Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services. I will be linking this poem with the D’Verse community where we were given the writing prompt of Wild.

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I have followed Lisa @ Lisa Notes for some time now. She always shares her heart and gives scriptural foundation with her thoughts. In a world that questions the validity of the Bible, I really appreciate that. Recently, I stopped by her place and read this post. I was so excited because I knew that this post would be perfect for this site! Lisa has a practical idea all of us can do in order to make a difference in our world. This is a great followup to Kristen Bridgman’s post. I know you’ll enjoy this post as much as I did.

Sometimes you look away.

You see the man under the bridge or on the street corner.
But you don’t want to.

So you fiddle with the radio or watch the traffic light or check your phone.
All to avoid the human being.

But other times, you can’t help but stare.
You wonder.
How did this happen? Did he used to have a job? A family? A home?

I often see these men on my way to our public library. They hang out under the Governors Drive overpass.

One Wednesday afternoon a couple weeks ago I couldn’t help but stare. I was first up at the light. The gentleman had a sign.

And this time, I actually wanted to help.

I looked around my car. One opened pack of gum. I couldn’t give that.

All I had to give was eye contact and a smile.
I gave it.

I had been unprepared for the good work God had prepared for me to do.
For this man.
On that Wednesday afternoon.
Under an overpass.

Why?
Laziness? Fear? Cynicism?

But as of yesterday, I traded in my empty bag of excuses for a new package tucked under my driver’s seat: a pair of new socks filled with peanut butter crackers and a juice box.

And a handwritten note that says,

“God has planned good things for you to do today.
Jesus will help you. He loves you!”
Ephesians 2:10

Will it make a difference to a man under a bridge?
I can’t predict.

But I can predict this:
It will make a difference to a woman in a car.

Some things you can’t prepare for.
But some things you can.

ready* * *

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose:

I first stumbled upon Amy’s blog several months ago, and was blown away by her purpose for blogging. She states, and I quote, “Can one beyond-blessed family move from addicted to ourselves to devoted to others? This is where I share our story. Thanks for tagging along.” Many of her posts include practical ideas on how to get children beyond self-absorbtion and into being mindful of others. In today’s “it’s all about me” society, I think that’s an amazing feat, don’t you? You must visit her blog, amy l. sullivan, as it is a plethora of ideas and encouragement to do things for the love of Christ. This is a recent post on her blog about what she is doing for Christ’s sake.

Get Kids Invested in Serving Others in Five Easy Steps

Step 1: Find a cause that interests them. For this group of girls, the cause was a local center that houses people traveling to Asheville, North Carolina to seek medical treatment.

Step 2: Brainstorm a tangible way in which kids can see the results of their giving actions. The girls loved the paintings they created (with a little help from a local artist!) for the new children’s wing.

Step 3: Get out of the house and go see the where and why behind actions. It’s easy to forget conversations. Experiences linger longer in little heads.

Step 4: Enlist the help of someone who knows more than you to explain why kid-sized help is important and needed.

Step 5: Celebrate small. Four paintings and a bin full of children’s books and board games will not change the world, but I’m pretty sure it impacted little hearts.

Click here to view the video behind our involvement in this cause. Happy Saturday, friends. Hope you find ways to impact little hearts this weekend.

 

Linking with beautiful Jen, Michelle, and Shanda:

 

Sometimes we think that it’s only big things that count
For the Kingdom.
Martyrs and missionaries.
Skill and sacrifice.

I have a friend.
At first glance she’s done nothing
out of the ordinary.
But… she went to church… again.

You may be like me
Thinking, “Big deal!
Everyone calling themselves Christian
should go to church.”

And Jesus draws in my dirt,
Quietly, calmly.
Humbling me in my lack of understanding.

And her story changes me
perhaps more than her.
You see, my friend was raised in church.
Loved God, truly.
Was a Sunday School teacher at 12.
Felt accepted as a rising worker for Christ.
Felt safe in the sanctuary of “God’s House”.
Until…

Until she was violated at age 15 by a traveling minister.
Young friend, became pregnant.
And was ostracized by church members.
Told she “asked for it”.
Told she was “a disgrace” by her family.

Brilliant girl, really.
Knew she wanted a different life.
Worked hard.
Finished high school at 15.
Started college after giving baby up for adoption.
Had her own apartment the same year 15.
Had to get away, get away from the voices.
The voices that told her she was dirty.
She had to get away from the church.

She married a man.
Who loved her, kindly.
Had two children of her own.
After years of healing hurts,
God was calling her to love what He loves.
But church is where she was violated.
Church is where she was betrayed.

But then…One warm, sunny Sunday
this Dear One walked through the parking lot.
Her stomach turning somersaults,
tying itself into pretzel knots.
Her hands filled with the fingers of her girls.
When she entered, would they make her feel not good enough?
Would they love her the way that she was?
Would they condemn her as harlot?

Would they hurt her children?
Judge and betray them?

I met her at the door
and embraced her.
She trembled a little.
Determined to trust again.
Determined to be loved again.
Determined to become vulnerable.

