When The Poor Meet the Rich

I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.~Shane Claiborne

I went to see the movie The Blind Side last night. And feel in love with this story! This is something that is near and dear to my heart. I have been to church all of my life and heard how we are supposed to help those less fortunate. Unfortunately, the message I heard frequently was that being good stewards trumps helping the less fortunate. We have a responsibility to make sure that the money we give is used in the right way. We cannot let ourselves be taken advantage of after all. What if they should use the money for something we do not approve of.

Well, obviously there are ways around this. Giving gift cards for gas or groceries. Going to the electric department to pay the bill. But, I think, sometimes it is okay just to give money. I am not responsible for the choices this person makes. I AM responsible for the choices that I make. And if I am a follower of Christ then I am responsible for sharing the abundance he has blessed me with.

I heard this story told about a minister whose church was running a ministry to give assistance to the needy. One of the church members came to the minister extremely upset because he saw a man arrive in a Mercedes, park down the road, and walk to the church to receive assistance. “He’s just taking advantage of us,” the church member complained. The wise minister replied, “It’s okay. My Father has six billion people who take advantage of him everyday.”

We Christians like to take things even further tying strings to the money. If you come to our church, we will help you. If you stop sinning, at least the obvious ones, then we will help you. Greed, over-indulging in food and tv, shopping too much. Those are acceptable sins. If you believe the same doctrine we believe, we will help you. After all, how can they ever get their life straightened out without our help.

Guess what? That power is in God’s hands. Not ours. Micromanaging people’s lives does not change them. The love of God changes people. When it comes to our interactions with our fellow humans, that is our first responsibility. Loving them. Letting the love of God flow through us. Don’t get me wrong. There is a time for tough love. But it is essential to have a deep, loving, long-term relationship with someone for tough love to be effective. We like to skip over the love part straight to the tough.

We moved to our current house 11 years ago this month. We live two blocks from some housing projects that I frequently drive past running my errands. Years ago I began thinking, “There has got to be some way that I can help some of the people living there. Sometimes I would pray. But it was mostly just a longing. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart,” has been a favorite scripture of mine for a while.

Once or twice during the holidays I convinced my husband to go to this neighborhood with me to give out candy, small toys, and small devotional books onto which I attached our names and phone number hoping that someone would call. We loaded up the kids and walked through the neighborhood with Tommy muttering, “We’re gonna get killed over here.”

Then a few years ago a lady and a man showed up at my front door. She asked if she and her boyfriend could rake our yard to earn some money to buy her children Christmas presents. I talked to Tommy, and he agreed that she could. Irise came in once to use my bathroom that day. We talked for a few minutes. She offered to clean my house for me if I wanted. I’ve always been pretty adamant about taking care of that myself, but it just so happened that at this time I was going through a rough spot and was looking for someone to clean for me. Thus began my friendship with Irise.

We have known each other for several years now. I have given her rides, helped her with her job resume, tutored her GED studies, given her money, put gas in her car, helped her shop for a car, and given her a baby shower. She has cleaned my house, kept my kids, become one of my best friends, and encouraged me more than any other person ever has. She has been working full-time at a personal care home for over a year now. Working with the elderly is her passion, and she is great at it. She works hard to give her children a good life and is trying to get in a position to move out of the housing projects. She is a single mother of three who works full-time with no benefits and lives in a place where she has to worry about her children’s safety. She has an enthusiasm for life that is contagious. I don’t know how she does it. But she rarely ever gets down or discouraged.

Things I have learned over the years I’ve been friends with Irise:

There are people who have made huge mistakes in their lives that have gotten them in a bad place.They still deserve a second chance. And even third or fourth or fifth chance. People can change.

Once you get down it is nearly impossible to pull yourself up alone.

As soon as you get a job, the government starts pulling out their support.

If you make over $100/month, you are not eligible for Medicaid. Please tell me how someone who makes $800/month is supposed to pay for health care!

Sometimes the people you help end up helping you more than you ever help them.

Most people are good people just trying to make it in the world the best they can.

Sometimes even good people will take advantage of you because that is just the way they have learned to cope in the world because of what life has dealt them. It’s a survival mechanism.

You will be opposed by the people you love most when you decide to help someone who is different.

Lots of people worry about your safety if you do this sort of thing.

Safety is an illusion.

Use the common sense God gave you. Follow your gut instincts. If something feels dangerous, get away.

A little encouragement goes a long way.

