Saturday, November 23, 2013

We're Ba....ack!! :0)

I was reading Isaiah 43"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.  For I am the Lord, your are precious to me.  You are honored, and I love you."  I am so happy that  I got to share that message today down on Naches Ave.

The Lord said to stop what we were doing on North First Street about 3 weeks ago... but since them He has made it clear that we were going to continue to minister to the homeless, just in a different way. .... in a more personal way....and in a way that doesn't consume so much of our family life, time, and energy.  Keith has continued ministering throughout the week as he goes about his work week- handing out food, gloves, coats, hats, and blankets.  Well today Keith, Olivia, and I decided to load up the Suburban with clothes, t.p., blankets, and pizza.  We had a blast!! It was so fun going out and working on the Lord's agenda.  He knew what we had in the car and who needed it because we just followed the guidance of the Lord. 

We met both young and old alike.  Olivia sat in the middle seat and made up to go boxes of  pizza between tossing hats, socks, and sweatshirts our way.  Keith met a young guy today who lives on a door step downtown.  Keith asked him how old is was and he said, "I am not sure, but I think I am 21 or 22."  :0(  Keith asked about his parents and he replied, "I am not sure... it's been a long time since I have seen my mom."  Really? He doesn't know how old he is?? He wasn't intellectually disabled, he just wasn't living in a reality where age/birthdays have ever been a part of life.  We will be visiting this young man's door step home a lot more this winter.

Another guy Keith talked with shared that he currently attends church and that he recently gave his life to the Lord and was baptized.  He is 53 and has been through drug addiction, rehab, homelessness, etc.  Someone invited him to church and he went.  He said that he has always suffered from severe depression and so he usually was numb... he just didn't feel anything, but when he walked through the doors of the church, he felt something... and it was a good feeling.  He hadn't "felt" emotions for so long and the emotions that he felt in church were good feelings.  After a period of time, he got saved and baptized.  After that he lost 140 some pounds (He was extremely heavy) and is on a good path.  It was a blessing for both he and Keith to visit.

One young couple were familiar with Keith because he has ministered to them over the past weeks and have gotten to know them.  They welcomed the hot pizza as well as the socks, coats, and gloves.  The young man had a nasty black eye that was very swollen from a fight the night before.  Keith shared with him about a free medical clinic he had recently found out about and was able to encourage him. 

Meanwhile, I had the joy in ministering to two women.  One woman recently got out of jail where she has been for the past 4 months at which time she was able to kick her drug habit and be clean for a period of time.  She had gotten close to the Lord in jail and was hoping that she would be able to stay away from the drugs that nearly killed her.  She shared how she had overdosed and didn't even know it until she read the discharge papers from the hospital which said "drug overdose".  With teary eyes she said, "I don't want to die."  We visited for probably 30 minutes (which never could have happened on North First St. because of the sheer numbers of people.)  She is the mother of 2... and she had her first child at age 14.  She was in an abusive relationship for 9 years and finally left after she found out that the father was sexually abusing her daughter.  With tears in her eyes, I asked if I could pray with both she and her friend.  We stood out in the street with arms linked and tears flowing asking the Lord for protection, healing, and freedom from addiction.  Man it was fun!!!!

The point to all of these stories is 2 fold.... God is with us through our rivers of difficulty and we were able to share that as well as sharing the message....."you are precious to God, you are honored, and God loves you!"  We felt God's love as we were ministering and we loved sharing God's love to some very special people.  It isn't about the "numbers of people", it is about the relationships.... the hope... the encouragement that flows both ways.

Dear Jesus,  I will not be afraid for you have ransomed me.  When I go through deep waters, I know that you will be with me.  When I go through rivers of difficulty, I will not drown.  When I walk through the fire of oppression, I will not be burned up; the flames will not consume me for You are the Lord my God.  I know that I am precious to You and that you honor and love me.   Thank You Dear Jesus for loving me this way and for letting us find such delight in serving incredible people for You!  You are my joy Dear Lord!  In Jesus Holy Name- Amen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Good Bye For Now...

Keith and our family would like to share with all of our friends that we are stopping our North First St. ministries on Sundays.  I know it sounds crazy but Keith and our family started it based on the prompting of the Holy Spirit and it is the same Holy Spirit that has made it clear that now is the time to stop.  It is not a question that it was the right thing to do.  When the Lord says “It’s time to be done…then it’s time to be done.”  We joyfully spent 106 weeks serving and we know that now it is time to rest and restore.  Keith and our family will continue the relationships that we have made on North First and will continue to minister to them.

 Over the last two years, God has changed our hearts…and we will continue to hand out clothes, food, and minster to those in need on a one to one basis.  We encourage all of you to do the same.  Instead of giving us the clothes and food to hand out, we encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and keep a few extra things in your car so that if you see someone in need- you can reach out to them and offer what you have.  It will be scary at first, but it will get much less scary the next time, and the next….God wants us each to hear His Holy Spirit and to hear His promptings.  If you are not sure who is in need- Just drive down North first St., or 2nd. St. and follow your heart.  I guarantee….people are far more appreciative than you would ever imagine….and if they look like they need it- they probably do.  God will transform your heart… he will push you out of your comfort zone and he will show up every time!!  We are so excited to see what the Lord is going to do in our family, relationships, and our hearts. 

Keith and I sincerely thank each and every one of you who have walked with us and supported us along this journey.  You are so appreciated!!! We can’t say Thank You enough!!! Please don’t feel like it is a loss….it is an opportunity to grow your faith a little more.  It honestly would be easier to continue doing North First St. than it is to stop so abruptly because people will not always understand.  It is easier to not rock the boat, but we both heard it very clearly….it is time to be done…now.  I don’t want to be that gal who doesn’t listen to God’s promptings… I’ve been there and I don’t want to be that gal again   :0)      We love you all and appreciate everything that you have done to help the people who have gotten in our hearts.  Please step out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone in your sphere of influence….someone who needs the hope and joy that our Lord Jesus Christ gives!!!

Lord= as we move forward in our journey here on earth…. We pray that you will continue to guide us and lead us along the path that you have for us.  Help us to joyfully continue to make relationships with those in our lives and to love them.  In Jesus Holy Name-  Amen!!!   :0)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We are made to be relational!

God has made us in His image…He has made us relational.  God seeks a relationship with each one of us but leaves it up to us as to how, when, where, and for how long we will interact with Him.  At different points in my life I have been at different points with God.  There have been times when I have been desperately  at his feet as well as times when I have been as far away from him as ever.  The times that I have been the farthest away from him were the times that my life was the most dysfunctional and when I was making the worst choices for myself.

It is no different with our relationships with the people around us.  When I was living way off base…. Making horrible choices….I was also very distant from my loved ones.  I didn’t want anyone telling me what I was doing wrong and I also didn’t want them to know that I was so off base.  Our North First Street friends are no different.  Many of them have come to where they are because of a series of steps that have led them away from anyone who could help them.  Many have left family because the family was so dysfunctional and others have left family because their choices were so dysfunctional. 

