why you should never talk to homeless people

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They will drive you crazy.

Because my house seems small everyday some days. Because us eight who live here? We really live here. Because I’m compulsive about my house being clean (WHY?!) Because my kids are probably bickering again. Because one kid spilled a smoothie last night, another one did today. Because that joke one kiddo told me for the millionth time really wasn’t that funny but you have to laugh. again.  Because five times they tried to come in while I was taking my allotted two minute shower. Because the snow makes my crazy night job incredibly scary and hard. Because boys are stinky and girls are always making something messy. Because of all these things and countless more reasons… I’m sure there’s something at the store I could buy today that would make it all more simple. A tote perhaps to put all the mess in? A new shampoo to handle the stink? A book I could buy that would solve this problem I have- maybe a nice glass of wine and a quiet dinner. Because after all. I see all of you and you all seem to have it all together. Right?

Contentment.

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Paul and Silas sang while in prison. I complain in the Wal-Mart line. In the Wal-Mart line! The place I drive my CAR to, buy a bunch of things I don’t need, and then complain about the line. Or, if I don’t let the line seal my joy I let the long red light in traffic steal my joy.

When these moments come, which they do so often… me being human and all. I go back to a story. Stories, always. Stories are what make us. Mold us. Shape us.

The amazing truth? Every homeless person or hard up person I have come in contact with is happy. Once you start to talk with them anyway- always. They laugh through toothless smiles about some great story. What do they have that I don’t?

Several years back while visiting home; the town we actually LIVE in now (c-r-a-z-y)… we met a man sitting on the ground at the local convenient store.  For so many reasons, you can only imagine, you could tell he didn’t “belong”. So, we offered him a hand. And of course, he did what all of of those stinkin’ (pun not intended) homeless people do to us- he changed us.

Sept 2005
“Oh wonderful God, you have sent us an Angel. Floyd is his name. He came to us as a homeless man from Chelsea, Oklahoma. Full of love and joy. He has now gone but I pray we will never forget him. While we were visiting home last weekend, Daniel saw him sitting outside the convince store; no sign, no bags, just sitting. He offered him a ride. Then after hearing his story offered him our garage to sleep in. He was so happy! So ready to go find work, maybe go settle down, start a family. But there was no way Floyd could go find a job, or even start a family on his own without help. Floyd was slow, but he had something special. A gift. Joy.

Sweet Floyd. We didn’t know what we were going to do, or how we were going to be able to tell him he couldn’t work or probably “settle down” here. His family was back in Oklahoma. Not the city we found him in, but another one far from it.  On our way to church today I asked him if he would want to go back home by way of bus. Oh, man! Was he ever EXCITED! He had just left a boarding house and had not been home for years.

Well, we bought him a ticket. Alli was just so happy “Flo” (that is what she called him. Being only four, she couldn’t say or remember Floyd) was here and she was very sad to see him go. In just a few short days he had become family. He would crank up the music loud and just sing his heart out to the “good ‘ol oldies” He ate all our meals with us. He always said “thank you”, “I appreciate it”, and always said… “You’re so kind.” He was such a thankful person.

Last night, Daniel went out to check on him. After several minutes, I thought I’d walk out across the yard to check on the two of them. You know, thinking maybe the toothless, homeless man, fresh from a shower in our home– might have killed Daniel and left him for dead. Hey, you never know. But then I heard it. My man. Reading to Floyd. He was Reading the sweet words of  Apostle Paul.

Apostle Paul. The man whose life was changed as he sat in a strangers home. Floyd who couldn’t read a word was letting the sweet words seep deep into his rough, dark skin. Seeds being planted.

Floyd is happy to be going home. Daniel took him tonight to the Greyhound stop. His bus leaves out at 1:15 am but he’s been asking the time since 7:30. We watched a movie tonight, “Bruce Lee”. Man, was Floyd excited! He loved it. He said it reminded him of going to the movies when he was just a boy. I thought, a boy? You mean when life was normal. When he had a mom, a dad, sisters and brothers. When he played in the yard like our kids?  Because I’m sure he didn’t plan to grow up and be a homeless man. Just like my kids don’t. He kept complementing our stuff. Our house, our beat up cars, our dry, dusty, rocky yard. Our church with hard pews and slow hymn songs and our family. And God, most of those things? I’m unhappy with or sometimes even embarrassed. And that Bruce Lee movie?  I’ve hated that VHS since the moment I married that man of mine and it came with him.

