December 036

Hello, friends!

It’s been such a long time and I miss you and this space so much. A lot has changed around here in the last few months. I keep wanting to catch you up on it with some well-written posts, but if I keep waiting for the time for those, it’s just not going to happen. Depending on how you look at it, 3 or 4 things are keeping me from time to write here or even craft these days!

But it’s mostly good!

Number 1

The snow. SO. MUCH. SNOW. Like, six or seven feet of snow in a month when we normally get one or two. So much snow that Grand Rapids ran out of it’s salt and plow budgets before January even finished. It’s February 5 and it snow another six inches last night. Shovelling has become my exercise and some days, a part-time job! Yes, the boys and Joe help. And yes, we’ll probably finally get a snow blower next year. But Joe’s often at work in another city. And since we live on a main road, the plows dump a ton of snow at the end of our drive. It’s too close to the road for the boys to shovel and it needs to get done so that Joe can even get in the drive, so…my new exercise routine. Seriously!

Number 2

I got a part-time job working as a Community Living Supports Aide. This means I go into the homes of developmentally delayed kids or emotionally impaired kids and help them for a couple hours on basic life skills, or whatever therapies their counselors have proscribed for them to work on. I’m only starting at about 15 hours a week, because I also need to be with my own kids, but still, it’s another ball to juggle.

Number 3

Above, is a photo of our new friends, B and her baby. I met B one day out in front of our local grocery store panhandling. I always stop if it’s a woman, mainly because I know how at-risk they are. She’d just been kicked out of her current living conditions and was looking to get money for another night in a cheap motel. I volunteered to drive her downtown to the missions and find her a place to go.

There were two problems with this.

I am a Christian and Christian hospitality is supposed to be about inviting the stranger in. And my own conscience was kicking me in the butt because of my judgments towards others. Some background: before my kids were born I worked at one of the missions in downtown Grand Rapids. I used to get really frustrated internally when we were tight for beds and pastors or elders would be calling up from surrounding towns looking for a place for some poor woman to go and their response to our near-capacity situation would be frustration that we couldn’t help them. And I’d always think, “You’re the pastor – why don’t you or someone in your church find a place for them? Missions have to exist because not enough churches are doing their jobs.” So, yeah, that was coming back to me. I have a whole soapbox I could give you about this, but we’ll pass on that for today.

The second problem was that there was no room in the inn. Literally. All the missions were full. All those times I’d passed people panhandling, wondering why they didn’t just walk down to the mission? Well, I’ve since learned that because our MI economy was one of the worst in the nation during the recession, the missions are often full. Especially if you’re a woman with a child who’s not fleeing a domestic abuse situation.

So, B ended up staying for the weekend. And then she came back a week or so later for just a week or two while we all tried to figure out what the was the program or situation to get her into. Meanwhile, our boys loved the baby. Joe was on board with helping as much as we could. And life was going along unusually well for suddenly adding 2 people, strangers at that, to your household.

Long story short, we ended up inviting B to stay with us for awhile while she got back on her feet.

There’s a few things you should know about this.

1. My conscience kept nudging me to invite her in. The more we looked as the various options our city has to help the poor and homeless (and there are many and yet, not enough) the more I kept wondering why we couldn’t do what we were doing now? Why couldn’t we just do what our claimed holy text actually says, and invite them in? But how would I get Joe to go for it?! Another person in the house? And a baby, too?! Yeah…not a lot of guys would go for that.

2. Joe approached me, instead of vice versa, about inviting B to live with us!  What? How many people do you know that you’d actually want to live with? Even ones you love? Not many. Joe was being moved to act in the same way as I and was very excited about the possibility of being able to genuinely help another person. This not only confirmed my thoughts, but was necessary. You probably shouldn’t do something like this unless everyone’s on board. And to me, this was God acting in both of us, to move us in the same direction.

3. There’s loads of missions for men. There are a few for women. In my city, there’s an overnight place for women without kids. And a few domestic violence shelters for women or women and kids. There are very few places for a woman with kids in an emergency situation where you can just walk in and get a room. Technically, there’s one or two, but in reality, they’re always full and trying to get in is a ton of work. I drove B to one shelter and when they told her there was no room, that was it. No further offers to help. Just us standing there. What if I hadn’t brought her and she’d spent all her bus money just to get there? What then?!

4. Beautifully, miraculously, the boys have also been on board from the beginning. Not one complaint. Not one. I suspect it is the baby. They love him! They love being the big brothers and they love playing with him. It’s truly been amazing to watch. And thankfully, we’ve had great support from our family and friends. A few questions, a few concerns, but overall, support.

5. We don’t know how things will go. We don’t know how things will end. We don’t know if things will work out the way we hope they do. But we are not responsible for this. We’re only responsible to help. To be willing to show up. Giving up responsibility for the results was a huge lesson I learned in life last year.  It’s crucial to living a life with less anxiety and to helping people in any sustained way.

Partly I’m telling you this because I want you to know why I’m not here so much.

But I’m also telling you this in case you find yourself in a situation where you know you should do something good, but it seems strange.

Joe and I are normal people. We are not perfect and we don’t have it all together. A few years ago our marriage was in a mess and there’s no way our house would’ve been capable of or healthy enough to invite someone else in. We have a regular 3 bedroom house.  Brodie gave up his big boy room to move back in with his brothers where two of them share a bed so that B and the baby could have a room.

This is really important for you to understand. We’re not special and that’s a good thing!

So often we think that we have to be special to do special things. We don’t. We just have to try. That’s it. Just show up and try.

Or as Joe puts it, “I’ve learned that you don’t have to have everything together, that you don’t have to have it all figured out to help someone else.”

It’s unusual, inviting a (former) stranger to live in your home. (Which is sad, because according to the Bible, it’s actually supposed to be one of our main practices. But we have to start somewhere, right?)

So, that next time you are prompted to do something that is good, or you know is right, but it seems weird, or you don’t know anyone else who’s done something like that…well, now you do.

So do it!

You are not alone. That’s what I tell B, “You are not alone.”

We are all in this together.

******************

A favorite quote that’s been hanging on my refrigerator for awhile,

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.”

And a couple of the verses that were ringing my conscience:

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers” Hebrews 13:1-2

and

“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Luke 3:11

*******************

And now you know where I’ve been: new people, new job, new snow to shovel.  Ha!

I really do hope this finds you well. I can’t make promises to when I’ll be back, but I’ll try.

Grace and peace, my friends!

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Crochet Granny Stitch Infinity Scarf

It’s been a long time, friends!  I’m so sorry.  It’s always a bit of a roller coaster here, but it’s been a full on whirlwind lately!  I’ll catch you up on some of the changes soon, but wanted to at least stop in and say, “Yes, I still make sutff and still like to write!”

I recently made a granny stitch infinity scarf for my cousin-in-law…

Homemade Jango Fett Jet Pack for Halloween

…and completed a “semihomemade” costume by doing a last-minute Jango Fett jet pack for Halloween…

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I hope you are doing well, my friends!

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