Tracy White is a true Believer trying her best to allow Christ to expose himself through her. Her sensitivity to the poor and outcast humbles and encourages me. This little story is hers and written by her:

As I pull up to the donut shop at 6:30 am, too many times this week I might add,
“Mitch” one of our local homeless men is sitting on the ground outside the shop as he is many mornings. Dirty clothes, stinky, needing a shave and shower. I purposely sit and watch numerous people walk by without even acknowledging him. Reminded of the great command to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m sure as most of you, I don’t miss many meals. This morning a chocolate twist, dr. Pepper, a sausage kolache, a smile and kindness from another human soul were his breakfast!!!!


Allow heaven to touch earth through you today!!!

Matthew 10:42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Big L pulled me aside this past Friday evening. He wanted to talk to me. We’ve known each other for the past three and a half years. He’s known for drinking 32 ounce “soda pops.” That’s what he calls his beers around me. 

Our friends at First Christian Church here in town were present and had a good number of their members in our room serving pulled pork sandwiches. They’ve been very active on The Block and know a number of people from the street by name. Big L was in the room with them and joined in the the friendly and comfortable conversations that took place. It was when I walked in that he pulled me aside and said he wanted to talk.

Of course I said OK and we stepped outside. Big L stepped over to the bench donated by Faith Fellowship and sat down and I sat next to him. 

He began, “I want you to know how much I love all of you. You guys have taken care of me like no one else ever has. When I got sick, you took me to the hospital. Do you remember that?”

“Of course I do.”

“Well I remember too. I remember y’all buying me clothes while I was there so I could have something clean to wear. Remember?”

I nodded.

“Do you remember y’all coming to see me when I was in jail? And you put money on my commissary card?”

“Yes.”

“Y’all have helped me when I needed rides to the doctor and to my cousin’s house. Y’all feed me and let me stay here during the day.”

“We’re your friends.”

“My family doesn’t do nothing for me. I love y’all.”

“I know. And we love you too.”

“You don’t know,” he said with tears in his eyes, “nobody has ever loved me before.”

“Jesus loves you and always has.”

“Thank y’all for taking care of me,” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.

I sit amazed at the stirring I see in him as Christ moves within the heart of a friend who is truly a brother.  A realization that there is a depth beyond relationship. It’s kinship. As Christ is my brother, Big L is my brother. Christ bringing together two different people from different experiences and backgrounds into this marvelous bond of true family.

To steal an insight from Gregory Boyle from the song “O Holy Night”: “Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

Big L was made to face his value through the accepting embrace of brothers and sisters from First Christian and three and a half years of Heaven on earth from others. And a soul felt his worth.

Shawn showed up in town with a friend who kicked him out of the car and left him, homeless, no money, knowing no one, alone and hungry. Shawn flies below everyone’s radar. This is not new for him. He’s barely in his twenties and has had a rough start. His mother is a needle using meth head and has been as long as he can remember. His over the road truck driving step mother took him in but his father has never been in the picture. 

Shawn is disoriented in this world. Lost, alone, without hope, without love, without support. He’s the guy it seems no one notices and if they do they discount him. He’s the one beaten, left naked and dying on the side of the road and ignored by so many.

His “friend” kicked him out of the car and left him along the side of the road with nothing in a place far from his home town. That’s what friends are for right? In desperation, Shawn searched the internet net for help.

It seems fitting that he looked for something with the Christian label. He found Kaufman Christian Center about 10 miles from here and called Pastor Richard. Pastor Richard called me and sent me Shawn’s number. I called Shawn and told him “I’m out of town until later” but he can go up to Serenity and get some food and water. I asked him where he was and he said that he called First United Methodist and Pastor Pete got him a hotel room.

Within 24 hours he got fed, got a good nights sleep in a hotel, and is on a bus home. He may be off the grid for most of us but not for God. Shawn’s biological dad may be absent but his Bigger Dad is always present and brought several of His other sons close to Shawn for a moment. Kinship within the Family. With acceptance without judgement. Compassion without conditions. Love without boundaries. 

