Monthly Archives: January 2012

hmm.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of hanging out with the people at the Mission.  I’m putting that in writing so that one day, when I’ve grown out of my everything-is-great phase, I can look back and remember what it was like to be young and naïve.

Seriously though, they are just so funny.  I am continually caught off guard by the refreshing honesty that they bring to my life, calling me out when I’m clearly not paying attention or challenging me to think harder about things.  They are definitely not all honest all the time, but that just brings a sense of excitement (again with the whole naïve thing, I know) and puts my gift of discernment to the test (who knew spiritual gifts are actually useful for day-to-day life?  I’m kidding, I totally knew that…).

I have also become somewhat of a “person to vent to”, a role that, oddly enough, I find myself playing most places I end up.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a good listener or because I have the ability to give quick and concise feedback, but whatever the case…it appears to be a task that I’m stuck with.  I say “stuck with”, but I actually really enjoy listening to the things other people think about.  And they think about a lot.  Which seems like a redundant statement, but I always feel the need to explain that the people that I work with and for and among are just as “normal” as you or I.

Though it’s possible that the next few paragraphs will now seemingly discredit the statement I’ve just made…

We have a routine here that includes a nightly breathalyzer for everyone staying here.  I like to think of it as a complimentary breath check. Like, “Based on our findings, we’re going to recommend that you try this peppermint mouthwash before ever going out in public.” I recognize that I’m probably alone in my thinking.

Anyway, during this special time, I often have to walk through a room full of men to get to my destination.  These men are not afraid to tell me what they are thinking. Sometimes it is hilarious, as in the case of the gentleman who wanted to sing Purple Rain (yeah Prince!) to me.  Sometimes it is bizarre, like the man who started singing She’s a Lady (complete with the “whoa whoa whoa” part) as I was walking by him.

Side note: I’m realizing as I type this how often people sing to me.  The two instances I’ve just mentioned are in no way isolated events.

And, sometimes my encounters are awkward, such as the man who calls me by name (or, more often, a shortened version of my name with a tone of voice that tells me he thinks he made up the nickname) and asks me how I’ve been spending my time because he hasn’t seen me in awhile.  As though it is my fault that my current job description doesn’t include trying to be wherever he is.  To be clear, I’d be creeped out if that was, in fact, in my job description.

Please don’t fear for my life. I almost always feel safe. And when I don’t, I just remember that God’s in control and He, at times, clearly has a different sense of humor than I do.

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pure joy.

The other night in 125, kids started coming in about 10 minutes early…not uncommon.  Upon entering, the first girl started yelling, “I love chapel! Chapel is my favorite thing here! It’s the only thing I love!”  This was followed by a long pause, and then, quieter: “Oh, I also love my mom.”

Good thing she has her priorities straight…

We gave the kids goldfish (the crackers. we’re crazy, but not that crazy) and they proceeded to put them in little piles on their carpet squares. Probably not the most sanitary place to put them, but who am I to judge, right…?  We currently have a 2-year-old staying with us, and he was not a fan of his own goldfish.  He looked disdainfully at his pile, and then walked around to everyone else and took a fish from all of them.  When any of them tried to stop him, he gave them this sideways glance, like “who are you to tell me that I can’t have this?”  That shut them down pretty quick.

These kids are hilarious. Some days I just want to write down everything that they do so that I can look back at it later when I’m feeling frustrated by their parents.

We teach mostly out of the Jesus Storybook Bible, because it is, in a word, fantastic. I really can’t say enough good things about it.  If you have kids, go buy it and read it to them.  If you don’t have kids, go buy it and read it to yourself.  Or someone else.

The reason that I chose this particular page for you to look at is, admittedly, because it was one that I could find online.  But it also encompasses a lot of what I want my kids (I’ve come to refer to every child who comes through the doors of 125 as mine) to know. I want them to know that they are lovely because God loves them, that they are God’s children, and that they are invited into a relationship with Him that is way better than anything they could ever have here on earth.

Sometimes we get to hang out with these kids for weeks, and sometimes we have them for only a day or two, but in that time I want it drilled into their little heads that they are LOVED.  Sometimes that means covering a table with shaving cream and letting them smear it everywhere (and I do mean everywhere. this was another didn’t-really-think-it-through moment).  Other times, it’s consoling a sobbing 17-month-old with some serious separation anxiety while helping a 5-year-old out of her coat and telling two other kids how much I love the pictures they’re drawing.

It is usually at those moments that it hits me:  this is what Jesus does for us.  He delights in seeing us laugh and love and play and just enjoy life.  And he does a way better job of it than I ever could.  He doesn’t grow weary of cleaning up messes and telling us again (and again!) that the things we have created are beautiful.  He will gladly pick us up when we are just so tired and wanting to go home.  He genuinely enjoys our company all of the time, and he is never too busy to listen.  Oh, that I could be a little more like that.


indigent.

Let’s talk, for a brief second, about things that are heartbreaking.

On December 21st, the longest night of the year, there was a memorial service of sorts held for the 34 homeless men and women who died this past year in our county.

In the days following, two more women passed away…and while I can’t be sure about the situation they were in when they died, I know that they had both stayed here at the Mission in the past six months.

Last year’s annual count of the homeless found almost 900 people without regular housing across the county.

What that means is that approximately 1 out of every 100 people here don’t have a place to call home.

There are people here who have become homeless because of a choice (or a series of choices) of their own–poor financial planning, drug and/or alcohol abuse, a lack of motivation to go out and look for a job, etc.  And then there are those who didn’t get to choose.  People get sick and are unable to pay their medical bills.  The economy crashes and massive layoffs occur.  Some are trapped by a generational curse and they think that since homelessness is all they know, it must be safer.  And on and on and on.

Regardless of the reason for the circumstance they’re in, they are still people.  They have human emotions and thoughts and worries just like the rest of us.  They, too, deserve a chance to pick themselves back up and move forward.

In Mark 12:8, Jesus says, “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

[Side note:  I don’t know that “poor” necessarily has to do with finances.  Jesus talks about those who are poor in spirit, those who are poor in the eyes of the world, the brokenhearted, the downtrodden, those in need, and so on.]

I think some people read this verse and think, well, hey, if the poor are always going to be among us, then anything that I do to help is pointless.  If I help someone out of a rut, two more people are just going to fall right in.

Not what he’s saying.  It’s more like, dang, I won’t always be physically present here on earth, able to help the poor in person, so that’s a job that falls on your shoulders.

Think about what that means for your life.