Day 26, 2019

Just recently, my daughter’s school needed basketball uniforms for their special needs team. I told the coach that I would call my friend Ernest, who was heavily involved in the basketball world, to see which sports companies were well known for their charitable giving, in hopes that we could solicit one of them for the uniforms. That evening, I got the biggest, best surprise of my life.

Good Surprises

Author: Melissa Barber

Happy Twenty Sixth Day of Thanks Everyone! 

Don’t you just love surprises (good ones, not the bad ones!)? I remember when my great grandfather, after like 40 years of marriage, got my great grandmother another engagement and wedding ring. He was real broke when they got married so he gave her this real simple ring that she wore and was more than happy with for their entire marriage. (Although she loved the newer ring, she wanted to be buried in the first one for its sentimental value to her.)  A few of us were in on the surprise and got all the information and stuff needed for Papa to execute his plan to give her this new ring. He did it up so well, let just say Mama gave him so real good loving that night.  

That is probably one of the best good surprises that I have seen until recently.  

Years ago during one of my great friend’s funeral, I met his best friend who I’ll call Ernest.  During the funeral, in front of everyone, Ernest pledged to mentor and help my dead friend’s son, which I also wanted to do, so, afterwards, I talked to him to figure out how we could collaborate on helping my friend’s son. I gave him my contact information and told him to call me when he finished setting up the fundraiser or whatever project he planned so that we could makes sure my friend’s son had what he needed for college.  Several days later, I received a call from Ernest. He spent less time talking about the fundraiser and more time asking about me.  We talked for a little while and made arrangements to talk again after I came back from my trip to Cuba. 

After my trip, Ernest and I talked several times, each time with him hinting that he wanted to take me on a date. (For those of you know how blunt I am, after a month or so of those hints, I said, “I’ve been hearing you say that you are going to ask me out on a date every time we talk, are you ever going to get around to asking me or are you trying to find out if I have a significant other?”) We finally went on that date and continued to be friends.  In all honestly, I believe that when Ernest asked me on that date, he had no idea that the date would go really well or that he would eventually really like me and fall in love with me. (And he was not at all ready for any of that!)

During our friendship, I discovered that Ernest was not only a very shy person, but was a loner and had become very anger and bitter because he was deeply wounded in his personal life. His bitterness and wounded-ness often made him very mean-spirited in his words and caused him to set up barriers in his heart that keeps real love and friendship at a distance.  He was also very selfish (I have never met someone that selfish in my life!). No matter how much I offered my genuine love and friendship, Ernest could and did not receive it.  I always knew that there was a good person with a good heart somewhere in Ernest but still decided to walk away from our relationship because I didn’t want to spend more time being punished for something someone else did to him years before I had ever come along.  It was very hard to completely walk away from him because he and Lilah had formed such a bond and were hard core buddies. (Go figure that when I was done and no longer wanted to be bothered with Ernest, Lilah wanted me to call him and pray for him! Initially, she also wanted to see him!)

I still offered my friendship and checked on him from time to time.  (I’ve always worried about him because shutting people out like he does leads to such a lonely existence. Also, because his mom is so elderly and she is his world, I imagine that when she is gone, he will be all alone in the world.) I’ve always wished him the best, given him advice, celebrated his victories and encouraged him as best as I could but still kept my distance. If God revealed something concerning him, Lilah and I would always pray for him and let him know that we were covering him in prayer.  

Just recently, my daughter’s school needed basketball uniforms for their special needs team. I told the coach that I would call my friend Ernest, who was heavily involved in the basketball world, to see which sports companies were well known for their charitable giving, in hopes that we could solicit one of them for the uniforms.  That evening, I got the biggest, best surprise of my life.  When I called Ernest to ask him which companies we should solicit, he asked me how many uniforms were needed for the team.  I said that I didn’t really know but assumed no more than 15-20. Ernest, then, offered to sponsor the team and get the uniforms. When I tell you that my mouth was wide open for almost a minute (I kid you not) and that I was so shocked, I had to ask Ernest twice if I had heard him correctly. This was so unusual and unheard from Ernest (at least in my extensive knowledge of him.)

I was wondering what happened to the Ernest that I knew because this was not him.  (You remember that I told you that the Ernest I knew was very selfish; he would have never done that.) The sponsorship of the uniforms wasn’t even the icing on the cake. Ernest asked for the school logo then designed and ordered reversible uniforms that cost at least $100 each. The designs were so breath-taking; I couldn’t stop smiling for a week. I texted Ernest and told, “if you were trying to impress me, consider me very happy, smiling and beyond impressed with you right now.”  I got a smile emoji back. I literally have to apologize in front of the world for calling him selfish because obviously he is not that way anymore.   In the last few months, as the uniforms were being made, we have had some of the best exchanges (he’s been surprisingly nice and really different during most encounters!)  He let me know that because I wanted these uniforms for the team, he wanted to ensure that they would be my gift to the school. Talk about a good surprise! The uniforms have arrived and they are absolutely beautiful. 

I really don’t know who this new person is but I really like this new guy and hope that he stays.

Today as we give thanks for good surprises, I would like to highlight the organization KEEN- Kids Enjoy Exercise Now https://www.keennewyork.org). They provide sports and arts programming to children with special needs year around. Please donate your time and financial resources to this organization. 

Love Ya, 

Have a Great Day of Thanks!

Melissa Barber

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