Connecting with Community

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,