Even though there are many assistance programs, most help out once or twice or temporarily and do not affect long-term change in a person’s life. They put a band-aid on the immediate problem instead of providing a real solution.

Even though there are many assistance programs, many people still fall through the cracks by not meeting certain requirements.

 

Last month I had the privilege of leading a small group of ladies into a better understanding of what is going on in the world and our place in it. We met at a condo in Orange Beach. Irise rode with me. When we arrived at the condo, I was amazed at how beautiful it was, even better than the photos. Irise, however, was in tears. She had never been to the beach and could not believe that she got to stay in a place that beautiful. It was a lovely weekend. πŸ™‚

Last week a man came to my house with a story about his daughter needing asthma medicine. I gave him the $16 he asked for. I knew that his story may or may not be true. Over the course of the week, I gave him more money for this and that, he offered to rake my yard for money to pay the electric bill,and I typed up a resume for him (full of false information, it turns out) and talked to him about studying for his GED. To make a really long story shorter, by the end of the week, I began to feel uncomfortable about some things. So I called the police just to get them to keep an eye on our street because I was going to be out-of-town that day.

Friday night a police officer came to our house. Our neighbor had seen this man wandering around the neighborhood and called them. The police officer told us that they received calls about Develle (he had even given me a false name) several times a week. He’s on crack. He’s homeless. He goes around begging and offering to work for money. At that time they didn’t have anything to arrest him on. The police officer said that he is not dangerous and has never been violent. Since then he has been arrested for robbery and attempted kidnapping because he pretended to have a gun, got $20 from a couple, and forced them to drive him to an apt. complex.

So maybe I’m an idiot. Or maybe I just believe in living out the life God has called me to live. Maybe he hasn’t called you to minister in dangerous neighborhoods. But whatever he’s called you to do, it is pretty likely that it is not safe. It is pretty likely that it will not be comfortable. It is pretty likely that some of your friends and neighbors will not approve. It is pretty likely that it will require some sort of sacrifice. But I know if you follow Him, you will have a life beyond your wildest dreams. And He likes to come through in seemingly impossible circumstances.

So if you get a chance pray for Develle. He desperately needs help, and he deserves another chance at life.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Mt. 9:36

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HAD TO POST THIS!

If you’ve been reading any time at all, you know of my passion for Love Without Boundaries. This video is WELL-WORTH WATCHING.

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Our Halloween/October

Can you believe I’m posting something on time. November 1st. Halloween photos. I’m doing good. πŸ™‚

Here is Rachel posing with our pumpkins. I think these are the first ones. Molly, Caleb’s golden retriever, kept chewing them to bits. NOTE the boots. I called my sister from Target and said, “She’s only six, and her taste in clothes is already driving me crazy!” Response from the mother of three girls, “Get used to it.”

Rachel with pumpkins

Christy, I know, I know. Just get used to it. Just like when we were kids and my clothing choices drove you nuts. πŸ˜‰

Rachel/Little Mermaid and I at a fall festival last week. Rachel had been saying ever since September that she wanted to be Ariel for Halloween. When I saw a costume at Wal-Mart in September, I took her to buy it but told her that we had to put it up until Halloween. She tears all of her dress-up clothes up. She agreed until we were actually buying it. She kept asking if she could put it on when we got home. When I told her “no”. She turned on the pouty face and said, “You never let me do anything!” We had a talk. I did let her and Titus try on their costumes to show Dad before we put them away til the holiday.

Rachel and Kim

There’s an amazing face painter who comes to this fall festival every year. Nice thing about girls: they like getting their faces painted.

Rachel Face Paint

Here is Ninja Titus. He would not wear his costume to the fall festival or to Granny’s office on Friday, but he did wear it Trick or Treating last night. Now he won’t take it off.

Titus ninja

She wanted to pose like this. I don’t know why.

Rachel Trick or Treat

Caleb Tebow. He almost didn’t get candy at one house since Florida beat the Bulldogs here last weekend. πŸ™‚

Caleb Teebo

Eli and me before Trick or Treating last night. Eli wasn’t going to dress up this year. But he needs a costume for an event he’s going to at the library this week, so he changed his mind. πŸ™‚

Kim and Eli

I bought more pumpkins after Molly chewed up the first ones. We kept her from chewing these up until a few days ago. Tommy and Caleb got creative with the one that had a hole chewed in it.

Jack O'Lanterns

A few more photos from the month.