Is this the way it should work? I think so. Our Savior and Brother on the Cross looked down and said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Shawn doesn’t know what he’s doing. I don’t know what I’m doing either. Richard and Pete don’t what they’re doing. The marvelous thing is our Dad has forgiven us for it all.

Shawn will probably forget our names, what hotel he stayed in, and what he ate here. But he will remember some brothers reached out to him and lifted him up when he was down. He will remember that the Radar of God’s Kindness is always on him and leading him Home.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at Kaufman County Jail. Too many of my friends spend time here. Some end up getting transferred to prison. Again, too many.

I dropped by The Block on the way to put some water bottles in the fridge. We were completely out. One of the guys asked if I was going somewhere and could he go. I said, “Sure, come on.”

“Where are you going?” He asked as he stood up.

“County,” I replied. He know what that meant and sat down. He doesn’t even want to get near this place. It could be bad memories or outstanding warrants. No matter what, he’s not keeping me company tonight.

“Who you going to see?” Someone asks.

“Mark.”

“You know Bootcie and Buddy are in there.”

Nope. Didn’t know. That will be another day.

It’s not pleasant going to see anyone in jail. The chairs in the waiting room seem to be purposely uncomfortable. Plastic chairs with the seat bottoms all tilted down. If one wants to be in the first group visit at 7 PM, they have to be there to line up at 5:30 PM.  The phones that are used to talk to the inmate are old and hard to hear. It’s as if the loved ones coming to visit are being punished as well.

Once I get in to see Mark, I ask about the other two guys and he rattles off three more names from The Block that are in there.

We just talk. He asks about his brothers and friends. He wants to know the news from the street. I never ask “Why are you here” or tell them how they got in trouble and need to straighten up. They already know. It’s enough that I’m there.

I never tire of when I walk into the visitor’s side of the glass and they see me. They light up like I’m their best friend and can’t believe I’m there.

That may be the point in writing this. Sometimes, more often than I realize, it’s enough to be present. It’s Christ in me reaching out to Christ in lock up. The Kingdom of Heaven is present in this. Gregory Boyle writes that we go to those on the outskirts not so we can make a difference but so they can make us different. I am constantly being changed by allowing Jesus to not only work in me but By allowing Him to show me Himself in those on the sidelines who are often ignored or written off. That in itself is enough.

Hugh Halter said, “This is how you know someone regards you as their friend…they introduce you to their other friends.”

One of the first guys I met on The Block was Andre. He’s a talented DJ and distributes CDs and DVDs as a side business.  I do believe everyone in town knows him and he is quick to say that he knows everyone.

Joe just kind of snuck up on me and it was from an introduction from Andre.  Joe started hanging out and showing up on Wednesday and Friday nights for devotions and for The Circle. We talked and if I was heading somewhere Joe would ride along from time to time. He’s a lot quieter than Andre, who happens to be gregarious and verbose and fun to be with.

At one point Joe started going to Sunday services with me.  I teach a Sunday school class at one of the local congregations and several guys from the street attend with me.  It probably doesn’t hurt that Serenity treats anyone from The Block to lunch if they go to church. Joe is pretty faithful in attending and misses only if he has to work. 

Joe is self-employed in that he does day hire jobs.  Some can last for weeks. For instance, he has redone kitchens and bathrooms, painted houses, and does lawn work. He doesn’t like to be idle but often because there is no work at the moment or the weather inhibits some jobs, he just has to hang somewhere.  It’s been nice that he hangs at our place.

Joe gets it.  He is sensitive to the needs of others.  He’s is not wealthy by any means but his generosity would shame the wealthy.  He can’t give money or possessions but he gives something more valuable.  He gives himself. He gives his time and he does it cheerfully.

