Monday, December 21, 2009

Numbers

Reprinted with permission from my husband Ben...

Hello Everyone,

I got off work Monday morning here to learn the news of the death of the famous actress, Brittany Murphy, and it sparked a thought that has been floating through my head for awhile. I realized that I wouldn't be able to sleep until I wrote it down. I posted it to my blog, my first post in months, at http://mysandyjungle.blogspot.com if you want to check it out there, but I also wanted to share it by email. Please let me know what you think and please feel free to pass it around unnamed. I'm not doing this to get my name out there, but merely my thoughts.

Thanks you guys, and gals. I miss you all and cant wait to come home.

Ben


Numbers

When did it all start? Was it Vietnam with the body count? Or was it long before that, in the beginning of time and the beginning of war itself.


As far as I can remember, war has been depersonalized. Is it for the good of the country? For the good of the cause? In World War II, the media was censored from releasing pictures of dead American soldiers so that public support of the war back in the states would not crumble. Our government was afraid that if America saw the bodies of our soldiers rolling lifeless on the beaches of Normandy, pushed around by the surf, their Marines laying dead on the sands of Iwo Jima or Guadalcanal, that she, America, would scream for the war to end.

Before Pearl Harbor, our country was in a state of isolationism. America was adamant about not going to war with any country. Not with the memories of The Great War fresh in her mind. But a surprise attack by naval forces of the Empire of Japan quickly changed the public opinion.

And with the censorship of those photos, the country as a whole was not seeing the whole picture. They didn't really have the opportunity to know what was happening thousands of miles away. Only the small towns across the nation really felt it differently, because when one of their boys was killed in action, word got around quick and that one loss was felt among many families and friends. But the next town over, much less the next state over, was not aware of that one soldier's fate. Not aware that a boy that grew up not fifty miles away had sacrificed his life "upon the altar of freedom."

Was it decided that it wasn't proper for America to know how many soldiers were losing their lives in the European and Pacific theaters? Was it the right thing to do? It's a tough point to argue, but I believe it was necessary. The Allies were fighting a just war, against formidable enemies that were wreaking havoc across many nations. These enemies, the Germans, the Japanese....were unwelcome in the land they were occupying, and they needed to leave. The British were trying, but they knew they couldn't do it without the help of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Although it wasn't our country being overrun by enemy tanks or our cities being bombed everyday, we couldn't sit at home and do nothing while the rest of the world was fighting for its very survival. And the events of December 7, 1941 forever changed our thoughts, thrusting us into a costly war, a war that we needed to be involved in, no matter the cost. And so the eyes of American citizens were shielded from the true horrors of war to help ensure their full support and in turn helping to bring victory to the Allies and restoring world order. 

But I sometimes wonder. Would things have turned out differently if the pictures of those dead soldiers and Marines had made it into the hands of America? I think it's quite possible. It's a pretty good bet that not as many people would have bought war bonds to help keep the war going. At the same time, it is a thought that I try not to ponder, because I am thankful for the outcome of that war. It allowed my grandfather to come home and meet my grandmother so they could have four kids, including my mother, who gave birth to my brother and I and allowed us the opportunity to grow up in a free country. This is an opportunity that a lot of people around the world do not get to experience, and I am thankful for this everyday.

I am thankful to God and His son Jesus Christ for creating us and giving us the free will to choose whatever we please. So in a sense, the media censorship, in my mind, was the right thing to do.

Sometimes there are things that happen that we are better off not knowing. It is a sad truth. Vietnam changed that.....and in the harshest of ways. In the jungles of southeast Asia, there was no censorship of the media. Video cameras were rolling, in color, as American blood was spilt in a country where President Lyndon Baines Johnson stated, "We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."

America soon found itself in a long, drawn out war with no front lines, a rising body count on both sides, and no end in sight. The American people were in tune to what this "conflict" or "police action" was costing, and they were not happy with the price. Public support quickly crumbled and questions were flying left and right. Why are we over there? What are our soldiers fighting for? When is this going to end? When am I going to see my husband, my son, my brother, my sister, my daughter again, if ever? America wanted out, badly.

And so on January 27, 1973, eleven years after we arrived and after fifty-eight thousand one hundred and fifty nine American soldiers laid down their lives, we left that jungle. The soldiers that were lucky enough to return home with their lives were given a not so warm welcome. No parades, no celebrations, except maybe amongst themselves and their families. Instead, they were sneered at and labeled "baby killers." It would be years before these brave men and women were recognized and appreciated for their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their comrades who breathed their last breath in a foreign land, fighting an enemy they could not see, for a cause that many didn't understand or believe in. "All gave some, some gave all."