I am always looking for measurable ways to indicate that people are making changes in their lives for the better out on North First ST.  In my constant view “the cup is half full” mentality, I want to see that what we are doing is making a difference.  I know that there are way too many variables involved to ever be able to say that the changes we see are due to a 2 hour a week ministry….but what I can report are the common trends in behavior that I observe.  That is all they are….observations.

 And what I have observed over the last 6 months is a trend of people who have approached us and said that they are making a change in their life by moving back to where they came from.  For some, it meant moving back to their home state of California where family lives, others- moving to Spokane where relatives are…some have moved with a friend as far away as North Dakota for work (by the way…they guy has a 9 month work contract with John Deer, an apartment, and just bought a van—he is so happy!), others have moved to Belingham…again because family is there.  The change may be to move from the river, to a hotel room.  Or from a hotel room to an apartment….it may be from the river, to the mission recovery program or from the river…to the triumph recovery center.

I see the moves as a move forward for each one of them.  In the beginning, each person ran from something and was living in a semi-isolated community…one filled with darkness and secrets just as I did when I was making horrible choices.   The tents camouflaged out in the brush by the river, the bed made in the corner of a parking lot with a sleeping bag or a blanket, or the people crammed into a dark motel room are all places where they can continue to carry out their choices without a lot of relationship with people except with people who are making the same choices that you are making.  I see the moves that many of our street friends are choosing as positive steps forward in their lives.  I believe that we were able to help sustain them during their low time with food, clothes, and relationship until they were ready to start on the long path back home…the long path back to society. 

I am so encouraged to hear when someone tells me that they are making a change… rarely is it backwards because the people we see are kind of as low as they can if they are not ready to start moving forward…they just stay where they are at (because you can’t get much lower).  And there are people in this situation also.  They are the people who are still in much the same situation as they were a year or two earlier when we met them.  They may have changes happening within them (Only God knows) but I think they will stay in their situations until they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  It is then that they will start seeking change… and I am so thankful that we are there each week to be able to encourage them at whatever stage they are at. 

I am not at the same place that I was at 25 years ago, because I was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired... it was then that I turned to God.  Only God could move me from where I was to where I am now.  Only God could change my heart and my mind… Only God could break through the darkness and show me the light… the hope…the incredible walk that I am able to have every day with God.

Keith has made a relationship with a guy who has helped him set up the tables on Sunday mornings.  He told Keith today that this last week was the first week in 2 years that he has been able to work a 40 hour week.  Praise the Lord!!!  Keith was able to give him a bike today and he was so happy! We are made to be relational…and we seek relation with one another.

The family that I have spoken of who have 4 kids and earlier in the summer they got an apartment… many people donated things to go in their place since they did not have anything.  Well today they asked if I had anything that they could store the ashes of their tiny baby who passed away  :0(  MY heart was so sad for her and

Yet at the same time, I was so happy that she would share something so private and personal with me.  Keith and I lost a baby boy before we had Olivia.  I trust God that He has it all under control… we wouldn’t have Olivia if Kordell was born.  God has us in the center of his hands!! The mama also asked if we could pray.  It was wonderful… the mama, her teenage daughter, and I held hands and prayed together to Our God and Father!  Beautiful!! We are made to be relational J

A man shared with Keith today… he said, “Man, I really appreciate you guys so much!  I know that you may not hear that very often, but I really appreciate you.”  He shared how he knew we were coming because he saw the tables set up this morning and he said, “I know you will be here whether the tables are up or not.”…. yes people seek relationship.

Chuck is moving to Spokane at the end of the week… he said that he is going to go up and be with family…”but you have been my family here,” he said.  It really isn’t just handing at food and clothes…. It is making relationship…like Christ did.

A guy was out there today who shared with Keith that he had 5 by passes 8 weeks ago.  Keith had him sit down by the car and rest a bit.  He was so thankful for so little.  He seemed to open up and enjoy sharing a bit about his life with Keith.  We all seek someone to share life with.

At the end of the afternoon, a young man (early 20’s) came over for some food.  He has been coming for over a year now.  I asked how his girl friend was doing…(who is really a guy who dresses up like a girl).  His response broke my heart… not because his girlfriend is a guy…but because he said, “We aren’t together… I don’t know where she is… I probably killed her last time I beat her up.”  My heart broke…. I pray that the person isn’t dead and that he/she is safe somewhere away from anyone that would hurt him/her.  It doesn’t matter if it is a man, woman, or child… No ONE ever ever ever deserves to be beat…. Ever!!!!!

Some people in line today who were new… looked away as Keith made his way down the line shaking hands.  They looked like they wanted to disappear… to melt into the crowd and not be seen… they are still running into the dark…. Away from something or someone….Other people in line looked shocked as Keith approached… like, “Why are you talking to me?  Why are you being nice?”   My prayer is that those who are running away from relationships…. Will find renewed hope in the basic need that we all have…. The need to be relational. And I pray that they will begin to feel the stirring in their very core that comes from the Creator of the Earth…a stirring that says, “I have always loved you and you are enough just the way you are!   I will never leave you or forsake you!” 

Thank You Jesus for Your unending love!  I give You all of the praise and glory! In Jesus Holy Name… Amen! J

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Two Year Anniversary...God is So Amazing!!

The two year anniversary of North First Street is this weekend…yes, it has been two years, 103 weeks (We took 1 weekend off last year).  We had no idea that first week that it would extend into another 102 weeks. I never would have believed it if you told me back then that that is what we would do…never in a million years.  God is so funny-  He just takes it one week at a time….Love on the people in front of you…one week, one day, one hour, one minute, one person at a time.


The Lord promises us in Jeremiah 27:11-13 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.


This is my life verse…you see I grew up believing that God was a tyrant and that He only wanted me if I made the right choices.  When I didn’t…I believed that He did not want me anymore. I didn’t know God’s character at all.  Once I gave my heart to the Lord and learned Jeremiah 27:11-13, I knew that my God is an amazing loving God who wants a good life for me. 


Over the last two years Keith and our family have been seeking the Lord with all of our hearts on North First Street.  We have listened to the voice whispering in our ears to go out of our comfort zone, out of our normal sphere of influence into a world that we knew very little about.  The cool thing is that when you know that it is God whispering directions to you…you know that God has your back and He will never leave you or forsake you!! 


As Christians we know that Jesus is the answer… is the answer to all the world, the hope that we all seek!  Jesus is the way, the truth, the life!!  God meets us right where we are at….He never forces Himself on us in any way shape or form!  He also takes us at whatever speed we can handle.  If we need to take little tiny baby steps… then He moves us with little tiny baby steps.  If we need to take huge steps…. He moves us in huge steps. 


