Ebola On The Mind

ebolaLast night, and this morning, I was really sick. Now, normally, I don’t spend a notable amount of time trying to figure out what specifically I’m ailing from, nor do I try to pinpoint any virus/contaminant’s time and point of entry. Then, of course, Ebola makes national headlines.

All I could keep thinking of was, I am guilty of telling every Ebola joke in the book for weeks now. It occurred to me as I puked what felt like my very soul into the porcelain throne, over and over and over again, I might be dying of Ebola.

I mean, I do have that kind of luck, you know. And this must be exactly what dying from Ebola feels like.

 

I found the irony both scary as well as entertaining. If I died of Ebola after telling all those lame Ebola jokes, I would be an odd story in many lives for ages to come. I’d still be a footnote, but a completely different kind.  That would be the only thing a bunch of people would ever remember about me. 

“You remember that girl who told me that horrible Ebola joke? Yeah? Well, guess what! She died…of ebola!! I saw it on tv this morning!!” 

“I once worked with this girl who kept telling me the dumbest Ebola jokes every morning, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t die of Ebola a few weeks later. Girl never did have a bit of luck.”

“You know what happens when little boys and girls make fun of bad things? You die of Ebola, like a girl I once knew.”

 

I have had a couple of those ebola jokes backfire on me. Right at the beginning of America’s Ebola Scare, my daughter Caitlyn called me from Arizona. Neither of us are big telephone people, so we don’t talk as often as I imagine most parent/children do, but I could tell from her voice, this time she wasn’t her normal, chipper self.

Me: What’s wrong, Bug?

Cait: I haven’t been feeling good.

Me: Maybe its Ebola.

Cait: Yes, mom. It is Ebola.

Me: Oh my God!!!

Caitie is in the Air Force. For supposedly being in the “safe” part of the military, she’s always scaring the shit out of me.

Then she started laughing, and I eventually got my heart to start beating again. She was kidding. Horrible child….

 

Thankfully, I feel much better, and I suspect I had food poisoning, not Ebola. I wish I could promise I will treat Ebola with more respect and seriousness, but I don’t want to lie to you. I really can’t help myself. :-)

~ Bird

 

So, I’m finally jumping on the Blogging Event bus like so many of the rest of you. The month of November I am competing in the NaBloPoMo event and the NaNoWriMo event. Yep. I’m going big.

For National Blog stuff, I’ve been perusing the daily prompt ideas. They are really good, but if there’s one thing I don’t really struggle with, it’s coming up with an idea for a post. I’m like an endless pit of dumb stuff to talk about. The blog event will be pretty easy for me, I think.

For National Novel Writing Month, I am writing a story with my daughters, Caitlyn and Rebekkah. We’ve been working on the idea for a little over a week or so, and I can’t believe how fun this is turning out to be. Both of the girls write well, and I love how hard it is to tell which of us wrote what. Caitie and I are committing to the NaNoWriMo schedule of writing 1600 words a day, but Bekkie is in college full-time, and she has less time to commit to something like this. Still, this should be awesome!!

 

 

Terms of Forgiveness

Photos-Satan-Vs-Jesus-God-And-Devil-Arm-Wrestling-WallpaperAs I mentioned in my last post, Living the Successful Footnote Kind of Life, I have been breaking out in hives, which in my existence, is the signal my body sends up that I am not handling stress well. As promised, here is the second thing I am going to deal with. Forgiveness.

This part is going to be tricky. One of the unexpected problems with writing so openly about personal stuff on a public blog is knowing how much detail I can use before it crosses from being just my story, and instead, becomes a great big, embarrassing tattle-tale on someone else. This post is about an internal struggle I am having, and not about pointing out someone else’s actions.

II. Forgiveness, Expectations, Boundaries, Justice, & Righteous Indignation

Forgiveness is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. If you can’t forgive, you can’t be saved. The ability one has to show forgiveness to another person shows on some level there is an understanding of how much Jesus has forgiven so much in your own life, and we are not asked to forgive. We are commanded to do so. It’s Christianity 101, and even the brand new baby followers are expected to forgive as they have been forgiven.

