The Whisper Within

" Believing that God powers strange coincidences and the journey that lies ahead."


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Today was not exactly a good day.  I may not have children playing ball in the house but I do have Kipper, my rambunctious German short-haired pointer. Her energy definitely overflows her dog bowl and today was no different.

As I am working from home, I see her pacing the floor, stalking a small object, and then springing into action. I think to myself, What is she trying to catch? And then I see it. A fly.

My eyes divert back to my computer screen until I hear a crash. I walk into the next room and see Kipper’s eyes, telling half of the story. IMG_7241

Guilty!  I question my puppy thinking she can answer and then survey the room.

Ugh! A cracked window!

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I roll my eyes. Great! I walk back to my computer and quickly Google, window repair.

Within an hour, a glass repair man arrives, an estimate is received, and then a story.

“Lisa, you were so nice to work with. I am so thankful that God brought me to your house today. You see, I have six children and fifteen grandchildren. One was just born the other day. Do you want to see him?”

He scrolled through his phone and proudly showed me. “This is Samuel, named after the prophet.” He continued on, “Truthfully I don’t want to be doing this. I want to be a pastor, administer and pray for those with health concerns.”

I responded,”If that is your desire, God will honor it. It’s Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.(ESV)'”

The man openly started crying and then he grabbed my hand, and started praying, “Thank you God for Lisa. Please Jesus, I want to be a Pastor…”

The prayer was over. He gave me hug and headed out the door; leaving both of our hearts cracked open.


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“Hey, Mom can we go to Mc Donald’s?”

“Sorry, Peanut. Not today.”

“We never go.”

“Tarah, you know mom can’t afford that.”

I looked at the rearview mirror. Umm, my boy. He gets it. I’m doing my best to just hold everything together with a safety pin. First the divorce. Then the accident. Their dad, my ex is a paraplegic. And now I’m broke. When does it end? 

I pulled through the library drive- thru.

“Hello. I’m picking up movies.”

Across the way, I see a Harry Potter movie poster in the window. Only $3.69 a rental. Nope, sorry Blockbuster; the library is free.

 The library clerk handed me the movies. “Ok kids, just one more stop.”

We entered the red dot store. Oh boy, not the dollar bin.Stick to the list and only the list! The basket was filled, but then a wheel came off my cart.

“I want gum.”

“Stop it Tarah! You can’t have any.” He straightened his baseball cap and grabbed her hand.

Buuutt I waaanntt it.”

“Tarah. No. Mom’s in line. We need to go.”

“But Jake, there are Pokemon cards for you.”

I pushed the cart to the side and got out of the checkout line.

“It’s okay, mom. I don’t need anything.”

I dropped to my knees, folded his little body into mine and whispered, “I love you, Jake Gunnar.”

“I love you too, Mommy.”

“You’re my good boy.”

 Inches away, this Hallmark moment was contrasted. Keds were stomping and pigtails were beating the tile floor.

I scooped Tarah up, pushed back my cart, and in one big swoop, threw her on my hip. “Well, we’re out of here.”

I waved my point-finger in Tarah’s face. “That was not nice.”

“Yeah, Tarah. You know Mom can’t buy that stuff. Gosh!”

“Okay. Jake. That’s enough.”

I started the car, turned on the radio and cried. Help me, God. Life should not be so rough. I looked in the rearview mirror.

“Mommy, are you alright?”

“Yeah, honey.”

“Don’t worry, Mommy; ‘God will meet all your needs.’ Philippians 4:19.”

I looked over my shoulder. “What did you say?”

“God will meet all your needs. It’s our memory verse this week.”

It was It’s a Wonderful Life moment.

“Daddy, teacher says every time you hear a bell ring an angel gets his wings.” And George exclaimed, “That’s right! That’s right!”

I closed my eyes, wiped my tears, and squeezed his hand. “That’s right. That’s right. Thank you, Jake Gunnar.”

“No problem, Mommy.”

I backed up the car and looked up at the clouds. Nothing gets pass you. God had the small details of my life and used my own little boy to teach me the biggest lesson.

That was fifteen years ago, and today, just like that moment, is HUGE!

