Homelessness and the Tyranny of Urgency

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Photo Credit: Author Unknown

A day or so ago, a friend of mine, who works and ministers to the homeless, sent me the following newsletter that I thought would be a good thing to share with you. Let’s all take a little time each day to consider how fortunate we really are…and how many individuals struggle for food, shelter, and clothes every day! Maybe you can help the unfortunate in your own way.

Here is the story, written by my friend, Paul…

It’s Super Bowl Sunday! Are you running around trying to get everything ready for the party you’re hosting or attending? Have you decided who you’re rooting for? Is the DVR set? Did you add extra time so you can record “This Is Us” after the game? Are you going in late to work tomorrow? Do the kids get to stay up?

If you haven’t got things figured out by now, “time’s a wasting” and you better get to it! The game starts at 6:30PM EST whether you’re ready or not and you might feel stressed because of this. However, I hope we can all agree this is probably not the most important thing happening in your life right now.

The more we get caught up in what is urgent, the more we lose sight of what’s most important. It’s easy to get confused between important and urgent. Urgent is always right in front of us. Urgent is obvious. While urgent can be important, it’s not usually the case.

I believe most days we find ourselves not doing the most important thing but the most urgent thing. Many times it’s because we don’t want to miss out. Experts call it, “FOMO” or Fear Of Missing Out. We’re consumed with social media. No longer do we have to wait for a letter for an update from a friend or the next morning’s newspaper to get details about world news. Almost everything is only a click away and slow download speeds are considered intolerable.

When we get caught up in what seems urgent, we lose sight of what is important. Even worse, we stifle imagination and basically deny ourselves permission to dream about the future. We unconsciously tell our brains there’s no need to create because every moment and thought is being filled in for us. The result is instead of truly living, we’re just existing.

Our friends that are homeless are also plagued with urgency. It’s not usually because of FOMO, but rather because of instability and insecurity. They ask questions most of us don’t give much thought to, but for our friends who are homeless these are questions connected to incredible stress:

“When am I going to eat again?”
“When am I going to sleep again?”
“Where am I going to sleep?”
“Will someone take my things if I sleep?”
“Will I be able to stay warm?”
“How am I my going to get back on my feet?”
“Who is going to hire me?”
“What can I even do?”
“When am I going to shower again?”

All these items are important, but because they are unanswered questions their urgency becomes a roadblock to moving forward. When we’re always being led by urgency, the things that are truly important, or should I say, should be truly important get lost and now the urgent things are the most important because they’re the only things.

If the previous questions can be answered with certainty and consistency people will be able to think and plan for tomorrow and beyond again instead just the next hour. However, if the previous questions don’t get answered, then these questions start to be asked:

“Will people even come near me?”
“Does anyone even see me?”
“Do I matter at all?”
“Who even loves me anymore?”

So, what do we do?

HELP, HOPE, HOME

HELP
We need to HELP relieve people of these urgencies. We need to remove these stressors out of their lives and give them permission to dream again. It’s obvious one should have a job and save money, but if you’re plagued with urgency, it seems nearly impossible to plan for a future you’re not sure you’re even going to have.

HOPE
Once a person has stability and security then HOPE can grow and when hope grows, all things are possible! My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through him (Christ) who gives me strength.” However, for anything to grow the conditions must be right. I’m reminded of “The Parable of the Sower” in Matthew 13. Seeds need the right soil to flourish. For seeds of hope to grow in people, other people with hope need to be the “soil” surrounding the people who need it most.

HOME
With a foundation of stability offered through relief help and a restoration of hope in Christ, a person can genuinely focus on HOME. Home is not just any shelter, but a place where a person has the peace of knowing they are loved beyond all measure by God….because they are!

For you and I, we may need to be reminded of Psalm 121:

Psalm 121 English Standard Version (ESV)
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

The world continues to spin whether we know every detail or not. We don’t need to have FOMO. It’s OK if we let go of or miss certain things because God sees and knows everything and doesn’t miss anything. Stepping away from time to time is a great way to honor God and show Him you trust him with everything!

If you want to help our friends experiencing homelessness, here four ways you can make an impact in your community and the world around you RIGHT NOW!

