Connecting with Community

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I am exhausted and just had some me time with a great book in a hot bath; it really doesn’t get better than this. I am ready to crawl into bed with a comfy blanket but then guilt sets in. I am being greedy with my day. It doesn’t take me long to decide that I want to take some time to share my day with you.

I had so many givers today and the gifts varied from plums to watermelon, to Chex Mix, to donuts, to bread and other miscellaneous goodies. I had a Lifechanger donate 34 turkeys, 34 bags of potatoes and 34 boxes of stuffing. I am truly overwhelmed by all the Lifechangers in my life. I received too many gifts to list and my cup is running over. I feel so very blessed.

After I returned from retrieving my blessings, I had the pleasure of helping a Lifechanger load some of my blessings into his car. He has plans of taking them back to share with a shelter and men in recovery. These men are anxiously awaiting his arrival. Fruit is a treat they rarely have the opportunity to consume. The day is just lovely so I am in a dress and heels. As we are loading, through the corner of my eye I notice two large strangers approaching me. As they get closer I notice a dog they hold on a leash. I can see their caution as they approach me. They are now close enough to touch and they both bow their head. I assume they think I do not see them. They are wrong for they are not invisible to me. I think they are startled by me as I see them. I call out to them “sir, sir are you hungry?” They look at each other and look around to see if maybe I’m speaking to someone else. They are not invisible to me I see them.

I assume the earth holds still if just for this moment. The sky is my shelter and the trees surround me with their strength. I glance upward with a smile on my face and I am certain that God looks down and smiles back. I look over at the two men and a slight breeze caresses my cheek. I am being kissed by my God. There is beauty here but it can only be seen by those that choose to see it. The beauty is not in their rugged clothes or their unkept hair but rather in the acceptance that is shone on their face. They smile as I reach for granola bars and other treasures I have in my car. I hand the food to them and their gratitude is tangible. I understand their hunger and that is not a memory I like to recall. I look into their eyes and they see me. They are large men and one has a black eye yet I have no fear. They remove their cap in honor of my presence and bid me a beautifully farewell.

I am blessed for this moment in time as we stand here as humans. We are not concerned with the color of our skin. We are not concerned with the faith that each of us follows. We are not concerned with deciding who is worthy and who is not. We are not concerned because we are just people.

I get into my car and sit just for a moment. Tears fill my eyes and prayer fills my space. My heart is full and my spirit content. It is 5:00pm and the delivery of turkeys begins. I feel like Santa at the mere thought of sharing. I would be here all night if I tried to share my turkey adventures so I will spare you the details. I will share that Jacob decided to join me in the sharing. We made it home by 9:00pm and I am happy to have shared my time with others. Tonight I experienced Hope and I am now convinced of this; where there is Hope darkness will always give way.

Another thought is Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

What if? I giggle silently in the comfort of all this fullness I sit in.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I am thankful 2013

I am thankful that I wake in a nice warm bed. I hear Jacob getting ready for work and then I hear him quietly closes the bedroom door in honor of my rest. I snuggle deep in my blankets and begin to give thanks for my life. Finally out of bed and I make it to my laundry room, I throw my bedding in the washer. The thought of fresh bedding and suddenly I am thankful for my washer. Back in bed I sit typing on my laptop taking advantage of the internet. I pause a moment and decide both of these are both luxuries. I wander into my living areas and pick up where I left off yesterday with my cleaning. It doesn’t take long before I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my home. It may not be as large as I would like it or as perfect as I think it should be but it’s my home. Moments like this always take me back to my homelessness experience and I shudder as I remember that horrible feeling of not belonging. It is not a feeling people should ever have to understand. The silly thing is we all have the power to allow each other a sense of belonging but seldom do we exercise it. We are so busy with trying to belong that we forget to allow others the opportunity to belong. It is as simple as a smile or a greeting that allows others to feel like they belong in this space.

I walk to turn on the tube just so that I can have background noise. Gently I am reminded of what I paid just yesterday to have service for this tube. I watch a little while and grow my faith as I sit here. I am thankful for the breath in my body that will allow me another day to serve. I am thankful for my legs, my arms, my eyes and everything that allows me to do what I do. Walking into my kitchen I hit the switch and yes that bill was also paid yesterday. This luxury allows electricity to run through my walls and light takes over the darkness in this space. I am thankful for life and how I choose daily to live it. I am not wasting anytime given to me by merely existing. I am thankful that God has inspired me to live and to live with intent.
I open my cabinet filled with food and my heart begins to ache. I am thankful for the food I often take for granted. I had a call yesterday from my office. Our lovely front office Lifechanger calls to let me know that I have two guests in need of food. Until this moment I had forgotten that children will be without food since school is closed for thanksgiving. I forget only because I take for granted that all my basic needs are met. I am thankful as I peek in my fridge and check on my turkey and ham. Today I will be thankful that I am blessed to have food in my home.

I am thankful when I open the front door. I take a half step out my door onto my porch only to be kissed by a ray of sunshine and quickly I am wrapped by the morning’s cool breeze. Gazing upward I step out a little further allowing cold air to rush inside my nice warm home. How many sit out in this cold morning because there is no home for them. This is the time of year when “us well-meaning givers” go out and serve at a soup kitchen or hand blankets and coats to homeless people. I am almost certain that this is not the only time of the year when they experience hunger and when the cold bites as they sit out in the element.

I am thankful that I am blessed with peace offered to me by soldiers that will do without their family this holiday season. I am thankful for the freedom I am given, to serve and worship my Savior. I am gifted the privilege of freedom to celebrate any way I see fit. I don’t recall any part of the military sending out a questioner with questions like where I work, if I work, my religion, my education or what color I am. They don’t defend this country because of who I am. They defend our country because of who they are. Stay with me as there is power in this and my spirit is so happy to share. What you do for others should always be done because of who you are and not because of who the people you are serving are. Can you say “freedom in giving?” Wow Wow Wow Wow there is no way to “qualify” people. Because people are people some having more choices than others but people nonetheless. After all it’s not about you it’s about others and when you get this you are able to leave judgment behind.

And just in case there are Believers that are struggling with getting over judgment. This is what the word of God says about people.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV) 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Isaiah 44:24 (KJV) 24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What if we gave without the desire to qualify a person’s worth. Allow yourself to walk in Love.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time Off

It’s cold outside so grab a blanket, some hot tea and sit with me for a while. I pray you have the opportunity to take some time off during the holiday season; I’ve taken the whole week off. Yes I know it’s been sometime since I took this amount of time off but I have a plan. I want to rest, I want to clean, I want to cook, I want to spend time with my children and I want to write. Wow just realized how ambitious that all sounds.

I only share in hopes that we all learn something along the way. Regardless of how old or young you are we all experience similar feelings and hurt is one of them. We are all familiar with hurt in some shape or form. This morning I have a divine appointment with an older man. I can hardly contain myself as I know I have much to learn from this visit. He arrives and quickly we begin our conversation. It isn’t long before I realize his hurt is different than mine but hurt none the less.
This gentleman belongs to an extraordinary generation of people. This generation of people is under the impression that all females are ladies and should be treated as such. They hold a high standard for morals and values. They respect each other and kindness is something that is freely given. It is a generation of people that still look after their neighbors and help when help is needed.

From what I gather this generation is keen on education and hard work. They believe in people and meaning is not in text or emails it is in words and people. I sit here absorbing all that I can knowing that someday they will be no more. Time is certain to consume them. There will come a day where I can no longer sit face to face with this generation and gain wisdom. How can I mimic this behavior? How can I learn to love my neighbor like this group of people loves?

As we validate each other and as we conclude our conversation he grabs a book lying on the table. He opens it and says “I brought you a gift”. I smile and tears quickly begin to fill my eyes. I am honored and I feel special. I look around and in this place many of this generation sit sipping coffee. They speak to each other as they are family. As a woman departs the gentlemen stand in honor of her presences. As one gentleman blesses his food he removes his hat in honor of his Maker.

