Connecting with Community

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Friday-The car and the lost sunflower seed

I wake with my daughter at arms length.  I lovingly watch her sleep and I am mesmerized by her face, attentively I watch as she slowly opens her eyes. She moves slightly and the struggle with soreness is present. There are still signs of glass in her hair but we rejoice that she escaped with no broken bones or internal injuries. I inspect her a little closer as I have been told that the bruising and cuts will be more apparent this morning. I see nothing, there are no visible marks of injury on her body. It is as if this wreck was merely a dream. I am certain prayer has occurred on our behalf. My children are anxious because they are not near but prayer has seemed to sooth them.

This will not be an easy day, as today we are scheduled to see the car and visit the crash site. The broken car is somewhere near, neatly stored because of this day of snow. My mind goes elsewhere and I focus on the fact that it is Easter weekend. Today is Good Friday and I am reminded of my Savior. I bow my head and pause long enough to allow tears to slowly roll down my face. Selfishly I bless God for my child's life. I begin to be thankful that I am not planning to bury my child today but rather making plans to merely bury her car. I think of all the families that have had experiences similar to this but have not had the outcome we have been awarded. Its not fair that I have my daughter and so many others have had to bury theirs. I don't understand it and I don't know that I ever will, at least not on this side of glory. Regardless I am grateful. We are grateful.

Last night when we arrived, Christian began to explain what she experienced. Her most vivid memory was the soil she saw all over her car. She said "I was growing a sunflower. I hope you can find the seed, when you look for my stuff." I smiled at this impossible request.

On the way to deal with the car we dial the sheriffs department in hopes of receiving direction on how and where we must begin this journey. First we travel to where the car is being held. We drive by the business that holds the car and Jacob spots it in the drive. I too see the car and I am paralyzed with fear, unable to move. In the very center of my being I can sweetly feel the prayers that are being sent on our behalf. Once more my head bows and I am no longer able to silently cry. I cry out with thanksgiving in my heart. I sit unable to process and the scene plays over and over in my head. My phone buzzes and again prayer is being offered. I am grateful so grateful as I have seen with my own eyes what the power of prayer can do. Finally I feel peace and muster enough courage to help Jacob empty the car. I glance in the car and I see her pillow,  her blanket, her clothes, her keys all in the midst of the shattered glass. I am beside myself and again unable to put a single thought in place. I reach in the car  to grab her purse and I am pricked by a shard of glass. Jacob stops and careful of this mommies heart speaks sweetly, "baby let me do this". I step back, look inside one last time and there in the center of all the mess I see the sunflower seed.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Thursday -I climb out.

The phone rings and on the other end I hear Jacobs' voice. He begins"I heard sirens and wanted to make sure you were ok". My heart smiles and I am thankful. Today is Thursday and Good Friday is tomorrow but no worries becasuse Sunday is on its way. It is my favorite time of the year. We are closed on Friday in observation of Good Friday, so that means I have two days of work to finish up by noon.

Finally at the office and before I prepare for my day, I pick up the phone and dial Keila. She answers "Whats up mom".  I explain that dad heard sirens so I was calling to make sure she was safe. Meanwhile, 12 hours away, Christian is on the road headed home for Resurrection Sunday.

It isn't long before my day is in full swing. I have a meeting at 10:00AM so I look at my phone to check the time. My phone is always off during my time at work so imagine my surprise to see my Christians name on the screen. I answer the phone and say "hey baby where are you?".  She replies with "mom I crawled out of the car". I can't process that comment so I ask again "baby where are you?" and again "mom I crawled out of the car". I instantly go into rescue mode which doesn't allow me the emotions I would have if I was operating in mommy mode. I know if I want the best outcome possible I have to accurately assess the situation. I have to get her help. At this point I don't know where she is, I don't know how badly she is hurt and with so much distance between us I know I have to get people to her. Again I hear sobbing and again I ask "where are you baby?". She replies "mom I don't know". I ask "baby what happened". She responds "my car rolled, I'm sorry mom". I respond "baby don't worry its ok, everything is going to be ok". Baby are you in a field? Do you see people or other cars? No response. Then I realize she is in shock so I give orders. Baby I don't know where you are so I need you to hang up with me and dial 911. I need you to get help now. I am on my way baby, I am on my way. I signal for help and ask a colleague to call Jacob, while I am still on the phone with Chris. I know that as soon as she dials 911 I will no longer have contact with her. I am calm and begin to ask Chris, "What do you see around you?" What was the last town you passed. She replies Madison. I said ok baby we are on our way. I hang up and then my body begins to shake. I walk to my office and emotions hit. I am afraid for my girl.