Any person who holds to an expectation that the debts owed to him by fellow human beings somehow outweigh the ones Jesus paid for on the cross in his own life, will find his life riddled with problems arising from each and every one of those situations, as is shown by Jesus’ story about the slave. The king had graciously forgiven a great debt owed to him by a slave, and yet, the forgiven slave could not forgive a smaller debt owed to him by a fellow slave. You could say, the slave refused to pay it forward. Matthew 18: 23-35.  By being a complete asshole to the fellow slave, he quickly found himself facing the justice of the King, and not the mercy. A point to remember in this story is that none of it had to do with justice; the slave incurred his debt as did the fellow slave who owed him. Justice would dictate every debt being paid back in full. The king showed his inclination towards mercy first, and only justice when mercy is rejected. Never wish people get what they deserve; you might get what you deserve, instead.

I have no lack of understanding to fall back on when it comes to the precepts and principles of Christianity, and yet, I have found myself holding on to a few things that I have been hurt by, letting them collect and simmer in the back of my mind.

A. The Importance Money Plays In A Person’s Value

The last place I worked, I found myself having to deal with two people who clearly judged others by bank account size. I have never had this problem before, so witnessing it was like not being able to look away from a horrible car accident, but being judged by it is just plain humiliating. The danger, though, is subtle. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to begin to believe you are inferior simply by repeated exposure to people who make you feel this way.

At the time I came to work for these people, my marriage was already sinking in an ocean of drugs, pornography, and shock. Within weeks, I walked out. I was freshly separated, emotionally on edge, and financial struggling. Most normal people would cut a person like me a break. Not one particular coworker though.  She would be “gracious” and “concerned” to my face if people were watching, but she would turn around and say the most vicious things behind my back minutes later, and I can’t even tell you how many lies she made completely up about me. It was crazy. What has caused me some problems forgiving all of this is how the owner, my boss, handled these abusive behaviors by one coworker towards another one.

He measured our worth, and backed the one who made him more money.

How’s that for knowing just how insignificant your boss considers all of your hard work?

The owner, shackled by his fear that this Class Act might quit and take the three clients she supposedly brought to the company, would show his own lack of moral fiber by refusing to allow me any chance whatsoever to refute her many insane allegations. In the two years I was employed there, I watched this seemingly nice guy devolve into an arrogant prick, convinced that his money should be enough to silence differing opinions, and honesty can be chosen from a menu. Nothing about the reality of who he was matched what he hoped people thought he was. He boasted often about his charitable giving, and gave mouth service to his devout love of God, but when he dealt with me without an audience to admire him, he was arrogant, high-handed, and dismissive. At some point, I began to agree with his wicked and callous judgements on some level, and I can only shudder to think what just a little more time in that atmosphere might have done to my self-esteem.

As I began coming out of the fog of betrayal, though, I began to bristle at being treated like trash. This must have surprised him, and he would get itchy, nervous, and weird whenever I was around. Finally,  his pathetic reaction to me starting to defend myself was to insist I never speak directly to him, but instead, give any communications for him to Kandace, my supervisor/friend, and she would relay the message to him.

I.kid.you.not.

Not long after that, I was laid off. In the most condescending of tones, he told me I could keep my laptop and printer. When I told him I’d rather have an exit interview, he started stuttering incoherently, then hung up.

Amidst all these blatant lies and unjust accusations, I never once was allowed to defend myself against any of it:  but even worse, I had started to believe I really was worth less than people who had more money. It had seeped in softly, and that part I have found harder to let go of.

 

A person who uses a position of authority to cause hardship on someone who can’t fight back is the lowest form of life, and the putrid stink that permeates an arrogant soul can’t be washed off with all the money in the world.

It’s time to lay this one to rest.

