I Want to Read My Bible, but…

I recently started a woman’s Bible study. We’re reading through the book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Many years ago, once I returned back to the church I questioned how I was suppose to act as a Christian woman. I didn’t have role models in place to glean from, then. So I took to reading.

I picked up the book written by Elizabeth George, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. It radically changed my life. And little tips from the book helped me start making new habits that helped me grow as a Christian woman.

My group and I are presently in chapter two. It’s about reading our Bibles daily.

I have to say way back when I first read this book, this part was super hard. I wanted to read my Bible, but it was too complicated for me. And it was a great book, but I just didn’t see how it applied to my everyday life.

So I set out to find a way that one, I could understand and two, was relevant to my life.

Here is what I found that worked for me.

There are many, many ways to read the Bible.

I’m certainly not suggesting this is the only way, or that it will even resonate with everyone. But what do you have to lose?

1) Pick a topic you would like to learn about.

The Bible is packed with lessons. You can’t learn them all at once. Pick one.

Some beginning suggestions.
The face of God: What does God look like?
Women: How was I designed to be?
Fear: What does God say about Fear?

More focused suggestions.
Christian Living: How should I be living?
Mental illness: How does God feel about my son?
Honor your mother and father: How can I honor my mother, if I don’t like her very much?

2) You don’t have to read every. single. word.

Skim, with caution. Will you read anything about, Fear in the genealogy of Jesus? Probably not. But do be careful. Once you narrow your search and become more focused on a topic, you will find lessons sprinkled out all over, in places you never saw before. It’s so exciting to find hidden treasures!

3) WRITE IN YOUR​ BIBLE!

You’re going to miss stuff. You’ll want to remember stuff. You’ll want to go back and find stuff. You’ll want to reread stuff. You gotta, gotta, gotta mark up your Bible.

God won’t get mad. He’s thrilled! He wants to encounter you there. Let him. We’re stupid. We can’t see him through all the other words. He’s talking to you, so make his words stand out and speak.

4) Whenever you come across something that has to do with your topic you’ve selected, underlined it. And move on.

You don’t have to stop and meditate on it (unless it really hit you, and you want to). Don’t assume everything has some great, Aha! moment. It won’t. But accumulatively, it will.

5) Start anywhere.

I like to start from the beginning, but I guess you don’t have to. Just make sure you don’t miss anything. If you start in the New Testament, make sure you finish in the Old. We may not be under the old law anymore, but there is still a lot of lessons to be learned, or supported in there. And don’t jump around. You start the book of John, finish the book of John before you move onto something else. Again, you’ll miss stuff.

6) If you don’t have time, read until you can underlined something, then put it away until tomorrow.

A common excuse for not reading the Bible is, I don’t have time. You don’t need a lot of time. But I can tell you, there’s been plenty of times where I thought the same thing so I decided I would only read until I found the next section that talks about my topic, and then when I look up I’ve realized I’ve not only done that but find myself several chapters passed it and 30 minutes late. Don’t even care. I’m on fire!

If you don’t have a lot of time, be disciplined, not neglectful.

7) If you have questions, write them down.

Then call or email your pastor. They love this kind of stuff! They want to know you are reading. Another common excuse for not reading the Bible is, it’s too hard to understand. Pastors’ want to be there to answer any and all of your questions. Sometimes it means they gotta go searching for the answer too. That’s good. It keeps them on their toes.

8) Don’t do more than one topic at a time.

It may take you a year to get through one topic, but that’s ok. You need to stay focused. If you start different Bibles with different topics, you’ll get lost again. It won’t be as meaningful as one topic would. You don’t have to mediate on everyday readings, because once you start reading about the same thing everyday it starts sink in and changes stuff inside of you. Narrowing your focus is important.

So, when you’re done, guess what?
YOU’VE READ THE BIBLE! THE WHOLE BIBLE! That’s huge! Not many can say that. Ask yourself,

“What did I get out of that?”
“Did I encounter God?”
“What is he trying to tell me?”

And if you don’t know, flip to anywhere in the book and look at what you’ve underlined.

Now wasn’t that just the coolest thing, EVER!?

What do you do from here?

9) We’ll pick up another Bible, silly.

