Why a blog from me, someone who has never been a writer, someone who has never been articulate or had a solid grasp of the grammar world. Because God told me to write. Several years ago a life storm invaded my family. God kept telling me to write it all down. I argued, but He would not let up. This went on every day for a couple of weeks until one day out of frustration, (I'd like to say it was out of obedience), I picked up a pen and paper and wrote for 7 hours straight! Do you think maybe I needed therapy and God knew it?

I've been writing ever since and have learned to love it! I started out sharing my stories with friends and family. I've now been published in a Nashville church paper, Our Daily Journey (a devotional site of RBC Ministries), PCCWeb Daily Devotional, Ruby for Women Ezine Magazine, and I am a contributor in the book Alabaster Jars, Life in Abundance Collection 2.

Why Ponderings? During this life storm, God led me to a pond in the woods behind my home. There He met me each time, teaching new lessons, reminding me of old ones, showing His presence and allowing me to feel His love through the surroundings of that pond. I found myself returning over and over to ponder, pray and praise. A healing of my heart took place and out of the experience came my first book, Ponderings From the Pond, then a second book, Ponderings From My Porch, and now a third book is in the works along with a memoir about my storm.

Why am I making myself so vulnerable? Because God has done so much that I cannot keep quiet. I have to share. Jesus's last words to his desciples were, "Go,tell." We are his disciples too and this is just one of my ways of telling.

I'm no scholar but I have heard God's voice in my spirit, experience His love daily, and have a desire for others to experience this also. I would love to share with all who visit and I would love to hear from you. If my sharing gets just one to ponder, to be quiet with the Father, to see and hear from Him or to be reminded of something from Him, then this is worth my vulnerability.

As you visit me, sometimes we will be at the pond, sometimes we will move to the front porch, and sometimes we will just be here, there, and yonder. Thank you for coming and please feel free to come back anytime, you are always welcome here.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14


My first book, Ya Know What I'm Say'n, has been released.



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Voice of the Homeless, Richard~ Visit #2

(If you would like to read visit #1 with Richard, just type in the search button on right, Voice of the Homeless, Richard~Visit #1)

After visiting with Richard the first time, I wanted to talk with him one more time. I went back and found him the next afternoon.  He seemed pleased to keep talking with me. Maybe it was the cold Dr. Pepper I brought him.

I wanted to know what the father figure in his life was like and how it had affected him.    He shared with me again about getting the cancer when he was 5 years old and lost his eye.  The bills were enormous from cancer treatments; dad was already working three jobs trying to take care of him and his sister and wasn't making it.  Dad committed armed robbery but didn't hurt anyone.  This sent him to prison for a long time, most of the years Richard was growing up. 

Dad, after many years, was let out and moved to Virginia.  Richard and the dad talked on the phone every day for awhile. This is during the time Richard had been forced out of his home at 17.  The dad told Richard that he should come down and live with him and when he turned 18, he would hook him up with a job.   He said they would go hunting and do guy things like that together; something Richard had missed out on in his growing up years. I could tell Richard liked this. But then the dad quit answering the phone.  Richard would try again a week later, and then another week later and couldn’t find the dad anymore; he had just disappeared. 

I asked if his mom had divorced the dad after he went to prison and he said they had never been married. His mom said they never intended to. He found out while he had those brief phone talks with his dad that he had married after prison and now has a little family wherever he is.  "At least he’s a dad in somebody’s life", Richard said sadly.

Dad was not a believer in God and never went to church. Mom was a die hard Christian, always going to church, went to bible studies and women’s group programs.  I asked him what happened to her.  He thought she just needed to be in love and she ended up with the wrong guy.  "She doesn’t go to church anymore."

He said he definitely believed at one point but after everything that happened he lost his faith.  While he was in college for the short time that he was, he studied the bible in a class and he thought there were a lot of inconsistencies, contradictions, and fairy tale stories. He had even asked pastors questions, but he was never satisfied.

He has prayed a lot and has never heard a voice.  After becoming homeless at 17, he prayed asking for help, and he never got it.  He sees people getting help that don’t seem to deserve it and when he was down and out and trying to do the right thing, he wasn’t getting any.

I shared with my thoughts about how I believed God didn’t answer prayer until he heard the sinners prayer.  Why would he answer us when we won’t acknowledge him and who he is?  Richard believed at one time and had faith, but he never prayed, repenting of his sins, and asking Jesus Christ to come into his heart.  We can say we believe all we want, but until we step out in faith and the prayer is prayed, we are not saved.  You can say you believe and know, but Satan and his angels also believe and know.  Richard wants to see God and hear his voice.  I told him Christianity is based on faith and once you step out in faith, it becomes more real as you get to know Him and spend time with him and the more intimate that relationship becomes, you will begin to hear from Him.  Richard still wants to see and hear first.   He just kept coming back with how he asks God to let him know if he’s going to make it, is it all going to be ok and he just wants to hear that voice but it never comes.  Richard is telling God to come to him.  What he needs to understand is that God is already there.  God is just waiting for Richard to see Him with his heart.

