I love you

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Who Is Saying “I Love You”, to You?

Each of us in this life wants more than anything to be loved. We work for love. We strive for love. We make fools out of ourselves for love. We long to feel that love warming our hearts and souls. We strain our ears each day for just a whisper of those three glorious words: “I love you.”

What most of us don’t realize, however, is just how much God loves us. God is showing us and telling us how much He loves us everyday. When you see the sun rising over the mountains, feel the cool breeze kissing your face, and hear the sweet songs of birds blessing your ears that is God saying, “I love you.” When you see the adoring eyes of your dog looking up at you and feel the gentle brush of your cat against your hand that is God saying, “I love you.” When you hear music that uplifts your soul with joy and read words that make your heart and mind soar into the heavens that is God saying, “I love you.” When you hear the laughter of children playing and feel the warm hug of your own child against you that is God saying, “I love you.” When you have the loving support of your family and the wonderful kindness of your friends no matter what you are going through that is God saying, “I love you.” When you find your thoughts and feelings always leading you towards growth, learning, love, and joy that is God saying, “I love you.” When your life’s circumstances both good and bad help you to keep growing stronger, better, happier, and more loving each day that is God saying, “I love you.”

God is always telling you and showing you just how much He loves you. Don’t be afraid then to say, “I love you too God.” Don’t be afraid to live that love in your life either. Love God with everything you have and with everything you are. Love yourself, love your neighbor, and make this whole world your neighborhood. Always remember that God is love, that life is joy, and that we are one. And always listen for the million ways that God says, “I love you.”

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Recovering From Lupus Flare Day 17

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Hello everyone, here I am in bed still but it isn’t a hospital bed, for that I am very grateful. Recovering from lupus flare or still in it is hard to say. I can usually tell the difference without endless labs, the human guinea pig we all feel like with each new drug “to try to see” if THIS one will work, or the hamster running on his spinning wheel happily..I’d be happy, elated to have my life back. All of this time gives me much to think about, would love to write about, but I don’t have the strength to write and each letter typed now hurts my badly swollen fingers.

I’m sure anyone that doesn’t know me will look at my picture & think, she looks tired but not seriously ill. Everyone else will see; my hair no longer full because half of it is now gone; the weight loss obvious in my face. The subtle signs only Lupies & Doctors see: swollen or puffy eyes means kidney issues still; the paleness of my skin underneath the red patches; how tired I am physically and every level. Tired & pain so agonizing you think to yourself as you cry yet again “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t do this anymore”. Those thoughts of despair are normal but don’t make the flare disappear; they can harm your recovery..you have to keep your faith & hold on. Accept your circumstances & never stop believing you will push through. God works in mysterious ways, and the story below is one of my daily devotionals I receive in email. I was in a dark place until I read this email; upon completion, I was smiling brilliantly by mouth, heart, soul. I know many blessings are coming, one recent that has changed my life forever, never to be the same again, the smile on my face the joy of this miracle brings matching the one in my heart. Never give up; Hold on tight because your blessings are on the way. Enjoy the story! ~Jennifer~

Loaves and Fishes
“‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?'” (John 6:9 )Remember the heartwarming story of how Jesus took the loaves, broke them, multiplied the fish and gave everybody lots to eat with lots left over? Jesus even said, “Let nothing be wasted.” They gathered baskets full of bread so nothing would be thrown away. I think about that story when I watch a Christian go through tough times yet hang on to God’s grace. Maybe you’re one of them. Day-to-day heartache is your routine and problems seem to have a permanent place in God’s plan for you. Yet you’re faithful –or should I say, you hold onto God’s faithfulness. What God is doing with you is like what He did with the barley loaves and fish. Jesus broke the bread. And out of the brokenness He multiplied the blessing so that thousands would be nourished. Yes, it hurts to be broken. But sometimes that’s part of His plan, especially if He wants to use you to feed others. It’s a way your faithfulness can be multiplied. Out of your brokenness, the blessing can be bestowed on more than you ever dreamed possible. And here’s the thing: If you’ve been broken by the hand of God, you can be certain nothing will be wasted. God will gather up and use all the hurt; not a bit of it will be discarded or cast aside.

