Friday, June 14, 2013

Weird Things

It's been fun getting to know Spike this week- every week day he has come to volunteer at the store.  I drove him to and from church and home from M's graduation Thursday.  He has a cute and likeable personality. All week he has been weighing his options , talking to his parents and trying to figure out where to go next.  Today he came and told me, with a big smile on his face, that he will start at The Way on Monday!  I'm glad he will be around a while so I can keep an eye on him.

Then later today, my dear friend Tammy came by the store to say hello and when Spike walked by, I said, "Spike, come meet my friend Tammy".  And guess what?  They already knew each other!  When he lived here last year for a couple months, she cut his hair.  How strange, these twists and turns of fate!

MmmHmm.... God is working in Spike's life.  No question about it.

And I LOVE when God uses me, even in a small way, in someone's story.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just A Kid

I had an interesting experience a couple days ago and it makes me wonder about this "new normal" in my life where the homeless and downtrodden :-)  are concerned. 

To be as succinct as possible, through my friend M, I met a kid named Spike. (Not his real name! :-))  A mere 18 years old, he showed up in town after being kicked out of the recovery program he was in and he had nowhere to go.  As is his habit, M sent him to me to keep him busy (and off the streets) at the store.  (Honesty:  This sometimes bothers me).

He worked for a while at the store and then got ahold of his dad (in a different state), who was apparently practicing tough love and refused to pay for a hotel- instead telling the kid to go to a local homeless shelter.  I was going out for lunch and offered to drive him and on the way, we chatted and I got him some lunch.... and he had good manners and a likeable disposition.  He could be one of Sarah's friends, I thought.

I had never been to this particular homeless shelter and when we pulled up, there was barbed wire and strange people lurking around and he said, "Oh no.  This doesn't look good".  (No, it didn't).  He then assured me he could defend himself, if necessary, but he looked ready to cry.  My maternal instincts went crazy (even though I had known him for all of two hours at this point) and when he left the car walking toward the building with his nice clothes and suitcase, I couldn't hold back the tears.  It reminded me of the day I dropped Jacob off for his first day of preschool and watched him carry his big backpack and lunch box like a big boy into the church and the tears surprised me. 

I wanted to grab him and put him back in the car. 

So I called M for reassurance.  He told me "paternal" things like, "Spike made his bed and he has to lie in it.  Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom.  He is just facing the consequences of his choices.  He has to put on his big boy pants and suck it up".  Also, I figured if his family was practicing tough love, there was probably a reason.  I did feel somewhat better, but it nagged at me all afternoon.

Three hours later, Spike called the store and told me that his dad had agreed to pay for a hotel for a week and was there any way someone could come get him and take him to the hotel.  I told him I would be right there.  We both laughed when he got back in the car.  I said I was relieved he would be in a hotel instead of the homeless shelter.  He said he was, as well.

And I told him to call M when he got settled and we would pick him up for church Sunday and make sure he has food, which M has done.

He is on the waiting list to get into the program I work for.... I will be glad for the day when they get the new building built and can house more residents.  It is such a pressing need- I have seen that with my own eyes.

As for my own introspection, I am wondering how it is that I came to be someone who offers random homeless people rides to the homeless shelter?  I told M that it hit me that I don't know this kid from Adam and he could have done any number of harmful things to me.  And I'm not stupid- I just didn't feel any real threat.  I didn't give him any cash or my personal phone number.  But, sometimes you just know when God wants you to act, I guess.

If I had picked my own ministry for this season of my life, I would have chosen to help babies or puppies or the elderly.  Homeless and drug-addicted men would not have been my choice.  But I guess sometimes God chooses for you. 

