Andy knows a girl who has only one pair of shoes – shoes that are three sizes too big and have the soles hanging off. A friend of Andy’s hunted out a pair of shoes her daughter had outgrown and offered them to the girl. Her face lit up as if she’d been given a huge pile of Christmas gifts instead of a second-hand pair of shoes. The grateful girl’s absolute delight in her new possession made the friend feel like crying. Andy felt like crying too and by the time he’d told me the story, I had tears in my own eyes.
My children only have one pair of shoes each too: one pair of Mass shoes, oh and yes, one pair of sports shoes, together with one pair of sandals, one pair of slippers and of course, they have one pair of boots… perhaps they each have gum boots too. At the bottom of their shoe boxes there are probably other odd pairs of shoes that are perfectly serviceable but for some reason don’t get worn.
Andy was telling me this shoe story while we were out shopping for Easter eggs for our children. We wandered up and down the aisles in the department store trying to decide: so much choice. Now our children won’t be getting any of those fancy eggs that come with Peter Rabbit or Disney Princess cups. They won’t even be getting an egg that comes in a box. Six 79 cent chocolate rabbits, six medium unboxed Cadbury eggs and a bag or two of small hunting eggs went into our trolley. By some people’s standards this is rather a modest Easter gift for each child. But other people will think that our children have been utterly spoilt. Andy tells me that the little girl, with the shoes three sizes too big, does not expect to get even one little hunting egg.
I think of our family as a pretty average family. We have six still-at-home children and we live on a modest income due to the fact that Andy has just retrained as a school teacher. Having taken up his first teaching position he has had to start on the bottom rung of the teachers’ salary ladder. So we don’t think of ourselves as an affluent family. But are we really poor? Of course not. We do not really know what it is like to be poor. I am not saying we can buy everything our children want but whenever one of our children has a need, I am able to go out and buy whatever is necessary. I do not have to dress my children in clothes three sizes too big.
Our parish supports an orphanage in East Timor. At regular intervals during the year, we are given updates on the nuns and the children under their care. And we are always told that everyone at the orphanage is praying for our parish. They are praying for an improvement in our circumstances. Whatever we need, they pray God will give it to us. It seems so upside down to me. The nuns are praying for our circumstances which are so much more fortunate than their own. They are so grateful if we send a small donation to help them, money that really we do not miss, that we can afford to give.
There are so many needy children in the world both at home and overseas.
Andy and I were talking about how very blessed we have been with our own family. Our children have everything they need and more, they are well educated and most importantly, they are loved and know they are valued. Do we not have a duty to share our blessings with children who have less?
The girls and I were discussing the corporal works of mercy the other day and how important it is to perform them. There must be many children who have inadequate footwear. We could easily sort through the shoe boxes and donate our spare shoes to a worthy cause. This would help. But is that too easy? Giving away our excess would also help us by lightening our load and easing our consciences. I sometimes wonder if God is asking us to go the extra mile.
A few years ago at Mass, we used to sit behind a family who’d adopted a special needs child. One day there was an article in the local paper featuring this family. The article highlighted the plight of unwanted children: so many special needs children or past-toddler-age children that no one will welcome into their homes. I think about being unwanted. How distressing. Doesn’t every child deserve a loving family to grow up in?
We get so caught up with our own family. Sometimes it is just a struggle to see to the needs of our own children. But one day we reach the stage when we have a little time and a little energy to spare… We are thinking and praying…could we? What does a needy child want? Just a place to belong… and a little love… and we have plenty of that.
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  1. I also often think about adoption but at this point we would have to wait about 5 years or so due to our circumstances. it makes me very upset when i see ppl not helping others when they obviously have plenty of financial overflow... i think so many ppl just don't even think about it. maybe if they had more run-ins with ppl in need firsthand they would want to help more.

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  2. If we all gave back a little when our circumstances allow, what a lot of good we could do. Sometimes I ponder on how fortunate I am, how I ended up here with my family and not in a more needy situation. I didn't get here by by my merits but by the gift of God. Thanks for your comment, Kim. With prayers

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  3. Hi Sue, your post is a wonderful reminder of how well we each are doing and there are many less fortunate. All that we have is God's so how can we hold on to it and not help others?

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  4. "All that we have is God's so how can we hold on to it and not help others?" - You have summed it up so well, Noreen! Thank you. God bless.

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  5. Were you able to read my blog today? I know offering up prayer is helping but I wonder at times in the scenario I experienced, whose voice was I listening to?

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  6. Hi Noreen, in certain situations it isn't easy to help others despite us wanting to. What does God want us to do: be prudent or throw caution to the wind in a spirit of charity? I don't think it is an easy thing to work out. I have left a comment on your blog: just some ramblings. God bless!

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