Connecting with Community

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Silent Night

I roll out of bed and glance at the time. It is 7:36 a.m. and that tells me I am running an hour behind. I jump out of bed, in a rush and nowhere near ready to start my day. I make my way to my little ones room; I wake him and tell him of our late start. We scramble to get ready and grab a quick bite as we rush out the door.
We get to school with just 2 minutes to spare. We exchange “I love yous” and I begin my journey to my first meeting. This meeting takes place at a local coffee shop and there is plenty to eat and drink.  I depart this place full of vision, dreams and hope.
I arrive at my office and I notice a package sitting on my desk. I am thankful for this gesture of love. It is full of my drug of choice for the month, chocolate. I imagine an elf, running rampant while our office was empty last night. It doesn’t take long before I indulge in my package of goodies. Not even noon and I have had many offers of food and drinks.
I go through the day assisting many families in need. I am overwhelmed as the theme this month seems to be hunger.  My phone rings, my cell chirps and my computer dings, with many new messages of need. I take a call from my favorite Lifechanger (my husband); he is saddened as he has spotted a family in need. I assure him all will be well.
It is now one thirty and I’m hungry again, I drive to a local eatery right around the corner and it doesn’t take long for me to absorb my meal. I hurry back to the office and I discover more chocolate on my desk.  My 3:00 meeting is at another coffee shop, which only means another opportunity to drink and eat. My day is full and so am I.
I run more errands and finally back at my desk, the building is empty and all is dark. I sit gazing out the window. I begin to  think of what I will make for dinner and then I am gently reminded that people are hungry.  I look up only to see a busy sidewalk. People headed across the street, they are ready to settle in for the night on a cold park bench. My office light is the only thing that shines and I sit in silence as my  heart begins to ache.
I walk outside ready to head home, it is beautifully calm and in the distance stars can be seen. I inhale  and notice street lights glimmering as if in celebration. There is this unexplainable stillness and nothing is stirring. I only hear the click clack of my heels hitting the street and it seems as if  I am the only one in motion. As I am driving I look at my surroundings and somehow I feel as I am watching a film. I see people driving, walking, singing, pumping gas, sitting in motionless cars and I wonder of there lives. My sad heart seems to get louder and at this moment it is all I can hear. My car is filled with melodies of Christmas cheer, music intended to heal the broken. Tears gently fall and my heart sinks as I am overwhelmed for the lack of food. Food is my desire for this moment.
At home I retrieve my Lifechanger and we chat of his discovery. His words are few and he too has a broken heart. As we enter the store I notice it is full of shoppers and yet I only hear silence. We pick the goods carefully as if we were shopping for our family. As we approach the check out, the cashier smiles but no words seem to be spoken. Her gentle smile tells me she may know hunger.  We leave the store and even the charity bell stops ringing as we walk by with our load of goods. She holds her bell and nods with delight as I whisper Merry Christmas. At this point I know my eyes tell the story.
I explain to my Lifechanger that I just can’t bring myself to help unload as I am emotionally spent for this day.  I cannot and I will not glance at one more empty cabinet or one more hungry child. I sit in the car as my husband unloads, I can hear the child with excitement in his voice. He will have food tonight. He spots a box of oranges and admires them with joy. He calls out to his dad “look dad they brought us oranges”. I cry silently.  All is calm and all is bright. I hear the hatch close and then a tap on my window. It is the dad and he has no words, just silent tears. He reaches in to hug me and I say nothing but he hears my heart anyway. Yes indeed, he is worthy of  our help.
“Our lives are to be used and thus to be lived as fully as possible, and truly it seems that we are never so alive as when we concern ourselves with other people.”
 Harry Chapin

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Glenda Moore's Heart

They can not see 
what they have not known
They can not speak 
what has not been shown

Their hearts are fine
But they are unprepared
To see the things that 
They are unaware

To see another
As wife or brother
Without baggage
From age old adage

To truly see 
grace with new eyes
And hear the truth 
to reclaim lives

We must not give up
Must not give in
To ignorance 
Of lies that bend

The truth of life
With humanity
We must give out new eyes
To help them see

We must give them ears 
That goes down deep
How humanity desires
To awaken from sleep

That makes us believe 
In lines that separate 
That gives out fear
And generate hate

So now let us arise
The dream awake
Declare war
And lives retake

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I want your pop tarts

 Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving and I am thankful that we are closing at noon. I am expecting an easy day. I have plans with my honey and that is all I can think of. That is until my first family arrives.
 As I enter the lobby,  I am surprised to see little ones present. No noise usually means no children. I smile as I see four little visitors. It doesn't take long to decide that my office is too small  for so many young guests. Together we venture out and begin to hunt down a larger office. We march down the hall with a purpose. We are on a mission, we seek more room. Finally we conquer new territory and the children seem delighted. We are situated and I begin to ask the parents some questions. They are homeless and desperate to get out of this situation they are in. They speak of their troubles and it doesn’t take long before the children catch my undivided attention. Eventually I stop listening to the parents, as I notice  no words have come from these children. I pay close attention as one of the little girls approaches me. She gives me a hug and I tenderly hug her back. I have a document in front of me and I hand her a highlighter so she can draw. She gently looks up at me and all I see is her innocence. My heart instantly hears her without her saying a word.  I ask her if she is hungry. She replies, “Yes”. Oh such pain as my heart listens to this uncomfortable truth. She acts like this is normal to her. Hunger seems to be normal to this six year old baby. 
This is not normal to me, this will never be normal to me. It should never be normal for any child to be hungry. I cry inside and I want to just take them home with me. I want to take them to Chick-fil-A and feed them everything off of the menu. I want to let them play and be children. I want to remove them from this uncomfortable truth they live in. I want  more for them. I want more than this normal they currently live in. This should not be normal for anyone.
 The little boy wanders towards me and he reaches for my leg.  I sit again paralyzed with pain for these babies. I have four children too and I can’t imagine them hungry. If you know me you know I eat five times a day. Where I am, food is there also. As I now have the attention of all four children, I begin to hand out pop tarts. They are so hungry. I watch and I am witness to those babies taking only two bites to finish their food. What can we do to change this?
 I say give me pop tarts, so I can share them. After all it is my Birthday and all I want is pop tarts. Give pop tarts to Snack Pak 4 Kids, Dyron shares them with many hungry children. The office is now a wreck, crumbs of pop tarts everywhere. They depart with a full belly, at least for now. We begin the clean up and it doesn’t take long before it’s all cleaned up. The only evidence that they were even there is the pain I still feel in my heart.
Ten till closing and we are counting down for the Thanksgiving break. A mother walks in and speaks of her daughter’s abuse, softly she tells her daughters story.  The daughter still to shaken to speak. They have just left the police station where she explained to the police, how she was beaten by her husband. She tells her story; she explains exactly how she was holding her 10 month old baby during this abuse.
She is also hungry. Lucky for us a wonderful Chick-fil-A angel brought us a fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner. I was given strict instruction, to give this meal to a family in need. I believe I followed through on those instructions.
Today all I want is POP TARTS so give me your POP TARTS!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Be a Dreamer