1.) Be a Good Neighbor!
When you are kind to those around you, someone in crisis may have the courage to open up to you. (Matthew 22:36-40, Luke 6:31, Luke 10:25-37)

2.) Bow Your Head!
Prayer is powerful and effective. It is our greatest weapon in spiritual warfare. Please pray for wisdom, discernment, and favor. (Matthew 6:5-14, Philippians, 4:6, James 5:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

3.) Get Involved!
Volunteer with us, one of our partners, or in your community. Time is the one thing we never get back. When you choose to spend time with someone, it speaks volumes about both you and the person your with. If you’re willing to spend time with someone often overlooked by society, there’s a good chance someone else will take notice and realize that person’s life matters. (Isaiah 58:9b-10, Matthew 25:40, Hebrews 13:16)

4.) Cheerfully Give!
Donating your money is a great way to have an impact even when you can’t be physically present. $10 PER MONTH or MORE can make a significant difference in an individual’s life, my family’s well being, and the way the world views homelessness. PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY TODAY! (Proverbs 19:17, Malachi 3:10, Luke 10:2, 2 Corinthians 9:7,12)

BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST!

 

 

EMMANUEL LABOR is God working through us…

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Hope in the Midst of Despair

Steve Damron

Photo Credit:: Steven Damron via CC Flickr

Have you ever felt worthless? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Have you ever felt worthless and your life had no purpose? Have you experienced the isolation and loneliness that your life was going nowhere and there was nothing that you could do to help others or make a positive contribution to today’s world? If so, then I have just the thing for you that will hopefully help encourage and inspire you today.

Consider the following story….

It was a beautiful mid-April morning along the seaside port of San Francisco. The weather was unseasonably warm and there was a slight breeze lazily blowing in from the northeast. Most of the city’s population were sleeping while some of the “early birds” began to wake up and get ready for another day.

Then, at 5:45 a.m., their world changed in a disastrous instant that forever changed their lives…and the spirit of the nation. In the next horrifying minute or so, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, shook the city to the ground. More than 3,000 people were killed and over half of the 400,000 occupants of the city lost their homes and everything that they owned.

The tremendous earthquake, (later estimated as a 7.8 on the Richter Scale) not only caused hundreds of buildings and structures to topple, but the powerful shaking also destroyed the city’s water and gas lines. The gas from the ruptured pipes soon ignited, caught fire and spread quickly throughout San Francisco, spreading more havoc and terror throughout the land. The fires went on to burn for the next three days and over 500 city blocks were destroyed.

One of the reasons the fires were so devastating and destructive was because of the destroyed water network of the city. Almost all the fire hydrants in the system were useless…except for one. This one fire hydrant was the only working one in the entire city and it, single-handedly, saved the city’s famous Mission District from certain obliteration. Located on top of a hill, the horses that pulled the fire wagons were so tired that they could not climb the hill and get to the hydrant. So, the people in the area gathered together, pushed the horses and pulled the fire wagons to the water supply and for the next few days, was the center of the water usage for the firemen.

The fireplug was later fondly nicknamed, the “little giant”, and is referred to today as “the Golden Fire Hydrant” by the folks of San Francisco. Each year, on April 18, at 5:45 in the morning, a ceremony is held in which the hydrant is spray painted once again with a fresh coach of gold spray.

So, why do I tell you about this story? A tale of this one fire hydrant that helped to save the Mission District and parts of the surrounding neighborhood? It is because of this…think of how this little structure had such an enormous impact on the surrounding community and how much this small but powerful instrument not only helped to extinguish some of the fires, but it was a tremendous encouragement and help to the people that needed it! It may have looked small and insignificant, but it had a huge impact! This is also so true with a person’s life. No matter how little and worthless or insignificant that you may feel, you were put in the world to make an impact on others. Your personality, characteristics, and abilities are unique, and they are your own. No one in the world is exactly like you. You can have an impact on someone else, your neighborhood or community in your own individual and unique way.

We all are all “little” compared with the vast, untold billions of people living in the world today, but we can be “giants” by what we do for others in the small worlds that we live in every day!

