Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Heart That Says "Yes"

Dinner is over and I'm on the couch with a couple kiddos on my lap, watching a promised episode of Planet Earth.  We laugh at the waddling penguins.  And the doorbell rings.  Who on earth could be at the door this time of night?  I head to the door but before I open it I see that it's them.

"Oh no," I say to my husband, "it's them, again!"

This is the third time they've come.  An older woman selling tamales with her English-speaking granddaughter along to do the talking.   They always stand way back from the door - almost at the end of the walkway.  They always look a little awkward, like they are anticipating rejection and half-ready to leave.  My thoughts are always the same:

I don't Need tamales. 
I don't Like tamales.
Nobody in my family likes tamales.
Their kitchen might not clean.
And I don't even have any cash.

I'm surprised they've come again.  The last time they came to my door I said no, but after I closed the door, I felt so awful about rejecting them that I grabbed $5 and ran after them just to give it to them.  They sold tamales in $10 bundles that couldn't be divided, so I thought I'd just give them a little money to sooth my conscience....But in the process I belittled their honest purpose to work hard and sell their goods.  They weren't asking for charity....still I didn't learn.


This time I opened the door, determined to be direct and not hem and haw. 

"Would you like to buy some Tamales?"  they ask.

"No. Thank you.  I'm sorry, we don't eat tamales,"  I say.

They turn and hurry away.


I close the door and go back to my family in our comfortable home.  For awhile I try to forget about it and I'm occupied with the busy bedtime routineBut once the house is quiet, the realization hits.  I look at my heart, and I start to feel sick.

 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

So for three times now - three times - the first impulse of my heart has been NO.
What kind-of abundance does that reflect??
What in the world was keeping me from saying "yes" writing a check for ten dollars??

I justified my no because I don't need tamales.  I don't like them.  So it would be a waste of money to buy them - right?  Funny how it's so easy to say no to this thing I don't need - and call it "waste" - but my answer is almost always yes to the frivolous extras at Target. 


I'm really rarely confronted with real need.  Yet three times it came to my front door as this poor woman sought to earn money in an honest but difficult and humbling way of going door-to-door and asking again and again.  

Each time they've come I've thought, These ladies aren't selling anything I need. 
But all along they were selling the very thing I need the most - 

Lessons in compassion. 

Praying today for yet another chance.  I grieve because I doubt the woman will have the courage to come ask a fourth time.  I pray that somehow she will.  I feel so discouraged and sickened with myself, but I trust and pray that God would use this terrible failure and work in me a compassionate heart.  A heart whose first impulse is love.  A generous heart that will see the needs that come my way and not miss the chance again to say yes.


  1. The beautiful blessing of a convicted heart...loved your post!

  2. I love this post! Thank you for being so open and real.


  3. I appreciate your honesty. I just wanted to say one thing. I don't know you and maybe this is not my business, but since you were so honest on your post I wanted to be also honest with my thoughts. I don't think it was that bad that you didn't buy the tamales...If you don't like tamales, why buying them?... what I think it was worse than not buying the tamales was thinking "maybe their kitchen is not clean". I understand you don't know those people, and you don't know how they are making the tamales, but we don't know how many other people are making their pastries, hot dogs, burguers, pizzas, etc... and we still buy them. So why do we trust those other people but distrust this woman? I think the very act of kindness with this woman is not buying her tamales and then throw them in the trash can, I think she would be way happier being treated with respect and kindness, the same way we treat other people, without looking at the color of her skin or the way she speaks English.

    1. Hi Mercedes, Thank you for being honest, too. I'm not proud of any of my thoughts regarding this woman. Please know that I'm a little freakish about germs and food-borne illness and tend to stay away from homemade foods in general unless they are offered in hospitality. I understand what you're saying about being treated with respect. The way they had been persistent the previous times...showing up again and trying to persuade me to buy them even after I tried to explain we didn't like or eat them, made me feel like they were a little desperate to sell, and I should have been sensitive to that.

  4. Thank you for this post this morning.

  5. First of all, hello! I enjoy your blog so much, but don't think I have ever left a comment. I think your transparent heart is saying something that so many can relate to...I know I can. Last year, I was approached repeatedly by the same homeless woman. I did the same thing you did, I justified myself and walked away. And then, God changed my heart. I was given one more chance, and I took it. Then I never saw her again. I often wonder if it was Jesus, I know that may sound crazy, but I think He taught me something great through that situation and I hope I will act differently the next time I am approached. Have a great weekend and be sure to let us know if they come back!

  6. aww, sweet sister, thanks for sharing this. i pray my heart grows in compassion and love as well.

  7. I just finished my "hurried" time with the Lord this morning. You see, I have a lot to do before I spend the day shopping with girlfriends but I thought I would take a quick minute (it's been 10 already) and read a couple of blogs. Out of the many I could have opened...I opened yours. It seems the Holy Spirit was not quite ready to let go of mind yet. Your transparency and heart touched me immeasureably. My prayer today will be that I look at others real needs and see beyond my immediate wants. Thank you for sharing, Patty

  8. Wow. Thank you for the transparency. I find I am so often given opportunities to show love and grace, and then I simply don't. I'm too busy. Too "poor." Too prideful. Too something. In the end, it is my own selfishness for meeting my own needs first rather than seeing other's needs. Even though my heart is opening up more and more towards being more generous with my time, stuff, and resources, I still fail often. Too often, I think I can be good on my own. Honestly, I can't do it on my own. Thankfully, God is so gracious to me and loves me--despite what I do or think. And as I ask God to help me be more loving and open, He graciously works in me and I see the fruit popping up in little parts of my life. One of my favorite quotes from Max Lucado is this: "God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way."