I wake up at 4:00 this morning and as much as I try, I have no luck falling back to sleep. Finally I start to doze off and wouldn’t you know it, it’s time to start the day. I am tired and the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. Not that it matters but I’ll tell you anyway, I feel lousy. Times like this I wish Poverty would catch the flu but it doesn’t it catches people instead.

I sit down at my first meeting, open my lap top and commence to perusal my emails. I sit in this room full of leaders. The topic of the day is Transfer of Wealth; we participate in an exercise where we are asked to dream a little. We are told “assume your community was given 1 million dollars per year forever to use to make your community great”.

For someone to ask me to dream is probably unwise. I am a dreamer and I live in a fantasy, I dream all that my heart affords. One by one they speak up and announce their dreams. Dreams of a revitalized town square, creating places for entertainment and other things that would increase the desire to live in their community.

I say nothing but all I can do is think of my families. I think of my single pregnant student, I dream of food for her empty cupboard. For my mother of one with one on the way, I dream for a roof to shelter her and a place for her to lay her head.  My mother of three, all of them boys, I dream of a safe place for them far from their abuser.  My momma of one, I dream that someday she may see what I see. My heart sees a person of value, integrity and a person that has so much to give. She has so much to offer this world that has been so bad to her. Helping families will make any community great.

I receive this email and my dream begins to disappear.
I’m frustrated! I’ve been trying to find dental assistance for Ann.  She has another major infection.  She went to the ER on Saturday and they gave her an antibiotic.  It is still really swollen and painful.  I encouraged her to go back to the ER because she says it is worse than what it was on Saturday.  She can go to AC and get x-rays and cleaning for only $30, but they don’t have any openings soon.  The very nice receptionist encouraged us to call each day and see if they have any cancellations.  I tried calling another Health Network, but it will cost $127.50 just for the screening, which she can do at AC for just $10 (then $20 for a cleaning later). 

I quickly begin my beggin and here is my response.

Dr. D
All is right in my world, once more and hey maybe Poverty did catch the flu today. Poverty is losing his confidence. I think maybe some fear has been established.

 Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I want to share some lyrics from a song that truly inspires me. Today as I work on getting caught up on hundreds of emails, I am quickly overwhelmed. I probably should of paced my self because I was soon buried with an abundance of need. For a moment I am of the impression that I can do no more. It doesn't take long before I am sweetly reminded that I am not alone. When things seem overwhelming and things seem impossible, again I am reminded that it is not me but we. Something always happens and the need is always met.

The song goes like this "Surely children weren't made for the streets and fathers were not made to leave". This line makes me want to retreat to the world I live in, where children are wanted and cared for, where fathers are the ones caring and wanting their children. It shouts what I feel "surely this isn't how it should be" and my heart hurts as he sings "Surely nations were not made for war or the broken meant to be ignored". What if we showed value to our broken and our ignored? How much time does that take anyway?  When you have time read my "90 Second Rule" and you will learn how long it takes to impact someone.

I was the lunch speaker to a group of student leaders at AC on friday. As I speak of the families I serve, tears gently flow. It is clear that this message is hitting close to home. It is apparent that some of these students were or are currently living in similar situations. Because they are so young , it completely breaks me as I see their faces and I can not contain my pain. I am not use to speaking to such a young crowd. I will never forget them and although it causes me pain, I am also encouraged. I am encouraged because even though they live in lack, they are here for a lesson on how to "Be the Change". I assure you those brilliant students taught me more than they learned. "And I will live, to carry your compassion to love a world that's broken to be your hands and feet". I am certain that together  they will mend our broken world. I am certain that they will "Make Poverty History".

After I speak , it is routine for the audience to come by and shake my hand. They come with a full heart and they say thank you. I say thank you to them, I say thank you because this is what they do " I will give, with the life that I've been given to go beyond RELIGION to see the world be changed". They remind me that Hope is for everyone and not a select few. Excitement takes over and I begin to think of ways to do more. This is my favorite line, I love the truth in it. I believe it, I believe we are being the change this community needs. I have discovered that regardless of age, money or title, we are all working together.  I am convinced that all people want to do something but sometimes we just can't figure out what needs done.
"Surely life wasn't made to regret and the lost were not made to forget surely faith without action is dead"