Navigating the Seas of Grief and Despair

Jeremy Segrott

Photo Credit: Jeremy Segrott via CC Flickr

The death of a close friend, a dear sibling or spouse, or a loving relative can lead a person to great depths of grief, despair and hurt. There are times when the death seems like a blessing because the person was suffering from an illness or some other misfortune, and they are now free from their suffering. In some instances, the individual expires because of old age or in other occasions, the passing of an individual is sudden and shocking. Regardless, when someone a person knows passes from this life, there is usually a time of great sorrow and pain.

Over the course of this past year, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing some family and friends of mine who either died suddenly or have been going through the dark valleys of their lives. I came across the following story a while back that was written by an older gentleman, who had written his response to someone who had asked the following question in an editorial in his newspaper: “My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.” Many people responded but there was one old man whose incredible comment stood out from the rest. What he stated might just change the way we approach life and death:

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, parents, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

 I wish that I could say that you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if that scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and love. And scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

 “As for grief, you’ll find that it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with all of the wreckage around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was…and is no more. All you can do is float. You find some piece of wreckage and hang on for a while. Maybe it is a physical thing. Maybe it is a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float and stay alive.

 “In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they crash over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. If might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave keeps crashing…but in between waves…there is life.

 “Somewhere down the line, and it is different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall…or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at an airport. You can see it coming and for the most part, you prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

 “Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come…and you will survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of love…and lots of shipwrecks.”   ~ Source: Pinterest

It is my deepest hope and prayer that this commentary can help you or someone you know who may be “drowning” in a Sea of Despair or Grief. I know this…it helped me when I read it a while ago when my lifelong and best friend died, and who I miss every day…my Dad. So’s here to hope, grace, and happiness…and remembering the times with your loved one…the memories that will last a lifetime!

A Man and a Fork

5908895414_7e3b59ae4c_b

Photo Credit: Waferboard via CC Flickr

There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as he was getting his things ‘in order,’ he contacted his Priest and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes.

 He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service,what scriptures he would like read, and what outfit he wanted to be buried in.

Everything was in order and the Priest was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.

 

‘There’s one more thing,’ he said excitedly..

 

‘What’s that?’ came the Priest’s reply.

 

‘This is very important,’ the young man continued.

‘I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.’

 

The Priest stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

That surprises you, doesn’t it?’ the young man asked.

 

‘Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,’ said the Priest.

 

The young man explained. ‘My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement.

In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,

‘Keep your fork.

 

‘ It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming …. like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.

 

Something wonderful, and with substance!’

 

So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’

 

Then I want you to tell them:

‘Keep your fork … the best is yet to come.’

The Priest’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man good-bye. He knew this would be one of  the last times he would see him before his death.

But he  also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than he did. He had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge.

 

He KNEW that something better was coming.

 

At the funeral people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the Priest heard the question, ‘What’s with the fork?’ And over and over he smiled.

 

During his message, the Priest told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him.

 

He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.

 

He was right. So the next time you reach down for your  fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.

 

Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed.

They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

 

Cherish the time you have, and the memories you share. Being friends with someone is not an opportunity, but a sweet responsibility.

Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND… and  I’ll bet this will be an Email they do remember, every time they pick up a fork!

And just remember … keep your fork!

The BEST is yet to come!

Why Would God Want Me?

creative ignition

Photo Credit: Creative Ignition via CC Flickr

I’m not perfect. I have all kinds of problems. I have no ability. I have no gifts. I’m just not worthy. Why would God want me?

Well, did you know that?…..

Moses stuttered.
David’s armor didn’t fit.
John Mark deserted Paul.
Timothy had ulcers.
Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.
Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.
Jacob was a liar.
David had an affair.
Solomon was too rich.
Jesus was too poor.
Abraham was too old.
David was too young.
Peter was afraid of death.
Lazarus was dead.
John was self-righteous.
Naomi was a widow.
Paul was a persecutor of the church.
Moses was a murderer.
Jonah ran from God’s will.
Miriam was a gossip.
Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.
Elijah was burned out.
John the Baptist was a loudmouth.
Martha was a worry-wart.
Noah got drunk.
Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?
So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.

But God doesn’t require a job interview for salvation. He’s our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t look at financial gain or loss. He’s not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need. He know who we are and what we are and loves us in spite of ourselves

SATAN SAYS, “YOU’RE NOT WORTHY.”
JESUS SAYS, “SO WHAT? I AM.”
SATAN LOOKS BACK AND SEES OUR MISTAKES.
GOD LOOKS BACK AND SEES THE CROSS.