But remember to lable your topic in the front of each book. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

You’ve got a lot that God wants to talk to you about. He’s just waiting for you to listen.

Let me know what works for you as you’ve read your Bible, and if you try what I’ve suggested, let me know how that went too. I’d love to see how you grow!

The Drunk, the Crack Head, the Lazy Fat Girl, and the Fabulous and Over the Top Drag Queen with the Beautiful Dress and the Gorgeous Hair

This is the post I may lose friends over. However, no one really reads my blog, so whatever.

Yesterday, I was listening to a conversation between two of my friends. One of which is a lesbian, and hearing her beliefs about life and death, God and sin.

My heart broke.

I wanted to share my beliefs too, but I knew it wasn’t the time.

I could hear she had already been verbally beaten up by other Christians by her use of, “hate the sin but love the sinner.”

She added, “But I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. I am not sinning.”

Now she knows what a Jesus freak I am. But it’s not because I’ve ever shoved him down her throat.

When asked, I have shared. During this conversation, I was not.

But if I could have said something, it would have been this.

I don’t believe our bodies that we have today, function the way God had originally designed them. There are diseases, disorders, anomalies, deformities and so many other mutations, people everywhere are living with.

It may be caused by pollutants, genetics, or accidents. But sin is everywhere.

Sin is the absence of God.

We live in a fallen world.

We have ever since the garden.

Sin is everywhere around us and even inside of us.

There is no escaping it and things have definitely changed because of it.

That’s why God sent his son; to save us from it.

I am fat. I can diet, I can exercise, and I will lose weight. Yet ultimately, I always go back to being fat.

Trust me when I say I don’t choose to be. I don’t want to be. But as much as I want to be thin, my body just doesn’t want to be.

It is a battle I fight everyday.

I don’t believe I was designed to be overweight. But where other people don’t give much thought about their weight, I obsess about it, all the time. Even when my weight is down it is something I still always have on my mind.

Gluttony and being lazy is a sin, and day in and day out I fight against it. My weight is an everyday struggle.

I don’t believe being homosexual was apart of the human design but for the same reasons that I’m fat, some people are gay. I don’t believe they choose to be. I don’t believe they want to be. But ultimately, they are.

Now they could fight it. They could hide it. They could marry, have children and try to disguise it, but the struggle would still be there. The sin is still there even if they don’t act on it.

Even when I hit my goal weight, I am still worshiping food.

But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28

A sin, only needs to be a thought.

An obsession one thinks about everyday.

There’s no escaping it.

Sin is everywhere.

Sin consumes all of us.

But that’s why God sent his son.
He knew this would happen. He knew sin would keep us from him, so he sent his son to take it from us.

The most perfect sacrifice gave his life to bare our sins. All had been forgiven. So no longer will me being overweight keep me from him. And no longer will people who are gay be secluded from him.

Ours sins have been paid for!
All of them!
Everyone’s!

So although sin is still all around us and in us, we do not suffer the eternal consequences of them.

He loves us. All of us.

Now I don’t know how he will judge my friend because I do not know if she had accepted Jesus as her Lord or not. I don’t even know if she has been given accurate information about him to be able to make that kind of decision, but I do know her being gay is not going to determine her fate.

He loves her. He wants to spend eternity with her. And I would be more afraid for those who try to lead her astray by saying she is not welcomed into the throne room of God.

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. – James 3:1-2

There is an entire community of people who have false ideas about who God is, and who they are as his children; and it’s the Christians fault.

The community has been told God doesn’t accept them. God doesn’t approve of them. God doesn’t love them and they are all going to hell.

Well, I wouldn’t want to believe or trust in a God like that either. Why would I make him my Lord and Savior if he died for everyone but me?

It’s almost as if they’re not allowed to believe in Christ.

Oh, I would be very worried if any word came from my mouth that would push someone farther away from God, rather than closer. I would be very very afraid.

Jesus loved sinners. He hung out with them; like all the time. They were his favorite people. He hung out with the people, who people despised the most.

Tax collectors we’re hated by the Jews because they were Jews who not only worked for the government that oppressed them, also but stole money from them as well.

Samaritans where half-breeds. They were not from a pure bloodline of Jewish descent. In the Old Testament they were repeatedly commanded not to intermarry between other nations.