That little boy with the small loaves and fish must have been amazed to watch Jesus do such marvelous things through his little lunch. Be sure that God knows what little you have to offer. Is it a bit of obedience? God will multiply it. Is it a weak prayer? A small word of testimony? A feeble effort to encourage others in their pain? I promise you (no, He promises you) that He will expand your offering. It will not be wasted.

Prayer: Brokenness is something You know all about, Jesus, for Your body was broken for me. Today remind me of how close You are to me in my brokenness and soothe my heart with Your nearness. Multiply the blessing to many through me. Blessings, Joniand Friends http://www.joniandfriends.org

I Surrender All

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Millions suffer daily fighting all diseases. Some are “invisible” like mine is with Lupus, because if you saw me you’d have no idea the war being battled inside my body as I’ve heard endless times “But you don’t LOOK sick!”..no, I don’t, unless you see me on a day where my joints are so stiff I’m walking like Frankenstein, swollen joints all hidden by clothing with the exception of my hands. You can’t tell that my shower drain is clogged with clumps of hair every time I wash it. You can’t see the adhesions that are throughout my entire abdomen on the inside, wrapping themselves around & attaching to my bowel, liver, kidneys. You can’t see the scarring throughout my liver and left kidney or the level of inflammation throughout my system, but it’s all there.

Those closest to me that have walked this journey with me, supported me, can hear immediately in my one word Hello upon answering the phone that I’m not having a “good” day. The most frustrating part of these invisible diseases is the not knowing how you’re going to feel from one day to the next, even one hour to the next. You have to learn, plan every detail based on your level of strength for that day especially during a flare. It is challenging to say the least, but my Faith & my personality don’t allow me to stay down for long, which is a Blessing I receive constantly throughout every day.
How do you get to this mindset? The image above sums it up perfectly…

SURRENDER. I surrender All, arms outstretched, wide open, heart, mind, body & soul in complete alignment as one. Surrendering does not mean giving up or losing hope. It means you make the conscious choice to let everything go: the mistakes, the failures, the bad memories, the sadness, the heartache..anything that is negative so you can open yourself to all that is good, remember the beautiful & keep it close to your heart like your favorite blanket on your bed tucked up underneath your chin on a cold winters’ night or the scent of cologne on your pillow giving you dreams of memories that are indelibly marked on your heart forever.

I learned how to do this long ago but since I’m a mere human I slip back into old mindsets, trying to control what is happening in my life, my body. It doesn’t work, ever. Thankfully, I learn from my mistakes easily, ask forgiveness when I’m wrong & forgive in kind. I have the ability to release the negative and focus on the positive, which makes a huge impact on my daily life. It takes practice to achieve this mindset of peace but once you feel that peace that warms your very soul you’ll decide immediately to maintain that peace because it gives you strength, security and love. I get that level of peace only through my faith & prayers.

Yes, I have an illness that’s made me a complicated patient to treat but this is a complicated disease. I know from experience when I need a spiritual tune-up because my body tells me so. I may not listen all the time right away but I do listen, and I feel the physical shifting of energy that is occurring at a strong level right now, pushing me toward the lightness I keep in my soul. The Light of Love, my core being, my Divine purpose for living. The words “I am Love” keep popping into my head lately even while sleeping. That is my message to look within, reflect on recent words, actions or inactions and give myself an attitude adjustment. That act in itself alone is very freeing, healing.

2012 is coming to a close, a year overflowing with tremendous change, challenge, grief, growth and renewal. The Christmas break from school has given me the gift of precious time alone with my son for an unprecedented 10 consecutive days facing our first Christmas as a separated family, which was more painful than I’d thought it would be, nothing at all to do with Lupus, everything to do with continuing our new life together.

The painful moments brought us closer together, gave each new respect for each other, deepened our profound love for each other. We laughed louder, stayed up until the middle of the night just talking & being together. So many precious moments that make me want to freeze the clock to continue sharing this time.

Tomorrow will arrive, bringing our time together to an end as it’s his time to be with his Dad. My birthday is New Years’ Eve, the first as a single woman and the first birthday I’ll be without my family. I’ll be on my own, alone, but not lonely. It will feel strange I’m sure, but it’s my Birthday. What a year it’s been and I look forward to the year ahead with much hope, love, confidence and vision. I will indeed be celebrating myself on New Years’ Eve!