"I guess I'm just on the fence."  He doesn’t want to say that he’s not a believer, but he’s having a hard time believing right now through the tough times.  Early in life he felt he was a strong believer and the first tattoo he got was a big cross with the face of Jesus in it.  That was a happy time.  But things started going bad and he started getting tattoos with upside down crosses in the pictures because he was angry.

I brought up the sinners prayer again and recited Romans 10:9-10. . . “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  He didn’t want to do it when he felt he couldn’t believe it a 100%.  He felt if he took something into his heart not believing all the way, he would be hypocritical.

I hope I will get my faith back and my life will get back on track. Maybe this is all a test and if I pass, the doors will open up for me.”

I’ve never been a big fan of tattoos but I wanted to show an interest in what seemed important to him and I was curious about the tattoos, so I asked him to tell me about them.  The Gemini tattoo represents his zodiac sign. (I didn’t get a picture of this one)

He got the cross when he was 18 and was dating a girl who was into religion and she brought back his faith and kept it going.

They went to church together.  He was in love with her.  I’m pondering. . . He was relying on a person to keep the faith going.  His eyes were focusing on a person and not the Savior. Then she cheated on him three times.  He would take her back every time because he said, love is blind.  I'm pondering again. . .  he was forgiving of this person and love is blind but it didn’t work like that with him and the Lord.  Something bad happens and he gets angry at God.  She ran off with all his money.  He was mad and started hanging out with the tattoo crowd.  He said he loves art but more than that it’s like a shield where people cannot know who he really is.  He likes it that people can’t read him. And yet, he was happy to explain his tattoos. . .

The demon skull

was put on after he started getting angry at God.

The letters on his fingers, “self made”

represents the time after he was kicked out of the house, everything he had done after that he had done himself, done on his own.

The jaguar because it’s his favorite animal and his mom liked all the jungle stuff, (no pic)

the dagger through the head represents all the mental pain he has gone through, (no pic)

five eyed wolf

was a sign of strength and perseverance, to which he said, "I think this is what I have to get me through things."

 goat skull with upside down cross in it because he was angry

The woman with a blindfold over her face represents him walking through life blindly having no sense of what to do.(no pic)

(After a nurse told him he would not make it in the profession with the tattoos, he lost his goals and dream and was blindly walking around.)

Skull, candle and a rose : (no pic)
the rose represents the love he had for the two friends who died in the military, they were like brothers to him, the skull represents their death and the candle, he said represented the fact that their memory is always burning in his head. 

The tear drop under the eye is because of the sadness of losing his friends and family. 

Out of Step is lyrics from a band he likes and I believe the interpretation is in the words

Trust No One

represents all the times he was burned by friends and family.  His motto right now is be nice to people, but don’t trust them.

I asked him if he trusted me or did he think I was crazy.  He said, “I trust you, you are nice.  You get vibes off of people and I can tell you are nice and a good person. You’re doing the right thing.” He wants to load up his body with the tattoos. They are a shield.  Is he shielding himself from more pain I wonder?

I would have at one time been repulsed by these tattoos and I would have looked the other way.  But Jesus doesn’t.  He told us “Man looketh at the outward appearance but He (the Lord) looketh at the heart.  I think we need to be more like Him and look past the appearances to what is going on inside of someone.  We could be missing a chance of meeting someone incredible, someone who needs a listening ear that we can give, someone who needs to see that the human race is not all bad, and someone who needs to see Jesus, and that just might be through you.

I didn’t want to harp but it was important to me and I just needed to tell him to not give up on the Lord and to not give up on people, that we are all human but we are not all bad.  "I won't give up, he said, I just need to take it slow."  I told him I wanted him to have hope again and to be happy.  We sat in silence for about thirty seconds, and then he looked up at me and smiled, “I think I’ll pray that prayer some day, I’m just not quite ready yet.” 

He was prayed over and given a hug.

My thoughts:  Life is made up of choices.  His parents made choices that deeply affected their son.  In that heartache, Richard made some unwise choices.  Both of his parents let him down.  Then he fell for a girl, a supposedly Christian, who also made unwise choices and let him down.  I believe Richard feels like he has been thrown away by family, a girl he loved and by God. He feels God has let him down.  No wonder he feels confused and angry at Him.  But this is also a choice that He is making.  He could have gone in a different direction after he was forced out of his home, but he chose the route to get into trouble.  Even though his tattoos show anger and hurt, I could not get over the sweet nature I was seeing in this boy.  He didn't talk with anger.  He just wants to love and be loved.

 I feel for him.  He should have had a family who put him first, cared for him and loved him. I shouldn't say they didn't love him, I'm sure they do.  It just seems they have put selfish reasons ahead of that love. 17 is still a young age, not knowing how to take care of yourself and what to do when you find yourself out in a blizzard with shorts and flip-flops on.  I wish he had walked to a church.  I wonder if the church would have helped.  I’d like to think they would have.

