Saturday, December 17, 2016

And They Thank Us

It was about 38 degrees out when we started. We ended when it was just over 40. We went out, cooked & served some food, handed out soap & toothbrushes, jackets & blankets, and they thanked us, some even said “God bless you.” Us. Us, who get to turn around and go home, put dry socks on, in our heated homes. Us, who get to cook whatever we want, whenever we want it. Us, who can use a regular bathroom and take a hot shower whenever we want. They stood in line, patiently waiting for food, and toiletries. Some of them sleep out in this cold, even rain, huddled under tarps & blankets. They all have a story to tell, some share of choices they made that brought them to the streets and others just seemed to always be there. One guy shared about the work he used to do, installing radios & speakers in cars, and how their shop had so much sound coming out, it shook things off the shelves of businesses near by. They all have a story.

Today I watched a gal who was so excited to see one of us. I don’t know the whole story, but seems she gave a gift to one of the families that helps out. I watched her smile ear to ear as they all hugged. I listened as he told her that the gift she gave is still up in their house and then watched their son react so excitedly when he realized who she was-he couldn’t wait to go over and say hi.  I watched children get excited about the stuffed animals we handed out.  I heard people excited to tell me that they already received dog food for their dogs. Some sang to the Christmas music playing. Some danced. Some were very quiet. But all of them smiled. All of them were grateful. But, for the most part, almost all of them go back to the street, and cold, and hard ground to sleep on. And us, we come home, warm up, and go to bed on an actual bed, with blankets...and they thank us.

Friday, September 16, 2016

When did bandaids stop working?

Nothing prepares you for your children growing up. All of a sudden you are faced with adults who will make decisions and choices of their own and when life comes crashing in, you can’t run in and save them, even if you want to, even if they are open to you coming in. but we can’t. Why? Because. That’s it, plain and simple...ha! Simple? NO. Hard? YES! And it’s not even about our children making bad choices, that’s a whole other conversation. This is just life stuff, you know, job loss, car problems, divorce, money issues, relationship problems… and you want to run and say here I am to save the day, but it doesn’t work that way, and I can’t even explain why, it just doesn’t. And nothing prepares you for that day...NOTHING. It doesn’t matter that we were there once. Kind of like hearing advice from your parents when we were teens, and we grow up saying “if only I had listened…” As a mom it tears at my heart to watch my kids deal with life. I just want to pick them up and tell them it will be ok.  Why can’t “bandaids” keep working when they grow up! You remember, when a bandaid fixed every boo-boo. Or a kiss made it all better. Or simply being held.

There have been so many times that i don’t even know what to say to my older kids when life comes barreling in at them. Don’t quit, don’t give up, it will get better, just hang on, you will get through this...but let's face it, when you are in the moment, these words don’t help much. Tell a mom with a toddler that they will get through the tantrums, outbursts, night terrors---sure, they will, we all did. But in the moment, that mom is feeling like “are you sure?” Tell an adult son that they will find a relationship, just hold on. But when the 25 year old really wants a family, now, hearing the words wait isn’t going to help. Tell your 22 year old son that “yes, it sucks that he has lost 2 very close people, but you will get through this” doesn’t help much...because it hurts now.  I’m not saying don’t give words of encouragement, because we need to. But watching a child hurt while they wait is hard. Watching part of you struggle, be overwhelmed, seem ready to give up, get discouraged and hear life continue to throw the curve balls just plain sucks. Because sometimes those curve balls come one after the other...can’t we just get a ball every once in awhile???

So you sit, and shed your own tears, and your own heart hurts, and you hold on for them...and wait. Wait for the day they WILL see the other side and pray it comes soon.

“Come out of sadness From wherever you've been Come broken hearted Let rescue begin Come find your mercy Oh sinner come kneel Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal So lay down your burdens Lay down your shame All who are broken Lift up your face Oh wanderer come home You're not too far So lay down your hurt Lay down your heart Come as you are There's hope for the hopeless And all those who've strayed Come sit at the table Come taste the grace There's rest for the weary Rest that endures Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't cure So lay down your burdens Lay down your shame All who are broken Lift up your face Oh wanderer come home You're not too far So lay down your hurt Lay down your heart Come as you are Come as you are Fall in his arms Come as you are There's joy for the morning Oh sinner be still Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal Earth has no sorrow That heaven can't heal So lay down your burdens Lay down your shame All who are broken Lift up your face Oh wanderer come home You're not too far So lay down your hurt Lay down your heart Come as you are” -lyrics by David Crowder

Friday, July 22, 2016

It's not about being thankful for the mess...

There is so much going on in the world today. I don't know about the rest of you, but it can become overwhelming.  I was reminded today of the importance of keeping a thankful notebook or something of the sort so we can write things down and keep track of what is good. Because even in the midst of the mess there is always something good, even as small as a lady bug or as beautiful as the night sky.  More importantly I want to make sure everyone understands that being thankful is NOT about being thankful for the mess or stress or ugliness in our lives. For example, if someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, it's not that we are thankful for this! Yes, there is a verse that tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, but it is NOT saying give thanks for the ugliness. It's about being thankful for what God has done, for who He is, for saving us.  Even more, in the midst of the trial, it can be challenging to say thank you for anything. That's where the list comes in handy. Maybe your thankfulness is for something that happened a long time ago. Or maybe it's your pet. Or the rainbow you saw. The point is to remember to think on those things, to speak of them in prayer, to keep them somewhere to remind you of good. The more you do this, the more good you will see.  It doesn't mean the ugliness will go away or stop happening, but an unexplained strength comes over us when we shift our focus away from the bad. I hope that makes sense!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Choose Joy

There are days when things just seem to be crumbling around you-bills need to be paid, house needs to be cleaned, kids are hungry and complaining, you lack sleep, car needs servicing (or replacing), marriage is struggling, there's not much food in the house, depression is trying to take over, job isn't going well or you may not even have one, relationships fall apart, friends move away, you are being accused of something you didn't do....need I say more?

How do you go on? How do you keep moving forward when life just keeps pushing back?  It just seems that today we are so focused on everything that is going bad. The news, the paper, magazines, social media--all point to the things that are just messed up.  But you know what? There are things that ARE GOOD. There are businesses that still care (like the one I just bought my rolling pin from), people who still go out of there way to help out. Why don't we hear about them? GREAT question. Hopefully one you can each answer because ultimately it's up to each of us to change it.

So, here are a few things to help focus on the good...

1. Birds-sit and watch them.
2. Clouds-you are NEVER to old to find shapes in the clouds
3. Ladybugs & butterflies-I know, girly, but still pretty amazing to watch. And for that matter---
4. Ants-consider them. Watch them. They are pretty fascinating.
5. Stars-watch them turn on at night, especially with kids.
6. Music-take some time to listen to music, not the noisy stuff, but the quiet stuff.
7. Sunsets or sunrises-watch them, enjoy them.
8. Art-paint or color something, who cares if you are not an artist-besides, who says you aren't??
9. Go up an escalator, then down, then repeat. Seriously.
10.  Get outside.
11. Create your own positive list.

The point is we each have to choose to focus on what is good, especially in the middle of the mess. If we don't, all we can see is what's wrong. Make a choice today to focus on what is good, you may have to start small, but pretty soon you will see more and more of what is good. Keep a list handy, put it where you can see it and add to it often. Through it all...

...Choose joy.