Well let’s just say that He has moved many people over the last two years forward… closer to Him.  The people who have been moved have been people on both sides of the box-both the givers and the receivers.  We have been so blessed to see many people from North First Street move closer to the Lord and closer along the path to a healthier life style. 


There was Wayne and Virginia- some of the first people we met down there.  They were living by the river in a tent.  They looked like they were about 15 years older than us, but it turns out they were about 4 years younger.  One night they decided that they wanted to start turning their lives around so they chose to stop doing drug runs for people.  This idea didn’t go down so well with certain people so in retaliation- the person lit their tent on fire while they were inside sleeping.  Both had significant burns but didn’t seek medical help.  That night they decided it was time to change their way of life.  Keith and I spent a few evenings speaking life into the couple and encouraging them to seek a better life for themselves.  They ended up leaving town shortly after to return to Oregon to reunite with family.  They were Christians who had fallen away in the past and who decided to run back into the arms of God. 


We have been blessed to see many people get jobs, choose to return home to their families,  or to enter into a rehabilitation program.  One young mother went into rehab, got cleaned up, and then reunited with her children who she had lost custody of.  The love that people have shown by donating clothes, food, money, toilet paper, toiletries, and time have meant so much to so many people whose stories we may never know.  But it is o.k. because by being obedient to what God has told each of us…has made eternal difference for so many people.  Many people who have already asked the Lord into their hearts in their past, have found their way back to Him. 


Just today Keith was driving through town and he saw one of the guys that we used to always see on North First when he was homeless.  He is now in Triumph Treatment Center and is trying to get his life on track.  He walked with the Lord earlier in his life, but fell off the path somewhere along the way.  Today was wonderful because he asked Keith if he could lose his salvation.  Keith had the joy of telling him about the great gift that Jesus gave us when He died.  Keith explained that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that the gift could be taken away if we make bad decisions….. no, Jesus died on the cross to save us from ALL of our sins!!  Two years ago Keith would not have been sharing the gospel on the side of the road with a recovering addict.  Today it is one of the best parts of his day!!


One young family and a separate young man…both returned to their families in California last month.  Both went for different reasons, but both were seeking healing and more of God! 


God has grown us all so much!  He has brought together both believers and non-believers to volunteer on Sundays.  We have never in 103 weeks of serving, asked for people to sign up on a list to volunteer.  We have just trusted that the Lord would bring enough people to serve and help out.  Every single week there has been enough volunteers and enough food to feed the many friends that come on Sundays.  We have seen salvations, a demon cast out, healings, births, and deaths…. God’s might provision as well as His protection!  Fishes and loaves is real!  We have witnessed it so many times.  These things don’t happen with a lot of “hoop la” and attention…but when we look back over the two years…. We can see where these visible miracles were dotted throughout and where many miracles that we could not see…must surely be strewn throughout the weeks also.


We have learned that every single homeless person has his or her own story and that each story is unique.  There has never been a story that could be solved simply….they are always layered with complex issues that have truly made the phrase “Love Not Judge” real and necessary.  We have not just ministered to strangers… we have made true relationships with so many people.  I can only say that we have given many of them hope because that is what they have told us.  My words to the line of strangers 2 Novembers ago “Jesus has not forgotten you and you are not a bum!” meant more to them than I will ever know.  We just know what they have shared with us.


The Lord has shown us that all people should be shown love….it is not based on whether we deserve it or not because none of us deserve it.  We all have “stuff” in our pasts, the stuff may not be as visible as a homeless person’s but it is all the same- sin. 


I am so thankful that I get to be a part of God’s work.  It is not a credit to me as a person….it is a credit to God for bringing so many people together in a beautiful way to show love and support for others.  We are not promised a “next week” with anyone.  We have learned that if you have something to say to someone, say it this week because there may not be a next week.  If the Lord is nudging you to step out of your comfort zone and to reach out to someone else…. Try it…. God won’t leave you hangin’  ….. He will take care of the details… just step out!

Dear Lord, Your love is incomprehensible to me and I can only understand a fraction of it.  What I do know is that You , Lord my God has plans for me…plans to prosper me and to not harm me.  Plans to give me hope and a future. And when I call on You Lord, You will draw near to me.   Thank Your Lord for your faithfulness to us, Your unending love, and Your unending hope!  I pray that

Sunday, September 29, 2013

God- The Author and Illustrator!

God is the author and illustrator of this world well as life!  Today He orchestrated a beautiful smorgasbord of people, stories, and food down on North First Street.  God's orchestrated stories are so beautiful and filled with "aw".    Today was no different, God left me with my mouth wide open saying, "Wow!!!" 

The line was bound to be long since it was the 5th Sunday of the month.  It is long when there are only 4 Sundays in a I knew today was going to big.  In preparation Keith bar-b-cued about 600 hot dogs.  We had about 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we had frozen from the West Valley High School kids.  An old friend brought by a big pan of baked beans, potato salad, and potato chips left over from their gathering the night before so I figured we would be set.  We had a big bag of Don's Donuts and a trailer packed to the top with clothes!

We had an awesome assortment of volunteers for sure today!  We had volunteers come who had not been here for about 9months come visit us and help, we had high school kids volunteering, foreign exchange students from Germany, Vietnam, and Korea (who loved it and who want to come back and help again! Yay!), there were our faithful ones who come so regularly, and even one who was homeless, but is not any more and who loves to give back!  Only God could bring together such a wonderful group of volunteers hungry to serve others!  (See, we don't have a sign up list... we trust that God will bring the people who need to be there... and there are always loving hearts who show up ready to serve. It sure grows my faith!)

There was such a huge mixture of people standing in line today.  There were some of our old favorites along with many many new faces who we have never seen.  There were young children, old people, pregnant mom's, healthy looking faces as well as sickly,  weak, under nourished meth- faces.  One of my favorite old timers lay along the wall of the near by building with his dog faithfully sitting there by him.  He had passed out with his jacket laying half covering his legs and a half finished fifth of whiskey.  I gently placed a bag of left over doughnuts next to him trying not to alarm him.  He made a couple unintelligible utterances and then lay back in his fog.  I have such a huge heart for Bill but I know that the bottle of whiskey has him shackled.

On the other hand... I heard that another favorite old timer was doing much better.  Willy was the older gentleman who was asleep inside a big hollow pipe when someone lit him on fire.  Willy wasn't able to care for his burns so ended up back in the hospital where they eventually moved him to a nursing home.  Henry, one of Willy's friends, said that Willy looks really good!  He said that Willy had a bath, that he gets 3 meals a day, and is doing really great!  Whenever he tells other people where Willy is staying, he always warns them not to bring any liquor around because Willy has not had a drink since he went in and he wants to see Willy have a chance.  The drs. at the hospital told Willy that if he hadn't come back in for treatment that he would have probably lost both of his arms.  I am so happy that Willy is not going to lose both of his could he hug me back?  :0) Please keep praying for Willy.