To this day, the citizens of this great nation have not forgotten the mistakes of that war. They have moved on, trying to put it behind them, but never to forget. America had smelled the blood from the homefront and was now more cautious than ever about sending their troops to foreign battlefields. 

Since the Vietnam War, and I think its safe to say that it was a "war," American troops have been sent abroad as a global police force to "keep evil in check" and do what we believe is right. But now we find ourselves, once again, in a long, drawn out war, on two fronts.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, American troops and her allies set foot in Afghanistan and declared war against Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Barely two years later, we returned to the Middle East, set to finish a job that many believe should have been done twelve years earlier when Bush, Sr. was in charge. American troops stormed through the deserts of Iraq, battling its way to Baghdad, hellbent on removing Saddam Hussein from power. This war supposedly ended quicker than it began, and before long, Saddam was in custody and ready to stand trial for his atrocities. There was no doubt in the American mind that this man had to take responsibility for his actions and suffer the consequences.

In the beginning though, the numbers of American dead were low, and this was accepted as a price that had to be paid to do what was right. But even though the big battles were over, the real battle had yet to begin. Over the next few years, more and more American soldiers were losing their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq, but as this trend continued, the media started to put a number on the amount of American lives lost. Maybe not to depersonalize these men and women, but to show in their way to the nation what these two conflicts were costing our country. It raised the question of why troops were still over there and if this really was worth it. 

We are now in our eighth year in Afghanistan and sixth year in Iraq. I myself am on my first deployment, sitting somewhere in Afghanistan, here to do my job, to do it well, let my "hopefully" months to pass by quickly, and God willing, return home safely to my beautiful bride. But then there is today's event in the news that sparked this whole urge to write my thoughts.

I had just gotten off a twelve and a half hour shift and was getting ready to get some much needed sleep. We were climbing into bed when the news started filtering around that Brittany Murphy, the famous actress, had died of cardiac arrest. This came as a shock, and a surprise, as she is still young and I wouldn't have imagined this happening to her. It is tragic that she died so young and I am no doubt saddened by this. She was a good actress and as far as I could tell, a good person. There was no doubt that the media would spend a few days, maybe even weeks, talking about the circumstances of her death, and the highlights of her life. It wasn't long ago that Michael Jackson died suddenly, and even though it was months ago, the media was still talking about it, keeping the attention of the American people on one person, as though a country had lost its King. 

But is all this really necessary? Is the outcome of the investigation of Michael Jackson's death really going to affect how we live our lives? Will wars be won or lost? Will the earth be thrown off its axis? I really doubt it. Maybe I am being too insensitive. If you are reading this and think so, then fine. I am going to disagree with you if you do.

For some time it has bothered me how much attention the media gives to our celebrities. Not just their deaths, but of their everyday lives and thoughts and opinions. These celebrities have no special super powers. They are not geniuses, nor scientists, nor the great minds of America that make the big decisions in government. They are entertainers, and they get paid a lot of money to do what they do, which is fine. But what is it about them that makes them the center of the universe? I'm starting to get a little off point here, so let me return to the issue that I have been wanting to bring up this whole time. 

When is the media going to stop reporting the loss of American lives as numbers? When are they going to act like they care and starting reporting their names? Where are they from? What small town was affected by their loss? What big city or state can stand up and learn about one of their own that has fallen for their freedom?

I realize that this is not why our fighting American men and women volunteer to serve their country. They do not do it for fame, for fortune, or to be in the spotlight. Some do it because they feel it is their duty. Some do it for the experience, the college money, to improve themselves, or maybe because they have nowhere else to go and they have a family to support, so they give up their civilian life and enlist. They are a people that America loves and appreciates everyday.

So I ask this of the media. Would you be so kind as to set aside thirty seconds of your daily news report, or maybe even once a week, to remember the names of the fallen? To let America know the name of that latest soldier that lost their life in the battle against terrorism/ Bring their sacrifice home. We know that America already cares about them. But I myself am tired of hearing them as a number.

I want to know who number nine hundred and fifty seven was. What was their name? Where were they from? You want to feel the pulse of the American people? Tell us. Make us care that much more. Make it personal. Make us aware of the true American heroes that "gave it all."

Thank you

Sunday, December 6, 2009

All Skyped Up

I have to tell you that Skype has become my new best friend since Ben deployed.  To no avail we have tried yahoo and msn to communicate via webcam, but Skype outshines them all!!!

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dylan the Dalmation

Sunday night as I walked into Late Church, I saw my homeless friend Curtis, aka Hulk because he looks like Hulk Hogan, was sitting on one of the benches. His 3 month old puppy Dylan was laying about 5 feet from his feet and not looking so good. The week before he was running all over the place and tonight he looked really sick. I had brought some dog food for Curt to give to Dylan and the dog wouldn't touch it. Curt said he had been throwing up everything he ate or drank and was hot to the touch. My heart sank as I realized this was pretty serious. I told Curt to keep an eye on him and if anything changed to find a phone and call me.

