Day 23 – Thursday
Oh… Today’s service has left me humbled … and a bit breathless.
I guess that’s the best way to describe leaving the Handley’s very humble abode. Living day to day, not knowing what’s around the corner, an air mattress in the living room of the tiny apartment served many purposes as he Handley’s only piece of furniture. When we arrived, we were greeted with such warm hospitality. Incredibly sharp, 17-year-old Nakeadra told me all about the JobCorps program she will be starting after Christmas as she works her way to being a CNA. Her little 4-year-old sister hid behind her loving mother, Tara, who was most grateful that her kids would have a few things for Christmas. Their dad/husband was working at Foot Locker, showing up at 4 a.m. to start the day’s 1st shift after closing the store the night before at midnight.
We stood in awe of this sweet family. We were completely unaware of the situation that might have left them destitute and inspired by their desire to “make it”. We were also so grateful to our friend Vincent from YBC, who not only has a vibrant after school program for kids in the neighborhood, but has started a church to minister to the families whose lives have been touched by the Center.
Vincent’s story of redemption can do nothing but leave you crying. Several years ago, after having been targeted by group of drug dealers looking for their next top salesman, he stood in front of a judge who (by the grace of God alone) gave Vincent one last chance. Knowing exactly who was behind that free ride, Vince dedicated his life to learning, serving, sharing and teaching others about Christ.
He went to live with his grandmother, finished school and came to Dallas to attend Dallas Theological Seminary. So here he is – at his little spot on Stolz Road – open and ready to help those (like Rocky Handley) who find themselves in need of some serious help. Rocky went to the church next door. No go. Then to the church on the other side of Vince. No go. He ended up at Vincent’s Center, thinking it was a Day Care … having no idea it was a church, too.
Rocky needed $60 to pay the past due at the hotel where his family had been living. Vince, who wasn’t there, asked his assistant Jessica how much they needed to finish out the week. “$130”, she replied. “Pay it all,” Vince responded. “And ask him to fill out a wish list. We want that family to know they’re loved at Christmas.”
That’s where my email comes into play. We’ve helped Vince’s families in the past. Even though we’ve been a bit service-inundated this month, I knew we needed to check with him to see if we could help in any way.
“Vince – Do you have anyone we can get gifts for this year?”
“We’re not doing it like we’ve done before. That was too crazy. Too much focus on the stuff and not on God.” (Last year all the families received loads of stuff at their Christmas Eve service.) No – We’re not doing that again. …. But I might have someone who needs some loving. I’ll get back with you.”
Within a day, Vince emailed me Rocky’s information. This family was not a member of Vince’s church or enrolled in YBC’s after school program. They just needed help. And Vince, who is always looking outward, stepped up.
I called my neighborhood Bible study group. They pitched in. The Handleys were loved.
We prayed with them and asked them to come enjoy a Christmas Eve service tomorrow at Vincent’s church. They knew in whose name we were there…. maybe tomorrow they can hear the story in full.
Anyway… when we left that feeling of humbleness descended upon Jon & me. It’s happened before – mostly when we realize that we had the chance to be a small cog in God’s plan to love someone.
The breathless part came as we were overwhelmed with the enormity of it all. A family with absolutely nothing. Living in an apartment complex filled with families in similar situations. How can you fix it all? How can you provide it all? How can you take care of everyone?
But there is One that can and literally does. For whatever reason, though, in His infinite capacity to love, He uses us. What’s our role then? Be available. Be obedient.
When the nudge to help comes…. don’t ignore it – follow up and follow through.
Don’t think that because we’ve been focusing on serving (and sharing about it) that the teen funk has left the building.
It comes and goes as usual. You know the slurky, mumbly, everyone is annoying and invading my space thing. Teen Take Out tricks us sometimes by smiling and laughing. It’s usually when he’s bounding in the door after hanging with friends or when guests are around.
“Do you like being with us?” I ask last night as we were eating out for the umpteenth time (I haven’t been feeling so hot the last few days).
“mumble…mumble… yeah.” he responds in a barely audible tone.
“Well you sure don’t act like it.” I toss back
“What are you doing?” Jon asks, looking at me like I’m crazy. “Why do you even engage in that. You know he loves you… he’s just tooling you. Let it roll off your back. It will pass.”
(Who’s that talking?! I’m the one who says those things, not him! Good to know that’s what he thinks. I’ve just been throwing the “it will pass” thing in hopes that by saying the words… they will come true :)
As we were all enduring his criminally pathetic attitude, I literally had to fight the urge to wish this time away. I mean really. What good is coming from it? Why can’t we just fly through time a year or two when our less self-absorbed kid will return? (I’m banking on the wise words of our wise MOAT guest bloggers and Ironing Board friends)
Then I remembered Monday. I was lazing on the couch with TTO and Future Hoarder of America … enjoying every minute of the rare occurrence. I looked at the big kid’s man feet. They just couldn’t be his!!
“You know, just yesterday I was tickling your little pudgy feet.” I geekily reminisced. “You would laugh and laugh and squirm to get away… then race back for more.”
“Mom!” he protested. But I knew he liked it.
“Your feet were just like Jack’s.” I grabbed FHA and pulled his next to TTO’s.
Boy do I love those feet.
Okay… Back to serving.
Thanks for walking the road with me.