We have a small place with air-conditioning, cold water in the fridge, a little bit of food in a pantry, a television and it’s for those on the street who have no place to go and need a place they can get out of the heat, cold, or rain. I have a job so I can’t be there except in my off hours and when I am free from responsibilities at home. It’s been difficult to find someone trust-worthy and faithful and cheap to watch over the place and take care of our street friends.

Joe stepped up.  He has keys now.  He keeps the place open and makes sure the hungry are fed and the thirsty have water.  He makes sure they have shelter.  He does this without any expectations.  His wife says she surprised by him in all this and proud of him. I’m proud of him too.  Plus I’m very grateful that he does what he does.

Our goal is not just to give or to establish relationships, it is to show kinship.  We are all kin-folk in this world and Joe may not realize it but he is revealing his kinship not only to those on the street but to me and all the well-off that cross into his jurisdiction.  He is letting Christ reveal Himself through him. But not just in what he does but more so in the manner and attitude that is neither haughty nor weak.  I am impressed in Joe and very happy to be his friend.

It seems that there are a number of Christians who have awesome hearts and a lot of love and think their highest calling is to show up for Church services, sing the songs, take the sacraments, read their Bible, and bring a prayer list to God on a regular basis. It also seems that there is some sort of unwritten rule that mission is done as group project and witnessing is telling others that Jesus wants them to come to Him and go to Church services, sing songs…well, you know the rest.

They are amazed and fascinated at ministries that feed the homeless or preach to inmates or have after school programs. They’re impressed by the people that give their lives to these big outreaches. These ministries are needed and they need help in the form of funds and volunteers. The Kingdom advances through these ministries.

I submit though that the impact of Christ and His Kingdom is stronger in the small touches we make as we move throughout each day. It’s the simple things we do that could and do make a difference in this world. Christ reveals His Love and Presence to others by showing His Grace through us. What we do is much louder than what we say. It can resonate deep within someone and echo in their souls.

I get to build kinship with a number of people that are ignored and on the margins of our little town because of our small ministry. However, some of the most precious moments for me are while I’m standing in the check out line at WalMart.

Two stories:

First one…I was behind a young mother and her baby and she was having a problem deciding what not to buy. She apparently did not have enough money and was short about $3.00. Her choices were either a gallon of milk or a carton of cigarettes.

I could have said, “You know, you need to put the cigarettes back and go ahead and get the milk.” I could have even gotten snotty about it. Instead, it seemed that maybe Jesus in me wanted to handle it differently so I said, “Excuse me, would you let me pay for the milk? That’s a good looking baby you have.”

She said said, “Sure.” And so I did. I asked her name and we talked for just a moment and as she walked away I said, “God Bless you.” I didn’t think being another poke-her-in-the-chest-and-tell-her-how-to-live Christian was needed right then.

We only have one Walmart in our town and everyone goes there constantly. I have had several opportunities to see her shopping and I always say hello. She smiles and says hello back and we talk for a little while. I always get to say “God Bless you” or “Jesus Loves you, you know.” She knows. We smile and say “See you later” and I look forward to the next time we meet.

I don’t know why she had a hard decision between milk and cigarettes. Maybe they weren’t for her. Maybe they were for someone who might have gotten angry if she came home without them. Maybe there might be bad consequences if she didn’t buy them. Maybe they were for her. I don’t know and for me it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we can now talk and we have started more than a relationship…it’s like a kinship and our Friend and Brother Jesus is in it.

Second story happened this week. I was in the check out line behind a grandmother and her 6 year old grandson. Same problem. More stuff in the buggy than money in the purse. This time cigarettes weren’t in the mix. It was a six pack of orange juice and a box of Apple Jacks cereal. The grandmother was handing them back to the cashier and I said, “Hang on. I think Jesus wants this young man to have those things. Would you let me get them for him?”

The grandmother looked startled and the young man looked happy. She smiled too and said, “Well if that’s what Jesus wants…” So I did.

