Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Corner

The trouble with my life right now is that there's too much room for hypocrisy. It was easier back when I lived in the corn field and thought I knew everything. I didn't have to confront any demons, because there were none.

It was idyllic back there. It was very, very safe.

The only temptation was to keep circling in, turn, turn, turn. Because I had a hunch there were things I needed to figure out. They were out there, somewhere. Maybe if I didn't bother them, they wouldn't bother me. I had cookies to bake. Shirts to iron. I had a little online shopping to do and I was behind on my reading.

I still bake cookies and iron shirts, but almost everything else has changed. Now, the thing I know most of all is that I don't know a single dang thing. All of my big ideas have been nuked and I'm standing here in my underwear.

I'm exposed.
Often, I'm failing. 

I haven't walked a mile in anyone's shoes but my own, but I have finally seen their shoes. It's a start.

And still.

I drove to the BMV today and there they stood, on the corner.
A woman my age, maybe younger. A little girl Calvin's age, twirling the strap of her army-green purse around her wrist, trying her best to pretend to be anywhere but on that corner.

I had to wonder, Why are you standing here? It's not the most ideal location.

I wondered other things, too.

Why did you write "My husband left us" on her cardboard sign? Too much information makes me suspicious. Why are you asking for help from strangers in cars when what you obviously need is a shelter? Don't you know there are shelters around here? Are there shelters around here? Someone should drive you one town over. There are shelters there. I would, but I'm in the other lane and besides, everyone behind me is in a hurry. You probably don't even need a shelter. How much money do you make in a day, anyway? The dude finally wised up and sent you and the kid. Sympathy vote. But what if you really do need help? 

Should I give them a ride? What if they're dangerous?

What if they're dangerous.
If only you could have seen them. They weren't.

I drove past and ran my errand. They were still there on my way back through and I drove past again. It crossed my mind to stick a five out the window, but mostly, I was too proud. I hate looking like a sucker.

For the rest of the afternoon, they haunted me. I was ashamed of my reaction. I know better, or at least I thought I did.

But old tricks die hard and I've had years of practice deflecting and deciding my way out of helping.

Many of you asked in my last post on this topic, "How do we help?"

I have a few ideas about helping in the context of relationship. And I'm ready to share.

But what about these situations? What's the right thing? What if she's taking cash back to her druggy boyfriend? What if they're not even poor? What if it's a racket? What if they're not careful? What if? What if?

Here's where I've fallen: I cannot fathom a situation where God would look at me and say, "You know, Shannan, you gave that homeless guy ten dollars that one time. I really wish you'd have kept it for yourself. I wanted you to buy another shrinkage-prone TJ Maxx shirt with that money. I didn't want you to share."

I'll state the obvious here: I don't give money to strangers very often. I don't help every "needy" person that crosses my path. But I have learned that the moment I hop up on my high horse and justify and judge, I would have been so much better off just giving, without expectation or explanation.

If I love Jesus then I love that woman and her daughter. If I love them, I would find a way to encourage or help. If I'm talking myself out of it, I've stepped out-of-line with the matchless grace of Christ that defends the cause of the needy (Jeremiah 22:16). His kind of love flips the Universe like a hotcake and they land on top. His kingdom is for them. He fights for them, protects them, defends them.

That's what He does, while I'm right here trying not to make eye contact.

I headed out for my second run of errands with no plan except an ice cold Diet Pepsi and an off-brand Capri Sun. I was going for my second chance. I didn't know what would happen from there, but we would talk. We'd figure it out.

I rounded the corner. They were gone.

This was a lost opportunity and it pushes my feet into the ground. I feel the heaviness of my loss. My loss. 

It was never really about the mama and her girl standing there in the sun.

It was about the greedy girl who kids herself into believing that her plate is full enough, her pockets empty enough, her day busy enough that she's exempt from loving her neighbor.

She thinks she's smart and logical, a good steward. She forgets that God shuffles the deck. He trades up from the foolishness of worldly smarts. God plucks up that Mama and her cardboard shame and places her at the front of the line while I stare at the back of her head.

I don't know very much about giving or helping, but I really want to learn.
And I wouldn't mind some company, if you'd like to join me.

"We have a chance, sometimes, to create a new jurisdiction, a place of astonishing mutuality, whenever we close both eyes of judgment and open the other eye to pay attention."
 - Tattoos on the Heart, by Gregory Boyle


  1. Sometimes we are attending angels unaware. And sometimes we are just being like Jesus. We are all learning and growing and stretching. You are getting it that is what counts. I heard its not what they do with what we give them ,it all comes down to us giving.

  2. My husband and I had a very similar experience years ago. We second guessed and when we went back, they were gone. You won't forget. Love hearing how God is shaping your heart. Thanks for being open and vulnerable.

  3. I have lots of missed opportunity stories, but they have so marked me that I am now so much more prone to stop....not every time, but I SO try to listen for that still small prompting.

    Easy thing to keep in your car.....small brown paper lunch bags filled with non perishable food items, a toothbrush/paste and small bar of soap. It is something to be able to share without giving money!

    Thanks for sharing your life.....

    1. The lunch bags - what an excellent and thoughtful idea! Thank you for the inspiration. :)

  4. I'm gonna tell you again: YOU write my story lady. So, yeah...I'm with you-just over here in Nowhere, NC, on some street in my ghetto and instead of driving past them, I sneak back into my house when I see them walking down my street and I peer through the blinds till they're gone.
    Love you and I love the way you write God's story.

    1. Oh man, been there. Like, tonight. I hate my heart some days. :/

  5. I have never gone to my local grocery store or gas station without being asked for money. And I usually just end up driving to another grocery store and/or gas station, because it is just TOO HARD sometimes. And I dont know what to do or how to respond when the homeless guy asks me for a hug and a dollar. Anyways, thanks for sharing and being amazing (also, Jayci and I make little ziplocks to give out when we're asked usually . . . granola bars, toothbrush, antibacterial . . . )

    1. Living in a truly Urban setting would be a whole 'nother ball of wax. I mean, sort of. When we lived in DC I took the metro to/from work and it was constant inundation. But of course, back them I was PRIME on my high horse. So I didn't even bother trying or thinking it through. (ugh)

      But people asking for money on the corner is the exception around here, not the rule. Living in a big city or a really gritty urban area would be even more difficult to navigate when it comes to this.