I can forgive this one easily. Typed out, it all looks kind of pathetic and sad anyways. That time is over, and those things no longer happen.

B. Forgiveness, Money, Justice, & Pride

My truck’s fuel pump went out, and because money has been so tight, I agreed to let the brother of someone I work with fix it for half the amount the mechanic would have charged.

Yes. I acknowledge, I’m a dumbass.

Long story short, I lost a lot of money, had to pay twice the original amount estimated, and the truck “mysteriously” had quite a bit of damage that wasn’t there before,  like a considerable amount of dirt in the gas tank, wires completely cut from the engine, hoses cut repeatedly in order to render them useless, broken side mirrors…the list goes on and on. You get the idea.

Now, despite all those devil’s advocates out there, the court actually doesn’t require the same amount of proof in civil cases as criminal cases, and I have accumulated enough written and photo evidence to paint a pretty clear, completely apalling, picture of what went on with my truck when I asked for my money back. When the mechanic began telling me in detail each malicious act done to my only vehicle, the anger shot through me like a volcano, and I felt so stupid for believing someone was trying to help me, when instead, they were “rolling” me. (Using different reasons/excuses to get all of your money, then treating you like trash when they are finished).

For a couple of days, I bounced back and forth about whether or not taking them to court and trying to recoup some of my money back was the right thing for me to do. I wrote a demand letter, filled out the small claims court paperwork, and collected all my evidence together in an organized, hopefully convincing argument. The coworker ignored my request for my money back and the official demand for money, which made me feel even more stupid.

The thing about small claims court is this: the damage to my pride is what is causing most of the anger here, and money won’t fix that. The brutal truth in all of this is that none of it impacts the command to forgive,  in any way. Jesus didn’t tell me to forgive only inexpensive stuff, nor did a person’s intent come into play either. He just told me to forgive, and if going to court to recoup my money is in any way motivated by my want for them to get what I think they clearly deserve, then I am making a choice to wreak my own revenge, and that is not forgiveness. This family is the only people poorer than I am at the moment, and always beset with crisis after crisis after crisis. It wouldn’t be much of a victory. Nothing about their life is enviable, and the money not only isn’t there to give back, but the debt would create a bond between us that the money is simply not worth.

No lawsuit. No police. I forgive this one too.

So, that takes care of the unsettling presence of growing bitterness I have been feeling lately. Forgiveness is an actual choice, and the one who forgives takes away so much more from it than the one being forgiven. There is no small print, outlining exceptions to His terms. The terms are simply, He forgave you, now you forgive each other.

~ Bird

 

Living The Successful Footnote Kind of Life

bird for fivrr traffickingI’m in a weird place emotionally these days. I get up, go to work, focus on getting results, come home, listen to Rebekkah’s day, clean my home, and the whole process starts again the next day. I can honestly say, I work hard to maintain an outside veneer of pleasant calmness, but inside, something feels off. And despite my herculean efforts to hide my personal battlefronts, people can always tell when I am internally freaking out anyways, because I break out in hives. The more stress I’m carrying around, the more hives I get.

Even worse, I’m just a shade darker than a cold glass of milk, so anything remotely resembling any form of the color red stands out on me like a conquering army’s flag. For two weeks now, I’ve been breaking out here and there with these stress bumps, but today was the final straw. I look like a small pox victim. I have no choice but to start rooting up some of this crap growing in my mind, and tossing it into the incinerator of brutal honesty. So here goes. I’m getting ready to lay down some embarrassing truth about myself. I’ll do this in three parts. Today, I’m addressing my envy.

I.               Comparing my life, and finding it worth less.

I have written before of the successes my brother Michael Cheshire has found as a writer, speaker, and humorist. I have not written much aboutmichael my half-sister, Shawn Cheshire, who is a Paralympic gold medalist. I am the eldest of my mother’s children, while Mike is second, and Shawn is third in birth order. In all of my years growing up and living decades away from my childhood relationships, I would never have dreamed I could be the kind of person who would find myself subconsciously comparing the value of my life with someone else’s. And yet, here I am.