By the way, there were others involved in these stories. The cashiers and anyone within several feet of us. For those that don’t know me I can be rather loud.

I wonder how everyone’s day went after that. Last Sunday someone in our Bible study said “Kindness is Contagious.”

Here’s a truth, more people don’t attend church in our little town than do. What we do outside that building for the Lord may be more important that what we do inside the building for ourselves. The challenge is to live intentionally alert to opportunities that reveal God’s Kindness. That’s what leads to changed lives. Make the little things count.

Four years ago my wife and I along with a couple of friends traveled to the Texas Hill Country and as is our habit we searched for interesting local food establishments. On Highway 306 between Gruene and Canyon Lake we came across a small building with the sign “Mrs. Bush’s Pie Shop.” We swerved into the gravel parking lot, jumped out of the car, and rushed in with high expectations of pie-ness. Our expectations turned out to be exceedingly small in comparison to who we encountered.

The small bakery had scrap paper and torn cardboard writings all around the shop. Someone had written Bible scriptures and spiritual/soul encouragements on them. It seemed reasonable to ask about this stuff and Mrs. Bush, aka Pie Lady to us, began to tell us her story. Our friend Joni started recording her talk and Pie Lady kept us enraptured for almost an hour.

Elaine and I have been back to that area several times each year, wanted to see her but we’re always there when the shop is closed. Last week though while in the area, her shop was open and we stopped.

When we came in the Pie Lady came to the counter with a somewhat furrowed brow when she saw us. We introduced ourselves but before we could say much she lit up and said she remembered us. That was thrill enough and we spent the next part of an hour catching up. We agreed we would meet the next morning. I wanted to record part of her story and share it.

Here it is and I pray you enjoy it and are encouraged with Hope for how Our Father works for those who seem…seem…insignificant but are in reality the Apple of His Eye. His Love is the Best Love and the only Love that counts.

I attended the commencement ceremony of four amazing women from a Christian women’s facility this week.  I’m not sure how many are there at any given time but it might run into the dozens and they can bring along children under 12.  They voluntarily come in for a number of reasons but all are looking for a better life…a fixed life…and they know they cannot fix themselves…they learn that only Jesus can fix them.  The following is from one of the graduates.  This is her commencement address and it needs to be shared to those that are in an abusive relationship, to those who know someone in an abusive relationship, and to those who don’t know that they may know someone in an abusive relationship.  This is a compelling story that ends in hope:

It’s no coincidence that October also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Domestic violence is a silent killer. Over time, it slowly chips away at your inner most being. It strips away your thoughts. It skews reality and the ability to define what is right from wrong. It manipulates you to fit its agenda. It isolates you from those you love the most; your family, your friends and even your own children. It hurts those around you. It consumes you. It brainwashes you. It demands power and control. It intimidates you. Your days operate on auto pilot. You have no healthy emotions. You are a robot. It steals your identity, time, values, dreams, visions, passions and soul. It comes in all shapes, styles and schemes and can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, mental and spiritual.

You begin to ask yourself, “Who am I? How did I get here?” You are so far from the person you once were. You feel different. You feel awkward. You feel like you don’t fit in and you don’t belong. You have no self-worth. You don’t deserve happiness. You used to be outgoing and confident; now you are an introvert, lost, confused and insecure. You question your ability to be the mother you desire and should be. You are a failure. You become the sounding board to some of the ones who have been hurt around you. They don’t understand. They feel abandoned, betrayed and unloved by you. You question what your purpose is. You are afraid (the only emotion you can feel) and you don’t know where to turn or who to turn to. You don’t know who to trust. “How could you allow this to happen?” “Why didn’t you do something  sooner, before you lost so much?” “Why did you stay?”

You believe lies about yourself. You downplay and find ways to justify the situation or your actions. You stay because “through thick and thin, in sickness and in health”. You stay because you don’t want to split your family apart, but in reality, you already are. You believe “I’m the problem.” “I can change it.” “If I just do this or if I just do that, it will all be fixed.”