I respond with “thank you”. He opens his book and begins to autograph the inside cover. He hands it to me and I read the most beautiful words ever printed on paper. Here are the words he has written “she helps people”. This has just encouraged me to do more, to love more, and to live more. When I leave this earth I want to have nothing left. I want everything I have to be shared or given in some way shape or form. I want those three words to be true of me and so starts my “time off”.

I will drop off my kids at school with no rush to get to any particular place. I drag my daughter along for a surprise breakfast; yes you guessed it, at my local Chick-fil-A. Before we head for breakfast we stop and gather turkey and ham for a family in need. I’ve decided there is really no “time off”. At every moment in time we should be pouring into others or allow the opportunity to have others pour into us. Wow what a simple concept.

If we took time seriously, we would treat it as one of our most valuable possessions. There would be no time off. Every moment would be spent blessing others or being blessed. Time will never take time off. It is constant and it moves even when we are still.On my “time off” I will treat time as though there is not enough because truly there isn’t. I will give thanks as I humbly serve or rather as I help people.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Grab a cup of coffee and sit with me for a while. I sit in a room full of family and my heart is not present. My heart is still with what I have experienced today.Let me take you back to the beginning. Four years ago I started this blog on the urging of one of my dearest friends. The premise for this blog was to share all my great shopping tips. It wouldn’t take long before this blog would turn into my self-care. This is a great way to share what I am feeling. Once I write what I have experienced during my day it no longer belongs to me. I gladly give it over to you.

Today my schedule has been jam packed, come to think of it yesterday was no different. On my to do list I have three families that are in need of food. A young lady that is eager to serve is willing to help me gather food for these families. In search of food we head to the church with the red door. We enter the building and there is this sweet overwhelming presence that awaits us each time we visit this place. It doesn’t take long before we begin filling boxes. The young lady carefully choses items for each box according to the quantity of children in each family. She silently teaches that everyone matters. Without words she gives value.

My car full I head back to the office. All day I have battled this wind and I am weary. I am struggling with kindness as I am eager for time off. In front of my office I park and look behind me only to see my first family parking behind me. I get out of the car and place an insincere smile on my face. I walk towards this family and quickly notice a little one skipping behind her momma. My heart is full and my smile is now sincere. They are so thankful for the food they have received. This baby gratefully picks up the applesauce so carefully chosen by our eager servant.

I have a few minutes before my next family arrives so I decide to drive around the building in hopes of gathering more items to share. As I I drive back around to the front my next family is waiting for me. I say hello with the assumption that they are waiting for me and the young girl replies “I knew it was you!” She looks at her mom and says “I told you it was her.” I introduce myself because we have only chatted on the phone. This is our first face to face meeting. The young girl follows me to the car to help me unload. She is so happy that they will go home with a car full of groceries. We stand by their car and chat about school. The oldest sister speaks of completing her education. She has dreams of buying her little sister a car by the time she graduates high school. Mom speaks of her girls with such pride. She is overcome with tears at the goodness she sees in this food that is shared. Mom is grateful to have what they have. I say my goodbyes and as I head up the stairs to my front door the young teenager yells “ma’am thank you, thank you so much”. I am overcome with this beautiful gratefulness.

The third family calls to inform me they do not have a way to come get the food. Reluctantly I agree to deliver. It is dark out and I am not familiar with their neighborhood. I head their way anyway and quickly find their home. The momma meets me at my car to help me unload the goods. As we reach the door I notice a set of eyes peeking through the screen door. This wind that has been disrupting my day all day has suddenly just stopped. I hear my heart and I am thankful for being present at this moment. I see a small glimmer in those little eyes. I look closely and now I am certain there is hope in those eyes. A little boy appears behind this little girl and he gently asks me if I am bringing food. I nod yes because no words form in my broken being. He reaches for the door and lets me in. I step inside this little home and in his little sweet innocent voice he asks “can I help you”? I softly speak “well of course”. I have him grab one end of the box while I hold on to the other end. Oh how my heart hurts. He directs me to the tidy kitchen and I thank him for helping me. I can no longer make eye contact with the mother as the brokenness I feel now shows through my eyes. I head towards the door and assure her I will return anytime she needs me. The little boy reaches for my hand “ma’am, thank you”. The whole time this little one makes eye contact. He has my heart. I turn around and head towards the door unsure that I will be able to respond. All of the sudden something with in me allows me to speak two simple words. Your welcome!
Recently I heard that Tyler Perry wrote a letter to younger self. I thought it was powerful. Well today my thought is why not write a letter to your present self. What would you say to how you are currently living? Are you choosing to do? Are you giving in a way that allows Hope to others? What is your purpose and what will people say about you when you are gone? Think about it and allow self-reflection. If you don’t like what you see change it.

Today through the eyes of little ones I learned I must work on my life’s purpose at every moment. The only break life will give me is the moment I leave this earth.

Here you go just so we are not tempted to tip toe around this one. 1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I want to tell you what I saw today

Today I see a homeless man walk by me. I stop him and ask him if he would like some snacks. He replies with “boy would I”. I ask him to wait where he is standing and I will run inside and grab a bag of snacks. I return with a small bag of goodies. He gently smiles and at the corner of each eye a small tear makes its way down his face. He is not invisible I see him.
Later in the day I go to a small shelter, for men working on parting with their habits. As I walk in I see clean and well-kept quarters. I ask the gentleman that has invited me in a few questions. Because I hear him I discover food is scarce and snacks are not possible. My heart hurts at what I see. I have food to share. He is not invisible to me I see him.
My last stop before I reach home is at the small church with the red door. I walk in and see remnants of a craft show and I smile at all the pretties as I go by. I reach the closet where food is stored and fill box after box for families in need. Today this will aid a family of 4 with empty cupboards. Father has been ill for weeks and that has caused great need. The children get home from school with no snacks awaiting them and dinner is out of the question. They are not invisible this church sees them.
I see a mother, I see a friend all in the same woman. She is lost in a world of drugs and she feels is invisible to most. I show her love and speak to her in the same way I would speak to my girlfriends. She speaks with a burdened heart, “Why do you talk to me like that?” I reply because you that’s how I talk to people. She reaches to hug me then turns around and walks away. My heart hurts that she feels discarded. Regardless of her behavior she is still somebody’s daughter, she is still somebody’s mother, she is still somebody’s sister and she is still somebody’s friend. She is somebody.
We are so busy that we miss so many things that we should see. I want to challenge you to take a moment and see things that you normally pass by. Luke 10:25-37 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
I know its heavy but it’s also truth, I’m not in the habit of speaking things that tickles ones ears. My Hope requires me to speak truth that causes action. Take a moment to live with intention. Don’t be content with just being alive take it a step further and live intentionally. Choose to smile at someone and perhaps greet someone one as you approach them. Maybe you can make eye contact instead of being distracted by your phone. For at least 90 seconds actively listen in a way that will allow you to connect and when you connect make sure you validate that person’s existence.

Our babies have much to teach us. Please take a few minutes to read what my son Joshua, wrote as a speech when running for student council at his school.