      (Have I told you lately that I love you? You make me think harder, every day.)

  6. I'm in. I want to learn too. People on corners with signs twist my heart all up! A few months ago I saw a guy struggling with two hands full of heavy bags from Martins. He was 1/4 of a mile along his 4 mile trip to the other end of town. My heart raced. My mind told me how stupid I would look stopping to offer him a ride. Nora panicked in the back seat and tried to convince me to keep driving. I stopped anyway and drove him to his trailer. Maybe it was stupid, but my "gut" told me it was the right thing to do. The only thing I regret is that my daughter was afraid. I wish I'd thought to have a talk about it before the opportunity arose.

    1. I'm with you Jess. It's always the backseat that makes me reconsider. Sometimes I wonder how that changes.

    2. And safety is a real thing, you know? It's not lame to think about that.
      Guess that's where that Holy Spirit guy comes in... :)
      Love to both of you pretty ladies!

  7. Why have you been sent to torture me in this way? I'm no good and I probably never have been. But if YOU aren't reasonable enough, compassionate enough, giving enough, heartbroken enough - then JC, what possible difference can I make? Please tell me you have snapped at a stranger or hoarded compliments or doubted God's existence because otherwise I can't bear my own self.

    Excuse me while I go lie prostrate on the floor. I can't stop lovin' you though.

    1. Oh Teresa,
      You have said everything I was thinking after reading this.
      I am sick to death of myself, the excuses.. all of it.
      It has to change.
      I have to.

    2. Did you READ how awful I can be?

      It's true.

      And here's my thought for the day: Do other moms yell and act as grumpy as I do?

      For reals.


    3. Yes! I yell & act grumpy all.the.time!

  8. Thank you; I needed this. Been there many times. I heard a segment by John Piper recently where he talked about this very thing and how it's better to get "taken" than to be shrewd about it. I also really like the idea of the bags; need to put some in my car! What are some healthy and portable food items to include?

    1. We have made ziploc bags at Church for people to keep in their car to hand out. The food items tend to vary depending on what I can get on sale. Think granola bars, juice boxes or other items that are individually wrapped. Depending on where you live and what you can afford there are other items you could also put in that are more filling. We take canned meat products, stews and jerky out to the homeless camps. Many of the canned products have pull top lids so they don't need a can opener and some of them can warm it up with their fires.

    2. Apple sauce.... tuna cans with pop tops (there are some new small ones)....granola bars...bottle of water or capri sonne....trail mix individual packs

  9. Just last weekend, I saw a man, a woman and a young child outside of Wal-Mart. I, too, was in the wrong lane to stop on the way in but on the way out, I stopped to talk to him. He's from Bulgaria! He was working illegally (no papers) for some Mexican landscapers, but they skipped town on him. He no longer has means to earn money to pay his rent or care for his family. I offered him food, a ride somewhere, help finding a job. None of those things met the need. I prayed for them. How does this happen in mega-rural PA? Why does it happen? I'm so glad God loves this family because I sure don't know how to.

  10. That one, Jessica, is the one that gets me the most. We don't have many on the street homeless... not enough traffic here, but we do have walkers....and I can talk my self out of stopping nearly every single time....grrrr. I don't want to be that person. It is scary....
    God help me.
    Shannan you are an inspiration.

  11. Our 15yo daughter recently returned from a ministry trip to inner-city Chicago. A week later, we held a graduation party for our son. Knowing that there would be leftover food, our daughter felt very convicted that she needed to take some food to a man that we pass every week on our way to church. Every week. She sees him. I [apparently] never looked at his face. This is the first thing that shames me. The second thing was that she had been thinking about what to do for him.

    Today, my hubby drove her to the place, and the man wasn't there. But, they had food -- so on they went until they found someone. They handed the food and water out the window, saying simply, "here's some dinner." And the man said, "Oh thank you so much! God bless you."

    God has convicted me that I need to look at their faces. My daughter is learning faster than I am. I'm thankful for the convictions that she feels. Perhaps she will teach me something.

    I look forward to further discussion here Shannan! xo

  12. A few weeks ago I took Riley to the big city for a medical appointment. As we entered a fast food joint a man sat on the sidewalk with a book bag by the door. Because we live in a small town and have never seen a single homeless person in the six years we've lived here, it never crossed my mind that he may be homeless, or even hungry. I made up my mind to buy him lunch as we were leaving and someone else brought him in literally minutes before we were ready to leave. He sat across from us to eat, facing me and I fought back tears thinking about the Good Samaritan and how I had failed the test and walked right past him. I tried to blame my ignorance, but really I had made up my mind to feed myself before him, and that was wrong. I won't forget.

  13. Wow your words are always so full of truth they hurt. In a good way. Considered my eyes and heart opened wider.

  14. So so beautifully written! I have also justified myself in these situations. And then I feel sad yet (shamefully) relieved when I go back and they're no longer there. I want to help, truly I do, but I often wonder "what is help?" Thank you for your loving, honest heart. I really do miss you!

  15. My pastor said once he he was coming out of a store with his big cup of mt.dew from tap. a creepy guy out front asked for money for a beer. At first he almost said no...but then he realized here he was feeding his own unhealthy addiction, a total double standard. He handed the guy a five, blessed him and told him he was loved instead. I'll never forget that.

  16. I've been there, kid.

    Not on the corner with the sign, but driving by. Wondering. Not wanting to be a sucker.

    I've also been (as have many of us if we're totally honest)perhaps one step away from needing to be asking for money. On or off of a corner. But too proud to ask. So I'd buy my dollar store toilet paper and eat ramen with a hungry tummy. My mom died young and my dad was a drunk, so there were many, many shaky moments for me from 19 on. I didn't have a home to go back to. I was broke a lot. I worked too much, yada. Yada.

    When I worked downtown Minneapolis, I passed a very dirty, very frail and thin man one morning. His sign said something like "Am hungry. Anything helps." I was angry. I hated my job. I worked everyday and still had very little money. I did have an apple in my car. I KNEW with absolute certainty that I was supposed to give him that apple. I drove by. I felt like a douchebag, so I drove back. But city streets in the rush hour of morning take awhile.