You make poor choices. You alienate yourself. Your friends, family and even your children become your acquaintances. In the depths of despair, some victims try to numb the pain by burying themselves in their career; others succumb to alcohol, illegal/prescription drugs, or sex/pornography to cope. In extreme domestic violence situations, victims operate under severe threats, including but not limited to, threats of harm to them, their children, close family, friends or coworkers.

In all cases, Satan is evil, wicked and deceitful. His only mission is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

August 25, 2017, I finally chose to seek help after enduring 8 years of domestic violence. It was a split-second decision; or should I say years in the making; but fear crippled me. I didn’t have it all figured out and I wasn’t prepared. It was a moment when I knew in my heart, I just couldn’t deal with it anymore and I chose to act on it rather than just think about it. As I walked with my 13-month-old son in his stroller to pick up my 6-year-old son from school, I prayed and cried out to God. “God, if I’m to go back home, lead me to the door to pick up my son. “If I’m to change the course of my life today, lead me to the front of the school where I can cry out for help.” I went to the counselor’s office and sought the help and protection I so desperately needed and wanted. It was the scariest moment of my life.

We spent 3 weeks, homeless, afraid and unsure of what the future had in store for us. My church family rallied beside us, offered us shelter in their homes, loaned us a vehicle, put clothes on our backs and food in our mouths. Two weeks after we left, my husband was arrested, I retrieved our only vehicle from impound, gained access to our home and complete strangers from my church came to help us pack up all our belongings. God met every need we had.

I took a 6 month leave of absence from my 11-year career and the day before we were to come to Genesis, CPS stepped in and the boys were removed from my care. Because of the domestic violence in our home and the drugs my husband was involved with, CPS found it safer to take the boys from me temporarily. This was the 2nd time I had tried to escape, I went back the first time, despite my better judgment. I had to prove to them, and to myself, that I wasn’t turning back and that my boys were the most important thing to me. I also had to begin the journey of restoring my mind and my health before I could give them the attention and love they desperately needed. I continued moving forward.

Two families stepped up at my church, whom I didn’t personally know, and volunteered to keep my boys so they wouldn’t go into foster care and on September 19th, I walked through the doors of The Genesis Center, alone, confused, scared and emotionally exhausted.

From the very beginning, God’s footprints are all over my story. It took an army of His people to rescue me from the darkness, but, the hope on the other side of the traumatic start of this journey is that I’m finding healing and freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

God has a purpose for every mountain and valley. Our experiences, shape, mold, wake us up or throw us around, but they don’t define us. They break us down and for a few of us, they force us to hit rock bottom so that we learn to reach for the only One who can truly save us and turn our mess into a garden of beautiful flowers. He gives us the hope to keep moving forward despite how we feel or the circumstances that surround us. He shows us how to love ourselves again; you can’t open your heart to others unless you truly love yourself.

This journey has been painful and at times a very scary road to walk; but I’m recovering. I have faced resistance, criticism, skepticism, retaliation, rejection, confusion, doubt, fear, shame, guilt and anger, but I’m a survivor. I’m getting stronger every day and I’m rediscovering myself. I’m an overcomer. I know my identity. I know my worth. I no longer hold my head down. I’m taking care of me and I’m gaining confidence in myself again. I’m building new relationships and restoring others that are important to me; ones that build me up and encourage me, not tear down and drain me.

I know that God has a purpose for me, the three miracle children He has blessed me with, and our story. He will turn ashes into beauty. He will use all the pain, victories and miracles for His purpose and His Kingdom. I’m learning to forgive, and, in His timing, I will be forgiven by those who have been deeply hurt by the events and circumstances that have surrounded me.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: He has made everything beautiful in its time. 

