“You smell like home. . .”

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“What is that smell?” She asked. S.I. was a resident participant at the Kairos ministry team at Pulaski State Prison I volunteered at last weekend.

“Febreze,” I said.

She looked around cautiously before starting to lean down to smell the arm of my sweater. I held it up for her and she took a deep breath in.” You smell like home,” she said. I could see the tears in her eyes. She has been in prison 8 years and has at least 8 years left to serve.

There are so many little things I take for granted. Febreze. Gum. Real food.

Two of the girls at my table kept a running list of the food we fed them, so they could cherish the memories.

We may think we aren’t doing much going in and providing a safe and hospitable place for four partial days for 36 women. But to these women, the little things can go a long way in reawakening the mind to what love, acceptance, and “home” feels like.

Jesus gave us His Spirit to comfort us. As we bring a small comfort to these women, we are facilitating the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The response might not always be an emotional, miraculous, supernatural “move of God.” But it might be just what the women need in the moment.

In return, the moments they give us make a lasting impact in our lives. I slept in a comfortable bed last night, with my two dogs. Today when my laundry is finished, my sheets will smell fresh. I have a private bathroom with a lock on the door. I was so grateful to clean my bathroom with Clorox wipes today. As I clean, my thoughts and prayers are with the women who are living with the loss of these freedoms and comforts.

I have no control over their situations. I can’t change their circumstances. But I can show God’s agape love for a few days. I can be a vessel to bring hope to their hearts that one day, whether in this life or the next, they can be “home” with the Greatest Comfort of all – Jesus.

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