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, September 13, 2011

Voice of the Homeless~Bruce

Bruce fills the bill of the typical stereotype most people have of the homeless.  He is a die-hard alcoholic and has been for over 30 years. He wanders the streets, probably thinking about that next drink.  A lot of people would not want to look at this man, let alone talk with him.  I did.  His mind seemed to have been affected by all the years of drinking.  I saw inconsistencies in his talk. He was not scary, he looked broken and in need of healing and love.  He looked burned out on life and had a very sad countenance.   But a tiny sparkle came in his eye and a few chuckles when I took him back to his growing up years and he remembered some good times.  It all had to do with helping others. . .if only it could have lasted. . .

Greg asked Bruce in the square downtown if he would talk to me and share his story.  Bruce said “No.”  After he saw me chatting with Greg for about 20 minutes, he changed his mind.  He came up to me and said. “It’s nice to meet you.” 

Bruce is from Indianapolis and is 46 years old.  He said he has been here in Bowling Green for 14 days.  His sister bought him a Greyhound bus ticket to get here.  After his stay at the Salvation Army, he has been staying down by the river at the bridge.

“Why did you come here.”  “I couldn’t get my social security, disability back home, so I came here to get it.”  Both his parents had died and all the kids moved out.  This left him homeless.  “When did this happen?”  “About 10 months ago.”  He can’t live with any of the siblings because there are not good relationships between them.

He wants to go back to Indianapolis, wants to go back home.  He now tells me he has been here for about a month and a half.  “People are weird here.  You ask them something, and some will help you and some will tell you to get the hell away.”  He can’t work because he has seizures.  “When was the last time you worked?”  “A year and 2 months ago, as a janitor.”

Bruce dropped out of high school in the twelfth grade only being shy of two credits. “Why did you drop out when you were so close?”  “Because I was not any good in Math and English and I just wasn’t gonna make it.  I said, the heck with it, I’ll go work at the car wash and that’s what I did.  I got the job that very day I quit school and stayed there for a good 1 ½ years.  Then I became a janitor. I worked there for six years and then my seizures started.”  Are you on medication for those?” Yes, it does the trick, it stops them.”  He now tells me he is 48 years old. 

“Did you ever try to get your GED?”  “Nope, it’s too much of a hassle.”

“What do you want to do with the rest of your life.”  “Go back to Indianapolis, and get my own apartment, get food stamps, and hopefully live until I’m 72.”  He laughs.

“Will you meet up with your sisters when you get back?”  “Maybe the oldest one, the one who bought me my bus ticket, but the rest of em, I doubt it.  They’re a bunch of snobs and knuckleheads.  It’s been like that all my life.”

I asked about church growing up.  “We went as a family every Sunday.  The kids had to go.  Dad fired up the car and had those four doors open and we kids had better be in.  I went all the way until I was a junior in high school.”  “What kind of a church was it?”  “It was a Christian church.”

“What did you think of it?”  “It was alright,” he said very pleasantly, smiling now like he was remembering something good.  “We always had something to do.  The pastor’s right hand man always had something for us to do.  I remember one Sunday, all us kids were told to bring our dirty clothes, you know, an extra pair of pants and an extra shirt.  They took us to a friends house and we painted the garage and all the trim and replaced a couple of boards.  It was nice to help someone else.”

“I learned that you gotta ask Jesus into your heart.  I’ve asked 9000 times”. I told him it only takes once.  “I know, but I like to keep Him awake up there.”  “I don’t believe He ever sleeps,” I said.  He chuckled.  “Did you ever pray that prayer, asking Jesus into your heart?”  “Yep?”  Do you pray to Him asking for help?”  “Yep, all the time.  I always say, ‘Jesus, are you going to help me?”  “Has it ever come?”  “Every now and then.”

“You’re making it day to day, that’s a good thing, right?”  “It’s getting old.  I’m about ready to jump into the river and not come out.”  “Please don’t do that!  “OH, I probably won’t.”

Bruce said he was not into drugs but has been an alcoholic for 32 years.  He has tried to quit but it is too hard.  He got out of a rehab after 60 days, got off the bus, crossed the street and entered into a liquor store buying beer.  “Why did you do that?”  “I had the shakes so bad and I felt terrible and I just wanted a beer so bad.”  “Can’t you fight past that?”  “No.”  “Do you want to?”  “No. My dad drank all his life and I will too.”

“How do you get the liquor?”  “I steal it. Steal it from the stores during the day.  I never get caught.”  I must have looked shocked, because he chuckles again.  “They got all those people walking around, they can’t keep their eyes on just one person.” 

“Have you ever been in jail?”  “Yep, twice for intoxication.  Just got out the other morning.  I stayed in there for five hours.  Then they brought me breakfast on a tray and said after I ate, I could go.”