He doesn’t calculate how you failed in ’99. It’s not even on the record.

Sure, there are lots of reasons why God shouldn’t call us. But if we are in love with Him, if we hunger for Him, He’ll use us in spite of who we are, where we’ve been, what we have done, or the fact that we are not perfect!

—————

Source: http://gatewaytojesus.com/

Pictures That Speak Volumes #46

This might be one of the most beautiful pictures that I have ever posted!

Photo Credit: Unknown

Photo Credit: Unknown

UPDATE!

Kerbey, a follower of my blog, found some further information regarding this picture. If you would like to learn more details about this person, cemetery, etc., please click on this link: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7140314

The Day Smokey Died

Photo Credit: iphis via morguefile.com

Photo Credit: iphis via morguefile.com

It’s funny how life is. Sometimes when things seem the worst and can’t get any worse, how the outcome turns out totally different from what we expected. What’s the point? The point is, there is ALWAYS hope and life may surprise you and give you a happier, more positive result than what you expected.

I decided to share a story that happened to my brother and I when we were kids that demonstrates this concept in a very personal way…

When my brother and I were growing up, our family would always have pets around the house. My parents were big-time animal lovers which meant that there was never a time that we didn’t have a cat or some other pet around such as gerbils, guinea pigs, salamanders or gold fish.

Primarily, the pet of choice were cats and we usually would have anywhere from 1-5 or six cats running around the house. Every time they were outside and it was time for them to eat their dinner, grandma or my brother, mom or I would simply shake the box of Friskees and those felines would come running.

One of our favorite cats of all time was this black cat that we named Smokey…yep, we named him because he was black…we were very creative back then. Anyway, he was an awesome little thing…he always played with us then would jump up onto our laps at the end of the day, curl up into a ball, then go to sleep and purr.

We lived in a simple, Cape Cod style house and it was located about a block away from a busy highway named Atlantic Avenue. My dad would take that road to drive to work every day as well as my mom. It was also a road that lead directly to the beach…so it was a relatively busy road.

There were many times when we were traveling on the road that we would see the bodies of animals that were hit by oncoming cars along the road, and it would always make us feel bad knowing that somewhere in our neighborhood some kind lost their dear pet.

One morning, my brother and I were in our living room watching TV when my dad called from his work with bad news…Smokey, our beloved pet was dead. He had been hit by a car and my father had seen his body by the roadside.

Needless to say, my brother and I were devastated. We cried and cried. We decided that we would do the right thing. We would go to the road, scoop him up and give him a proper burial…and that’s what we did. I went to the shed and picked out a coal shovel and my brother got a water bucket. We walked to the road, found our cat, put him in the bucket and brought him back home,

We then went to the backyard to my grandma’s garden and chose a beautiful little spot to bury our dear Smokey…and that’s what we did. We even made a little tombstone from a piece of wood and wrote “Smokey” and it date of birth and death on it, just like a real cemetery. After a few final thoughts and maybe even a short prayer for the critter, we said our final good-byes and left crying and heartbroken.

Later in the day, we were getting ready to go to the park and play some baseball. We were standing in the front yard of our house waiting for our friends when, all of a sudden, a real-life miracle happened…we couldn’t believe our eyes as our beloved, dead pet, Smokey came bounding up the sidewalk, meowing and acting like nothing happened. We picked up the cat, jumped up and down in total glee. As we hugged our little buddy, we kept yelling…it’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!

After a while, we looked at each other as said, how is this possible? How could the cat have come back to life? God certainly COULD work in mysterious ways but did He REALLY bring our pet back to life…we had to know for sure.

We decided that we would go back to the grave site that we had made and see for sure how our cat managed to come back to life. Had it really been dead? Maybe it had just been knocked out and we accidentally buried it when it was still alive.

Imagine out great surprise when we arrived at the site and found it totally unchanged. The ground was still the same as we left it and nothing had moved!

What did that mean? We were totally stunned but at the same time we had the biggest smiles on our faces that any kid could have…WE HAD BURIED THE WRONG CAT!!!