I want to tell you how we can make our school the best ever. I want to tell you that each one of you is important. I want to tell you that you being here is awesome. I want to tell you that what you say and what you do really does matter. I want to tell you that when you smile at someone it makes them feel like they belong. I want to tell you that if you ever feel alone you are not. I want to tell you when you are struggling there is someone here to help you. I want to tell you that what you wear doesn’t matter. I want to tell you that where you live doesn’t matter. I want to tell you that I’ll be your friend no matter what. I want to tell you that together we can make a difference.
But most of all I want to tell you that by looking for what does matter we won’t have time for things that don’t matter. Things like bulling, like making fun of others, like cheating, like lying, like hurting others, help me help you find things that matter.
Joshua Moreno 10 years old Canyon Intermediate School

Friday, October 11, 2013

Homeless Day three

I wake in the city of Waco once more but this time in a King-size bed at the local upscale hotel. I have just experienced a day with God at the conference I attended. I am amazed at so many Lifechangers attempting to love one another. The group is diverse and many denominations are represented. Because I love people I don’t care what church you go to. We had the opportunity to worship together, pray together, love together, eat together and cry together. At my table sit Catholics, Baptist, non-denominational and there is even a Pentecostal in the mix. I am certain this is what heaven will be like.
I arrived the day before to a not so upscale hotel. We pulled in around midnight and I was a little bothered when I saw the place, I would be staying for the night. First of all I had to open my own door, there was no concierge, there was no one to take my bags up to my room and I definitely would not be asking for the top floor because three were only two floors.
I walk in to my room and inspect every corner. I quickly begin browsing the web for more suitable accommodations. I doze off complaining and wake up complaining of my undesirable surroundings. I call downstairs and inform the nice receptionist that I would not being staying here the rest of my time in Waco.
I get ready and head downstairs. I glance over the meager items of food. There is no way I am eating their food I will have to make do with dry cereal. Apparently I have forgotten, the last time I was here I slept on the sidewalk in the rain and I had no choice of food.
During my last adventure here I met a young girl that was also going through this thing we call Poverty Simulation. We had just a few moments together but because she was the same age as my little girl I felt the need to make sure she was ok. I asked her how she felt about not having anything to eat. I asked her how she felt about having to sleep outside on a table.
She replied, “it’s no different than home”. My heart hurt. This young girl was part of a leadership team from the inner city in the town she was from. That this would be normal to a child is just beyond me. We have 16 million children living in poverty in our country. That means 4 out of ten children are struggling to have their basic needs met. I am thinking that is not ok with me and yet I complain because the hotel is not up to my standards.
As I go through this conference I am reminded that we have the ability to change the world. We have the ability to make a difference if only in just one person. We just get so caught up on blame that we forget about Isaiah 61, Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25. We forget that we were all “created in His image. We forget that we were all “wonderfully and beautifully made”. Some people just have the luxury of being w born into a family with lots of money.
I remember walking twenty two blocks to finish off the last leg of this simulation. Finally I arrived to this thing called “Church Under the Bridge”, I noticed church buses and church vans coming in, in droves. As I walk past these groups, I hear a pastor tell his group, “mingle get to know the homeless”. I ignore and find my way to the place where water was being distributed. I cut in line and grabbed water for my family. I found a place to sit and watch as all the people around us are eating breakfast. We have been instructed not to partake of the food that was being distributed. At this point my hurt is turning into anger. Sitting in all my emotions, a young man that looks like a pastor, whatever that means. Approachs me and I instantly know he is going to try to “get to know me”. He is going to try and find out how I ended up homeless. He didn’t get the chance.
My heart cried out, “No sir, you don’t get to come play church on Sunday. I needed you Yesterday and Saturday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. You don’t get to play church on Sunday. I was so broken. My spirit is crushed at the mere thought that humans would treat humans in this way. During this “walk of mine” others had no regards for me. They did not see me as human. I stand here at this “Church Under the Bridge a little less than human. I am reminded of what I told Jacob before I left. I said don’t worry about me honey, there is a church at every corner and my middle class family of faith will see me through. I am standing here in all my nothingness completely empty and no my family of faith has not seen me.
In the background the music begins to play and these are the words I hear. He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane I am a tree bending beneath the weight of this wind and mercy. When all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me
Oh how He loves me so oh how oh He loves me …..I stand crying uncontrollably being changed by the undeniable love my Savior has for me. Even in all my nothingness. A beautiful lady standing next to me reaches to hug me and she softly whispers “girl I love you”. Out of her lack she gave the most. We stand united just two empty homeless women. No vanity, no judgment, we stand completely empty waiting to be filled with His mercy and grace.
I walk away filled with love so much that it doesn’t fit in my being. I leave a different person. I leave understanding homelessness and I am sad that I get to go home and my new friends don’t have a home to go home to.

Friday, September 20, 2013

In honor of Larry Pelt

Today as the clouds cover the sky sorrow covers my heart. This afternoon my “Lazy Joe” went home. His struggle in life was always worth all the effort he invested. Everything he did and all he endured was for others. I am a better person for having known him. He is the Lifechanger that taught me how to be a Lifechanger. I am blessed to have had the privilege of serving him and his beautiful family. At this moment I am thankful that my faith allows me to sit here physically unable to speak because of the sorrow that consumes me but at the same time certain of one thing and that is the mercy that Larry received the moment he reached heaven. That’s his real name and there was never anything lazy about him. I only share it to honor him and with the permission of his wife. What if we loved with out words?

My Heart Hurts

I arrive to a stack of folders, emails and messages, all from people seeking a better way of life. I am certain that every single one of them is 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 in the 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 are other proud college graduates that have been through the same struggle.

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. I am overwhelmed with 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 them. 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. This fairytale of mine is a place where people never say no, when asked to help others. This fairytale of mine is a place where people care about each other, just because they are people. This fairytale of mine is a place where everyone I am surrounded with gives of their excess so others can succeed. This fairytale of mine is a place where the elderly are honored and respected.

This fairytale of mine is a place where children are feed when they are hungry. This fairytale of mine is a place where "every child has the right to be prepared to go to college". Finally this fairytale I live in is 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 email was from a “gentlemen” who 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 had jerked the dagger back out only to pierce it again. Almost instantly I am reminded of grace and mercy, which are granted to me daily. I am moved to hit delete.

But it doesn’t stop me from trying to explain my actions to God. God “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. I request just one day. One day so he can meet some of my “Lazy Families” and while in the mist of these "Lazy Families". God “I will ask him to pick one, just one “Lazy Child” that he would refuse food to. I want to invite him to meet my friend "Lazy Joe" a Neighbor that would wake at midnight 6 days a week to walk two hours to catch a bus to work. God “I will explain how on "Lazy Joes" day off he would get up early to stand at man labor to find more work”. God just let me mention to this “gentleman” that for two of those months my "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".

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homelss and still day two

Overwhelmed Its 7:39am and I’ve just rolled out of bed. My daily routine requires me to leave my home at 7:30am. I scurry without direction, finally bathed, clothed and everything in hand I head out the front door. It’s a bit cloudy and mist softly kisses me. I look upwards and slowly close my eyes. This tender moment takes me and once more I am back to day two of my homeless experience. I am back on the sidewalk with my eyes wide open. I blink gently simply to allow my tears to make their way onto the cold hard sidewalk. I can hear myself breath and that soothes me just a bit. I begin to think of my home and my heart hurts at the mere thought of my children having to suffer homelessness. I feel so alone even among others, I am alone. Homeless and its day two in the afternoon, we make it back to our appointed spot. We are the second group to arrive and I start to look at the faces of all the other “homeless participants” as they file in. In the young participants I see anger, shame, frustration, excitement and defeat. There is a group that has scored big; they received help from all the places they went to. There is no worry there as they have a skip in their step as they walk toward us. All is good in their world. I notice another group and there is just shame and defeat. They did not get help. They are hungry and looking for someone to share. I bow my head as I sit under a tree to keep the sun from having its way with me. I sit next to my family and watch as a mix of emotions takes us. This overwhelming feeling of guilt consumes me because we have eaten and others have not. This food we consumed was made possible only because of deceit. I sit helpless and hopeless; my desire is to help all those in need of food or something to drink. I sit not being able to do anything for them. My hurt is turning into anger for those that are loaded with plenty to eat. My question is why them? What’s wrong with me? We sit under a large shade tree waiting for someone to open the gate that keeps us from using the outhouse. I see one of ours; he goes around the fence and sneaks in through the back. At this point I have thrown my arms up in defeat. I will find no order in this crisis. I can do nothing about my situation. There is no plan in place. Finally the gate is open and we gather just inside of this uncomfortable chain link fence. The announcer speaks and we are told that dinner will be served inside. The cost is $6.00. I am standing just outside of the outhouse and I see the “cashier” ask part of our group if we are eating dinner. Instantly they all bow their head and one speaks without looking up and says “we don’t have any money”. My heart is completely crushed, we don’t belong, and we are insufficient. I feel inadequate because I cannot provide for my new family. Today I stop at a family’s house, I knock at the door and the sweet momma answers. She stands at the door and intently listens to every word I say. I tell her I come bearing food. Tears consume her and she invites me in. Tonight she is not eating so that her child will have plenty. My son Josh and my husband Jacob carry the food inside her home. I hear her little one whisper thank you to my boys and my heart gives way. I stand humbly in her kitchen. Through a storm of tears I meekly pray and she interrupts by asking God for blessings for my family. She thanks Him for providing and I am swept with emotion. She says “you don’t understand what you’ve done for us.” I assure her I do.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Isaiah Challenge