Friday, November 2, 2012

halloween, a skunk and Victory

I rush to my car, to avoid being late to my 10:00 meeting. On my drive there I grasp for notes and  sing at the top of my lungs.  I arrive at the local coffee place and park to take one last look at my appearance.  I take a second look and pull the mirror close, close enough that my nose touches it.
This summer my daughter Christian had practice early in the morning. While she ran I put in my own four miles because of that I was sporting a bit of a tan. It is now November 1st and my tan has subsided. As I take a close look in the mirror I am thinking I should change my makeup color.  Because I was in a rush, I forgot to spread my makeup out evenly. Above my eyebrows a shade of pale skin shows right through and a shadow of darkness covers the lower part of my face. I don’t know that my great grandma would be proud of my tribal paint, as she was full blooded Indian. I probably could have pulled it off yesterday but not today.  Well at least I only went half the morning looking like a half painted clown.
I am driving down the road minding my own business and a skunk heads straight for me. The skunk jumps right in front of my tires. I hit it and he goes splat all across the road. I drive a little further and I am shocked that I cannot smell it. Then all of the sudden, here it comes that awful stench. It begins to creep in little by little and eventually consumes the whole inside of the car.
Much like words when they are spoken, it may take some time but eventually they consume our very being.
My honey and I signed up to help at our church’s fall festival. We signed up for half an hour. Two hours went by and we were still serving. We were lost in the smiles as we handed children candy. We were overwhelmed with the dignity shown to every person. We were taken by the love that was given to the group as a whole. I was humbled with the kind words spoken. I don’t believe I have ever taken part of a community effort quite like this. These people were so dedicated in making sure everyone there felt as if they belonged.  Thousands of people and even if just for 2 hours, we were all family. This is the kind of fairytale I live in, where everyone works together towards one main goal. It was fellowship at its best. Every type of person and every color of person was represented. You couldn't tell who had money and who didn't. Everyone was a volunteer and everyone was a guest. Everyone belonged.

Matthew 25:35-36  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me;

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What will you do ...revised

I worked late last night and I woke up late this morning. I left the house in PJ’s not knowing I would have to stop to refuel. My hair in rare form, well let's just say birds do a better job creating their nest. As I am pumping fuel I am certain that all the awkward looks are well deserved. Back at home I grab something to eat, read a little and then jump in the shower. While in the shower I wash my face with hair conditioner and well I will spare you the details. The way my day began I really have no business dressing myself. Later I notice my chosen attire includes a sweater with only three out of 8 buttons left dangling.  As the day progresses I casually pull the rest of the buttons off. 
What possesses me to get in a car and drive after that, God only knows. On my drive to work, I talk to a momma that is concerned about receiving help for her children. She fears that she will be taking away from a child that might be in more need than her own. I assure her that we have plenty and we will be able to help her children as well as every child that may be in need. Another call chimes in and help for a family with no sewer system is needed. Before I even make it in I receive word from the 20 year old aunt. She is raising her 4 nieces and nephews as well as caring for her ill mother.  She calls to ask for advice on how to juggle all that she is responsible for. I assure her I will do my part, to help her. She so desperately wants to go to school, she understands that is her ticket out. 
I remember I have a banquet I need to get to tonight and I have so much to do before I get there. I wonder if they will notice my button less sweater. My day continues with much more mayhem.
One last family stops by to pick up some necessary items. As she is trying to depart her car will not start. I go in to find a gas can and drive down the street to get some fuel for my friend. We place the fuel in her car and it still will not start. We try to jump start it and it still will not start. It is now 5:30 and it is not looking like I will make it to my 6:00 banquet.
I sit to catch my breath and I begin to think about my last family from yesterday. I've been thinking about them all day,  I can’t stop thinking of that child. I don’t know about you but I’m really sick and tired of losing children to suicide. Yesterday a family calls and requests that I stop by their home. I arrive at their humble home and begin to chat with the parents. They talk about how their child is being bullied on Facebook and through texts. They are concerned and want to know how they can help their son. I speak with the child and he tells me he doesn’t want to go back to school. He tells me he doesn’t understand why he is even on this planet. I am talking to a child with out hope. I don’t quite understand that and I'm thinking I don't want to. My heart hurts and at the same time it is filled with anger. Angry that children have to endure such hurt.
I don't know perhaps its his fault, he should of been born to a family with status, money and education.
I start to think of my day and recall how I was treated. I go to the register at Wal-mart and the cashier that is approaching,  sees me standing there but she keeps walking. She hesitates a little and returns to her register. She does not look at me or even say hello, she acts like she's disgusted with me for standing there. Later in the day I call a place where you can rent furniture and appliances. I am trying to help a family so I ask to speak with the manager. Again I am treated like I don't deserve the time of day.
If I am treated this way being an adult, I can only imagine the treatment this child endures. He doesn't live in the right house, wear the right clothes or belong to the right crowd. He is devalued daily, he is made to feel as if he is deficient. He is impacted by words and just as impacted by no words.
I will do whatever it takes to connect this family to the help they need. I will not shrug it off as something insignificant. I will use words to empower and I will use love to create hope. I will love this child without judgment. I will not allow him to become a statistic.

What will you do to make sure that we don’t lose another child to suicide?

* I went all day with my dress inside out maybe that's why I was treated so rudely.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How to be a friend

I hurriedly work on closing out my day. Happy knowing many families are tasting hope again. It is 5:12 and I suddenly become uneasy, I sense a cloud of nervousness take over. My stomach becomes queasy and I dash to the ladies room and desperately try to keep it together.
As I am reentering my office, I notice my phone lighting up on my desk. I glance at the screen and my 16 year olds quirky picture is gazing back at me. It flashes 5:15 and I answer knowing I will be asked for money or a quick stop at Wal-Mart before I head home. “Hello” I mutter as silly as I can possibly speak.
“Mom I am ok but I just had a car accident “my worst night mare. She begins to cry and I realize I am 27 minutes away, from holding my baby. I dial my honey and frantically explain that he must reach her. With absolutely no assurance, in his voice he agrees. I run out the door and fumble to get to my car. I sit not knowing how to drive. I can’t remember where the key goes and I can’t even remember where I am. I sit with my head in my hands and weep for just a brief moment.
I reach for my phone but I can’t recall how to use it. I snap out of it, if only for a while. I drive what seems like an eternity and finally get half a mile from the wreck. There is a road block and I cannot get through. They are not allowing traffic to go through on either side. I can see all the fire engines and a mound of metal. I slowly begin to lose my mind.
I motion the officer and explain that my daughter is in the accident, after a battle I am waived through. As I get closer I just want to close my eyes, I see my oldest daughter Keila holding my baby girl. I can’t reach them quick enough. Time stands still and I take in every little piece of glass sprayed across the highway. I take in every fiber of metal meshed into the road. I take in every person. I take in what they are wearing. I take in everyone’s hair color and even notice the color of their eyes. I take in every sound, the sound of wheat swaying in the wind. I take in the awful color of flashing lights. I take in the uniforms. I take in the badges and the nods as I pass by. Finally I take in her small frame and the strands of curls that touch her face. I reach for her, I touch her, I caress her face and kiss her sweetly. I take her in and hold her as if I have never held her before.
We head to the hospital and as we reach the entrance. I notice a woman standing in the door way. As we get closer we see it is no ordinary woman. We see it is a friend, today she is our peace giver. She has arrived before us, armed and ready to serve her friends. It isn’t enough that she’s worked all day granting peace to many burdened people.  
I am thankful that our community has discovered, the only way to help when someone is need, is to be a friend.

