Calloused Knees — The Sojourner’s Last Mile – Part 3

It is raining hard as we make our way down I-95 South — the windshield wiper blades racing back and forth — crimson lights aglow in the stop and go traffic.  We have been on the road about two hours when Ivy awakens.  Our tummies are growing hungry and we decide it might be a good time to stop and satiate them and our emptying gas tank.

I see a sign for WaWa and decide that it is a safe and good place to stop for gas and as we do, we also see a Culvers — well, thank you, Lord, because Karen and I love Culvers and it will be a new experience for Ivy.  We order our food and take a quiet table so that we can get to know Ivy a bit a better and the conversation takes off.

As Ivy explains to us how she found herself stranded in Sanford — she tells us of all the people she has encountered — many not so willing to help her or even speak to her.  She looks at me and says, “Tam — why are you different?  Why were you willing to help me when so many others didn’t want to give me a place to even sit down and rest?”  I know Ivy isn’t asking a rhetorical question — she is asking from the deep places of her heart — a hurting question that begs an authentic answer — not an empty, callous one.

I look at Ivy — I really look at her and see what others are afraid to see and at that very moment I decide to make myself vulnerable — and not pull any punches — because Ivy needs to see Jesus and not Tam…and, I start:

Ivy — most people are walking around life with a great deal of hurt.  Most have gaping wounds that I cannot even begin to understand.  When life has served you up every raw deal that exists — when you’ve been abandoned at every turn — when it took every ounce of energy just to show up that day — most don’t feel that have anything left to give — they bearly have enough to get through it themselves.  I am talking about that young lady who has nowhere to go — maybe her Daddy threw her out on her backside because she announced that she’s pregnant and the young man has left her to handle it all alone — or the single parent who is not even sure how to fill their babies bellies that night and tomorrow is not looking much brighter — how about the gentleman that walked out of the doctor’s office with the stark realization that he has about six months to live and now he needs to go home and tell his wife the life-time they had planned together has been cut short by about 40 years.  I am thinking about the woman sitting on the couch in the  pastors office — weeping — life has been a struggle — never easy — since the age of 5, when for the first time a man touched her in a way he never should have — she doesn’t know how to put the pieces of life together and really doesn’t want to put them together —she only wants to end her life — it is just too difficult to breathe.

You see, Ivy, everyone has a story — everyone is approaching each day from a place of hurt — and many start developing callouses on their hearts.  They allow the callouses to become an armor or shields to protect them from being hurt further.  Often, then, they cannot see people’s hurts because of their own.

Ivy, I am not immune to such hurt either — but I’ve allowed Christ Jesus to soften the callouses of my heart…to take suffering and use it to help others when He can.  Romans 5:3-5 says,

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

It’s a choice, for me, Ivy — I want God to use me and so I choose to have callouses on my knees rather than my heart!

We reach our destination with Ivy and leave her in the hands of her son.  As Karen and I start back, we are reminded of a verse in Hebrews regarding angels unaware — we are encouraged to help them, who are sojourner’s in a weary land — we might be entertaining angels.  I don’t know if Ivy was an angel, but I do know that God is good to entrust Karen and I with her for a short time!

Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Hebrews 13:2


Calloused Knees – The Sojourner’s Last Mile – Part 2

As it is almost 4:00 p.m. and Miami is over a 3 and a half hour drive from Sanford, Karen, Ivy, and I get into the car to begin our journey.  Ivy is exhausted after being up for the past 48 hours and we encourage her to just sleep, while I drive.

Ivy stretches out in the back seat of the car and settles in for a long nap and Karen and I begin to softly talk about how God works out His purposes for us all…having a willing and ready heart to do as He bids…letting fear go and trusting.  Ah, trust — that’s a big one!

How do we trust God that the woman, all 100 pounds of her, does not have evil intent toward us?  I watched her in the rearview mirror, as she leaned over the back seat into the way back of Karen’s car, and fumbled with her suitcases.  Unzipping this and zipping that and all the while my mind unzipping fears — “Lord, what is she doing?”

