It's so chilly today, cold rain and maybe snow in the next few days (which you can be sure will inspire a post of great thankfulness from this Canadian girl). As I open the door, glad to be able to stay home the rest of the day, I think of those who face the night without shelter. Those who bundle up the best they can under a bridge or in an alley, or in a city of tents.
Tonight I am thankful for the warm, safe and comfortable home my family has. I am also thankful for the many people who work so hard to help the homeless, both here and overseas. Whatever the reasons are that brought a person to their place of need, I am thankful for those who offer them grace, a warm meal and a place to sleep- just enough hope to make it through another day, and maybe for some, the strength or resources to move toward a different life.
I am thankful for my parents who took us along to rescue missions, to give out food at reservations, and good news at rehab centers. I'm thankful that they took us to an orphanage in Mexico, and to the surrounding tent camps where families lived under tarps, searching daily for food and wood. We held babies and scooped oatmeal for the children. I'm glad they didn't keep us from seeing poverty and they showed us how to put our concern into action.
I am thankful for the experience of living and working in a teen shelter in Hollywood. I learned to see tender, broken hearts underneath the desperate situations the kids were in. Sometime we were able to help them get on a better path, sometimes they could only handle a meal, a blanket, a hug, a place to sleep it off and they were back to the street in the morning. But for a night, they could be safe and warm and part of a family of sorts.
I am thankful for having had enough hard times that I can have compassion. To have had times where we didn't always know how we would pay our bills and to have been blessed by the care of others. Once we were on a trip back from Colorado in our old car and ended up stranded a hotel in Wyoming in a snowstorm for several days (not fun at all with 2 little kids) and thinking without the gracious help of family, we would have run out of money and been really stranded.
I'm thankful for my parents, who have a non-profit called Free People . They get people involved in helping the needy in all kinds of ways. They give of their lives-feeding, listening, lending help, offering spiritual guidance each week. I know there have been many who have simply needed someone to be there and treat them with dignity and not just look right through them. ......It's tiring and it's heartbreaking and only sometimes there's a happy ending to a story. But it's always a good day when the Free Food and Music sign is up at the park or the Wow Hall!
I'm thankful for my husband who gives of his time and sound business to provide support for this ministry and others. Last night he provided sound for a fundraising event for the cold weather shelter. His generosity and that of many, many others who give indirectly is what makes it possible to provide help to many.
I am thankful for the moms who make muffins and cookies and kids who make scarves and sandwiches. I am moved to tears when we walk down under the bridge and volunteers are cooking for 500, playing music, sorting clothing donations, cutting hair, painting kids faces and filling balloons. I am reminded that we are all the same on the inside. We all want to know like someone cares.
I am also thankful for many who serve the poor in other countries. Our friends the Clays, with Apparent Project, work in Haiti-- finding ways for families to be able to work and keep their children and to provide housing for those affected by the earthquake.
Tonight as my family members come in out of the rain, eat a warm meal and curl up under a soft blanket, I am thankful for our cozy home and I don't take it for granted.
Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’