Fifteen years ago, I went through a divorce, months later my ex became a paraplegic. I struggled trying to raise two little kids. I spent nights at the kitchen table teaching math while trying to balance a dwindling checking account. The calendar was always packed; even when bank account wasn’t. I never thought I would survive those years, let alone, ever see the day come when my children would graduate college.

Well, today is that day. Through the grace of God, WE did it.

Yes, Jake worked his butt off at Purdue. I worked my butt off teaching him, saving for him, and paying for his college. But God did his part too. You see, God gave me enough strength. I heard him whisper, “I got you, Lisa. Now get out of bed and do it.”

And God did bless my little engineer, with the gift of math and science. Funny, to think seventeen years ago, I saw his gift ( see the video) and today, Jake is a Purdue University engineer graduate. And if you are wondering , yes,I cried like a baby .

God really does have the plan. Can you trust the Whisper?

“ And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.” Roman 8:28

 


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This blog may not sit well with some of you . I don’t always have my Sunday church dress on . Sometimes the sassy pants do come out of the closet.

A ding and a text .

What’s up Middle Seat ? I’m in Schaumburg – thinking of you .

The corners of my mouth turned North.

Colin.

My lashes fell and then flickered towards the sky catching the light filtering through the palm tree envisioning that plane ride , four years ago .

“Excuse me is this seat taken ?”

“Umm … I don’t know .”

“Well, my tv screen isn’t working and my Denver Broncos are playing for the championship. It will be a long flight to Chicago if I can’t watch the game .”

A seat is filled. My Kleenex is filled . And then the questions began .

“Hey, you’re crying . Are you alright ?”

My mouth twitched. A bottom lip is bit and then I spilled the story .

“So you knew this guy twenty years ago and now you both wanted to see if it could be something now that you’re both single … AND …?”

” AND … I am crushed. I don’t know …”

“I am sorry . No guy is letting a girl like you get away … unless he wants to . It’s over .The sooner you get over this, the better .

My mouth sealed like an envelope . He’s right .

Two hours passed and two strangers became friends .The banter was as sweet as cherry pie.

And soon I heard,”Prepare the cabin for arrival .”

The plane landed . Luggage was wheeled to the terminal .And a smile was waiting , coaxing me over .

“Ms. Schomer, you are the most interesting girl I have ever met. I have a feeling this could be something worth pursuing, what do you think?”

I threw a smirk and then I leaned forward and allowed for my lips to graze his.

” Wow! Like I said, Middle Seat, one of the most interesting girls I have ever met. Let’s keep in touch .”

Life is unpredictable like that plane ride.

Did God intervene for me that day, sending over a seat- mate , to show me a little hope is around the corner or at the next boarding gate ? You never know.

Take the middle seat . You just may find yourself sandwiched between hopeless and hopeful . Who knows, you may double your chances for a connection. Hope may be a seat a away .

But until the real thing sits besides me in my row, I will get out of bed, walk forward , and happily anticipate the unexpected, The Whisper Within…and so should you .

“I will wait for the Lord .” Psalm 24:17


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Ugh garbage night !

Yep, we all do it , but mine is a bit tricker than just dragging the bins to the curb . I live on a hill .

So one bin down . Then I’m down . And then the garbage is spread on the sidewalk like a Thanksgiving feast in reverse .

Crap !

Light blue Converse are sprawled and a set of work boots come walking .

” So you must be my new neighbor …”

” Yep, I’m Lisa .”

” I’m hearing Chicago or New York … can I help you ?”

“Nope . I’m fine .”

” Definitely Chicago. Stubborn .”

A crooked smirk is thrown and a strong hand pulls mine .

“So, why here ,Chicago girl ?”

” I wanted the simple life .”

” The simple life ? Don’t you know that Santa Barbara is heaven on earth ? There is even a secret stairway that will take you to a view that’s just like heaven . It’s right up the hill .You should wander .”

A fire . An evacuation. A mudslide . An evacuation . Yep, this is paradise .

But a few months later, I wandered, step by step . A secret stairs led to a secret park . I took in the view .

The beach. The mountains . The sun setting over the horizon .

Wow,this is heaven on earth .

A deep breath in . A deep breath out. Time to go .

Step by step I walked down the cobblestone walkway .