Every Sunday, she sits beside me,
This woman of great courage.
This woman who obeys His call
His voice.

Can you hear His voice?
Calling?
Hurt ones?
Calling you to love what He loves?
His Church, His Body?
Calling you to trust as a child once again?

Can you hear His voice?
Calling?
Churched ones?
Calling you to love who He loves?
The lost, the hurting?
Calling you to love and understand until it doesn’t hurt anymore?

Or will you waste time like I did
and continue to judge before listening?
Jump to conclusions without evidence?

And Jesus still draws in the dirt.
Quietly, calmly.

Linking with dear Jen

and lovely Michelle

and the friend who oozes creativity, Emily

This post is written by a woman that I hope becomes a new friend.  Kristin Bridgman has a beautiful blog called Ponderings, and one of the things she has pondered is the plight of the homeless in America.  Her husband takes amazing photographs journaling their travels together.  Here, she chronicles her journey from homeschooling housewife to an advocate and friend to the homeless in her hometown.  I know you will find her story as inspirational as I have!

An ordinary man and a miraculous story
An ordinary people and a miraculous God
Ordinary blankets and miraculous outcomes

God is definitely not ordinary but He uses ordinary things to produce the miraculous. If you don’t believe that, just ask me sometime about a cottonwood tree.

A blanket ministry started because of an ordinary book with a miraculous story about a couple and a homeless man of different races and the incredible bond of friendship that was born and the wisdom that flowed both ways, and the miracle of love that changed them all.

God brought this book to an ordinary woman who read the entire thing in one day. Then he led her to a book club where they were discussing this very book and then she discovered there was a homeless population in her town. God laid it on her heart to bring blankets to the cold and homeless. I believe because of two small words that came out of the mouth, “Yes Lord”, the miracles began.

This mild, meek, quiet woman suddenly was filled with boldness and began her mission and the blankets began to appear. A blanket is an ordinary thing but look at what it can do. . .

It became a mission project in her church bringing children together to tie blankets and a girl scout troop to make mittens for the homeless. It introduced these children to a world they had not seen before. It made them realize that not everyone has a home, refrigerator full of food, and nice cars in the driveways. They saw that not everyone has warm coverings or even a bed to climb into. The woman prayed that this was an opening to understanding about gratefulness and truly being thankful for their blessings and not just saying the words. To understand that even though some are not clean, do not smell pretty, God loves them just the same.

What can a blanket do? It brought a teen age boy into his school to tell fellow peers about the homelessness and asked for them to consider helping. They did and big bags of blanket donations were brought in to help warm the cold.

A blanket brought another group of high school students together to sew even more blankets for the homeless and needy. For just a moment, it took the teens away from their world and opened their eyes to a bigger world beyond themselves. They saw past the video games, the pretty clothes and make-up to see a group of people that need love, compassion and understanding. They took time from their own world to open up their hearts to gratefulness for their own families, what God had blessed them with, and compassion for those who are struggling so. Gratefulness, love, compassion; that is more beautiful than all the make-up in the world and designer jeans!

A blanket brought a newspaper reporter to do a story on the blanket ministry. An ordinary paper brought miraculous results. 24 straight days of e-mails and phone calls with donations of blankets and money and every one of them came through. People in Wal-Mart came up to the blanket lady and put cash in her hands for blankets. They came from people at church, hotels, and friends. It brought a job to a homeless man who was also reunited with his family. It brought a man from church to offer a complete stranger, a homeless man, a job, a home with him and his wife. They planted numerous seeds within this young man that hopefully one day will let God water and grow those seeds into something bigger for his life. A blanket brought sweet ladies from church on Wednesday mornings week after week to sew blankets and mittens. A blanket witnessed a lady who suffers with pain in her body, stand over a table and cut fleece for 1000 pairs of these mittens. She walked to the bridge to give, and she sat for over 6 hours at a community fair handing out blankets because she cares so much for others. God blessed the blanket lady with this awesome friend who has a huge servant’s heart. The blanket lady was also blessed with another servant hearted friend whose family stepped up and made food bags for the blanket couple to give out.

What can a blanket do? Because of all the donations, many blankets were given to 3 children who had come into their school crying because they were so cold. It was discovered they were living in a place with no heat and no beds. They were sleeping on a hard floor with only their coat for warmth. They have sleeping bags and many blankets now to keep them warm. A patient from the hospital getting discharged and having to go home to recuperate in a very cold mobile home was given blankets to keep her warm.

What can a blanket do? It brought a huge smile to a little girl’s face who was not getting any Christmas gifts that year. She was given a very soft, warm, red blanket just her size with cute holly leaves and snowmen. You would have thought she had been given a bike or doll by that smile she gave and the way she hugged it all morning!

What can a blanket do? It can bring a husband along on the journey he never thought he would be a part of and it opened his eyes and heart to see something…someone differently.

A blanket can bring people together that otherwise might never have met. Like the drifter off of the highway freezing and hungry.