I envision many great things for my life; if you don’t think BIG, shoot for the stars with all you have, you will be continuously disappointed. I believe in second chances & give them; why not do the same for myself?  Our thoughts affect every aspect of our lives and I choose to not only believe but SEE myself healthy, healed and continuing to learn, grow, love. It will all happen because I Believe and See that it will.

Everything in life is based on love & circles back to love with every step forward, every stumble aside. Love is who I am, just one of my gifts but definitely the most influential as I am dedicated to helping others in whatever capacity I am led to do so. It’s time to surrender..

I Surrender to All.
Love,
~Jennifer~

Living with Lupus

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I can’t remember the last time I felt this sick for this long. I hate to say I’m suffering because I am more than aware there are so many people that are in much worse conditions than I.

It’s difficult for me to write about Lupus because I know how lucky I am to be given the gift of another day when I shouldn’t be here to write this. I know, as do my family & loved ones, how many times I’ve cheated death. That in itself is still impossible for me to put in writing, my experiences I not only survived when all Doctors believed I wouldn’t, but each individual near-death experience I remember in vivid detail. I think about those times, the emergency surgeries, being on life support hearing all medical personnel either screaming “We’re losing her” as they worked feverishly to bring me back from complete cardiac arrest or “It’s time to get her family here ASAP because she won’t make it through the night”. I could still HEAR, but nobody could hear ME screaming in my head, “NO! I’M NOT DYING, STOP SAYING THAT”. Those are memories I’ll never forget unlike the thousands of wonderful, loving memories erased from my brain in minutes from my stroke.

I know that God is working in my life especially now. I know the memories I wish I had are gone for a reason I’ll never understand but have faith in not knowing. I know I remember in stark, minute detail every second of every life-threatening situation for specific reasons: to be thankful for every second of every day I’m alive regardless of how I feel; to dedicate myself to being the best Mom I can be; to always reach out to help those in need; to challenge myself to not give up or give in. Living with Lupus isn’t really living when a flare is prolonged and complicated.

This week & last blend together in a blur of pain, no appetite, forcing fluids to keep my kidneys flushed, my hair falling out in clumps, the sheer exhaustion of simply brushing my teeth to name but a few. It’s very easy to get depressed, angry, frightened because you’re helpless. You have to ride it out for however long it lasts. Stay the course, keep your faith that the suffering isn’t for naught.. your attitude is more than half the battle. I hold onto my faith for dear life & will never give up. Living with Lupus is hard, so very hard. I don’t feel sorry for myself & don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I’m waiting this out with determination & faith. Isn’t that how we all should be living? I believe so! Peace, Jennifer

The Miracles of Christmas

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There is a feeling of hope, anticipation and excitement every year when Christmas draws near. It’s getting increasingly difficult to get into the Spirit of Christmas when the retailers start putting up their displays at Halloween in this world of technology, entitlement & instant gratification in which we live..if we choose to live that way.

It IS possible to keep the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts throughout the entire year: the day the baby Jesus was born, our Savior! The very first Miracle!

A precious baby that grew into our Lord Jesus Christ, who performed miracle after miracle, healing the blind, the sick & the lame to state just a few examples. Jesus, the great Physician healed all who believed in Him (John 5 1:9).

I believe in Him for I’ve been granted miracle after miracle of true healing from serious health problems throughout my life thus far and just received yet another. I’ve survived medical emergencies that Doctors have no medical reason how I survived. I knew my Faith then was the reason & as time marches on, and I’m suddenly facing my 46th birthday when I feel like I’m still in my early 30’s, it’s impossible not to reflect on the simple fact that miracles do happen every day, yet these miracles feel so much more magical, spiritual when they happen right before Christmas.