You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, – Deuteronomy 7:3

With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. They have dealt faithlessly with the Lord; for they have borne alien children. Now the new moon shall devour them with their fields. – Hosea 5:6-7

Yes, today Jesus would be kickin’ it with the falling down drunk, the crack head, the lazy fat girl, and the fabulous and over the top drag queen with the beautiful dress and the gorgeous hair. You know why?

Cuz they’re fun!

Well that’s not why, but they are.

Because he loves them.

Flaws, sins and all. They are his children too.

He’d hang out with them just like he hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes, adulterers, and Samaritans.

So I think, we as Christians have a lot of work to do. We have a whole community of people who don’t know the gospel. Who don’t know the good news!

Jesus loves you! Jesus died for you! He accepts you and all your brokenness life in this fallen world has given you. There is room for you in his house.

And we need to get busy.

I’m tired of having to apologize for Christians everywhere who should know there stuff, and yet, preach hate.

Jesus gave us TWO commandments. Love God and others, and to go out and make disciples. That is it.

Why are we making this much more complicated than it really is?

The Mom I Needed to Be

Years ago, I had asked my boys’ dad if I could have three of his old shirts he doesn’t wear anymore.

I wanted to turn them into pillows, so the boys would have a part of their dad when they were with me.

I had a friend of mine, who knows what she’s doing, come over to help me. Remember, I’m not a crafty homemaker by nature. And it didn’t help I had a sewing machine that belonged to my mother, and in my lifetime I know had never been cleaned.

What should have taken a couple of hours, if I remember correctly, took the entire day and then having my friend take them home to finish them on her machine.

The important thing was they got done.

But here I am, years later, and one of my sons asks if I could re-fluff his.

Seriously? You still have it? It’s not destroyed? But you destroy everything? Why didn’t you destroy this?

Yep, he still has it. But to save face I have to tell you, it’s never been washed in all the years he’s had it. Gross.

So this morning, before work, I find myself looking around the house for my seam ripper.

As I sit down at the kitchen table with his deflated pillow and my ripper, we banter back and forth about how much work this is going to take me and that he should not make me do this, and how I’m a mom and it’s my job to do this for him, because I love him.

In walks one of his brothers, and guess what? Now I have to fix TWO of them!

Why can’t you be like your other brother? His is probably in one of the garbage bags of crap that he left behind, and is in the garage somewhere. He doesn’t care anymore. Why do you?

But if course, I don’t mean it. I don’t mean any of it. True I’m not looking forward to talking on this project, but only because it makes me feel incompetent. What would take other moms an hour to do, it will take me four.

IMG_20170424_084320327

But it grows me as a mom. It’s challenging, and difficult, and I don’t particularly enjoy any of it.

But I love my boys.

Anyone who has a child becomes a mom. Qualifications are pretty low. But the opportunities are limitless. You get to be the mom you want to be.

God knows this.

He knew I would struggle as a mom. He knew I wouldn’t particularly love every minute. He even knew I would have a hard time enjoying a lot of it.

But he knew I would step up and do it. Even if I didn’t want to.

In high school, classes would debate abortion. They probably still do. What I remember back then was I didn’t feel I really should have a say in what another woman did with her body.

I didn’t particularly like the idea of abortion, but I could think of reasons why others might have them. Rape, incest, mother’s safety, I’m sure there were others.

But as an adult, once I got older, once I found myself not living in the garden anymore, I found myself not in one, but two not ideal pregnancies.

For most of my friends, I could probably say, there was no decision to make, but really…how many of them were in my shoes?

When I found out I was pregnant with the first one, I had already had a five and one year old, and I had just left my husband, a week earlier.

We were getting a divorce and I was living back with my dad and his wife, in their three bedroom little house.

My income was around $24,000 a year.

My one year old was already showing signs of some kind of a disorder, but I had no idea what.

And remember, I wasn’t suppose to be a mom in the first place. I had no desire, growing up to be one.

(And before you say it, I was on birth control with two of my kids. The only one that was planned was the middle one…the one who has stretched me most as a mom.)

Now I’m going to be doing it alone.

Second time, I had three rambunctious boys. Oldest one was eight, youngest one was two, and my middle one was four; still not talking, destroying everything during frequent meltdowns and beating his older brother in rage and constantly fearing he would hurt his younger one.