Friends show their love in times of trouble.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wordless Love

 Friday afternoon and I receive a call from my 16 year old daughter, Christian. Christian and her beau would like a ride to the local pumpkin patch. I smile and agree to play taxi. On my way home I think of the luxury our young people live in. All of them with dreams and ambitions, the only worries are of what to wear and of what to do on the weekends.
 I pick her up at home and travel to her beau’s home to retrieve him. I listen as they chat about their day. The excitement of life is audible through their laughter. I drop them off and smile as I notice the crowds of young people filing in. I look around and see corn mazes, pumpkins, bunnies, goats, food and enough fun for all.
As I leave, my phone rings. I am reminded of a mother of four, her husband is out of work recouping from surgery. They work the land so that others can eat and today struggle to feed their children. I stop by our food pantry and retrieve some food for this family. This pantry is full of food I would eat and feed my family, I am pleased.
Wasn’t it just a few minutes ago that life was but a fairy tale? As children somewhere dream and have vision, children elsewhere suffer and lack the basics.  
I arrive at this farm and horses meet us at the gate. I quickly forget of why I am here and begin to love on these animals. My husband reminds me of our mission. We head up to the house and look for activity. Darkness surrounds us and silence abounds. I walk up the steps and knock on the door. My enthusiasm has not allowed me to take mind of the time. It is 9:30 p.m. and I have no business knocking on anyone’s door.
She answers and I ask for forgiveness. I begin with “I’m sorry it’s so late and I hope you don’t mind that I brought you some food”. She speaks softly “oh you didn’t have to do that”. I explain “I have no desire for you to go the weekend without enough food”.
It isn’t long before a little one appears. He sees me and rushes to my side, his little arms gently wrap around my legs.  I pat his back and squeeze him with all the love I have. My heart is crushed.
I make my exit and in this darkness find my way to my car. I sit silently without motion tears running down my face. My honeys wordless love soothes me. I find comfort in knowing that 4 babies will have full tummies this weekend. I think of all the people that made this possible, I am grateful.

"If you can't feed one hundred people, then why not just one"
-Mother Teresa

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My daughter Keila

The phone rings and all I remember is my honey telling me “babe it’s Keila, we have to hurry”. Time is no more and I can’t seem to exhale. Next thing I know I find myself sitting in the car, I sit trembling not able to see through my tears. I gain some composer and dial a friend, few words are muttered, “I can’t wait for you to get here; I have to get to my baby”.  Another call to my sister, whom is only 6 minutes from Keila, again few words are spoken “please get to Keila I don’t want her to be alone”.
Keila my precious girl decides she has had enough of her high school years. She chooses to skip her junior year and graduate a year early. She is anxious to get started with her college years. She has a plan to study law and pursue a life in law enforcement. She is quickly on the road towards continuing her education. Her start will be taking night classes at Amarillo College on the Hereford campus.
It is Tuesday night and class has let out. There is nothing different about this day, so she thinks. She takes her usual route and heads for home, as she is driving she notices a dark spot on the road. She is now on the highway traveling 70 miles an hour. She is closer to the spot and is certain now that it is not a spot but cows roaming freely on the highway. It is too late, impact has occurred.
She hits two cows and one fly’s above the hood only to land and crush the top of her car. Her car continues to travel and side swipes two other cows. Before this comes to an end the 4 cars behind her also make impact with cattle. As all this is occurring her thoughts are of her life being no more. Her car finally comes to a stop and now she sits alone and darkness slowly consumes her. As people stop to aid she calls her dad for help.
We finally reach her and fear overwhelms me, as I see the massacre on the road and my baby sitting in the mist of it all.  I reach her and hug her tightly; I assure her all will be well. As I hold her in my arms, she whispers “mom I lost my ten dollars.” I smile and thank God for my daughter’s life. As I begin to look around I see my sisters and people, people everywhere, all doing everything they can to help her out of this crisis.
No one asked my daughter where she worked. No one asked what church she went to. No one asked how much money she made. No one asked what race she was. No one asked. They just saw that she was in need and stopped to help. What if this is how we reacted when we saw people living in the crisis of poverty. What if we just stopped and just helped in any way we could?

“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.”
Mahatma Gandhi

*Accident occurred October 2009. My daughter is alive and well still attending Amarillo College pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Because of people like you that continue to stop and help.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sweet Beth