He said he asked God for help but he never gets any.  I don’t think he is realizing it when it comes.  The police officer came to their rescue and led them to the Salvation Army.  Salvation Army helped by giving them a place to lay down at night and food to eat three times a day.  My friend and I were out there listening to them share things about their life. And when I went back a couple of day later to check on them, I found out they had received the money they were looking for and got their bus ride back home to Boston. As I was hearing him talk of never getting any help and remembering the officer and Salvation Army, I recalled one of my favorite books, 1000 gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  She is showing thousands of readers how to recognize the gifts from the hand of God, even through the tough times. I tried to explain this to Richard. I believe God is waiting for the invitation from Richard.  I also believe God is putting gifts out there for Richard to open his eyes more to the truth of who He is and to the love He offers. I pray Richard will begin to understand and his eyes will be more open to the gifts and even more so to the Gift Giver!

If only people could realize that God is not the enemy and blame him for the bad things that happen.  They don’t seem to ever put the blame on the real enemy.  It’s him who causes sin and grief to run rampant.  He is out there like a roaring lion looking for prey and Richard was a vulnerable target.  But God is stronger still, and with people praying, I believe Richard will come to accept the truth one day.  It may be after making more poor choices, but I choose to believe that the seeds that have been planted in Him will grow and flourish some day. I believe this young man could be something outstanding.  He just needs the right encouragement, to get on the right path, to go through the right doors when they open and stay away from the wrong doors. 

Lord, I pray that Richard will trust in You with all his heart and lean not on his own understanding; in all his ways that he will acknowledge You and that You will make his paths straight.  (from Proverbs 3:5-6)

Maybe then Richard can add a tattoo claiming he found the One he can trust for life!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stirred Waters~Greg's Baptism

(if you are new here, Greg is my homeless friend I befriended over a month ago and have witnessed an amazing transformation. . .you can check out previous stories below the typewriter, bottom right of the blog, ex. . ."Praising God" and "Voice of the Homeless~Greg"

August 23. 2011, Greg repented of his sins and invited Jesus Christ into his heart.  August 28, 2011 Greg entered into the baptistery of my church and stirred the waters mightily with his big frame of a body and his enthusiasm of a changed heart; a saved heart.

While we were waiting for it to be time to change for the baptism, Greg spotted one of our charter members, Ms. Francis and made a beeline out into the hallway.  I stayed behind and just watched.

 They obviously new each other. They both seemed genuinely pleased to see the other.  They were both smiling big.  She was so gracious to Greg and rejoiced over the fact that he was getting baptized in our church in just a few minutes.  After a few minutes, I entered the scene and Greg told me had met Ms. Francis at Hotel, Inc. awhile back when she worked there. It had been quite some time, and yet they each remembered the other. 

Greg had been so nervous about the bigness of our church and ALL the people in it.  Wasn't it so gracious and loving of our Father that of all the people there, Greg spotted one he recongnized and knew from years ago.  I think this put him at a little more ease.

Keith, Greg and I sat in the prayer room waiting for it to be time to get ready.  Greg kept thanking us for being his friend, for talking with him and sharing without being judgmental of him.  "That goes a long ways" he said.

Greg was nervous but also very excited.  We had prayed for peace, and when Greg left to put on his baptismal robe, he said he was feeling full of peace.  

I sat in the pew right in front of the baptismal waters so he could see me.  God placed sweet friends with me on that same pew to hold my hand and rejoice right along with me.  I don't think any of us were breathing and tears of joy were flowing.

SO many blessings to list from the week, so here I go. . . 

park benches in the shade
being thanked just for listening
on bended knee with husband in prayer
cord of three strands not easily broken
the privelege of praying the sinners prayer with my friend Greg
younger son beside me witnessing a soul being saved
friends willing to go with me to interview the homeless
testimony sheets filled out
friends in church pew with me holding hands and hugging
seeing peace all over the face of one who had only known chaos
the pictures will say the rest. . .

buried the old life and raised into a new one!

Keith and I were also so proud of our church.  Greg had been going to a church of maybe 30 people.  We probably had over 600 people in this service.  Thinking of the crowd that would be there made Greg so nervous, but after praying with him, peace filled him up.  Our church could not have been more friendly to him and made him feel more welcome. The standing ovation, hooping and hollering and clapping wasn't so bad either!  Someone gave him the devotional, Jesus Calling and someone else brought him a brand new backpack filled with things.

The generosity overwhelmed him but he was all aglow with appreciation and joy.
He said he didn't realize there were so many good Christians in one place.
He's in a different world now.

Before the baptism Greg said to us,  "I've had an amazing week.  I normally don't think like
that.  All year I might have had a good day ~ but I've never had a good week."