Our trials can also provide us the wisdom and the compassion to love, encourage and support others who are enduring similar circumstances – when we are ready and feel equipped to do so. To walk alongside them in the storm, hold their hand, hug their neck and offer a shoulder to cry on. To be someone who understands their pain because we’ve been there, done that.

Tragedies, tests and trials, if used correctly, can open doors to our purpose and our passion. He’s slowly revealing my purpose and placing desires, passions, dreams and visions in my heart; I’m just waiting, listening, and doing what I’m called to do. One of the messages I’ve heard loud and clear is that I am no longer called to be silent.

2 Timothy 4:17 says: But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me. 

My beautiful friend, Brenda, says it so perfectly: “Shame is a freedom stealer. It robs us of connection with others. It causes us to live in hiding, to put on masks, and to discount who we are. It’s a liar that tells us to build walls so that no one sees, and no one knows; but those same walls we build to protect ourselves become walls that imprison and isolate us. Speaking truth out loud takes away the ties that shame uses to bind…and it sets us free.”

I no longer want to be hiding and live in the shadows. I no longer want to be disconnected from those I love and care about. I no longer want unhealthy walls around my heart. I want freedom, restoration, joy and healthy relationships in my life. I want to strive for more. I want to be present when I’m with my loved ones, not lost in my own thoughts. I want to be able to enjoy life. I want to be more and reach for the woman, daughter, friend, and mother God made me to be; I deserve it and I’m worth it. 

Pastor Lonnie says it best: “Always more…never less!”

Domestic violence awareness  matters, and I can’t possibly predict the sphere of influence my story may have for others. Besides, who am I to stop God’s work in me and those around me? I can no longer remain silent, especially if, through me, God chooses to reach someone else who’s hurting, someone who just might be my friend or family member. To keep the joy and freedom I’ve found and obtained all to myself would be stealing someone else’s potential for hope, healing and happiness.

I’m choosing to be brave and step outside my comfort zone; I’m choosing to listen and put faith in action and do what God is directing me to do. This isn’t about blasting my dirty side of the street or pointing fingers, it’s about choosing to be a voice for domestic violence. To what capacity this voice will have, is unknown at this time, but God knows and when He feels I’m ready, He will reveal it to me.

Psalm 18:2 says: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the strength of my salvation, my stronghold. 

Am I perfect? No. Do I have it all figured out? No. Am I blameless? No. Do I own up to the harm I’ve caused and the mistakes I’ve made?  Absolutely. Do I have regrets?  Of course. I could stand here and continue to go down the path of “what if…”, “I wish I would have…”, “how could I have…”, or “why didn’t I…”, but that will only continue to stunt the growth and healing that is required to become the person I am striving to be.

In her book, She’s Still There: Rescuing the Girl in You by Chrystal Evans Hurst, she says:

“You can either take action or you can determine your reaction to the story that has unfolded thus far. If you have a sense of discomfort about your life, that is a gift. It is the call of the girl inside asking you not to give up and to fight forher. The mere fact that you have a sense of dis-ease about your life is a testament to the fact that you know deep down you were made for more.”

“…while you cannot control all your circumstances, every day you can choose beliefs, attitudes, and actions that honor the best of who you are and who you can become. Your belief will affect the attitudes you embrace and the lens through which you view your life. Your attitudes will steer your actions — what you say and what you do. What you say and do determines how you move from who you are today to who you will be tomorrow.”

“…if you choose to embrace your journey — even the parts that disappoint you, challenge you, or make you double over from the emotional weight of it all — you can one day look back and see your hard as a part of your life and not the definition of your life.” 

Pastor Nancy engraved on my heart: “I am blessed, highly favored and a daughter of the most-high King!” 