Monday morning Curtis called me and told me Dylan was throwing up violently. I told him to sit tight and that I would try and find a vet. After placing a plethora of phone calls around Savannah, I found one willing to look at the dog for just an exam fee. I took Curtis and Dylan to the vet where it was quickly determined that the dog had parvo and was near death's door. Curtis was heartbroken and became worried that he would have to put his puppy down.

Parvo is a viral disease that attacks a dogs stomach lining and literally causes the dog to die within three days if not treated properly. This little puppy could be treated but the hospital bill was estimated to be $600 at the minimum.

Seeing the opportunity, I had no other choice but to step up and do what I could to reach out to this little puppy.

Whispering a prayer to God, I told the vet to work on saving the puppy and I would reach out to friends and volunteers down at the park to see if anybody would be willing to step up. Well God blew me away and still is. Within 36 hours four people stepped up with $375 for the bill. Now I just need $225 more and I really am trusting God to multiply it back to those who so generously gave.

Little dylan is fighting hard and still alive. The vet keeps me briefed on his condition and I firmly believe that God is going to show His love to Curt by keeping this dog alive and also by showing the benevolence of others. There is no doubt about it, if you do it unto the least of these (in this case it means a little dalmation puppy) you are doing it unto God. How cool is that!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stressed

There are so many irrational thoughts hitting my brain right now about him being gone.  With so much responsibility also comes the realization that none of it matters if I don’t continue to invest in my relationship with him.  I need to let go and trust God that He is going to take care of everything.  It took a lot for me to give my heart to somebody.  More than a year ago I was in love with somebody else who stomped on it and thought he could sneak by and communicate with another female behind my back.  My gut told me that something wasn’t right and sure enough, a little sleuthing unearthed so much more.  I have problems with trust.  Ben has my heart and I have no reason not to trust him, but when I see other girls become his friend on Facebook, this green headed monster raises its head and attacks my soul. Granted most of them are people he went to High School with, but still.

 

I trust him.  I love him.  It’s just hard being separated from the one you love.  Too many years of being cheated on by other boyfriends have ruined it for me.  Yet Ben is nothing like any of them.

 

He has my heart.  God has my heart. 

 

Deployments are tumultuous things to have to contend with.

 

I miss him so much.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Deployment

themorningmyloveleft

 

Dealing with the emotions of a deployment is no easy task to wrestle with, especially if the only practice you have really had with it has been from an ex boyfriend or two.  Nothing says reality like sending your husband off into a war zone.  I know that people mean well, but until it has affected them personally and in an immediate way, they really don’t have a clue what it means to be separated from somebody for months at a time.  My ability to just pick up the phone and call or text whenever I feel like it is no longer a viable option and you begin to realize just how meaningful everything in life is and how meaningless a lot of the other stuff really.

 

For safety’s sake I am not allowed to discuss really where he is going and for how long.  Do you blame me? Most people know that I want to become an expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and work directly with our combat veterans who are suffering from combat stress.  After the horrors of what transpired yesterday at Fort Hood with Major Hasan, I am even more convinced of my calling in life.  Without getting into the why of what happened yesterday, all I can say is that my heart is for reaching out to veterans, their families and their closest friends and help them walk the road to recovery.

 

Ben has my heart and soul.  Nobody knows the pain of sending somebody off into the unknown.  You are wracked with so many different emotions which oftentimes are confusing.  First there is the pain of separation, then the numbness, then the reality that you just sent off your warrior into a hostile area and there is a small chance that they may encounter the enemy or some other danger.

 

People have been telling me all sorts of things when they hear my husband is deployed.  Most mean well, but you would laugh if you heard the garbage that comes out of their mouth.  “I can’t imagine what it must feel like to send you husband off for15 months.” ….”My boss was a vietnam veteran and he almost died several times.” “What’s it like knowing you will be without your safety net for months at a time?”….the list goes on and on and on and on….

 

It’s been three weeks since he left with a lot more to go.  To be perfectly honest I cry often, but I am so proud of him.  Yes we have made a HUGE sacrifice for the sake of safety and protection of people all over the world, but God is in control and Ben is in His sovereign hands.

Monday, October 5, 2009

computer addiction

The irony that my husband’s first job was called “Computer Addiction” doesn’t escape me for a second.  I laugh but lately have been threatened to instant message him across the apartment in order to get him to pay attention to a point I need to make.  He admits he spends way too much time on the web, but hey, at least I know I will be able to get ahold of him easily once he deploys and so I am not going to nag him about it.