Our friend Amanda lives by the river with a few other friends who all take care of each other.  Amanda needs to get to Neighborhood Health this week because she is almost sure that she is pregnant.  If you could see Amanda, you would probably know she was pregnant.  I gave her my quick talk about the importance of getting pre-natal care for the baby.  We talked about special needs babies and how important pre-natal care is.  I pray that Amanda isn't drugging any more...if she is pregnant, we will have more talks about the effects of drugs on an unborn baby.  I like Amanda and her friends a lot.  They have kind hearts...being a drug addict does not mean that you have an uncaring heart... it means that something else dictates your every move...As we stood around, Amanda's two friends started sharing with me a little bit about their lives.  The only man in the group is in his late 40's.  He was standing with a lady who was his first friend when he came to Yakima back in 1979.  He was 12 years old when his mom threw him out of the house and said never come back.... yes, no kidding.... he has been on his own since he was 12 and his friend was 14 years old when she was kicked out of her house.  They have been hanging out ever since and just try to take care of each other as well as the few other friends that have joined them.  So is it a surprise that he is fathering a child that Amanda is carrying?  Not really, but it is a mystery to me how they have survived that way of life for so long.  Mr. D. as I call him, did not go on through school past 12 years of age.  He has worked on and off helping roof houses, carpentry jobs, etc. 

What God is showing me over and over is that I can not assume that every person started out with the same set of life experiences growing up as I did... du? right?  But we judge people as if they had the same roof over their head growing up as we did, the same table full of food, warm blankets, a bed, a mom and dad to kiss them good night, an education, someone to go to when school was hard or friends were mean....and we think-  "Why don't they just go get a job....stop living off of the system....get a life- we all had to."  But see, the race isn't fair-  we are running the race with legs.... and some of them are trying to stay in the race as amputees- running through life on the nubs of their amputated limbs.  I personally couldn't have made it on the streets at 12 years old.  I was still playing with dolls when I was 12... or at least dressing them and doing their hair :0).  I couldn't have found my own food, stayed warm, or figured out how to stay safe.  And if I had... I surely wouldn't have a kind hearted attitude to others like Amanda and her friends.  They care for each other and try to protect each other.  I pray that Amanda's baby is safe and that she is not doing any drugs at this time...  if she is... it only means that I have huge compassion for both she and the baby.

Linda from the river came right at the very end today wearing a short little skirt and a borrowed coat.  We had all of the boxes packed up and we were getting ready to pray.  She said, "I missed the food, but I am here for the best part!"  She joined hands with us and we all prayed a beautiful prayer of thanks for God's beautiful provision!  After we were finished, Linda whispered in my ear that she has been clean for 45 days.  She only needed a coat or sweater because the one that she had on was borrowed.  Keith looked in the back of the trailer and laying on the top of a ton of empty clothes bins were two nice warm women's jackets that were perfect for her!  I don't know how they weren't given out because we went through so many bins of clothes, but they were waiting right there for her!  God is so amazing and it was fun to share that with Linda!  I am so proud of her and happy for her that she is trying very hard to get clean. 

My friend Lucy started working at Walmart and is back with her man who would like to marry her and who has stopped drinking.  They are both seeking the Lord and seeking a life together without the things that messed them up in the past.  Praise God!!!

So as you can see there were a smorgasbord of stories, but there was also a smorgasbord of food!!! We brought about 600 hot dogs, plus the food I spoke of above, in addition to a huge roasting pan filled with chili dogs that someone brought, pans and pans of macaroni and cheese, quiche, potato dishes, spaghetti, water, chips, 20 Domino's pizzas that they donated, Don's Donuts, homemade cookies, fruit snacks, a huge cooler of homemade potato soup,  and probably more that I am missing, but you see God orchestrated all of it!  He knew that the need for food was going to be huge today and he prompted so many different people's hearts.  We don't sign up on any lists or call each other. I told a couple of the ladies that we were doing hot dogs, but everyone else brought the food on their own accord.  The Lord prompted them and they acted in beautiful obedience!  Close to the end, one of the volunteers said that we were not going to have enough hot dogs and wanted to know if I had any peanut butter or jelly in the car.  I did not have any because I didn't think we would need it.  By the time that I got over to check and see exactly how many people still needed food, the volunteers at the front of the line all looked at me with amazement and then told me how they only had one hot dog left, but when they went to move the pan, more hot dogs rolled across the juice filled pan.  I also stood in amazement as they pointed to the last man in line and said, "See, that was the last hot dog."  I wanted to jump with joy and cry at the same time!  How great is our God that He cares for each one of those homeless people-  even the ones at the end of the line--- the man at the end of the line today was looking up, talking to himself- looking quite disconnected from life-  yes, God cares for ALL people!  Even the ones who don't look like they have a purpose or a place.  At God's table, there is Always a place for EVERYONE!  Thank You Jesus for Your amazing provision!  Thank You that you never give up on us and that You Pursue ALL people!  I talked with a lot of people today who knew and were very thankful that God prepared a banquet for them! 

I have been reading in Colossians this week.  Colossians 1: 6 says, "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world.  It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about
God's wonderful grace."  How beautiful is that?  God is changing lives.... changing the lives of the volunteers as well as the lives of our North First Street Friends.  What I see happening on North First Street... is that lives are changing... people are making changes towards improving their lives... changes in their daily decisions, changes in how they see God, and changes in how they see that God views them.  Further in Colossians 1:10 it says, "Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  All the while, you will grow as you lean to know God better and better."  Every day I am learning to know God better and better.... til the day I die I want to keep learning to know God better and better.  I know that many of our friends on North First Street are also getting to know God better and better.  Thank You Precious Lord for Your beautiful, gentle way that You reveal Yourself to us as we continue to trust You and lean into You!  We love You Always!!! In Jesus Holy Name-  Amen  :0)                                                                                      

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I want a tender responsive heart....

God spoke through Ezekiel to the Israelites…. In Ezekiel 36: 25 God says, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.  Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.  I will take out your stony, stony heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

That is the prayer of Keith and I, “please take out our stony hearts and give us a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you….”  I need God’s spirit in me.  I need His spirit to soften my heart that so quickly can harden.  I need God in order to handle what happens on North First Street every week.  Sometimes I get filled with anxiety and get so nervous before we head down.  This week I decided to try something different….I am a speech therapist and have been learning how to write “Social Stories” for kids who are on the autistic spectrum so that they can better understand social situations.  Social stories help autistic kids decrease their anxiety in given situations.  I figured…hey it couldn’t hurt to try and write one about going to North First Street to see if it helped my anxiety. What came out was as follows:

On Sundays we go down to North First Street to hand out food and clothes.  I drive down there and pull into the lot and then people rush around to ask what needs to be done.  I tell people where to put things and where to set the tables up at.  Sometimes they ask me for things or for help.  Sometimes I can give them what they want and sometimes I cannot.  When I have what they want, they are happy and hug me.  When I can’t give them what they want they walk away with a frown on their face or a sad look.  My heart feels sad when I can’t help them.  I feel like I am disappointing them, but I am only supposed to hand out clothes and food.  I give them everything that we have but sometimes it is not enough and I take on their pain.  The pain makes me feel like I want to cry and throw up and it scares me like I don’t want to be in their position.  But their position is not like a sickness that you can catch.  If I don’t have what they need, they will not hurt me.  They will just ask someone somewhere else. 