  9. I'm just wondering what you will do, though, if she keeps coming to your house once you buy them because she will think she has found a customer now. Will you continue to buy from her each week? It can get so tricky I guess. I'm the same way about germs, by the way. Hope you get your fourth chance! Just curious about how you'll handle it after that I guess.

  10. This has given me some food for thought this morning. Thank you for your honesty and thoughtful analysis. Sometimes it seems like people just shut the door (literally and figuratively) in haste/anger/revulsion and don't take a minute to consider the life on the other side of that door.

  11. Wow - that was powerful. Thank you for sharing and giving us all something to think about.

  12. Oh Cailan.
    I am so grateful for your honesty here, and even more so for the humility it took to tell the story this way--and not hold anything back: even the thoughts that went through your mind, with which I think all of us can identify. Especially to open up that side in Bloggyland, where everyone puts their best foot forward and everyone publishes their prettiest pictures. But this is a pretty picture--it's the work of God in the human heart, and what's more lovely than that?

  13. Your honesty is refreshing, Cailan, and I think this post gives many of us something to ponder. I don't think it is wrong to say, "No thank you" to their offer, just as you would to any door-to-door salesperson selling something you don't want, need or like. But I do appreciate the conflict you felt afterward. It is difficult to say no to people, especially when they come to your door. Like a previous reader, I would like to know if these women come to your door again and if they do and you do buy some of their tamales, how do you think you'll handle it from that point on? Sometimes being truthful in a gentle way is the kindest thing to do.

  14. Thanks for commenting, Claudia. I should have added in my post that I am certainly not trying to say that if we ever decline to buy from someone selling door-to-door we are being unloving. We always need to consider stewardship as well as ministry - letting the Spirit find the balance for us. Mine is a particular case with the Spirit speaking to my particular heart, and the problem was that I was so concentrated on my own needs and concerns that I wasn't listening. This woman was only coming about once a month, she didn't have a cart of goods just a couple bundles of tamales, and her need was obvious. Your question about the long term effect is very good for me to consider. If she did come again I would buy from her out of respect for her desire to work hard and compassionate desire to encourage her. I would probably ask if she would make tortillas to sell - something my family would eat - and go from there. But really for me personally, if she came once a month to sell me tamales for $10, I feel confident that I should buy them every month. One might ask, But what if dozens of poor souls came to your door for $10 a month? Yet the fact is that God hasn't sent dozens, just this one, and obeying Him with this one is all I need concern myself about.

  15. That is real and beautiful. I too would worry 'how it was made' a clean kitchen or standards? but really the lesson is not how clean their kitchen is how open our hearts are? wow.

  16. Thank you for sharing this.....I'm sure many of your readers, including myself, can relate to your experience.

  17. I so appreciate when people blog with honesty. That is my favorite part of this community. I hope you get you chance and that it is a blessing to you and the lady.


  18. Hi Cailin,
    Your post moved me to tears. It was raw and honest, filled with compassion and humility. Thank you for taking that risk.
    Kind regards,

  19. Most Christians do not realize the poverty that lives around us. The reason is that we do not go out into the world as Jesus Christ tells us to in Matthew 28. A few times I have ventured in Kokomo IN near me and shared door to door in a lower neighborhood. There were people who lived with dirt floors. The good news is USA does have food helps for them but most of the time children are neglected and the help is abused. We all need to do more in this area but more importantly we need to make sure we spread the gospel of Jesus Christ as we minister. Sharing the free gift of eternal life to others is simply not an option we Christians have, we are commanded to do. So when you do this always take advantage of sharing the gospel to them. This is my advice and an opportunity for you. The motive of your heart is pure and God loves this in us.

  20. My blog is I am led to start posting various testimonies of how God is working. I posted an amazing testimony shared with me last week an older local fellow shared in a group meeting. God is real and is doing wonderful things for people. I use my blog to post learning God gives me from his word and now things shared from others that defy natural causes. There are so many of them but few of us get to hear them.

  21. First of all, love your blog! And thank you so much for this very honest post - God will use your writing to touch my heart, also. Blessings on your day.

  22. That's so moving.
    I hope they knock on your door again.

    Me? I love tamales.
    And, I jump at the chance to eat them.

    Yeah, I can see how someone coming to the door selling food could freak me out, too.

    It's funny. I work in an Mexican neighborhood and there are some ladies in the neighborhood who come to take orders and then sell them. We love getting the homemade tamales. Yet, I've never seen their kitchen - so why would it make a difference if they came knocking on my door? I need to think about that.

    The standard rate in my neighborhood for homemade tamales is $1 a piece or 11 for $10. And, that is a HUGE bargain. The masa and meat are not expensive - but tamales are very labor intensive.

    Thank you for being so honest. I really mean that. I think I need to place an order with the ladies at work - my family will enjoy them - and the ladies might appreciate the sale.

  23. I have been a subscriber for quite a while and have never posted a comment, but this has been my favorite post that you have written. You touched my heart with your transparency in being so honest and open with your inner struggles in this sitation. I admire your spiritual senstivity and hope that you can meet their needs just as they have met yours. -- LaDonna