A glance. A smile . And then a story . Her white locks drew me in .

“Hi Lisa . I’m Nan. So nice to meet you …. You’re from Chicago? I grew up right outside Chicago in LaGrange . I moved here when I was sixty- seven after my husband passed .Why did you move here, Lisa ? Did your husband get a job transfer ?”

” Nope . I’m single .”

I leaned down and pet the Cocker Spaniel .

” How old are you , Lisa?”

” I’m fifty . ”

” You’re just a baby . I’m ninety . Do you know the secret to being happy ? Get a dog not a man . ”

I leaned in and hugged the white locks.

So … say hello to Kipper .

I prayed for companionship and God brought me a dog . Next time I yell at God ,I’ll learn to be more specific in my prayers .

Have I given up on love ? Heck no ! It IS coming .I will be patient and wait for the real thing. God knows my heart and will fulfill my desire .

In the meantime, someone or something has to keep this Chicago girl warm during a BRUTAL Santa Barbara Winter.

” Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire .”

Psalm 37:4


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27 years and 2000 miles apart.

It all started with my blog post. 10 wisdoms I learned in #Chicago.

A follower commented,” Your faith and perseverance are impressive…I should add impressively optimistic for Cub’s fan.”

I responded and then he private messaged me.

Dan: Had no idea you had this in you when we worked together.

ME: We worked together? Help me I’m getting old…

Dan: Yep, 27 years ago at Canon in Downers Grove.

What? Now I need the story

ME: How did you find my blog? How did you know it was me?

Dan:One of my buddies and I were talking about one hit wonders and the song “Rock Steady” came up. I searched it and came up with the Whispers as the group that sang it. When I searched “The Whispers”, I believe your website came up before I hit the letter “s” in Whispers. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link. I thought I recognized the name Lisa Riehm, as someone I worked with at Canon. I have a really good memory for names and faces, I thought your face looked familiar. I went to the photos and when I saw the Hinsdale South HS photo, I knew it was the young lady I worked with at Canon.

Who would guess? Twenty-seven years and two thousand miles apart, two co-workers would reconnect.

“Since the Lord is directing our steps why do we question everything that happens along the way?’ Proverbs 20:24

Strange coincidence, maybe? But it does make you wonder. Doesn’t it?Santa Barbara sunset


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I did it. I finally did it.

I laid my scissors on the table and looked around the garage; empty boxes and paper tossed about.

The last box .

I open it up and found what I have been searching for ; a journal from my Florence vacation. I brushed my hand across the supple suede, lifted it to my nose and breathed in the leather, like an aphrodisiac luring me in .I open the pages; exposing the crisp creamy white, begging to be defiled .

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I laid the journal off to the side and stared at the last table in the garage to be let go . Why didn’t I leave this a month ago at the curb in Westlake? There is no room for this in Santa Barbara.

A smirked crossed my face as I remembered what a friend said while packing me, “Nothing significant from your past can go to your future?”

“What d’ya mean?”

“Come on, Lis. You wonder why you don’t have a boyfriend? You still have your old bedroom furniture from Chicago. Let it go.”

With a quick press of the app, I uploaded a photo and tagged it. Free. I let go of my past and opened up my future.

I glanced down at the journal on the table. I turned the page. Time for fresh start. This is saved for something special.

And just like the last unopened box …Maybe, just maybe, God is saving the best for last too. It may be what I was looking for all along.

God has written my story already. I just need to be patient and let him fill the pages.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was written in your book.” Psalm 139:16

Can you let go and let the magic begin?


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I turn the last page of the book, The Circle Maker , and set it on the sea glass table beside me. I recline in the wicker lounge chair and take a deep breathe in. A combination of salt and rosemary lingers in the air as I take in the amazing balcony views of the Greek island of Mykonos.

I am a million miles from home but which home? The new home I have made in Los Angeles, the city of angels or the place of my childhood and last 48 years, Chicago, the Windy City.

Mykonos is so windy I feel like I am being whipped like a sailboat on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Mykonos’ intoxicating turquoise waters lures me in, completely heavenly like the city of angels, Los Angeles. I observe the palm tree branches blowing in the breeze and think of my friends from Los Angeles to Chicago and like Mark Batterson, the author of The Circle Maker encouraged, I circle them with prayer.