Today was day two of sitting alongside amazing Lifechangers, people who are relentlessly battling this war on Poverty? Today is also day one of The Isaiah Challenge, in my life. Ok some of you may be asking whose Isaiah and what is he challenging? Well I’ll tell you, Isaiah was a prophet who saw the needs of his day and time. This challenge was taken out of the book of Isaiah and developed by my friend Angela Asbill. The scripture reads as so Isaiah 58: 6 "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, For the next 60 days I will intentionally sacrifice in a way that will allow me to show love to others regardless of race, religion or gender. This challenge will challenge me to sacrifice something daily whether it is food, clothes, money, time etc. I will sacrifice with the purpose of truly living Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Like Isaiah I want to take note of the need around me. Not just to acknowledge that there is need but I want to do something about it. Won’t you join me? Well day one is almost gone and I still have not sacrificed a thing. It’s Thursday so I decide to join my honey at a football game. Isn’t that a sacrifice? I am sitting at a football game and it doesn’t take long before hunger takes over. I decide to leave at half time and head to my local burger joint. To be honest at this point in my day, I have forgotten of The Isaiah Challenge. It isn’t long before I spot a burger joint and I pull in to look at the menu. I order and then proceed to go around to the window. I stop and wait on the smiling cashier. I hand my money to her and she grabs my hand as she reaches for my money. I am shocked at the feel of her freezing hand. Without thinking I reach to my backseat and grab my jacket. I hand it to her and tell her to keep warm. She says “oh no, I cannot accept it.” I reply with “oh yes you can”. I literally shove it in the window and I don’t take no for an answer. I move forward to the next window and grab my food. So did I sacrifice or did I give? Within these 60 days I want to learn to sacrifice not just to give. Not that there is anything wrong with giving. I just really want to grow to love people more and I know that for me that will have to be learned through sacrifice. On my drive home I begin to go over my actions and then I ask “show me how to sacrifice”. On the radio as I am driving this is what I hear. “It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today. It always goes to those who don’t deserve. It’s the opposite of how you feel…Show me how to love the unlovable. Show me how to reach the unreachable. Help me now to do the impossible.” Matthew West With these words I am gently shoved. I decide to go home to count the jackets I have. I went to one of the three closets I use and I counted my jackets just in that closet. In one closet I counted 53 jackets. Yes 53! So what did it cost me to give my jacket? I have discovered that it is easy to give out of my surplus and yet I don’t do it often enough. Would I have given it if it was my only jacket? I love my job because I see it daily. I see families that have nothing, easily give almost everything they have so that others won’t go without. That is sacrifice. I pray to learn from them on this topic of sacrifice. Apparently I am not a quick learner so I’ll let you know how I do at the end of my challenge. Matthew 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Homeless Day Two-Morning

I am not sure what time it is but I see light peeking through and around the trees. I reach to make sure my new family is still with me, and then sluggishly I get up and find my way to our outhouse. Yes an outhouse! I head back to my place of rest and I take a shared tube of toothpaste. Every movement appears to take place in slow motion and I can still remember every color, every odor and every noise. Everything is so vivid; it is almost like I have never seen a sky or trees or grass or anything of beauty before today. I pause just for a moment and gaze at the beautiful colorful unripen fruit on a nearby tree. I am in awe of this new found beauty that surrounds me and that it would reach out to me to someone so insignificant and yet gently greet me. Then there are these clouds, these clouds of shimmering cotton seem to follow me, as if they were assigned to protect me and my family. I gather myself and walk to a nearby water hose and wonder at the ability it has to wash away my mess, my judgment and all my ignorance. This particular hose provides water heated by the sun itself and I am under the impression that it never cools off. I pour the water on my legs and even this small task makes my heart hurt. I begin to wash off all the nights’ debris; I pour water on my feet in hopes of keeping my perfectly maintained pedicure intact. I watch as the warm water gushes on my pretty pink toes and even if just for a second, they are clean. Oh but wait because just as quickly the mud that I am standing in creeps right back on to my well-polished toes. I stand out in the open and begin to wash my face and once more water washes my tears away. Cautious but not caring whose watching I continue washing every uncovered limb. The water is soothing to my spirit and somehow my heart mends just a little. Only 12 hours in and my heart is in pieces and my spirit is broken. I want my husband to come rescue me. I do all I can and finally head towards a picnic table where our two night watch men are seated. Two of the men in our group couldn’t sleep so they kept watch of our family. We sit silently for what seems like forever. Everything and everyone is gentle at this point and softly we begin talking of our restless night. Not complaining simply speaking of our night. It is somehow silently understood that no one really slept more than 20 minutes at a time and comfort was certainly nowhere to be found. Weeks later I still have bruises on each hip from the hard side walk I slept on. I now so sadly understand the use of cardboard and newspaper for bedding. No one should have to understand this truth. One by one the others join us and a tangible comfort is among us. I keep saying “It is silently understood” because our form of communication no longer requires words. We sit anxiously not knowing what to expect but we are certain of one thing and that is that “we are all in this together”. We are allowed inside our meeting place only to find a small group eating their breakfast. We are given the opportunity to watch. Before we disburse we are given a list of items to find and we are sent on our way but not before they wish us luck on finding food. The temperature now is about 102 degrees and the only reason I know this is because I goggled the temperature for this day, when we were back home with our technology in hand. We are in search of food and water as we are all being harmed by the sun hanging so high above us. I spot a title loan place and go inside. I ask the receptionist if she could tell me where we could find some food and water. She seems to be displeased with my appearance or may be the way I smell offends her. It doesn’t take long for me to understand that I am not welcomed. I leave without help and not an ounce of kindness is offered. I do leave with a new label this one is titled shame. Outside I stop a lady walking down the sidewalk; I ask if she could tell me where I can find food. We notice chips and snacks in a bag she carries. She gives me plenty of information but gives no help just another label. This one is called defeat. We are now 22 hours in and we have been walking forever. The hunger has passed and now I have a headache and suddenly I begin to struggle with my stomach. We are seated in front of a large church. We are here to be sheltered and cared for by people of faith. No one sees us and we see no one. Jamie is lying on the lawn feeling the symptoms of dehydration. We grow concerned of her health and at this point we fear we will have to find a way to a hospital. We sit quietly with many labels, some we brought with us and now we have been given new ones. We sit still hoping that someone anyone will love without words. Matthew 25:31-46 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homeless Day One

