Sunday, May 27, 2012

Desperation Sunday....

Psalm 46:1-11  God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble.  And so we need not fear even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea.  Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble!  There is a river of joy flowing through the City of our God- the sacred home of the God above all gods.  God himself is living in that City; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere.  He will not delay his help.  The nations rant and rave in anger- but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. 

          Today on North 1st St we called it Desperation Sunday because it is the last Sunday in the month and yes… they were desperate.  The line snaked out towards the sidewalk as we organized the food line in anticipation for some hungry folks.  People continued to find their way across the street or down the road towards the smell of piping hot stew.  People were patient in line and didn’t appear overly desperate, however there was an overall feeling of agitation and neediness.  People seemed to be in “survivor mode” today. 

          I love how the bible states that even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea…God is our refuge and strength.  Before serving, Keith called everyone to prayer.  He spoke of the refuge in Christ and how He is available to anyone who is interested in receiving them into their hearts…. Nobody answered the invitation that we were aware of, but we sure could sense the presence of the need for God’s refuge and strength as well as his joy! 

          At the end of each North 1st St. adventure, Keith, Olivia, Kacey, and I usually stand around in the kitchen and swap stories of the day because we have all seen and experienced North  1st from a different angle… we spoke to different people, and s       aw different things.  It is one of my favorite parts of the day because I love hearing everybody’s adventures.  The overwhelming agreement today was that a lot of people were a bit mean today…. Mean, desperate, hungry??? If someone set their bag of clothes down, it was likely to be stolen today compared to other days.   Why?  I don’t know… but it was happening.  We brought some extra food for a family and after Keith gave the food to the guy, he said, “Is that it?”  Are you kidding??? “Is that it?”  My flesh was insulted and put off…. Did he have any idea how much time it took me to make the food that we gave him???  but I think it was just a  response of desperation… He might have been thinking- is that it because I have a big family to feed…. Who knows.  There were people who wanted to take clothes from others… to get what we were handing out to someone else… to grab and possess. 

          Not everyone fit this M.O. however, there were a lot of older men who seemed to genuinely appreciate the food and clothes.  One man in particular said that the stew tasted just like how his mother and grandmother used to make it.  I was so glad that he could receive that comfort today.  It made me smile.  Another little girl made Keith’s day complete… She was so happy because her mom found her some pants, shoes, socks, shirts, and a jacket that fit…. She could be just like all of the other kids her age.  The part that grabbed my heart that she was a 3rd generation homeless child.  Her mom and grandmother were there and were also homeless… 3 generations living without a place to call home, without a bed to call their own.  Lord God,  even when the mountains crumble into the sea and the world explodes…. You are our strength and our refuge… Your joy is a river flowing through the city-  Thank You Jesus!!!  You Lord can break the cycle… You are their hope!!!

          Glenn was in a downward spiral today.  He always shares with us that he is a paranoid schizophrenic… Glenn has been very open about needing help, but today in particular Glen was manic, Glenn’s world was crashing.  A shadow of stubble covered his cheeks and chin.  He appeared disheveled, agitated, and desperate.  He wanted time to talk out his frustrations.  Because he had missed 2 weeks of medication, he wasn’t thinking or processing clearly.  Glen’s thoughts seemed to weave in and out of each other- never actually ending, just hooking onto a new worry or frustration.  The problem is that the medicine helps him to think clearly, but if he doesn’t take it then he becomes irrational, and when he is irrational he thinks that he can’t afford the medication- which he totally can, but he is too engulfed in worry and fear to spend the money on the prescription.  Henceforth… the cycle continues to spiral….. down….. Lord Jesus I pray that Glen will be able to grab onto Your place of refuge and that he will find strength in You!!!