I text :
“I read an amazing book on this trip called The Circle Maker. It is about an old testament man, Honi, who circled his prayers. He asked persistently for rain. Right now I am thinking of my friends from the West Coast to the Midwest; and circling them and their families with prayers of love, peace, and safety. I hope you feel lifted up .”

 

The response was overwhelming …

‘I do 🙂 you helped me through 24 hrs of travel. Just driving from airport home!!!! Had a weird delay at Charles de Gall, somebody left an unattended bag and it was creepy…felt uncertain with all the issues there this summer. Thanks for the circles :-)’

That’s amazing!! I feel peaceful this morning and optimistic. 😊 Thank you. I will read too and you are in my circle. 🙏

Thank you for sending love our way! Everyone woke up so happy and full of life this morning. Today is my Birthday and this was my first text .

‘Nice to hear from you! When I got your text just now I was outside gazing at the stars after my walk, thank you for your prayer!’

 

As the texts came in, I thought of how blessed I am. If I did not have this patio quiet time how could I lift up my friends to the one who hears me?
This alone time is all mine. No husband. No kids. Just me and the wind.

I picked up my book, glanced one more time at the cyan blue Mediterranean Sea and felt the wind whisper, “Your time is coming. Soon.” God’s timing is always perfect. The winds are changing.I will wait for the soft calming breeze.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”
Psalm 107:29
“God is for you. If you don’t believe that, then pray small timid prayers; if you believe it, then you will pray big audacious prayers…Who you become is determined by how you pray.” ~ Mark Batterson author of The Circle Maker
I challenge you all to boldly circle your friends and family in prayer . Would love to hear your stories . Email them at laschomer@twc.com .

By the way, I have not lost my sweet tooth. I still crave a husband like the scrumptious taste of baklava topped with a creamy side of vanilla ice cream.IMG_2504


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  nigeriaRomans 12:6 “We all have different gifts, according to the grace of God given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in portion to his faith.”

February 2013

Ever have one of those days when everything seems so unclear? That everything seems to be a wreck? That there are no answers and you are lacking direction? Well, I seem to be having one of those days… or months. Honestly, I have been having a year like that. Today was no different. The last month or so between, the harassment, the burglary, the investigation, my neighbor Joe dying, life has been simply exhausting. Not to mention I am buried at work, since it’s tax time. But am I complaining? No. Well honestly, a little bit.

What makes matters worse is that it is typical Chicago winter. Cold, dark, dreary, lacking sunshine. Basically the weather is reflecting my spirit, simply depressing.
Every day, I get out bed and force myself to find the joy. Joy in the little things, like a hot shower, a morning run with Hunter, a good strong cup of coffee, yoga, and finally flannel PJs at the end of the day.
Today though I have an unquenchable desire to know why? Why has the last couple of months been so difficult?  Why I am forced to “suck-up” the crap and just “deal?”  Has God left me alone to struggle and why do I feel like Jesus on the cross when he said, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?”  Does He think I thrive on chaos? That “happy” Lisa can just take it?Does God even see me anymore?
It always seems like in the shower I do my clearest thinking and praying. I turn the shower on, waiting for it to get to the right temperature, boiling hot. As the scorching water runs down me, it resembles a baptism; baring my naked soul to God.
I have no shame in my aloneness. I expose my frustration out loud to God.
Screaming accusingly at God, “Where are you? Do you even see me anymore? Give me something? Show me something? … I am begging you, (and then louder for extra emphasis I yell) I AM BEGGING YOU, SEND ME HOPE…SOME SIGN that I am NOT alone!”
And just like Eve, I covered myself up in a towel, embarrassed that I was contemptuous toward God and gave in to a pity party.  I brush off my silly request to God, head off to work, and go through the motions of getting by another day without the answers I deserve.
The day passes slowly and I decide that nothing would come of any good today.  How could I effectively counsel and provide answers when I lacked answers in my own life?  Today I was worthless.So I left work early, headed to the grocery store to pick up a couple items.  Little did I know a typical grocery shopping trip would not be ordinary but extraordinarily bizarre. In the express check- out lane, I lug the forty five pounds of dog food onto the conveyor belt and then gently place the dozen of fresh baked chocolate chips cookie alongside. As I look forward, standing in front of me is a middle-aged, African-American woman, heavy set, with deep, dark eyes strikingly wearing an orange and red- designed turban. Some would describe as Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Buttersworth. She looks distinctly at me and quickly references my two items. In a strong, Nigerian or African dialect she comments and points to the dog food and cookies,
“You need to keep the dog happy and the kids happy.” Then adding in a creeping undertone, “You need to keep the dog fed so he can baaark at the burrggllars.”
 I looked at her, dead straight into her eyes, and start nervously laughing, “Ha, well that didn’t work. I was robbed in December. The silly dog did not do anything.”
Without hesitation she reaches over and squeezed my right arm and while still gripping my arm she unnervingly slowly whispers, “That’s because he KNEW the burglars.”