Please pray for Spike.  He is a confused kid who has made some bad choices, but I have a good feeling about him.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My other two children

These two beautiful kiddos also had birthdays in 2013.  Libby was 15 on January 13 and Jacob turned 12 on March 20.  I love these two just as much as I love Sarah.  I am just as proud of them as I am of Sarah.  I suppose on their birthdays, I was just a little busy WORKING, BEING A MOTHER, BEING A FRIEND, BAKING COOKIES FOR THE HOMELESS, DOING LAUNDRY, COOKING DINNER, or some other such activity.  I probably should have made time for some birthday posts about these two.  Libby's birthday was mentioned in a post a month or so after her birthday, but it wasn't just as post about her only.  Jacob's birthday wasn't mentioned at all.  Apparently this has bothered their grandmother.  I don't want to make an old woman upset, so here is the birthday post about JACOB AND LIBBY.
Libby as a baby.  She was the most pleasant baby ever.
Libby about three years old on roller skates.  Cute little blonde bob hair cut.  :-)

Libby is a straight-A student, very artistically inclined, always working on some craft or home decorating project, has her wedding planned already (we're just waiting on a groom now), has a very tender heart, is very thoughtful, and by that I mean, she THINKS a lot.  She thinks about things on a level that most people don't ever reach.  She thinks so much, she often has a troubled soul when it comes to injustice, pain, suffering, etc.  She likes to be at home and she likes to read.  She takes an art class and gets better all the time.  She is involved in the church youth group, loves Jesus, and, based on the number of boys that pursue her, very pretty.  She got her drivers permit in January.
Mommy with little infant Jacob.

Jacob, my handsome little baby.
Jacob passes his classes.  That is about what I can say about his grades.  He is smart as can be, but just not yet very interested in academics.  His passion is Hockey and Xbox.  And, more recently, girls.  He plays on the travel hockey team and is just a good sport and awesome team member, in my opinion.  He has always stood up for the "under dog" and been a good friend to people who others shy away from.  He is a mama's boy and still likes to put his head in my lap in church, but let me tell you- he generally won't pick a fight, but if someone else picks one, he won't back down from it.   He is my baby and having two big sisters, has generally been spoiled too much.

Happy Belated Birthday to my second and third children.  I am now done with birthday posts for my kids until January of 2014.  Praise God my mother is now appeased.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy 17th Birthday!

Baby Sarah getting a bath in grandma's sink.
Grown-up Sarah too old for pictures of herself in the bathtub!
It's this girl's 17th birthday today!  :-)  She has grown into such a beautiful young woman.  She is a straight A student, has a part-time job as a hostess at a restaurant, plays soccer, is involved in her church youth group, various clubs at school, National Honor Society, plays the piano and guitar, lives life to the fullest, has a great sense of humor, is a little uppity and spoiled at times, is in the process of visiting colleges and I sit here and wonder where on earth has the time gone and how can I have a 17 year old child?   I love you Sarah!

How My Garden Grows

I planted my little garden about a week ago.  Only green beans, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and green peppers in the raised bed this year.

And with some sunshine and plenty of water this past week... perhaps the most exciting part of gardening.... the seedlings have started to appear!

I also have a tomato plant and some sweet potatoes in containers.  The tomatoes should be fine, but this is my first attempt at sweet potatoes.  I read somewhere that potatoes are good things to plant in containers because you can just dump them out when you are ready to harvest.  Thing is... I have no idea when I will know it's time to "harvest" since they grow underground.  I will need to look that up.

When I did my couponing yesterday and I said that I irritated the ladies behind me with all my coupons... they actually made a rude comment that they thought I couldn't hear.  One said, "Well, sure, if I had the time I might cut out all those coupons......"  As if I must just have all sorts of time on my hands because I have nothing else to do.

It took a lot of self-control for me to not turn around and say, "I'm a single mama with limited resources and three kiddos in all sorts of activities and I work more than full-time and up until three months ago, I was also going to school part-time.  If anyone can talk about not having time, it would be me....." I spent two hours clipping coupons and making my plans yesterday.  In return, I saved $150 on my grocery bill. 

So I was reading a book yesterday about raised-bed gardening and the author made the point that if everyone with even a small yard would plant a small vegetable garden and grow some of their own veggies, that would leave that much more food to go to the hungry.  I'm not sure the logic plays out, because who is going to pay the farmers?  But, he also said that growing some vegetables for your family is a lot cheaper and better for you than buying them at the store.  And it really doesn't take a lot of time to do it, if you keep it small.  And I agree with him on that.