          Last week Keith promised an elderly Hispanic gentleman that he would find a Spanish bible for him.  So today we remembered at the last minute that we needed to find a Spanish bible.  I went up to Inklings Bookstore and sure enough… there was a Spanish bible (Thank You Lord!)  and it only cost $4.95.  WOW!  Now that is a great deal…. So I asked for 5.  Lol!   Fast forward to North 1st street and sure enough Keith found more people that wanted a Spanish bible.  One man in particular warmed my heart so much.  Keith asked him if he needed a Spanish bible and he replied, “No thank you, but he needs one,” pointing to his friend standing next to him.  Keith look to the man next to him and asked him if he wanted a Spanish bible…. “Oh yes, I need the bible because I read to him.”  The gentleman pointed over to his friend who had just said no to the bible.  The first man couldn’t read, but he knew his friend needed the bible so he could read it to him.  What a wonderful friend to have.  Dear Lord… thank you so much for standing unmoved amongst all of the turmoil.  Thank you Lord for your strength and your refuge…. When You speak… I pray that we all listen!!

          We never know week by week what it will be like on North 1st St. but what we do know is that God stands unmoved, that His promises never change, that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, and that God is now and will forever be our refuge and our strength.  Lord I am humbled and so thankful that we get to serve you.  Thank You for turning our fishes to loaves and for taking a desperation Sunday and turning it into "enough" because Your "enough"  is always "enough"!  Amen! :0)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

I’m Believing….

Today was a day of “I’m Believing…”  What it means is that it just seems to be the statement that Keith and I said all day today.  “Trust Me and try Me sayeth the Lord!”  Well today we did… but not really a planned test…. A lot of situations came up where we weren’t sure how it was going to happen… but in our hearts we were thinking.. “I’m Believing that…”.  

·         From the beginning I stood on… I’m believing that the meat that was donated this week will be enough to make the hamburger stroganoff that I am making…. (it was J)

·         The people lined up out to the side walk and my prayer was…”I am believing in Fish and Loaves…there will be enough!!” We had two large roasting pans full of stroganoff and my prayer was that everybody standing in line would get a plateful of hot food.  We always have late comers and we had a cooler of sandwiches made for them, but I really didn’t want tell anyone who had waited in line and who had made it on time that the food was gone… God is so amazing because even though Tracy and I dished up large portions in faith… God made the last scoop land on the plate of the last person in line… I darn near cried in thanks!

·         Keith made a cooler full of ham sandwiches for the people who show up late and sure enough… the whole cooler of sandwiches went… And after the cooler of ham sandwiches came the loaves of bread for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches….Thank you Lord that we were able to send each person away with enough food! We stood in the statement…”I am believing that we will have enough food for everyone even with generous portions!”

·         At the end of the day, a man handed me a pair of shoes that someone had left out by the sidewalk.  All of the people were gone and no one had claimed on so I stood holding them while talking to another gentleman.  Suddenly a guy came racing up on his bicycle.  He threw the bike down and held up his foot to show me the bottom of his shoe-  “You got any shoes?? Look at mine.”  His black tennis shoes had three holes in the sole with his foot pushing through to the ground.  Inside I was thinking, “I am believing that God will make these fit…”  He took one look at them and was as happy as can be.  He sat down right there and put them on.  Honestly, he was one of the dirtiest guys I have ever seen.  His face, hands, arms, every bit of skin that you could see was coated with thick black dirt.  His hair was matted and crazy at the same time.  Olivia was in the car because we were going to leave so she broke open the peanut butter and jelly and started making sandwiches.  Her actions showed that she stood on the fact that there would be enough bread left to make him a nice supply of sandwiches… I jumped in the back of the suburban and started digging through a box of odds and ends that my dad had given me from his bathroom cupboard.  We were able to find shampoo, soap, lotion, and a washcloth for him.  He was so happy. 

·         Our amazing God took the old left overs from my mom’s cupboard who had passed away 1 ½ years ago and blessed this man who desperately needed some food, shoes, and lots of bubbles J

·         Keith met a man today who lives by the river and is in desperate need for a job.  Keith spoke with incredible belief to this gentleman.  He spoke “hope” to this man, hope of job possibilities, hope of clothes that were just his size, and hope of a new day tomorrow as well as God’s amazing forgiveness and grace.  The man left with a bible that had a special note written just for him…Keith wrote, “ Isaiah 61:3…God gives us beauty for ashes, joy for sorrow, and praise for heaviness” in addition to the promise, “Today is a new day”.  The strong rugged man who withstands the cold of night as well as the fear of the darkness by the river broke down in tears and sobbed as Keith hugged him…. Thank you Keith for standing on God’s promises…. Those are moments that change eternity….

