Connecting with Community

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Taking it for granted

My husband is an early riser but today is different, he sleeps in a little, he gets up a little after 6:00. He wakes and his routine begins with a shower, coffee, a bite to eat and then he comes back to my bed side. I love our Saturday morning conversations. Usually they are in a nearby coffee shop where he buys me a scone that goes perfectly with my cup of tea. Well today there is no time for a visit to our coffee shop. He quickly heads out the door as he has a project in the barn to work on. It isn't long before I convince myself that I too should get up. The whole house is calm and no one but me is stirring. It is an unexpected "Saturday morning quite", even the television is still sleeping. I rise to rummage through the fridge because my tummy has been with out for the past six hours. I find a gold mine and now the challenge of what to choose is just to much for me. I pour myself a little juice and then snack on several different things, no choosing required. I settle back underneath my warm soft green comforter that matches perfectly with my walls and little accent pillows. The whole time taking it all for granted.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of spending some "work" time with my dearest friend. I drove down to stay at her lake house. The drive alone was worth the trip. As I am driving I notice every crevasse with in the earth stuffed with different kinds of Gods creations. With each wind in the road I smile as I am sure this picturesque road is written about in some travel book neatly tucked on some one's shelf. I arrive and I am greeted with a smile and a hug. This is a worry free zone there is a pleasant and relaxing aroma in the air. It doesn't take long before we are in the kitchen, I cook dinner and then we sit and enjoy supper with a beautiful fire in the back ground. We manage to leave the table and head towards the fire as we begin to "work" on how we might "Inspire Texas". Everything is perfectly kept and everything we could need is readily available. Our choice of wine, an array of teas and plenty of time. Great conversation and a vision for a better Texas. The next morning we sit with a cup of hot tea in hand and peacefully watch as birds fly in to feed. We even catch a glimpse of well...umh... a " extraordinarily unique" looking squirrel. Deer stop and gaze inside as if we are fish sitting in a fish tank. We are all perfectly content with sharing one environment. After nibbling on a little homemade bread and some honey we get in the car and drive around the lake. We take in the lakes beauty and all its splendor. It is the perfect weekend. Much rest and a little bit of 'work". The whole time taking it all for granted.
The next day I am scheduled to conduct a workshop for the faculty and administration at Canyon ISD. I work late the night before making sure everything is in order.  I am ready and before the sun rises I am raring to go. I begin to load my car neatly stacking my goods in the trunk. I turn my car on and place my purse and phone in the front seat. Finally everything is loaded, I close my hatch and walk around to get in my car. I reach for the door handle and its locked, I check every single door and their locked all of them locked. This horrific reality flows through my whole body. It is like someone is pouring ice water over my head while I am standing out side in freezing temperatures. I am tense unable to relax. I yell "REALLY! TODAY!" No one answers so I do the only thing I know to do,  I call my Jacob. He tells me gently to calm down and just take his car. He said it again," take my car and go I will worry about the locked car".  I begin to cry and sadly explain that I can not do that because all my materials are locked in my car. He tells me to call and warn someone of what is happening. I explain "my phone is also locked in my car" and I have no ones number memorized. It is only minutes when he arrives with his buddy in tow. They try for almost an hour before they decide they will not be able to unlock my car. The whole time I stand in the bitter cold watching as if that might help matters. Finally I borrow my daughters phone and begin to call lock smiths. The first lock smith assures me he can get to me in a couple of hours. He explains because I live out in the country the fee will be my first born or my right arm which ever I prefer. Well at least that's what I heard and my response to him is, REALLY!
I am in a full blown crisis and totally panicked. No matter how much I want to follow through with my commitment I am unable to at this time. Finally some common sense arises and I take my husbands car and head to my workshop. Frantic I go over a new plan, a new way to present, a presentation with out audio, visual or handouts for that matter. Finally I think I may see some light at the end of the tunnel. I am only about 3 miles from reaching my destination, when the unthinkable occurs my car shuts down. It dies and again I yell "REALLY YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME". At this point I am angry, frustrated and yes ready to throw in the towel. I get out of my car and walk around the car telling it exactly what I think. I scold it asking how it could possibly treat me like this. If you were driving on Highway 60 on Martin Luther Kind Day and saw a crazy lady on the side of the road. It was me. Bless your lucky stars for not stopping to help this crazy woman. I am beside myself and I just sit on the ground, why well because my phone is sitting in my locked car back home. I have no way of crying out for help. 
I am gently reminded that our families in poverty live like this everyday. Every day is a crisis and they may not have a Jacob to call for help. Some don't have a soft green comforter to snuggle underneath when things go wrong and they certainly don't have a  lake house to take refugee in. This story goes on and gets worse but I dare not bore you with more details. The lesson is learned. My eyes are opened to all I take for granted daily. The worse things I take for granted is the people in my life. In middle class we have networks of people built in to help when we are in crisis. Take that network out and you will find yourself sitting on the ground on the side of the road of a major highway.  
Later that day I sit under my soft green comforter and watch Toy Story 3. At the end of the movie Andy said something so profound, about his toy Woody, as he was gifting it to a child.   Andy said, "The thing that makes him special, is that he'll never give up on you, ever. He will be there no mater what". We all need someone in our life that will never give up on us and that will be there no matter what. I can't imagine how my day would of turned out had it not been for the Navigators in my life. Again I go back to Judgment, we must do away with it because unless we've walked in those same shoes not similiar shoes we just don't truly know.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