Greg got in our car after the service and said "This will be a day I will never forget."
He also said later in the car, "This is the way to live, people need to live for Jesus."
We talked about what our pastor said in the service, that we believers are commanded
to go tell.  Greg shook his head in agreement.  He is going to go tell.

We have wanted to offer him things at different times, and he has always said "No, I just want you to
keep doing what you've been doing, just keep being my friend."

"You've got it Greg, we'll be friends forever"
And he's got a friend forever in Jesus

He may be homeless on this earth for now, but he has a mansion waiting
for him he can call home for eternity.
Thank you Father!

linking with

Friday, August 26, 2011

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

. . .especially through the eye of a photographer.  My husband and I can be driving down the road and I’ll see nothing but a plain field out the window, but he will spot the light hitting a weed just so and want to stop and take a picture of it.  He zooms in on the detail and voila. . . suddenly the weed becomes beauty appearing to my oblivious eyes. 

My husband has had a project over the last several years of photographing The Tall Grass Prairie in Oklahoma.  Most people, when they learn of this, say, “What is there to take pictures of, it’s just a huge, flat piece of land with nothing but grass?”  Ahh, I say, look through Keith’s lens. . .

When I started the blanket ministry for the homeless two winters ago, people have asked, “Why do you do this, they are there by their own choices, they will just take advantage of you.”  Ahh, I would say, look at them through the lens of Jesus’ eyes. . .

Psalm 139:14 says that we are His masterpiece and He wants us to know that full well.  Some people don’t know this yet, and if they can come to understand that they are loved and feel that love when a blanket is handed off to them, well. . .is that not worth it?  For them to feel the beauty of Christ’s love, to see them smile through their wrinkled faces and tired eyes. . .that is beauty I see through the lens of my eyes.

Through a horrendous act on a hill long, long ago, those who believe see the beauty of that day.  Through the Savior’s broken body, blood, pain, sweat and tears, was astounding love that still brings tears to my eyes when I close them and think about it.  Not sad tears but tears brought on by the overwhelming love He had for me, so undeserving was I, and he has this for all these people on the streets as well, some who say are undeserving.  We are ALL undeserving but we are all given a chance.  Some of us came to know of this love through a church home, loving parents who shared and taught, a friend who experienced this love and then shared with another.  Some may be on the street, waiting for that certain word, a touch, a hug, a blanket handed to them touched by the prayer and love of others.

How is beauty defined?  I don’t believe there is a canned answer.  We all have to open not only our eyes but our spirits and look beyond the windows, beyond the wrinkles, beyond the filth and odor, and see what Jesus sees…a masterpiece in the making.  May we let His love wash all over us so we can bathe others in it.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us”

Psalm 90:17

God's masterpiece. . .a redeemed soul. . .true beauty!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


My younger son Christopher went with me yesterday August 23, to find Richard.  He wasn't there but found Greg sitting on the park bench.  I introduced him and Christopher to each other.  I had told Greg previously that I had a wonderful story about a tree, a true story that showed the awesome power of prayer and the power of God. 

Greg asked me yesterday to share the story with him.  I told him it was kind of long and I would try to give him the shortened version.  He said, 'No, I want the whole story."  So I told him the whole story.  About 5-10 minutes after the story, he looked over at me with tears in his eyes and said to me, "I want to pray that prayer, would you pray the sinners prayer with me, I want to know that I'm saved, and that it is for real."  My heart leaped into my throat and said of course! 

We bowed our heads and we prayed together, him repeating after me.  I was fighting back the tears as I looked back up at him. He looked so peaceful!  He is saved!  Meet our new brother in Christ!  :)

Greg and me
This was taken immediately after he prayed.

Thank you all for praying for Greg. 
Please don't stop!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Voice of the Homeless ~ Richard~Visit #1

I returned to the downtown square to look for Mary, a homeless woman I had met the day before.  I did not find her but met Richard, a 20 year old down from Boston, Massachusetts.  He looked more like a college kid than a homeless person.  I was thinking as I met him, so many different faces to homelessness.  This was one of the younger ones.
He reminded me of my oldest son.  As I listened to him, I felt like I wanted to become his surrogate mother and put my arms around
him and tell him it was all going to be ok.

The first time he became homeless was at the age of 17.  He grew up in a good home with a loving mother and a sister he adored.  Later, his father went to prison. I don’t know why.  I didn’t want to press on that one, just yet.

Apparently years went by and his mother brought in a boyfriend who was into drugs and must have been a rough guy. Richard said he was manipulative.  There was some apparent dissention between him and Richard.  He said his mother chose the boyfriend over him and he was forced out of the house into the middle of a blizzard with only shorts, flip-flops and a hoodie on. I was trying not to show how appalled I was at his mother’s actions. Questions are rolling through my mind already. . .how was this a good home. . .she is not sounding loving to me, what happened?  My desire as I hear these stories is to do so with a pure heart and without judgment. I continued listening.