Miracles come in all forms, shapes and sizes; many times they come disguised as Blessings we did not even realize we needed until we receive them. Sadly, many of us get easily caught up in the day to day mad rush of hurrying to get everything done; surely I am just the same at times! We are so preoccupied with all the many daily tasks that another day is over, never to be returned. Do you remember anything at all about your day? What did you have for lunch 2 days ago? Did you let another driver take the parking spot you were waiting for graciously, or did you get so angry you were ticked for the rest of your day? Choices. It’s all about choosing how you want to live your life and how you choose to take the high road, be a blessing to someone. Changing that mindset alone is a miracle that will not only bless others, it will indeed come back full circle to you when you’re the one that needs a miracle! The amazing part is how tremendous the gifts you give of yourself to the world unconditionally, without expecting anything in return, will indeed be given to you in great abundance not only when you least expect it but when you actually need it most. I’ve received untold blessings & miracles repeatedly since the day my car broke down & as I sit here with my coffee, looking at my Christmas tree, it’s impossible for me to not think of every single person that made Christmas this year a miracle all it’s own.

I stated in my last post that I got hit with a severe Lupus flare the weekend of Thanksgiving. I felt it coming on but I also had a bad cold & had been under severe stress for weeks prior, robbing me of any chance to sleep. The Saturday after the wonderful Thanksgiving spent with my family I felt horrible as I packed the car to get myself & Noah home. I could barely get out of the car 90 minutes later & I knew Lupus had arrived for a visit.

Hours turned into days that I could only do the minimum of my responsibilities, & the had no reserves to push through like I’m used to doing. Doctor appointments, endless lab work & other testing were as draining as taking a shower. My entire body hurt & if I could have slept around the clock I would have. I was so weak that if the phone rang, I couldn’t lift my arm to answer it…and it was right next to me.

Days turned into weeks, I drop out of contact with everyone because I didn’t have the strength to talk on the phone. When my friends don’t hear from me they know I need help but don’t know how to ask for it.

Here comes the nonstop help from my friends as Christmas was quickly approaching & I was too sick to do anything. First to arrive is Lisa with her 10 month old son Fritz..a baby to love! Lisa drove 4 hours one way for what I thought was a lovely visit to cheer me up; until Lisa starts unpacking a massive basket that was all for myself & Noah fmor Christmas. The freezer stocked full with homemade meals; gifts for Noah & myself, every detail planned. She made me open one card first, and I started crying not only from the generosity contained in that card, but the long list of names of every person that contributed from their hearts. The contents bought our tree, all of Noah’s gifts when I’d already prepared him for one gift this year, with enough leftover to really help me in the areas I needed most.

2 stockings filled to the top with goodies awaiting to see; gift cards & Christmas dinner prepaid. Not one detail was left out. Christmas, our first as a separated family, was literally given to Noah & I! What an overwhelming, generous, loving miracle with love from my dear friend Lisa & baby Fritz smiles, coos & kisses..a tremendous weight taken gently off my shoulders. I can’t wait for Noah to see more than one gift under the tree, let alone share the entire story with him finally! I can’t believe he’s still asleep, a miracle in itself when I’ve been up all night giving thanks for this miraculous Christmas!

I became sicker, the Lupus attacking my liver & kidneys along with the usual joint pain everywhere. Test after test, I feel like I’m losing my strength & I was..my physical strength not my Faith, my spiritual sustenance. Everyone rallied as I gathered myself to fight this on every level of my being…then my Uncle John, my Dads’ oldest brother, was suddenly called Home. I was numb. I tried to make the trip for his funeral but I was too sick to travel. I said my personal goodbye to him & prayed for all of my family. I sent Noah to stay with his Dad all this past week while I made every effort to get out of this flare, get answers, never once not believing I wouldn’t be home with Noah for this very important Christmas..and that miracle was also granted to me as my loved ones united to take care of me, like my friend Judy who put the lights on the tree & also went out of her way in taking care of me & last minute Christmas details right down to wrapping paper & ribbons.

Fast forward to Friday; I’m home & Noah finally returns. Oh isn’t he the very medicine I needed! We decorated our tree Saturday afternoon, a feeling of anxiety in the air as old family ornaments were hung on our tree. Sadness as the moment of reality settles in. We persevered, another miracle. It wasn’t even that upsetting when all the hard work literally came crashing down in the middle of the night because the tree fell over! Now that’s a memory to cherish!

I’m feeling better; not great but knew I was recovering faster than expected based on my increased energy, mobility, & reconnecting to the Spirit of Christmas, the season for miracles.