 

Here is all the proof anybody needs…

 

Honeymoon Hotel 001

Honeymoon

 

008

Ironman 5 days later

 

066

Look at the top of the picture….he is sitting at his computer….

 

 

It is quite funny!  I love the adjustment period…LOL

dreams are reality

 

pronouncement as married

 

At 36.5 years old I married the one I love…

 

Dreams do come true.  Just believe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

delicate



a rotten day in multiple ways turned into something so much better...without even reading last night's blog, my love showed up with a dozen perfect red roses....

just because.

my reaction...i sobbed.

i heart ben.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Champagne Truffles and Camouflage Dreams

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon,
but its echo lasts a great deal longer.

- Oliver Wendell Holmes


I admit it. I am a sucker for romance. Nothing captivates my soul like the chance to escape the craziness of life, kick back with my journal and write under the soft amber flicker of candles lit up all over the apartment.

I dream about romance. As idealistic as it may seem, it would be so much easier if I could convey this to Ben without having to say a word. To be swept off my feet by my 6-1 blond haired soldier with the piercing blue eyes. Then again, life is what you make of it.

I'm a passionate person. No matter what I am focused on, I insert all of myself into the moment and focus til I am absolutely worn out. Case in point. The past two weeks I have had finals. In all of the mayhem of planning my wedding, I started graduate school and was not prepared for the onslaught of having to write so many darn papers. In effect, that is all I have been doing and I think my eyes and countenance show it.

When I stress my knee jerk reaction is to go sit in a room off by myself, throw on my I-pod and have a quiet time or write in my journal. It is where I am most captivated. It finally dawned on me that I can do something about it.

I love chocolate. I love people. I love the fact I am marrying a soldier. I love the scent of a candle and the way it softly lights a room. I love journaling. I love spending time pampering myself with bubble baths and bath salts. I love a freshly ground cup of coffee. I love fresh roses and flowers. I love to cook. I love Jesus and I love spending time with Him.

I need to figure out a way to merge all of those elements together and make something happen.

Since my world life is about romance, then perhaps what has really been camouflaged is the reality of how much I am romanced by God. I see beauty in everything. The stench of a homeless person overridden by their smile. The chatter of my dog's teeth chasing who knows what in her sleep. The sound of combat boots hitting the carpet after a long day. The sight of a rainbow stretched perfectly across the sky.

I have been dreaming of champagne truffles and camouflage. My wedding and the deployment. My idea of romance and being romantic. I think I can merge it all together and make it happen...somehow, someway....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Makes Them HEROES?

Lately I have been emotionally ballistic. I have exactly one month to go til the wedding and 2.5 months til Ben deploys for 13 months. He doesn't know how to deal with me sometimes. Heck, I don't know how to handle myself either. Reality has pierced my heart and no longer do I subscribe to the idea of love dictated by an exhaustive bucket list of who my dream guy is...and you know what, I have been captivated. My warrior guy smells like a man after 12 hours on the job, makes sure I am told every day what I mean to him and never gave up while pursuing me. He has become my hero, my rescuing knight, the stallion I always talk about...


I finally surrendered. It took months of fighting it, fighting him and fighting myself. After all, it takes one heck of a man to cause a woman who normally flees or avoids pain, to face herself and not run away. I have never been more scared or more passionate about the situation. So, tentatively, I embrace the unknown and step out boldly to walk the journey with my hero, the love of my life, Ben.



This e-mail arrived in my inbox earlier. It is an excerpt from one of my favorite books and captures so eloquently my thoughts about him. Enjoy...



"That strength so essential to men is also what makes them heroes. If a neighborhood is safe, it's because of the strength of men. Slavery was stopped by the strength of men, at a terrible price to them and their families. The Nazis were stopped by men. Apartheid wasn't defeated by women. Who gave their seats up on the lifeboats leaving the Titanic, so that women and children would be saved? And have we forgotten—it was a Man who let himself be nailed to Calvary's Cross. This isn't to say women can't be heroic. I know many heroic women. It's simply to remind us that God made men the way they are because we desperately need them to be the way they are. Yes, a man is a dangerous thing. So is a scalpel. It can wound or it can save your life. You don't make it safe by making it dull; you put it in the hands of someone who knows what he's doing.



If you've spent any time around horses, you know a stallion can be a major problem. They're strong, very strong, and they've got a mind of their own. Stallions typically don't like to be bridled, and they can get downright aggressive—especially if there are mares around. A stallion is hard to tame. If you want a safer, quieter animal, there's an easy solution: castrate him. A gelding is much more compliant. You can lead him around by the nose; he'll do what he's told without putting up a fuss. There's only one problem: Geldings don't give life. They can't come through for you the way a stallion can. A stallion is dangerous all right, but if you want the life he offers, you have to have the danger too. They go together. (Wild at Heart)"





Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus Perfume

My good friend Heidi has an obsession with something she calls her Jesus perfume. The average person wrinkles their nose at it, but I too have become captivated by the essence of it and now proudly wear it every chance I can.