It has been weeks since I returned from my “hopeless and homeless” journey and I’ve tried several times to write about my experience, to no avail. Each time I sit to write I am quickly overwhelmed with emotion at the hardship I endured during my homelessness. During that time my heart was crushed and my spirit broken. As you know I live in a fantasy world a world where humanity is alive and well. I live in a world where people “Love their Neighbor” and people show love rather than just speak it. I live where we come together so children can learn and parents can experience value. In our neighborhoods and in our schools our goal is one. It is all about people. I knew it would be tough to leave this little world I live in but because I work in a community where we have 1560 children living in transition, meaning they have no place to call home. I wanted to experience the emotions and attitudes that these families face. I wanted to go and walk in those shoes. I wanted to be able to relate to a family that finds themselves homeless. I don’t or rather I didn’t know what homelessness was like. I just know this could never be me because I have family; my two sisters would take care of me and my family. My two brothers would stand by just in case something was left undone. My parents, my church family, my friends would come to the rescue; homelessness is not something I fear. I wanted to go and learn the reason behind the behavior. I wanted to understand the acting out of children while in school, when they find themselves without their basic needs. I wanted to go and learn about how to better meet the needs of those that suffer temporary homelessness. I wanted to know what it felt like to be homeless and still function in everyday life. I wanted to better understand what these children and parents are going through. My purpose for going was to become a better provider. It is Friday and we arrive at 7:14, check in is at 8:00. We are anxiously standing around in anticipation of this thing we call Poverty Simulation. My thought is; we will experience what it is like to stay in a homeless shelter and may be eat at a local soup kitchen. It wasn’t long before I was told that would not be the case. We are in a group of 6 and we have all packed for a three day weekend. They ask us to choose 4 items we would like to keep for the weekend and the rest would be turned in and locked up. One person out of our group picked the wrong card and was not able to choose four items. They took everything she had. It was at that very moment that we became family. We go to a nearby thrift store and stand outside in the rain waiting while others shop. Rain begins to cleanse the battered pavement and mud begins to build where there is no pavement left. I look up and raindrops fall washing my body and my spirit of all misconceived notions of homelessness. I smile and am meekly thankful for my evening shower. I stand near the ally of a place so unfamiliar. My heart hurts as the feeling of loneliness takes over. Even with the people all around me I feel alone. My heart is heavy and I begin to worry of where I will sleep. It is finally our turn and we are allowed in the store out of the rain. I begin to rummage through clothes that well-meaning people have donated. There is paint, holes, missing buttons and stuff I wouldn’t dare wear. There is no other option, I have to choose something and in minutes this simulation has turned into my reality. We are allowed to choose a top, a pair of bottoms and a pair of shoes. Once we choose our items we go to a storeroom and change our clothes. They have stripped me of my identity and now I am just homeless. There is no soothing my crushed heart. I think of all I have given in the past. I don’t think I want to play this anymore. We leave all gussied up in our not so new attire. I don’t know what time it is but I assume it is around midnight because I am weary. I am lying on a sidewalk next to a fence with my new family. I feel the mist of rain drizzle on my face and God himself is washing my tears away. I dare not think of my comfortable home because it just saddens me more. I hear as the drops hits the mud puddles around me. I hear the blades of grass next to my head. I doze off just for a moment and I wake at every sound the tree next to me is making. I hear dogs in the distance and a soft sputter as cars go by. I hear others chat and I quietly wait on God to allow the sun to shine on me once more. Matthew 35 I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Forgive my writing errors as I am in the back seat of a minivan headed to Waco.
I wake to run with my little girl. I take a peek outside and notice that a rain storm has just come through. I whimper as I run because I am experiencing a bit of mugginess.  I run around a local pond and I am disgusted that it has flooded my running trail. When I am done my shoes are completely soaked and it isn’t long before I begin to whine at the discomfort of pond water in my shoes. I take my shoes off and I am quickly in a frenzy because my toe polish has a chip. I reach for my phone and it is dead, this causes me to get up and head to my car. I reach my car and I am reminded that my car charger is in my other car. Wow what a way to start my day so full of myself and my stuff. Hmm I wonder if I am the only one.
Today will be a day full of errands; I have some yogurt and baby carrots that were donated by a wonderful group of people. So most of my day will be taken by distributing these goods, I decide to distribute the items to families I haven’t seen in a while. I go by Ms. Emma’s home and I knock on her door and her little one rushes to open for me. I smile and ask how he is, he replies “good thank you.” I ask “is your momma here?” He nods yes. I see her as she enters the room and I ask if she would like some carrots and yogurt. She smiles and begins to cry. My heart melts as I can see that God has sent me at this appointed time. Maybe to remind me that it’s not all about me. Maybe to remind me that there are issues bigger than my wet shoes or my chipped nail polish.
Then she goes on and says that her little one has been sick and she hasn’t worked much this month because so many are out on their yearly vacation. She says “we were down to our last yogurt cup”. I smile trying not to cry, she softly continues with “I have been praying and asking God to supply our needs”. I feel empty as just a few moments earlier my need was a charger so I could get on Facebook just so I could whine about my wet shoes.
I asked what else she needed and she bowed her head in shame. I explain that we all need help some time and she went on to say that she was worried that one of her utilities was going to be cut off because she hadn’t worked enough this month and she knew she would not have the funds to pay what she owed. Wasn’t I just crying about mugginess?
I stand amazed at the 10 year old little boy that will have no fun in the sun, he will have no vacation, and he will not have new clothes for school but yet when asked how he was he replies with “good”.  If it could be that we all had that attitude of gratefulness. I am hit with this morning’s ungratefulness. Instead of being grateful for the rain, my shoes,  and my ability to enjoy a morning run I was ungrateful.
We have many beautiful people in our community that are seeing that all her needs are met and I am GRATEFUL to live in a community where we still look after our neighbors.
I couldn’t sleep last night knowing this morning I would join a group of six and head towards Waco. We will be homeless for three days and experience the life of those that have very little. We have been on the road for about 7 hours now and my worry grows with every mile. I begin to ask God to teach me to teach us how to be better to each other regardless of how much money we have, regardless of what neighborhood we live in, regardless of what car we drive and regardless of what color we are. Yes and please remind me to be grateful.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I find myself working late and to be honest it is not something rare. Looking for a stopping point and it proves difficult as I am working on gathering clothes for 30 little people. I look at their names and then their ages. These are children that are living in one of the deepest kinds of poverty. They are living smack dab in the center of the war zone of poverty. They are constantly surrounded by criticism and judgment and they are under the impression that they are in this fight alone.
I look up and the clock reads 8:00 pm.  I glance out my picture window and notice I am losing light. My office window is a picture frame of the park across the street. A glimpse of Gods art work makes me smile inside. The clean trees stand at attention and the grass sparkles like jewels. Obviously we have been blessed with rain from heaven. I scan as far as my eyes can see and there is no one in sight.
 There is no movement, the park benches and the picnic tables are empty. My evening protectors are nowhere to be found. The rain has caused them to leave their roofless home and scatter where shelter may be abundant. My thoughts; what do they feel? Are they anxious? Are they stressed? Are they worried?
Well I will confess I may know a little more about their feelings than what I am leading on. I have signed up to go through a poverty simulation which will allow me to experience firsthand what it is to live on the streets alongside the homeless population. I am nine days away and I am anxious of where I will sleep stressed of what I will eat and so worried that I will not make friends. Even though I am hosting a team of 5 I feel like I’m in this alone.
I have heard rumors that I will have to turn in all my belongings including my clothes. My vanity creeps in at the thought of having to wear unwashed thrift shop clothing. I cringe. The rumor is that I will be able to choose only 4 items from my personal belongings and I have a list of 37 items I need daily. At this point you are probably thinking what a horrid person I am but if we all did a little self-reflection you may not look much different than me.
It didn’t take long to gain this new trait. I think it’s called “survival” as I am already thinking of how I can sneak a credit card just in case it gets too hard. I am scoping out the closest Hilton. I even thought of calling ahead and prepaying for food just in case. Yes I am being deceitful and I do not condone it but at this point I understand it.
As I work hard to prepare and plan it hits me. I am leaving a wonderful workplace, my supportive family, my full fridge, my reliable SUV, my room with soft green walls and the comforter on my comfy bed. I keep saying its only three days all this will be over in three days.
Then my heart speaks loudly. I instantly hurt with the reality that our community has 1560 homeless children and they experience the same feelings I am having and they don’t have the luxury of saying that this will be over in three days. I get to go home…………..
What can we do to remove the shame and rebuild hope?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Waking with purpose