Daniel and I cried tonight after Floyd left. We thought, “God, when were we ever as happy as Floyd was? When were we ever happy having nothing while someone else seems to have everything? Come to think of it, when did we ever have nothing?” He never said one time: Man, I wish I had a house and a yard. I wish I had this Bruce Lee movie, this place to sleep, this shower, this place called home.  He had nothing, yet he never compared his stuff to ours. No, he took joy in everything– for us. He NEVER stopped smiling, even though he had no teeth. He just wanted to sleep in our garage.

Lord, Thank you. Bless Floyd. He can’t read the promises in your word God, send him someone to be the word for him. And thank you for sending him to us.

Thanks.

At the time we lived in a 900 sq foot house with two VERY small bedrooms, one living room, and a kitchen. We dreamed of bigger living. We had moved from our American Dream life, complete with white picket fence and all, for Daniel to go to bible college and thought we were making such a sacrifice. Luckily, we had an old detached garage with electricity that Floyd was able to live in for such a short time. But it would not have been long before he would have shared our home if he had stayed.

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You see, if I had this book or that curriculum-  I’d be a better homeschool mom. If I had a bigger house, I’d be a better wife, friend, or host. If I had this job or he did this different, THEN I would be pleased. If I had this type of floor, the smoothie wouldn’t stain the carpet- if I had this type of vehicle, my kids wouldn’t argue over getting in and out. If I only…

If I only had a homeless person for every day of the week, huh? Maybe my life would then be truly different.

Good thing Jesus was homeless. And he’s mine.

He’s mine,
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday

and over and over and over again I just need to set my mind on that sweet, sweet Jesus.

Because the house will never be big enough, the smoothies will spill again tomorrow; and someone will always have something better than me.

But that Jesus of mine? He will always be the life giver of true joy. Which is never found in things, rather life being lived.

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May we become crazy! As crazy as a homeless person. (because that Jesus is yours too!)

“Be good, keep your feet dry, your eyes open, your heart at peace, and your soul in the joy of Christ”. ~ Thomas Merton

Loves this Monday morning,
Kati
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Some of you have asked how to receive posts in your email: it’s simple. On the lower right hand side of the screen there should be a “follow” button. Click and enter your email. It’s totally safe.

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Um, yeah… is there an ad below here? A creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video, perhaps?) I didn’t put it there

= / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise. Sorry about that.

 

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Part 2. What if we’ve resolved to love in 2014 and they just don’t love us back? [ a three part series on 2014 New Year’s Resolutions ]

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All I remember mostly, is he was really dark in the summer time, wore short shorts and cut off t-shirts.

Of course he did. It was the late 80’s.

My big brother.

Yeah, I know- you’re surprised.

If you know me, then you know I grew up an only child. Hearing the words mom and dad, brothers and sisters isn’t typical of my stories. Well, once upon a time -when I was five, I had all of those things.

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And considering my stories lately have centered around family or lack there of, I probably seem like I have lots of “issues” but really- Nope! I’m totally fine with all of it. But those stories are a part of who I am, how I’ve learned, how I connect to others, and all of it makes the God story of saving grace even bigger in my world.

He writes each Christmas. I don’t even know how he finds my address when we’ve moved. He isn’t on Facebook and I’ve never had much luck with Google. And I’m a Google pro ; ) But a letter will come, without fail– each Christmas. And it will always simply say,

“Love Marcus and Karri.”

I’ve never met Karri. She use to send pictures of her and Mark (that’s what we always called him before he changed to ‘marcus’) from what I recall, they had a couple of dogs and I remember she had a big nose and beautiful long brown hair. But over the years, the pictures faded away and only the few words remained. Love, Marcus and Karri.  Love?

Each year, I’ll write something similar inside of our card.

“Hey Mark, I wish..”
“Hey Mark, call…”
“Hey Mark, I hope one day…”

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Because I want him to know. I’m here and I hope.

I want him to know– I’m here and I’m waiting and it will be a happy day when and if we see each other again. Just awkward hellos and hugs around the neck then lets just get this big brother, little sister relationship thing going.

Truth is- sometimes, you can love but love always returns void and empty. Sometimes you can love but love doesn’t always love back. What if my hands are old and worn before he ever returns love? What if he never does?

So I plant seeds. And seeds? They have the best hope of life.

I could send mean letters, I could send no letters. But I’m hoping there are little seeds being planted with each, “Hey, Mark”.

Seeds of love and forgiveness.

The story of seeds, oh the beauty. The way birds scatter seeds all over the world. Then little trees burst forth in beauty, each one gently touched by the magnificent One called God. The One who breathes life into creation. The One I always try to figure out, but will never be able to. He takes those seeds and gives them life. Awakens their dark soul and call them into the light.