Christmas Eve arrives. I felt so good, like my regular self, that I never sat down once, baking, wrapping gifts, singing happily before showering & calling it a night. The biggest miracle of all on Christmas Eve..confirmation I am indeed on my way to a full recovery as I felt.

I stood at my kitchen window, washing dishes as the first snowflakes appeared. Soon it was really snowing..Christmas snow, filled with magic, miracles & love.
Falling silently to the ground, a cleansing, a renewal..a magical Christmas miracle to be enjoyed by all from the birth of the baby Jesus so long ago.

Merry Christmas everyone! May the Miracle of Christmas envelop you & your families today and every day!

Love,
~Jennifer~

Sorry Dr House, It IS Lupus

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I loved the show “House” and never missed a single episode. I can’t tell you how many times over the many years I’ve been battling this disease I wished I could find a genuine Doctor that could solve medical mysteries like the character that existed on television, for Lupus is indeed a medical mystery of epic proportions.

I have Lupus & have been in a prolonged flare that has become serious. I am suffering in pain no living creature on Earth should suffer; I’m so weak I can barely get off the sofa; so exhausted yet unable to get restorative sleep because my entire body hurts from head to toe.
I have been unable to do daily living let alone blog here yet have so much I need to say.

Yet no matter what, I will never stop fighting. I believe with every fiber of my being I’ve much awaiting me to fulfill on earth for years to come. I am a child of God and I ask you for healing prayers for me now. I am alive still because I haven’t yet accomplished all I am supposed to. PRAYERS WORK!! Let’s all pray not only for me, but for all illnesses to be healed.

I BELIEVE!! Do you?

God Bless,
Jennifer

The Mechanic from Mechanicsburg, PA Changed My Life

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D & S Auto, Simpson Ferry Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

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In my post “Thankful To Be Thankful” I promised to dedicate a post entirely to tell the incredible story of my car breaking down near the end of one of the single most trying weeks of my life. It happened almost 3 weeks ago on Thursday, November 15th, and this experience gave me the courage to face the unexpected heartbreak in my personal life that occurred later that same night. The story will restore your faith not only in humanity, but in the kindness of strangers wanting to help. We are so used to hearing about all the evil & bad in this world that we’ve become desensitized to another murder, another crime & forget that there are many good people living in this same world, right under your nose where you’re not looking.

If you go back and look at the dates of my posts thus far, I didn’t post a single entry from November 12 through November 20th..the longest, most trying days I’ve endured in a very long time. My last post was November 11th, “Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again”, the 2nd full day of conflict, confusion and inner turmoil that had me questioning everything I knew about my self and I had fought hard and long to achieve my independence, confidence, my sense of being complete & happy with my self long ago. The fact that I had unwittingly returned to my former mindset was not a place I wanted to be, but it was necessary apparently, says the Monday morning quarterback named Jennifer. There’s truth that for every step forward you get knocked 3 steps back occasionally; I believe this happens to remind you of the choice you have to make: take the temporary stumble backwards, learn from it & move on..or get stuck back where you used to be. I refuse to ever go back to where I used to be.

The troubles started to creep in a few days prior to Saturday, November 10th, the first day of a nightmare that I could not shake myself awake from because I was living it. I was being pulled in opposing directions from specific people in my life that was causing me to question my core being; what I really wanted, something I haven’t had to even entertain a thought about in a very long time. Feast or famine it appeared, & I really had little patience for this “game” as I don’t consider myself a participant of the mental games of life. I am an open book, easily read, brutally honest at times. I would rather be told the truth about anything than know instinctively that’s not happening. I didn’t like that mindset then & I wanted no part in any of this now or ever again, but there I was, stuck in the mire yet again. Although I had transformed myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually & physically, stress takes a toll on us all. I was physically tired, had multiple worries & that is usually a recipe for disaster for me as it is for everyone. It’s why we are human.

My biggest worry every day is my car. A 1993 Dodge Intrepid I named Bessie long ago, because she was a lemon I ignorantly drove off the lot long before the “Lemon law” of buying a car with known problems came into being.