    When I finally got back to his corner, he was gone.

    The ONLY things I know:

    God told us to love one another, to care for one another. He didn't stutter. It's very plain and simple.

    We're never asked to do things when it's easy. It means far more to give someone your last apple or the $7 that you scrounge up in your purse as you see someone in need. Even if that means you have not even $1 for a few days. I always have groceries at home. My life is mostly comfortable.

    I know what it's like to suffer. That should be enough to compel me to DO something. Get out of my head and just give. It doesn't matter HOW or WHY the person is asking for help. I always look at it like this: If I needed help, I would appreciate kindness.

    Most people asking for money or whatever are happy with anything you give them. I have never once had someone say "TWO dollars? Screw you!" Never once ever. I've also given food- if you're uncomfy giving $$, buy a bag of McDonalds and hand it to the person. They are always grateful.

    As I told a close friend of mine who is always worried about the why, the how or is this person making thousands doing this: It doesn't matter. It's not for me to judge. When I die I'm not going to look back and think "I sure am glad I didn't give that lady a hamburger and fries! Being duped = AVOIDED on THAT day! Ha!"

    Finally- if that was your job or my job and you did make money doing it- what an awful job to have. In order to do it, you need to give away all of your self respect, have people stare and judge you all day. If any of those people come out ahead at the end of the day, they earned it. I wouldn't want to be sitting out in the cold or getting sunburned in 90 degree heat.

    So now..I just give. Anything. I've never regretted it once.



    1. LOVE you, Tina Turner.
      God brought you right here for a reason.

    2. This just made so much sense xx thank you x

    3. I can't even stand it. I work in North Minneapolis. I see people on the corner every. single. morning. Sometimes I give, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I judge, sometimes I don't. But every single day I go home to my comfy little townhouse in the suburbs. I think I am poor, but who am I kidding. We have everything we need and way more. We eat out regularly, my son gets way too much stuff and really it's just disgusting.

      God has been telling me over and over that I need to do more, that the time has come for me to step up and do what he has asked.

      "God told us to love one another, to care for one another. He didn't stutter. It's very plain and simple."

      He didn't stutter.

      I am so sick of being stagnant, of being a bystander of being comfortable. I want to be a do-er. I want to be His hands and feet.

      Excuse me now, while I go in the bathroom and cry out these tears so I can go back to work.

    4. Vicki- I've been there and know that feeling.

      I just try and keep a little cash in my car or some kind of non perishable foods. You obviously have a kind heart. Xo

  17. I struggle with this very thing. I have gave, I have not gave. I have never regretted giving. I have regretted not. I know the flip side - have seen first hand some cousins and how they get money for drugs, steal from my very eldery grandparents and open creidt cards in their names and get them to sign for a car they can't pay for. (And yes it did lead to an eventual restraining order but took almost 2 years and a drained bank account and my grandparents entry into a nursing home to make it happen...) It's easier for me to deal with the cardboard signs when I don't really know the situation. But the thing is God loves them all, the thieves, the drug users, the ones holding dishonest carboard signs, my cousins. He loves us all equally. I am trying.

  18. I have struggled with this same exact thing. I too have missed opportunities & have driven back only to find them gone.
    I read something awhile ago that changed my perspective & has helped me to see an opportunities before me that I don't want to miss out on. It was written by the Tuohys (the Blindside real life couple). "We decided too often we confuse the power of giving with the effectiveness of giving. Giving was powerful by itself;it needed no help from the recipient to be meaningful. Giving worked on the giver's heart & made it expand;that was the gift. God would judge the his (the receiver & what they did w/the gift) heart & that was His responsibility not ours."
    Since this perspective change I may or may not have been known to chase a panhandler down to try & give them my credit at consignment stores:).I think He sees your giving heart & your desires & He will cultivate that further in you & you will be blessed by it.

  19. Right here with you! Love your heart. Thanks for sharing.

  20. First off...thanks for writing hard words. Secondly, I seriously struggle with this issue. I've had 2 really unfortunate encounters while trying to help some people. The first time, I drove around the block after feeling guilty and I told my boys that we were going back. When I got back I offered the man the only thing I had which was a Subway card. I had no cash and there was a Subway across the street. He said..."Na...I really just want cash." I get it. i really do, but I didn't have any with me. My boys just stared. They couldn't believe it. I really didn't know what to say or do. Another time, I gave someone all the change I had and he just threw it back in my car and said forget it. So, I've used both of these situations to rationalize me doing nothing. Time for some change.

    1. I too have had bad experiences and it does make you think twice for sure.I do still give handouts and I know others who carry lil brown bags around with a dollar or two a bottle of water and a granola bar in it.Kinda a good idea!

      If they deny our offerings then shame on them but at least we offered right!

  21. I used to live in downtown Indianapolis. A man committed a crime in our front yard and I had to go to the police station. At that time, I would occasionally walk fifteen blocks or so to my job, passing multiple homeless people each day. The police officers suggested I not ever give money for two reasons: 1) if i gave one day and not the next, someone might get angry and not handle that anger well (aka take it out on me) and 2) if I gave to one person and not another, someone might get angry, etc. etc.

    I have always struggled with that. I understand what the officer meant, but I still struggle. A few months ago a man was begging at a busy intersection. I was buying lunch for our family, so I bought an extra one and drove over to him. He was not particularly grateful, but I felt I was being obedient. My obedience cannot depend on someone else's reaction, you know?

    I love this journey you are sharing with us.

  22. You've done it again! Just tonight there was a man who asked the guys in front of us on the street for two quarters and they said no. I started walking fast because I wanted to avoid him asking me for TWO QUARTERS! He didn't stop us, and I was so thankful. What is wrong with me?!?!? I find myself finding every possible method to disengage. It's pathetic. But I want to do better! I'm so thankful God is kind and gracious even in the midst of my ridiculousness.