What an extraordinarily warm and beautifully day. The bright warm sun smiles on me as I walk towards the building. I glance towards the park and I notice many busy park benches. The crowded picnic tables are full of laughter. They sit as family around the dinner table, sharing their goods. I am content as there is finally some relief for my park people. At least for today, they won't have to endure a harsh cold winter day. It is 10:00 and I sit gazing out the window in hopes that this moment and this warmth wouldn't find an end. My silence is interrupted by a persistent buzzard. I try to return to my day dreaming but I continue to hear it. It is my phone that is buzzing.

On my way to work today I notice a flashing sign calling to me and I usually resist but today would be different. I stop and without hesitation I buy a donut. Please no judgment, after all how long has it been since I indulged. My first bite and I am reminded of the four miles it will take to run it off.

The buzzard interrupts my thoughts again and finally I answer. Ms. Pam informs me of a guest that awaits in the lobby. I walk out the door to greet my surprise visitor, we will call her Sara. I say "hello" as I walk towards Sara. She bows here head and begins to cry. Quickly she apologizes for having need again. I wrap my arms around her and tell her "everything will be okay". We walk towards my office and as we enter she reaches for a vacant seat. She watches as I pull my chair around from behind my desk. I want to be close enough to hug her while she weeps.  She begins with "I'm sorry, I'm homeless again". With shame I will have you know that my first thought is " really...again". She speaks again, "I'm sorry I let you down". I ask a few more questions and my stomach turns with great pain. I am judging if only in my mind. With a trembling voice she says, "my 15 year old is so tore up, he is so embarrassed about having to stay at the shelter".  Again my thoughts bring judgment, "how could you be homeless again". Frustration and anger one solid emotion. I am sure she read my face and heard these words even though I did not speak them out loud, "why are these two babies suffering again?" At this point I am certain she feels my judgment. I just can't imagine my 16 year old having to go through this. This 15 year old boy deserves a place to lay his head and a place he can call home.