Bessie is so old she has a cassette tape player, a cigarette lighter that can’t be used to charge your cell phone & a temper all her own. She starts when she wants to; she loses all power WHILE I’M DRIVING if she’s in a really bad mood; doesn’t like the air conditioner running in the summer or the heat/defroster in the winter. Bessie really hates cold weather, & I have to start her up at least 40 minutes prior to leaving every morning, wasting gas & praying she’s in a good enough mood to not stall while I’m driving Noah to school, our teeth chattering from lack of heat and it’s only November!

I know Bessie as intimately as I know myself. I know how to change tires, fill the various fluid reservoirs, check the oil, change the air filter & windshield wipers. I know when I have to drop her down to 3rd gear to prevent a stall & how to control her without power steering when she does stall. She’s an automatic but my very first car was a 5-speed & and I know how to handle this car.

I also recognize each particular odor that tells me a problem is imminent. I’d been smelling the familiar aroma that 8 different mechanics in the Philadelphia area could never completely fix but cost a minimum $600 to pass the annual inspection. I filed it away mentally to check the antifreeze but with everything that had transpired from Saturday, November 10 forward, I kept forgetting to check the reservoir.

It’s now Thursday, November 15. I hadn’t slept in many days & every fiber of my being was on high alert. My “fight or flight” hormones at the highest level ever as I fought my way through each day, Wednesday the day that had my very soul iced over in fear that I could not give in to as a Mother. I’ve had more than one brush with death and I tell you it’s not scary at all; it’s warm, peaceful, the knowledge that there will be no more pain, illness or exhaustion. I am not afraid of dying but I’ve never been more afraid, helpless in how to help my son that entire day & that fear kept me on watch that entire night. Close watch, in a town we’ve lived in just over a year without knowing the people to call locally for help with this situation. It’s private, something you share with your closest, tightest circle of support but only after the crisis has passed; in this situation I knew I had to face this straight on, myself, as a Mom. I had never felt more alone or scared in my entire life but relying on my survival skills, Faith & deep love for my son, there was nothing I wouldn’t do to get him through this intact. Nothing.

Thursday arrives, I start-up Bessie to take Noah to the bus stop this time. It was bitter cold, & every window had thick patches of frost covering them..Bessie refused to defrost. I get to the bus stop, notice the temperature gauge is pegged at “H” for Hot, smoke curling through the hood & that aroma gagging me. I knew from similar times that I had to get to the nearest mechanic before the engine caught on fire, which happened once, or the engine block cracked; either way I could not be without a car. Noah wished me luck & I floored Bessie while driving with my head out the window to see, forgetting I’m in my pajamas, a lightweight coat & hadn’t taken my morning meds let alone my first cup of coffee!

I remembered the above pictured garage just blocks from my house because I’m a frequent flyer of the mini-mart next door. I pulled in on 2 wheels, smoke everywhere & shut her off completely right in front of the mini marts’ front door.

I walk in, oblivious to my appearance & asked the gentleman at the register for help, an amputee of one leg named Barry, a lovely older gentleman that always has a smile on his face. He informed me that “Dan” the owner of D & S Auto right next door would not only help me but is considered, by word of mouth, to be the best, most honest mechanic in this town ironically named Mechanicsburg.

I walked over, walked into the shop & met Dan himself. We went back to Bessie, hood up & began looking her over. I look up minutes later, there are customers from the store surrounding the open hood, men of various ages talking about my dilemma, along with Barry, everyone obviously good buddies and drinking their coffee.
I was numb both from the cold, the car but mostly numb on the inside, paralyzed with fear & running on automatic.

The guys dispersed, Dan went to get tools & antifreeze & I didn’t realize I was standing alone, in my pajamas, in public during the morning rush hour on a heavily travelled road. I don’t know how long I stood there; I was completely dazed, exhausted yet wired, now wondering how much this bill was going to be & how I was going to pay it. I had no idea how I must have looked to passers-by and it wasn’t even on my radar of caring.

One person pulled into the parking lot & asked if I needed help; I thanked him & said I was getting help. I thought that was really nice, because had I been back in suburban Philadelphia I would’ve been walking home by then.

Another person does the same; & the longer I stood there, the more people stopped to make sure I was ok. I was in shock how many people chose to stop their trip to work to see if a stranger needed help & how genuinely nice every single person was! Those acts of kindness woke me up, began to thaw the ice around my heart just as Dan returned with one of his guys to get my car over to the shop & told me to go get warm in the office.