  23. This just gave me the best idea. Love how God works through you, as you journal your thought and experiences. I can totally relate - I've done both, given and regretted not giving. I feel like following the HS prompting is the most important thing - He lets me know if it's a bad idea (safety thing) or if it's my job to jump in. It's the times I've ignored His prompting that I felt the most ashamed =( Thankful for second chances and life lessons. We serve a loving Father.

  24. first, you know how much i love g.b. and that book. oh that book.
    second, they read it at church this weekend.
    third, i have been told i am a magnet for unsavory characters. i have been told not to look at or speak with just about everyone.
    fourth, as a result, i make it a point to turn towards not away from people. and speak to everyone. and make eye contact.
    fifth, it makes all the difference in ways i have no idea.
    sixth, i like it.

    1. I have more to say about this, but YES to making eye contact! And a genuine, for-real smile! I gave to an old man a year or two ago and I felt so sure that I needed to physically touch him. I wrapped my hand around his and rubbed it a little when I handed him a few bucks. He looked at me so confused, but in a good way. Then I walked away and bawled my eyes out.

      We're ALL looking for the same things, aren't we?


    2. i almost wrote:
      seventh, it's not about the giving, it's about the SEEING and acknowledging. and in that way we are ALL the same.
      eighth, i took a cab home from work one day and i was told not to say a word and to pretend i was on my phone. (seriously?! me not talk?!) i met this wonderful somalian refugee. the drive was nearly an hour and we talked about every little thing. and as we pulled into the country, i showed him all around my neighborhood and pointed out how you can see the stars when you are away from the city. and i told him to come back any time.
      ninth, love your heart!

  25. I am a sucker let me tell you. I often give and always say god bless you and if you spend this on drugs then shame on you!

    I would love to help the world and I would love to save the world!

    My thought is that, I am pleased they are on the corner asking and not out stealing right! So if they want to stand and ask for handouts then so be.I always say a prayer for them and ask that they get their needs met in some way.Sometimes they just need an extra 20.00 or 30.00 to get by or help pay a bill.I don't always stop sometimes it's just a prayer while passing them.I do see regulars there is this guy very clean cut never looks homeless and is now wearing army type clothing in the same area for over three years.He is out there daily so he must make enough to make a living or he wouldn't be out there.I no longer hand him any green I now open my window and yell get a job! But who am I to judge right.

    What makes me crazzzy is our Church has a store of some sort that people donate items too and others can come and take for free what they need but there are people who come and take and take and then turn around and hold garage sales to profit off what was suppose to be for their or someone else's personal use.That really upsets me! We live in a small town so it's very noticeable to what's going on.So once again who am I to judge! They have to answer to the same God as I do.

    We all judge and we all should try harder to be more understanding for the less fortunate.We should all try to be more forgiving.To me what matters the most is at the end of the day I can say I tried my best to be the best Loving Christian I could be wholeheartedly today and everyday.

    I so love walking through all these trials and tribulations with you and reading everyone's comments.Your blog is a happy place for me believe it or not.It helps me see things differently and helps me not feel a lil crazy and all alone in my own journey.You are a blessings to many in more ways than you will ever know and you know what that is truly a Good Thing!

    So carry on my darling we are all right here with you!

  26. I live in Eastern Europe and this is my life. Every day. Often many times a day. The majority of those begging do it as their living.

    I ask my nicely dressed friend at the market, "So what's up?" and she says, "Oh, I'm out making money. Won't you give me some?" I know the ways of her people, know she lives as well as I do, and I have to smile at her cheek. "Come on," she says. I never give in, but she always asks, just in case. This is her culture and I can't change that.

    On the other hand, if I laid out all the donuts I've bought for beggars without feet or hands, all the packs of peanuts I've handed to thin and grubby children, all the scarves and blankets I've given to poor mothers, it would make a bridge from here to tomorrow. But if I lined up all the people I haven't given to, the ones I've walked by fast, it would be longer.

    What I need is a bridge from here to understanding.

    (I know you don't have all the answers either. I'm just commenting to vent a little.)

    1. I love this: "What I need is a bridge from here to understanding". This is one of the many things I am working on.
      Your heart trying is a beautiful thing.

    2. Thanks, Maggie. So sweet of you!

  27. Shannan, this is so hard! My husband will never give. Then one day in Boston he rolled down the window and gave. My children smiled like never before. Dad gave. They were joyful. Then I gave once in a downtown near us. The man was in the paper the next day, arrested for drugs. Just last week I passed a small family sitting in the shade of a tiny tree outside Wendys near the Marshalls I was going in. No work, need to pay mortgage and bills, read the sign. I parked, sat and waited. Should I? I was nervous to take the walk. Nervous to come eye to eye with this family. Nervous for people to see me. I reached in and grabbed a five. I walked a walk that wasnt very far but felt like my lifetime....I handed him the five or ten, cant even remember. He said God Bless You and I made a quick retreat. When I came out, they were still there. The kids were eating cheeseburgers and fries and small drinks. Well, I thought, they are caring for their kids. I felt a little better. I know that God is supposed to judge, not me. But how do we know when to reach out, when to take the chance, when to believe? Its very difficult.
    (sorry my apostrophe key isnt working)

  28. Having spent three years living in Chicago where begging abounds, I completely understand the what ifs. I've learned to go with my gut. If I see someone begging and I feel even the littlest bit of a thought of giving, I give (if I am able>>have money or food or water with me). Now that I live in Akron, there are also lots of beggers at highway entrances and exits. My family is not in a good place financially, but there is one man I would pass every morning on my way to work. I would often pack him a little lunch when I packed myself one and he was always so grateful. I wanted to ask his name. I wanted to know his life and understand what brought him to that highway entrance. I was never brave enough. Now I haven't seen him for weeks and I worry about what became of him. If you have any tips on how to brave up and get to know the person behind the struggle I would love to hear them--this is one of the greatest failings in my life.

  29. I am a local reader who never comments...but we encountered this woman yesterday too. Actually, my mom and 10 year old son did. He was insistent that they stop, so they made a plan. On the way back down the overpass they were going to give her cash and the name of our church's food pantry. But in that ten minutes she was gone. He noticed. My mom said they talked about scams and how it's hard to know what to do. He said, "Nana, it doesn't matter if she's tricking us, what if she isn't. We have to stop." Amen.

