I am the queen of wet hems. I lived for six years in a climate rainier than Seattle without ever buying the most practical of footwear for said conditions: boots. I’d see those classy ladies in their slick knee-high boots, all cozy in those leather tubes of dryness and elegance. Meanwhile my jeans would have a creeping margin of damp crawling up the ankle, causing the heavy fabric to pool and scuffle along the dirty sidewalks as I tried to avoid the deeper puddles.
I tried to shop for some boots, but every time I was repulsed by both the price tags and the hard-won knowledge that footwear sold in Chile was often poorly made unless it was an internationally known brand, which threw it up into the untouchable price range for a missionary gal with damp hems. Fast forward to life in the United States, with it’s fair share of damp and snow and I trudged through four years more with wet hems after several failed attempts to locate used boots at thrift stores.
It’s funny the things you think about in the shower. It was Saturday morning and I was thinking through what to wear on my feet for an outdoor wedding in November that evening. It was to be cold and I had nothing that fit into the categories of both warm and formal. “Man,” I thought, “If only I had some boots. It always comes back to boots.”
Why didn’t I just go buy some? Well, because our tenant left us $4,000 behind in rent along with a $400 unpaid water bill, and we just paid school taxes on both properties, that’s why. I can’t even go to the grocery store, much less buy footwear. We don’t want credit card debt, so we just sort of doggie-paddle to keep afloat by living from our freezer and pantry and the food I’ve canned.
So I prayed for boots. Why it doesn’t occur to me that God cares about me being perpetually soaked each rainy day is perplexing. If I, sinful and small, make sure my children are cared for and properly attired, how could I think that God would not wish to care for my needs? I prayed for boots to walk into my life and dethrone me as queen of wet hems. It felt silly to pray for such when there’s things like starvation and disease and natural disasters wreaking havoc, but I did.
Twenty minutes later I was settled into our faded blue wing chair with my laptop checking Facebook. I had a message from my husband’s cousin’s wife Deanna, written about seventeen minutes previous:
“Hi Sarah, What size feet do you have? I have a lovely pair of black boots and I am trying to find a good home for them.”
Folks, you just can’t make this stuff up. I replied:
“Oh my word. This is too funny, because even if the size isn’t the right one, I just prayed when I was in the shower that God would help me to have some boots for winter (we’re broke at present and I don’t own any boots). I am a size 7 1/2 or 8. I am smiling at God’s hilarity.”
I had the most startled and grateful feeling warming my heart. God was there, right there in the shower hearing my words and He was moving. He wanted to bless me, surprise me, remind me of his loving care and kindness. He wasn’t going to make all our problems go away, but He was going to add a sweetness in the trials, a gift. Deanna wrote back:
“Well, this is perfect. Now these are not work boots, but they are tall riding like boots which are pretty snazzy and without a tall heel. they look like they have only been worn a few times and they are size 8. We got them out of one of the storage units we cleaned out. We can drop them by after church tomorrow and we can leave them at your door if you are not there. Will that work?”
I came home from church the next morning to these lovely Ann Taylor size 8 leather boots which fit like they were made for me. Alongside was a whole box of size 2T boy clothes, something else I had been praying for as Henrik grows. I gathered my kids around me and I told them this new story in our family history, about boots and prayer and a God who listens to His children with stunning compassion. How God is not a cosmic vending machine who doles out nice things if we insert prayer, but rather, He is a surprising, loving Father who likes to remind us now and then in special ways that He sees us, loves us.
And yes, Father, I see You, I see Your kindness to me in this special gift of boots, of dry hems, and renewed hope. Thank You.