What wows you? Writing about a humbling experience when I was wowed encourages me to think on such things … actually Paul said to think on things that are lovely. The never-ending list grows with age and wisdom. These are a few of my favorite Wow things: rainbows that span the sky, baby turtles hatching and heading for the ocean, a blazing sunset slipping slowly out of sight, being saved, synchronized water and music shows at Disney World, stars sparkling, the Holy Spirit stirring inside, dragonflies darting across the sky, HOPE burning brightly in the Dark Horse stadium, family holding hands and saying The Lord’s Prayer, a little Coca Cola filled with peanuts, babies becoming big people, red hair and freckles, a blushing bride and handsome groom, passing EOG tests, crushed ice and diet Pepsi, seeing the Grand Canyon, clean sheets, giving help and hope to people in need, a birthday surprise from someone special, the cross, a North Carolina team winning the NCAA tournament, hot French fries, grown children coming home a rainy night in Clinton, knowing Jesus, cotton candy, a new litter of puppies, children praying, squirrels gathering nuts, cancer in remission, a good hair day, playing in the park, walking on the beach, prayers answered, morning sun rising over the ocean, spicy salsa and chips, grandchildren spending the night, a powerful sermon, the birth of your babies, a wrinkled smile, sleeping late on a week day, healing and a second chance at life, a good movie and buttered popcorn, forgiveness, frosted flakes and cold milk, a kiss from someone you love, spreading sunshine to shut ins, visiting the sick, reading the Bible, fluffy white clouds on a blue sky, heaven, writing a story that blesses someone’s heart — and enjoying the journey!
Last spring, Ashley Hartsoe sat down at the table with me at Tim’s Gift and asked a favor. I flash-backed to the first time I met this beautiful lady. She was a tiny, timid, first-grader standing behind grandma’s coat tails the day she came on board at The Learning Station. I’ve watched her grow up into a lovely lady with helping hands and a huge heart filled with compassion and generosity. Ashley’s willingness to help people is genuine. She works with devotion and a determined spirit any time she is needed at the theater, dance recitals, summer programs, college events, mission trips, babysitting, youth dances, sound technician at church, and the list goes on. Ashley is beautiful! And when you get to know her, you see an inner beauty that shines bold and bright.
Thinking on the lovely things about Ashley and how she is always there for me, I didn’t think twice about saying anything but, yes. “What do you need?” I asked.
Ashley softly spoke of her desire to do a special dance she had choreographed at Wanda Coleman’s dance recital. She asked if I would go and be her support. She didn’t stop there though. Her dark eyes pierced my heart when she said, “Since my mother and aunt are gone to heaven and my grandma isn’t able to be there, will you please go and sit in for them?” My answer was a resounding ‘yes’ to this dear friend’s request.
The big day for Wanda’s dance students and for Ashley finally came. I prayed for them as James and I worked re-potting flowers in my backyard. Dirty from head to toes with plants and flowers spread all over the ground, I didn’t want to stop and go to the recital. Then, I thought of my commitment to Ashley and knew that is where I needed and wanted to be. James assured me he would finish if I would just go get dressed, so I wouldn’t be late. It’s great when you have an endless array of good things to do each day and not enough time to do them all.
With plenty of time to spare, I picked up my grandson and headed for the dance recital. Waiting in line at the ticket box, we greeted friends and I explained to Connor how dance recitals work. He was amazed to see all the bouquets of flowers and pretty girls. We found our seats and settled down for the show. Excitement filled the air, people packed the place where hometown people gather for great occasions, and I felt blessed to be there for Ashley.
The curtain opened; senior dance students took the spotlight and started their traditional dance. Suddenly, the music stopped, so did the dancers. Not once, not twice, but three times the same thing happened, leaving the seniors standing in bewilderment. Mrs. Coleman’s voice soothed the crowd as she calmly said, ‘… what are the chances of this happening three times? This is a test to see how well our seniors can handle stress and starting over. ” I prayed for Wanda, knowing the intense pressure she endures during recitals. I remembered one of our summer programs when Learning Station students stood on stage waiting for the curtain to open and no CD’s that would work on Clint’s sound system. Empathy for anyone who plans and produces programs and performances for the public, I freely give.
The show did go on, with frills and thrills and pretty girls all in a row. The crowd clapped and cheered for their little darlings. Daddies dancing with their little girls and escorting their big girls brought tears and memories for families who’ve watched them grow into lovely ladies who will soon leave home and begin life on their own. The circle of life stops for no one. Each season is special as we watch our precious children grow and go. What wows me is the bond of love that grows stronger and sweeter as we parents get older and weaker.
Connor was bored by the second dance. Little boys truly love snails and puppy dog tails and video games. So, he happily played Angry Birds on my phone while watching the girls dance. Soon, the lights came on and Wanda began talking about a Wow award that’s presented each year to a person who helps others. Pastor Ron Davis stood beside her as she shared things about the person. Connor stopped playing and nudged me in the side. He said, “Nana is she talking about you?” When they called my name to come forward, I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I thought of Ashley, of Tim, of our sons, of good friends, of God’s goodness, of so many things that ran through my mind as I walked to the stage. When Ron told how his church (Colonial Free Will Baptist) presents this award each year, I was in awe. Their church gave a monetary donation to Class Acts and to Tim’s Gift Inc. He handed me the check; I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Then, the best surprise of all came. Cameron and Connor came up and stood with me; Clint couldn’t be there. When your children share special moments with you…Wow! That’s God’s way of saying thank you for caring for His little children that He gifted to us.
When Wanda asked if I wanted to say something, I hesitated. Not wanting to take time away from the recital, I said a few words to convey my deep appreciation and humbled spirit for being chosen by the girls for this Wow award and shared what a wonderful place we call home where faith and family are honored.
That night, I was still on cloud nine when I knelt beside my bed and thanked my Jesus. It was then that the words I should have shared on that stage came to my mind. ‘Lord, it is You who deserves the honor and glory for all things. It’s not me who should be Wowed, it’s You, for you are the giver of life and you gave me a second chance at life when I was healed of cancer. You created every little girl who danced on that stage. You packed that place with people who came to see the children they love perform and make them proud. Lord, I know it makes you proud when your children, all your children of the world - red and yellow, black and white - perform for You, when we love and look out for one another, speak up and stand out for what is right and good, be doers of the Word in a spirit of humility, get out of the corner and sing our songs – dance as if no one is looking – rise up and reach out with helping hands and happy hearts, live closely connected to You, and enjoy this journey until we go home to heaven and leave an empty nest here. You are the One who deserves our honor… our WOW! Amen
I climbed in bed, closed my eyes, and all I could say was…Wow!