In The Way

I may not know much but I know something about homelessness. I know enough to understand it’s not quite as simple as some make it out to be.

Maybe they dug a hole for themselves — but maybe not. Either way it seems most people they come in contact with want to bury them.

It takes more stamina to be homeless than any other experience I’ve ever known.

If more people experienced this for themselves they’d show more respect.

Someone once told me that some women want more stability than others. I told him this is not the case and every woman (and man) would like stability — but perhaps a house doesn’t provide this and Jesus says we don’t even know what tomorrow holds anyway.

ANYONE can be months or one devastating event away from homelessness.

Check out James 4:14 How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.

And Proverbs 27:1 Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.

 

What if instead of judging you just pray in the moment when you see a homeless person?

Prayer only costs you a few minutes and it’s a MUCH more beneficial way to spend those few minutes for you and for others instead of deciding you know better about a situation.

A couple years ago as I talked with an angry homeless man I told him I’d also been homeless for a few weeks. He told me I needed to try it longer before I had anything to say about it. Having experienced homelessness 3 times now and for different reasons, I have something to say (whether this angry guy thinks I do or not.)

There are probably as many reasons for homelessness as there are people who are homeless.

Some choose it and some don’t.

It seems to me many show disgust about the homeless probably because they just don’t understand and are uncomfortable with it and probably don’t realize they are adding to the problem by their disregard for humanity.

 

And who cares if people try anyway?

If they try too hard there’s no assistance but if they don’t try hard enough they’re treated as less than human. When you’re treated as less than human long enough, part of you begins to believe that lie.

 

And it can happen faster than you’d think.

And forget TELLing anyone you’re homeless because the moment you do, most people tend to treat you as if they think you just want something from them.

The thing I’ve noticed most is that they (we) just may want someone to listen so they can talk through the situation they’re facing today. (I say “we” because my daughters and I are homeless also so we’re sharing some things we’ve noticed through our experiences. For those who think they know all the details of our lives we are here to remind you that you just don’t.)

But I get it.

Lots of people DO want something from you; mostly because they’ve noticed that this is how people view them so they have started (or even fully accepted the lies) to believe there’s not much other reason for a conversation, because most view them as helpless.

If you’re viewed and treated as helpless for long enough, it’s easy to begin to accept this fate — though it’s FAR from ANYONE’S truth.

This conceited mindset, that if a homeless person talks with you he or she MUST be trying to get something from you, may be causing you to miss out on some Divine Appointments and ONLY God knows which one of you He’s blessing with each encounter or maybe it’s both. Thinking you’re obviously blessing a homeless person by just taking time to listen to them is vanity. They may very well have something to offer you but pride clouds your vision to be able to see clearly.

It actually doesn’t cost much for you to listen.

The truth is that most of the time you cannot solve the issues going on anyway and it wouldn’t do a whole lot of good if you did. Usually attitude has to change for the better before a situation gets and stays healthier.

But you CAN be kind.

 

It’s EXTREMELY difficult to live while feeling in the way almost all the time to almost everyone.

 

True. Some people do act crazy to keep others away (and some people do have mental issues) and I encourage you to ALWAYS use wisdom and listen to your gut feeling. If something seems wrong listen to that and leave the situation. God gave you that for a reason. I’m not telling anyone to carelessly just be with or around someone because clearly sometimes there are dangers — but those kind of dangers are there whether the person you’re encountering lives in a house or not. (My life is full of examples of this.)

But Jesus says to love the least of these and the homeless population are some of the least. We ALL are the least of these.

Matthew 25:37-40 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

If anyone gives even a cup of water in Jesus’ Name… I mean you can give a cup of water anyway BUT when you do this in Jesus’ Name, there is eternal blessing; treasure in Heaven.

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.”

Care for your neighbors. You know about the good Samaritan story. Right? Who are your “neighbors?”

The Bible does NOT say that the good Samaritan had to know exactly what the man beside the road believed about The Bible or salvation before he helped him.

He just helped him anyway.

Even with all the popular cultural messed up political views, he just helped how he was moved to help.

Luke 10:31-34 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.

 

The Bible DOES say you’ll know Christians by their love.

John 13:35 “…By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love among one another.”

By love, you can read on knowing I don’t mean enabling, but rather serving others however God puts on your heart to serve.

You do your part — since you are going to answer how you give, serve, and love.

And the receiver is going to be held responsible for his (or her) part, as he is responsible for what he does with the gift he’s been given whether money, food, or other gifts.

 

It’s actually very simple.

If you’re moved to give in some way, then give.

If you’re not, then don’t.

 

But NOWHERE is it helpful to be condemning.

 

The whole cheerful giver thing… attitude matters SO much. It’s a heart thing and it always has been.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

I can see there is a certain charm to be found in chronic homelessness though; the less stuff we have, the less we might worry.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

You and I both know there are some who choose to stay homeless — and that’s okay.

But there are those who would like for life to include a house of some kind.

…It’s almost kind of silly though — as if a house equals dignity or something.

It doesn’t.

I’ve looked into the eyes of a homeless man and I’ve seen hopelessness.