I missed work yesterday knowing I would pay for it today. I wake and head to my first meeting which happens to start at 7:30. I skip my morning stop for tea which makes me hungry. Yes I know I’m a little unusual. I enter the meeting place and take a seat. I sit and act as a dry sponge absorbing all that is said. I am in a room full of leaders with much experience amongst them. I am satisfied with the knowledge I have received and I leave to make the trip to my office.
 I arrive and before I even walk in the building I know today will be different. I dig through my emails but don’t even make it to my voice mail. I follow up with some of my families but really don’t do enough to make a difference. I hear the phone buzz and my first visitor is here, Frank is a homeless teenager. He comes in and sits, we chat for a while and when he leaves I feel somewhat discouraged.
I spoke with God this morning and we talked about making a difference in people’s lives. We agreed that it would not be an easy undertaking but we agreed that it would be necessary.
 I meet a friend for lunch and all our chatter is about the families we serve. It is beautiful to see her heart as she speaks. She tells me her story and I am encouraged. I admire her and quickly pray that I speak with as much passion as she does. We bid our farewells and I leave content, content with the notion that at this very moment all is well with the world.  As I head back to the office I think of all that I have waiting for me. No time to pause. We have mommas with no food for their children and mommas with no money for the rent.
I am finally home sitting on the bed talking about my day with my loved one. He listens patiently knowing it’s my therapy. The phone rings and many question then the phone rings again with more questions. Finally another call and a sweet innocent voice on the other end, my heart instantly hurts and I desire nothing more than to be in the same room with this girl. Beth begins to tell me she survived a car wreck that should have left her dead. Without pausing she goes on to say that she was raped a few days ago. I hurt that I cannot reach her and place my arms around her. She went to work today as usual because she has no one around her that she can tell her story too.
 As I write I can still hear the helplessness in her voice. She spoke with shame and regret. She talked as if she were all alone in this world. Just thinking about her, truly breaks me.  She doesn’t understand why she survived the horrendous car accident. 
I can hear her say “I feel as if I’m still alone in that car suspended, upside down, in midair. I haven’t left that place, I’m still there.”  Those words will echo always in my being, such pain.

My sister later wrote "you can't leave us hanging you have to give us some kind of hope that she will be ok".

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.
- Mother Teresa

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Questions and Water

For those of you that don’t know, I live on a farm. That bit of information may answer many questions for a lot of you. Last night my honey comes in and begins to explain, “the well has stop working." I reply "ok honey".
When I don’t understand what my honey is talking about I reply with "ok honey".
His statement didn’t mean much to me, until I got in the shower this morning.

Just a few drops trickle out of the nozzle, as I stand fully soaped.
The shower head, struggles to spit out the last bit of water. I begin to consider asking more questions when I encounter something I don’t understand.

I survive the water less shower and head to town. I am scheduled to meet a new neighbor. I really love this part of my life. I love seeing the new faces and learning their story. I arrive at the school and park, before I go in I decide to look in the mirror. I glance at my hair and decide it doesn’t look too bad, considering I didn't have enough water to rinse out the shampoo.

As I enter the school, I begin looking for the check in desk. I am greeted by a counselor. She extends her hand and I express how happy I am to meet her. She leads me to the room I am looking for, and I respond with “thank you”. As I walk in I see a small frail stature. It is a young lady, she slowly lifts her head. No eye contact is made and that tells me one thing, I must ask the right questions.  As she looks my way all I can mutter is, "Wow you sure are pretty". She looks at me and smiles.

I begin by talking of my morning shower and ask if they would like a hug. I can see that this puts her at ease. We talk basics as I fill out a form. Our facilitator is called out of the room and it gives me some time to ask the more questions. First I ask of her little one and her eyes sparkle as she responds. I ask if she is married or single and she begins to speak of her life.

We get to the question when I ask what the last grade completed is. I see shame and she quickly blurts, "I was being touched by my mother’s boyfriend". She continues, "I didn’t have a choice, I had to leave". Then she tells me she finished the 8th grade and my heart weakens.

I ask where she works and she looks like she is going to cry but she replies anyway, "I am a dancer”. I tell her, if I looked like you I would probably dance too". She smiles. I begin to tell her my friend Donna's story and I notice her posture is changing. I tell her we will start with whatever she feels comfortable with and she nods in agreement.

She has signed up to work on her GED but she tells me she struggles with reading and would really like to start there. I tell her that would be great. We talk more and she says "maybe I can learn how to use a computer". I tell her of course she will, well because all nurses need to learn how to work a computer. She smiles again and my heart is warmed once more.

My day continues as I sit in my office. It is now 4:00 and I am just eating my lunch. Through the wall I can hear a baby. It doesn't take long before I abandon my food to get up and go ask some questions. It is a mommy and 14th month old baby that sit in my lobby. I make my way and sit in a chair next to them.

They became homeless after her husband lost his job and nothing has been quite the same since. I tell her I will sit with her for a while. I pick up the baby and notice that this baby hasn’t been bathed. I glance at the momma and decide her hair looks somewhat like mine. The struggle of no water.

Todd enters the room with milk and diapers in hand. My pain is obvious without words being uttered. He comes near, sits on the floor and calls this little one over. I watch as his gold locks settle in Todd's arms. With big beautiful blue eyes the baby looks towards his mom, as if to ask for permission to play. Still no words and yet the burden is understood. He hands the child a small white bear, the child reaches for it and embraces with strength. No child should have this struggle. This baby has been doing without milk, only because the right questions hadn't been asked.
Our hearts are heavy, it is five and we get to go home.

May you always have many questions and plenty of water.
Elia Moreno

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Listen by Glenda Moore

Dear Elia,

I have often listened to and judged others who seemed to be in the mode of "helping". I have recently learned that I seem to have the same flaw that I judge others for. I say too much and listen too little. I don't see them. I see me.

This morning we went to church and like any other Sunday we went to the same class that we normally do. As we entered we noticed that the tables had been rearranged. This made me uncomfortable. I was pushed out of my comfort zone as I tried to figure out where we would "normally" sit.

I saw a familiar face and said, "Hello, how are you?"
The reply put me in that "uncomfortable" zone. He said he wasn't good. He said, "I lost my job three weeks ago". He had two seats right next to him. That wasn't where we had ever sat before.

I told him I would be praying for him and went to sit at a table. It didn't feel right. That pesky thing was poking me with a sharp needle at the back of my brain and heart.

Finally I turned and looked at my husband and said, "Let's go sit next to Jack". We sat and I started over. "What kind of work are you looking for, Jack?" Jack quickly replied that he was willing to work fast food or anywhere. The job he'd just lost was because he couldn't lift heavy things any longer. His diabetes is worsening. His health is dwindling.