Albert Einstein had a sister named Maja. No one talks about Maja because compared to Albert, what could anyone say? She blew no one’s minds with theories of anything. She was probably wicked intelligent, but it wouldn’t have mattered much. Albert would have outshined her without even trying. I feel like Maja sometimes. Unknown, probably slightly insecure, average little Maja. A footnote in the great life of Albert Einstein.

I know that what I am experiencing is completely normal, and I imagine every person who has ever had overachiever siblings make it into the spot light has felt the same way at one point or another, but that doesn’t make any of this feel better to me. I hate feeling like my own life’s worth has anything to do with anyone else’s successes or failures, and I refuse to allow myself to remain in this strange place emotionally.

majaWhat is even more mind boggling is I’m massively introverted, and having people constantly follow me around with a camera while I’m exercising, or being bombarded by emails, letters, phone calls, or anything else of that sort would make my head explode. I would hate it more than I can put into words. Still, I have a feeling when I die, I might only end up being a quick footnote in the lives of two people who made an impact on the world in a big enough way to get people’s attention. No one sets out in life to end up a footnote. Footnotes are boring. Footnotes suck. I don’t want to be a footnote.

The brutal truth is that I can write too, like Michael, but I probably will never be a tenth as successful with it as he is. He has that spark of magic some people have that can’t be mimicked. His own scars have healed in such a way, he’s able to take the dark parts of life and make them endurable with laughter. That is a gift God gave him, and I do not begrudge him of it. I am proud of everything he has been able to accomplish, and none of it has a thing to do with my own successes and failures. He’s earned his successes.

Nor will I ever be any sort of athlete. Shawn has always had the physical self-discipline to push her body into shawnrunning and exercising. I hate physical crap like that, and it comes as no surprise to me, she took something she loved and made a career out of it. She has always craved the attention and approval of others, and the fact that she was able to find all of that in one neat, tidy package is something I am glad for her about. Unlike me, Shawn’s extroverted nature has always been most comfortable on an invisible stage, living life for an audience. She’s a lot like our mother when it comes to that. I wouldn’t take that away from her either.

My life is my own to make, whether I do anything noteworthy with it or not. A sure-fire way to make it suck, though, is to set unrealistic goals for yourself based on someone else’s life. I’m finished with that. Maybe I’m destined to be a footnote. If I hate the idea so much, then it is within my power to change that. Nut up, or shut up.

Hopefully, this will relieve about a third of these itchy hives.

~ Bird

An Open Letter To My Dad

dadmikecathieDear Dad,

After your last visit here, and then speaking to you yesterday, I have to admit, I’m worried. If our lives were fueled by the love others have for us, I alone could keep you alive forever. I wish that were the case, but since it is not, I want to tell you some things.

  • Dad, I am so proud to be your daughter.
  • I love that I look like you.
  • I love that I have your personality, your laugh, your sense of humor, and your resilient spirit.
  • I love that we’re adventurers, and storytellers.
  • I love that you make me laugh so much, you make me lose my lady-like mannerisms and I flap my hands around like a retarded seal until I can breathe again.
  • I love that I have never even once entertained the thought that you could ever not love me in all of my 46 years.
  • I love how you refused to have any other children besides me and Michael so we would know we could never be replaced.
  • I love how you doggedly refused to give up on Michael, and how you try so hard to become
    Dad in the USMC

    Dad in the USMC

    tech-savvy enough to follow his blogs and internet communications even though it is clear you are kind of clueless about computers.

  • I love how you scold me if I don’t ask you for help, and how you nag me to eat more, and eat better.
  • I love how you always offer to go beat up people who are pissing me off.
  • I love how safe you make me feel, and how my tears are your tears too.
  • I love that you got to know my kids, and can see the awesomeness in them I’ve always seen.
  • Even better, I love that you think all their awesomeness comes from you, and not from me. And any flaws they have, we both agree, can be blamed on their father.
  • I love that you are proud of what kind of mother I turned out to be.
  • I love that you forgave mom, and even feel sad for the suffering she is going through right now.
  • I love every single one of your stories, even the ones that make me cringe.
  • I love that you are an interesting person who has seen some things.
  • I love everything about you– the good and the bad.
My grandfather holding my dad.