I get nervous because I get scared that someone will be mad and come and hurt me or my family.  Or that God will put me or my family in a position like they are in and I get scared of that.  I get scared that God might do something like that to me too and I don’t want that.  What I need to remember is that God loves ma ND my family as well as the people on North First Street and He did not make the things happen to them.  If I can’t help them, I need to say, “I am sorry but I don’t have that today and let God take care of the rest.”  I need to suggest to them to “Ask God to show them where they can get help.”  I need to love them without taking on their pain.  I need to trust that God has the rest taken care of.  I also need to remember that the volunteers will be just fine too.  It is up to God to teach them what He wants them to see and it is not up to me to make their experience perfect. 

Dear God, I relinquish control of the events that happen on North First Street.  I leave the people and the events solely in your hands.  I know that you have it taken care of and that I do not need to carry it on my shoulders.  Please help me to grow in this area.  Please lift the weights off of my shoulders.  In Jesus Holy Name, Amen.

After writing this Olivia and I loaded up the food and headed down to North First.  Keith had already gone down a bit earlier to set up.  Little did I know that he was having similar anxiety.  When he pulled up in the lot to set up the tables, he saw a huge line of people already gathered in the shade.  As he got out of the car, people were pulling him in all different directions, needing instruction on how to set up the tables, where to put the boxes, and numerous personal questions about their individual situations.  All Keith felt was a huge wave of desperation and chaos.  Everyone seemed so needy today and did not take instruction well, therefore he had a lot of people trying to help but actually just causing a lot of confusion.  As more volunteers arrived, Keith started to relax a little bit but not for long because as his eyes traveled back down the line, he saw the huge number of people lined up.  Keith stayed at the start of the line shaking hands with people as they received their plates.  Waves of panic kept hitting him, “what if we don’t have enough food…”   As he was reacting to the fear, he was also trying to talk it out to the ladies who were serving.  “We are not going to have enough food,” he told them, “I know that I do not have any faith right now.  Lord I am sorry that I do not have any faith but I see these hungry people and I see the food and I don’t know how you are going to do it!”  Keith continued to reason out loud saying, “I know that God has provided for almost 2 years now and I should have more faith but I don’t.”  He said that as he looked down the line he felt overwhelmed by the heaviness that people were carrying.  He felt the sorrow that so many have felt…the oppression and desperation that was thick in the air.  This went on for a bit longer until finally Keith gave up.  He threw both arms up in the air and said, “I have no faith God and I am so sorry.  I give up control and put it into your hands.”

What was interesting was that the women serving had total faith that God would provide and they kept reassuring Keith.  Shortly after, a man walked up to the table with 2 more huge pans of food.  Yes…. 2 pans of food that we were not expecting.  God has such a great sense of humor.  It wasn’t until Keith finally gave up control that God was able to make things happen and sure enough…..Willy came up to the table…. The last person in line and received the last 2 scoops of spaghetti… I am so so so thankful to God that He is the God of provision….that He is the God of all things!!!   That He carries the load and not us  (When we finally give it to him  :0)  and that He is the only true anxiety buster!!!!! 

After I wrote my “Social Story”  I received immediate comfort and peace.  After Keith gave up control and gave it to God…he also found joy and peace.  When we look to God, He gives us new tender,  responsive hearts.   God lays us out on the table and gently cuts an opening in our chests….He looks to His right and He sees Jesus laying on the other table.  He gently cuts open Jesus’ heart and transplants it into ours.  It is in this transplanted heart that we receive the ability to love more like Jesus.  The beautiful things is that this transplant is available to anyone who would like it! 

It is with this heart that I wept for Willy who was jumped by the train tracks and set on fire this last week.  Willy is about the kindest guy around.  He is always drunk but is very kind.  The people who jumped him burned his arms from just above the elbow down to his wrists.  Willy was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and his arms were wrapped with gauze which was loose and falling down.  Dark black charred skin and huge blisters covered his elbows.  Burned flesh twist down his forearms into the wrapping of white gauze.  My stomach turned and I wanted to cry.  No one deserves torture… it broke my heart.  Some of the people by the river said that they have been terrorized over the past 2 weeks.  Someone has beat people up with a metal pipe breaking and fracturing bones, burning others.  My heart was very tender and responsive.  I have never seen anything like that before.  Please pray for Willy and for the other people who have enough on their plates without being beaten in the process. 

The homeless often take care of the homeless.  They check on each other and watch over the ones who suffer from P.T.S.D., anxiety, and depression to the point of not being able to be around other people.  They bring bandages, ointment, and hydrogen peroxide around to try and mend the wounds.  The medical care at the mission is a blessing for the people who live on the streets.   It is so easy to for me to judge as I drive by in my car, but it isn’t as simple as that.  There are so many other things that play into “homelessness”. 


As I was getting ready to leave, I had a great visit with a man who frequents our Sunday afternoon lunches.  He is about 6’5’’ and probably doesn’t weigh more than 170 pounds.  He shared about his experiences in Vietnam and how he was spit on and cursed at when he got back home.  A few years after returning home from the war he was in a very bad car wreck that left him with traumatic brain injuries which caused seizures.  He shared how his memory isn’t what it was before the wreck and it was obvious that his story is like many other people out there…. It is uniquely his…See every person out there has a different story and no story is the same.

God is in the process of softening my heart… of making it more tender and responsive.  God doesn’t ask me to solve the problems of North First Street.. He just asks me to show love and He will do the rest! 


Lord I trust you to handle the big things and the little things that worry me….I trust You to be my peace and my joy!!  In Jesus Holy Name…. Amen!  :0)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Love One Another...He was telling us...not asking us! :0)

2 John 1:6  "Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning." 

Remember when your parents used to say, "I've told you so many times.....!" John is saying it in a nicer way, but he is saying the same thing. (My paraphrase--O.K. so listen up, God our Father has told us from the very beginning to love one another.  This is nothing new to any of us so let's go out there and get the job done!!! o.k. now on 3...break!!!)  Loving one another is what propels us into action.....

Love is what makes me ask each kid in line on North First Street if he has his school supplies....if he is registered for school??? Education will give these kids the tools to try and get out of their current living conditions- It is hard to be successful in school when you don't have things that your teacher requires of the other students.  My human side wants to think-  It is someone else's problem. I'm sure the teacher will find materials for this student.  Then the Lord whispers in my ear.....ask them....I will supply the resources...just ask them.  And sure enough by asking, it bring the awareness to some new parents that they need to get their kids registered for school.  It isn't just an optional kind of thing.... their kids need to be in school!  As we were handing out school supplies to kids we had adults ask for some paper and a pen or pencil....we take so many things for granted....