Two years ago Sara and her children moved in with the children's grandmother. Sara gave up her job after 11 years of employment. Sara decided she wanted to be her ill mothers full time care giver. They gave up their home and their security to be able to care for a loved one in need. Rapidly this arrangement turned into a night mare. The grandmother began abusing the children and they were forced to leave this unbearable situation. As they fled the night mare followed and it wasn't long before they were homeless.  Sara's only desire at this point was shelter with safety. Because of Sara's  strength and diligence she succeeded in finding not only a home but also employment. The community bathed her with encouragement and love . She has been able to successfully maintain her household for the past two years and within these two years she has called and reported much success.
Today Sara tells me that her ex husband has stopped paying child support and that has changed everything. So much so that a few days before Christmas she lost her home. She speaks with such grief, "my children and I spent Christmas in a shelter". Again she apologizes for being in need. Again I get up and hold her, I remind her that all will be well. My judgment is subsiding.

I am torn up inside for having judged her because she was in need, again. You may call my actions horrible and I will agree. But if we are honest we can all say judgment is in us somewhere. If we are not careful it sprouts up when we least expect it. I know if anyone should know better it is me.  Within moments conviction takes over. Like in a movie I am reminded of all my failures.  I know this is a lesson and I desperately seek to find the wisdom in it. What does it take and where is the line where we say "that's it I will not help that person anymore". When is it appropriate to give up on people? Like a thick fog words consume me. These words are so loud it is like they are being spoken to me. Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I was invited by Westminster Presbyterian Church to teach a class on wednesday nights. I accepted and decided to begin in Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,". Last week I spoke on, yes you guessed it, Judgment. I expressed that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made regardless of race, gender or socio economic status. Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am, fearfully and wonderfully made,. Today in class I felt led to explain my day. I encourage this group in a more powerful way to do away with judgment. I explain the consequences of judgment because I have experienced them first hand today. I am thankful to report that even though judgment showed up today it did not succeed. Sara was in a home before my class started this evening. Her son now has a place he can call home. If I am certain of one thing toda, it is that God loves me regardless of my flaws. I am also certain that He loves Sara just the same regardless of her flaws or her beliefs.

Acts 10:34 God is no respecter of persons:


 Isaiah 44:24 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 aboard the earth by myself; Epherians2:10  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 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

Friday, January 11, 2013

My new friend

I've always loved the color red. I even love red cars but I don't think I would ever be bold enough to drive something so flashy. I love how the red lip stick is so glamorous on Marilyn Monroe. I am not sure my lips could pull off red lipstick. I did wear a red sweater the other day but when I got home I decided that wasn't something I could pull off either, so I put it in the donation box when I got home.

Just last week, while I was shopping, I saw a pair of red boots. I thought why not, I'll just try those baby's on for size. Those red boots made me feel like a different person, they felt just dandy. Needless to say I left the store with a pair of new red boots. I wore them on Sunday to church and the whole time I felt as if people were staring.  I don't know how often I will be wearing my new red boots but I giggle for having the guts to buy them. My sister, Artie, gave me a red purse a few Christmas's ago and I just loved it but as I recall it made it into the donation box too.

Today I ran wild all over town, you could say I painted the town red. At 1:45 I went to watch my son, Josh, take part in his school spelling bee.  I beam with pride as I watch him  stand on stage, in front of the mic, ready to spell. My color again but this time it appears on his cheeks. Not quit the place, I want to see my favorite color. Oh and lets not forget my kitchen counter is red too, so are my cups and dishes. I may have a growing obsession.

Finally my day seems to be coming to and end I am at my last meeting of the day. I am anxious to head home. My daughter, Keila, is working on dinner and I can't wait to sit around the dinner table with my kids. I text my honey to let him know that I will be picking up Christian. He asks me to stop by the feed store and pick up some shavings. I agree and he replies with  "love you baby". My red heart leaps in all directions. I sit quietly anticipating my drive home and everything my evening has in store. I receive a text which reminds me that I must drop off food at a Neighbors house. I decide I will slip out a little early so I can have enough time to pick up hygiene for my new friend. I am now in rush mode again, so ready to be home.