5:54 and I am wide awake so I do the only thing I know to do, at this time of morning. I begin to sing and give thanks that I am gifted one more day of life. Soon I am headed to work and I am thrilled as I am on a mission to get my morning tea. Today is donut day and I will stop and get a chocolate donut. Life is good.
Today my trip to the office is uneventful. I make my first meeting and I am inspired by a young woman that has survived many struggles and in very little time has accomplished much. She is thankful that she has had a personal cheerleader to cheer her on along the way. Her life has experienced change because someone cared and believed in her. 
I go through the day talking to families in need and work on ways to help each one of them. Midafternoon and I am a bit overwhelmed as families are losing their homes, children are losing their mommies and mommies are experiencing violence. I am suddenly slapped with the reality that I cannot help everyone.
It is 6:00 pm and I head to a fiesta at a local school. When I arrive there is not much fiesta happening. I am almost disappointed because I came with hopes of feeding hungry children.  It doesn’t take long before kids start to come out of every corner. Now there is the sweet sound of music, there is laughter as they dance, candy is abundant and the sun is cooled with the splatter of water ripping through the balloons. It has turned in to a full blown fiesta. The fiesta seems to pause and I feel a wonderful tingle all over my body. There is this indescribable peace among us. The children are content and soon head home carrying a bag of food. My heart is pleased.
It is now after 8:00 pm and I decide to head home. In my car I am reminded of a call I received earlier today. The woman on the other end of the line asks if I could help her family. I ask what she is in need of and she tells me she has a gas leak and she is unable to have it repaired due to the lack of funds. She goes on to explain that her daughter had a baby 14 years ago and she did not want her.  So this grandma did what any good grandma would do; she is raising this baby girl as her own.  My new friend is happy to share that she has been married to her sweetheart for 51 years. I am in awe.
 This grandma is humble and she is careful not to ask for too much. Because I notice hesitation I ask if she is in need of food. There is much shame that is expressed through her silence.  Quietly, she replies with “darling I have two eggs and three slices of bread”. My heart hurts as they struggle to feed themselves and this lovely teenage girl.  This home has no hot water and she is not even able to fry her eggs on this gas less stove.
I call home and let my little one know that I have one more stop to make before I head home. I stop once more at this magical red door as I know that there is food behind it. I search the shelves and notice that they are full of food a teenager would love.  I carefully choose food for this teenage girl and it seems like all of it was waiting here just for her. It isn’t long before my box is full of pop tarts, spaghetti, and cereal. I call my new friend and she is pleased that I will make time to stop by tonight.
I find their home and it isn’t long before grandpa comes to the door. As I step into this home I notice it is set up like a home would look like on the 60’s. Everything is simple, tidy and neat. I notice the young girl on the couch and she doesn’t even lift her head when I walk in. I understand the shame so I work quickly to remove it. Grandpa walks out with me to help me unload. Back inside I sit the last of the goods on the table and my new friend says “oh my it’s been so long since I saw this much food”.
My heart hurts and my eyes fill as I am overwhelmed.  It makes me sad and I reach to hug her. She is a woman of honor and so deserving of respect.  I come from a generation where we honor our elderly and we allow them the respect they deserve.  We don’t allow our elderly to feel hunger or shame.
I thank them for allowing me in their home and her sweet eyes glisten with joy. She hugs me without even having to touch me. I bow my head and cannot even bear to look at grandpa as his thankfulness fills this room.  I belong and she assures me of this using no words.
90 Second Truth: Waking up is a gift use it to serve others

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Graduate

 So I took a road trip to Oklahoma City this weekend. Crossing that state line the earth begins to change colors. It is absolutely beautiful; the earth’s surface is covered in a striking shade of green. Trees as far as the eye can see and they blend into the edge of the light blue sky. The roads carefully wind right through the earth’s beauty and curve around the landscape that houses horses and cattle.  I indulge in all His beauty.
It isn’t long before I make it back home, Sunday and I am nicely tucked in my own bed. Morning finds its way and Monday shows its head. Nothing can make me crawl out of bed, well except for my 10 year old love. I rise and ask him what the weather has in store for us. He rattles off what our day will serve us and I suspect he has risen early to catch the early news. He tells me we are scheduled to have a 90 degree day. With the information gathered the only thing I know to do is slip on a pair of open toe shoes. They seem to be the same color as my pedicured toes. My white skirt is also trimmed the color of my toes.
I arrive at my office and my complaint is hunger.  I am trying to watch my carbs so begrudgingly I grab a bottle of water for my breakfast. I sit sulking as I desire a piece of chewy chocolate sitting on my desk. Self-absorbed I hear the phone ring and what comes next is what I would call a God moment.
It is a young man the same age as my 19 year old son. His humbleness is numbing as he gently asks for a white shirt and a pair of slacks. He is to walk across a stage soon, in celebration of his high school diploma. I pray I have allowed him value as I take down his size. I fill out my customary form and it is soon moist as my tears roll off my cheeks. Gentle as he is unsure how to ask.   I pause and ask for nothing more than I have too. We say our good byes and I assure him I will deliver his white shirt and slacks with in a day to his school. Before I hang up I ask him to call me if he ever has another need. He sweetly thanks me, much like my boy would.
I hurt at this simple request and realize that I will probably never meet him face to face. I will probably never have the opportunity to wrap my arms around him and congratulate his success.  I will probably not be in the audience as he crosses that stage and the audience cheers his success. All God has allowed me is a simple trip to the store to clothe a young 19 year old boy. He will undoubtedly be rich with pride as he walks across that stage wearing his graduation attire.  I see it if only in my thoughts.
I pick up the phone and call my Jacob. I hear a “hello” on the other end but I cannot form words. My heart hurts like never before. It doesn’t make sense that my heart would hurt like this on something so simple. I have heard much more that did not affect me in this manner. After all he has only asked for a white shirt and a pair of slacks. I think of my children and I am overwhelmed as my Jacob tries to soothe me.  My heart hurts and I have no direction.
Through broken words he says,  “That’s just not right. We can’t let that happen”. He goes on “the shelf in the closet under my t- shirts, I have 200 dollars, take it and take care of his needs”. My Jacob is now broken and we share tears for this young graduate. Then his words are like music. " We need to start a ministry and take care of students that can’t afford their senior year." I reply with, “Done”.
Today our family began a ministry called “The Graduate”. The Graduate provides attire for high school seniors in need. We serve seniors in Canyon High.  Our mission is to gift Hope through  providing graduation attire for all graduation events such as prom, banquets, baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies.   In hopes of allowing all seniors  an opportunity to experience a memorable senior year.
Sometimes you just have to do the right thing and then ask questions later. It will make your heart feel better.

Isaiah 61
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,[

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I get up and look at my screaming clock. It yells rather abruptly, 6:55 am.  It is telling me, I am 25 minutes late for my day. In a whirlwind I get ready and rush my kids out the door. I step out my door onto the porch, the day greets me with its sweet splendor. I pause for a minute and take in this cool still morning. I can almost savor the atmosphere. It is patient and peaceful much like rising cookies. It is a little foggy, I wonder if that is a viable excuse for an excused tardy.