    1. Yes, from the mouths of babes. Whenever my son comes to work with me and we drive past them at the highway exit/entrance my son always wants me to give. I usually do and he always wants me to give more because "Mom....they don't have anything!!!" We could all learn from their hearts that aren't filled with doubt and conspiracy and judging.

  30. I had a similar experience today except that the father and son actually approached me. I thought the same thoughts and I walked away. This post is like a sign from God. Who am I to judge? Thanks!

  31. "I cannot fathom a situation where God would look at me and say, "You know, Shannan, you gave that homeless guy ten dollars that one time. I really wish you'd have kept it for yourself. I wanted you to buy another shrinkage-prone TJ Maxx shirt with that money. I didn't want you to share."

    This spoke volumes to my heart!! Thank you.

  32. Yes you spoke to me too. I can't tell you how many times I've been thankful I was in the wrong lane or I see that lady here every day-- is must be a scam. HS help me to be less judgmental and more giving.

  33. I am so blessed by your writing, Shannon. My husband and I are learning some of these same lessons...so painful, but so SO much better than not learning them at all. I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to put these things down in words for others to read. They are convicting to me, and make me a little less afraid of walking this road alone. Sometimes when I go out now, I look around and my head swims with conversations with myself...what are these people thinking, learning, how are they hurting, do they wonder about the same things I wonder about, have they recently run up against a wall of grief...and on and on. It's better to be aware, but you're right, sometimes I look backwards into the 'easy' days before I opened my eyes, mind and heart. I recently told Brett (my husband) that I'm getting to the point where I'm more afraid of not serving, loving and knowing God than I am about my safety and wellbeing. And it's a good thing. So, thank you, so much, for being an encouragement to me.

  34. This is so good. Thank you for sharing, Shan.

    Last night I saw a man in the CVS parking lot. He was stumbling. It was just me and Bri and I assumed he was drunk. We had nail polish to buy so I didn't think much about him. I felt God nudging me, but I didn't feel like being moved, so, we went in and checked out the aisles of girly goodness. We found the perfect shade called pink panther. We made our $4.59 purchase. My heart hurt. I told Bria we had to do something for the stumbling stranger we had just seen. Bria said NO! I said, Bria, we always need to help if we can. So, we did. We picked up the stranger. An older man with white hair and a white beard. We found out that he lived in the Senior center just a few blocks away but he is going blind. He was stumbling because he has lost sight. We took him to his center. Bria said she was scared. There was nothing to be scared of. He was a senior citizen who needed help. I told Bria that we must always help when we can. We must listen to Jesus. I gave our new friend our number and told him to call us next time he needs a ride. We only live ten minutes away and if we can help, we will be glad to.

    1. This was lovely to read!! We are all generally so afraid of one another, aren't we?

    2. Made me teary, friend. Love your heart and the way you tell a story. xo

  35. signs...corners...I settled my own inner dialogue years ago when I came to the realization that anyone holding a sign on a street corner isn't living a carefree life in a high rise somewhere. Their story may include many things and some of which may be alcohol or drugs. But their story most likely also includes pain, confusion, bad breaks, lack of knowing, and the need for hope. That thought has kept me humble but it certainly hasn't pushed me to open up my wallet as often as I should have. About a year ago I "pinned" something called a "blessing bag" over at pinterest. It is a quart/gallon size baggie filled with toiletries, granola bars, and candy to hand out to the people with signs. I thought the idea was genius...did I ever make any? Of course not. This post has resurrected that mini mission. I have resolved to make 10 of these bags next week and add a note of encouragement and some cash. I'll stash them in my car and be without excuse. I wanna learn...I need to learn.

    1. I'm doing it! I love these ideas. I want to be without excuse.
      You guys are my people!!

    2. doing it too!
      love that idea~
      and this post, shannan.
      *thank you*

  36. I grew up in a place where homeless people, true homeless people, were part of life. We knew them by name. When I was kid, I would make them sandwiches and run them downstairs and my father would say, "I can't afford to feed them all."

    And he couldn't. He worked two jobs to feed us.

    They ate from our garbage. There were so many of them and no one could truly identify the needy from those who just wanted to do you physical harm. Helping was like walking on a balance beam.

    So my struggle has always been knowing how much to help. I've been sucked into another world from my own so many times. It becomes all consuming and absolutely draining. It's the boundaries I struggle with. And should their be healthy boundaries? I've been around enough really bad situations to know that boundaries for safety are good and I need them for my children, but still, I know I miss some opportunities because of them. So, then my thinking goes all the way back to the beginning with the sandwiches.

    I grew up in NYC. I think I have a different perspective because of this, not a right or Godly perspective mind you, but different just the same. I'm cautious. We've been robbed, my father held at gunpoint twice, our tires slashed, etc. I feel the guilt of driving by and the guilt of stopping and handing over money, because I know it's not enough.

    And, I don't actually write about any of these things, because I'm not brave like you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    1. Yep, yes. Boundaries are good. (Another conversation I had with my friend last night.) I think it just comes down to the Holy Spirit. He leads us. We KNOW when we are being told to act. And what's scary is, we're not always promised safety. The Bible is overrun with stories of danger and tragedy. The disciples were asked to do things that cost them their lives.

      I don't want to get too dramatic here, because we shouldn't live in fear. But it is a reality and I believe God grants us His wisdom. The problem doesn't come when our instincts (aka His Spirit) tell us to keep on walking, the problem comes when we begin to frame all encounters through that lens of "Danger!!"

      Girl, I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know. I love the way you share your heart here and you are totally brave. It's neat to hear the perspectives of others living in more Urban areas, more Rural areas, different countries, etc... It means (once again) that our struggles are all the same, just different. :)


  37. Goodness, how the Holy Spirit is using you to speak to me. To remind me that I should give and not second-guess. Thank you! Keep listening and sharing!

  38. One more thing!! This post and the comments brought to mind this piece I came across years ago in a marriage devotional. I don't remember anything about that devo except these heart-wrenching words written by Nancy Dahlberg. If this doesn't make you weep and long to see things as Christ does...I don't know what will!

