Thankful For The Food I Had Been Given

A dream…

I was going to meet a friend of mine
So we could spend some time talking to each other
And get caught up on what was going on in each others families. (To hear the latest news)

She asked me to meet her
At the local food bank
For that was the only time she had open.
(She had young children.)

When I pulled into the parking lot,
I could see it was very busy. There was just one or two spots left for a car to park.

I found one not too far away from my friend’s,
And caught up to her as she was walking up to the building.

There were many people waiting in line
To receive their free food,
And we were towards the end of the line.

We talked and chatted,
Until we were close to the food.

Then my friend was next.
She reached down and grabbed her box of food,
And as I was about to follow her,
A man stopped me and insisted that I take a box of food.

So I took one, feeling like a fraud,
For I still had enough food to last us for another week,
Or maybe two if we didn’t eat too much.
After that, I’d be out of food just like everyone else.
But I still had hope that my husband would find a job
So we could get some money to buy some food.
He’d only been out of work for about a year and a half.
We had been living off the food we had stored up,
When we had the money to put into it.
But I kept thinking that there must be others there,
That needed the food far more than I did.

As we both walked back to our cars,
I could see the police man watching us,
Watching everyone,
And I felt a moment of fear,
That I would somehow be caught,
And prosecuted
For taking food while I still had some.

But no one was checking for identification,
Nor asking for proof of need,
So we continued on
Till we reached our cars.

I found myself wondering if I looked that poor,
That I would need such items.
But I then realized with a sinking heart, that I was indeed, thin and gaunt. I had thought that to be so thin was in fashion, but I sensed then, that I had become too thin.

I felt shame at this, for I could well remember the days when I myself had donated food to the food pantry,
Or given them money to buy whatever food they had needed to help feed the poor.

But I never thought it would be our family
That would need the help.

When my friend and I came to her car,
I offered her the box of food that had been given to me.
But she insisted that I keep it for myself.

She drove off, waving to me,
While I still stood there holding my box of free food.

I looked down at the box,
And realized that there was enough to keep a family of four going for only about three days or so.

Most of it, (all of it?) was dry goods.
Rice, beans, boxed side dishes that needed water added to cook it, pancake mixes and other such items. There was even an opened bag of white flour, rolled closed and taped shut. There looked to be about three cups of the flour inside it.
The box was an open pallet type box, that might have once been used for fruit or vegetables,
But there was no fruit or vegetables in it now.
Fresh produce of any kind, was hard to find.
I realized, that they had put all the items in the boxes,
So that everyone could see that everyone was getting the same thing as everyone else. (They feared food riots otherwise.)

I then wondered, if my friend knew that I’d probably have to be there next week, to ask for the free food right along with her, and figured that I could probably use a head start.

I thanked her in my mind, (and resolved myself to thank her next week when I seen her here again,) for giving me the nudge I needed.

As I was putting the food into the back of the car,
I seen that they were putting out some fresh baked goods,
As an added bonus for the people.

Many of the people had already left,
But there were still enough people left,
To receive the handout.

So I walked up to where they were giving out the bread,
But by the time I got there,
All the loaves were gone. A man there offered me to have three cinnamon rolls (dry and stale ones,) in liew of the loaf of bread. I gladly accepted it with thanks.
He gave me a brisk hug, and then told me to come again, and get the free food, and to not suffer so because of my pride.
(He reminded me of a dear elderly gentleman that I had once known in my church, who was always caring for and helping out others.) He then motioned to me to get in line for the cinnamon rolls with icing on them, that they would be handing out next.

So I did.

They gave me a huge piece of green plastic,
(not quite as thick as a tarp,)
But I was confused and went back and then told them that I had wanted the roll instead. (I realized that the plastic was given out to those who didn’t even have a roof over their heads or a tent to shelter in. We were not that bad yet! We had a nice tent waiting for us at home if we needed it.)

But by this time, the workers were in a battle between themselves, concerning some trivial matter of who said what to whom, and left the food to go argue it out inside.

The people were left there, waiting for the food.

I got tired of waiting for them,
Even though I was next in line,
(I had already waited for over a half an hour,)
So I lunged forward towards one of the tables that had a roll with icing on it, (not the ones with lots of icing on it that I had hoped for, but one with some on it all the same,) and was able to pick up the one on the corner of the tray.

