How Many Jackets Do You Wear?

How Many Jackets Do You Wear?

An eighteen year old watches us set up tables of donated bread as wind whips through the parking lot. Children’s clothing covers another table. I asked the eighteen year old if he needed a jacket. Motioning him to follow me to my car, I showed him a few men’s jackets. He selected a red fleece pullover, smiling as he took it into his hands. After receiving the pullover, I sensed he felt more at ease with us. 

Donated bread can bridge differences, equalizing deliverer and receiver. For a few minutes, we meet in Christ’s love. Helpful children place bags of bread on tables, talking to each other as they sort through clothing. Grateful to receive some bread and newer clothing, wind gusts carry their many thank you’s into the air, including the thanks of a shy eighteen year old, now with a red fleece pullover to keep him warm.

Can you spare a jacket?

Can you spare a jacket?

Do you own extra jackets? Have you considered giving one to someone who needs it more than you? When you give anything away, Christ’s love will fill your heart.  

  “He also said to them, ‘Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, ‘Friend, loan me three loaves of bread  because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.’  Imagine further that he answers from within the house, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’  I assure you, even if he wouldn’t get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend’s brashness.’” (Luke 11:5-8, CEB)

Like an eighteen year old young man, some people are too embarrassed to ask for help. If called upon, some people will get up in the middle of the night, maneuvering through a house full of people to help.

What if people helped the needy before they had to ask?

 

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In-between Times

In-between Times

Life is like a Kodak Gray Scale that is used in photography and film making. Lives may not be so much pure black or white but are lived in the in-betweens of  black and white, teetering between good and bad, secure and insecure.
A woman holds a tattered cardboard sign asking for spare change at a busy intersection.
Nearby, a weary-looking man wearing well-worn clothing pushes a shopping cart containing a single black trash bag. I suspect the over-stuffed trash bag holds his life’s belongings.
Two people, living in-between secure and insecure. How many others are living in-between, attempting to survive the insecure, fighting to get to something secure.
Spare change. Black trash bags. Tattered cardboard signs. Tonight’s local weather forecast predicts chilling temperatures. No county homeless shelter exists where this woman or weary man might go to stay warm. What will they do?

Egino Weinert's Good Samaritan, available through creatormundi.com

“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’ What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers? ‘The one who treated him kindly,’ the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, Go and do the same.” (The Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke, 10:30-37, The Message)

Bread for Hurting Souls

It has been a gloomy day. Rain started falling around 3pm. Our weekly Panera bread donation needed to be packaged for motel delivery. Baguettes, bagels, bread bowls and loaves were broken down, packaged in bags donated from a local Winn Dixie grocery store. The steady rain meant we would distribute donations from a motel’s front office portico. When we arrived, a few children were already waiting. “Do you have any groceries,” some asked. We did not have groceries to distribute today. One of the children we see every week shared that a young girl was celebrating her 10th birthday. We gave her four perfectly packaged chocolate cookies, wishing her a happy birthday.

“We have to go to room 128,” my husband said.

A young child asked, “What church are you from?” We respond, “God’s church. Several churches support our work.” Another usually shy child said, “Not all churches believe in God.” We talked further. He and his family leave Monday to visit his grandmother in Puerto Rico. We talked about holidays. Most always, I carry copies of The Upper Room Daily Devotional. I was led to give him the latest issue. He was pleased.

Rain became heavier. I walked to room 128. A week ago Saturday, a beloved motel maintenance man was found dead in his room. A woman shared the sad news with us the following Monday. She said that everyone was crying. People were taking it real hard, especially the children because everyone loved him. His memorial service was in Orlando this morning. Most of the people at the motel where he lived, friends and neighbors didn’t have a way to get there. The motel gave them a room to honor their friend today. They wanted us to stop by to honor his memory. Pizza was served. Soda and water were available in a blue cooler sitting outside the door. Grief was palpable.

Inside the room, a beautiful memorial of photographs of this precious soul and his pets were illuminated by several candles. His son and daughter-in-law sat on one of two beds. An open journal was placed in front of the candles and photographs honoring him.

In the rain, we carried remaining pastries, scones and cookies to room 128. People hugged us. A man shared how much he loved his friend. Another Upper Room filled one of my coat pockets. I was led to give it to a  woman who arranged the memorial to honor one who lived a big life, loved by many. Her neighbor and friend living in a tiny room impacted many people. He was honored today and this evening. May he rest in peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.(John 14:27, NLT)

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans

Florida Hospital pledges millions to help the homeless – Orlando Sentinel

Thank you Florida Hospital. A corporate member of the community living Acts 20:35.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35, ESV

Florida Hospital pledges millions to help the homeless – Orlando Sentinel.