Jesus perfume is the smell a homeless person leaves on your clothing after you have greeted them with a huge hug and smile. It is the essence of servitude and the essence of Jesus. Easter Sunday I walked away from the park with its scent permeating every inch of my sweater and hair, and I couldn't have been happier. It was a day filled with the opportunity to love people and understand the true meaning of Easter.

Yesterday close to 200 homeless people were served and even more amazing are the numbers of volunteers who stepped forward to serve alongside us. 49 showed up and gave up part of their Easter to help. Even more beautiful is the exponential growth we are experiencing as people have stepped out of their comfort zones to serve. Each week, without fail, the mass of people congregated down by the tennis courts has definitely caught the attention of more than one observer and somebody new steps forward to get involved. We have all been humbled watching God grow, nurture and provide for this ministry.

There is so much more to it than just feeding and what I am about to write pushes me out of my comfort zone. Cooking food and serving it is a very important and desperately needed thing, but I am challenging all who want to really make an impact to embrace what I am about to say prayerfully and earnestly. This has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few weeks and I can no longer stay silent about it. Feeding the body is one thing, but coming from behind the table to interact and get in the lives of the homeless is something entirely different. I sense God weeps over His children struggling with displacement or various addictions and it drives me to my knees to stand in the gap and pray.

Here is why my heart has been provoked to be counted faithful in my objective to get every single broken life restored back to God. More than one homeless person has remarked to us that their sole reason for coming down to the park week after week is for the hug and smile they know they will get. Have you ever experienced the reality of a grown broken man sobbing in your arms while they candidly state that your hug is the first human physical contact they have had all week? It destroys me everytime.

Recognizing that life comes at us in stages, my challenge is this: If you are comfortable feeding them, will you take the next step and unconditionally love them? Will you put on the cloak of loving our Savior and proudly wear the essence of His perfume?


Matthew 25:31-45"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'


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.'

41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'
46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Snowball Effect in Savannah

Hinshaw: What would Wesley do?
creede hinshaw Friday, March 13, 2009 at 12:30 am

(Photo: Savannah Morning News)



Related Topics
Places - Savannah, GA Contextual linking provided by Topix
This is a true story about two metal outstretched hands on Reynolds Square.
I basked in the sunshine last Friday morning on a park bench in Reynolds Square (the northernmost square on Abercorn Street), having pedaled my bike downtown in the glorious weather. Azaleas were already abloom there. A mockingbird graced the square with song and a honeybee perched on my blue jeans enjoying the sunshine with me.

A bronze John Wesley presides over Reynolds Square, standing atop a pedestal and garbed in his English vestments, his left hand holding a bible and his other arm outstretched in the direction of the Lucas Theatre. The nearby historical marker quotes the sculptor as saying, "Wesley's right hand is stretched out in love."

On a bench across the way sat a woman with a hooded sweatshirt and a plastic bag stuffed with her possessions. Soon a lanky blue jeans-clad man, carrying a bedroll sat on the bench next to mine. He lights a cigarette and we strike up a conversation.

He is in his early 50s, he says, an ex-con twice over having spent 10 years "paying his debt to society" as he describes it. He's been in Savannah six months and wants to find a full-time job as a roofer or a carpenter, but nobody's hiring... especially ex-cons.

He gets odd jobs, but never enough to afford a room for the night. And so he sleeps in ditches and homeless shelters. We talk about the twists and turns of life. He says he would never have imagined 30 years ago that he'd in his present situation. I ask him about his parents. Could he stay with them? They are in their late 70s, he says, and it's all they can do to care for themselves, so he doesn't burden them.

He's come to Reynolds Square because Christ Church serves a free sack lunch later in the morning and he's going to wait in line soon. I must look trustworthy to him because he asks me if I'll watch his bedroll while he finds a bathroom.

Returning to the square he moves to "my" bench and spotting my newspaper asks if he can read the sports section. He reads while I write in my journal. We talk some more and he is on his way.

Later, as I leave the square, I notice the depiction of another outstretched hand, this one emblazoned on a metal sign affixed to a post at about eye level. The open palm of the hand has 40 cents falling into it, dropping as if from heaven. But the hand is encircled in bright red with a red slash running diagonally across the palm. Beneath this symbol are the words:
NO PANHANDLING
City Code 9-1001

I am glad this warning stands at John Wesley's back where he cannot gaze upon it. I believe he would disapprove.

