Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thank you, God, for cowboy boots, Part II

Wow.  It’s been several days since I blogged, and I’m not even quite sure where to begin.  I’ll start with a summary of the biggies over the last week 5 days or so.
  1. I got together with a small study group from church last Wednesday to talk about fasting from excess (not our FFE specifically, but a study of the ideas and practices in a Biblical context).  I’ll post about this in the coming week.
  2. I went away with a group of 70 women on a retreat from Friday evening through mid-day Sunday.  This largely explains the dearth of posts in the last few days.
  3. The FFE calendar rolled over into a new month. Saturday was the break the fast day for our clothing fast month.  This morning marked the beginning of our fasting from possessions month.
  5. I gave away my very-most-favorite-ever cowboy boots today.
Did you read #5?  I’ll write it again.  I gave away my very-most-favorite-ever cowboy boots today.  It is such a wonderful story that I’ll have to get to 1 through 4 above in the coming days.  I’m warning you now, it’s long.  There are so many awesome God moments throughout that I really hope you’ll just hang out with me for a while and read it all the way through.

So the beginning of this story actually started this past Christmas.  I got a gift of the most beautiful pair of brown, floral stitched cowboy boots.  They were awesome.  I loved them because they were pretty.  I loved them because they were a gift from my mom and dad.  I loved them because my mom, my sister-in-law and my two older girls were with me when I picked them out.

My love story with my boots continued in a really poignant way during our clothes fast month.  For the real back story, read this.  But, suffice it to say, that in the middle of a month that involved only 7 articles of clothing, the majority of which were brown, unremarkable, and serviceable, I got the blessing of a loving reminder from God.  I had meditated on Matthew 6:28-29.  Then my dear friend, Bridget, left a comment about that verse too, and it hit me:  my boots are a tangible reminder that if God clothes even the flowers in such beauty and splendor, and they do no labor to “earn” it, we need never worry that God would care for us and our needs even more. 

While my meditation then was on the Matthew scripture, Christ’s words in Luke’s gospel were the ones that struck me over and over during this retreat weekend.  On Saturday evening at the retreat, the Spirit whispered to me that I should give my boots away.  I started thumbing through my Bible for the bit of scripture about how the lilies grow.  I landed on the version in Luke which amplifies further Christ’s teaching on the issue of worries, and how God cares for us and meets our needs.  The Luke version goes like this:
Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  (Luke 12:27-28)
At that same time, two women shared some things that had been meaningful to them at that point in the retreat.  One was a young woman, sitting in the row just behind me, who was sharing that she was sensing God calling her to Montana for a service/mission opportunity over the summer months.  The next woman stood up and began to share about how she didn’t feel her clothes were right for the weekend, and how God was helping her get clarity on why that was an issue of image management (one of the themes of the weekend).

Was one of them the one I was supposed to give my boots to?  If so, my hunch was that it was the young woman with the possible Montana connection since that’s where my boots came from.  I scribbled a quick note to her that said something like, “This is a total weirdo question, but do you happen to wear size 9 shoes?”  She said “No, size 11.”  Nope.  Not her.  I set it aside for the night, unsure what I was supposed to do next about the boots.

Keep in mind also that Saturday evening was the “breaking of the fast” so to speak from our 4 week clothing fast, which meant that Sunday morning, I could bust out in new (old) clothes!  My blue jeans are like an old friend, so I wore them anyway, but I brought my purple shirt for Sunday so I could look forward to a little pop of color after a month of brown.  Woo hoo for me!

But, and this is important, with the turning of the fasting calendar to a new month, it also meant that in some way that I can’t quite understand, the “status” of my boots had change from necessity to privileged possession overnight in my mind and heart.  This brand new third month of fasting is focused on fasting from possessions, which means (I’m pretty sure) that we’re heading for a month of purging so we can gift, share, and redistribute our excess.  For as much as I love those boots and what they represent, it was God’s timing to have the breaking of the clothing fast and the start of the possessions fast happen on this retreat weekend.