It isn't long before I arrive at the school to pick up Chris and she informs me that it will be another hour before she is done. I leave to gather the food I need and it isn't long before I make it to the pantry. I drive up and notice something going on, in the church that houses the pantry. I decide to enter through the side door so I drive around feeling rather inconvenienced. Then I see it, something spectacular and maybe a little magical, a red door. It seems so inviting, maybe because I know what awaits behind this red door.

This building is part of the fantasy world I live in. In this place there is no judgment, everyone is worthy of help and everyone in need receives a dose of dignity. I park and walk up the sidewalk. I take in the beautiful sky and a light mist greets me with each step. It is something I imagine would only take place in a fairytale. I reach for the knob and  insert my key. Slowly I take my first step in to this place of Hope. Mmm I am immediately restored, there is no more hurriedness. I am no longer thinking of what awaits me at home. I am in the moment and my focus is on feeding a family tonight. Every room is still and motionless, you can feel peace abounding. I enjoy my walk to the pantry. My eyes rejoice at seeing well stocked rows and rows of provision. I take food without hesitation and in a little treasure box on the top shelf there is gift cards for items such as milk and eggs.

I leave with a hefty load, finally able to retrieve my baby girl. I tell her of our mission and she nods in agreement. We arrive at my new friends home and she is waiting outside. So much shame it is just unbearable. We make it inside and on the couch a precious 7 year old boy sits. He gently smiles and seems amused by my quirky little girl. He walks over to greet us and his little hand shaking mine was enough to make a grown man cry. There is need in this place but this need is silent for fear that there is not worth here. I walk back out to unload and my baby girl follows. Inside my being my red heart smiles, as I watch my little girl extend Hope to this little boy.

My new friend does not speak of her need but rather asks how she might help someone else.  She asks "is there something I could do for you?" I kindly smile and tell her we expect nothing in return. Her response is " I just don't see why someone would concern themselves with us." Before we leave she asks if we might stop by tomorrow so she can gather items to donate to our cause. She assures me she will only give of the good stuff she has. I tell her I will call tomorrow.

I sit here typing looking at 4 stacks of clothes that I need to make room for and this little boy only has one pair of pants to wear. Christian and I walk outside and we head for our car. As I am about to drive off my new friend walks back out and I lower my window wondering what I have forgotten. Tears flowing down her face she softly speaks with her hand over part of her face.  "I can't thank you enough for the dish washing soap, I am so happy that I get to do my dishes". I look over at my baby girl and her eyes glisten as she has just witnessed Hope alive and well. I bow my head and cry.

A simple bottle of dish washing liquid has brought this family Hope. Who in the world would of thought that a dollar spent buying dish washing liquid would bring such profound Hope to one family. My heart still aches at the thought of dish washing liquid bringing this family Hope. This evening as I read Mark 12 "for they all put in out of their surplus, but she,out of her poverty,". I am reminded of my new friend.

"Where hope would otherwise become hopelessness, it becomes faith." ~Robert Brault,

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Vist to "Narnia" part 2

It is Christmas eve and all is right. I have scheduled my self to take the next 12 days off. I have been off since friday and I have cooked everyday. Please hear me there is nothing
I dislike more than cooking but I love feeding my family. Nothing more satisfying than to see all my children around the dinner table. We talk of when they were little and my oldest Keila loves to remind her darling brother, of how he would tag along with her to girl scouts.

It is early and Keila continues baking. I am thinking of how I will sneak into her home to steal some cookies. These past two weeks I've shopped for so many families in need that I haven't made the time to shop for my own kids. My two boys and I plan a little outing to finish up with the small details before Santa arrives. Our shopping is done and we decide we deserve a Chick-fil-A lunch. As we are eating we receive a call. This Lifechanger informs me that she has extra boxes of food. I have families that could use them so we agree to meet at McDonalds and transfer the goods to my car. We head to United to purchase some extra hams and we continue to scurry about the day, boy what joy. I still have to finish the wrapping and then get ready for us to go to my sisters. We decide to head home and Jacob and I will do the delivering a little later. Tonight we will enjoy our traditional family Christmas Eve.

