Reading and Hope

There’s a little girl who comes to Thursday Night Lights who has captured my heart. 

We’ve talked about Joan before (I’ve changed her name) but seeing her this week gave me an idea…

She’s out of school for the summer, so I know Joan spends most of her time alone. 

Several weeks ago, I was given some books by a friend who moved back to Shreveport, Louisiana. Many of them were young adult fiction books. 

I asked Joan if she likes to read and she does! Next Thursday I’m bringing her a few books. 

Joan’s 11, which is around the time my own love of reading took off. I bet Joan will have the same experience. 

No matter how bleak the circumstances, the settings of a good book draw you in.

 I’m not recommending reading as a method of escapism, but more as a method of seeing that there’s a world beyond your circumstances. 

Imagination is a powerful force. 

My hope for Joan is that she doesn’t look at her circumstances and think, “This is it.”

Obviously, a relationship with Jesus is what Joan really needs. And I plan on talking with her more about that. 

I just remember how much reading impacted my life as a child. 

If you live in the Tulsa area and have some books you’d like to see go to a good cause, I have some friends who would greatly appreciate your generosity. 

Finding the Way

Sometimes you just have to drive around until you find what you’re looking for. 

I set out to eat lunch with my homeless friends downtown but I didn’t quite find their lunch spot on time. 

But what I did find was every homeless shelter in town. 

I almost just hung out with them there–if it wasn’t for the fact I told Debbie and Paul I was coming to help. 

It was kind of cool, though, to get my bearings in downtown Tulsa. Getting turned around has its advantages, I guess. 

This is how most of my homeless friends ended up on the streets. They just got turned around, but couldn’t get their bearings. 

All they need is a guide, a friend with a GPS who can help them figure out how to get out of the mess they’re in. 

Jesus said, “I am the way.”

He asks His followers to point others in the right direction. 

Shifting my perspective

I can’t imagine receiving manna from heaven and complaining.

Lord, we’ve been eating manna FOREVER! Can we have some lunch meat, please? And send down a jar of mayo while you’re at it…this bread is so dry! 

Okay, so I’m paraphrasing the children of Israel, but you see the point. 

My thoughts go to impoverished countries where they literally eat the same thing every day and are thankful. Variety is not important to them; having food at all, no matter if it is the same thing, is what’s important.

A little bit of perspective goes a long way in our consumerist society.

Last night I ate a dinner that was entirely provided–minus the butter and onions–by friends who blessed me with fresh eggs, cheese, bread, and herbs.

Wow. Talk about being spoiled…

Each bite was a sweet reminder that God’s given me some great friends and friends who are generous at that.

It also reminded me of our brothers and sisters around the world who don’t have access to food as readily as I do. Some of those brothers and sisters live in my backyard.

They are the chronically homeless.

They are the families who live paycheck to paycheck.

They are recovering drug addicts.

They are down on their luck war veterans.

They are the disabled who just need some help.

I am hanging out with my neighbors each Thursday and my perspective changes as I see what true struggle looks like.

My friend, you and I are blessed.

And it’s not about having all the coolest toys or the latest and greatest clothes. It’s not even about making the most money. 

My perspective on what it means to be blessed is changing.

 

 

Thursday Night Lights

I made a new friend today. 

Well, I made several new friends today because I had the opportunity to serve during Thursday Night Lights. 

Every Thursday a group of believers come together to serve and eat dinner with the homeless. 

A local missionary to the homeless brings a truck and trailer loaded with picnic tables and other supplies. 

Different groups volunteer each week to prepare dinner. It truly is a collaborative work within the body of Christ. 

My favorite part was hanging out with the men and women. One of my new friends is a little girl–let’s call her Joan–who is the same age as my sister Sofia. 

She was super shy at first but by the end of the night I got her to smile at me. 

Her smile was beautiful and it absolutely broke my heart…

What’s her daily life like? 

What are her dreams?

These are the questions that were burning in my heart. And if you know me at all, I will ask her these questions in due time. 

I’m reading through Matthew’s gospel and already there have been 3 times that Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes. 

My heart was filled with compassion today. I never want to look at a man or woman and not see them as Christ sees them:

Loved. 

Accepted. 

Worth every sacrifice. 

I know that there’s a stigma about the homeless, but my goal is to take all my preconceived notions and throw them in the trash. 

It’s not my job to sit around and rank the people according to their various levels of poverty. 

Who is that helping?

My only job is to love people, to be their friend, and keep pointing them back to Jesus. 

Joan’s smile is still in my head…

All I see is the bright future that Christ has in mind for her. I look forward to getting to know my new friend and helping her see it, too.