There was a little girl who
loved to go downtown with her Gramma.
They would take the bus from Gramma’s apartment
to the transit station and get on a train.
The train would take them to the center of the city.
They would have a fine time shopping and having lunch.
The only thing was
Gramma always wanted to take the escalator
to go up and down in the stores.
Gramma didn’t like elevators because
they made her stomach go flip-flop.
They sometimes made the little girl’s stomach flip-flop.
But she still wanted to take the elevator.
Escalators were boring; just stairs that moved.
Elevators were magical.
The elevator doors open and there is a little room.
You get in the little room and the doors close.
The little room goes up or down…you tell it which way to go.
When the elevator doors open again you are in a different place.
This is an easy little book to read. It doesn’t really say anything that we shouldn’t already know. But then we often know something we should do but don’t do it until someone reminds us to. So, it is worth the time to read and think about.
Mr. Formsma reminds us that living generously does not necessarily mean you must have lots of money to give away. He, also, makes the point that giving is something we get to do not something we have to do. We get to give not just to the materially poor but just as importantly to the emotionally and spiritually poor and to the ordinary people we see everyday that just need a smile. For many folks this may be a whole new way of thinking about giving.
There are stories of wealthy people and what they have given and stories of pay check to pay check people and what they have given. Some of the stories are quite eye-opening; I Like Being Robbed is one of those. Some are touching; I Like Scars and I Like Sharing The Dance are two of those. And there are surprising stories like these, I Like Haircuts and I Like Learning. All these stories are about real people and what they gave and what they received.
We are often blind to the needs around us. Perhaps after you read this you will look around with newly opened eyes and see where and how you can give. There are practical ideas and encouragement on how to live generously. It’s a choice you make. A choice that could change you and the world around you.
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell
Brenda Spahn grew up poor, she worked hard, built a successful business, and became rich. She was busy with her family and her business, enjoying the good life and then she almost went to prison. During her legal struggles she prayed and promised God she would change her focus and give of her time, talent, and money to those in need.
She volunteered at the Julia Turwiler Prison for Women in Alabama. What she saw and heard there made her angry and broke her heart inspiring her to make a difference in the lives of at least a few these women prisoners. In spite of the opposition of officials and professionals in the prison system she was permitted to take women being released from Turwiler into her home.
This is the true story of Brenda Spahn and the first year of the Whole Way House. It was not all smooth and easy but it led to the founding of the Lovelady Center that today serves 450 women and children. At the Center the women and children are cared for daily; learning basic skills and receive counselling and rehabilitation, career counselling and job training preparing them for life outside of prison, with homes and jobs and success on their own.
The beginning of Brenda’s story with seven women straight from prison to her home is at times funny and often heartbreaking. She tells of trips to Walmart to buy underwear and toothbrushes and how difficult it was for the women to accept the fact that they didn’t have to wear “white cotton granny pants” anymore and that they could have whatever color toothbrush they wanted. Another anecdote tells of their going to out to dinner for the first time. How the women struggled with the menu and what to order and how to order. And when something frightened them they all hid under the table.
At home there were petty squabbles and childish behavior. The hard to learn lessons of how to eat and enjoy the meal, to do laundry and house-keeping. The lessons of responsibility, accountability, honesty, and trust. All the things we take for granted were new and unknown to them. I couldn’t help but admire their courage as they faced the frightening world of freedom for the first time.
Brenda’s story is not without its ups and downs. There are difficult family decisions to make and neighbors less than happy to have ex-cons living down the street and prison officials waiting for her to fail. There were the times Brenda wondered how it would all work out but she had faith in God and His purpose for her and the women in her care. Miss Brenda loved and respected all the women from the start and they came to love and respect her.
This book was sent to me free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.