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you.  Psalm 56:3

We snake our way along 46 trying to make our way to I-95 and are overcome with the flood waters.  Hurricane Irma’s remnants have turned the pasture land into a virtual swamp — we are stunned that it is still so high.  The cows have been displaced — horse stables are washed out — lives still floating in a sea of uncertainty.  That seems to be the theme for the day — Ivy’s life sure was floating in a sea of uncertainty too.

I can hear her heavy breathing, as she trusts — trusting that we do not have evil intent toward her either.  Resting in chaos — exhaustion pulling you beyond your boundaries — having nowhere else to go — surrender — how when life has thrown you a curve ball and you have nothing left and you’ve been left?  You are broken and at the mercy of strangers — spent.

As we continue to make our way, we see more of Hurricane Irma’s destruction — death!  There is an alligator on the side of the road that has been hit by a car.  The rising waters had carried him beyond his safe boundaries — then a turtle who has met the same fate as the alligator — and an armadillo — all crushed and left for the vultures to clean up!

I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.  Psalm 31:12

I am certain that Ivy felt crushed and left too.  Finally, the sign for I-95 and the onslaught of rush-hour traffic.  We make our way onto the on-ramp, accelerate, and I think of the line from Peter Pan…” Second star to the right and straight on to morning.”  We still have more than 3 hours to go and Ivy continues to breathe heavily…we continue to talk softly…and God continues to weave a story, while we trust Him and all that He is doing.

Tomorrow I will continue Ivy’s story, please come back!


Calloused Knees –The Sojourner’s Last Mile — Part 1

She called and left a message that would tear the most hardened of hearts right out of their chest.

My name is Ivy and I am 62 years old and 100 pounds.  I am stranded in Sanford and have been awake for the last 48 hours.  I am at the Dennys and the manager said I can stay here until 5:00 p.m. and then I must move along.  I am trying to get to Miami, but son doesn’t get off until 6:00 p.m.  Please can someone help me <uncontrolled crying> I am desperate!

My heart breaks as I listen to her sobbing and pleas of help…of hope.  I am at a loss…how can I help this woman.  “Lord, show me what to do…please!”  She’s in a strange town…far from home and far from family.  I do the only thing I know to do — I jump into gear!

The first thing I do is call my best friend, Karen, and ask her if she can run to Dennys and pick up Ivy.  “Who in the world is Ivy, Tam?”  “She is a lady stranded here in Sanford…she needs our help, Karen!”  “Well, I just walked out of the grocery store and I have cold stuff and what in the world do I do once I get her?”  “Bring her to my house,” I say.  “Okay  — I’m on my way!”

Karen arrives at Dennys, walks in, sees a battle-worn, frail, and tired woman and says, “Are you Ivy?”  Ivy says, “Yes, but who are you?”  “Well, I am Tam’s friend!”  Ivy retorts, “Who is Tam?”  Karen explains that I am her friend and I received Ivy’s frantic message and that she has come to collect her to take her to my house!  The manager helps put Ivy’s luggage in Karen’s car and they drive to my house.

Ivy and Karen enter through my front door and I see a woman that the world has all but abandoned.  She appears every bit as battle-worn as anyone I’ve ever seen — there are chinks in her armor — she needs love…the love of God and a kindred spirit.

I invite her in and offer her a place on the couch next to me —“Welcome, Ivy!”  “Please make yourself at home.”  I tell her that she can rest here until her son can drive up from Miami — she can take a nap — we’ll fill her belly — all is well!  She sits down — in shock — overcome with gratefulness and begins to weep.  I reach over and clasp her hand and say, “All is well!”


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.  Matthew 25:35

As she pulls out her phone and calls her son, there is relief now in her heart — she is safe — she is loved — she is sheltered.

Then Karen, Dave (my husband), and I begin talking and we hatch a God-breathed plan to take Ivy to Miami ourselves.  Ivy begins to weep again, calls her boy, and we load up into the car and begin our journey.

Join me tomorrow, as we continue our journey with Ivy on calloused knees.