I lifted her high in the air swirling her tiny body around in a circle. Praising her efforts and expressing my proudness. Her tiny arms grabbed my neck, as she said, “I love you, Mommy!“ Our soft chuckles told us we were tired, so we gulped down a few sips of spring water and took our shoes off for our long awaited afternoon nap.......
The morning started out a little cool and I recognized we were late for waking up in time to catch a bus or a ride to school for the day. My little one and I wanted to make the morning church service offered before school, held every morning at the same time. The early morning goers love my little one and adore her sweet spirit of faith that continues to form as she grows a little bit closer to the Lord. Today was a bit different! My eldest dropped my other two daughters and I off near the church. One daughter went on to school, while the little one and I stayed behind in the church waiting for someone to show up to turn the lights on and unlock the Chapel doors so we could sit down. Fortunately, we only had to wait for about fifteen minutes before we saw a priest walking across the street. Shortly, thereafter, we attended the service only to have had to hold my daughter the whole time. She was cold and knocked out!! Such a beautiful site to see a young child sleeping in her mother’s arms so calmly and beautifully.
The morning church service ended and it was time to go home. Oh, no! Our vehicle was gone and reality hit us that we had to walk. I quickly started calculating the distances…for break time. My tiny daughter and I came to the first stop sign at the end of the block and she knelt down on her knees and prayed to God. Captivating to see a beautiful child so innocent and sweet. She asked God to pray for us to get a car. How humbled I felt watching her and trying to hold a strong disposition as she and I managed enough stamina to start walking home. The elders had already left and so we had no one to give us even a tiny little lift. So off we Go!
Corners were our goals and big trees gave us the cool shade enough to re-energize ourselves while taking in the heat of the mid-morning sun. Our first run in was a crew of city workers standing on edge of a small water ravine near the church and school. We saw their big tractors and wondered what they were doing moving all the earth up the sides of the deepened section. We escaped past their site without hesitation and started making our way to the other side of the street, only to observe a group of four teenagers dumping over a trashcan. The city workers were also watching closely to make sure they weren’t going to invade someone’s home. As we drifted a little further behind, they turned the corner and we were faced with the STOP SIGN. Yes! That’s right. The Stop Sign was a sign to STOP. My little one grew fascinated with the signs. They suddenly became purposeful. I was pulled gently by my daughter to STOP and mercifully yanked, as her worrisome glance, told us we better run or else, the cars would run us over.
We narrowed our path to just the shady areas because the traffic was unseemly busy. The heat on our backs was a little more refreshing, however, we could feel the sweat under our sweaters. My daughter took hers off and I placed it in my purse. For me, there was no sense in carrying it, as it would have loaded my purse too full to carry. It was heavy enough! So we shuffled through the heat and made a decision to cross the road when it was clear. We did it! My tiny daughter grabbed my hand and said, “Hurry, Mom!” I couldn’t have been more excited to cross a big city street except to notice that I was wearing flat flip flops…. Oh, Lord! What a day to be shuffling around the streets in Cole Hahn Flippers.
The grass was brittle and crunchy sounding, so we avoided those spots because little twigs would get caught in the back of our shoes. It was hard enough having to endure the distance with heat pressurizing our backs, but to experience the bending over would not be worth it, so we stuck to dirt and light spotted areas. Our goal was McDonald’s Big Breakfast across the major intersection, although, it seemed like an impossibility with all the traffic. As we managed to climb the miniature steep hill to the side of the road, we looked both ways and noticed a wonderful opening. Again, we raced around the street holding hands in great faith that we escaped the terror of being run over by enormous trucks and crazy city drivers. Hooray! My little trooper had sweat building on her forehead but her smile was bright and shining! The twinkle in her eyes made me proud and the appreciation of our efforts was priceless. I ordered water, her called out ‘fresh’ chocolate milk and McDonald’s Big Breakfast! It was delightful. As we approached our seats, we saw our group of early church goers taking up a whole section of the room. They were in amazement as they saw we had walked over from the church. We chatted a bit before two men seated not too far from us asked me if I had seen the young teenagers in the corner. I told them about the same group overturning trashcans. They proceeded to share their story of how one of them had gone to the counter, while the kids started shooting spitballs at the head of the one man sitting down. As the man returned to his seat, the kids ran out of the restaurant and down the street scared of getting caught.