So {and I really hope you’re still with me} this is where it starts to get really good!  Sunday morning rolled around with some lovely quiet time, during which, again, I was drawn to the lilies passage.  I knew, knew, knew someone else there was supposed to go home with those boots.  I sought out my friend, Shelly, to explain what I knew I needed to do and that I needed an answer as to how.  Because, really, it’s not normal, everyday stuff to just pop up in a group of 70 women and say, “Hey, how ‘bout I give you my cowboy boots?  Anyone?  Anyone?”

After talking to Shelly, I went and sat again, and felt the Lord poking me to go look at the only reflection activity station that I hadn’t gone to last night.  I should have noticed, but didn’t, that there was a giant vase of beautiful lilies – yellow, orange and pink.  That would have been a dead giveaway that the scripture reflection for that table was…you guessed it…Luke 12:27-28.  Yup, there it was, “consider how the lilies grow….”  If it weren’t still quiet time, I would have hooted out loud.  God is funny, He really is.

So, I sought out the speaker for our event, Danielle Jones, and explained what was up and she agreed to give me a moment to share with the group when she was done speaking.  In the minutes before her talk started, I reconnected with my roomies and told them what I needed to do.  Two others in the room then shared that their devotional for the morning, from Luke, had spoken to them about some worries that are burdening them.  One of them started to read the scripture from Luke, which turned out to be Luke 12:25-26, the verses immediately before the lilies passage.  I mean, really, what are the chances out of the whole entire Holy Bible those would be the passages that would grab us at exactly the same time?  Jesus might as well have been standing in our room looking them in the eye saying “Don’t worry.  I’ve got your back,” and then turning to me and saying, “If God loves the lilies enough to clothe them in such beauty, how much more does he love you?  Now go give your boots to someone and bless them with this same message.”

So, up we went to hear our last talk and close out our retreat weekend.  After Danielle’s talk, I walked to the front and said my piece about the fast, the boots, the lilies passage, and that I struck out last night with the note to the woman with size 11 feet.  Then I said that I just really felt led to give my size 9 boots to someone who needed a reminder that God cares for them even more than the lilies of the field, and did anyone need a reminder of that in the form of size 9 boots?  I invited my friend up to tell the significance of her Luke verses about worry and how our two passages related, and then we sat down.  Several other women shared, and then a young woman whom I had met briefly the day before walked to the front and took the microphone.

She started by saying she thought the boots were meant for her.  I’m sure I won’t get the words verbatim, but this is the gist of what she said:  “I am a roommate of the woman you gave the note to last night whose feet were too big for your boots.  I overheard you talking about the boots this morning, and I even turned my shoe over to see what size they were.  They were a size 9.  I put my foot next to my roommate’s slipper, and I could see that my feet were smaller than hers.  I even thought about coming into your room to see if I could try the boots, but I didn’t.  But I think God is telling me that He wants me to have these boots.”

I was grinning and practically sobbing at the same time.  We gave each other a tight hug, and I whispered in her ear, “Wear them well.”  I looked around and saw people reaching for Kleenex, so I know it wasn’t just my heart that was touched.  Ahhh.  Such a sweet, wonderful moment that only God could orchestrate.

I sought out the new owner of the boots afterwards, and she was sitting with a friend.  I told her how delighted I was that she had taken them and that I had been wondering if anyone would even claim them.  Her friend said quietly, looking me straight in the eye, “You have no idea how much she needed to hear those words and have that message spoken into her life.  She needs these boots so much.  They were meant for her.”  I wished her well, and that was that.

My friend Shelly told me after that she watched as the young woman tried on her boots and moved her feet this way and that, admiring them.  She said she had a great big smile on her face.  Me too.  And God is smiling, too, I think.


  1. What an interesting idea...a clothing fast. I've never heard of such...but in today's too much society...there is much we can fast from.
    Keep up the God work.

  2. Oh sweet friend,
    what an amazing story! I loved your boots, I love your heart and I love that you gave them away. I have a similar pair of cowboy boots and I love them. They are sooo comfortable. I am so proud of you for being obedient. I pray God blesses you bountifully for your willing heart!