I am unwed, and in an emotionally, verbally and quickly escalating into a physically abusive relationship.

I needed out.

So twice I asked myself, what the hell are you going to do?

I can’t say it was a hard decision to make. Of course, ultimately you all know, I kept the two babies. But it was still a decision I had to make. Or, I should say, it was a choice I felt I had.

However, although I didn’t feel very close to him at the time, I still knew God. I knew deep in my heart, he still had a plan for me, and he had a plan for these babies too.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Oh my gosh, it took years, YEARS, for me to stop feeling like I was being punished.

God doesn’t punish.

But I finally came to the realization, that out of all the women, in all the world, that I was the only mom who could raise these kids the way God wanted them to be raised, so that they could grow up to be the men and woman, he intended for them to be.

And they didn’t need a mom who loved to bake cookies, or could sew all their clothes. Heck they didn’t even need a mom who could or would cook half way decent food.

They just needed a mom who would try.

So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table, cursing up a storm in my head but teasing my son about having to re-fluff a pillow, when it hits me…

I needed them, as much as they needed me!

Never, ever would I have felt the need to learn to cook, if I didn’t have to cook for them.

I wouldn’t have realized I needed to start standing up for myself and not let people take advantage of me, if I didn’t have to teach them the same thing.

I wouldn’t have learned I had a voice, if I hadn’t have had to shown them they have one too.

And I wouldn’t have learned to love, if I didn’t have someone, or someones to love.

So, I need to get back to ripping two pillows apart, so I can continue learning how to love my sons.

And I can give them a hard time about it later. Cuz that’s the kind of mom they need. And that’s the kind of mom God has made me to be.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Who is this Man?

My husband is so amazing.

Sometimes, I truly feel bad for him, but oh my gosh, how much he has grown!

We have a daughter who usually once a week tells me, “MOM! I HAVE THIS GREAT IDEA!” Instantly, I get this pit in my stomach, because I know whatever her idea is, it’s going to push me as a mom.

It’s why we celebrate Yay Day, every July 24th. It’s why she’s been going to “Prom” every May for the past three years, even though she’s only 11. It’s why we had our first community ice cream social in our neighborhood park. It’s why I ran Girls’ Club for twelve, seven to eleven year olds, every other Friday for so many years.

Yay Day IMG_20170329_064131

She pushes me to be the mom I’m suppose to be, instead of being the one I would rather settle being. After five boys, she’s the one who grows me, not only as a mother, but as a person.

So, one day I asked my husband, when I come to him and tell him, “I HAVE THIS GREAT IDEA!” does he get that same pit in his stomach that I do when my daughter comes to me?

My husband is a man of very few words, so when he responded with, “Yes,” I heard, “It’s exactly like that!”

But you know what? He never tells me no. And I try really hard, not to abuse that.

Once in while we have to modify my plans to make him feel more comfortable, and the things I’ve gotten him to do over the years have been pretty crazy… but he’s growing!

I’m so proud I’ve married a man who’s open to stepping out of his comfort zone and to grow his faith with me.

This month has been our sixth year anniversary.

I had absolutely no idea how we were going to celebrate.

Last year, we spent the weekend in Oceanside, California with our nephew and bride. It was an amazing trip.

Oceanside

This year, I don’t know, it wasn’t like I was looking for something special for us to do. So it’s not like I intentionally planned anything, but three weeks before the date, God dropped this idea on me.

It was an idea to celebrate our life together as a couple, with our friends. But in lieu of gifts we asked for our friends if they would participate in a Service Scavenger Hunt. We threw in the BBQ at the end of the event to help him feel more comfortable.

More comfortable? My husband is terrified of people! It means he has to talk. Then there is the whole “being a good host”. And it’s in the middle of Nascar!

But he’s been doing it for me. I can’t count how many BBQs we’ve hosted on our driveway for our friends, family and neighbors, during the past three years.

 

He’s growing!

And what was once outside his comfort zone, he’s asking if we could add to our anniversary celebration.

“Who is this man?” I ask with excitement!

He’s someone who, as we grow closer to God, we’re also growing closer together.

I love this man! Happy Anniversary, Honey!

Redemption Through Shame

I can’t remember which of these happened first, but they haunt me just the same.