Love is what propelled people to donate school supplies over the last few weeks.  It propelled someone to drop by 6 huge watermelon!  Someone else was propelled to gather up baby clothes and wash them all, fold them, and drop them by.  Another person brought by 2 big boxes of granola bars to hand out in line and another was propelled to donate ice cream, yes ice cream!!  The owners of Baskin Robins gave us about 150 cups of pre-scooped ice cream to hand out.  They even let us borrow their portable freezer to serve it out of.  None of these people had to do what they did....but they did it out of love.  Love shown to people who had nothing to offer back.  Those are incredible seeds sown into the Kingdom of God!!  Those seeds do not go unnoticed...those seeds are making a difference in lives!! 

Love propelled the large number of volunteers to show up today.  It set Alicia and a few of her friends from her bible group to make the main dish this week for 150+ people on a beautiful Labor Day weekend!!  Thank you ladies!!! Love moves Megan to make yummy zucchini muffins.  People look at us sometimes like we are crazy for what we do, but to me, it makes logical sense.  Let me explain.... if I was making soup and it tasted bland.... I would add spices to make it taste better because that was what was missing.  If a child is crying because he can't find a toy, I would help him look for it because that is what is missing.  The people on North First Street are missing or poor, people need love and when it is missing- they do crazy things to make up for it.....drinking, eating, gambling, over-exercising, using drugs, sex....people use these things to hide their pain... pain usually caused by someone they loved. 

The Lord instructs us to love one another... over and over throughout His word... love one another.  God is facilitating the healing that needs to take place in all of us!  We all have hurts from a lack of love... it may be from a parent, betrayal from a friend or love, or someone who we loved more than they loved us.  God propels some to reach out in love so that he can heal the hurts in the giver....meanwhile he works on the heart of the receiver through the act of love shown.  Everyone has hurts...  Chris had to have hurts to lead her to a life of prostitution and heroine.  She recently got out out of jail and says that she only does "meth" and drinks now.....Chris has hurts that God's love needs to heal.  Sophiya is a high school girl who looked very sad today.  "How is it going?" I asked her.  "Not great," she responded as she sat down on the cement with her head in her hands.  She looked like a poster child for depression-hopelessness.  I didn't act in love-  I was busy running around getting things set up and didn't stop to ask for the rest of the story.  She ended up sharing with Keith that her family was going to be moving to Tuscaloosa, Alabama today.  She was not very happy.  In love Keith told her and her brother to do whatever they could do to get themselves to the Church of the Highlands.  He shared with them that if they could just make sure and get there...they would be able to find people who would be able to help them get on their feet.  So how did Keith know without a doubt that they could be helped here?  Because he has listened to the church's sermons on line for a couple years now and he knows that they share the same beliefs in the merciful glorious God that we serve....the same God that tells us continually to love one another.  I pray that Sophiya begins to see that a live with God blasts hopelessness out the window!!  God love covers every square inch of this world!! 

Sherrie's life certainly needs more love.  How do I know?? Because anyone who lives with a man who beats her..."but only when he gets angry"  needs some more love.  I could talk until I was blue in the face, but only God can impart the kind of love that she needs to heal all of her hurts.  On Sundays at North First Street- people are guaranteed to find roughly 2 hours of love poured all over them.  It is a time of celebration, laughter, fellow-ship, peace, and safety.  It is a couple hours of love that goes beyond us.  Love that is exponentially grown and dispersed by God! 

Some may say that it is rather "bold" to make such statements, but I can safely say that it is true...because everyone can feel it... it doesn't matter if you are volunteering or if you are receiving the help....God's healing love is radiant!  Some weeks when I head down to North First Street I am tired or distracted with my own life issues, but it never fails....once I get there....the love of Jesus sweeps through and the day is attitude is heart is changed!

We had a lot of people down here today for a first Sunday of the month.  It was more like a 2nd or 3rd Sunday.  Blessedly there was plenty of food, plenty of volunteers, and plenty of love.  God has made us so relational...we all need someone.  Lucy came by today to tell us that she got a job at Walmart this week~  Praise God and I am so glad that she wanted to come and share her good news with us.  Amanda and Dennis are always looking out for each other.  If one gets food, they always share it with the other.  They are there for each other for protection, but also for friendship.  We all need someone, we all need love. 

Today while we were driving down to North First St I saw Michelle sitting on a bench by himself in the park.  He was dressed like a girl and talking to the air.... nobody was around, but he was having a conversation with someone.....Michelle is a meth/heroine addict who is a male prostitute.  He stays with a guy who beats him, but his desire to be loved over rides his desire to be respected.  Michelle has so many hurts that he is trying to numb.  I pray that the Love of Jesus can eventually heal the vast expanse of pain that he must be in before his lifestyle kills him.

There were so many kids there who are being raised in extreme dysfunction.  We can't save people from the consequences of life...but we can choose to love not judge... we can choose to allow the Love of Jesus to propel us do things that don't have another explanation other than love.  I think that God mentions loving others so often in the bible because he knew that it would take repeating over and over in order to penetrate our selfish lives. 

Right at the end of the day on North First Street after the rigs were all packed up two different ladies came up to us.  Both apologized for being late, but wondered if we had food and water which thankfully we did. After we took care of the first lady and she left, we started helping the second lady.  She and her boyfriend had walked from the other side of town.  She was hot and sweaty and a bit out of breath.  She said, "We knew if we could just get here that you might still have some food."  They were trusting... if they could just get there....What they were counting on whether they knew it or not was that Jesus' love would cover their needs....and that is exactly what happened.  The lady had one more request.  She asked, "Could you please remember us in your prayers? We are trying to find jobs."  We did not say anything about church or about Jesus but when we act in His love....the message is transmitted.  It crosses all language barriers, age barriers, and race barriers.  Everyone...Everyone...Everyone...needs the Love of God!!!  Take time today to receive the love of Our Father and to share the love of Our Father...Your life will take on so much more joy!!!!  Have a great God filled filled  Week!! :0)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's a Peanut Butter Cookie Kind of Day

Today was a peanut butter cookie kinda day on North First Street.  Let me explain, see I have had to be gluten and dairy free for the past year and a half.  This might not be a big deal to someone who is extremely health conscious… but for me… it was extremely hard.  I have loved food my whole life and have used it as a way to treat others as well as myself.  I love to cook good food for people in hopes of bringing them some sort of happiness…. Yes I do see food as more than just nutrition for my  body.   Fortunately for my health… I have had to change to a gluten free/dairy free diet.  In doing so I also had to change my view of food.  I could no longer use it to hide hurts, anxiety, anger, frustration, tiredness…because once you take away gluten and dairy… a lot of my comfort foods disappeared with it.  This has been a wonderful thing for my health, but on days like today…I needed something.... and hot gluten free/dairy free homemade  peanut butter cookies fresh out of the oven were just the thing I needed.

