A Stance of Gratitude


Usually when you view a shoe/sandal/flip-flops/boots sort of photo along with the shins and ankles or just a set of pant legs, some one has either just landed at an airport or is about to take off somewhere. I’m not sure how the foot-selfie originated, but it is firmly established on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms.

However, the shoes photo I inserted above, along with my jean pant legs, aren’t headed anywhere too far these days. In fact, the reason I have posted these particular shoes is that they have helped me stand, balance, walk, and travel the past four weeks.

Without these laced-up shoes, and sometimes my tennis shoes (takkies), I would have been stuck on the couch. No kidding.

I hadn’t planned to buy these shoes in the first place over two years ago.

I first noticed them at the Tualatin Fred Meyer when our family was home on furlough. My previous pair of laced-up leather shoes had served me incredibly well on the dusty streets of Finetown and other places for the past six or seven years. Finally, the soles had split in half. There was no recovery plan. They had served their purpose.

The shoes appeared like a sturdy replacement. But the cost of the shoes was higher than I wanted to pay. When our family is on furlough, this is when we do all of our clothes and shoe shopping. We buy what we think we will need for the next three years or so. We have learned that making all of our purchases in the States is a cost-effective plan. This allows us more flexibility with both family and ministry funds in South Africa instead of being concerned about a clothes and shoes budget. So whatever we purchase in the States, we literally live with for the next three years.

So as I looked over those shoes in the shoe department of Fred Meyer, I asked myself, “Do I really need them? Are these the type of shoes that would not only benefit me here in Oregon, but also in South Africa?”

Usually I am a see-and-buy kind of gal. Living in South Africa for as long as I have, if I see something on the store shelf, there is no guarantee that it will be there on another day. In addition, I am the kind of buyer that if I see something I like, I can justify the need – much to my husband’s chagrin at times!

Yet, with these particular shoes, for some reason on that day, I decided to walk away and think about it.

A few weeks later, I returned to that Fred Meyer, and the shoes were still there. This time though, they were on sale. And I had one of those Fred Meyer discounted coupons. The shoes were now almost half the price as when I had seen them three weeks earlier. I tried the shoes on and when they fit comfortably, I decided to make the purchase.

I had no idea that this decision would serve me so well two and a half years later.

Fast forward to this moment; I sit here typing with gratitude. This pair of shoes –  a pair of shoes that I almost passed up on a Fred Meyer shelf – are serving me in a way I never expected.

Over four weeks ago, I hurt my right foot. My foot had fallen asleep while I was sitting at work in the Happy Blue School room. Without realizing it, when I stood up and walked, the foot buckled beneath my weight. The ankle area made some noises that no one should ever hear emanating from their foot. I fell to the floor in a heap. I thought the foot would heal quickly – at least that was my hope.  However, when it didn’t, John took me to see our family doctor. Dr. Ilsley quickly affirmed John’s view that I had done something significant. It was a severe strain and would take weeks to heal. He told me that I had to stay off the foot for the next week. And after that time, I could only walk in very sturdy, laced-up shoes. When it was stronger, then I would need to do strength-enhancing exercises to help the foot literally regain its footing.

So, for the past 3 ½ weeks, the only shoes I’ve been wearing out and about, are these black beauties. It’s summer time here. It’s getting warmer by the day. I’d love to wear my sandals or walk barefoot this time of year. But no, not yet.

I am not complaining though. I am grateful.

As a missionary, I have often shared about the financial impact and its influence on our ministry life. Our family has been generously supported for almost nine years in South Africa, not to mention the two and a half years of preparation to reach the field. This is 11 ½ years of being provided for by family, friends, and churches through an amazing partnership in honor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

However, as I look down at my feet, I am conscious of the generosity that allowed me to make a purchase two years ago that are serving me today in a very purposeful way. The financial gifts that provide tables and chairs for Finetown, a ministry vehicle for our family, educational and ministry opportunities in Zimbabwe, Pastoring of Pastors workshops throughout southern Africa, and more, also feed and clothe our family.

And I just want to say thank you from the very tips of my toes.

As I peer down at my shoes, it’s more than an opportunity to take a foot-selfie,  these shoes give me a stance of gratitude.



2 thoughts on “A Stance of Gratitude

  1. I perked up when I saw the word gratitude! Thanking God always fills my heart with joy and peace. A smile is on my face just thinking of the glory it gives to Him when we are thankful. And it fills my soul with the hope that I hang onto, that we have eternity in his presence to look forward to. Thank you, God for everything and thank you Heather, for reminding us so clearly.

    1. Hi Rita,

      I believe a grateful heart makes all the difference in the world! A grateful heart is a joyful heart! Be blessed!

      love, heather

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