 Richard was heartbroken over this but he kept saying how much he loved his mother and he just wanted her to be happy.  In his thoughts, he concluded that she was lonely and desperate for love and when this guy came along, he became what was most important.  

As Richard kept repeating how he just wanted his mother to be happy,  I couldn’t help but think how awesome this kid is for being able to put such a grown up spin on why his mother did what she did.  He is very mature for such a young age and his love for his mother is so deep that it helps him to rationalize the situation. I’m glad he can.  I would not want him to ever lose his love for her but I was impressed that he never said anything harsh or angry or negative towards her.

After he left home he tried to get into a homeless shelter, but he said they would not let him in because of his age, 17.  He ended up staying with some friends, made some mistakes, was arrested and went to jail.  While there he tried to get in touch with his mother, left messages hoping they would get to her, hoping she would come see him but she never did and she never answered the messages. Again, I was trying hard to not show how appalled I was by this.  He was in trouble and calling out to her, and she didn’t come.  My heart was hurting for him, but this was not about me or how I felt. It was about a young man trying to come to grips with his situation.

When he was released, he managed to land a job with a roofing company, was making good money and had his own place.  But then the economy went bad, and he was laid off, eventually losing his home. 

The chance to start over with some friends here in Bowling Green became available soon after that, so he and a buddy came here and moved in with their friends.  The arrangement didn’t last long for after a couple of weeks, they got into an argument over twenty dollars and he and his friend were forced to move out. I reminded myself I’m only hearing one side of the story. I don’t know all of the details.  It’s not for me to say or figure out.

They didn’t know the town, so they ended up walking around for two days.  Eventually, a police officer confronted them for loitering in front of a Walgreens.  When they told him their story, he directed them to the Salvation Army.  Richard said the officer was nice and it was a blessing really, that the officer found them.  They now had a place to lay their head, at least, for ten days.

He told me it was hard on the streets, because you have nobody to impress, no one to do anything for.  He said that was his motivation with his mother.  More of what Richard told me : “When you’re out on the streets you can get burned by a lot of people, even after you get established.  People come off really nice, but really it’s just only you and no one else.  You don’t have people to confide in.  It feels good if you do something good, and a certain person is happy because of it, but it is a demotivator to not have anyone to do something good for.  People say do it for yourself, but you know it feels good when you can do it for someone else.”  He wanted someone to be proud of him.  He needs that connection with another person who says, I’m proud of you, I know you can do it. Don’t we all want that, need that?

He has felt alone since he was 17, the last 3 years.  He said it again, it was heartbreaking but he tries to swing out of it.  He misses his mom and sister and consequently feels like he no longer has a family.  He didn’t expect in a million years to be homeless.  It was difficult to hear him speak like this.  I tell myself not to get wrapped up in my emotions.

At one time, he had started nursing school at the University of Massachusetts but couldn’t finish because of lack of money.  He realizes that we all make mistakes and we just have to learn from them. I’m so glad to hear this. Lord, let him learn, let him learn.

He came to Bowling Green with three bags, but had to ditch two of them, because they walk everywhere and couldn’t keep up with them.  He has 7 pairs of clothes and important documents with him.  He gave up over half of his possessions because he could not carry them.  They became a burden and he had to let go of most of them.  I thought of my walk in closet full to the brim and how I don’t wear half of the stuff; the mountain of shoes; the piles of purses.  This past year as my husband and I began to prepare for college for our youngest son, we decided to live very frugally and save all that we could.  I promised myself that I would not buy clothes and shoes all year. We have given things up.  And we have saved.  But I realize I do not know what real frugality is yet.  Am I hanging on to so much that it is burdening me down?  Am I taking up space with “stuff” that is not needed, that someone else could use so much more than me. I have given things away desiring to live with more simplicity. I’m thinking I need to make another visit to my closet and do some unburdening myself.

Richard said he would take any kind of job but it’s hard to find one when you have to walk everywhere, being homeless and on the streets, it’s hard to stay clean and stay smelling good.  All this limits you.

Salvation Army feeds him 3 meals a day.  A bowl of cereal for breakfast, lunch is something soupy and dinner is the same.  He said he is still somewhat hungry but it fills him enough to make it through the day.  “You have to be thankful for what you can get.” It was difficult for me to not bring him home and feed him a home cooked meal!

As he continued to talk about his life, he began to reflect back about to when he had cancer as a little boy and lost his right eye.  His mom was very loving to him during that time and took good care of him.  He spoke of good family times and dinners together.  She invested in him, she was stern but not too stern and he kept saying, “…she was so loving.”  But she changed when the new guy came into her life.  Again he said, “ I have no hard feelings, my main concern is that she is happy, I love her too much, I can’t hold a grudge.”  I’m sitting there on the bench, fighting back the tears.  He is being strong, I will NOT be weak!

“My sister is such a sweetheart, beautiful, I love her to death.”  He pulled out two old, small pictures of her and himself from his wallet.  They were little kids and looked happy.  He said he cherished these pictures, they are his life and he protects them. He believes mom and sister are long gone; they probably started over fresh he said.