I was once with a man, who on the surface, could be quite charming. He had the right words, when he needed them. He was a fast talker, and a risk taker.

He made me feel important and loved, but I hated who I had become.

Back then, I’d say he had a big heart. He would drive up and down the freeways, looking to help someone in despair. He would change their tire, bring them some gas, give them a lift. One time even, he gave someone our spare tire.

Well… he didn’t give it to them. He sold it. Come to think of it, 99% of the time he was given money for his “good deed.”

One time he was given a check for a couple hundred dollars from a driver of an RV. They were on their way home to California when they ran into trouble. Yeah, he brought it home to me and guess who ate the fines once they got home and cancelled the check?

But the tire… it wasn’t our tire. It was my tire.

Oh, he always promised to get me a new one. He promised a lot of things.

Everyday, in fact, up until the day we found ourselves on the side of the road with a flat and no spare.

It just so happened, on this particular day, we pulled off the side of the freeway behind another vehicle who had been abandoned by it’s driver; in search of help I suppose.

What are we going to do? I was furious we were in this predicament. I was frightened, because I didn’t know how we were going to get out of it.

By this time, I didn’t have any friends that I could turn to, and he had pretty much ran off my family. There was no AAA. He didn’t have any support. All of his friends had become wise to his ways, and no one owed him any favors.

We were stuck.

I could drama it up, and say it was a hot summer day and we had a van full of kids. But honestly, that’s not what I remember about that day.

He had this great idea.

Well, I never thought it was great, but it was an idea, and I didn’t see any other options at the time.

He took the jack from the trunk of my van, walked up to the abandoned vehicle, and proceeded to steal one of its tires.

To this day, this memory still haunts me.

Why would I allow him to do this?
Why would I have not told him, no?

“Didn’t I tell you I’d get you a tire?”, he would say.

He always had a way of twisting things. This was somehow going to make everything alright. And it did.

We got home and I’ve never spoken of it until today.

A different day, maybe before the tire fiasco, maybe after. My time with him is pretty much a blur.

This morning, we had one of his sons with us.

He had four children, but only one of them he was allowed to spend any time with.

We went to an IHOP for breakfast. I enjoyed spending time with his son. It made him look normal to me. I saw a good dad, because I wanted to.

At the end of our meal his son and I were going to use the bathroom. Not realizing they didn’t accept any cards for payment, he told me to give him my debit card, and he would use the ATM by the front door, then meet us at the car.

We were maybe two, three miles away when he asked me how I liked my free meal. What was he talking about? I gave him my debit card, it was anything but free.

“I didn’t use the ATM. Here’s your card back.”

WHAT!?

I felt sick to my stomach. I had never done anything like this before. Who was I turning into? And why wasn’t I telling him to turn around?

I can tell you why, now.

I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know I had value.

I thought this was the best I was going to get. I was over 30, single, and had three kids.

He was handsome, charming, and interested.

Oh, he saw me coming. He knew exactly what to look for.

There are many things that had happened during our relationship that brings me shame, but these were the worst. These made me, him.

I wanted to share, because I know I’m not alone when it comes to doing something we’re ashamed of.

What we’ve done, may look different, but I assure you the feeling is the same.

Shame robs us of our feeling of worth and value. But I have to tell you, what you do or don’t do does not give you your worth.

It is who you are.

A wrinkled up, faded, crumpled $100 bill has the same value as a crisp, clean, freshly printed one. If you don’t think so, give it to me!

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18

But I know who I belong to! He is a King. And he loves me not because I’m good. But because I’m his.

Don’t let your past describe who you are. Don’t let it determine your worth. There is nothing you can do that would increase or decrease your value. You don’t have that kind of power.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. – Romans 8:38

Lord,
thank you for your grace, forgiveness and love. For now I know my worth.
I am Yours.

To See Jesus

#30 Steven @ 32nd Street and Thomas, Phoenix.

Steven was just sitting on the corner, minding his own business. No sign. No hand out. Maybe he was taking a break from standing but when I encountered him, he was just watching traffic.

I sat down next to him and asked what he thought of the weather. It was a bit chilly for me.

He made small talk for a minute, but clearly wasn’t comfortable with me sitting with him so I got up to leave.

