Anytime you ask my 4 year old what her dog or cat or baby is named the answer is always the same, “Mina”. Mina the dog with her little puppy name Mina who is friends with a cat named Mina...
I don’t think our family and friends really know where that name came from - but I do. Every time I hear her say it I see the face of the woman that bears that name (well, one close to it).
It was a normal Fall day for us. We had just finished our grocery shopping and were about to head home when we drove past a homeless woman sitting in the grassy area behind the parking lot. We pulled over because we keep “blessing bags” in the car to give homeless people as we encounter them in our city. I positioned the car where Hannah could see me easily and I got out and talked to this woman named Nina. She was dying of cancer that she could do nothing about. She lived in her dirty, 1990ish van and due to other medical complications constantly had accidents on herself. She had a scruffy little dog and a skinny cat as her companions. We talked. No deep theological discussion, just life. I let her talk mostly because I wasn’t really sure what to say and she seemed like she needed to talk to someone. Then I had to go because we had appointments to keep.
We pass out blessing bags pretty regularly but for some reason this one stood out to Hannah. Once I was back in the car she asked questions about Nina. Where does she live, why does she look like that, what kind of dog did she have, is that her kitty, and on and on as 3 year olds do. I answered to the best of my ability but couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have done more than just give her a small
bag filled with things that will get her through maybe the next half day. However with the thoughts of cooking dinner, finishing a work task and cleaning up my house looming in my mind Nina all but disappeared.
However, that one encounter had a deep impact on my daughter. Since that day she has called all of her babies, pets and friends “Mina”. When I asked her where she got that name she said, “remember the lady that lived in her car with the doggy and cat?” I was blown away. I had already gone back to
my normal life and honestly, unfortunately, I didn’t have space for Mina. It isn’t that I don’t care. My heart for the homeless and hungry is still there but between the practical day-to-day living as a mom/wife/employee thoughts of others outside of my immediate sphere tend to all but disappear as the oven beeps, the phone rings and I have little hands pulling on my pant legs.
But every time I hear her say the name Mina it is like a little jolt of electricity in me and I am reminded that others should be on my mind and that perhaps I should be living with a more sensitive heart, like my daughter. So, I am choosing, once again, to learn from my little girl.
I am learning that when I stop to speak with someone it should stick with me.
I am learning that these people are on God’s heart and so they should be on mine.
I am learning that it is okay to let myself get connected with someone like that - that I am supposed to - even if I don’t know what to do or say.
I am learning that it’s okay to trust God with my heart and my thoughts even if He fills them with things that are hard to look at sometime.
I am learning that I need to find a way to not make it easy to disconnect and walk away while Hannah fully engages and fully receives a person into her heart.
I hope that one day I can love and serve and live with the same heart as my little girl. I also pray that as she grows up that I can help her not lose the love, grace and compassion that overflows from her every day.
May I care, with passion and abandon, about the things that are near and dear to my Father’s heart every. single. day.
Here are examples of things that work well in a Blessing Bag. You may change up what you would include due to your area and conditions. Mine shift with what I can get on sale and what will fit in the bag. We generally use quart size bags. I have underlined the things mine almost always have in them and then add what else is available at the time.
- granola bars/cereal bars
- snack crackers/cheese
- peanut butter
- beef jerky
- applesauce cup/fruit cups
- Capri Suns/juice boxes
- trail mix
- hard candy
- bottled water
- hot drink mix
- canned meat or sausages
- hand sanitizer
- baby wipes
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- wash cloth
- nail clippers
- sun screen
- flip flops (depending on the region)
- gloves (depending on the region)
- travel-sized tissues