    Hi There!
    by Nancy Dahlberg

    One year our family spent the holidays in San Francisco with my husband’s parents. Christmas was on a Sunday that year, and in order for us to be back at work on Monday, we had to drive the four hundred miles back home to Los Angeles on Christmas Day.

    When we stopped for lunch in King City, the restaurant was nearly empty. We were the only family, and ours were the only children. I heard Erik, our one‐year‐old, squeal with glee: “Hi there. Hi there.” He pounded his fat baby hands—whack, whack—on the metal tray of the high chair. His face was alive with excitement, eyes wide, gums bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled, chirped, and giggled. Then I saw the source of his merriment—and my eyes could not take it all in at once. It was a man wearing a tattered rag of a coat, obviously bought eons ago, and dirty, greasy, worn pants. His toes poked out of used‐to‐be shoes, and his shirt had ring‐around‐the‐collar all over. He had a face like none other—with gums as bare as Erik’s. “Hi there, baby,” the disheveled man said.

    “Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster.” My husband and I exchanged a look that was a cross between “What do we do?” and “Poor devil.” Our meal came, and the cacophony continued. Now the old bum was shouting from across the room: “Do you know patty‐cake? Atta boy—do ya know peek‐a‐boo? Hey, look—he knows peek‐a‐boo!”

    Erik continued to laugh and answer, “Hi there.” Every call was echoed. Nobody thought it was cute. The guy was a drunk and a disturbance. I was embarrassed. My husband, Dennis, was humiliated. Even our six‐year‐old said, “Why is that old man talking so loud?”

    As Dennis went to pay the check, he whispered for me to get Erik and meet him in the parking lot. Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik, I prayed as I bolted for the door.

    It was soon obvious that both the Lord and Erik had other plans. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back, trying to sidestep him—and any air he might be exhaling. As I did, Erik, with his eyes riveted on his new friend, leaned far over my arm and reached out with both hands in a baby’s “pick me up” position.

    In the split second of balancing my baby and turning to counter his weight, I came eye‐to‐eye with the old man. Erik was lunging for him, arms spread wide.

    The bum’s eyes both asked and implored, “Would you let me hold your baby?”

    There was no need for me to answer because Erik propelled himself from my arms into the man’s. Suddenly a very old man and very young baby clutched each other in a loving embrace. Erik laid his tiny head upon the man’s ragged shoulder. The man’s eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands—roughened by grime and pain and hard labor—gently, so gently, cradled my baby’s bottom and stroked his back.

    I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm, commanding voice, “You take care of this baby.”

    Somehow I managed to squeeze the words “I will” from a throat that seemed to have a stone lodged in it.

    He pried Erik from his chest—unwillingly, longingly—as though he were in pain.

    I held my arms open to receive my baby, and again the gentleman addressed me.

    “God bless you, ma’am. You’ve given me my Christmas gift.” I could only mutter, “Thanks.” With Erik back in my arms, I hurried toward the car. Dennis wondered why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly and saying, “My God, my God, forgive me.”

    “Hi There!” by Nancy Dahlberg. Taken from American Baptist, December 1981.

  39. i am with you. been 4 years in and it's getting messier trying to give real help. and clinging tightly to belief in God's power-both for me and for them. i feel alone most of the time, (blogging about it over at blogs.lucashome.net )and then i come over here and read and breath deep that there are others too wrestling with the same stuff. yesterday i posted the question; "do i see people as an assignment.....or as a gift from my Father to uproot me?"
    as for the folks on the corner-this is how we seem to roll:

    my backseat holds 3 'people on the corner lovers' who are frustrated with me for not having cash when we see them. "Mooooom, don't you have something?"
    so they decide to take their pouch of 'God money' full of ones and fives and keep it in the car.
    and it gets colder and we stop seeing them-now that we are prepared.
    late one night a police officer comes to my door; "Maam, someone has broken into your car, will you please come tell me what is missing."
    walking out with those 3 trailing behind me...."uhh, i have no idea" (who knows what's still in the car or what has made it into the house when you have 3 riding in the backseat??)
    chiming in they all begin to yell; "Our God money, is our God money still there?" i look and no-it's not. we proceed to try to explain to the officer what exactly this pouch of money is.
    "About how much was in it?" he asks
    again, the mom defalt to most questions; "uhh, i have no idea" the 3 give their varied opinions.
    "Ok maam. We've apprehended the thieves, if we find it we will return it to you. And you really should lock your car-easy target for these folks."

    "what happens when you steal God's money mom?" "uhh, i have no idea-looks like these guys got caught."

    The officer does return with the pouch. it goes on the bookshelf. we go out driving again another day. we see the people on the corner, and the 3 in the back who love these folks are once again frustrated with me because the pouch is still on the book shelf and no i don't have any cash.

    so we go home and use the money in the pouch to buy some goats for a family in asia.

    and when at the grocery store, i buy some gift cards to said store give out instead-its a better option than cash anyway.

    this is how we roll, remembering that the Lord gently leads those that have young!

  40. Gosh, Shannan, you are really rocking your thoughts and words these days! Lately I have been thinking that I am a magnet for people asking for money - it's been happening a lot lately. I rarely say no, but last week someone asked and I was so annoyed and just over it. I said no, feeling perfectly justified, and then I worried about it the rest of the day. Ugh - it still bothers me!!!

    And you know, sometimes it doesn't take much! About 20 years ago when my daughter was 5, we were leaving the grocery store and there was a mom and daughter in the parking lot - so close to our own ages. At the time I was a struggling single mom, but I had a backseat full of grocery bags and no extra money. I pulled over and handed them two popsicles and you would have thought I'd given them $100. Thinking of them still touches me today, and do you know that my daughter still remembers that time too? It was such a small thing to do (and I feel a little weird putting it on here because I don't want to appear boastful!), but it left me with the best feeling - to know I'd made a little difference for that mom and her girl that day.

    I pray that the next time I'm asked, or the next time I see an opportunity, I will be open to giving - even if not with money, but a small token or a kind word to make a difference in that moment. Your reminders are such a blessing, Shannan. What you passed up that day on the corner was made whole today by sharing your story.