“Do you know Jesus loves you?”  “Yep”.  “How do you feel about Him?”  “He’s a good man.  At least He’s on top of things from time to time.”

“If you could go back and change anything in your life, what would if be?”  “Nothing.”  “If you could change and start over, would you drink?”  “Yep, more than likely.”  “You think drinking has made your life tough?”  “Tough!  Whatever the good Lord throws at me is tough, even if I’m not drinking.  The drinking makes me more relaxed.”

“If you could talk to kids around that 15-16 year old stage, what advice would you give them?”  “I’d tell them ‘Don’t drink outside, stay inside.”  “You wouldn’t tell them to not drink at all?”  “They’re gonna do whatever they want to do.”  “And you?”  “I’m gonna drink no matter what.”  “Because you like it so much?”  “Yeah!" “Would you tell them to stay in high school and graduate?”    Nothing I say is gonna affect them, so I’m not gonna say nothing.  They can do whatever they want.”  “If they could graduate and get that degree, do you thnk it would help them get further in life?”  “Who knows.”

I asked if he had any dreams.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “I just want to get back home and have my own place.”

“What do you want people to know about homelessness?”  “Whatever you do, do it with somebody else.”  “Why, is it lonely by yourself?”  “YES IT IS!”  “Do you have friends?”  “I did back home, but not here, I keep to myself.”

I checked my cell phone to see what time it was and noticed he did not have a watch.  “How do you keep track of time?”  “I listen to the bell that rings in town.  Every ring means another hour.” 

I was hearing a lot of inconsistencies and I felt like I was losing him, so I decided to wrap it up and hope I could talk him with again later.

I thanked him for talking with me and I asked if I could pray for him.”  He immediately took off his baseball cap and bowed his head.  I touched him and prayed for him.  After the “Amen”, I backed away and looked up at him.  He was still bowed.  I waited for him to look up and he continued to stay bowed.  I touched his arm and asked if he was ok.  He looked up at me with tears and smiled and walked away.

As I watched him walk away I could feel the tears burning behind my eyes.  I wondered how long it had been since someone had lovingly touched him.  I wondered how long it had been since someone prayed over him.

I had to sit back down on the bench by myself and gain some composure. .  His talk with me seemed to have a lot of inconsistencies.  He talked slowly and seemed confused.  He was dirty and tired.  I don’t know if was drunk, I did not smell alcohol on him.  He just might have been dulled from the years of hard drinking and the seizures has had endured from the past.

 This man’ s life was so sad and it broke my heart.  He also has this awful demon called alcoholism in him, and he just doesn’t seem to care anymore.  He seemed to have no fight in him.  He looked like a soul that was almost at the brink of giving up for good.  He has already given up in a lot of ways.  He looked like he was just holding on by a breath.

He smiled when he was reminiscing about the work he did for the pastor’s friend along with the others.  He said it felt good to help someone else.  If only he could have continued to stay in that mode.  But having an alcoholic father was no help and I wondered again about the discipleship in the church.  He said he was in a small town and this could have been a little country church where there were a not a lot of classes.  But as I pondered, I thought, it doesn’t take a class to be descipled.  It takes people.  There doesn’t need to be a classroom with 4 walls.  Jesus’ desciples were not in a classroom.  They were in the presence of one who wanted to teach them and who loved them.  We can do that too, no matter where we are.  It just takes a sacrifice of time.  I wonder if more would do this if they could see what a person would be without it, like Bruce.  Yes, Bruce made decisions, but I wonder if someone had invested more into him, if his life could have worked out and differently.  If someone had loved him continually with the love of Jesus, and continued to teach him the ways of Jesus, and prayed continually for him, would I have met Bruce this day as a homeless man?  

And then I think of my son who still seems to want to be the prodigal.  He was loved more than anything, disciplined with love, grew up in a very loving home with parents and a brother who lived for the Lord and for their family. He was constantly prayed over. We were a close family.

The devil came prowling around Bruce knowing he could get him with the alcohol.  The devil came prowling around my son at the age of 17-18 convincing him he was a man and could do what he wanted, whether it hurt us or not.  Bruce could have turned away and said “NO.”  I don’t know if Bruce is saved or not. My son is but is wandering for now. He could have turned away from the evil one and said “NO”.  But didn’t, because the evil one works so subtly that if you're eyes are off of the Lord and onto yourself, the prowler can grab you and you don't even see it coming. 

And so I go home this day and hit the floor on my knees praying for both and for all the others out there in the world the prowler is hunting and pray for their protection and for their eyes, their hearts to open up all the way to the One who is standing near waiting to be called upon; not just with a “What are you going to do for me?” but with a total surrendered heart to Him who can give life and give it more abundantly.