So, perhaps it’s the best way to live? Casting out beautiful seeds of love, hoping they will be given life. Praying someone will one day water them, they will grow into beautiful, strong trees. Bursting forth with fruit and the fruit of that tree will maybe love me back? Or surely love someone, somewhere all because I chose to love.

But loving, requires giving away a part of us. Loving can hurt.

We have to understand, some will never love us back. Some won’t love us how we need. Some are so injured, they can’t hold love long enough to give love.

We have to remember, some seeds we plant, the love won’t return to us. That person may love others during only the last two weeks of their frail life after they’ve been told the end is near. Some will love soon and it will be a beautiful life for them. But there is no promise that because we loved them, their love will be seen or felt by us.

So- we love today. We resolve to live fully today. And hope today, that God will use our little seeds of love for his purpose. oh! His love, His way, is so perfect.

When we love the mean cashier at the local grocery store, with a simple smile- we may plant a seed of joy that brings forth life by the end of the day.

When the pained wife loves the hurtful husband, who is always telling her she could do her “jobs” better- when she loves him day after day, perhaps those seeds will one day take root as his soil softens and he will finally learn to love the loving wife back.

When we love the ones who have hurt us most, maybe all along those seeds are being hidden away and one day, when their pain is far away from us, their seeds of love will start to grow and they will love someone who has hurt them.

When the person I love most in the world doesn’t love me the way I think I need love. Maybe God knows how I really need loved and the love is really perfect after all.

When the friends we see on facebook, read about through screens on blogs, and envy through pages of books — talk about how they’re loved so perfectly. Let us remember- there is only One who loves perfect. So that person? That friend? That story? They have a tragic love story somewhere, to be sure. You are not alone.

I am not alone.

 “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languagesand special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13

I have to remind myself- It is not IF I love they will love me back. It’s IF I love, it can change the world.

It.is.always.simply.LOVE.

All my sweetly broken love friends,

Kati

Related Posts:
Part 1. Why resolving to love is…
Because you don’t have to be perfect this Christmas…

Part 1. Why resolving to love is really the only thing worth striving for this new year. [ a three part series on 2014 new year’s resolutions ]

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“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

-Helen Keller

This was once my grandmothers house.

I remember when I was a young girl and we would travel there– I would always run fast from the car to step on the grass.

She had the fancy grass. You know, the kind that stands two inches from the ground and feels like you’re walking on clouds.

I remember her yard was always so beautiful and full of life. Her backyard was full of flowers and there was always laundry hanging out to dry. I remember she went out and fed the birds each morning, even calling one Robin by name, Robbie. He would eat raisins from her hand.

She had raised him from a baby and set him free in the backyard.

I remember the day of my Papa’s funeral, the adults sat inside listening to the funeral service on a cassette tape. I was outside, kicking a ball against the shed out back.

I remember the way her door would sloowwwly close with that hissing sound only screen doors can make.

I remember my mother and her, never getting along. I remember my mom always saying, “Mom, you don’t have to make your yard look perfect, you really are too old to be out there doing all that work.” I remember going for walks while visiting — my mom would always say, “Oh, my goodness. I don’t know why your Mema chooses to live in this neighborhood. The houses are so close together.”

I was 12 when my grandmother passed away. I remember my mother had a letter from my grandmother,  sitting on the kitchen counter. She had been too busy to write her back. Those were the days when you paid for long distance and nobody had a home computer.

When the call came in that she had passed away, I remember how badly it hurt my mother.

And now, when you hear my mother talk of my grandmother, she has only good things to say about her. That grandmother she use to talk about is no more and she dreams of just one more day with her mom, in that cramped neighborhood, with that perfect yard– just one day to sit and love.

So when I told her I was making a trip to Oklahoma City she asks me to go.

“Go and take some pictures for me, Kati. I haven’t seen it since we laid her to rest.”

When I give her the pictures, I simply wrote:

“I hope these photos can bring good memories and not bad pain. It is such a good testament to how we must love fully today because we are not guaranteed tomorrow.”

I love you,
Kati

And it did to me, like writing somehow always does–

it changed me.

Because isn’t it the truth? When we resolve to love fully, it changes us. If we love fully our family, we strive to bend in service for them more than expect things from them. If we love fully our bodies, given to us by our creator, we strive to only give it the best things- to nourish and keep it well. Put simply, when we love fully those around us, we are truly full.

I believe a little man named Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service of others.

And a little old lady, not always so old once said, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa

Oh my! This could start a resolution revolution!

May we love fully today friends. Touching those around us with gentle smiles of love and grace. Creating warm feelings deep within them of value. Starting with those in our home. {my, oh my- how this story is for me.}  May this be the thread that binds our resolutions together this 2014 New Year’s.

Simply, Love.
All my love,

Kati