·         Another woman showed up with her 16 year old son.  Keith said, “No worries, we will have something that is his size.  I am believing that there is something here in this pile of clothes that will work for him.”  “Ya sure…” she replied skeptically.  Keith said that inside he was asking God to please please show that He was real to this lady.  He found boxers and shirts that worked and Keith said, “See, God knew what you needed and He met you here.”  The lady just looked at him and smiled… she knew…

·         Two of our people are believing that they have a chance for change… One woman is entering a 6 month rehab program-  she is 6 weeks pregnant and will go in for rehab on June 29th.  Please pray for Charity and her unborn baby.   Zack told us that he is going to start a 2 year rehab program with the mission… These are huge steps for them.  Please remember them in your prayers.

·         I am praying and believing that we will have breakthrough for the women down there…. We had so many women the last couple weeks… new faces…. New very sad, broken faces… women with bruises, women with pimps, women with fear in their eyes, lifeless faces with dead expressions, women who are slaves to their addictions and slaves to their only means to make money.  The 85 pound anorexic, meth-addicted ladies break my heart- how are they going to make it?  I think that they are going to o.d. or have a massive heart attack because their bodies are so feeble and look like they are going to fall over.

·         I am praying and believing that the number of men with black eyes, bruised hands, and stitches decreases…and I am believing that Chris who has surgery tomorrow morning on his broken hand will continue to draw closer to the Lord.  Chris is an addict who has HIV.  He has been staying around longer and longer each week.  This week he asked for prayer for his surgery.  I am believing that Jesus has his place picked out in heaven and that Chris will come to know Jesus as his personal savior.

·         “Test Me and try Me sayeth the Lord”… I don’t ever want to purposely test God, but I am so thankful that God shows Himself so Amazingly as we step out in faith.  The Lord is growing my faith every week more and more.  Thank You Jesus for loving us so much and for taking care of so many needs that we don’t even know we need….. In Jesus Holy Name… Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Promises are funny things because if you are living according to the world- promises are just things that people commit to that may or may not be broken.  We have all experienced promises that have been broken…. even if there was a pinky promise shake, a cross my heart hope to die, or a promise made over your great grandmother’s grave. 

Even  the most trusted people in our lives break promises at times- not necessarily on purpose or to be hurtful, but rather because circumstances changed and it just couldn’t be helped. 

I broke a promise last week on North 1st Street and I felt really awful about it.  It haunted me throughout the first half of my week.  See we had been helping this one couple whose house burned down in the winter.  They did not have family in Washington and were homeless.  We had helped them earlier with tents, sleeping bags, food, and friendship.  Two Sundays ago, they approached Keith to tell him that their clothes and belongings had been stolen.  They tried to hide their tent and other belongings only to have them washed away by the high river water.  They only had the clothes on their backs and then whatever they could get from our clothes give away that day. 

Keith listened but was really busy with the organized chaos that occurs every Sunday in the empty lot.  The husband came and spoke with me and I felt so sad for them because they had been trying so hard to make the best of their situation.  They had been looking for jobs, had signed up for housing with the state, and were truly thankful as well as products of their circumstance.  I wrote a list of what they needed and promised to meet them that night at 7:00 along the Greenway where we agreed. 

The remainder of the day went on until we eventually pulled up in front of our house.  Keith looked exhausted and gave me the look like “Please do not say we have to go somewhere else.”    I was caught between my own promise to them and my desire to not add anymore to Keith’s load than I already had over the past 2 months with my shoulder surgery.  That night I watched the clock as it crept towards 7:00 and then soon after past….. My heart sank as I realized that I was not going to fulfill my promise.  I felt like a fake, a coward, and like I wrecked any trust that we had built up with this couple.  I know they waited along the Greenway for me with hope- only to have it fade away with the daylight.