Also, there is just something strangely psychologically rewarding about it.  Just seeing my little seedlings the last couple days makes my heart happy.  :-)

So, that is probably more than you wanted to know about my garden.  But... I'm excited about it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Extreme Couponing

I used to use coupons a lot back when I was primarily a mommy and wife, and I probably did save some money over the years, but I was never all that great at it.  And then I went a few years (primarily as a SINGLE mommy) just using them sporadically or thinking about how I should probably be using them, or actually buying a paper to get the coupons, but never actually clipping them.

Recently my friend Misty got me re-interested in them AND watching sales at stores, etc.  Neither of us really knows all the ins and outs... but she joined a little coupon club she knew of and each week, she gives me several of the coupon inserts from the paper.  She also told me about a website called Southern Savers where you (if you live in the Southeast) can match up your coupons to the sale items at your favorite stores.   Also, now in this age of technology, you can load coupons electronically at some stores, like Kroger and Publix.

Here's my bed covered in my coupons as I attempt to organize and clip them.  Rufus is a big help.

Here's my little coupon box that fills up quickly these days due to the sheer number of coupons I am stuffing in.

 And today I achieved my biggest couponing feat of my life time (to date)!  41 FREE toothbrushes!  :-)  Generally, I don't have 41 of ANY one coupon.... that was something that happened because we got some newspapers at the store I work at for wrapping breakables and most of them were old papers, but 36 of them contained a coupon insert that had not expired, yet!!!  The toothbrushes were on sale for $1.00 and my coupon was for 50 cents off... which gets doubled at Kroger!  :-)  Go me!!!!  (And Misty.... because I am sharing them with her!)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Catching Up

Here's my life over the past few months in pictures.... Lots of crocheting (made a scarf!)
 Libby turned 15 amid very little fanfare (but she did get her learner's permit):

Jacob on Libby's birthday.

Sarah on Libby's birthday.

Kaitlyn is out of the hospital.

I've lost 7 pounds since giving up Dr. Pepper (although I doubt it is very noticeable to anyone but me).  My new drink of choice is iced green tea... I also save money because I make it at home and carry it with me.

We had the excitement of chasing down the neighbor's three dogs who had escaped and appeared to be on a mission to get as far from home as fast as possible.  It was raining and they were muddy, but we put them in our car. 

This little one was just following the lead of the big ones.

Sarah did a number on my car.  :-(

And that about sums up things from here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Libbinardo Newvinci

Libby's hand as she drew it when she started art three years ago:
Libby's hand that she drew recently:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bailey Go Wide

Last weekend, I was watching Jacob's hockey game and the spectator area in this particular rink is right above the team benches.  With two minutes left in the game, and with his team behind, the opposing coach called a time out.  I watched over the railing as the kids crowded around their coach and listened as he drew out the plan on his white board.  The plan was this:  Everyone would work to get the puck to the left wing, Bailey.  Bailey would take it wide, down the boards and around the net, where he would pass it to a teammate who would be waiting for the shot in front of the net.  The teammate would shoot and hopefully score.  Go team!

Since I was privvy to the plan, I watched Bailey intently.  Sure enough, Bailey got the puck and started out down the boards to carry the puck around the net.  He tried, but was soon challenged by our team and the plan was derailed momentarily.  But just as soon as he got the puck back again, he went straight back to the boards and proceeded to try and carry the puck around the net.  I watched with interest as Bailey continued to try and implement the coach's plan, while our players did their best to get the puck away from him.  At least four times in those two minutes, someone passed to Bailey and Bailey got the puck and went wide, straight up the boards.  Finally he got around the net and passed the puck, but no luck on a goal. 