He probably didn’t feel any more special today, but for me he was a milestone.

I’ve just met thirty individuals, and passed out thirty extra lunches.

Actually, there’s a few more than thirty, but I didn’t get their names. Not that they don’t count as individuals, but not as a name to go with a face. God knows their name. I want to know their name too.

Thirty seemed like a big deal to me.

That’s one person a day for a month.

Wish I could say that’s a goal I’ve actually met, but it’s still thirty people I never would have taken the time to meet if I never followed through on my “What if” conversation I had with my friend.

All these names are people, like real people. All people who were once little kids, who went to school and had friends and a family, just like me.

1. Norma at 32nd Street and Windsor, Phoenix. Norma had her public assistance cut.

Recycle guy at 32nd Street and Yale, Phoenix. He was going through a dumpster of a trailer park looking for cans and bottles. I don’t think he speaks English.

2. Kurt at Washington and I10, Phoenix. Kurt lives out in a field. He’s looking for a job that will pay cash since he can’t afford to lose his public health insurance. I’ve actually had a lunch for him, a couple of times. If I see someone more than once, I try to check in with them.

3. Mike at 91st Ave and Olive, Peoria. Mike is an older gentleman looking for a job but won’t turn down food either.

4. Steve “Sarge” at 83rd Ave and Bell, Peoria. Steve is struggling to pay for his wife’s medical bills.

5. Daniel at 59th Ave and Northern, Glendale. Daniel is a young guy who’s hungry and hanging outside of the Walmart parking lot.

6. Rebecca at 59th Ave and Northern, Glendale. Rebecca is up early looking for food.

7. Jack at 67th Ave and Thunderbird, Glendale. When I offered Jack a lunch he asked me why I wasn’t going to eat it. I told him I already ate mine and I made a second one for him. He was in shock and couldn’t understand why I would do that.

8. Gary at 20th Street and Thomas, Phoenix. When I asked how his day was going, he told me not good, but when I offered him a lunch and told him I hope it gets better, he became so excited and told me it already is.

A man pushing a cart at 27th Ave and Yorkshire, Phoenix. His sign said he was 73 and a US vet. Couldn’t get his name or story since we were stuck in the car, holding up traffic and not having a place to pull over.

9. Scott at Buckeye and I 10 exit, Phoenix. He’s from Arkansas. Been here about a year. He came out to help a friend. I have no idea what happened to the friend but he’s hoping to get a job next month.

10. Kevin at 32nd Street & Washington, Phoenix. Kevin was pulling a cart full of cans, empty bottles and scrape metal across the street. Two months ago he was in an accident that required putting several pins in his elbow. The other driver left the scene.

11 & 12. Corina and Lydia at 59th Ave and Bethany Home, Glendale. This is the day I told my son he’d have to leave my house, for the second time. I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as well as brought bags of chips, popcorn and some fruit. Even though there was several people in the same park, there were the only two who would have lunch with me. I gave the peanut butter jar and jelly to Corina since she said she had kids.

13. Spanish speaking woman (got her name, couldn’t understand it) at the light between the 101 and 91st Ave and Northern, Peoria. She was holding a sign asking help for her kids.

14. Steve at Cortez Park at 35 Ave and Dunlap, Phoenix. Steve was fishing in the park with his buddy A.Z. We didn’t get to meet A.Z. but Steve asked if we could put a lunch in his chair for him.

15. Jim at Cortez Park at 35 Ave and Dunlap, Phoenix. He was older and sitting cross legged in the middle of the grass. I don’t know that he was doing anything but sitting.

16 &17. Nate and his son Timothy at 7th Street and Indian School, Phoenix. Timothy’s mom, Kristy was at work.

18 & 19. Gail and Lieutenant John at the canal just east of 19th Ave and Hatcher, Phoenix. I couldn’t miss Miss Gail’s hot pink hair from the road.

20. Ramon at a field on Grand Ave, north of Indian School, Phoenix. He was sitting in the middle of an empty field.

21. Pete at I17 and Peoria, Phoenix. He accepted my lunch, then put it on the ground and pushed it away from him. Perhaps he will eat it later.

