Welcome

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

*****EXCITING NEWS*****

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


Ponderings

Ponderings

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hearing the Voice of the Homeless ~ Visit #2

There was Greg, sitting on the downtown square park bench, waiting for us.  He looked tired.  Why wouldn't he be, he walks and/or rides his bike everywhere he goes; plus having to just make it day to day is enough to make one tired. He is in remission from cancer. Living without hope can make one tired.

He seemed happy to see us and anxious to get started with our visit; so much so that the dinner we brought him, he put on the bench next to him and didn't touch it the whole time.

The square was busier this night than our first meeting.  A bridal party was having their pictures taken by the square fountain.  Sweethearts were walking down the sidewalks holding hands.  Others were out walking their dogs; all passing in front of us and behind us.

Greg and I must have looked so different to them.  Me, a small middle class white woman, he a big, dark homeless man.  I looked down and saw our shoes. 
Two souls created by God, both wearing our tennis shoes.    Jesus died on the cross for both of us.  Jesus loves us both the same.  We both have the freedom to make choices.  In his young life, Greg chose one path, I chose another. 

Are we the same, similiar, different? 
Greg grew up in a broken home; so did I.  He was left with his mother; so was I.  He went to church as a young one; so did I.  I asked Jesus into my heart and was saved at age 12.  From that time on , I have always wanted to live my life pleasing the Lord.  Greg decided at age 15 that he was a man, and didn't need rules anymore, so he left home. He met up with a wrong crowd, got into drugs, robbed a person, went to prison.  Years later he got out and met the same crowd, got into trouble again, served more time in prison, got out, did it all over again and again.  He told me once you're in prison, you ain't never the same again.

Former homeless man Denver said in his book, Same Kind of Different As Me. . ."You get a spirit in you, a spirit makes you feel like nobody in the world cares nothin about you.  Don't matter if you live or die.  People with that spirit get mean, dangerous.  They play by the rules of the jungle."  Greg said he kept going back to this crowd because he thought this crowd had a love for him.  I think they taught him the rules of the jungle.  That's not real love. Real love will lay down His life for another, real love will sacrifice for another.  I doubt this crowd sacrificed for Greg.

This kind of life he was living with the crowd was full of sin, with the their backs turned away from God.  I thought of the verse Ezekiel 36:26 which says, " I will give you a new heart and put a new song in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."  I don't know why I thought of that at that moment.

Greg said most people do drugs and alcohol down here (on the streets) to escape their feelings of being trapped.  They don't want to face their reality; it's not pretty, it's not nice; so better to medicate and not feel it so much, not see it so much.

I kept seeing the cross upon that hill with Jesus hanging on it.  He did so, so our chains that trap us, hold us down, making us captives in the darkness, could be broken; He died for us.  He sacrificed.That is love.  But we have to want it, to reach out and accept it and turn away from the old life.

Greg brought my thoughts back to the streets.  He told me someone got beat down the other morning at 3 am. . . . .over an orange.  One had it, and the other wanted it.  Greg said the rule among the homeless is common courtesy; to share with one another but that isn't what always happens.

Greg believes he is luckier than most because he lives in a storage shed; it gets him out of the weather.  Others live under the bridges, underneath trailers, out in the parks and woods.  They even will go into the porta potties to escape the weather.  I wondered how many people walking by us would feel lucky to have a storage shed to live in.

Mike Yankoski in his book Under the Overpass ends his story with this:  "Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change someone's whole life in a single afternoon.  But what we fail to realize is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place."          Greg told me one day several months ago, he ran into a woman, Ms. Brown from Life Fellowship Church.  She invited him to her church; a very small church he could walk to as it was pretty much across the street from where he is staying. He let a month go by without walking through those doors. He thought how he had started out his life without Jesus and nothin ever turned out right.  He decided to try it with Him now.   For the last 2 months, he has been walking through those doors every Wednesday evening and every Sunday morning.  Then we started coming around him.  Greg told me now he's starting to feel hope. He shared with me that He believes in God, he believes Jesus Christ is God's son and that only believing in Him will save you. He also believes now in good works.  That is why he feeds the squirrels in the park, tries not to be selfish and shares when he has the opportunity.  I asked him if he had prayed that prayer of repentance and asked Jesus to come into his heart.  He replied with "I've done that several times."  I cannot know where he actually stands.  I believe him when he said he prayed the prayer, but I'm thinking he doesn't truely understand that he is totally forgiven.  I feel there is a sence of guilt still in him that he has not been able to let go of.  I don't think his self-worth is strong yet, maybe because he doesn't have a strong connection yet with what Jesus really did for him on that cross. 

Never under estimate a smile, a handshake, a friendly hello.  You just never know how much hope that gives another person.  Don't be scared or shy to offer that invitation.  And don't be discouraged if you do and then don't see them for awhile.  Again, you just never know how long they might be pondering on that invitation before finally accepting it.