I noticed in the picture, they were in a church.  I asked him about that.  They went every Sunday growing up and he was in the Royal Rangers.  But now, he is losing his faith.  He said it’s not completely gone, but not much there anymore.  He has read the Bible and has so many questions.  He doesn’t understand that if God is so loving why does he allow all this homelessness and heartache.  He said some homeless have given up and don’t try anymore, but there is a lot who do try. 

“Every time we take 2 two steps forward, we get knocked back 10.”  He doesn’t like that homeless are looked down on and called bums.  “It just isn’t right, it’s hurtful.”  He has noticed in his very short time here, that our town does not provide enough for these people.  At Salvation Army you have to leave in ten days.  You can stay a little longer if you pay five dollars a day.  “I know that’s not much to most people, but to a homeless person, it might as well be a million dollars.”  I’m thinking, if only the people who do the name calling and judging could sit on the benches I have and see these peoples hearts, and hear from their mouths and see the furrowed brow and the tiredness in their eyes and witness the body language, all hunkered down; maybe their perspective would be a little different, maybe their judgments not so harsh.

He has friends in Boston who said they will wire him and his buddy the bus fare to get back.  They are expecting it four days from now.  His dream is to get back and find a job while surrounded by people he knows, get his own place, be able to save, and try to get back into nursing school.  He has doubts though because he has covered himself in tattoos and said the nursing profession will frown on that.  I wish he could have thought of that at the time he was getting the tattoos, but when you are heartbroken, down and out, and depressed, it’s hard to think that far ahead and  to make wise decisions.

He said homeless people are just regular people who have gone through some rough times.  “A lot of us are trying to get back on our two feet and it’s a real struggle but it is what it is.  It doesn’t kill you, it can make you stronger.”  As I was sitting on the bench, I couldn’t help but think “Please Lord, help him make good choices from here on out and to trust and lean on You for the strength he will need to get through this.”

I shared some of my own experiences of a nine year separation from my mother and the prodigalism I have experienced with my oldest son and how it is my faith and the prayers that move me forward and gives me hope.  He said he wanted his faith back, but it would take some time.  I told him I would be praying for that faith to come back and be stronger than ever and will also be praying for healing and restoration with his mother and sister.  He seemed very appreciative and kept thanking me, and said to me what a great thing he thought this book would be and kept thanking me for giving the homeless a voice and putting it out there for others to hear.

My thoughts:  Rich is such a sweet kid, is articulate and I can tell he is very smart.  Others have made poor choices that have affected him deeply.  I believe this is what drove him to make some poor choices himself, but I also believe that the love of God he learned about as a child is what makes him be able to keep good thoughts still about his mother. I also believe his mother loves him.  She was
loving and caring for a lot of years until this new guy came into her life.  There is no telling what has gone on with her to make such a drastic choice as she did.  I also realize I am only hearing one side of a story, but for this project I am giving the homeless, the ones I meet, their voice.  They need to be able to talk, to share, to vent without any condemnation. 

I thought of the bags again that Richard had to let go of because they were burdening him down and I thought, if only he could take those bags of burdens inside of himself to the foot of the cross and let them go, the bag that is full of hurt, the one filled with anger, the one full of so many questions. Jesus is just waiting for him to drop those off with Him and leave them there.  I will talk more with him tomorrow. 

I believe his faith is still in there, it has just become hidden by a lot of other stuff that the enemy is throwing at him and is trying to snuff out that faith.  But Rich now has a prayer warrior on his side who is going to fight that enemy on his behalf, no matter how many miles come between us.  I believe this guy can make it.  I believe in him.  I told him so.

My prayer for Richard… “may (you) press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of you.  (You) do not consider yourself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I pray for you to do. . .forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, press on, toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
(Phillipians 3:14)

(visit#2 and more thoughts coming later)

(Greg introduced me to Richard. . .Greg is still going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays and he told me this day
that he put my husband, who has been feeling ill for awhile, on the prayer list!
Greg has come a long way in just over a month! )

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blessings in my Friendships

This was a busy week for me and running in and out a lot.  I didn't seem to get to my blessing list every day as usual.  When I realized it was about time to post my Multitudes on Monday I didn't have anything new in my journal.  I closed my eyes and went back over my week, and friends kept popping up in my mind.  All through the week, I experienced blessings from my friends, my sisters in Christ.  Some may not even realize how they blessed me, but it's often times the little things we don't even notice that is big to someone else. Some are old friends, some are new,  some are blogging friends I have never met in person. Some of you have held my hand in prayer, some of you have held my heart in prayer, some live close, some far, some across the seas.