I’ve also looked into the eyes of a man who lives in a very nice house and seen the same hopelessness.

I’ve looked into the eyes of a homeless man and seen hope.

And I’ve seen the same hope in the eyes of a man who lives in a big house.

The difference is not in what they have but in Who they have.

 

From my view many people seem to expect more from homeless people yet secretly feel they know all the reasons for their homelessness in the first place — and also all the solutions.

But the truth is the more that many people try to do better, earn better, and climb out of the seemingly bottomless pit that homelessness is, the more others pile on the heavy judgment and weight of the nothingness that others think they are.

The thing is – it’s not designed to climb out.

And when you ever DO try to climb out the ladder rungs are so coated with slime that when you reach up it just feels impossible and defeating in ten different ways every time.

People look down on you because of what you own or don’t — and that’s just nonsense.

Why would anyone look down on someone based on something they don’t own?

The truth is most people don’t own their house anyway; the bank does.

 So perhaps the view is a bit warped from where some are seated with such high regard for themselves.

Many people want to be independent and want others to be independent also but the truth is we’re all dependent on each other; like if the electric company didn’t do its job then you wouldn’t have electricity no matter how much money you could give them, and the grocery store without groceries wouldn’t be able to provide food to buy no matter how much money you have.

Jesus says we’re to care for each other (and be dependent on Him which goes against popular thinking.) And there are even many curses if we don’t care for the poor. That’s more than a little scary to me.

 

Help the poor.

 

Proverbs 28:27 Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.

Proverbs 22:9 The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

And also if someone won’t work The Bible talks about this too.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

 

 

Many ARE willing to work but FEEL hopeless.

I find it’s difficult for ANYone to do better while feeling defeated.

 

We each have some responsibility toward improving this mindset.

 

But as far as a healthy view of homelessness goes I know A Man Who walked this earth and could have had riches stored up and magnificent houses but chose homelessness and from what I’ve read had QUITE The Ministry even so.

His Name is Jesus.

 

He promises:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust IN THE LORD with ALL your heart

and lean NOT on your own understanding;

in ALL your ways SUBMIT TO HIM,

AND HE WILL make your paths straight.

 

And

 

Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God

above ALL ELSE, and live righteously,

AND HE WILL give you everything you need.

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Homelessness is really REALLY not fun.

It’s a whole bunch of loss.

Homelessness is lost shoes, lost computer cords, misplaced kitchen bowls, ruined papers, and broken pieces all over the place.

For a moment I missed the regular life I’d known where I (thought I) knew what tomorrow would look like but…

The thing is that we often fool ourselves into thinking we know and have some kind of security or some kind of “familiar” because it feels good to think this but the truth is that nobody knows what tomorrow holds.

Even when we try to plan our days and months, it’s a façade and we spend energy where really we have very little control.

Following Jesus means me giving up control.

I had a moment a few weeks ago where I broke down and let go of all the tears that needed to be set free.

When I pack to move, I pack as efficiently as possible and mark the boxes so that people who may help carry boxes later when moving in can easily take them to the closest room. It only took several years of moving before I started doing this but it helps so much and I’m glad to have finally learned this moving tip.

When I was a little girl, my room was clean. I like it clean. I like things in the best places they go and to be organized.

For the past 3 months (2 years, rather, since we began praying for God to take control and show us His Plans for us) our world has been rocked and we’ve been led through tests (some we pass easily and some not so much) and loss of friendships, found out that support isn’t always in the places we’d think it would be, and that homelessness is REALLY not fun.

It feels like my life is upside down and yet we all have peace.

As a mom and wife I want to make my space “home” for my family but it’s hard to do that when our belongings are scattered for so long.

Today I’m asking for prayers. We have a few more boxes to go through to get moved into this 3rd RV. The rest of our things are in a tent beside us and the weather guys say it’s going to storm this weekend. (It’s been about 3 months since the trailer tires were in a ditch and a towing company pulled us out.)

The first RV was totaled by that towing company. (Let that sink in.)

Then we were homeless for a month.

A friend I met online , Kathy Thompson Ellis, wrote, “Looking at your situation from the outside, from the planning and work involved in just leaving and getting on the road to having faith that God is leading you to this ministry for the homeless, to you and your family becoming homeless… I am thinking Wow! and… almost Why didn’t you expect this? Jesus became human and experienced existing on this earth as a human before He could become the perfect savior. He said, leave it all to follow Me. My heart is breaking for you all but also rejoicing because if God is allowing this in your journey, He must have some incredible and wonderful mighty plans for you. Your current circumstance is no surprise to Him. It is part of His plan. He is holding you and will never let go. What an adventure! I don’t mean to sound condescending. In a way, I am almost envious because it is so obvious that God is doing a great work in you and through you. Keep on trusting. Keeping you in my prayers. He does His best work when we come to the end of our own strength and resources and have no one and nothing to rely on but Him.” (Check out Kathy’s blogs here and here .)

 

It was a comfort she said this and she’s right. Doesn’t it make sense that God would lead us this way so that we can be better equipped to help and love on people He’s leading us to serve?