Greg was very appreciative of what we brought him ~ a  loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, an apple and an orange.  He laughed when he saw the orange saying, "Weren't we just talking about an orange?" I laughed and said to him, "Don't get into a fight over it!"

Greg told me he just wants to live like everybody else, that he doesn't want a lot of money, he doesn't want a big house and fancy things.  What does he want?  To just have a real place to call home, to have dignity.  He said he doesn't mind having to make it month to month, just this living day to day was hard.

I asked him to sum up his life in one word.  He thought for a minute and then replied, "Screwed", he hesitated and then looked up at me and continued, "hopeful, I'm seeing hope".

Greg got into all his troubles in another state.   He paid his dues and came down here to our community where his mother was living at the time, to get away from it all and to start over.  I believe he really is.  He said earlier that once you've been in prison, you ain't never the same.  I think he meant it hardens you, the innocence is lost, the heart becomes like stone.  But when Jesus enters that heart, I say, you are never the same again, the heart becomes like flesh. . .maybe that is what put that verse in my mind.  You can tell that Greg had been hardened, but as I sit next to him and talk with him, and listen to him, I see that hardness melting away.  That spirit of meaness and danger melted away from Denver.  I believe it is melting away from Greg too.  I don't feel the meaness and danger as I sit next to him.  I believe his stony heart is being chipped away and the flesh is becoming exposed.

 Please pray with me for Greg, that the old spirit Denver talked about is leaving (which I believe it is) and that his life will be filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ, that everlasting hope that he seems to finally be feeling just a tad bit of. Please pray for a home for Greg, a real place with a roof, walls, windows and a front door.  Please pray that he would feel completely at home with Jesus Christ and Jesus will become completely at home in Greg's heart.





The following is from my husband's perspective as he was taking pictures. . .


‘Do ya know what I’m say’in?’…a question and phrase that was repeated over and over as Greg spoke of his life and situation as a homeless man.  It was almost as though he wanted…no…he needed to make sure his words were heard, and as he spoke of a life filled with bad choices, tragic outcomes, and discouraging experiences, I began to understand more clearly what the phase Do ya know what I’m say’in, actually meant.

He spoke with a deliberate cadence often struggling to find the right words…words that defined who he was as a 46 year old homeless man and how his difficult life might have taken a different path had he chose more carefully when he was younger.

There were a few times during his talk that I could see in his eyes and expressions how hurt he was because of what happened to him…I sighed a few times as I began to understand just how repentant he was at having done the things that he did that sent him spiraling into life that all but destroyed any potential he might have had to make it in this world.  When asked how he would have done things differently, he reflected on his early years when he was 15 maybe 16 years old, and that he wished he could start over and change what he had done.  When asked to sum up his life in one word or phrase…he thought hard for a full minute before answering.  What he said surprised me… "Screwed. . .hopeful. . .but I’m seeing hope." 

I’ve talked with Greg three or four times now, and on this day, he seemed to open up more.  When I first met him, I was a bit intimidated by his presence and gruff voice.  But as I have gotten to know him, I can see a sense of a need for dignity and understanding inside of his eyes that must come from a heart that is hurting… a heart that needs to heal and find rest. 

When we finally parted my instinctive feeling about our conversation could be summed up in one already familiar word…Hopeful.  Hopeful that we can continue to speak with Greg and touch his life in such a way as to help him regain any lost sense of dignity and find a way to help him heal his hurting heart.  He is a big man physically, but inside he is a child of sorts…one who long ago lost his innocence…yet one who still needs to find his path in life.

If you feel led to, we would like you to join us in prayer for Greg's heart to heal, to be truely saved, to understand his worth in Christ, his dignity to return all the way, and for a real home.   Keith Bridgman

 We thank you!


(more to come)


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20 comments:

Lisa said...

What an amazing testimony to the power of hope. I really appreciate you sharing these encounters with us.

ells said...

I love this story....THe book "Same Kind Of..." really impacted my heart...My heart change and my vision changed of how I feel about and see the homeless....I feel my heart growing....and I only want to move by the Compassion of Christ....because the part in the book that stabbed my heart like a knife was...when Denver said he/all could tell when "white" folk came down to the mission to make themselves feel better....I thought right there...God don't ever let me make anyone feel like that....Your life is an encouragement...don't know where my heart will lead me... but I do want to follow Love where He leads....
Thanks for sharing....
The plarn balls are still rattle around in my brain....who knows...

"Ima" said...

I couldn't wait to read this post. What you are doing is beautiful, because you are loving him like Jesus-and that changes people. You may have looked different to others walking by, but God was smiling as you loved Greg and heard his heart. Looking forward to more stories of these meetings.

amandatdodson said...

I read Under the Overpass and it completely changed my perspective on the homeless and how we as churches treat those in need. It should be a must read for every Christian. Prayers for you as you continue this journey being Jesus hands.

Ruth said...