We paused for a bit of silence and he talked about his mother and his brothers.

The class teacher began delivering his message and my heart and ears were opened. I wondered if Jack was listening to the teacher or if his heart was so torn up that he couldn't concentrate. I wondered what to do next. I prayed that God would show me.

As class wrapped up I asked Jack for his address and phone number. He said his phone was not working but gave me his address. I gave him your number, Elia. I told him you might be able to help him. I asked him if he had food. He said no. I said that Cody and I would bring him some today.

As church came to a close, a woman I hadn't ever seen before approached me. She said, "Did I hear you ask that man if he had groceries?" I nodded in surprise. "Here. I want to contribute." She handed me $20. "Thank you for listening to him. God bless you."

Jack seemed surprised to see us at his door. His beautiful smile penetrated my heart and fed my soul.

I am thankful today for new eyesight and new ears. Elia, yesterday, hearing you ask Ashley her hopes and dreams not only trained me but renewed me. So very many times I say the wrong things. I forget how to listen, how to see. Thank you for your eyes, thank you for your ears.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Anguish: noun. 1. excruciating or acute distress, suffering, pain

How do we make this a better place to live in? A place where we withhold judgment, a place where children are safe and valued, a place where all people matter.

This morning as I drop my child off at school. I watch as the cross guard comes over to help him. I notice a car headed in his direction but no concern. After all my son is with a crossing guard on a cross walk. Well the mother driving was so concerned, with making sure her child made it in the building, that she was not paying attention to my child, who was in front of her car. 
Are we so concerned with what is ours that we pay no mind to others?

I think back to yesterday, it was a full day, many calls and everyone stating “it’s an emergency”.  A young mother that escaped domestic violence is in need. She stayed in a shelter but fell through the cracks and was not assigned a case worker. She finally found a place to live and also found a job. She now lives in a trailer with no windows, no heat, no air and no gas. This home with a roof that is about to collapse, shelters her and her four boys. 
Is the land lord so concerned about taking care of his own that others don't matter?

My 12:00 o'clock emergency is having lunch with my husband, the birthday boy.  I have to run across town to have lunch but I figure you only turn 21 once. Well my honey has actually turned 21 about 23 times.  I get to the restaurant and wait for him to arrive.
My phone rings and it is a father on the other end. With anguish, he tells me his 14 year old son was caught with drugs at school. He is calling to ask for help. He needs help figuring out the consequences his son will face. He has many questions. What will his son be charged with? Will his son serve time? Will his son be able to go back to school? Will there be fees? Will he need an attorney?  
With anguish in my voice, I respond, "I don't know". The father is distraught as he does not know what to do. He so desperately wants to help his son but he doesn’t know how. I so desperately want to help his son but I too, don’t know how.
 We exchange many phone calls throughout the day.  I call the school and rally support.  On our final conversation of the day, the father asks me more questions. This time there is tenderness and love seeps through his failing voice. He wants to know where he has gone wrong. He wants to know how he has failed. He wants to know what he can do different.
 He wants to help his son but he doesn’t seem to wear the right clothes or drive the right car. He doesn’t have the right job and he doesn’t know middle class language. He doesn’t have a title or an education.   So does this mean his son should be forgotten?
 Where have we gone wrong? Where have we failed? What can we do different? I imagine the child sitting in his cell, knowing his parents do not have the knowledge to help him. Will the system take over and count him as lost?
What if it was one of our own children, what would we do then?
I am reminded that I can’t help everyone! It’s a good thing I don’t follow instruction well.
This morning, I went to court with the family. As I entered the building, the family sees me. The mother rises and goes out to greet me. I tell her I am here for support because that is all I know to do. We all sit quietly outside the court room. We wait, what seems like hours. A group of people begin to enter the court room and we all follow. As we walk in they tell us they will call in one family at a time. I ask the attorney, if I will be able to go in with the family? He asks who I am. I tell him "My name is Elia Moreno. I am the Community Engagement Coordinator for Cal Farley's Boys Ranch". The atmosphere changes as I am acknowledge because I have a title, he replies with a polite "yes ma'am". 
 It is our turn and we walk in, I follow the young boy as he goes to sit in front of the judge. The attorney is requesting that this child be detained for two weeks. I see the childs face and hope quickly departs. I see defeat in his posture and in his eyes I can see his spirit is crushed.
The Judge asks some questions and then he allows the father to speak. I ask for permission to stand as I translate.I am allowed, The father tells me to tell the judge that he will do all that he can to get help for his child. He pleads on his childs behalf. He ask that he please spare his child.
I stand to speak on his behalf but it is my heart that is audible and my passion that is heard. The attorney changes his mind and decides maybe detaining him would not be best. The Judge agrees and sets him free. This is life changing for this family, they will succeed because they now feel as if maybe they do matter.
 We travel to the detention center where they will release the child.  After a process we walk out of the building. Once outside I am certain my emotions will take over. We stand in a circle and I am allowed to pray with the family. I open my mouth but I can not speak.
 We stand in sweet silence.

 “Love your Neighbor as yourself”
James 2:8

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Educator

So yesterday on my way home, I begin thinking of all that waits for me at home dinner, laundry, dishes. 
I quickly become overwhelmed. I glance over at my day’s unfinished work, as it sits in the passenger seat beside me.
How will I fit it all in? Why am I so behind? What has caused my day to fly by?  I quickly remember an MRI this morning.
My runner has an injured knee and instead of being a Lifechanger this morning, I spent time being a mommy.

In my thoughts my list continues to grow. I see the turn off ahead and take it knowing Wal-Mart will soon be in sight.
I park and hurry inside. I grab a crooked cart and head to gather items, for an event I am attending tomorrow morning.
I have picked up speed and I am now shopping like they are giving away the stuff I throw in my basket.

I look at the time and my heart stops. It is 6:02 and I remember I have a speaking engagement at 6:00.
I rush like a mad woman and head towards the register. I want to leave the basket and rush out the door but I don’t
want to cause the employees more work. I decide I will pay for what I have in the basket and then return for the rest.