Jacob walks in and he holds me but only for a moment because we both know we have to get on the road. We throw stuff in a suitcase and head to Nebraska. It will be the longest day of our life. It would be 10 hours before we reach our girl. The praying began the moment I shed my first tear.

Christian said she remembers hitting a patch of ice and she remembers a semi truck. She said there was nothing I could do. I remember being in the air. I closed my eyes and crossed my arms in front of my chest. I felt glass and I felt the car crushing around me. When I finally landed, I slowly open my eyes and I realize I am hanging, being held by my seat belt. I see liquid and I know I have to get out of the car. I grab my hat and I think of my plant because I see soil mixed with glass. I was growing a sunflower she says. My luggage and backpack are in the front of the car. My safety kit is outside of the car and I don't understand how. I notice a small crevasse and I decide to try and squeeze myself through this space. I climb out.

Friday, March 11, 2016

love at first sight

I wake only to visit the bathroom, quickly  I head back to my the comfort of my bed. I snuggle in hopes of nothing, yes nothing, no expectations from me today. The curtains protect me from the rays of the sun. I will not have a productive day. I will doodle, read, sleep, watch TV, sleep, lay in bed, watch TV and well you get the picture. I am scheduled to be far from the comfort of my home today and as luck would have it I get to stay home this morning. This doesn't happen often, come to think of it I cant remember a time when something like this happened. Regardless I will soak in the opportunity. So stay with me as my day unfolds. It takes everything I have not to get up and wash the dishes, I left in the basin last night. Then I am reminded of the clothes piled in the laundry hamper. I think I even noticed a load in the dryer and they are probably ready to be folded. Maybe there is also clothes on the washer that need to be put away. Ok so it only took me a few minutes to get this day on course. As I climb out of bed to get my day going, Jacob leaves to take Josh to school and at the same time our new child leaves to get her morning run.

Lets me take you back a few days and then this new kid of mine might make more sense. I received a surprise on Friday evening. My runner drove in from South Dakota. She came home for spring break and she brought a couple of young ladies with her. Her goal was to expose these classmates of hers to this great state of Texas. A'las our family on a mission to show these young girls that everything is bigger and better in Texas. We have had the pleasure of sharing our home with these young girls for the past 6 days. Chris has taken them to the Canyon, shopping at local shops and they have been blessed to dine at many local eatery's. Their first day here they even had the honor of eating at the finest place in Texas, yes you guessed it, Whataburger!

I've had he opportunity to spend a handful of hours each day with these young girls. Apparently it was love at first sight. This morning one of my new children went on her morning run and two hours later she had not returned. I didn't take much longer before I was in a panic. I began to pace as this lovely was no where in sight. I would send out the troops in search of my girl. Jacob soon joined me in my panic.  He heads home to join the search party. I wait on the porch praying that God would protector. Finally the call comes in that she has been found. I begin to weep in relief that my baby is safe. Shortly she walks in and I embrace her and love her as one of my own. I share only to show that it is possible to love all we encounter. C'mon won't you love someone today our world so desperately needs love.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Give Anyway


So my phone was on pause for a few days and well I kind of feel like I’ve been on pause for a while myself. November and December are months that are typically quite peaceful in my world. This may not be a good thing because it allows me too much time to dream. What do I dream of you ask? Well I’ll tell you, I dream of love, kindness and peace. I continually look at what more I can do and how I can better serve. How can I love without words?

I continually want to leave people in a better place than I find them. Nope I don’t always accomplish that but I sure do try. I get so caught up in all my busyness and it always seems to causes me to be on the go. It keeps my mind racing and I am constantly thinking of what I could do next. Busyness often consumes me so it is quite a task for me to pause and be present when I am face to face with another human. But I assure you being present is my goal.