  41. Here's my attitude: I can afford to make the mistake of giving to someone who doesn't "deserve" it. I cannot afford the mistake of not helping someone truly in need.

  42. I would like to say this to you: Your journey is very special and it is a pleasure sharing it with you. Your feelings and thoughts are legitimate and true. However you choose to respond, barring hatefulness (which will not happen), is right. This is all about being to be a community, learning from each other, figuring out why the world is the way it is and to truly being our sister's and brother's keepers.

  43. Amen.

    I always say to myself , I give this in the name of Jesus. What they do with it is something they have to answer for. That goes for any charity, person standing a street corner or the guy/girl playing a beautiful violin in the middle of rush hour traffic.

    Jake's a Girl

  44. Why don't you quit beating yourself for things beyond your control? Concentrate on your children who need you (and you them I assume) and your husband who sounds fairly selfless. You seem to love berating yourself for not responding to everty single poor person whose path you cross. I understand...it gets you lots of blog-response love and adulation. Why don't you make your family a priority now and someday when they are well-adjusted teenagers/young adults you can turn to saving the rest of the world? You are a good writer with a light touch and cute kids who obviously need and adore you. Give up the martyr syndrome. It is tiresome.

    1. Wow,Emily. Couldn't you have kept that to yourself? Seems quite mean spirited.

      It's one thing if you think it..feel free to not follow or read a blog. Since you're giving out advice..mine to you would be to learn some self control. God gave you ONE mouth and two ears. Think about that.

    2. I think you missed the point, Emily.
      Shannan gave plenty of examples of things that are in her control.
      (and mine and yours)
      I think it's clear where her priorities are after reading just a few blog posts. Personally. I think part of raising well-adjusted young adults is providing an example of how to interact with people from all walks of life. She would be doing her kids a serious disservice by focusing only on them and her husband.
      I don't see Shannon berating herself in this post just for attention, either.
      I see it as her exploring a difficult topic which has no easy answers or solutions. If a person really wants to change their behavior about any situation they first need to be able to define and examine their thoughts and actions regarding it.
      There are plenty of other blogs available for you to read since you find this one tiresome.
      I certainly wouldn't want to waste my time reading anything that made me feel that way.

    3. Hi Emily. I tried to click over to your blog to respond to you directly, but of course there is no way to reach you, so I'll respond here.

      I don't write about these things for any reason other than the fact that they are on my heart. If there happens to be a larger response to these topics, it only means that there are others burdened with the same questions.

      I disagree fundamentally that caring for the poor and loving one's children and family well are mutually exclusive. I won't even address how loved and wonderful my kids are, because that's just ridiculous. It is my duty to show my kids the way of a disciple of Christ, and this is what it takes to be a follower. The lives of Calvin, Ruby, and Silas have been enriched just as mine has. Cory is my homeboy and my love, with me on this journey every step of the way. Our hearts are a united front.

      This is not about feeling guilty for not helping every poor person I meet, it's about knowing that the Holy Spirit is prompting me to act in certain situations, and choosing not to. THAT is what haunts me. There are other times where I simply don't feel that prompting, and I go about my way.

      But my life has been blessed over the past year or two to become actual, real-life friends with many people living in Urban poverty. They are teaching me every day and they are changing the way I view the world. As a follower of Jesus, I am obligated to love them every bit as well as I love my own, and in some cases, the lines of "my own" are becoming blurred - they are becoming my own, in many ways. We are becoming a family.

      As a Christian, I don't have the option of ignoring this problem until my last child flies the coop. I have tried living with that prerogative and it is boring and soul-sucking. THIS life, the one I live now, the one I live imperfectly, the one that makes me tired in a host of ways, THIS is the life that was meant for me. True, I end up with more questions than answers and yes, I often blog about the internal push and pull. But I wouldn't trade it for the world, and any reader is free to read elsewhere if they begin to find it tiresome or if what they read inspires them to be nasty.

      My prayer has been that God will allow me to see the world as He sees it, and of course I'll never totally "get there", but I find that it is a prayer He will answer in surprising ways.

      I told a friend last night that I want to become a person who believes the best of EVERYONE. (So what if it makes me a sucker.) I want to trust someone's intentions and dig around for the gold in everyone. I'm sick to death of cynicism and I want mine to be fundamentally decimated.

      So maybe you really dislike poors. Maybe it makes you mad when people talk about faith, or when someone gets too many comments on a blog post. But I'm choosing to believe that you have questions, too, and maybe you filtered them on this blog through a really bad day, or a terrible situation of some kind. For that, I'm sorry.

      You are free to comment here at any time but I would ask that you be nicer. You don't have to agree, but common courtesy is required moving forward.

      ps - You will want to avoid my blog tomorrow.

    4. I saw a saying last week, it went like this;
      Your children will follow your example not your advise. I'm glad you are teaching your children something a lot of us weren't taught.

  45. If we truly believe what the bible says, then the only reason we are on this earth is to affect those around us for Christ. This can be done in many different ways, but it is always characterized by love. I've struggled with exactly what you've written about in this post. Most of the time I fail miserably. It is so easy to focus on your own life- your own family- to close your doors and your heart and become your own island. But this is not what we are called to do. It's not about being a martyr or saving the world or getting lots of really awesome feedback. It's about letting God's love shine so brightly in us that others can't help but feel it. That's how I want to live my life. Shannan, I appreciate your honesty and I hope you'll keep sharing.

  46. I'm right there with you... Can remember so many missed opportunities over the years. By God's grace, hopefully they are becoming fewer and fewer. He is so faithful to forgive.... I think He just wants us to see them. To really see them. The rest is different every time, I think. Sometimes it will mean inviting them into the car to go get some lunch and other times it will mean passing an apple through the window. Other times it will mean turning your couch into their bed or just letting them take a shower at your house before they head back out to the cold streets.