I arrive at my first school and I rush my 10 year old out the car door. I give my morning farwell, "I love you, you rock and your amazing". He turns to look at me and responds with "so are you". My heart jumps at his words. I drive across town to drop off my runner, as I shove her out I say "I love you and remember you are amazing". She replies with "your the best".
I pause in the parking lot as I am certain my heart is growing. How wonderful that a child would accept words from some one so much older. What if we spoke these words to our youngsters? Regardless of how they dressed or how they spoke. What if we edified them? Would that allow hope in these lives, that seem to have lost all hope?

This runner of mine is about 30 years younger than me and yet she accepts my words. Yesterday,  I had the privilege of serving as the Master of Ceremonies for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program Appreciation Banquet. I sit and watch as there is an abundance of wisdom entering the room. This room quickly fills with servants, every single one of them still serving. I find it odd that the banquet begins at 6:00 pm and the room begins to fill at 5:25. These servants all find a place near each other. I watch this group to see how they will break off in groups. I watch to find the stragglers. There is no separation, there is no stragglers. They all seem to have a place at the table, they all belong. They are enveloped in conversation and as another servant walks in the room they all adjust to make room. I notice something even stranger, no one has pulled out their cell phone. There is no one checking their email, texting or posting on face book. They are all in the moment they are enjoying each other.

I sit quietly soaking  in the wisdom.  I check the list to see how many have shown up. To my surprise there are only 2 servants that did not make it.  I am thrilled to be in their presence. It is time for dinner and they begin to go through the food line. The men wait in the back of the line and the women go first but not before the woman in the wheelchair has food. I go and stand at the end of the table ready to assist. I offer to carry drinks and deserts to the table. As I reach for the cup and the bread they will partake of, I am overwhelmed. My spirit is pleased, as I am His hands and feet, I am serving those He loves so dearly.

At the end of the banquet they begin to call the years served and I am in awe. I stand and hand them their applause on paper. I hug them and whisper,"you are the best". They have served 244,000 hours in one year. If we calculated how many hours we have served, what would our total be? 

 "It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."  John 13:1

His last expression of love with out words He served them by washing His Disciples feet.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I would be happy if...

This morning I put on a cute spring skirt with some adorable open toed shoes. I walk out my door and soak in the scenery. Walking down the steps I notice a red tulip blooming in my flower bed. It stands straight with pride almost as if she is stating good morning.  I make it to my car and my car reads 58 degrees. I shiver in anticipation of the warm day ahead of me. Yesterday was in the 80s and I am certainly ready for another warm one. Driving, I can’t help but smile as I listen to my favorite song. This is me experiencing happiness.  I am on time and I have plenty of time to spare. It is at least three full minutes before the tardy bell rings. If you ask the attendance clerk she will tell you this is not normal. I really need to work on that, anyway that’s another story for another day.
In the school drive I tell my little boy the usual, “I love you and remember you are amazing”. On my way to my office, about 12 miles into my drive and all of the sudden out of nowhere I see clouds. Dark thick clouds surround me as if I have angered them in some way. The warmth is instantly all gone. My car now reads 48 degrees and it seems to be dropping. I arrive at my office and my skirt is no longer cute and my open toed shoes are also no longer adorable.
I would be happy if the temperature was 100 degrees all year round. I would be happy if there was sunshine 24 hours a day. I would be happy if the tardy bell was at 9:05 instead of 8:05. I would be happy if I could wear a spring skirt and open toed shoes every day of the year.  
Today I get a call from a gentleman and he leaves a message on my voice mail, “Mrs. Elia I really hate to bother you but I heard you could help me. I just haven’t had any luck with work and we could really use some food. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just enough to get rid of this hunger”. I begin to reconsider what makes me happy.  I go on to my next message, “Hi Elena, my counselor said you might help me. My little girl is in elementary school and she is always worried about who is going to pick her up. My husband left us and I couldn’t pay the car anymore so I lost it to repo. ” I am suddenly happy that I have a car. I go on to my emails. My first email is from an educator and she is asking for coats. She has three students that have been removed from the parents care and now live with their grandmother. The little girl is 9 just a year younger than my sweet boy. It doesn’t take long before I am again happy that my boy has a nice warm coat. The other two children are boys, one is 6 and the other is 5 both happy to be at school even though they struggle with the cold weather.  These babies are cold and I am worried about open toed shoes.
Today I am certain of one thing. If we cannot find happiness in the place we are now, we certainly will not find it in a new job, with more money, in a new car or a bigger house.
Something that resonates with me after speaking with my families today is that they all had one thing in common. Even while speaking of their struggles they were  all grateful. They were grateful for the things they did have and all happy to have another day to make a go at it.  I can still hear the happiness in their voice as we visited. They were happy that they mattered. They were happy for the basics like water, food and a roof over their heads.
Happiness will look different from now on……
“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition”
 -Martha Washington

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Eight Shiny Pennies

Today I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of United Methodist Women, one of my favorite groups to speak with. Saying I was warmly welcomed would be an understatement. As I speak to these ladies I can feel their tenderness.  I haven't known them for more than a half hour and already I am thankful for this new family. They sit anxious ready to be charged with instruction on making a difference for families in need. During my time I share stories of my failures and speak of our families successes. I find comfort in their attentiveness as I am loved without words and respectfully accepted. Their heart is seen through the tears in their eyes and value is tangible in this place . As my time comes to an end, I am approached with hugs and kisses from these lovely ladies. We stand together with nothing between us. There is no longer a line of color, race, money, or status. That has all gone away we are now one. We have only one mission, Loving our Neighbor. 
One sweet woman grabs my arm and through broken words she says, "I am a retired teacher and what you said really hit me.  It hit me hard, it hit me hard that I didn't do better". Shaking her head she says "I just didn't know". "I was busy making sure they mastered their lessons. I just didn't know". I respond with a gentle "I do know better and I still drop the ball". I hug her and kiss her and tell her we will do better.

I depart for my next meeting and I walk down the stairs back out into the cold. As I navigate the parking lot to reach my car, I am gently kissed again but this time by small morsels of moisture. This reminds me of pennies from heaven. I know but just stay with me.
 I have 8 pennies neatly stacked on my desk and those pennies remind me of my nephew. Years ago when my nephew was only seven, he came to visit me at work. They were in town for a doctors appointment.  I gave them a gift card to go eat barbeque at a local eatery. They were experiencing a time of struggles and I wanted to do some thing nice. Later that day my nephew came back to see me. He reached for a hug and said he had something for me. He digs in his pocket and pulls out a handful of pennies. He then extends his little hand and hands them to me. His sweet words still float in my heart, "thank you tia, I really liked the barbeque so I wanted to give you something". He then said "this is all I have" as he hands me seven pennies.

Well it has only been a couple of weeks since I got this new stack of pennies and no they weren't from my nephew. Maybe pennies from heaven. It was a day that I arrived at work only to be overwhelmed  by the 200 + emails, a full voice mail and many unanswered texts. I worked as quickly as possible at crossing each item off my to do list. One by one  every need was met. It was one of those days I was being ungrateful. Those days are more often than I would like to admit.

I remember answering the phone and the young woman, on the other end began to explain her struggle in gathering funds for her water bill. She had only a few hours before they were scheduled to pull her meter. We were working against the clock. At that point she was distraught, at the thought of not having running water in her home. She has little ones and how do you explain this kind of thing to children.  I told her to pay all she could and I would work on gathering the rest. Near the end of the day, I  found the money to help her pay her bill. At that moment it was just another line off of my to do list.