Gasps of the people closest to me could be heard,
(and one saying “Hey! That’s not fair!”,)
But I walked back to my car, licking my fingers from the icing, and quickly, thankfully, devoured the entire roll.
(I think some of the others behind me in line, also tried to grab a roll for themselves, while the workers bickered away the time inside the building.) The workers finally came back out and finished helping the people, till all the rolls were gone.

I drove home, my stomach no longer growling at me, thankful for the food that I had been given.

I then woke up form the dream.

When I went back to bed,
I dreamed that I had somehow been given,
(inherited?) a bunch of rabbits and a pair of hamsters.
Even the cages were now mine.

I knew how to take care of them,
For the one who had them before me,
Had been teaching me how to care for them.
He was an old, old man, with no relatives left to care about him. He had recently died in his sleep, and left them to me.

The rabbits were quite big in size,
And I knew that they would fetch me a good price if I wished to sell them. But I vowed to do things just like the old man did, and not sell too many off at one time. I needed to retain enough good stock to keep the rabbits breeding.
I also needed to keep enough for myself.

The pair of hamsters were due to have a litter any day now. They would grow quickly, and also be sold to others, though maybe not as quickly as the rabbits.

Most people could handle the thought of eating rabbit.
But not too many could handle the thought of eating a hamster. The hamsters were enough to flavor a pot of soup though, and for those who could afford little else, it was still edible meat.

Some purchased a male and a female rabbit from me,
Just so they could start their own tiny rabbit farm in their back yard. Others wanted one to eat. I charged them extra, to kill it and skin it for them. Most found a way to do it themselves, for they did not have that extra money. Sometimes they paid me to do it in front of them, so they would be able to do it next time by themselves. I didn’t mind showing them. If I knew I would be killing one soon, I would let them know so they could come and learn for free. I wasn’t one of those charlatans who was out just to gouge their customer. I (and the old man before me,) were ones that the people trusted.

There were those of course, who still greatly struggled with the thought of killing a rabbit for food, but sooner or later, their bellies would growl louder than their conscience, and they would break down and buy one to eat. I would try to sell them the older ones, telling them that they had already lived a good long life in rabbit years, and would soon die of old age before too long anyways. They seemed to appreciate this thought.

I also stretched the skins out and scraped them clean, and then sold the pelts later to be used to help keep one warm. (I was not a good sewer, but I was good enough to piece some together for me to stay warm enough in the winter.) Some people didn’t want to be bothered with the skin, and I then told them that I would buy it back from them, for a little bit of money. It would take me quite a bit of work to clean up the fur, but if they had done a half way decent job of skinning it, then the work left was not too much for me to do. I could then sell it for a small profit, or keep it myself to use.

The pelts were not as big of a seller, as the rabbits themselves were. The meat, the protein, is what was in the highest demand.

I then woke up.

* * * *

Footsteps Of A Guardian Angel

This testimony was written years ago, (before I learned about the power of casting out the enemy and claiming God’s promises in Jesus name,) but it’s still very much worth sharing… 