As I sat with my eyes closed, I began to think of all the qualities I experienced from some of these ladies and here is what I came up with ~

spirit lifting
joy giving
gift giving
love sending
heart mending
problem solving
laughter sharing
soul searching
story telling
fun seeking

I look at the above list and remember a quote I once saw. . .
"Friends are like the bacon bits in the salad bowel of life"

Life could be pretty bland without our friendships, so I salute all girlfriends out there who are making someone's life a little bit more zesty!  And for my friends, I thank you for your warmth, compassion, love for the Lord, and just maybe a love for me :)  You have strengthened me with your prayers, blessed me with your love and encouraged me with hope. I love you all!

So my blessing list today may not be too exciting for the readers, I'm sorry for that, but maybe it will make you smile as you think of the ones who have held your hand and heart. . . 

717.  Tami
718.  Jennie
719.  Ann
720.  Leigha
721.  Linda
722.  Carolyn
723.  Ronda
724.  Maryellen
725.  Shellye
726.  Betty Ann
727.  Lisa Maria
728.  Chelle
729.  Shannon
730.  Karen
731.  Ruth
732.  Elizabeth
733. Cora
734. Kim
735.  Mom

A beautiful list of blessings indeed! :)

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hearing the Voice of the Homeless, Visit #3 ;True Beauty

August 18, Keith and I made our way downtown to the square again and found Greg waiting for us.  Another festival was going on with booths set up all over the grounds, a live band playing, people all over the place, but this did not deter Greg from showing up.  I believe he is enjoying our visits as much as we are.  We brought chicken dinners for all of us, but only Keith and I ate.  Greg put his next to him, very appreciative of it, but seemed anxious to start visiting with us again. 

He started right off by telling us about meeting Maryellen.  Last week she was sitting in the square with a co-worker eating lunch when she saw Greg sitting on his bench, recognizing him from my stories.  She went over to him and introduced herself, telling him she and I were friends and neighbors.  She told him that many people including herself were praying for him and felt led to give him a gift.  He was genuinely pleased.  I’m sure the gift was appreciated but I could tell it was the friendliness of her coming over and talking with him that made him the happiest.

I was proud of Maryellen.  She told me that before the stories, she was like a lot of others; that she would have just seen him across the way and not made any effort to look at him; even less, talk to him. 

Keith and I saw a noticeable pep in Greg’s spirit.  At our first meeting, he seemed just a tad defiant and depressed, leaning over, head hanging down.  The second meeting, he seemed much better.  But this third time, he was sitting up straight and back up against the bench, smiling big, the defiance in his demeanor was nowhere to be seen.  He looked relaxed, happy, hopeful.

 I believe it is because people are talking to him now.  That first meeting he told me no one would ever look at him or talk with him, that if he was an ant, they would squish him into the sidewalk. But now he has people talking to him, like he is a normal human being.  If we were treated like the ant, always feeling stepped over, always feeling like we were about to be squished, our demeanor might be different too.  I know some would say it’s his responsibility for where he is and how he feels.  Maybe so, but when Jesus said to go out and teach and give and to love others as you would yourself, I don’t remember him telling us to check their moral scale before doing so.  And for some reason right now, the verse just came to mind about getting the beam out of my eye before talking about someone else’s.

Remember that song from long ago, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.”?  All it took was sharing a little of Christ’s love to relax this big guy, take away the furrowed brow, and seeing him smile BIG.  Nothing has changed about his circumstances but he is feeling love and hope now. That will put a spring in your step!   Sharing love is not hard.  It doesn’t cost anything.  It’s a commandment from our Lord. . .

“Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13. 34

I asked Greg what he enjoyed growing up.  He liked to draw when he was younger, and he has always enjoyed fishing, basketball and football.  He also enjoys cooking, although he has no place to do that right now.

I’ve never been into sports, but Keith likes to watch football and our son is starting WKU (Western Kentucky University) this fall which is just down the street from our square.  If you Hilltoppers see a gray haired man, big, dark man, and a woman reading a book in the stands, or writing, or taking pictures, that’s probably us.  Come and say Hi.

Remember, it’s the little things, sometimes the things that we take for granted, like saying hello, shaking the hand, a pat on the back that are so important.

He is still going to the little church.  He even invited someone to go with him! That really impressed me.  If a homeless, ex-con man who has not walked closely with Jesus can invite someone to church, I wondered about all the excuses those of us who do walk with Jesus have for not inviting someone to church with us.  I had to ask myself, when did I last invite someone?  I began to ponder. . .

I attended a meeting last week where 8 people from different organizations came together to start a new coalition on homelessness.  One of the ladies there was from Salvation Army.  I told her all about Greg.  She said to give him her business card and to come see her and she would do all she could to help him.  I gave Greg the card and he said he would see her Monday.  He also has a court date on the 24th to see if the judge will reduce his child support that he is paying as back child support that he didn’t pay while in prison back in his home state.  Remember, his daughter died two years ago.  He said if it can be reduced, he just might be able to have enough to get into a little hole of a place before winter comes.