Today a gentleman walked in and his shame consumed him as he asked for food. Today I met a woman with 5 children that will be homeless on Thursday. Today I spoke with a woman that will not have electricity tomorrow and she will not be able to give her child breathing treatments. Today a woman came in seeking help with her water bill and there was no help to be found. She will not have running water tomorrow. My heart hurts that I cannot always help but I am comforted in the fact that I can always love and it cost me nothing.

I was invited to a Christmas Party and all week I’ve looked forward to the end of the week so I could attend. Finally the day of the party arrives and I get caught up in the busyness of the office. And after all is said and done there will be no time for me to attend this party. Instead I head to deliver some goods. It is late and I worry because I don’t like the surroundings I find myself in. I slowly make my way around this unkept building and finally I spot the numbers I am looking for. Cautiously I park, a little unsure of things and yet I get out of my car anyway. I head towards the door and gently knock. A woman answers and instantly her eyes well up with tears. I explain I brought her some items and she softly speaks, “I am not worth this”. My heart crumbles inside at the thought of another being not seeing worth in themselves. I wonder if the busyness around her has caused people like me not to see her and treat her as significant. How often do we have opportunity to give and yet we choose not to?

I know, sometimes, even if it’s just for a moment we get to a place where we get tired of serving. Sometimes we even tire of giving. So let’s get a little crazy and change the way we serve, let’s change the way we give. Let’s give a little simpler maybe not so extravagant. Close your pocket book and open your heart. What if we paused our materialistic giving and gave dignity instead? What if we gave a little honor to those that have served this beautiful country we live in? What if we extended peace to those that are often forgotten? What if we loved those that don’t know how to love us back? What if we gave a single mother respect instead of judgment?

I know, you are right, it’s easier to give money than it is to give of your heart. Give anyway.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shall we dance?


I do not think anyone should have to get out of bed when there is snow on the ground. That is why I woke up 45 minutes late. So I am dancing through the house trying to find the shower and my little runner beats me to it. Not fun! So I had to do what I haven’t done in months… Use the boy’s bathroom. Ok so it’s a little tidier than ours but still.

We are all in panic mode trying to get out of the house and the silly thing is no one can leave the house without a shower, not even the four year old. No, washing our face and brushing our teeth is not enough. We all require a shower, even if we had one the night before. Maybe not a bad habit?! Finally we make it out the door and that’s when the mishaps begin. Tristan tangles with an ice patch and the ice patch is victorious.

Yes, and meanwhile in the car my windshield is covered with ice. Not fun! I sit in the car talking to it as if that were going to hurry the ice along. Finally we drive to town and I drop off Josh, maybe a tad bit late. Now we fly on over to Tristan’s school and today I won’t even try and sneak him in. I will park right up front, march in like a champ and confess that I am late. He seems happy to be taking this adventure of a new door way. I however am not. I stand in line for his slip of shame and walk down the hall in hopes to still catch a breakfast plate. In the door way stand two Life Changers helping a child that seems to be having a meltdown. While another teacher sits on the floor with this child. Makes my heart warm.

We walk into the cafeteria and the cafeteria lady says, “there he is Tristan is here.” They happily fix him a place while his teacher goes to the lunch line and assists him in deciding on white or chocolate milk. While he, happily dances while he waits for his goods. Yes he dances at 4 he doesn’t understand that grandma has failed and brought him late to school. He dances, yes he dances that they celebrate his arrival. What if we all celebrated people regardless of their failures?

I depart with a mission. I think of my son, JD and he loves him some breakfast burritos. So much in fact that he believes he keeps this breakfast joint in business. Well I don’t want it to shut down because he is out for 8 months so I go and buy a burrito to pay tribute to my son. Okay I am not a fan of the taste really or the price to be honest. But I do it anyway. It allows me to dance even if he is not with me.  As I arrive and peer through the window.  I notice the lady preparing my food has a slight dance in her step as she works. Hmmm.

Now I am really late and I don’t have time to stop for my tea. Or do I? I head in that direction and low and behold I look to my right and there is a woman dancing at a bus stop. Yes she is dancing. It is probably about 15 degrees and I have a choice to make. I can look away and go get my tea or I can stop and ask if she trust me for a ride. I turn in and pull up to her. She looks at me a little crooked and maybe a little embarrassed as she has been caught dancing. She tells me she’s dancing to keep warm. No need to explain, as at this point in my day I get why we should all dance.