I pick up my cell and dial the place where I will be speaking. I instantly notice a missed call from that number.  My hearts sinks.
I dial anyway and as I hear a hello, I begin to apologize and assure her of my arrival. Next I call my husband and
explain that I will not be home for dinner. Then I call my daughter and tell her to meet me in town with my material in hand.
My quest for the next 3 minutes is to reach my destination.
My hair looks much like a birds nest and I decide I probably don’t smell too good by this time of the day.
All of the sudden I’m hungry, thirsty and suddenly have to visit the ladies room as well. 
Oh no, I have a family that is awaiting groceries.
The educator, I text her and inform her that I will have to meet her after my speaking is done.
She replies with “no problem”.

I arrive and apologize for my tardiness. I relax when I see that I am merely missing the meal portion of this program.
I sit and regroup while I wait for my turn to speak. I think of my shopping and the family I will be shopping for.
I connected with her earlier and asked that she send me a list of the things she is in need of. I pick up my phone to review her list.  
Her list includes bread, milk, ham and chips. I read it again and decide that isn’t good enough. I have a problem with this humble list.
You see this woman is an educator. She spends her days pouring in to our children and four items, no not good enough.
This family has been doing without because they hit a rough patch and it just isn’t right that they continue to do without.

They give me the floor and I begin to speak. I stand before an audience of individuals that seem quite bewildered by my very presence.
I believe there is concern. Rest assured it is nothing my heart can't fix. I start with “My White Skirt”.
I tell of a battered woman, her abusive husband, her children and their survival. I speak of the children’s brokenness and of
of my own brokenness. I explain that I can not be silent. I tell them that I must speak, for those that can not speak for themselves.
I speak of Hope and I see tears. A cloud begins to fill the room, one of compassion and motivation.

I am no longer a stranger, I now belong. 
I am part of this family. I am accepted and it is no longer I but we.
I finish up, express my thanks and bid my farewell.

I leave to connect with my educator. I ask her to meet me a Wal-Mart. I want her to  pick out what she needs.
We go in the store and she asks like a child if she can have a piece of sausage. My heart aches as I respond “yes”. My humble sweet educator
has reached a point where she has to ask for food. I weaken. We walk a little further and again she asks permission. 
The ache that began in my heart now covers my body.

I am humbled by her kindness and her humility. I am honored to take part in this giving. She assures me that this too shall pass.
I thank her for having the courage to call. I assure her that everything will be held in confidence. I hug her and we head to our homes.

I get in my car and I thank God for all the need I have had in my life. I thank God for empathy and compassion.
I am suddenly thankful for dinner, laundry and dishes.


If we feed everyone we can,  If we clothe with the best that we have
and we give all that we have
but don't do it in love, we've done nothing.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Don't Give Up


I was up most of the night and this morning I wake up exhausted.
So much so, that I did not make it in to work till after lunch. I decide I need some therapy and my therapy is deep cleaning my home.
I find myself standing in the middle of my house and wondering where to start. Again I feel overwhelmed.
So much to clean, I don't even know where to start. I start anyway and it's not long before
I see progress.
I often tell people that I missed my calling. I would of been an amazing maid. I love to clean and not just surface clean but
I love to deep clean, closets, under beds and dresser drawers.
I think what I really like about deep cleaning is the end result. I like to see progress.

This summer I have been deep cleaning, not a home but what I do and how I do it. I have been cleaning up my process.
There are only so many hours in a day and I want to make sure I am using them wisely.
My time is so consumed that I haven't even had a chance to read or write, in a couple of months.
I have been deep in thought for days, trying to figure out what I could do better. How I could create more time?
How I could use my time more efficiently? I've been asking for wisdom.

My husband and I are hard core high school sports fans.
We go to high school sport events even if our kids are not participating.
One day we make plans to travel out of town, to watch a game.
We get dressed and we are ready to go. We head out the door and notice our
barn door open. We get in the car and drive over to the barn. I tell him, 'Honey I'll get it."
He parks in front of the barn door. I get out and walk around the front of the car. He decides to get out to help but forgets to put the car in park.
You probably already have it figured out.
The car moves forward and runs over me. I am under the car yelling, he panics. He quickly gets back in the car, puts the car in reverse and runs over me a second time.
Because he so desperately wanted to help me he reacted without thinking it through. What he did, to try and help, actually hurt me.

Like me this summer, I have been so  eager to help many that I have just been reacting and not thinking it through. The numbers are overwhelming that at times
I have applied band-aids when more was needed.
This morning I was reminded of my life's purpose. I am a servant, placed here to serve. I work under the philosophy that every child and parent have the right to be prepared to go to college. Education is the answer and steering from this truth is not helping, it is hurting the people I serve.
This sleepless night allowed me to see that I must not just serve but I must serve with purpose. 

As I look back on these past three years. I recall the little boy in the library, he taught me the importance of mentorship.
I remember how touched I was when I witnessed him teaching another child a life lesson. He spoke powerful words into a young life. At 10 years old, this little boy was my Lifechanger. He changed my life's course.
It's not easy but when I feel like giving up, I say, "Dig a little deeper, push a little harder."
I am renewing my vows as a Lifechanger and I think I will do this every time I am feeling overwhelmed.
I've borrowed them but here they are. If you find yourself in the same place I have been, I suggest you do the same.
Vow number 1-"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live."
-George Bernard Shaw

Vow number 2- "Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can,
 In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can"
-John Wesley

Monday, July 23, 2012


I woke up with no desire to run and I have felt guilty all day. So I begin my work day by
running to pick up a donation way across town,
only to find that I am not quiet dressed for the occasion.
I return to my office empty handed but not before I get a lunch meeting in.

My next appointment is a conference call. I serve on a Peer Learning Group
and today is our first visit on what we are each doing to help young adults
earn a post secondary education. I dial in and sit quietly as the others chime in.
I listen and share as we speak of engagement and effectiveness.
We talk of sustainability and multisector initiatives.
An hour into the phone call I begin to day dream. I am not good at sitting I am better at
doing. I don't want to talk about things I want to do things, although I understand
dialogue is necessary especially if we wish to create lasting change.