Today was overwhelming for me.  I am not sure why though because I didn’t have to prepare any of the food.  It wasn’t physically exhausting, it was emotionally exhausting.  I have spent the last 6 hours trying to process the whole thing and I am not sure if I fully understand it even now.  In 1 John 2:7 it says, “Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you, rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning.  This old commandment- to love one another- is the same message you heard before.  Yet it is also new.  Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it.  For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.” 

I believe this so much and North First Street is such a great example of this.  Over the past almost 2 years… I believe that the darkness has retreated some as the true light continues to shine.  Maybe I was overwhelmed by the out pouring of love that was lived out today.  Being the end of the month… the line was extremely long and people were hungry.  At this time of year the clothes are needed, but not as much as in the winter, none the less… the people are hungry year round. 

Someone asked me this past week why they are so hungry, “They have meals at the mission, so why would they be hungry?”  I agree… the mission is a huge blessing of resources for these people, but the truth is…lunch is not served on the weekends and to get breakfast, they must have spent the night at the mission the night before.  Many of the people we feed don’t sleep at the mission because they live in nearby hotel rooms, therefore their last meal would have been the night before at dinner.  And I don’t know about you… but when our house was filled with children… they didn’t just eat at the 3 meals I made every day…. They were growing and wanted food throughout the day and evening.  The people on North First are no different.  There are often 4 or 5 kids living in a hotel room with their mom, dad, or grandparents.  Often by this time of the month…they do not have much in the way of food hanging around.  Let’s just say the line was extremely long and people were just plain hungry.

The great thing is that we had plenty of food!! The Mormons have adopted us as their humanitarian project for the year and have volunteered to bring the meal on the 4th Sunday of the month for the next year.  What a huge blessing!!  We had volunteers today from so many different churches.  There were even volunteers who did not belong to any church.  They just wanted to come and help.  I am in awe and overwhelmed with God’s love and provision!  We had abundant food, abundant volunteers, and abundant clothes!  Thank You Jesus!!! The love that was shown today is what helps push out the darkness…. The love of children, teens, young adults, parents, grandparents reached out to people on North First Street today.  That is what makes me feel emotional….we had little kids handing out apples next to their parents, teenagers asking to come help, older people willingly giving up their afternoon to extend love to our North First Street friends.  That alone brings tears to my eyes….

But there is more…maybe it was the kid like excitement that Amanda had when we gave her her very own bag of go-gurt, strawberries, 2 bananas, and a peach…Amanda is about in her mid-30’s and has no teeth because of the drugs she has abused.  She loves soft fruit and is so excited when we bring her something special.  She flashes her huge gum-filled smile and I know that the light…is pressing on the darkness.

Maybe it is the Fulsom family that stirs my emotions….they are the family who we have been helping to find furniture and dishes for their apartment.  They came down today specifically because the father wanted us to pray over his family.  They start highschool on Tuesday and he wanted prayer for all of them….. The light is pressing on the darkness.

It might be the image of David’s face in my mind as he flashed his akward smile to me in the midst of his writhing twitches and movements caused by his progressing Huntington’s disease.  David’s eyes are as blue as a clear sky in Yakima on a Summer’s Day.  David can’t get much out, but the twinkle in his eyes says it all.  He enjoys sitting against the wall after he has eaten and watches all the busyness of the day.  David sat there until the last car drove away… and as I looked back I could see David taking the longest, deepest drag on his friend’s joint….David lives on the street and often uses drugs to help ease the pain of the Huntington’s…..”Bless You” he says as he walks awkwardly away.  I believe that David sucks in the love of Jesus as he watches us run around the lot helping others.  The light continues to shine on David.

A mother and father of 5 recently got their special needs child back from Seattle.  They approached me with requests for help with school supplies and school clothes for their children.  We talked about getting preschool special education services for their child and where to access those resources.  They were so appreciative of the help being offered and I felt the burden of their hearts for their kids.  You could tell that they were trying to do the right things and get it right this time….I pray that the light of Jesus… and the love of Jesus invades their hearts and blasts out the darkness.  They have a long road ahead of them.

Chris… a prostitute/drug addict who is about my age came back today.  I haven’t seen her for months and wondered if she was still alive.  She showed up wearing a platinum blond wig which caught me off guard and made me laugh inside.  She explained how she had been hiding from the police for the last 8 months but they finally caught up to her and she ended up serving a couple weeks in jail.   Really??? 8 months of hiding for 2 weeks in jail?? Talk about living in the darkness…She said the good thing was that she is finally off black tar heroin…. “Whew I thought”….”Ya… now I am only on meth.”  I am a speech therapist and I work with special needs children.  I spend my days thinking in baby steps…. I break curriculum into little tiny steps and measure little tiny bits of progress… so in a twisted way…. Chris is making some progress…Chris gave me a huge hug and the only thing I know for sure is that she feels the love of Jesus (even after not seeing us for 8 months).  The light continues to push out the darkness in her life and Jesus continues to love her as much today as the day she was conceived.  That thought overwhelms my emotions…..and brings me to my knees…with pure humble thanksgiving and awe!

I don’t know why my emotions were on high alert today…It just felt overwhelming to see Wild Bill sitting in line with his camping chair and his trusty dog tied with a rope… Bill gave me a great big hug and a kiss on the cheek.  Next to him was the guy who was drunk and manic a few weeks before.  He shook my hand and said that he was doing much  better now…”It was a bad couple of weeks,” he said.  Two of the teenage girls have been gone for quite a few months now and we found out that they were finally removed from the home because their mom’s heavy drug use.  It is the best thing for them I would think since they were being prostituted out so their mom could supply her habit.  These things seemed to weigh my heart down today….a much heavier burden than I usually carry.  I know what to do though… I know that God is the one who needs to carry the burden and I just need to leave it at His feet.  It is only a small feeling of anguish compared to what Jesus felt on the cross when He felt the sins of the entire world come upon Him as he hung on the cross.  It was through this great act of love that we are each propelled forward to love the world around us. 

God loves us with a relentless love that never gives up!!!  He chases after each one of us as if we were each the most precious lamb in the flock.  His love is big enough to help each of the people we encounter and He only asks us to be obedient and offer what we can in the process.  I am continually amazed at the love, kindness, time, and treasures that people offer up.  And I am continually amazed at the great love that I feel coming down from God the Father….each and every day!! I don’t need peanut butter cookies or any other food to comfort me on days like today… I only need Jesus and His great gift of love!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Don't Have One Without the Other...

James 2:26....."Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works."

Out on North First Street God is showing us this on so many levels.  See when I was growing up I tried so hard to do good things and to be good to earn love and affirmation.  In retrospect, I was banking on good deeds to get me the love I needed from those around me.  Sadly :0(  this road only leads to disappointment because the "works" and "deeds" that you have are never enough.  On the other my faith I saw a lot of people with lots of professed "faith", who treated others terribly and did not have any "works" to back up the words that they professed.  It is when Faith and Works are married together that God works through his believers!