I survive my day and as I gather my items. I sit for awhile and gaze out my window. The flag is still waving freedom, with no plan to be still. In the distance I notice a mother and father play with their little one. I speak out loud with no intent to be heard, "It is to cold to be out". Today I've complained about the weather. I complained about my car taking to long to heat up, I have to sit there for two whole minutes before I feel heat. As I am complaining my eyes catch just a brief glimpse of a man just a few feet away.  He is seated outside, on the ground with his head bowed. I assume he does this to keep the cold wind from hitting his face. With grief I now sit with my head bowed and that is when I see them. It has only taken me all day to notice these 8 pennies neatly stacked on my desk. I was so busy being busy and complaining that I failed to see "my eight shiny pennies". 
In that moment every thing around me is still, even the flag.  The pennies, they belong to the momma. They belong to the momma that paid all she could. Earlier in the day the momma turned in her receipt of what she had paid and with her receipt she left "eight shiny pennies". This momma did all she could.
What if we did all we could? What if we loved without words and respectfully accepted? 
 What would our world look like then? 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Givers are odd creatures.

I have been off for the past four days and let me tell you it was not easy rolling out of bed this morning. I struggle with finding enthusiasm to start my day. My 10 year old wakes me early, as he is ready for his STAR testing. I am not ready for my day nor do I want to get ready. I struggle with what to wear and I also have trouble with making my hair behave.  My outfit needs a little help and gathering my things is like a scavenger hunt.  After what seems like hours I am finally out the door. My first step out the door and the chill bites me harshly. I am obviously not dressed for the day and I can't remember where I left my car. Who said it could be 30 degrees this morning? No I am not two but I sure do want to throw a tantrum.

After finding my car, I head to my office and upon arrival I am greeted with a smile. I explain to my Pam that I don't feel like working, she smiles and we agree that we would rather be in bed with a movie or a good book. As I walk in my office I notice a bag of diapers on my chair. One of those odd creatures woke this morning thinking of someone else instead of herself, hmm what a concept.

My first meeting and I find myself seated with a group of "Givers", they chat about what they can do to help put shoes on children's feet. It sounds like a lot of work but they are dedicated to helping these children.  I sit thinking of all the good that will come out of this time given by these "Givers".  Before I leave, one of those "Givers" runs to her car to gather diapers. This "Giver" has no idea what she has done by gifting diapers to a single mother attempting  to achieve a better way of life for herself and her children.

I am out the door again heading to pick up food from yet another group of "Givers". Inside I start to fill a box with groceries. I reach for cereal and notice a small ziploc baggie on the shelf. In the baggie there are three pair of neatly folded socks. I grab them and place them on top of the food box. My heart softens as I think of this simple gift. It is time to go and meet our Neighbor in need. The cold chill continues to bite and I wish I had a pair of the ziploc socks on. Once in my car I call our Neighbor and ask her to meet me nearby. It doesn't take long before I find our meeting place, which is a parking lot.  I sit content waiting for our Neighbor. I smile as I look over at the ziploc socks and I begin thinking of this sock "Giver". This "Giver" could not possibly imagine the joy these socks are about to bring this woman. She is struggling to allow her daughter a chance at an education. I remember her words the first day we met. She said, "I can't believe you would want to help someone like me". These ziploc socks are yet another reminder of value given to someone that doesn't feel worthy. These ziploc socks will softly whisper, I care. Our Neighbor arrives and she smiles with thanksgiving, at this box full of hope and acceptance. She hugs me and thanks me for her ziploc socks and my heart jumps at the  magnitude of Hope this simple gift has given.

I leave to visit yet another "Giver". I arrive at this large building and my heart jumps as it is filled with "Givers". I greet our "Giver" and walk with her to her car. She unloads diapers and as she hands them to me, she apologizes for what she calls a small gift. I try and explain to her that there is no such thing as a small gift. A gift is an object given without the expectation of payment and that in itself is powerful. This "Lifechanger"  is giving without expecting nothing in return because she gives to people she will probably never meet.

My heart smiles as my day has been filled with "Givers" and I witnessed a rarity, Hope given in a ziploc baggie. Be odd and give what you can.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Your Amazing

Tonight was my last night with what I call "My Therapy Group".  Eight weeks ago I began teaching a Faith Based Poverty Training at a local church or rather this group began teaching me eight weeks ago. Selfishly I have used them to listen to my weeks mishaps. Every week without fail they have listened with encouragement while using no words. They have grown to listen with absolutely no judgment. I am thankful for the lessons we have learned together.

My heart hurts as I will no longer have my weekly "therapy session". It has been awhile since I blogged because I have had actual people to share my stories with.  This group of poverty experts will change this world one person at a time.

Today at the office my hero, Pam, buzzes my office. I answer and she tells me I have a visitor up front. I walk up front and right away I notice an unkept man. I greet him and slowly approach him. I start with asking "how I can help you today?". He tells me a friend of his receives a bar of soap and a razor once a month and he just wants to know if I could help him as well. I tell him we focus on families with children but I can refer him to a place around the corner. I catch my self as I am placing yet another barrier in this mans life. I tell him to wait a minute while I run to the warehouse to see what I can find. I run outside and the strong wind strikes my face as I have just struck this man with my strong words, "we focus on families with children". The cold wind chills my body and I imagine how this man might feel having no choice but to endure it. At this moment I am certain no wind could chill a body as I just have, by wanting to refuse him a razor and a bar of soap. The courage it took for him to walk into a place like this only to be crushed by my unwillingness to help. He never lifted his head as he spoke, hopeless and full of shame.

 I make it to the ware house and find a backpack that I can gift this man. I choose carefully and fill this bag with things that I think he might use. My heart is heavy as I realize I almost blew it with this one. I return to the office and I hand him an ugly blue colored back pack. He smiles and looks at it as I do when I buy a new pair of shoes. My heart breaks as he is thrilled that I have helped him. I thank him for stopping by. He stumbles and I can tell he wants to shake my hand but he hesitates. May be he thinks I wouldn't want to shake his. I extend my hand and he smiles so bright it lightens the room. I bless him and he leaves a different man. I am certain I have gifted Hope in this persons life.

I walk to my office and minutes later Pam walks in with tears in her eyes and all she can mutter is "that man". Her heart is inside out at the thought of this man not having any place to go. She felt his shame and truly understood his need. His eyes told his story and again I am in love with people. I hold her as she cries with simply sincere love for another. If only we could all love so innocently.

My Jacob went with me to my last "therapy session". He sits and listens intently as if this is the first time he hears me speak. Our class is over and we gather our things. We bid our farewells and head towards the door. He holds the door for me and we make it outside. He turns to me and gently whispers, "your amazing".  My heart hurts as it remembers how unamazing I was this morning, as I almost turned away a man that asked for a bar of soap and a razor.

We are headed to meet a neighbor in the parking lot of a nearby school. She called this morning and is just tore up that she is struggling to take her child to a local hospital for clinicals. This program that her daughter is in will allow her to graduate certified as a CNA or an EMT. What a great way to graduate high school. She tells me that she picks up two other girls that are in the same program but have no way to get to the hospital. I am floored once again at the generosity of people like this lady that is giving out of her need. Again my heart reminds me that earlier today I didn't want to give out of my surplus. My heart hurts and a lesson is learned.

I call her and it is now a little after 8:00. She agrees to meet us. We arrive and my Jacob spots her car in this darkness. I get out and go to shake her hand. She begins to cry and then  she speaks, "thank you I appreciate you helping someone like me". I grab her and hold her tightly, my Jacob turns away as he can not bear such pain. She doesn't see her own beauty. I tell her what a privilege it is to meet her and I tell her what a great thing she is doing by helping these young students gain a skill. I assure her this will certainly ensure them a way to earn a living wage. She is short $25 a week in fuel because of taking these students to their clinicals. They have only 10 weeks left. I assure you, rain sleet or shine I will raise the money to ensure the success of these three young lives.

We load the food and she reaches to hug me. I hold her tight and whisper "your amazing".