I felt a spine-tingling sensation rush through my bones. Startled and shocked I questioned, “What? What did you say?”Not wavering in her strong conviction, “I SAID… that’s because He KNEW the burglars.”

“Ok… Now that’s crazy.” I declare.

She uncannily continued, “Do you believe in JEESSSUUS?

“I do. I have a strong faith in Him.”

Nodding her head up and down, “Gooood. Gooood. Now… what you need to do… is go get the BLOOD of Jesus and mark your doors… and get Satan out of your house…” Then gripping and squeezing my arm again with her right hand while waving emphatically her left arm, looking straight through me like she could see my soul, in a ghost-like mystic hiss adds, “ because that SATAN he’s a liiaarrrrrr, I tell you. HE’S A LIAR!”

 Those words giving me chills and instantly I felt a shiver rushing through me, goose bumps suddenly forming. Feeling a little creeped-out, but at the same time intrigued by this mysterious woman? I carefully scrutinized her face, her demeanor, her body posture, any clue I could grasp to speculate and evaluate, who was this strange woman? As she walked away, I took one more calculated gaze in her direction hoping to get some kind of answer to what just occurred.
As the young, fresh–faced, check-out boy, started scanning my cookies, he looked at me, shaking his head, he blurts out, “What the hell was that?”
I laughed; shaking my head, “I have no idea…”
Before I could finish my sentence, the mysterious woman appears by my side, grabbing my arm one more time, and with a spine-chilling raspy voice murmurs her warning, “Don’t forget…the dog KNEW the burglars…You need to get the blood of Jesus to keep Satan away because…The devil he’s a LLIIAARR. He’s A LIIIAARR.”
Turning to walk away she looks back one final time at me almost jeering, “ Now…you have good day, you hear?”
If I wasn’t freaked out before, now I was. I felt like I was in the middle of some paranormal activity movie, but in the check-out lane at the grocery store. I finish checking out. Dazed, I kept hearing the hypnotic voice taunting me. What was the meaning of that alarming and unnerving encounter? Was she a psychic seeing my disrupted past? Or was she clairvoyant and predicting and sensing another unfortunate future incident?
Then I recall my morning plea… “Send me sign…do you even see me?”
Was this a sign from God? Was he showing me that he sees me? I don’t know exactly what or who that was but it definitely was some strange connection whispering to me….


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Today, I needed to take a break from work. Coffee wasn’t the drug I needed to get rejuvenated.  I knew a walk would do the trick after stepping outside and feeling the warmth of the sunshine on my face. Heading around the corner, I saw a man standing on a driveway looking in my direction.

He said, “Hi. Are you taking a meditative walk?”

Looking at the stranger I asked, “Excuse me what did you say?”

As he walked around his carpet cleaning van, coming closer to me, he repeated the question, “Are you taking a meditative walk?”

I admitted my truth, “Yea. I needed to relieve some stress.”

He says, “What I do is look up at the sky and ask for help, His Ever Lasting Presence.” He then added, “You know how to restart your day?  Hugging.” Without hesitation the man leaned and wrapped his arms around me.

After a few seconds I pulled away and with a gentle smile said, “Thanks I needed that.”

The older, weathered-looking man glanced back at me and asked, “What’s your name?”

“Lisa, and yours?”

“Pete.”

“Nice to meet you meet you Pete.’