When any good father gives his child a job he will provide what is needed to do the job (or help him find out how.) How much MORE will God equip us to do the jobs He’s planned for us when we ask for His help?

We stayed in hotels about 10 days with insurance money then I prayed, “God, if there’s a family we can stay with please let us know. Please provide?”

Of course I prayed this while standing safely in a hotel room and felt like a fool asking God to provide when He was CLEARLY ALREADY providing (including the first RV and truck to pull it.)

He protected us from a storm during those days that, if we’d been driving, could have blown us off the road.

That storm had knocked down trees and taken electricity from houses miles around for several days.

We had not even heard the storm because we were safely in a hotel room away from the danger.

And I was asking God to provide.

I can just imagine the way He was probably looking at me. “My sweet child… you’re so cute.”

I went on, “Thank You for providing. I do see that You’re providing. I’m just asking because we had stayed in many parking lots for free and then several times for less than $30 a night and now every night is about $130. So if there’s a family who needs a house sitter or has room for us please show us.” (Currently, He’s led us to a place for $16 a night and a neighbor who doesn’t want to talk about Jesus. That’s okay. God’s got us right where He wants us and saying nothing is an option sometimes. He still works through us even by just using our presence – and even sometimes, our absence – for Him.)

It was that moment God put it on my heart and reminded me that He is God and He does not need money to get things done. And that He’s leading us to people and the relationships are what it’s all about.

The next day was Sunday and we’ve prayed about where to go to church since way before we began this move from Texas to Alaska to open a homeless teen place.

He led us to a Chinese church.

There are a lot of things people say to each other at church.

“Want some gum?” “How’s life?” “Do you guys want to go to lunch?”

We’d shared a tiny bit with a few people about the towing company and the RV tires had been stuck in a ditch but had not shared at all what I’d prayed in the hotel.

A sweet Chinese man walked out of a sea of people and suddenly was right in front of my face. “Do you need a place to stay?”

(In my head I was like, “Yes, Jesus, thank You for answering. That was cool.”)

But out loud I said, “Yes, please. We do.”

We stayed with this wonderful family for 3 weeks.

[ Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ]

 

We’d been homeless for 2 weeks before we knew for certain that the RV camper trailer was a “total loss.” The auto repair shop was busy and finally looked at it with us.

The insurance woman said, “We’ll just write this off and you can go home.”

“We don’t have home. This was our home.”

“What now, God?”

We hadn’t had credit for about 12 years but before we left Texas a banker had gone through months of our bills and we had been pre-approved for a house loan in Alaska. We called several places and prayed for days and then called this banker again and said something like, “I’m not even sure if you guys give loans for RVs but we’re just asking, seeking, and knocking, and wanted to know if this is an option.”

He told us to call a woman and when she pulled our credit she said, “I’ve never seen someone approved so quickly!”

We went from zero credit to perfect credit in about 5 months. In today’s world and how credit works that’s a miracle.

(The first RV loan was from a dealership in Texas who gives loans on campers from their lot only so when this was written off we were without a loan and without a place to stay. While there were 5 months of truck payments, the first RV loan had never been turned into the credit place because their office had been flooded so it didn’t count as far as credit bureaus go.)

We moved into the 2nd RV for 2 weeks. The shower was never hooked up underneath and I felt like my stomach was inside out and that was another loss.

I prayed for 3 days. “God, please give me words. Please help me face this giant. They are a big company and I am just me. Please move this mountain.”

He did.

I talked again with the people who had sold us the 2nd trailer. They said they wanted to fix it but the more I’d prayed the more I knew it wasn’t something that can be fixed. It had to be replaced. Water damage is serious and there was no easy way to fix it.

They replaced the whole thing.

Another miracle. (We pray God helps us write the details down some time because God’s Hand has been in this in a billion different ways.)

We get that some choose homelessness for many different reasons I cannot even know, but many do not.

A sweet new friend and I were talking. She felt moved to donate to this mission and during our conversation (while we were homeless) she told me how she’s struggling with, “Homeless people should get a job.”

I smiled at her.

She knew that my husband’s job of almost 18 years is traveling with us because he works from home (wherever home may be at the moment.) She realized it’s not always so simple and the conversation was a good thing for both of us.

I like to be organized. Not only were pairs of shoes in different boxes but they were in different countries!

When we ask God to reveal His Plans for our lives He (I can pretty much guarantee it) will lead us through test after test and chisel away the parts of our lives that are offensive to Him.

It’s actually quite painful but somehow VERY worth it at the same time.

He leads us to places and situations we’re uncomfortable and HAVE to trust Him to provide (not just physically, either.)

Even though today we may face a storm and more loss if the tent does not hold, we would not go back to life as we knew it.

This is more adventure than I’d ever asked for (and more than I ever wanted, to be honest) but following Jesus and walking in faith with The Holy Spirit with us is adventure worth living.

Today I’m asking for prayers for me and also I guess for you and that God opens eyes and ears to His Plans for your life and even when He leads you through something uncomfortable (and He will) He is Enough.