My grandfather holding my dad.

I know we get into awkward territory when we discuss God, but I want you to know… He does, in fact, truly exist, and I thank Him for picking you to be my dad. Most of the characteristics that have allowed me to survive the crippling-kinds of experiences I have experienced, I got from you. I can’t be positive, but I think you gave Michael the same ones. You have nothing to apologize to me for. I remember you trying, and I am thankful for that.

I imagine every parent wishes we’d done something differently…tried a little harder or been a little more laid back. Don’t be so harsh with yourself for the things you wished you’d done differently. You simply did not fail me, Dad. I always felt your love inside my heart, no matter how far apart we were.

I pray for you constantly these days. I can see your health faltering, and it scares me to think you might not be with us much longer. I feel four years’ old again, afraid and alone. So, please try to put off that moment for as long as possible, okay? I can’t lose you again right now. Do everything the doctors tell you to do.

I love you, Dad. Please stick around a little while longer.

~ Catherine Mallicoat

me and dad one

Doctrine For Dummies – Rebekkah

DOCTRINE FOR DUMMIESOne time, my Grandma told me that God doesn’t do even one thing on earth unless someone prays for it. She had arrived at this conclusion, (or had, more likely, adopted this view from someone else), based on different scriptures about dominion — first that Adam had it, then Satan, then Jesus got it back, and gave it back to us.

While there are scriptures that discuss these things, they are rare; and, to derive from these crumbs an idea which reduces God to the position of errand boy is preposterous. However, that is not the main reason I know it to be untrue.

No, the main reason is this: God knows we’re dumbasses.

This is quite evident. One need not comb through the bible for supporting quotes. Leading people around with pillars of fire or smoke, making donkey’s to talk, writing rules on tablets…It’s obvious, God didn’t feel He was dealing with intellectual giants.

Even the parables are evidence of this. Jesus said, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” Matthew 13:13

The whole point of the book is we’re shitty; He gave us the Holy Spirit through Jesus’s sacrifice so He could do it for us… a one sentence synopsis for those who won’t read it.

Which is how I know my Grandma has been mislead. It is counter to everything I know about God and the way He does business. No way would He set the system up to run solely by request, then hide instruction in thousands of pages of text few read thoroughly. No.Way.

The reason I’ve brought this up is actually because of homosexuality. I swear, I almost feel like an activist with the amount of time I spend debating the subject with ignorant religious people.

Here’s the thing.

My mom’s telling me about this debate she’s having about whether gay people can go to heaven, and I decide to track down the…what? 3 verses?

I don’t know. I know the’re in there but again, rare. And I know that freakin’ Book! But I’m having a hard time finding them. 1 Cor. 6:9 refers to them; yes, saying they won’t be in heaven, along with the usual suspects (you know, greed, idolatry, adultery, lying, etc. etc. etc.), but it is proving difficult to pinpoint the root of the vehemence with which Christians decry homosexuality. After all, that verse goes on to say that about all those awful things. Yeah. You used to be those, but now you have the Holy Spirit, and He’s gonna spruce you up. That fits with God, and the way He does things.

So. My point boils down to one tried and true saying: better safe than sorry. If you’re gonna play Christian and take a stand against something, then please, for the love of God, do your research, or shut up.

We’re walking blindfolded into the end times. In Revelations there are “thousands of thousands” of people who “came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev 7:9-14 That’s us, homies.

Us or our children. This is not the time for nitpicking and ridiculous argument. It’s the time to start getting acquainted with the Holy Spirit so He can teach you. Until you learn how to listen to Him, you won’t understand anything.