This week there have been so many of our homeless friends who have chosen to step out in faith and step into change.  Brenda has chosen to leave Yakima for a nearby town to get some distance away form the life style that only leads to death.  She asked her boy friend to go with her and he declined.  As hard as it is to leave without him, she has chosen to trust God and move away so that she can have a better life.  This is a huge leap of faith for this woman.  She knows that the life style that she is living in is not what God wants for her.  I am so proud of Brenda!  It is a huge scary step for her, but she is taking a chance on God! 

Les from North Dakota called again this week to update us on his new job.  He was so excited!  He has a 9 month contract with the John Deere Company to work on the assembly line.  He took a huge leap of faith when he bought his one way ticket to North Dakota.  His faith married his actions and God met him right at the junction where the 2 came together.  He never leaves us or forsakes us!!

Lucy, a woman who has been seeking God got a call from Walmart last week!  She may have work for the winter!! When we actively step out to meet God.... He draws near to us!!! Lucy's faith met her works....she stepped out and applied for the job... and God met her there!  It is so encouraging to me!

Lester (different from North Dakota Les) shared in our prayer circle today that he starts his new job tomorrow.  Lester has been searching for a job for 7 weeks.  He professes his love for Jesus and has united his faith in the Lord with his active job search....right where God met him! 

Today was such a great day of joyful stories!  I made a ton of tator tot casserole for today.  I spent the morning listening to preaching on-line as I cooked and prepared for the day.  In faith I made the number of pans of food that the Lord seemed to be indicating.  As the food line continued to move along, I grew fearful that we wouldn't have enough food.  It was only the 3rd week of the month, but we seemed to have an unusually large amount of people today.  I prayed that the Lord would stretch our food to the very last person....My faith joined my works and God met us right where they crossed...yes there was just enough food!  We did not have to turn anybody down.  Things like that grow my faith exponentially.

After returning home from serving on North First Street today, three wonderful young adults stopped by our house to talk about their experiences today on North First.  They had served with us side by side and wanted to "de-brief" afterwards.  What happened next ministered more to our hearts than theirs I think because their stories seemed to represent the whole idea of faith with works equals life!
The girls are walking testimonies even if they don't fully yet know it.  They have overcome huge obstacles in their lives that most kids don't have to deal with while maintaining an incredible trust in God.  They serve the Lord throughout their weeks and are an inspiration to me.  It is the young man's story that seemed to move me so much today. 

You see... this young man has overcome the life that we see every week on North First Street.  He has overcome a prostitute, drug addicted mother as well as incredible neglect and abuse.  From birth until age 10 Pablo was raised on the streets of Yakima by his mom who was a prostitute and huge drug addict.  He and his 3 siblings were beaten regularly and neglected most of the time.  Pablo said that he generally got about 3-4 meals a week and often went a few days without food.  I personally have never gone a full day without food... never.  Pablo shared that you just get used to the hunger pains.  Summers were the hardest because he didn't have the school to feed him.  At least during the school year he could count on breakfast and lunch.  After a long time of mal-nutrition, Pablo said that it was hard to eat certain foods because his body would get sick and reject it.   Pablo's mom would use her food stamps to buy food and then would sell it for drugs.  If the kids got clothes from the mission, she would sell them. 

Pablo had to repeat first grade because the first time around he missed too much school.  His mom would beat him us so badly that he couldn't go out of the house.  Needless to say,  he had to repeat first grade.  Pablo said that he was so afraid of his mom.  He was scared to say anything to anyone because he believed that his mom would kill him.  "I believed that my mom owned me and that she could do whatever she wanted with me."  Pablo's mom frequently told him that he was worthless and that she was the best mom that he would ever get.  She often would beat he and his siblings so badly and then would take them to the hospital.  Pain meds were prescribed and then she would use the pain pills. 

Keith and I had so many questions.  We asked him when the point was that he decided that he didn't want that for his life?  He said that he was 7 or 8 and decided he didn't ever want to do the things that his mom did because he didn't want to be like her.  Throughout a 2 year period of time (when Pablo was 8-10 years old) Pablo's older brother started to try and get the kids removed from the home.  during this time there was a lot of talk about the mom selling the kids into the sex slave world.  Pablo's older brother had left the home and wanted desperately to get his siblings out of there before they were gone forever.  Finally when Pablo was 10 years old, his brother successfully convinced CPS to get the kids out of the home.  Pablo was called down to the office at school and was put into foster care.  From that day on... Pablo never went back to their home again.  This was a blessing for the kids because of the families who they were placed with. 

You would never know by looking at this young man the hell that he has lived through.  He is a happy upbeat high school guy who has such a love for Jesus!  He actively seeks opportunities where he can serve others and does not seem to have any bitterness or anger.  Of course we had to ask why and what made him want to try Jesus?  Pablo's answer was so wonderful... he said that he could see how God put certain people in his life at different times... people whose faith-----had met their works---and he experienced the love of God through them.  He said that as a ten year old, he could see that all the people who had helped him in his life had one thing in common.... the love of Jesus!!! Isn't that so amazing???? A ten year old could see that there were people who reached out to him and his siblings to help... and they did it in the love of Jesus! 

Pablo loves Jesus and Pablo knows how real Jesus is.  The other two young women we were talking to have lives that mirror Pablo's story in that they have gone through some really rotten things... but they continue to be walking a life where their faith meets their actions.... they have not given up on God... they have not buried themselves in bitterness or self-pity... but instead have chosen to seek the life that Jesus has for, and tomorrow, and the next day.  Their faith married to their actions are an inspiration to me!  They are under 20 and they get it better than a lot of people 3 times their age.  People... we need to step out... we need to reach out to those in need... to those people who are hurting emotionally as well as physically.  Just think what would have happened to Pablo if people hadn't reached out to him throughout his life.  He said that he remembers people handing out food like we do.  Sometimes it was the much needed meal that filled his stomach because his own mom was too messed up to care for him.  People ask us..."Don't you think that you are enabling them?"  Jesus instructed us to clothe and feed the poor, so we do.  Who knows what "Pablo's" were standing in line today.  Who knows what "hope" we were able to give someone today. 

Jesus continues to stretch stretch my mind (I can't wrap my head completely around neglect and abuse)...he continues to stretch my heart around loving others... around "love not judge"...and he continues to stretch my faith around his incredible love, provision, healing, reconciling, all encompassing ways.  Father God I thank You for always being enough, for never giving up, and for continuing to pour into all of us on North First Street.  It really doesn't matter which side of the line you are on... God is pressing us to match our faith with our actions.  As you go about your week... take a step closer in the direction God is moving you.  It is always worth the risk!!!  Pablo said, "The worst thing you can do in your faith is to do nothing."  I think Pablo got it right!  :0)