It is now a little after 5:00 my girls are baking, my son is with his girlfriend and my little one is making plans to go next door to see his aunt before we leave for my sisters. My honey arrives and we make plans to head out and deliver food. Again the phone rings and well long story short "A Santa" is wanting to provide a "Special Christmas" for a family in need. I send him two stories and ask him to pick one. He cant pick just one so he decides to help both.

This is a generous "Santa" and his wish is to fulfill these children's hearts desire. I tell him I will dream for them and the gentleman helps me dream. I ask "The Santa" for some kind of game system for each family. He doesn't want them to have to share. He decides to will buy  a system for each child. I have no words.  I call both families and inform them that "The Santa" has something special for the kids. We agree on a time to go drop off the gifts.

Jacob and I head to town, on a sleigh filled with food.  We look for the home in hopes of finding "The Santa" at the first families home. As we drive down the block we spot "Santa's Sleigh". We park and slowly climb out of the our sleigh.  The air is thin and crisp, the trees rustle gently as if they are greeting our arrival. We meet "The Santa" face to face and just then as if on queue, small tiny snowflakes begin to fall. It is a silent symphony of joyful noise all around us. We have encountered "Narnia" again. Nothing like that kind of Hope, Hope so tangible. I go to the door and ask if I am in the right place. It is hard to see as the sun has gone to sleep. A young man answers the door and follows me back to the car as his mother is working the late shift, at a nearby fast food place. He is thankful and even though the sun is sleeping there is a marvelous light all around. I look around and "The Santa" has disappeared.
We head to find the home of our next family. This is the family with the 9 year old boy and the 7 year old girl, we met them on our first visit to "Narnia".  We drive and the darkness surrounds us. Light is unable to pierce through the darkness. The darkness has won for now and it slowly consumes our surroundings. We navigate through a small and humble neighborhood. Ahead, at last yes, there shines a small light. We follow it as a guiding star and quickly arrive in front of a small one bedroom home. We climb out of our sleigh, once more and decide to invite "The Santa" in. He hesitates, as Santa is not to be seen. We make it to the door and the children's excitement can be felt outdoors. As we cram in the small living room we notice a needleless pine tree in the corner. The father notices our gazing at his tree. He begins "I was throwing out the trash and out by the dumpster, there it was a perfectly good tree with ornaments and all." I look again and spot a couple of gifts underneath. I explain to the family what "The Santa" has done and I wanted him to be blessed by meeting them. There is this different kind of love, in this room. We hug and no words have to be spoken for us to understand that this is our "Narnia".
The Santa departs and we sit and visit awhile. I hand a gift to the mother and another to the father. The children seem delighted at the thought that "The Santa" thought of their parents too. I hand the little boy a gift and the little girl a gift as well. She opens a Barbie and her eyes light up, so bright I am certain it lights up the whole neighborhood.
The boy is thrilled at his sisters gift and then begins to tear open his gift. He sees a game system and the light beaming out of him is uncontainable. He places his gift down and  begins to unzip his jacket. He is wearing a long sleeve white shirt with a tie that is two sizes to small for him. He begins to speak, "No lo puedo crea", "I cant believe it".
"Please don't tell me I am dreaming" as he rubs his eyes.
His father understands something we don't and he starts by saying " My son woke up this morning and got dressed up. I asked him why he was dressed up and he said because he just knew that today would be a special day." The father continued "last night before bed the children wrote a letter to Santa." They placed their letters in the tree and this morning they were gone." In the letters the little boy asked for a system and the little girl asked for a Barbie."
We all sat there in awe of CHRISTmas.
 “It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. ... ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

My Visit to "Narnia" part 1

It is friday and I am ready to leave for the day. Tonight is date night and I am having dinner, on the town with my man.
Just one more email before I run out the door. Just as I gather my things and reach to turn the lights off, the phone rings. I hesitate and for a second wonder if I should ignore it. I reach around the desk and answer it. It is a gentlemen on the other end "Bueno Senora Elia, no me puedia ayudar con una poca de comida?", " Hello Lady Elia, Would you help me with a little bit of food ?"