Sandwich Shop Observations

In stealth mode at a sandwich shop, I’m observing people during lunch hour. The music playing is too loud to eavesdrop on conversations. In my opinion, technology is slowly replacing person-to-person connection with person-to-electronic-device connection.

Observing a table of four young professionals, a woman talks to others about her father. Working people at lunch, the gentlemen wear ties, the women wear fancy sandals exposing shellacked toes. They listen to their friend, without the distraction of personal electronic devices.

But wait, other people sit alone, partially shielded by laptops or other electronic devices, making connections to something through the free wifi in the shop. More people are talking to devices than talking to people.

I observe people wearing “earpieces” for instant connection to something. Why is it that some people need to wear earpieces to connect? Waiting for a call from a child or spouse is important.

A gentleman wearing an earpiece rustles through a volume of papers in a stack of file folders. I didn’t observe him talking into his earpiece, not once.  He finishes his lunch, taking his food tray to a trash receptacle. Returning to the high-backed booth, he begins talking to the earpiece.

Should we consider how computers, earpieces, smart phones, tablets and high-back booths become barriers to personal contact? As I observe people using electronic devices in a sandwich shop, I notice they aren’t conversing with people at their table but conversing with, “artificial intelligents.”

Is personal contact becoming replaced by smartphones, social media, and texting? What is happening to “Eye”-Touch? Is it time to take a break from the “pods, pads, tablets, phones, and social media apps,” to connect to people instead of electronic device screens?

What do you think?

Leverage

Leverage

Arriving in a rural Georgia town, my husband announced that he forgot to bring his medication with him. We went to a pharmacy to get a small supply for the days we would be away. “You will have to call your pharmacy or your doctor for authorization,” the pharmacist informed us.

Most of our prescriptions are filled through mail-order suppliers. We didn’t have the prescription number with us. We began making phone calls. After a half hour on the telephone, we finally obtained authorization for the prescription.

A week later, we talked with a woman at a local hotel who was running into brick walls trying to assist families working through the maze of social service agencies. Her experiences ended in frustrating encounters with people she expected to be helpful.

We contacted one of the agencies she talked with, asking them to meet with the woman to address her concerns. The agency agreed to contact her. More than a month later, the woman has not heard from anyone. All she wants is to tell someone what she experienced. We contacted the agency a second time. They again agreed to talk with the woman. Another month has gone by. The woman hasn’t heard from anyone. It is frustrating. I wonder how this woman must feel. Would you feel like no one cared for your concerns if the same thing happened to you?

People living below the poverty line have no power, not by their choice or by their circumstances. Their voice isn’t often heard. People living in poverty have nothing to leverage. They are limited because of poverty.

Emmaus (Luke 24:1-35)

Emmaus
(Luke 24:1-35)

The Apostle Paul lived with a thorn in the flesh that limited him. Three different times [Paul] begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, NLT)

I believe that Christ empowers us to help people living in poverty whose voices can’t be heard in the silence of indifference.

Porch and Yard Sales Are Opportunities for Giving

Saturday was our community semi-annual Porch and Yard Sale. The morning started with rain. Since we don’t have a yard, we planned to set up tables on our tree lawn. The rain caused us to move to our side porch. With our tables in place on the porch, minimal sale items flanked a door leading into our home. During the rain, few visitors stopped by before 8am. After rain subsided, more buyers visited.

We met a gentleman new to the neighborhood who runs a ministry for veterans. Three Christian-oriented books sat on a table. We gave them to him for his ministry. He was grateful. Later, a woman commented on a pair of decorative vases. She didn’t want to pay the six dollar price tag. We asked, “Do you like these? Would you like them?” She replied, “Yes.” We gave them to her. With a huge smile on her face, she offered God’s blessing on us as she left the porch.

A man interested in a printer stopped by. A black leather pencil holder sat in front of it. We negotiated a price for the printer. We said, “You need something to put your pencils in.” He wasn’t interested. We said, “No, we would like you to have this.” A smile lit up his face. He was grateful to receive the pencil holder, walking away, pleased with a printer and leather pencil holder.

A woman and her mother forgot where they had parked. The street names she gave to us didn’t make sense. I said to my husband, “Should I offer to drive them to look for their car?” Then my brain’s lightbulb came on, I knew the street they were looking for. I caught them at a crosswalk. Mystery solved.

Community residents stopped by to say hello, sharing what they were looking for. We weren’t looking for anything other than to find new homes for accumulated possessions that were no longer useful to us. Looking back, we received blessings, meaningful conversations, smiles and good wishes.

Many people live in poverty. They couldn’t put things out for a porch and yard sale. They need things from you. How can you help them?

A few hours during a Porch and Yard Sale reminded us of Matthew’s record of the words of Jesus in chapter 6, verses 19-21: “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your heart? What treasures are you collecting for heaven? What do you give from your abundance to help others?