The thought of them haunted me through the night…. On my way to work (because I pass the spot I was going to meet them every day on the way to and from work)….I just kept picturing them sleeping under a tarp with no blankets because that is the condition that they were living in at that point.  On the way home from work on the 2nd day I actually saw them sitting at the spot that I was going to meet them.  I didn’t know how to drive back where they were from the freeway… so I continued on home :0(   I talked to the Lord about it and shared how sorry I was to promise something that was so serious when I couldn’t actually make it happen. 

Finally on Wednesday Keith received a phone call from them with fantastic news.  I was praying so hard that they had a job or housing, but what they said totally surprised me.  They had visited the doctor that day and found out that the wife was pregnant!  At first when Keith told me… I didn’t connect the dots…. Because she was pregnant, they qualified for 28 day emergency housing and then they would receive permanent housing for the following 2 years!!!!  I was so so excited!!! J  They would not have to sleep out in the wild any more!!!  They could actually sleep in a real bed with a roof over their heads and a lock on the door! And a toilet, and heat, and light, and a stove, and…. And…. And……

We were able to visit them in their new place and share in the excitement!  We all prayed together and thanked the Lord for His amazing grace and mercy!  There was no doubt that the couple was sold out for God and that they had fallen down before Him pleading for help in their situation.  I did not follow through on my promise, but God did!!! 

God is the only One whose promise we can ALWAYS trust in!!! God does not ever lie.  He keeps all of His promises.  He never forgets, or over promises, or ignores us…Our friends on North 1st street have shared how many people failed them throughout their lives…. Parents who failed to keep them safe as children, relatives who failed to love them the way that God wanted them to love, drugs that promised to make everything better- only to end in crashing lives, promises of easy money- only resulting in jail time, and promises of food and shelter- only to end in no one showing up. 

Only God can help restore the trust that people need to believe His promises!  I pray that God can penetrate their hurt souls and broken hearts.  He can breathe hope into broken dreams and lost promises.  God’s promises NEVER fail!!!

Can you imagine the freedom that we would all live in if we truly grasped God’s promises?  If we really believed in the core of our being that God never break’s His promises???  That He doesn’t break ANY of His promises- Not even one!  And that His promises are for each of us who believe in Him, not just for some separate chosen few…

It is not just our North 1st Street friends who would walk in freedom, but each of us who do not fully grasp the concept of God’s promises-  Kingdom promises- as opposed to earthly, fleshly promises.

Here are just a few of God’s Kingdom Promises……

God Promises that:

·         He is our Savior-John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

·         Jesus is our Lord-  Philippians 2:9-11 “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name with is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things inheaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”

·         Jesus is our Love-  1 John 4:7-12  “For God is love.”

·         Jesus is our Peace- Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”

·         Jesus is our Forgiveness- Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

·         Jesus gives us Righteousness- Philippians 3:9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”

·         Jesus is our Deliverer- Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

·         Jesus is our Fellowship- Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

·         Jesus is our Example- I Peter 2:21 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

·         Jesus is our Brother- Galatians 3:26  “For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

·         Jesus is your Guardian- Psalm 61:3  “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

·         Jesus is our Security- Romans 8:38, 39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

·         Jesus is our Sufficiency- Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

·         Jesus is our Fulfillment- John 6:35 “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.”

·         Jesus is our Everything- Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply allyour need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

·         Jesus is our Strength- Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God , my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

·         Jesus is our Encourager- John 14-27  “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

·         Jesus is our Supplier- Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

·         Jesus is our Healer- Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken heart, and binds up their wounds.”

·         Jesus is our Courage- Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord they God, he is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

·         Jesus is our Life Giver- Isaiah 44:3  “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon they seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:”

·         Jesus is our One and Only One to Count On!- “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

(These promises were taken from a book given to Keith by his mother- “God’s Promises for Your Every Need

These are only some of Your promises dear Lord!  There are so many more in Your Word! Thank You so much for such beautiful promises.  I am your bond servant-  I owe You my life because that is the very least I can do for You when You have done so so much for me! Please help my  heart grasp more fully the completeness of Your promises!  I pray that my friends on North 1st Street as well as all the world will know and trust in Your amazing promises!!!!