The world is a funny place when it comes to teenagers nowadays. My daughter and I proceeded down the road, through a parking lot and into a neighborhood. Trees were large enough to give us a little shade and the cars were few. Not a lot of action considering lunchtime was almost over. We wandered down a few different streets, catching sidewalks with shade and cool breeze, stumps for resting and unexpectingly, catching glimpses of a New Channel crew covering stories of burglaries in the area. What an exciting day! We continued down the road and started to pick little flowers. Almost time to cross another major street, while heading towards her big sisters school. Although, we could have stopped , I didn’t feel that we had enough time. I did not want us to stop while we were still able to keep going.
Under the bridge, we slowly approached the bottom of a big hill and managed to stop on the other side of the underbridge, next to an unkempt bush giving little shade. The small delay gave us enough energy to keep going up the hill. Now her sister’s private high school was just down the block. In site, came a public school elementary and we knew we were close. Just one more street to cross and we made it on the high school grounds, safe enough to sit on the ground. The big iron fence meant we were okay! I sat on my sweater, while my little one laid her head on my lap. We watched a few cars go by and we talked about the nice day. A picnic with no food but nevertheless, she had a great time. Her warm, rosie little cheeks were full of life, while her faint smile said she was in a happy world of her own. My spirit was high and I knew she was hungry and thirsty. She did not complain, not one time. It was precious to see her be so strong. She knew momma could do nothing for her but hold her tiny little body. So I held her on my lap and sang her a few songs. Her special request of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, as I realized she was the twinkle in my heart and knowing there was nothing I could offer. Grateful, I shed a few tears before we jumped up, dusted off our clothes, picked up our sweaters, and my purse to start back on the trail. Finally, we made the entrance of the mall strip where Panera Bread was on the front corner. Aw, the refreshing smell and the coolness of the restaurant. I managed to view the time on my ipod and relax as I saw my little darling take in her bagel. The waitress brought us an extra big cup because I told her we hurdled a big walk and had a bit more to go. She rewarded my daughter with more ice tea and cream cheese. It was a blessing in disquise, a treat from hard work. Once our bellies were full and our bodies replenished, we thanked the Lord for the money we had.
Another major challenge of crossing a busy main street. Silently, we prayed for an opening and sure enough, during the busiest times of the day, God opened up both sides of the four lane. Little darling grabbed onto my hand for dear life and she said, “You can do it, I know you can.” I smiled with glee and raced across the street. Our hands unbreakable and our legs in unison, we jumped onto the grass nearest to us. The shade gave us a gift of achievement and freshness. Our proud faces led us to reach the other side of a big mall. Almost home.
The tall trees laying on the south side of the mall, led us near a neighborhood with quiet action. The breeze gave us energy and excitement as we came across a lot of acorns scattered below. The variety led us to pick the most unique ones up to throw in my purse. (Now that I think about it, I think they are still in my purse.) We rested assure that they would be a nice treat for the squirrels around our house. To feed nature made us feel heroic and happy.
Finally, we had our last major crossing onto a college campus. Again, I asked the Lord to open the way for us to cross safely. Within a few seconds, both sides were clear and we darted across to the large open field infront of the main college building. Clean and full of green grass with large trees. A site of familiarity since I took her here to take special pictures. Those trees were her playground and she ran around them like she owned them. Playing with rejuvenated energy, she chased the wind with a stick and claimed her favorite spot. I was amazed at her sweet heart cherished the nature around her much like I had as a child. It was refreshing to stand so close and yet, watch from so far.
Time to turn the corner and take the last stride home. We put the sticks down and decided we were finally tired. I was so proud of her and gave her the last of my sweet iced tea from Panera Bread. The ice melted from the heat of the mid-day sun. We discovered it was already after one o’clock in the afternoon. I was rushing to get my little one home and down for a nice afternoon nap. Our water had run out and she was going to be thirsty. I told her how proud I was of her for holding on, she still had not complained but said, “Mom, I am getting so warm, feel my head.” I felt her head and brushed it with the few drops of water left. It must have given a slight, refreshing feel because she was ready to run home. We saw a neighbor in his front yard and yelled for him but our yell was too faint for him to hear. Having a little bit of hearing loss from old age, I knew we did not have the energy to grab his attention, so we crossed the street in hopes to see him but lost site. We were officially tired and ready for home, so we talked about what we were going to do first when we reached the house. I knew this was the hardest part of our walk and offered to hold her, instead, she picked up a tiny stick and offered me the challenge of running the last thirty feet home. Our spirits, so worn but knowing we made it gave us the spirit of accomplishment. Not a penny spent, not one complaint. We made it home.