To each of my children, my 15-year old daughter, and sons ages 2 and 7, whom are too young to comprehend everything that has occurred:

I love you with all my heart, even though it’s been broken, tattered, shredded, stomped on and thrown around in the storm. During the last several years, I lost myself and I lost the ability to be there for you to the capacity I should have. I can’t get those years back. All I can do now is strive to make the years in front of us, better and brighter. You are worth every tear I’ve shed, every chain that’s been broken, every sleepless night and every ounce of fear I’ve had. I’m sorry for the things you have witnessed and the pain you have felt; for the anger, hurt, frustration, helplessness, uncertainty, insecurity and confusion that has been placed in your hearts, minds and souls. These feelings don’t just magically disappear, it takes hard work, it takes time and it takes a leap of faith.

Psalm 121:2 says: My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

God’s leading the way now and I look forward to the blessings that are just around the bend. Hold on tight to the promises of God, this is just the beginning of the beginning. 

To My Fellow Residents: The road you are on is hard and the path of unknowns can be daunting. The living quarters can be unbearable at times and the drama that comes with living with 40+ other woman and children can be comical, joyful, nerve-racking and down-right annoying. God has placed us at The Genesis Center for two reasons, to seek Him and His will for our life and to heal our brokenness.

If you’re a mother who is fighting for reunification, you will find yourself wanting to rush the process. I learned the time passes quickly, and this is quite possibly the only opportunity you will ever have in their young lives to spend the time investing in YOU; to heal your heart so that you can be the mother they need you to be. Be of good cheer, despite the circumstances. Dig into God’s word and enjoy the quiet time you have for yourself. Seek what God’s will is for you during this time and work on YOU as much as you possibly can.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 

The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation of everything you do in life. Love yourself completely and always be kind and loving with your words and actions. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first; as soon as your children are returned to you, you will have wished you did. When they are returned, you’ll spend your free time chasing them down the halls and negotiating with them at meal times. You’ll spend time building with Legos, blowing bubbles, playing cards, reading books and watching the same cartoons or movies repeatedly, while you nurture them back to health when you’re stuck in quarantine. You’ll even lose your bunk space as you all squeeze together night after night.

Treasure your ME time, the friendships you’re making, the confidence you’re gaining and the safe sanctuary you are blessed to call home. I guarantee you, there are many things you will begin to miss once this chapter is behind you.

Proverbs 3:13-17 says: Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 

In closing, you may have noticed the Forget-Me-Nots displayed on my table. I was born in Anchorage, Alaska where I spent the first 29 years of my life. The Forget-Me-Not is the state flower, so it has a special place in my heart, but it also symbolizes some important truths:

Forget not to be patient with yourself

Forget not the difference between good sacrifice and foolish sacrifice

Forgot not to be happy NOW

Forget not the WHY of the Gospel

and

Forget not that the Lord LOVES you

Isaiah 49:15-16 says, “…Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…” 

Whenever you think God has forgotten you, your prayers and your requests to Him, remember the little Forget-Me-Not flower and say, “God, forget-me-not.”

LOVE YOU ALL!

Some of you know B.B. some of you don’t but he came to me a couple of months ago begging to get in a residential program somewhere…anywhere. I called several places and one of them told me they had a bed available. I told B.B. to meet me at 8 o’clock the next morning and then didn’t see him for several weeks.

I don’t go looking for guys that don’t keep their appointments and when I see them again I don’t talk about it unless they do. This is their choice and when they’re ready then it’s between them and the Lord.

So B.B. has been on the street for several months since then. He has shown up occasionally and nothing has changed. He still mingled on The Block. He still disappeared with a select few for days at a time. No job. No hope. No future.

He started hanging out again a week ago on a more regular basis and we got to talk a little more. He kept telling me he had to leave. He had to get away from the drugs and his friends.

This past Sunday he showed up at church. He went with several of us to lunch afterwards and pulled me aside and said Pastor Harris was going to call me about helping him…meaning B.B.

Pastor did call that afternoon and told me B.B. wanted help with a bus ticket to Michigan and Pastor said, “I just blurted out that I would. I don’t know why. I just did. I told him we would do what we could but I needed to talk to you.”