Rachel in Halloween shirt

Titus, Rachel and I went to Nashville to visit my sister early in October. Rachel’s first visit there. Here Titus is introducing Rachel to one of our favorite stops on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Natchez Trace T & R

Natchez Trace Titus

Rachel’s a city girl, and it showed when we were crossing the stream. She was a little scared. She’s learning though.

Natchez Trace Rachel

Natchez Trace T & R2

Notice their heights. Rachel has grown 3 1/2 inches since she came home! Must be all that meat she’s eating.

Natchez Trace T & R3

Rachel thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her girl cousins. We planned to go to a pumpkin patch, but it rained the whole weekend. We thought about taking the kids somewhere else fun. But they were having so much fun together that we just hung out at my sister’s house. She and I actually got to visit a little. Nice change.

Rachel & cousins

Here you can get a pretty good look at what Rachel did to her hair. One of my cousins sent her a gift card and get well card. Granny took her to spend it. Rachel came home with Rapunzel Barbie. Rapunzel Barbie has hair extensions that snap on and plastic scissors that you can cut them off with. Next day, Rachel found some scissors laying in my room and proceeded to give herself bangs. She did a pretty good job, almost straight across.

Rachel haircut

She wants to let her hair grow out. We had just gotten the front the same length as the sides. When I asked her why she did it. She just said, “I didn’t mean to.” Her dad and brothers have nicknamed her “Haircut” until her hair grows out. 😦

Here is Rachel having her first cup of hot cocoa which she likes.

Rachel hot cocoa

Here she is having her first caramel apple.

Rachel caramel apple

She made herself a bed under the tv cabinet.

Rachel under tv stand

Remember this room a year ago? My friend Renee recently came over, and Rachel wanted her to come to her room. Renee commented, “I remember seeing photos of this room last year. It looked so perfect. Now it looks like a little girl lives here.” Yes, indeed, it does. πŸ™‚

Rachel in room

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Summer, Part 2

I am soooo behind. Life’ s a little too busy for blogging right now. We had such a fun summer though that I want to share for those few of you who are still reading.

Caleb had another awesomely fun year of baseball. It was a hard ending though. His team came in second in their league in the end-of-the-season tournament for the second year in row. So hard on my super competitive boy. He’s more competitive than your average boy, I promise. Just yesterday he was bawling in the floor like a two-year-old because his fantasy football team lost by 1 point!

Here’s the team in a huddle between last two games. Tommy coached his team.

Caleb b-ball

Here’s Caleb with his trophy. First smile after final loss. Rest of team had moved on 30 minutes before and were enjoying their ice cream, but not my Caleb.

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Here’s the team. They were AWESOME! So proud of them!

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Here’s Rachel and Grandpa at the ball field.

Rachel & Grandpa

Here’s my cutie pie again!

Rachel at ball field

Titus had a great first year of t-ball. He’s so much fun to watch! He imitates Caleb because he’s watched him play so much and played with him in the backyard.

Titus in field

Titus catching ball

Titus batting

Titus running to first

Here he is with his trophy given to him by his daddy. Yes, Tommy coached both Caleb and Titus’ teams this year. It was crazy.

Titus t-ball2

I think I posted this before, but I LOVE this photo of Titus and Rachel! These two are always having some kind of adventure.

Titus and Rachel

In July we celebrated Titus’ 6th birthday!

Titus

I don’t know what these two would do without each other.

Titus and Caleb

Titus enjoying his Chronicles of Narnia cake

Titus eating cake

Titus enjoying the pool

Pool, Titus

Caleb and Robert eating popsicles

C & R

Best Friends!

C & R 2

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Caleb’s Sleepover

Yes, I am a bad, bad blogger! Moving on.

Caleb wanted to have a sleepover this fall. Reason: In the spring whenever he has his birthday sleepover, it’s baseball season. So he needs to have a fall sleepover so that he and his buddies can play football.

He had three friends sleepover a few weeks ago. (I had some friends sleepover, too! We had a blast!) Friday night it was pouring rain and lightning. So when they asked if they could play football, the answer was “NO.” They found plenty to do inside with the Nerf guns and game systems.

In the morning Caleb awakened me to ask if they could play football. I told him to take a bunch of towels out with them and they could. They spent several hours in the mud and at one time pouring rain and had the time of their lives! Here are the photos.

At this point they are playing football on their knees. And, yes, some of them are playing in their socks. Why? I do not know.

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Be sure to wash all the mud out of your hair!

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That’s what friends are for! πŸ™‚

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We MADE them get muddy again for a group photo. You can tell they had a rotten time doing it!