       I listened to the peculiar squelching, sucking sound my husbands shoes made, as he walked up to our tent. It sounded like the rain had pounded the mud and gravel into quicksand.  
      When he opened the flap and crawled in, a flash of lightning bleached the sky colorless. Gnarled tree limbs swayed in the wind above us, and the ground a foot out from our tent, was flooded with water. Everything beyond, was black.     
      “The weather man was wrong,” I said, lowering my voice so our three year old wouldn’t wake up. “Looks like all of Lake Tahoe is in for quite a thunderstorm tonight.”
      My husband agreed with a nod.
      Lightning struck the sky again, momentarily tearing the darkness apart. I tried to count the seconds before its matching thunder answered it, but they happened at the same time. I tensed and wondered; were we within the storm itself?
      As we settled down for the night, I starred at the ceiling of our tent, unable to find peace. I could sense something was not right, but what?
      My eyes slowly roamed over the tent, taking in its features. Waterproof nylon surrounded us, the screened windows were shut, the new lantern hanging from the center, the six metal rods that supported the tent, …
      I pulled in my breath. Metal rods?
      Horror filled my heart. If lightening were to strike our tent… We’d be fried alive.
      I nudged my husband. “The poles that support the tent…they’re metal!”
      “They’re aluminum,” he corrected, trying to cast my fear away. “They don’t attract electricity like other metals do.”
      But I didn’t care if the poles wouldn’t attract lightening as much as other metals would. I didn’t want lightening to be attracted to them at all!
      Thunder rocked the ground, as a bolt of lightning cut through the cold night air. The resulting roar made our little girl scream.
      She scrambled out of her sleeping bag and into my arms. “I scared, mommy,” she said, tears filling her eyes, “it come get me!” 
      “Its O.K. kitten; Its just the storm. We’ll be all right.”
      She looked at me, eyes saucer huge, and I knew she was beginning to panic.  “Mommy,” she pleaded, “Make it stop, please make it stop!”
      I starred at her, at a loss of what to do. How could I take her fear away? I couldn’t even remove my own.  
      “Mommy,” she whimpered, “can’t you stop it?”
      “Oh honey,” I said, both empathizing and feeling hopeless, “Only God could make it stop.”
      “Will He?” she asked.  
      My heart felt heavy. “No honey,” I said, “probably not.”
      She cried then, and as I rocked her back and forth in my arms, I frantically searched the back of my mind for an answer. There must be something I could do to ease her mind. But what? 
      Wait a minute. My mother must have asked herself the very same question when I was a child. What did she do for me?
      She prayed for a guardian angel to watch over you.
      I spoke to her tentatively. “We could pray for one of God’s angels to come and watch over us. Would you like to try that?”
      She responded with doubt. “Protect me….from storm?” They were big words for her, so she pronounced them slowly.
      I couldn’t speak. All I could do was nod my head up and down.
      “Oh yes mommy!” she said, her voice full of hope, “Please, pray for one right now!”
      I closed my eyes, and felt a moment of doubt and then guilt, but I spoke. “Please dear Lord, send one of your angels down from heaven to watch over us tonight. Protect us from the storm, and let nothing bad happen to us, even in our dreams. Amen.”
      “Amen,” she echoed, and with a look of contentment upon her face, slid back down under her covers, and was asleep within minutes.    
      Moments later, we too settled back into our bed, and turned off the lantern.
      Unable to hear the sound of anything else, I listened to the storm rage around us. Tiny hairs on my arms tingled and stood up. With each streak of lightening that sliced through the sky, I found myself holding my breath. Would it strike us?  
      I could hear the even breathing of our three year old sleeping next to me, reminding me of the peace to be found in simple prayer. Oh, to be a child again! 
      If only I could find that peace! But I knew of nothing that would erase my fear, except a dry hotel room. And I knew my husband would not hunt one down in the middle of the night. He was one to chance it and ride it out. To him, it was an adventure.
      But for me, it was becoming a nightmare.
      Oh God, please help me….
      It was then that I heard the sound. I froze, listening. Now what? My heart seemed to jump into my throat. Something is right outside our tent.
      I listened again, and heard it clearer, louder. Definitely the sound of something moving, right outside our tent. But what? A bear? Warnings of them were stapled over the information booth, as you drove into the park. Yet that didn’t make sense. Why would a bear be out on a night like this?   
      I nudged my husband. “Do you hear that?”
      He nodded, already getting up and grabbing a hold on the lantern. I knew then, that it was not just my imagination. My husband did not get up out of a warm bed to investigate a sound, unless he knew something was there.
      We quietly undid the window’s zipper, and in one sweeping motion, flashed the strong lantern beam out towards the sound. My heart thudded in my chest, as I leaned out to look. What was it?  
      Nothing.
      And yet the sound continued. 
      Left, right, left, right, the sound of grinding gravel paused and pivoted, as it seemed to turn in front of the tent then pace in the opposite direction. I sucked in my breath. They sounded just like… footsteps.  
      Yet there was nothing.