Pastor wanted to know if this guy was legit and if we could split the cost. I told him I would get with B.B. to get the real story. Or as “real” as I could.

B.B.s aunt in Ann Arbor told him he could come and stay with them and she could get him a job. He lived there before and he stayed clean. They are a Christian family and want the best for him.

So yesterday morning I dropped B.B. off at the Greyhound Station in Dallas with a ticket to Ann Arbor along with $40 for food on the road. He left at 1 yesterday afternoon and will arrive there late this afternoon. 27 hours on a bus.

Pastor Harris has a good heart and I am so grateful that the Spirit of God blurted out of Pastor’s mouth, “I’ll help.”

I pray for my friend B.B. I pray he finds the peace he has searched for in drugs and alcohol. I pray he finds Life in our Lord. I pray he finds Real Joy in the embrace of our Father. I pray we’ll all be vulnerable to the point of blurting out “I’ll help” when the need arises.

20 We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. 2 Corinthians 5:20 | MSG

A young woman named Stephani gave me permission to share her story on how Jesus led her out of the darkness of death into Life. Thank you Stephani for this raw and very real journey.  You are one of my heros.

I started iv drug use in 2000 but it wasn’t until 2007 is when I started “fighting ” this battle. When I say fighting I am referring to the first time I actually started realizing that I had become very addicted to opiates and my life was very unmanageable. But after many many failed attempts at staying clean, I always ran back to what I felt comfortable in. My “norm” per say. Then there Id go.

I’d stay out for months, years, I’d get arrested, lose custody of my kids, lost sooo much in life. Surely I hit my bottom right? Nope! Let’s see how much lower I could go. I’d overdose, wake up in hospitals. But instead of it being a wake up call…. It made me even go harder, because I was a beast! Nothing could kill me! ….smh….

It wasn’t until this last relapse that everything I’ve heard before … people sharing how they are “so grateful for the gift of desperation “, “you got to be really done and willing to go any length”, “get out of your own way “and “if it wasn’t for their higher power they would still be out there., in jail or dead.”

See, when the pain of living another day consumes your mind, when you’re sleeping in the woods, abandoned homes, when you can’t think of ONE person to call who might give you something to eat or a place to shower even because your family is done with your bullshit and all your “friends” are either dead or dying a slow miserable death themselves. When you wake up in tears because you dreamt you were home with your babies but realize quickly, you chose this instead. When you come to realize (in your delusional mind) that you’re better off dead. I can’t think of anything more rock-bottom other than actually physically dying. You see, this last relapse did kill me, it killed me mentally, emotionally and any spirituality that I did have I couldn’t find it.

It wasn’t until the day I collapsed to my knees begging this all so mighty God to show me he was real and if he loved me then to take me! Don’t save me! Just take me out of this world! Because I completely give up, I can’t go on! It was that day, that all these things I’d heard before made sense. I was given the gift of desperation! I stopped fighting and surrendered. I got out of my own way and begged God to hear my cries and show me his power. Well, I got what I asked for and more! God took me alright…. He took me from death to LIFE! He FORGAVE ME, RESTORED ME AND LOVED ME IN A WAY IVE NEVER BEEN LOVED! I realized quickly, that love was what I was always missing. That relationship with my higher power who I call God.

So, yes… I’ve posted on facebook, publicly, even promised my family , told many times I’m going to stay on the right track just to fail miserably. And for those I personally affected, I’m sorry.

But you see, things are just…. Different this time. I’ve humbled myself. I’ve forgiven myself and others, my thinking has completely changed because… All because MY FAITH is soooo strong. I seek my God everyday, I find him more and more. I am so overwhelmed by his love. Jesus isn’t just guiding me down this right track. He’s the conductor!

Thank you Jesus for being so amazingly good to me, my family, and loving me in a way I’ve been yearning for! **Goodbye Addiction/Bondage 2000-2018…. Hello beautiful life 2018-Eternity **