I look at the clock and it is yelling 5:15. I reluctantly agree to gather food and wait on him to pick it up. My clock is now screaming 5:37 and a gentleman and his two children are standing at my door. I go to the door smile and say, "hello." I stand there with two bags of food in hand, I hand him a bag of groceries. He fumbles with grasping the bag and that is when I notice he is missing a hand.  The young boy, age 9, steps in to rescue the bag of groceries. A little girl, age 7, walks behind him and gently speaks "i'll take the other". I walk with them to their car. They are so grateful for the little food I have given them. As they drive off my heart hurts. It is now sadly 5:48 and I am late for my date night.

I dial my honey and through tears ask if we can skip date night and go buy groceries instead. Broken, I explain what I have just witnessed.
I tell him I just witnessed two children helping their daddy with his burden. I can't go eat, knowing this family will not have enough to eat for the week end. I explain I have just given them a couple of bags of canned vegetables and a bag of other dry goods but not nearly enough to make a meal of substance. He agrees and we go shopping instead.

I rush to retrieve my honey. He is gitty and ready to go save the world. We head back to town and find our local supermarket. As we walk in the store and begin to shop this indescribable feeling of Hope, takes over our being. It is not something I can find words to describe. Its an unexplainable feeling. I have learned in the past three years, that serving is not always convenient and serving doesn't care about my plans. We shop as if we were shopping for our home and our children. We buy so much food it fills up the back of my suburban. I call the family and we arrange for a place to meet. I learned latter that they were to embarrassed to invite us to their home.

As we drive to the appointed location, there is no chatter. We are silent and again our surroundings are like we are watching a silent film. We drive which seems like hours but it is really only a few minutes. We arrive and start  to look for their vehicle. We see nothing and decide we have arrived first. The wind is so fierce, I notice as branches are being tugged from a nearby tree. People scurry out of this building in a hurry trying to make it to their vehicles, unharmed. It is so bitterly cold. I sit with excitement in my stomach as I can't wait to see those children again.

They arrive and we greet them. I introduce them to my honey and he introduces us to his wife. She greets me by wrapping her arms around me and thanks me for the food, I gave her husband earlier.
I tell her we have bought her vegetables and other things for the fridge. She thanks me again. Her little boy rushes out of the car to hug me. He thanks me for the peanut butter, I gave him earlier. "We are saving it to eat for breakfast."  I tell him he doesn't have to save it because I got him some cereal and milk.

The wind at this point is blowing 60+ miles an hour and the temperature is in the teens. As we are standing there, in this weather, talking, having this God moment. Everything around us seems to be in pause. The weather seems to go around us. We talk as if we have been friends for years. If you are familiar with "The Chronicles of Narnia" you know the children travel to a magical place called Narnia, a place where time stands still. That is exactly how we felt as if time and everything was just in pause.

We open the hatch and the children begin to help unload. The mother puts her arms around me again,no words are spoken and that allows me to hear her heart. They take the milk, eggs and bread with such gratitude. They say there thank yous and I tell them all the groceries in my suburban are for them. The mother puts her hands over her face and weeps as I go over and hold her.
The little boy said "No lo puedo crea", " I just can't believe it".
He looks up at my honey and with excitement speaks "now we are going to have a lot to eat." The father gets teary eyed and goes to the car to make room for the groceries. We unload everything and the little boy goes over to me and tells me, "I am going to take good care of the milk, we will only have a little bit at a time so it can last us a long time."
My husband walks over to the child and hugs him. I tell him " you and your sister drink as much milk as you want, I will take you more when you run out."

As we drive off I pray with all my heart  and ask God to give them a Special Christmas.

 The Chronicles of Narnia:

'To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want...