Porta Potties & Native American Beads

“Why doesn’t Jesus have freckles on His feet?”


A brown haired 5-year-old was staring up at me wide-eyed with wonder as I entered her front door. I’d come over to babysit Clara and her sister a few days each week while living in the Washington DC area. Her brown eyes were full of mischief as she waited for my response.


“How do you know that Jesus doesn’t have freckles on His feet?”


“I’ll show you!” she announced and proceeded to run through the house, down the basement stairs and back to the living room holding a picture of a Swedish-looking Jesus with blonde hair. He wore a white robe, barefoot with his arms outstretched. Clara pointed to his feet and said, “See?”



Clara’s family attended church, but without a children’s program, she had no choice but to sit through the service beside her parents, probably doodling on paper to pass the time. She loved to listen to Bible stories and always had questions about Jesus. Whether we stayed at her house or went on an excursion, I tried to open her eyes to God’s true nature, His unconditional love for her and that He was always with her. She pondered this for a while and then scampered off to play outside.

A few minutes later, I heard screaming from the back yard and ran outside, my heart racing. She was standing on a tree stump yelling “Jesus” at the top of her lungs over and over again.


“Clara, what’s the matter?”


“I lost my ball and I want God to come down here and show me where it is.”


I tried to explain to her that God could show her the ball without coming down from heaven and that when Jesus did come back to the earth, it would be for a special reason. She scratched her head with a furrowed brow, trying to take this in. I loved watching her wrap her young mind around the mystery of God.


One day we ventured out to Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington D.C. to picnic and hike the trails. Without a public restroom, we searched for a porta potty and finally spotted one. To this day, I wish I’d never opened that door. It was in the most disgusting condition I’d ever seen and it took every ounce of willpower in me not to throw up. Clara thought this was hilarious.

Theodore Roosevelt Island

“What are we going to do now?” she giggled.


“We are going to ask God for a restroom,” I answered.


We walked toward the statue of Roosevelt to get my mind off just how badly I needed to use the restroom. About 5 minutes later, a National Park Service truck passed us and stopped at the edge of a clearing. Two men pulled a brand new porta potty from the back and set it on the ground not even 500 yards away from where we stood. They left as quickly as they had arrived and I sprinted towards that glorious sight with Clara in tow. Every inch of that porta potty was in pristine condition.


“That’s how much God loves us,” I told my wide-eyed companion. “We just need to ask Him.”


A couple of weeks later that summer we toured the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. After combing through the exhibits, Clara made a beeline to the museum store where she carefully selected some colorful native American beads to purchase. Once we left the store, she counted them and memorized their colors. About 15 minutes later, she looked up at me and loudly announced that she had lost one of them. We’d walked all over that museum and I had no clue where that little bead was hiding.

“Clara, God knows where that bead is,” I told her. “We just need to ask Him to show us where it is.”


She offered up another loud prayer and then we started looking on the ground while people shuffled between exhibits. A few minutes later, Clara’s head popped up and she had a huge smile on her face.


“I found it!” she exclaimed, holding up the lost bead as if it were made of gold.


Lately, I’ve been offering up my own loud prayers. There comes a time in a caregiver’s life when you’re beyond weary and need to find alternative care. That’s where I am, taking care of two parents instead of one.


I know God sees everything. But there are times I want to stand on a tree stump, look up towards the sky and yell out “Jesus” at the top of my lungs. I want Him to part the heavens and come down to show me what I can’t see.


Just the thought of putting your Father in a nursing home is stressful enough. But now with COVID, I can’t help but wonder…


If we put Dad in a home, will we even be allowed to visit him?


How quickly will he regress once he’s in an unfamiliar environment with strangers?


If we aren’t allowed to see him until he’s dying, then isn’t putting him in a home the same as saying goodbye?

As these questions bounce around my brain and pull at my heart strings, I think of the brand new porta potty God delivered that day because I was in need and the only restroom available was one I couldn’t stomach. I think of Clara’s frantic search for her treasured lost bead. There was always a possibility that she wouldn’t find the bead. She didn’t need the bead. But because it mattered to this precious five-year-old, it mattered to God. And my Father is much more valuable than a lost bead.


I don’t have the answer. Just like I didn’t have the answer at Roosevelt Island Park or at the Smithsonian Museum. And as vexing as it is not to have the answer, I know God has a plan. And He will show it to us. He can do what no one else can. He can provide a solution that never entered my imagination. I am limited but He is not.


If God loved me enough to send His only Son to die on a cross to pay for my sins, then He loves me enough to provide care for my Father. I just need to keep looking to Him the way Clara did…wide-eyed with wonder.

7 thoughts on “Porta Potties & Native American Beads”

  1. Sweet Angie, you have such a unique way of seeing and sharing God’s love. Right now, our days are not filled with great concern for our parents. But, there was a time when I needed God’s wisdom and direction to know how to care for my mother. He used her dear friends to come up with a way for them to help me so that I could continue to work several hours a day at my office, and they could spend time with their dear friend, my mom. It eased my concerns for her and filled a need for them.
    I will be praying that as you call out to Jesus, you will some day soon see His provision in a most amazing way. Until then, keep holding onto to Him.
    Your memories from many years ago may be what lifts your spirits and gives you the strength to carry on. Because God will deliver the answer (porta potty) at the exact moment when you must have it.
    Blessings to you and your family on this Thanksgiving.
    With love,
    Diane Atkins

  2. Thank you Angie for putting God’s saving grace in perspective for us no matter your age and abilities. He shows us the way … we just have to listen and follow.

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