The benches in the square are not church pews, but they could be. And the people sitting on these benches, many of them poor, are not Wesley's parishioners, but they probably would have been.

It may be against the law to beg for food or money in Savannah. But it's not against the law to give voluntarily, and I'm glad churches are freely doing so.

Rev. Creede Hinshaw is pastor at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah.

_________________________________________________________________
One of my friends who is also passionate about ministering to the homeless called me up to tell me about this story. The Divine love of our Heavenly Father is causing a snowball to take effect concerning the story of the man featured in this article, for it is the story of my Flower In The Ditch told through the eyes of one of the most influential figures in Savannah, the Reverend Creede Hinshaw.

My flower in the ditch text messages me constantly. I just got off the phone with him after shooting him a message in response to the article. He told me that the entire conversation he had with the Reverend happened the MORNING AFTER we took him his replacement blankets. The most humbling part of this entire situation, is that earlier on in that week I took my flower to breakfast at Panera Bread and we prayed for Divine Appointments to start happening in his life.

I have goosebumps at the moment. There is no doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Father has stepped in and is moving on his behalf. Keep praying people. This is no mere coincidence. This man needs something to happen in his life and soon. What is even more challenging is the fact that he loves God so much that he will often stay up the entire night just to read his precious scriptures and more often than not, a few of us will wake up in the morning to find a bunch of text messages from our flower challenging us to look up a certain passage and talk to him later about it.

I for one am humbled by this entire situation and will not back down from the task of serving my Heavenly Father. After all, if you do anything to the least of these, you do it as unto our Lord Jesus. How are you taking care of your own flower gardens?

Friday, March 6, 2009

No Room At the Inn

My flower in the ditch called Rhonda and I last night around 8pm. Somebody had stolen his blankets and he had nothing to wrap himself up for the night. When I saw him Monday morning, I asked him if he needed a blanket and he said no. Now his situation had changed and last night's call was a cry for help. He told us that he had tried to get a spot on the floor at the local mission, but there was no room for him at the inn. He had no other choice but to walk around downtown Savannah all night or call us for help.

It is a big deal when a friend who is homeless reaches out and calls you. It means you have gained their trust and they know you have their best interest at heart. Most do not trust others since situations such as people stealing their bedding are common. Once I heard his cry for help, I kicked into high gear, grabbed two warm blankets and got Ben to drive Rhonda and I downtown to one of the squares to him.

He was shivering cold and pacing around when we found him. Little did he know that his night was about to turn for the better. Even though there was no room for him at the Inn, we had called en-route to the square, talked to the people who ran the mission and had them make an exception for our Flower. Getting in the truck, we made a quick pitstop at Starbucks, got him some coffee so he could warm up and drove him across town to the Inn. The look of relief on his face was amazing.

This situation humbles me and I am reminded of another person who slept in a manger since there was no room for Him at an inn. Think about it, the King of creation was born and forced to sleep in a feeding trough. His family probably experienced a ton of rejection since His virgin mother was pregnant and not married. I can't help but compare the situation between my Flower and my Savior and it is a beautiful metaphor on just how much God intends for us to take care of each other. We are all prodigal children and God loves to hear us cry out for help, for it is the basis and beauty of salvation. Move over, make some room and give our worn out kings, our flowers, a place to enter God's rest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flower in the Ditch

I love my Flowers in the Ditches....my homeless peeps...the ones who daily motivate me to step out of my own comfort zone and take a good, hard look at my life and measure my ability to love by putting others before myself. Well this week has been no exception. I have a friend who has had the roughest twenty years of his life. He loves God, but has spent the past 10 out of 11 years locked up behind bars for a couple of situations in his life that he is paying dearly for...he got out of prison roughly six months ago and has been struggling to find a job and restore his life back to God's purposes. His life is hard. The economy is hard. He has slept in a ditch for the past six months with nothing but a sleeping bag and a shower curtain to shield him from the ravages of Mother Nature.

He is my flower in the ditch because although the world has turned their back on him, he has bloomed where he has been planted. He lives in the most chaotic of circumstances, loves God and the uncertainty of his struggle brings God glory, for in that struggle he has turned his face towards heaven. My heart hurts for him, and I have made it a point of not only praying for him, but really reaching out to him and helping him out any way I can.

This past Sunday night he slept outside in one of the coldest nights we have experienced this winter after Ben and I dropped him off near his "condo". We didn't want to have him walk two hours in the cold and our flower insisted that his sleeping bag and two blankets would keep him warm.

About an hour after dropping him off, the magnitude of his situation really hit me in the center of my heart and I grieved. I had taken Mitzie outside for her final potty break of the night when I started to shiver and complain about how cold I was and told her to hurry up and finish doing her doody so we could get back inside. Instantly God convicted my heart as my mind flashed to the ditch where my flower had laid his head for the night . I sobbed for the next hour and a half while Ben sat there and held me. He understands my heart and comprehends just how bad things are out there for a lot of people.