The stranger confidently added, “Lisa, our paths crossing was no coincidence. It was God knowing we both needed a hug to restart our day.”

As I stepped back to examine the worker all I could say was, “Wow.”

He then added, “I know, kinda crazy getting advice let alone a hug from a complete stranger.”

Silently I laughed and with a smirk added, “No, you obviously don’t know me. I hug and talk to strangers all the time.”

With an inviting smile Pete added, “Me too. You see I am trying to turn over a new leaf. I spent time in jail and daily I am trying to do good, even in small ways.”

God has the small details in our life and can use anyone to make a difference. You just need to be open to it and keep looking up for HELP, His Ever Lasting Presence.  Do you have a story that a complete stranger made a difference? Feel free to share in the comment section below

 


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A few years ago, I had a day as surreal as a Stanley Kubrick film. As I dug in my purse for change to pay for my Heath bar, a stranger behind me laid a dollar on the counter, purchased my candy bar, and told me to “Pay it forward”.  I turned to him, dumbfound and quipped, “Thanks.”  I walked away, savoring the sweet taste of chocolate, and shook my head in disbelief.

Later that afternoon, I drove down Schaumburg road, and made my way into the snow-covered parking lot of a laundry mat. I pulled my laundry baskets out of my trunk as the bitter wind punched my cheeks. Why did my water pipes break this week? Why did my life have to be this hard?

Within minutes the washing machines were jammed with my dirty clothes, but it was my emotions that were burst and soiled. In the next thirty minutes, I watched my clothes being tossed against the glass round window, flopping around without any clear direction, mirroring my haphazard day. Just then a wind gust blew the door open and a lady dressed in red flannel PJs bottoms and a black wool coat, walked in. Within seconds she was crying with despair,

“Thunder and Lightning ran out of gas and are stranded.”

“Who are Thunder and Lightning?”

Between broken sobs she continued,” They are my twin girls.”

“Really? Thunder and Lightning?  Where do they go to school?”

“Schaumburg High School. They are Sophomores. They are track stars.”

Lines on my forehead formed like an EKG read-out,” Oh, are they? I have a sophomore girl at Schaumburg, too. Her name is Tarah.”

“You do? Maybe my girls know her.  They are on the track team and are wicked fast… but they need help. Do you have any money for gas?” She pleaded, “I am a single mom. Please can you help me?’

Her eyes melted my soul like whip cream on hot chocolate. I reached in my wallet and took out a ten-dollar bill. “I am a single mom, too. This is for your girls.”

She hugged me like a momma who just found her lost child at Disney World,” Thank you. Thank you.”

I watched her walk out of the frosted glass door and disappear into the blizzard. I dialed Tarah on my cell.

“Tarah do you know any girls called Thunder and Lightning at your school?”

“Yeah, mom. They are track stars, why?

“Never mind… I’ll see you in a bit.”

Pressing the end button on my cell phone, I looked up at the ceiling and laughed as I thought of the gentleman who said, “pay it forward.”  I felt an unnerving stillness come rush over me like a gentle brook streaming over a rock.

As I left the laundry mat, the snow continued to fall making the roads slick. I stopped at a stoplight right by Schaumburg High School just as a car skidded into me tapping my bumper. As I walked to rear of my Murano, I saw a nervous chubby cheeked face looking down at the dent and then his hazel eyes quickly darted to meet mine. With his corners of his mouth turned down he uttered, “I, I am so sorry,” As he tugged at grey knitted cap, he lowered his head and closed his lips like a trap. Looking up at the rosy cheeks I asked, “Are you hurt? Are you ok?”

In confusion, he replied, “Yes. I am fine.”  Looking down at the silver dented bumper and then up at the boy, “Well, it’s only a dent. No one was hurt. Forget about it. Just be careful.”

His hand brushed to push his mocha colored bangs to the side and added,” Are you serious?”

I nodded. “Yep.”

“Thanks. I just got my license and my dad would kill me.’

I shuffled through the snow-covered street and made my way back into my SUV right before the light turned green. As I sat for a moment, I realized that I was given the gift to” pay it forward.” not once but twice.  I released my right foot from the brake pedal and pressed the gas pedal down. As I drove into the intersection, I looked up at the sky and smirked knowing that angels were probably smirking too.