      My husband laid back down, and I sat there, confused. What was it then? There was only one thing I knew of that could make that particular sound; the heavily booted footsteps of a full grown man.   
      “Do you hear the footsteps, too?”, I asked him.
      He nodded. “Probably just the rain.”
      “Have you ever known rain to make that sound?” 
      He paused. “No.”
      “Do you hear that? He’s over to the left of me. And now,… see? He’s walking towards the other side. Can you hear it, too?”
      “Yes,” He said softly, “I hear it.”
      “What is it?”
      It was a long moment before he answered me, and his voice was uneven when he spoke.  “I don’t know.”
      “What else could make that kind of sound?”
      “I don’t know,” he sighed. “Just try to go back to sleep, O.K.?”
      He did, but I couldn’t.
      I lay there in the tent, listening to the foot steps, and felt my emotions overwhelm me. Oh Lord, Help me with this! It’s too much. First the lightening, now these foot steps. I started to cry, as panic and fear overtook me. Please Lord, Am I going crazy? Why do I keep hearing these footsteps?
      The last question was rhetorical; I did not expect an answer. But I got one.
      “Well,…” The voice within responded, “You asked for him.”
      What? I knew it was God speaking to me, but I simply did not understand.  
      What are you talking about?
      Completely confused, I lay there amidst the roar of the storm, and listened to the sound of those footsteps, encircling our tent.  
      And then I understood.  
      The guardian angel.
      Joy filled me, as I lay there. To think God had really sent one to protect us….    
      I sat up again, and took out the flash light, and shined it out into the night. The footsteps were coming around to the front again, and I eagerly awaited them, hoping to see the shadow of the angel, or even the imprint of his step in the mud. 
      But I could see nothing.
      I closed the tent window again, and laid back down in the sleeping bag, feeling dejected. What was I thinking? An angel? Even to my own ears, it sounded ridiculous. Who would believe it?
      The storm was now at its worst, reminding me of the sound a freight train makes, as it rushes straight towards you. It rips right through all logic and peace.    
      Panic swept back over me again, as I doubted. Couldn’t you give me more proof Lord?
      Silence.
      I sighed. O.K. Lord, no proof, but then how do I remove the doubt?
      A soft sigh drew my eyes to my little girl, as a peaceful smile played around her mouth. She had found peace. What did she have that I didn’t?
      The answer slowly washed over me. Faith. Like the blind faith in my little girl, I simply had to believe. I could remain afraid, or put my trust in God. The choice was up to me.
      Listening to the ferocity of the storm, my answer did not come easily. Faith, even with the footsteps of a guardian, was not just going to happen. I had to work at it. 
      Please Lord, Give me enough faith for peace!
      I closed my eyes, focusing on the sound of the footsteps, and repeated this prayer over and over again in my mind.
      As I lay there listening to the sure and steady footsteps, my breathing became even, and I was filled with a deep sense of joy and peace. I let out a long sigh. Somehow I knew; we would be safe. 
      Then the footsteps stopped. 
      A total darkness overcame the tent, like a shade slowly rolling over a window, blocking out all light.
      BOOM! Suddenly light and sound became one, as a whip of burning white light lashed down through the center of the tent, pulling its cracking roar along with it. For a moment, the tent disappeared, and all I could see above me, was a thin jagged line of luminous pale blue, surrounded by brilliant white light.
      I blinked, and it was gone. All was black again, then the shade of darkness slowly rolled back, letting in the normal shadows of the night.
      The footsteps then continued.      
      I listened and wondered, as the sound of footsteps fell back into place. Had the angel just spread its wings over the tent to protect us, or was it just my imagination?    
      I sighed and smiled in the dark. No more questions. Even if I couldn’t see him; I would believe. The guardian’s steady steps, led me into a peaceful sleep, that lasted the rest of that stormy night.   
      Next morning, after hearing the forecaster predict more violent thunderstorms for the next few days, my husband decided to check us into a motel room for the rest of our vacation. Fishing, hiking, or even touring the old Vikingsholm Castle, nothing else I experienced that weekend, could compare with that night.
      Going through that terrifying experience turned out to be a gift from God. When I had wondered what I could do to help my child, He reminded me to pray for the protection of a guardian angel; and when we did, He sent one. When fear threatened to overwhelm me, He revealed the sound of the angel’s steps, then reminded me it was the answer to my prayer. When I asked Him how I could remove my doubts, He pointed to the child-like faith that I lacked, and then helped me to find it. ‘Give me enough faith for peace’ I had prayed; He gave me so much, that it lasted far beyond that night. He may not have removed the reason for our fear, but He did bless us with his presence, protection, and faith.
      Now, when I ask God to send down an angel to watch over us, my children hear a certainty in my voice that wasn’t there before. And even though I can not see or hear him, I know that somewhere nearby, fall the silent footsteps of a guardian angel. 
*  *  *  *

“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings…” (Psalms 34:7, 57:1, 91:4, 17:8, KJV)