22. Darrin at 7th Street and Dunlap, Phoenix. Darrin’s sign read, “homeless and hungry.”

23. Sky at Country Club and Baseline, Mesa. Told me a poem he wrote about tears and rainbows. Also a metaphor about not grieving for loved ones, but writing a thank you letter to them.

24. Gene at 19th Ave and Bethany Home, Phoenix. Hid his face behind his sign that said, “Please help.” He wouldn’t make eye contact with me, but was very nice.

25. Eddie at I10 and Litchfield Rd, Goodyear. He was sitting on the ground with his back up against a street sign, holding a sign that read HUNGRY. I asked him how his day was going. He smiled and told me he’s not complaining.

26. Nicki at Northern and Grand Ave, Phoenix. Nicki looked like the life of the party wearing a fluffy skirt with leggings and I couldn’t tell you how many colors her hair was. Her sign read, “Anything would help.”

27. Howard at Arizona Ave and Ray, Chandler. Howard was pushing his cart down Arizona Ave.

28. Syai (Sy) at 5th Ave and Hatcher, Phoenix. Sy was very grateful for his lunch, but he wants a place to stay. He asked for help. No one has asked for my help before. Questioned why God brought me to him. I felt helpless.

29. Justin at 59th Ave and Thunderbird, Glendale. His sign read, “food”.

30. Steven at 32nd Street and Thomas, Phoenix. Steven was just sitting on the corner, minding his own business.

But something went wrong.

Maybe they were taken into foster care after something horrific happened?

Maybe something horrific happened, and they weren’t!

Maybe they were raised by addicts?

Maybe they have an undiagnosed disability?

Maybe they have a mental illness?

Maybe they don’t trust?

Maybe they’re scared?

Maybe they’re facing their own demons?

Maybe they’re socially awkward and were outcasted?

Maybe they mentally can’t handle relationships?

Maybe they did something terrible, and believe this is all they deserve?

Maybe they were abandoned?

Maybe they are self medicating because they can’t afford help?

Maybe they’re heartbroken?

Maybe they’re lost?

I don’t really believe everyone of these thirty people are lazy and have poor budgeting skills.

I don’t believe they decided one day they didn’t like all the responsibilities that come with a job and family, so they believed living on the streets would be easier.

I don’t believe anything that is going on inside their head is easy.

Are there scammers?

Maybe, but even still, I don’t believe any of them are living a life to be envied, so who are they really cheating?

Maybe they don’t have any desire to come off the street.

Maybe they are choosing to live this life.

Maybe they make poor choices.

Does this mean they are forfeiting their value? They have no worth?

I don’t believe that’s true.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you. – Psalm 139:13-18

When it all boils down to it… maybe they’re just not as good at hiding all their brokenness as I am? That shouldn’t change anything.

So my goal remains the same.

To look like Jesus to a stranger, if only for a brief encounter.

To see what Jesus sees.

To see Jesus.

Bless Them

#26 Nicki @ Northern and Grand Ave, Phoenix.

Nicki looked like the life of the party wearing a fluffy skirt with leggings and I couldn’t tell you how many colors her hair was.

Her sign read, “Anything would help” and since I was in traffic and on my way to work, I did something I never do.

I waved to her and rolled my passenger side window down.

I hate doing that, because I feel rushed and I know our conversation would be quick, but I also didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity to give her a lunch.

Don’t know anything about her. I drive this way nearly everyday and I’ve never seen her before.

#27 Howard @ Arizona Ave and Ray, Chandler.

Howard was pushing his cart down Arizona Ave.

I few across two lanes of traffic to pull into a Walgreens.

I was afraid I was going to miss him, or have to chase him down the street, so I pulled quickly into the first spot. The spot, of course, was flooded from all the rain.

I jumped out to catch him.

Funny, I spot him standing in the middle of a drive way, adjusting something, or perhaps, waiting for me.

I wave as he looks over towards me.

He waved back with a grin, but continues to push his cart out of the road.

“No!” He looks back once again.

This time I wave and point to the brown paper bag I have in my hand.

His grin turns to a big goofy smile as he abandons his cart and starts to walk towards me.

“Good morning!” He hollered out.

“Good morning! I was afraid I was going to miss you. I made you an extra lunch today. I don’t know? In case you haven’t eaten today.”

He just seemed so joyful, he made me feel joyful too.

Lord, bless the ones who bless me.