Abandoned Shoes

photo credit: tenspeedphotography


I was tossing a pair into a box next to the front closet when I heard, “What are you going to do with them?”. Looking up I saw Willow there; hands on hips and eyebrows raised. I stood up, “Not sure, probably take them to the basement and then to Goodwill. Why?”    In a chirpy tone she replied, “just wonderin'” and ran off.  I was surprised that my response wasn’t met with tears since my urge to purge often ends in a frustrated little one not ready to get rid of clothes too small (“but Grammie bought that for me!”) or toys not played with (“well, I was going to play with it right now!. . .”).

Later in the day I heard the bathroom door open and shut as I was taking a shower (in our family my shower time should be renamed ‘one-on-one conference hour’. It’s often the time that everyone sees as an opportunity to talk to mama alone). I peaked my head out of the curtain and saw Willow sitting on the toilet seat deep in thought. She turned her head to me and uttered words that I wasn’t expecting.

Mama, does everyone have lots of clothes and shoes? I know that there are people who don’t have food and toys, but do they don’t have shoes and dresses too?”

I explained that yes, there are many people in the world who don’t even have shoes. She remembered a time when she went without shoes and got a splinter in her foot and how much it hurt. I saw compassion in her eyes. She stood up and walked in front of me. “Can I give them my shoes? Like the ones that you took to the basement? I can ask my friends about their old shoes too.  Can I dig a hole and put up a sign that says ‘shoes for people who don’t have food or toys or shoes?'”

My heart was overwhelmed with admiration for her preschool-age ambitions and thankful that we are blessed to have her in our family.

After talking, we decided on using a box instead of digging a hole and working together to find an organization who serves people who don’t have shoes. We chose-Soles4Souls and began planning a shoe drive from April 1st to the 30th.  Amidst all the excitement, drawing of signs, gathering of boxes and such we received news that a close family member was nearing the end of her battle with cancer. We hit the pause button. Two weeks later our hearts have yet to fully recover. Our heads are still filled with a constant reel of memories and eyes often with tears. In all honesty I hadn’t given the shoe drive much thought until the other day an article brought the idea back to the forefront.

I sat praying about it. I currently feel  overwhelmed by the task of making supper for my family, how will I have the heart or energy for  gathering the shoes and  sending them out?

I thought about postponing it until I had my wits about me.

As these thoughts were swirling I realized that I was doing no justice mourning my Mother-in-Law in this way. She was a woman full of life and abundant love, someone who would give her shirt off of her back no matter what she had left. As always, I gained encouragement from these thoughts of her. If there is anything I want my children to know about her it was her unwavering compassion and ability to love unconditionally.

So,  here we sat on her birthday, a day before her memorial service, unfolding boxes and making up signs.  As I was fretting about where to put the boxes and if we should scale our efforts down a bit for the sake of my nerves, Willow looked up to me and asked, “What’s Papa going to do with Nana’s shoes?”  Once again my thoughts are redirected to a better plan, one that is guided by Him, living a life that honors His son and her impact on my life.  Putting my fear over what we will do if we gather too many shoes to comfortably pay the shipping of I said, “What do you think Nana would want to do with them?” With a smile she replied, “She’d probably put them in the box.

I expect that there will be lots of wonderful lessons in store for us during this time. If you or your family are interested in organizing a shoe drive here are a few resources:

How do you help your children give to others?


*this post is linked to: Finer Things Friday