Like the older homeless man under the bridge, a war veteran who’s been out on the streets for 10 years.

Like the bag lady who has a great big smile, but virtually has lost all her teeth.

Like the children at Salvation Army who gave us great big hugs and smiles.

Like the big ex-con this ordinary woman met at her downtown square park and formed a friendship with. Five weeks later he asked her to help him pray the sinner’s prayer.

The following week he was baptized in her church.

This man went from being an ex-con to a redeemed child of God. He is now in 3 different Bible studies and volunteering 2 days a week at Hope House, a place that helps the homeless and needy. He also attends church service every Sunday.

Homelessness is not a pretty subject and people have asked, “Why do you do this, they are there by their own choices, they will just take advantage of you.” Ahh, she would say, look at them through the lens of Jesus’ eyes. . .

Psalm 139:14 says that we are His masterpiece and He wants us to know that full well. Some people don’t know this yet, and if they can come to understand that they are loved and feel that love when a blanket is handed off to them, well. . .is that not worth it? For them to feel the beauty of Christ’s love, to see them smile through their wrinkled faces and tired eyes. . .that is beauty we see through the lens of our eyes.

Through a horrendous act on a hill long, long ago, those who believe see the beauty of that day. Through the Savior’s broken body, blood, pain, sweat and tears, was astounding, beautiful love that still brings tears to my eyes when I close them and think about it. Not sad tears but tears brought on by the overwhelming love He had for me, so undeserving was I, and he has this for all these people on the streets as well, some who say are undeserving. We are ALL undeserving but we are all given a chance. Some of us came to know of this love through a church home, loving parents who shared and taught, a friend who experienced this love and then shared with another. Some may be on the street, waiting for that certain word, a touch, a hug, a blanket handed to them touched by the prayer and love of others.

In the beginning, the ordinary blanket lady did not think she could do much. Alone she could not, but with a miraculous working God, anything is possible. God took an ordinary occurrence, the reading of a book and took it into a miraculous ministry of handing out over 1000 blankets.

A blanket is just an ordinary piece of cloth, fibers woven together to make a covering. But ask God to be a part of it, and He will take it and bring a covering of warmth over an entire city. For some, warmth for their bodies, and for some, warmth for their hearts.

A favorite quote goes like this. . . “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” That’s all of us. Is He calling you to do something, to go somewhere? Don’t be scared or anxious. For wherever He calls you to go, He will be right there with you, equipping you with whatever you need, whether that be material resources like blankets or internal resources, like boldness and courage.

I pray next time you see a blanket, whether on your bed or on a store shelf, it will make you smile and ask God, what will be your ordinary thing. Then listen. . . obey. . . and watch Him make it miraculous.

 

 

Linking with the lovely Jen this morning.

 

and the beautiful Emily at:

Some problems are so big that it seems like there is no way to fix them.  Ever.  So why try?  Sex trafficking is one of those issues for me.  For one thing, I’d rather not ruin my day with the sordid details.  The facts literally turn my stomach, and send me somewhere dark that I really don’t want to go.  But the truth is that Jesus has called us to be the light in dark places, and the number of dark places in this case are drastically on the increase. And not only in far off and forgotten places, but right here in the United States.

Recently I wrote about a girl who had been abducted and taken to a neighborhood near mine where she was handcuffed to a bed for three years.  The problem is no longer one that can be easily ignored.  But how does one person make a difference?

Today I am writing about one such person.  Chantelle Thompson is a young woman with a world wide view.  An Australian living in the Chicago area, she found a way to not only change her world, but to allow others to change it with her.  As a member of Family Harvest Church, she was asked to come up with a project for Bella, the ministry for women at the church.  She immediately thought of the Kwagala Project, which she had heard of at an earlier women’s event.

The Kwagala Project founded by Kristen Hendricks, is a small Chicago based ministry working both here and abroad to inform the public about human trafficking and to rescue its victims.  Kristen started by donating the proceeds from a small custom purse business she had founded. The charity has grown beyond her business and now provides Northern Uganda’s first rehabilitative residence for sexually exploited girls, as well as vocational training and school scholarships.

What was Chantelle’s idea?  A church cookbook.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re imagining one of those comb bound cookbooks with endless pages of jello molds and 27 slight variations on chicken with rice.  Instead, Bella’s Favorites is a beautiful hard cover book with over 225 family recipes and full color photos.  The genius of this idea is that everyone was able to contribute in part toward helping girls break free, from recipe donations to photo shoots and food artists, to the proud new owners of Bella’s Favorites. Chantelle planned tasting parties not only for the benefit of the contributors, but also so that pictures could be taken of the dishes to be featured in the book.

The cookbook premiered and sold out at the Bella Making Life Beautiful Conference, and Chantelle and the ministry are already planning a second edition. have printed a second edition!

Please visit the Kwagala website to see how you can contribute to their very worthy cause.  THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX…There ARE ways YOU can make a difference.  Chantelle did, and she was kind enough to bring me along with her.

 

Linking with Amazing Ann