She is in need of a ride to the AISD administration building. She just got a job at one of the schools and she is needing to get some paper work turned in. She is happy to have a second job now. She is also happy to announce that she has been married for two years and just as proud to announce that they have two dogs. I hear her dancing as she speaks.

Half the population in our country is receiving government assistance. Just a thought but what if the other half behaved as humans and helped one person. Yes just one. Wow maybe we would eradicate poverty in our lifetime. Ok so no a ride maybe won’t eradicate poverty but adding value to someone in a way that removes shame will allow hope to creep in. And maybe just maybe that will eradicate poverty. Because you know when Hope is present nothing is impossible. Go out there and love. Go out there and dance. If you don’t have a reason to dance, do something for someone else. It may just allow you and them the opportunity to dance.   Live people live.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Filled

It is early and I feel the sun warming me through a small opening in the drapes. I dig myself deeper into my bedding, in hopes that the morning will not come so soon. I grasp for the stillness of this moment because I am sure the sky will once again give way to the sun and it’s over powering strength. It won’t be long before the world around me wakes and this moment will quickly be gone. The sun high above exposes the sky and it reaches towards me allowing me a ray of guilt for all those that don’t wake to the comfort of a home.

Just last night I slept outside, on the ground, covered in the night’s debris. This morning I lay here in comfort, struggling to process my three day adventure. This is the third time I have taken part in Mission Waco Mission World Poverty Simulation. It was probably designed to experience once but apparently I am a slow learner and God still has much to teach me. I had the pleasure of assembling what I call Waco Team #3 for this journey. It was made up of two pastors, two community leaders, and two Cal Farley employees.

We met at 8:30 Friday morning in search of a life changing adventure. I know, I know it doesn’t make sense and you are probably thinking, what could these pastors and community leaders possibly learn? What does being homeless for a couple of days, teach you? After all they are already givers and people in the business of serving others. Yes your right, but we are all human and sometimes we forget it’s about people and not programs. We all get caught up with the day to day responsibilities and we get bogged down with life. This journey always allows a way to be emptied and also the opportunity to be filled. It’s hard to put into words, what this experience is like but I will tell you that it is impossible to go through this and not be reminded how to love all people exactly where they are, including yourself.

The first morning we are woken by sprinkles of gentle rain the sky decides to share. I struggle with discomfort from the hard ground and find myself struggling to stand. I head towards the outhouse and moments later I find myself standing by the shopping cart where the water hose is housed. It’s a familiar place and I am not fond of the memories it holds. I am the only one that knows what is ahead of us today and I quickly begin to dread the day before us. At the end of the day we are the only group that could not find food. We are the only ones unworthy of help. We are the only ones that wander around with empty bellies. I am not where I can tell the rest of this story but maybe soon.

Earlier this week, before I left for Waco I gathered food to take to families in need. One day after work I head to a local hotel, where a family of four is staying. I call to let them know I am near and she tells me the room number they are in. I don’t even have to look for the room number because as I turn in the parking lot I notice two small children sitting outside playing on the sidewalk. Everything inside me says this is not OK. It is not ok for this 2 year old and this 5 year old not to have food or a place to call their own. It is not ok that a parking lot is their playground. I am not ok with giving them only what they can cook in a microwave. My heart hurts and I leave wondering if I have done enough. I leave wondering if they have felt my love.

I head to my second stop and it is an elderly couple raising their granddaughter. Grandma has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the house is bare. I am thinking this is not Ok. The little girl is happy for pop tarts and cereal even if she has to eat them without milk. Again I’m thinking this is not OK.

That day I was reminded why I will head to Waco and endure another three day weekend. A weekend where people just like me will make me feel unworthy. A weekend where I will struggle with water and food, even with so many people like me all around me. All capable of helping but something holds their hands. I will be given new unwanted labels and I will struggle with not being able to help those I have brought with me. Oh but don’t despair for I am certain that Sundays on its way!