I walk in, sit down & am greeted by 4 Rottweilers that Dan rescued, tails wagging furiously as they maneuvered each other to get their turn to give me doggie kisses…I was in love! Jasper, 14 years old, got most of my attention because he was so loving himself and very polite. He waited his turn to be petted & hugged, looking into my eyes with sad eyes of his own. I swear that dog sensed the storm of emotions I was holding in and he didn’t want to leave my side.

Time passes. I’m watching the revolving door of customers come & go, all men of different ages, all well-known & heartily welcomed by Dan, his staff & dogs now back behind the counter. Dan introduced each customer to me & told them all my story, that I’m a single Mom new to the area and didn’t really know anybody yet.
Dan & I had plenty of time to share our stories with each other, about divorce, the kids, the sleepless nights & inability to eat. Dan knew the town I came from well since he’d just left the same area to relocate to this town named Mechanicsburg 3 years ago to open up this very shop. I found myself telling Dan everything because I knew he understood, he lived it & has a new life now.

I started getting antsy as time passed & another mechanic left for yet another part needed to fix my car. I’m guessing from the parts & labor alone I’m looking at a $300 minimum repair bill & started my mental switching around of bills coming due. I started getting a headache & decided whatever the amount turns out to be, I’ll find a way to pay it.

The bell on the door to the waiting area began dinging with increasing frequency, disrupting my calculations. Each time the bell rang it was a customer I’d met earlier returning to check on me & make sure I was ok. Speechless is what I became, a rarity for me but speechless I was indeed.

I was given coffee, candy, snacks & bottles of water. I was given pieces of paper with phone numbers & the names of their wives who had already been contacted by these gentlemen & were waiting to hear from me. Can you imagine that this actually happened? An entire town opening their hearts & homes to my son & I, complete strangers? I thought I was dreaming. The ice around my heart began a swift melt, the water forming in my eyes as I filled up with tears, huge lump in my throat, with each continued heart opening to ease the aching pain in mine. Never in my life had I witnessed such an outpouring of love & support, let alone be the recipient of it.

A man named Jim came back to give me packages of homemade candy that his wife Kathie makes from their home & sells in local stores. I looked up at him & blurted out, “I’m the one that’s been wiping out the supply of peanut butter fudge all summer next door!”, not believing the connection. Jim said “My wife & I know what it’s like to fall on hard times. You & your son need support. From this moment on the two of you are now part of our family; you’ll never be alone here again & we would like to have you both over for dinner, please call her”.

Dumbfounded, tears streaming silently down my face I still couldn’t talk. I stood up, gave him a big hug & managed a “thank you, I will call her” as he left & I sat back down completely blown away, starting at the familiar label on the chocolate that is still my secret treat for myself.

Dan the Mechanic from Mechanicsburg saw the parade of kindness of course & told me my car was ready. Bracing myself for the $300, he told me my bill was $67. I knew that couldn’t be possible but before I could say anything, Dan informed me he made some calls on my behalf & my bill was paid in full by an anonymous donor. I became a blubbering, sobbing mess, covered my face with both hands & just cried. The tears of total exhaustion, fear, stress from the days prior I had been unable to even think about shedding came out in a flood of overwhelming disbelief at how all of these complete strangers helped me.

I finally found the strength in my legs to stand up to go to the counter to get my keys from Dan. I couldn’t stop crying as I tried to thank him when he said words I’ll never forget: “Jennifer, it’s obvious that you’ve given much to this world to help others..now it’s your turn to receive the help you & your son need. Don’t refuse the help from pride; if you need anything, you now have your own family here to call. You’re going to be just fine”…and handed me my keys. How did he know that about me? What made him say that, I wondered?

I drove Bessie home with the heat blasting on my frozen toes, in awe at how well my car was running. I pulled in front of my house, turned off the ignition and stared with new eyes at my neighborhood. This was no longer a place to live with my son on our own; we suddenly inherited a big, loving family from complete strangers & Dan the mechanic finally made Mechanicsburg my true home town.
Gratefully,
~Jennifer~