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.



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! )


Lisa Maria said...

Oh Kristin.. this one was especially hard to read for me. Richard is the same age as my eldest daughter. I can understand how hard it must have been for you to sit there and listen to his story and restrain your emotions and judgment. I recently read another blog about how mothers need to remember they are raising the future generation and our actions affect our children's futures.. I am speechless.. I cannot imagine the circumstances under which I would put my own child out onto the streets.

Young people depend on their elders to support and guide them.. even if they stubbornly do things their own way.. they do need a place to land when they fall. If God can extend this grace to us, why can't we extend it to others? It breaks my heart to read Richard's story.. it also reminds me of my sister's now deceased fiance.. covered with tattoos from head to toe because of poor choices he made as a young man after his mother died (he was fatherless. It was hard in the beginning to get past the rough-looking exterior, but he had a heart of gold, so compassionate and loving. There is also a lesson to be learnt in not judging the exterior, in being willing to overlook the mistakes of the past.

I have written my own blog here haven't I? I'm sorry Kristin ;-)

Please let Richard know that my family will be praying for him.. for his faith to grow and for his situation to change. Perhaps God will open all doors for him once He begins to believe.

Love & Hugs

Anonymous said...

Kristin, when you wrote "Royal Rangers" my interest peeked. He used to attend an Assembly of God church. Could Teen Challenge help? They will pay for transportation. If you suspect drug addiction (past or present) this could be an answer. Contact your local AG church and see if they can get you in the right direction. Also call Teen Challenge. Google them for the phone #. I'll be praying.

Lisa said...

He is so young! Thank you for being the voice of the homeless. I will be praying for Richard.

Jenn said...

Praying with heart and soul for Richard! You can add another prayer warrior to the list. Thank you for sharing these stories. Where I live in a VERY rural area we don't see homelessness in the nearest (small) city to us. I'm not saying there aren't homeless people, but I have never seen any homeless on the streets.

Denise said...

How heartbreaking; I am (have been) "Mom" to so many of my daughters friends growing up, and have seen many of them go astray. But I hold on to my faith and believe in them and what God will do in their lives eventually, and I believe in him too. I hope and pray that there are a lot more generous and loving hearts out there like you who will enter his life and lead him and guide him down the right path.

Sending prayers for Richard! :)

Cora said...

My heart is all mush, laying in a pile on my keyboard!!!! All I could say is, "It could have been me!" I identified with so much of what Rich told you and I felt myself reaching for his heart. Please let him know that I'm another one praying for him. And after reading this, I have set my heart from this day forward that I WILL be that mentor, friend, listener, helping hand, or whatever it takes to the up and coming generation of kids. I can't stand this!!!! Kristin, I would have wanted to take him home, too. I have so much to be thankful for. My analysis of "nothing" is like yours ---- my closets are full and overflowing and I still complain that I have "nothing to wear!" God forgive me!!!!!

Jennie Morgan said...

I'm just getting caught up after being gone for 8 days. I love this story about Richard and my heart breaks for him with the circumstances with his mom and sister! What a sweet, gentle heart and spirit this young man has! Your connection with the homeless community has opened my eyes so much more to the plight of these people and just who they might be deep down inside. I pray that God will give me a spirit of love and acceptance for them as I seek ways to minister to them, as well.


Ellen said...

Thank you for bringing the plight of the homeless to us all. It is so moving to hear their stories and know how to pray for them.

New follower from Multitudes on Monday. ~ Ellen