I will pray! I LOVE Under The Overpass. A friend has asked me to help work with neglected "unparented" youth in our community. I am looking forward to a similar ministry on a different age group. Blessings to you Kris! xo

Shellye said...

Kris, you and Keith have just blessed me so much with your stories of your outreach. You both are going to places many of us would not dare to venture into. I pray for Greg that he continues to find hope in each day, whether it's through a kind gesture, a smile, or just a word of encouragement. He sounds like a real survivor and I pray he will let God grab hold of his heart and never let it go.

You guys are awesome! I'm blessed to know you both.

f5b93712-3e82-11e0-947c-000bcdcb5194 said...

May the Lord, our God, give him the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that he may know Him better, that eyes of his heart may be enlightened in order that he may know the hope to which he has been called, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and the his incomparably great power for us who believe...
(Ephesians 1: 17-19)
Thank you for sharing this journey with us Kris and Keith.

Nylse said...

I will be praying for you, keith and Greg. I'm glad that Greg is so honest....he has no idea how many lives he's touching.
I thank you for being brave and doing this...I live in LA (Los Angeles) the homeless capital of the world and often times I want to talk with a homeless person, but dont.
I subscribe to many blogs and alot of them have empty fodder, but THIS, this is real and heartwrenching and I appreciate you for doing this.
Xoxo

Patty said...

I will join you in praying for Greg. What a story, what a testimony. Praying God will restore his dignity, and strengthen his heart and become real to him this very day. Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a dream or desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov. 13: 12. Praying God will bless him with a home and that he will come to know Jesus, as our Hope and ever present help!

Lisa said...

I am praying for Greg. Thank you for sharing more of his story with us. The word Hopeful will be sticking in my mind. Many blessings, Kristin!

Jennie Morgan said...

Touching. Very touching. Greg is on my prayer list. I know God is going to do great things in his life through your connection with him. This wasn't some chance meeting. You and Keith befriending Greg was by divine appointment, I have no doubt.

Kristin Bridgman said...

You guys are the best...tears running down my cheeks right now! Most of you I have never met and YET you are touching me with YOUR big hearts, willing to pray with us for a fellow most would not want to have anything to do with. I am touched! And again, I will relay these messages of prayer and love to Greg next time I see him.
Next time you see a homeless person, smile big at them, and maybe offer an encouraging word or two. If you do, please come back and share with me, I would love to hear about it :)
I love you guys!

Lisa Maria said...

This is such an awesome adventure you are on! Greg's story just proves that God doesn't stop chasing us down.. forgiveness and healing can be ours if we just reach out to the hand He is extending.

It was so wonderful to hear from your husband too. God bless you both for this.. I am certain that it is the first step in something really huge. God didn't place this desire to tell these stories on your heart for no reason.. I'm sure there will be much fruit.. and many to bring in the harvest!

Praying for you all!

Love & Hugs!

Amy Sullivan said...

Always inspired here. Always, always. So lucky you are willing to share some of that inspiration at my place.

Maryellen said...

I don't have a PC at home and no internet, so I'm sitting here at work with tears running down my cheeks, in awe of what Jesus' love can do. Not only is he working through Kris and Keith, bringing hope to the hopeless, he is working on my heart as well. Praying for Greg, for Kris and Keith as they continue to minister and share...what a blessing to not only know them but to have them as neighbors, but more importantly, they are my sister and brother in Christ. Love you guys!

Jenn said...

Praying FERVENTLY for Greg! Kristin and Keith, you both touched my heart so deeply with your words and deeds. God bless both of you and may He continue to use you to reach out to those in such desperate need.

Jen said...

Beyond beautiful, your writing and seeing how the Spirit is moving. I loved the book, Same Kind of Different As Me, and it is neat to see the hope that is delivered in the book, splayed out here on your blog. Praying that Greg continues to feel, and comes to know deeply, the hope that God offers.

Craig said...

((((((heart)))))))

I have prayed – and I'm sure I'll do it again. And I'm glad your bodyguard was with you – because like Greg said you can get beat down for an orange in the wrong part of town. And I know of wrong choices. And I know of opportunities missed. And I know of "screwed". God bless you Kristin. God bless Greg. God bless your husband for being there with you and adding his words. Thank you for this my friend.

Cora said...

Kristin, all I can say is, "thank you!" I've reread this several times now, and I can't tell you how much this spoke to me. The biggie for me was, do I do what I do to make myself feel better or to REALLY help another person????? Thank you for continuing this . . . I hate to call it a "story". . . . life history of Greg. I'll be praying continually for him.

Denise said...

I have been looking forward to reading about another one of your visits with Greg; this is just so heart warming . There is so much to be learned from this man, and my prayers are that he is learning from you too! "Same Kind Of Different As Me" is very powerful; it speaks words that everyone should take to heart.

Thanks for sharing another inspiring story; the pictures are fantastic! :)
Denise