Note~I shared about Bruce and the conversation I had with him to some friends of mine, Beth and her husband Todd.  They were at the square the next day and saw Greg and offered him an extra sandwich they had.  Greg had already eaten lunch but offered it to Bruce who had been sitting on another bench.  He told Bruce to go over and thank them.  Bruce went over to Beth and Todd and held out his blackened, greasy hands and smiled, asking them to pray for him.  They took his hands and did.  I pondered. . .did Bruce remember being prayed over the day before and liked it so was asking for more?  Is God working on this man, is his heart being touched?  We may never know this side of Heaven, but that is my prayer for him. . .to be touched so mightily by the love of God, that inside that hardened shell becomes a softened heart that will truly reach out to the Savior before totally giving up.


ells said...

What a blessing to see God's Spirit work...how God leads your friends across the path of your new friends. Sorry for the sorrow in your heart...standing with you in prayer.

Anonymous said...

I know it is discouraging. But don't give up on them!! What people often fail to realize is that poor nutrition, the effects of drinking, and/or drugs, and isolation, can cause a person to mimic psychological problems. Some of the signs I've witnessed are: staggering, talking to themselves aloud, drooling, lack of energy, severe depression. And the person may NOT, at that moment, be on drugs or drunk.

But there is HOPE! Our Great Healer will not only heal the body, but also the mind. May God allow you to see the fruits of your labor!!
xo, Ruth

Anonymous said...

What a blessing to read this story. It brought me to tears. Opening up the lives of the forgotten and overlooked, showing them love and compassion is exactly what Jesus would want. Prayers for you and for the homeless people you meet. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa said...

Kristin, thank you for putting life behind these faces. Everyone has a story, and you are showing that everyone has one basic desire - to be loved.

Lisa Maria said...

I can understand how your tender heart would ache at this man's story. I have seen alcoholism first hand..on both sides of my family. One uncle became homeless in much the same way as Bruce. After my grandmother died and the house needed to be sold, he chose to continue to drink heavily and he was a mean drunk. Not even his children wanted him. I think he died in a hospice somewhere. One of my aunts is completely lost to the family.. she isn't homeless but she lives on her own, is often filthy and refuses anyone's help. She's been to the hospital several times and I'm sure her liver is a mess, yet she continues to live in the false world that alcohol brings her to. It is SO SAD to see a human being slowly being destroyed that way. You are right, Kristin, it is like demonic possession.. they no longer care or understand what they are doing to themselves.

I will pray for Bruce, even as I pray for my aunt.. I know by the grace of God they can both be saved. It is wonderful to see how you are touching these people's lives and bringing them to God.

Bless you my friend,
Love & Hugs

Jennie Morgan said...

The life stories from these people are as varied as there are people. But each one HAS a story. Some will be reached. Others maybe not. But God is clearly working in that town square. I pray there will be more opportunities for you all to minister to Bruce. Greg may be the one to impact him as much as anyone else, too. God is working....

Cora said...

Kristin, I'm sitting here blank. Maybe "stunned" would be a better word. I don't know if it's YOU who stuns me or the stories of these precious people you seek out. What glared at me through your whole post was LOVE! Just as Lisa said above me. Just a loving touch can move mountains. If only we could all put aside everything else and just pour out His love on a need world. . . !!!

In some ways, his clouded analysis was right ---- kids are going to choose their own way in spite of what we tell and teach them. Yet, it IS our responsibility to train up our children in the way they should go. How else would I know? How else could I even make the choice?
I feel so proud of Greg. And I feel so burdened for Bruce. My prayer list is growing here. And I'm committed to it!

Kristin Bridgman said...

Once again I have to say each and every one of you is precious! Thank you for your committment to pray for these people. I tell them every time I see them that they have no idea the numbers of people that are lifting them up in prayer. And everyone of them always says to tell you all, Thank You!".

Shanda said...

May God bless you for your love and compassion. There are so many hurting. My husband just put a family of 5 in a hotel On Sunday as they had been sleeping in their car for some tie. It is heart breaking especially when there are children involved. I pray for you as I write: that God will continue to bless your ministry.

Reformed rebel said...

It's so true, love can change a person's heart. No, it "does" change a person's heart! These people can see the love of Jesus thru you Kristin. Through the love you show I am confident that many more will find the love of JESUS!
Bless you...Chelle

Jen said...

When I saw the picture of Bruce, I saw the same thing you did-that little bit of twinkle left, that little bit of hope. In the conversation, I see so much of his hopelessness, and yet, the glimmer of tears, the yearning of refreshment? of possibility? of Jesus Christ living and breathing inside you for him?

Praying for Bruce, praying for your son, that they would see the hand of God, outstretched for them, and that they would grasp tightly and never let go.

Quiltingranny said...

You are so amazing!