Greg trusted us enough to give us an important number so we could get in touch with him whenever we wanted.  We trusted him enough to give him our phone number.  If he ever has to go back into the hospital, I want us to be able to go visit with him, and pray with him.  I want him to know there is at least one couple in this town he can think of as family.    I told him I didn’t want to lose him.  He smiled that big, happy smile and said, ‘You won’t lose me”, I ain’t goin’ no where.

Reminds me of another quote I’ve heard many times, from one who loves Greg more than anyone. . .

“. . .surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Jesus
Matthew 28:20

He ain’t goin’ no where either!

I noticed the beauty of our town square as I looked around.  The light shining off the brick path,

gorgeous flowers blooming here and there,

and the iron benches scattered around.  Just as my pond had a special place in my heart, this downtown and epecially this bench will make me smile a little wider now as I think back about the beauty of my conversations with Greg, and the friendship that was built over these three visits.  Only from God could He bring this big man to me out of the blue, stating someone needs to write "our"stories.  Only from God could come the boldness and peace to meet this man and hear his story.  It wasn't hard at all, it was a joy.  Only from God could a big, ex-con, ex-drug dealer, ex bad dude and a mild, meek little woman who has been walking with Jesus for the last 37 years end up on a park bench telling stories, hearing the voice of the other, and praying together in the name of Jesus. The things that are from God. . .true beauty! 

I guess what I want readers to know from our visits with Greg is this. . .
Someone may look bad, scary, dirty, unreachable, but that is no reason to not approach someone with the love of Jesus.   (let me say here, always use reasonable discretion, but please don’t ignore).  In our God’s eyes, OUR sin is just as dirty as the next guys.  Only through the blood of Jesus are we, you and me, and the homeless person on the street corner or park bench cleansed white as snow.  It’s not from our morality, our social standing, or our level of income or anything else.  No one is better than the next.  We are all children of God.  Some are lost and need help to find their way home to the heart of Jesus.  It’s been told to us to go out and reach, go out and touch, go out and share, go out and love.

There are people out there that are lost, in more ways than one. . .some need to find their way home to Jesus, some need to find their way home to family, and some need to find a home with walls, windows, and a door.  Would you please continue to pray for them?

I'll end this with the words from former homeless man Denver. . .
                     “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between,
This earth ain’t no final restin place.  So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”
Denver Moore

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Time and Place for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

The pond you see at the top of my blog was and is a special place for me.  You can read about it at the top as well.  It sits on 28 acres behind my property, belonging to someone else, old neighbors who left it in it’s natural state, but mowing paths for us and the other two neighbors we have out here to be able to walk through the woods and fields all leading to this “special” pond.  I think the pond was only special to me because God led me there during a time of broken heartedness on my part and meeting me there every time.  Out at the pond is where my stories began and because of this, my blog was born.

Those neighbors have since moved away and I heard recently that they sold the 28 acres to a farmer who is going to bush hog the land and put cattle on it.  I wanted to cry like a baby when I first heard.  My special place was going to change, blackberry bushes that I picked from every summer will be torn down, fences will be put up and smells I would rather not smell may be drifting towards my home that I don’t want. I went out onto my deck and had a talk with the Lord.  And just like Him, he met me there too and put my heart at rest.

He brought Ecclesiates to mind and I smiled.  There is a time and season for everything and my time and season out at the pond was several years ago.  I needed that place. It was a sanctuary for me at the time, a healing place, a place I felt was just for me and the Lord. He gave me a new opportunity out there, my writing.  After about two years, it wasn’t so much a place of need anymore, just a fond place to go to.  This season of the pond is over for me.  But will always be a fond memory and I have the book I put together, Ponderings at the Pond, to always remember it by.

God reminded me once again through the book of Ecclesiastes, that there are cycles of life, and all experiences are appropriate at certain times.  He gave me my season at the pond to grieve a prodigal son, to weep, to mourn, to search to embrace, to be silent and ponder, to heal.  And then came the time to praise once again, to laugh, to dance, to speak, to write.

I know full well, that God will meet me wherever I am.  He met me here on my deck this morning.  He has met me at so many places, I may have to write about those seasons too sometime.  But isn’t it so loving of God to give us a special place when we are needing to “get away” sometimes.  I’m thankful for my season out at the pond and will never forget those times with my Lord.

The land is now for someone else who needs it to put their cattle on.  I will let go of it and give those cows my blessing.  Who knows, maybe I will be able to go out there and practice my stories on them. 

As I look out past my deck, I see another place I love. . .my backyard. . .an acre full of trees, birds, rabbits flitting here and there, a neighbors cat and a dog or two. It's peaceful here also complete with a swing I sit in and ponder with another swing at the very back in front of our fire pit. The Lord gives and takes away. . .the 28 acres may change but I have a little piece of paradise right out my back door.
And the best thing of all. . .no matter where I am, He is there too!

Have you ever had a "special" place that was just for you and Him?
Even if just for a season.
I'd love to hear about it.

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