Think, Rosetta Stone….

~ Bekkie

Salvation Deal-Breakers

godLet’s talk about sin; specifically, homosexuality. In my last post, Jesus Was A Homeless Guy, I mentioned, off-handedly I thought, that God uses even the unsaved classes of people the church is specifically harsh on, to teach me about myself, and about how far I am even now from being anything like my Lord.

This opened up in my comments a dialogue about homosexuality being an abomination to the Lord that outranks most of the other sins. This scripture was quoted:

1 Cor 5
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

The above scripture can not be used to beat up NON-saved homosexual people. It doesn’t even mention homosexuality, for one.

It specifically states that we would have to leave this world to be able to avoid people who land in any of the above categories. Going a little further, I would like to point out that the word immoral is very broad, and it includes every sexual act that is outside of the marriage bed that defiles it — adultery, fornication, lewdness, lusting, homosexuality, effeminate men, pornography, rape, incest, molestation…the list is depressingly long.

Leave it to the human race to be able to spoil something as beautiful as physical marital love like sex in a million different, humiliating ways.

The writer is very clearly addressing sins in people who are professing their salvation and dedication to Jesus in the church. The first part of this chapter in Corinthians is the rebuke for having a “brother” among them who has done something sexually with his father’s wife, a sin even Gentiles (sinners) find unacceptable and particularly disgusting. He basically tells them that getting all puffed up about it, and yet not loving him enough to do the hard stuff he needs to experience, like ostacizing him,  for his unrepentant attitude, is not okay. I whole-heartedly agree. Nothing brings me to anger more quickly than having a fellow sister or brother Christian of mine do something so un-Christ-like and even worse, when they do it in front of the unsaved.

There is a big difference in sinning and still understanding that what you are doing is wrong, from sinning while trying to convince everyone around you that what you are doing is not a sin, but acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. If a gay person is truly saved, I imagine the Lord will begin to lead them out of all of their sins, like He does with the rest of us. There is very little specifically mentioned about homosexuality in the bible, and yet we elevate it to the level of a Salvation Deal-Breaker when so many other sins are mentioned hundreds of time…. Stealing, lying, slandering, gossiping, adultery…

Here’s a news flash. Every single one of us were guilty of breaking the whole Law, and that includes homosexuality and perversion, and it took Jesus hiding us in His blood to save us. His blood can easily wash away the sins of homosexuality, too. I imagine His dire will come down more vengefully on those who hurt His reputation.

I abhor most of our television evangelists. They literally make me nauseous to hear them speak.

  • They are swindlers, greedy in the name of the Lord, collecting righteous dollar bills in heavenly bank accounts.
  • They twist the word of God to suit their purposes, selling modern day Tolerances to a generation of people who have the means to check every word taught against a Bible, not to mention the Holy Spirit given to us to teach us,  to determine if it lines up, and yet don’t.
  • Their followers, taught incorrectly, spew out twisted revelations to those in their lives who in turn, spread the tainted views even further.
  • Their new interpretations to scripture are evil, malignant, and cancerous, poisoning the expectations of the newly saved, and rendering most of them useless in their disappointment.
  • They paint God as a human of weakness, given to feeling insecure, a people-pleaser subservient to His own creation and a fool who can be manipulated by us who have never even met Him.
  • They teach a twisted version of God’s love all the while remaining blaringly silent to the necessity of fearing Him who is also our God. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, and clearly, we let people who are not wise teach us their own brand of stupidity.
  • They tickle people’s ears with promises of wealth and success instead of feeding those unsaved, oft unseen, watchers, the hard, bitter bread of truth.  The truth that as followers of Jesus, our lives are a sacrifice to Him, and the world will hate us. It must hate us, for we stand for everything the flesh despises. Mansions, Mustangs, and fat bank accounts were not things we were promised, and all the faith, blessed handkerchiefs bought from supposed “present day prophets”, or time put into prayer demanding God give you what you want, doesn’t change that.
  • They teach us God won’t discipline us, but only take away some of the toys we get in heaven.
  • They hold to a form of godliness, but they deny its power, unabashedly pimping out the holy name of the Lord to make more money for themselves.