On Sunday we walk a distance to make it to Church Under the Bridge and the moment I step on the curb I am engulfed by the presence of God. Love is abounding and so thick you can fill a jar with it. There is people everywhere. I barely make it to my seat when I notice that my emptiness’s is gone and I am now filled. I stand unaware of those around me and I am grateful for the tears that cleanse my face. I am filled with this precious powerful love. I belong and I am worthy. We all leave with healing from the burdens we have been carrying. We walk back to our meeting place with a much lighter load.

Today my husband calls me outside with great excitement. He has been watching a family of birds for a few days and today they are out and about. He wants to share this beauty with me so I follow him around and together we watch these beautiful creatures. Then he turns to me with such tenderness and says “They are so cute and I just love them so much” and it hits me like a ton of bricks. My heavenly Father says the same about me and since He is not a respecter of persons He says the same about you too.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It started with my frig

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written. I guess I was waiting to write on a day where I wasn’t such a mess. Apparently that isn’t going to happen so please join me as I share my day! It’s late and I’m tired but I can’t go to bed without sharing.

Five AM came quickly for me this morning. I struggled to get out the door and struggled in traffic. I woke up with a swollen eye so I did what any self-absorbed person would do. I caked on the Preparation H underneath my eyes. Yes Preparation H! No worries because today was laid out to be a fabulous day full of leaders, educators, dreamers and visionaries. I have been looking forward to this day for a couple of weeks now. I am ready to take this day by the horns.

Let me go back a few weeks, we will start the day my frig went out. I must have grabbed a little frustration on that day and somehow it must have settled in my heart. This would be the beginning of a long series of unfortunate events. First my frig would quit working but not to worry I have a frig in the barn. But even with this luxury it would be just a couple of days before this became inconvenient and yet I would feel the need to grab just a little more frustration. It was a couple of weeks before we got that fixed and then we would begin to hassle with car issues. Not one car, oh no that would of been way to easy, it would be three different cars that decided to act up. Then, oh yeah it gets better, I would run over a screw and a nail on the same day and that would be the day I forgot my cell phone at home! Yes frustration overload because my car would leave me stranded.

Oh and let’s not forget my dryer, oh yes it would go out days before my day of fabulous leaders, educators, dreamers and visionaries. Yes I know how much more could I possible handle after all it is all about me, right! Well I’ll tell you how much more, today at lunch my honey calls to let me know that my son’s truck broke down, again. His words “I think we are being tested?” my reply Gods got this!

So busy with my goals for the day and all I wish to accomplish that I haven’t stopped to think of others. That is until I walk in to our last place of business. I see a woman going about her business and my spirit begins to leap. I know I have to do everything I can to talk to this woman. I ask a friend about her and I didn’t let her finish talking before I find myself in the hall way looking for this “new friend”. I see her and before you know it I have followed her into the men’s bathroom. I say hello,” I want to know how you are” and she bows her head. She does not seem a bit surprised that we are both awkwardly standing in the men’s bathroom. She gently places her hand over her face and I begin to speak. I tell her one of my dearest friends struggles with addiction and I explain how much I love my friend, despite her bad choices. I explain that I love my friend without conditions but because I am a mess I tend to fail my friend and I drop the ball more often than I care to admit.
This woman is a lovely woman there are no physical signs of drug use. So why I assumed she was on drugs is beyond me.

Why? I don’t know but the following comes out of my mouth. “What kind of drugs do you use? Then I pause, not believing I just asked a perfect stranger what kind of drugs she uses. But then she answers, meth! You have to know I hate drugs but I love people. I tell her “I woke up at five this morning and it is now five in the afternoon and I’m tired”. I call her by her name and say “it’s been such a long day”. But all worth it to be standing right here with you. My whole purpose today is to be right here. I want you to know that “You are beautifully and wonderfully made”! You matter and I want you to know that you are loved! She tells me, “but I’m such a mess up” and I tell her “so am I”. She says “I’m a bad person” and I tell her “no you’re not you have just made some bad choices”. Our conversation is lengthy and I share the love God has allowed me and the grace and mercy He has shown me.

There in the men’s bathroom we stand embracing each other, two strangers, two women, two mothers, two sisters, two friends. I whisper to her in prayer. Johns 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life and I went on to share John 3:17 For God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.
In the stillness of love and the silence of acceptance we ask God for strength to make it through another day.

I am reminded……
Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,