I pray all the time that God will break my heart for what breaks His...now I think I have discovered what that is and I cannot turn my back on the situation. Even though many are homeless, addicts, felons, and desperate for help, my hope rests in God who created and loves them unconditionally...that means he sees past the stench of their lives and only sees a flower blossoming. I firmly believe he uses people to penetrate the darkness of this world and reach out with His love.

I don't feed or hang out with the homeless to make myself feel better, for isn't that why people party and carry on? I do it because it sharpens me as a follower of Christ and I am filled with compassion for people held captive by their situations. It throws me out of my comfort zone, challenges me to put on the mantle of love, traverse the dirtiest of ditches, reach out and love these people without expectation of anything in return. After all, this is somebody's son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, friend, family member and fellow believer who has no idea how to shake the loose the chains that bind them.

The challenge is simple, next time you encounter a homeless person, even if you don't have any change, a simple smile sometimes makes the difference between a good day for them or a bad one...and you never know, God might change you in the process! We all need to bloom where we are planted....no matter how ugly the soil is around you. Even the biggest pile of garbage and crap is still fertile enough to nourish the tiniest of seeds. Our lives may just be a blip in the scale of eternity, but those little blip are paramount when starting a revolution of love. How are you making a difference? Are you uncomfortably comfortable or comfortably uncomfortable? The challenge is there.....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Perfectly Flawed

When you stop looking for perfection and start looking up to God is when your search to find your soulmate ends. Ben entered my life in the most unexpected way and I almost walked away from him. Quite frankly, he annoyed the crud out of me after only one week of hanging out. You see, he "ruined" my constant search for the perfect alpha male and his presence shut down communication with all the other men I was talking to.

Our first date I told him wasn't going to date him unless he loved God more than me and I think he reeled from my words. He said nothing but more than once I caught him staring at me. Every day for the next four he came over after work and by Friday I was annoyed.

It was shortly therafter that my roommates youngest son sealed my fate with Ben forever. We had all gone out to dinner at Cheddar's and Justin looked at Ben and I and asked me if "Ben was my boyfriend". I said "no, why do you ask"? He shot back, just wondering since you said you went through men like water." I about died!!! Infuriated I got up to cool down and finally cooled off. Ben was patient and tried to calm me down, but I wanted nothing to do with him.

Over the next week I barely acknowledged him and continued to flirt and that is when it hit me. For the first time in my life I missed a guy that I had "quit" talking to and decided to see if he was still interested. So I threw on my ugliest clean the apt clothes, threw my hair up in a disheveled ponytail and invited him over to hang out. He came over within 30 minutes, took one look at me and told me I was absolutely beautiful.

I still played coy with him and he later commented that I was such a challenge to him that he didn't care what it took, I was going to be his no matter what. This was a first. In my past I have had guys chase me like there was no tomorrow, take me out, freak out, disappear and then show up a few months or even a year later to see if I was still single. Not Ben. He was tenacious, assertive, a constant presence and somebody I didn't expect to have in my life.

It took me a long time to fall in love with him, but he didn't care. He was in love. Before he got stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, he told a few of his buddies that he was going to find a true Southern girl and marry her. He told me that he had almost given up when he stumbled across my picture and about fell out of his chair. He never dreamed I would respond to his request to talk and when I did, he wasn't letting me go.

Ben is a dream. Funny, intelligent, trustworthy, patient (except when driving...love you Baby! LOL) and never ever fails to tell me every single day how much he loves me. When I go to Forsyth Park to hang out with my homeless friends, he quietly stands near me so I feel safe and when we leave, he listens to my incessant chattering about how much I love being around my friends in the park.

We laugh constantly, he gives me piggy back rides and we kiss like two crazy teenagers in love. He is my world and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with him.

I share all this, because I fell in love when I stopped having expectations and started having fun. Don't ya think life is so much better that way? Sure it has been a whirlwind romance, but ya'll know me, I wouldn't have it any other way!!!

;-)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coffee and Silence

For those who figured it out, since I am not really allowed to go into detail about my job situation, but let's just say that I am on a six month sabbatical from a J-O-B and relishing the silence. I was stressed for the longest time and really started looking for other things I could apply my time and talents with that didn't involve logistically trying to project manage up to 50 clients and advertising prospects.

Now that the stress has lifted, within three days I came down with the nastiest chest cold which I believe is my body detoxifying all that stress. Who would have imagined one's body could handle so much when in a state of unrest. So, I have resorted to relaxing and working on a couple of major projects designed to help and my community and world. Kind of puts things into perspective for me.