People who play (and care about) sports probably wouldn't be as intrigued by this scene as I was, but I found it kind-of beautiful.  It kind-of reminded me of my relationship with God.  Though I don't feel much like writing out the reasons why.  It's probably self-explanatory right?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Groups & Belonging

On my birthday (last July), my uncle posted on Facebook something like, "Happy Birthday to one of my three favorite nieces".  The catch being that he only has three nieces.  And those are me, my sister Melissa and my cousin Roxanne.  And it got me thinking about all the different GROUPS we belong to in our lives... some by choice and some not.  I am one of three nieces of my Uncle Mike.  I am also...

- one of three children belonging to my parents
- one of six grandchildren belonging to my mom's parents
- one of like 22 grandchildren belong to my dad's parents
- one of four members of the family living in my house today (five if you count Rufus)
- one of a certain number of people employed by my employer
- one of 12 students in a class
- one of 144,000 saved people in God's kingdom (144,000 is figurative, of course)
- one of four people invited to dinner
- one of X number of members of a church (oh, how I wish)

Well, I could go on forever and ever.  But you can see how some groups are of a more permanent nature and some are more temporary, but isn't it kind-of cool?

Why am I writing about this?  I have no idea.  This is the kind of thing I would say in real life and people would stare at me and say, "Nice".  But, that's the beauty of the internet... I can't see your faces. :-P

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I recently met this couple/family who come to serve the homeless on Saturday mornings... and it turns out they recently moved here (and into my neighborhood) and he is one of the pastors at a church right down the street.  The church where he works is right smack in the middle of our affluent community and from the outside looking in, the facilities are BIG and upscale. If I were to stereotype, I would say that it's pretty likely that most of their membership are rich snobs. :-)   And I say that with the utmost respect, since I'm sure I would have no problem fitting right in.  I don't know much about the church really.  I went to a Beth Moore event there once.  They have a really good Child Development Center, which I know because Jacob went to kindergarten there.  I'm pretty sure they have a vibrant youth ministry.  And from their sign out by the road, I know they have ALOT going on... mission trips, foreign language worship times, services to the community, etc.  And one night of the week, they have Celebrate Recovery.  Through CR, the guys that started the homeless ministry on Saturday mornings met this pastor.  (At least, I *think* this is how it all came about).

He and his wife are those kind of people who make you feel really good every time you see them- a hug, a kiss on the temple, a huge smile.....  It's apparent they have a genuine love and concern for people. 

I overheard someone say yesterday that once a week, Mr. Pastor drives a church van down to the same location where we serve the homeless and picks up anyone that wishes to go to Celebrate Recovery. After a meal, they have the CR meeting, and then he drives them back and drops them off.

I have to tell you that if I decided to go to a CR meeting at this particular church location, I would be expecting a certain kind of people working on their "recovery".  (CR is for all kinds of recovery, not just drug and alcohol addiction).  They would be people that look alot like me... having bathed in the last 24 hours, mostly my ethnicity, with a job, etc. This is not an inner city church, after all.  Quite the opposite.  I wouldn't be expecting such "raw-ness".  I wouldn't be expecting people fresh from the streets and probably high and/or drunk right at that very moment.

I have no problem with the existence of a nice church in the midst of a wealthy community.  Rich people need church, too.  :-)  But, the church simply HAS to get outside of itself.  The poor and oppressed and needy, who the church LIVES to serve, are seldom going to look or behave like we wish they would.  And it's one (good) thing to go and meet the needy on their turf and serve them, but it's quite another to go and get the needy and welcome them to YOUR turf once a week with a hot meal and a lesson about Jesus.  So much so, that when I heard about Mr. Pastor driving down to pick up the homeless for CR, my eyes welled up with tears and I had to go and tell he and Mrs. Pastor how great I thought that was.  You know people like them are always baffled when they get praise for being the hands and feet of Jesus.  They don't even realize it's a big deal.  But it is.  When I grow up, I want to be like Mr. and Mrs. Pastor.

It reminds me of part of a Sara Groves song, "Kingdom Comes", which I hadn't heard in forever....

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

That's a little stone that's a little mortar
That's a little seed that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming