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Avon Perfume Surprise: a faith based story from the Story Powerline
Tuesday, October 22, 2019 by Becky Cerling Powers

I remember the day my mother and I surprised each other with an Avon perfume sample. In my memory the incident happened in the summer, and I was about eight years old. That meant my mother would have been pregnant with my brother Roy, her fifth child.

The Avon lady’s visit

I was playing dolls at my friend’s house when the Avon lady called. My friend and I watched the sales presentation, and the Avon lady kindly offered us each a perfume sample.

I was thrilled. A sophisticated, grownup lady’s gift! I could give it to my mom! I was so excited, I left my friend and ran home.

Planning to surprise my mom

In my mind, I rehearsed the way I would present this special gift. First, I would find my mom working somewhere in the house. (She was always working.) Then I would keep the perfume hidden behind my back while I sang a song I had learned. Then I would hand her the perfume. She would be astonished. Her eyes would light up, and she would put the perfume in her dresser drawer. Then she would wear it on Sunday when she dressed up to go to church.

Giving the gift

So I found my mother, as planned, and told her I had a surprise. She laid aside her mending to give me her full attention, while I hid the gift behind my back and sang my song:

 

“Because I love you, Mother Dear,

Each day I’ll try to be

As gentle, loving, good and kind

As you always are to me.’’

With a flourish, I handed Mom the perfume.

The surprise was on me

She burst into tears.

I was horrified.

“Why are you crying?’’ I asked.

She just cried more.

Finally she said, “Honey, I don’t feel like I’ve been very gentle, loving, good or kind lately. I feel like I haven’t been the mother I want to be for my children.’’

Mom’s gift

What a gift my mother gave me with her tears that day! Children see their parents as godlike, but that day my mother let me see how human she was. That day my mother let me look straight into her soul, to see how much she longed to get her mouth in sync with her heart, how much she yearned to match her attitudes and actions with her desire to love her children well.

And I felt so beloved! I felt so cherished!

What Jesus said

Two thousand years ago, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’’ (Matthew 5:3 NIV).

This is a truth of the spiritual realm, a mystery that I experienced that long-ago day when I gave my mother the Avon perfume sample. For when Mom revealed to me her poverty, she made both of us rich.

Today’s prayer

Dear God, help me to see and admit my lack so that I can reach out with empty hands to receive Your supply. Amen.”

© Becky Cerling Powers 1998

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