Even with a ravaged economy and corporate restructuring, I am not the least bit worried about my future. If anything I am constantly reminded of how much my life is not my own and it is my responsibility to take my God given talents and use it for His glory.

So, if you see me hanging out and sipping on a cup of hot tea or a mug of coffee, sit down, have a cup with me and let's catch up!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Search Of Moments

Harried 30-something female desperately seeking quiet time with the hippest man who ever walked the planet. Loves to reflect, worship, journal her love and spend intimate time with Him.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O God.

I need a vacation to relax and freshen my spirit. He is the only one who pours into me when I am tapped out. Pouring myself into work, projects and daily life. I am parched and desire nothing than to drink deeply from your springs of life.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Face that Launched 4000 Battles

I spent my lunch break today hanging out with my friend Megan down on River Street in downtown Savannah. She used to be homeless.
She told me she was going to be working down by the anchor around 1pm and that is where I could find her. Walking down the cobblestone path of River Street, I heard her laughing and singing before I saw her hanging out with her buddies...Megan is one of "those people" down by the waterfront who crafts roses, hearts and crosses out of palm leaves and sells them to tourists. It is how she makes her living and yes she does have a permit to sell.

If you ever have the privelage of meeting Megan, she is an assertive girl with the intestinal fortitude of a four star general. I laugh a lot when she is around, as her sarcastic wit constantly keeps me and my friends on their toes. Case in point. She had never met Ben and last Sunday in Forsyth park she playfully chewed me out for being rude and not introducing him to her. Then to my complete and utter surprise, she marched right up to him, loudly informed him I didn't have any manners and stuck her hand out and introduced herself. My jaw dropped and Ben and I rolled from the encounter. Later on after Latechurch services, she walked up to him again and shamelessly told him she was so glad he was back from military leave as she "was sick and tired of listening to me pine over how much I missed him!" I could feel my face turning 1000 shades of red!!!

Walking up to her on River Street yesterday, I gave her a huge hug and said hello. She introduced me to all of her friends and we chatted for a few minutes before walking off to chat. Looking into her friend's faces, my heart swelled with compassion for them as most are homeless and have been for quite some time. They are a tight knit community that functions more like a loving family than a group of outcasts. Fiercely protective of each other, their very survival is dependent on the other and they thrive because of it.

Megan has a story to tell. A huge one. She has been through a living hell and survived. The sad part is she is one face out of close to 4000 in Savannah who wear the cloak of homelessness. She is a fighter and on the road to recovery for years of abuse waged against her. When I see her I see a face bearing the scars of her own personal war and she is a force to be reckoned with when angry. She is that rare creature who once you meet you never forget.

Most who know me understand my heart for the homeless, but a lot do not understand why I tenaciously spend my sundays week after week feeding them. Right now my friends and I are engaged in an active war to end homelessness. The people we feed and meet all have a story to tell. Sadly many are fighting a losing battle and have been taken captive by their situations. Megan told me yesterday(like she has many times before) that the homeless know who feed and take care of them. Our diligence in loving them week after week is often the weapon used to fuel their hope and break the chains that bind them, but so much more is needed than putting food in their bellies, clothes on their backs and blankets around their battle scarred and worn out bodies.

Think for a minute about what you need to survive this tumultuous life . Little things like getting cleaned up for a job interview become major issues when you don't have access to a hot shower or clean, neatly pressed clothing. How about a resume? Most haven't been taught how to write one effectively enough to even land a job interview. Think about how you react when you walk by one of them. Wrinkling your nose up at how dirty they are or how much they "smell" do you ever take a risk and reach out to blanket them in a warm hug? It's the little things that can tear down the walls and break loose the chains that bind them.

Think about your own lives and your situations. Most of you know that I gave up partying months ago. Taking inventory of my own life, I realized I dreaded going to work each day, yet found myself squandering precious dollars into temporary amusement that left me empty inside. So I decided that in my own misery I needed to make significant changes. Now I take the money I would have spent on a night of carousing and am trying to make a difference in the lives of those without adequate provision or shelter at night. $20 I used to buy two martini's with will now buy enough rice to feed 250 people on a Sunday afternoon and give them the realization that they matter as a child of God.

We all are held captive to our situations and personal battles in one form or another. The difference is once you have been victimized by the assault do you choose to stay a victim or as a survivor do you extend the hand of love and help others overcome. Ignoring and slapping a band-aid over infected wounds within our own hearts and those around us doesn't heal the situation. It only festers and rots the core of who we were created to be.

The challenge is there and whether we choose to battle it or not, we are in a war. How are you fighting? I know that Megan is one of the reasons I do it. For she matters to God. They all matter.

Carefully consider this...what is your Labor of Love...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...