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Here is Caleb and his best friend, Robert. They have an unusual bond for nine-year-old boys. They were born 9 days apart. Linda, Robert’s mom who is also one of my dearest friends, and I think that they were best friends before they were even born. πŸ˜‰ BUT there is still that competitive male nature.

Here Robert is trying to flip Caleb.

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I LOVE THIS NEXT PHOTO! Just look at the sheer determination and the muscles at work in Robert’s left and Caleb’s right leg. Robert is determined to take Caleb down, and Caleb is determined that his foot is not leaving the ground! LOVE IT!

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Just had to put this one of Caleb

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And, finally, a group photo

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Love Without Boundaries

LWB

I’ve shared about Love Without Boundaries before. I LOVE this organization and what they are doing in China! They have programs ranging from providing nutrition assistance to orphanages to foster care sponsorship to healing homes for cleft lip/palate children and children with health problems that need extra attention in order for them to thrive. We sponsor a precious little girl in foster care in China through LWB.

In 2004 they published the book Love’s Journey: A Collage of the China Adoption Experience. Any of you adoptive families who are interested, right now they are giving away copies of their book Love’s Journey 2: The Red Thread. All you have to do is mention the lovewithoutboudaries.com website on your blog or facebook page and send the link to them along with $5 S&H. I have already received my book because Love Without Boundaries was my Facebook birthday wish. It is a nearly 300 page, lovely coffee-table book filled with photos and adoption stories. Here is the link with steps to getting your own book.

I mentioned that I posted Love Without Boundaries on Facebook as my birthday wish. I cannot find the link to this, but I think this is also an awesome way to help people. Most of us do not need one single thing for our birthdays. Not really. This is a great way to help others by using your birthday wish to raise funds for your favorite charity.

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Our Summer, Birthday #1

Whew! What a busy and fun summer we had, two birthdays, a trip to the beach, lots of friends over to swim! I’m trying to catch up on all that we’ve done this summer, but it may take awhile. πŸ™‚

Here is Rachel ready for church complete with animals and purse.

June 2009

Rachel turned six on June 1st. That was on a Monday. First thing that morning and repeatedly throughout the day she asked me, “Where my cake?” Later she said, “I want my presents.” We asked her if she ever had a birthday cake or birthday presents in China. She said “no”. But it sure hasn’t taken her long to learn about birthdays!

We went out to eat with Granny that evening. Then we had to go to the ball field for Titus’ t-ball game. Grandpa met us at the ball field and gave Rachel a birthday present after the game. Rachel and I went to Wal-Mart to get a small cake. She had been asking for a princess cake for weeks, but I told her that we were going to get that for her party. She saw a cute puppy cake made out of cupcakes and that’s what she wanted.

Here’s the birthday girl out to eat at The Grill. She had chicken strips.

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Here she is lounging on the bench in the restaurant.

June 2009 3

We went home for cake, ice cream, and presents. The highlight was a dollhouse from Granny and Mom and Dad. I wondered if it would be worth the cost. I was afraid that she wouldn’t play with it much. Was I wrong! She loves her dollhouse and plays with it every single day. Sometimes she plays with it by herself. But frequently she and Titus play with it together for hours at a time. Of course, Titus has to use his Star Wars figures. πŸ™‚

Here’s the puppy cake

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“Happy Birthday to You” my beautiful birthday girl!

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So happy!

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Make a wish…

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Our princess

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I finally get my presents!

June 2009 9

Eli bringing in the BIG present

June 2009 10

Apparently, we should have bought a dollhouse for the boys a long time ago. πŸ™‚

June 2009 11

June 2009 12

Rachel and brothers

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Happy end to a GREAT birthday.

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I LOVE MY MOMMY!

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Our dear friends Celsie and Robert graciously allowed us to turn their luau which was already planned for the weekend following Rachel’s birthday into a luau/birthday party.

Here’s Rachel on the way to her party.

Rachel

When we got to the party, there was a banner that said “Aloha” or something Hawaiian. Rachel stopped and pointed up to it and said, “Happy…Birthday…. Rachel” like she was reading it. I said, “That’s right.”

Rachel and her friend Natalie

Rachel and Natalie

Princess cake! Starring Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty and Princess Rachel.

B'day cake

Happy Birthday to you! Ms. Celsie even had a princess dress for Rachel to wear!

Rachel and cake

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Rachel's party

Rachel had a wonderful time at her princess/Hawaiian birthday party! Thank you so very much Robert and Celsie for making Rachel’s first birthday at home unforgetable!

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