I think my disgust is pretty evident in just how I feel about sisters and brothers who I’d bet my bottom dollar are going to be surprised to hear Him say, ” Be gone from Me; I never knew you”.

I would admonish all my fellow sisters and brothers to exercise this verse when it comes to anyone you may meet along the way in your life:

3 But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Matthew 9:13 

Always, always, error on the side of mercy. It’s okay to police ourselves, but be careful about letting that precarious judgmental position spill over into the harvest.

~ Bird

Jesus Was A Homeless Guy

Homeless_womanLast Friday, I stopped at a convenience store to pick something up on the way home from work. All along the side of the building were homeless people, their worldly possessions in bags strung about their feet, their pets looking as gloomy as they did. What made this incident stand out in my mind was the presence of a small baby. She was in a beat up stroller, and the mother was doing her best to comfort her cries. It was a horrible sight.

Living and working in the area of Tulsa that I do, homeless people are in abundance. For some of them, it is fairly easy to determine how they came about to be in this position. Mental illness and drug addiction are by far the culprits for most of them. A smaller number of them, though, have the look of shock that accompanies a down turn in fortune that was not expected. Divorce, abandonment, and unemployment has struck them, and their eyes tell a story of the devastation of a soul soaked in poverty and burning dimly with hopelessness. .

The staffing agency I work for is located on the bad side of town. It probably comes as no surprise that this kind of business normally attracts to it workers from the neighborhoods around it. Several of the major staffing agencies we compete with recently moved their offices to better neighborhoods. This is an understandable decision, from a business point of view. However, one of the things that makes me so grateful to work where I do is the owner’s refusal to do the same. We’d probably make more money if we moved, but a huge chunk of our workers would be unable to follow us, as we put a big percentage of Tulsa’s homeless to work through our work-today, get-paid-today department. Each morning, I walk through a large mass of people boarding buses and vans, ready to put in a hard days’ work to buy themselves food and shelter. Yes, I’m sure many of them will probably buy drugs or alcohol as well. I simply don’t care. Until you’ve experienced the fear of having no place to go home to, you cannot fault others for the methods they use to cope.

This morning I read an article on a site that really pissed me off. It was written by a Christian pastor homeless.jpg-thumbexplaining his opinion that people who are poor are reaping the seeds of irresponsibility and poor decisions, and the Church is not expected to physically care for them; only to preach the Good News so their souls would not be impoverished. I’m not putting a link to it because I refuse to help that writer get any attention whatsoever. What a self-serving, bullshit lie!!! (I will send him a link to mine privately so he can respond if he wants to. What a schmuck!)

It may come as a big surprise to a lot of present day Christians, but Jesus was homeless. He had no house to call his own. He depended on the believers in each city for food, shelter, and company as he traveled. Was Jesus reaping the harvest His seeds of irresponsibility and bad decisions had netted for himself? Uh. No. He told us, what you do to the least of these, you do to me.

News Flash: The Example we are to emulate was a homeless guy.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the impoverished souls of this world. Nothing fills me with more joy in the Lord than to see the hopeless, ashamed look in a person’s eyes replaced by a little dignity and optimism. I truly couldn’t possibly care less how a person’s decisions and actions had brought them to this low point in their lives. Drugs? Don’t care. Booze? Don’t care. Crime? Don’t care.

homeless1If each one of us were to get what we truly deserve in this life, without God’s merciful grace to temper it, we all would be homeless and hungry. Nothing….nothing!! you or I do in secret is missed by God, and I doubt we’d have even one person left on earth if God allowed us all to reap only the harvests we sow in our own lives every day. We were told that we will reap the same amount of mercy from this life that we’ve shown to others. Why are so many of us harsh with Christian churches these days? Could it be because they are showing so very little mercy to anyone else?