I am ready to receive my first face to face for the day. She is eager to live in
her own place. She is eager to be self sufficient and I am eager to help her.
We go over her plan. She has an Associates in Business but working in
a warehouse because she can not seem to find a job in her field.
We begin by going over the many barriers we must overcome in order to get us to our destination.
Just talking about it makes me feel overwhelmed. 
Not her she is focused she has 5 little reasons that keep her that way.

I am interrupted by someone handing me a note. It reads "Jane Doe is waiting in the lobby."
I ask the family in front of me if I can have a few moments with the lady in the lobby.
They graciously agree. I escort the family I am working with to the lobby and call the other family in.

I greet and ask them to come in. As they sit I ask who referred them. The mom replies
" We went to a church for help and they sent us here." I smile and quickly begin filling out my form.
I ask for her needs. She states she is in need of help paying her rent.
I ask what has caused her to fall behind. She tells me "I was sick and so was my three year old. I
wanted to go to work but the daycare wouldn't let my baby stay because he was sick."
I ask her "Will you be able to pay your bills next month if we help you this month?"
She replies "yes."

I ask for her income just to make sure she will make it. She makes 900 and her bills are 1000
and that does not include food or hygiene.
I tell her she is still going to be short and she replies "No I sell my plasma,
I just couldn't sell my plasma last month because I was sick."
I then ask "Can you pay your bills without selling your plasma?"
She softly answers "No."
I tell her "I am sorry." I'm stunned I don't know what else to say.
She sees my sadness and responds with "no that's ok, I'm ok." 
I tell her "no that's not ok. It's not ok with me."  Through broken words she speaks again
 "It's ok, my head hurts for only two hours but then I am fine."

I gasp for breath and tell her "Together we will figure out a way. A way where you and
your baby can eat with out you selling your plasma." I get up to hug her and she is
shocked that I would care. Why would she be shocked that a person in "Social Service" would care?
She pats me on the back and tells me "thank you." I will never forget that gratitude.

I've only been doing this for a very short three years and I don't know that I will ever be okay with people suffering.
When it no longer breaks my heart to see people suffer I will find something else to do.
I want to be driven to help each person as if they belonged to me.

We are never so defensless against suffering as when we love.
Sigmund Freud

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My heart hurts

 I arrive to a stack of folders, emails and messages. All from people seeking a better way of life. All searching for an opportunity to earn a living wage. Education is what they are in search of but they just can't verbalize it yet.

 Later that day I have lunch with a new friend. I met her when she started contributing to our cause. I arrive late and she doesn't seem to mind. While enjoying our meal we begin to converse. I notice that she seems uncomfortable. I would even say embarrassed. We continue our conversation and I sense she is becoming more uneasy by the minute. My heart takes hold and I begin to understand what it is, I have seen this many times.

 I change the conversation by sharing my story. I speak of the times I was in need and she begins to cry. I know it is not my story that brings those tears. I am certain now that need is present. I ask how I can help. She begins to tell me that she is a proud college graduate and she is certain that no one else has gone through what she is facing. I assure her she is wrong.With much shame she speaks of her need and I assure her that there is other proud college graduates that have been through the same thing. I tell her those other proud college graduates will answer her cry for help.

 On my way back to my office I make a quick stop at one of our local Life Changing churches. They truly practice what they preach, "to do unto the least of these". I stop to thank them for funds and like always take the time to share a story. I tell them of our single mother of three. I explain that she was abandoned by her husband. I mention how well she is doing in school and I thank them for providing the funds that will reinstate her electricity and water. Before I leave I assure them that they are building capacity for those in need.

 I arrive at my office and another Neighbor is waiting for me. I inform her that a Life Changer has gifted her funds to have her utilities reinstated. She is overwhelmed and so am I. The thought of good Samaritans in this day and age caring for someone they don't know. Through her tears she says she wishes she could do something to repay us. I tell her she can. I tell her to graduate and someday she will be able to help someone like she has been helped. She assures me she will.

My heart is full. She leaves and I begin to go through my emails. I open one and immediately wish that I had not. As I read I feel as if a dagger has pierced my heart. This email is different it hurts in a different kind of way.

You have to remember most of the time I live in a fairytale. A place where people don't say no when asked to help others. A place where people care about each other just because they are people. A place where everyone I am surrounded with gives of there excess so others can succeed. A place where the elderly are honored and respected.
A place where children are feed when they are hungry. A place where "every child has the right to be prepared to go to college". A place where the battle on Poverty is being won.

Sometimes I forget that not everyone wants to be good and decent to each other. Well this email reminded me that not everyone lives in my fairytale. This gentlemen wanted me to know that not everyone wanted to help "Lazy people".

I sit with my face in my hands and I think of what I should reply. Ugliness is beginning to take over. My fingers swoosh across the keyboard and on the screen a clever reply is forming. A reply that will not only pierce this gentleman's heart but it will make him feel as if I am twisting  the dagger as I insert it.  And just when he thinks I am done I would add another small line in my reply. One that would allow him to feel as if I jerked the dagger back out only to pierce it again. Almost instantly I am reminded of grace and mercy, that is granted to me daily. I am moved to hit delete.

I try to explain to God that I merely want to share with this fellow.
I want to share with him the story of my big blue eyed curly haired three year old little girl.
I want to invite him to spend the day with me. Just one day and while in the mist of these
"Lazy People". I will ask him to pick one, just one child that he would refuse food to.
I want to invite him to go meet "Lazy Joe" a Neighbor that would wake at midnight 6 days a week to walk two hours to catch a bus to work. I will explain how on "Lazy Joes" day off he would get up early to stand at man labor to find more work. I will also mention that for two of those months "Lazy Joe" did all this with a broken foot.

I am certain that "I will do all the good I can. By all the means I can. In all the ways I can. At all the times I can. To all the people I can. As long as I can".