changing table I can buy along with it today.” The words shocked me so much that I didn’t hear the salesman move to another location. Why did I want to buy a changing table? For sure the boys didn’t wear diapers.

“Over here, Ma’am!” said the salesman. “I’ll give you a really good deal on this little baby right here. As you can see, it has the three basket-like compartments on the end right here for all the stuff you’re gonna need at just the right time. When you don’t need it, watch this.” The man did a few quick maneuvers, and the whole set-up had been reduced to a manageable standing rectangle the size of the little compartments. Ingenious.

I left with the changing table and crib carefully stored in the trunk of my bright-red sports car. My boys didn’t need the items, but I’d sensed God had asked me to purchase them. I’d take them home after my visit with my parents.

Perhaps, the specifics of the person who needed these items would surface soon. A growing excitement filled my heart as I waited to pass the new-found treasures over to the baby’s mother. In fact, I added baby sizes to the used clothing I bought at the garage sales from that moment on.

I knew God would make it clear to me just who he had in mind when he prompted me to purchase the baby items. In His time, the plan would be revealed, but for now, I found marvelous joy in collecting a load of kids and babies things.

Indeed, God had a plan for each and every item I’d gathered. How wonderful is our Heavenly Father.

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