I watch several of this city’s mega-churches build youth centers and hold fund-raisers to send missionaries to places abroad, and I instantly dislike them. I know the poor will always be with us. Jesus never instructed us to fix this problem, only to feed the poor, and take care of the orphans and widows. Somehow, churches today have decided that throwing good money at people who might never be able to get their act together enough to get a house with utilities on and a car in the driveway, or God forbid, tithe,  is just a waste of money. By having this attitude, they have missed a very valuable lesson we learn from our poor people. We learn how to administer grace, like the grace we ourselves receive from the Lord.

Grace. Giving something away to those who have not earned it, and expecting nothing in return. We want a return on our kindness, and that defeats the purpose of our mission to help the poor.  A good percentage of these people will remain homeless until they die. That is just the sad fact about people who can’t cope with what life has offered them, and it was never our place to judge them, or to change them. We are only to serve them and to share with them the true Author of our good works. That is all.

I believe we are only going to be able to address the poverty of these souls,  if we first try to Latern_Homeless_Shelterease some of the physical distress these people are in. Handing a cute cartoon booklet to a guy who is wearing the only clothes he owns is stupid and worthless, and frankly insulting to everyone involved.

Maybe it makes the church feel all warm and fuzzy thinking they’ve done their part to draw in the harvest, but the fall-out to Christianity’s reputation from that particular exercise feels bitter to me.

What does that man or woman think about a God whose followers handed them a pamphlet and not a little food? I just want to scream, “Hey, Members of the Elite Clubs of God. If you aren’t going to help the Christians who are working on the front lines of this war for souls, at least don’t make things worse!”

I work with an exceptionally empathetic set of people who daily treat those people society deems less valuable than the rest of us with dignity, respect, and just the right amount of tough love. Make no mistake, you simply must have a heart for the poor to work in the part of this city that we do. It is dangerous, and we are constantly reminded of that.

A lot of my co-workers are Christians like myself, but a number of them are not as far as I can tell. And yet, I often see these “unsaved” people acting more Christ-like than a lot of the church members I know. We all, saved and unsaved alike, work hard to find some way to help those less fortunate than us. Time after time, I see mercy poured out on people who my finite amount of mercy and compassion would have long been finished with. Yet, their wells of compassion, mercy and kindness seem to go so much deeper than mine.

I am both shamed and reminded of just how much mercy my own life requires from God daily, and even more beautiful, how He often uses those people to instruct me who the church refuses to accept among their ranks, like the homosexuals and the drug addicts.

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I would emphasize for everyone today, we are going to be judged by the amount of mercy we’ve shown others.

What you do to the least of these is what you are doing to Jesus, as well. We all will reap what we have sown, and all the stupid sermons in the world about how we can act in whatever manner we see fit with only the loss of some vague reward system in the sky as our only consequence is just plain stupid. The child that the Lord loves, He disciplines. I get my proverbial butt spanked all the time. Do you?

Remember that next time you pointedly refuse to look at the shaky, dirty man holding up his cardboard sign at an intersection. I hope you feel ashamed when you find yourself justifying your lack of giving by deciding he looks healthy enough to get a job, or his obvious addiction has landed him where he is, and as such, he isn’t your problem. Obviously, he’s reaping what he sowed.

He is your problem. He is my problem. His poverty, and what he did right or wrong that lead up to that moment, is not our problem.

We are told to give until it hurts weekly by our church management when they collect tithes. Where is that same consistency and urgence when it comes to helping our fellow man? Do you give to others enough to have some impact on your own life? If you don’t, you should.

People were made in the image of God, and this includes those who have slipped so far down the social ladder, they’ve become homeless. Their worth is no greater, nor is it less than, anyone else’s in the Lord’s eyes. How we treat those less fortunate will be seen by the Lord.

His love and mercy is poured out on those very souls who deserve it the least but will value it the most. We’d better do the same, or we have no right to call Him our father.

~ Bird

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