    There are so many "rules" about how to give. I pridefully refused to read some of the books (you know the ones--that whole line that maybe started with When Helping Hurts) for a few years just because I was annoyed at anyone trying to expand on or put parameters on the pretty simple instructions Jesus gave us on how to give. Slowly opening them back up and constantly asking God to kill my pride, as I really do want to learn how Jesus loves the poor and maybe just maybe someone else's interpretation of His life of service could teach me something. :)

    Anyways, all of the silly rules built up for our own protection and self preservation and "their good"(from our (you know, the put together people) perspective) really slay me. "don't EVER give them your cell phone number!" "That homeless guy's mail comes to your address?!?! Do you know how easily he or his friends could come in and steal everything or hurt someone?!" "You are a girl. Letting 4 homeless men squeeze into your car is a death wish." "Don't ever give money, they'll just spend it on booze." "Teach them how to fish, don't just hand out the fish all day long." "If you pay her water bill this time, what will she do next month?!? You'll be stuck paying the bills for years to come." "By babysitting for that lady when she goes out to prostitute herself, you are enabling... You might as well be selling her yourself." Etc etc etc.

    I agree, these are all rational thoughts and if we all acted on them, maybe we'd live long and comfortable lives of insulation. But how much SWEETER is the life where we just straight up trust Him that those 4 big men squeezed in the back seat to go get some free dinner are there because of a small act of obedience (us just trying in the teeniest way to love like He would) and if they do happen to jump the little (in comparison) white girl in the drivers seat and run away with the car or even kill her or something ......... What would God's reaction be?! "Stupid move, girl. You know what they say about watching your back. You shouldn't even be talking to those type of men in the first place. Don't you carry mace? You totally asked for it." I don't know. I just feel like I'd rather take the "risk" of obedience and trust that He will do what He wants with it, whether that means I walk away from it or not, than to sit on the sidelines and put down our own rules about how the stars need to align for us to be able to go into the game. Sorry for rambles.

  47. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix8ddosjg-k

    Keith Green wrote a song called The Sheep and The Goats....
    I think of this parable/song often as I see those in need.
    According to that scripture, the only difference between the sheep and the goats is what they did or did not do.

  48. It is so easy to hole up on my rural "homestead" with no TV and pretend the real world is not out there. But God is telling me differently. I have a burden on my heart but I am not sure what it is yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your journey and providing encouragement for those of us who are feeling Jesus' call to be a neighbor in the world.

    1. Oh, I love this. We are all on a journey. God is whispering to all of us to trust him a little more, love his people a little better. We won't ever "get there" on this side of Heaven, but it feels so good to walk alongside people who are listening for His voice and asking hard and different questions. Press on, Sister! I am right here with you.

  49. I want to learn, too, Shannan. We are planting a church and we don't want it to only be a church for rich white people. And by rich I mean solidly middle class or above. I want to learn how to come alongside with dignity and real love the people who are not just like me. I'm glad to be able to think through some things here.

  50. Girl, stop making me cry at work ...

  51. I've been struggling with the very same thing lately.

  52. I donate to the charity that I know that lives in the areas that need it the most. I don't give to people on the street. I know too often there's someone behind the scene that controls all the panhandlers. They exploit them and take a cut of what they take in. My son lives in DC. Having grown up with me as his mom he knows the sad truth of what often is really happening. I can't live with the thought my donation feed someone's addiction and by that something awful came of it. It happens. Summers in DC are the worst, hot and humid. Instead of money he hands out bottled water. I give food never cash. You can be companionate and caring without any guilt when you give food or clothing. I don't know about your area but having lived here 30 yrs. social services knows just about everyone. So many are mental health problems. Giving money when it's going to drugs or alcohol is about as dangerous as giving someone a gun. I say lets be giving while using wisdom.

  53. I too struggle with this. But for the grace of God, go I...

  54. I still remember the gas station we were at somewhere in the middle of Georgia. I was in college and we were road-tripping it for some reason. I mulled around outside waiting for my friends and she pulled up, baby in tow. She said her baby was really hungry and needed formula. I gave her $5 and she was off. It wasn't until after they left, I realized that the "hungry" baby wasn't even crying. For awhile I felt like a big sucker and imagined what all the practical people in my life would tell me. "Silly naive overly-trusting Julie." But every time I remember that $5, I think to myself sarcastically (which is always how I school myself in my own thoughts - with sarcasm), "Yeah, because you really needed that $5 back in your life." That moment of (possible) naivete has reminded me over and over again that even when I might suspect (not KNOW) a scam, if I sense God put me in this path, it's best to just give. Like you said, it's not like I'm handing out cash left and right on street corners every day. I'll never miss the money (really), and when I take to much time to wonder "is this really God?" I often miss my opportunity. Cause let's say it wasn't God tugging on my heart... what possible victory did Satan win when I handed over the money? Nothing. At the most, I helped someone truly in need and recognized their humanity. At worst, I just took another chink out of my own greed and selfish ways. So, take that Satan.

    1. "what possible victory did Satan win when I handed over the money? Nothing. At the most, I helped someone truly in need and recognized their humanity. At worst, I just took another chink out of my own greed and selfish ways. So, take that Satan."

      BOOM. Yes! My mom and I were just talking about this exact thing.

  55. just some ideas...they work for me. My thought has become: It's not my money to begin with...and it doesn't matter what they do with it...it matters only in the spirit that I gave it in at that moment.

    however, good rules to have:
    1. I never roll down my window if a man walks up to my car / or if a man approaches me at a gas station, I go into the store or I do not acknowledge him at all. (I live in Houston and I have had police officers escort me back to my car at gas stations before because I let my tank get too low and had stopped in a gang neighborhood)

    2. If I have money, I will hand it out the window to a woman with or without children.

    3. I have to obey the rules of the land...and in Houston it is no longer allowed to give homeless people food from a restaurant or fast food...so giving food is out for me...and it is for their safety as well.

    3. My husband watches for the men that stand out on corners...that's our deal...

    4.I never NEVER stop at night/after dark.

    I don't believe the Lord wants me to be foolish when seeing desperate people - so the rules are just a good idea...and If all else fails, I have called the police or shelter to go out and make a wellness check on the individual in case they need a ride to a shelter...the police don't mind doing it and at least I feel like I didn't just drive by and play blind.

    I love your heart Shannan...and this place you write with your heart.

  56. My husband always gives out food, he will run to a drive thur a pick up five burgers. Also beef jerky is a good thing to keep in the car so I don't have an "excuse" to not stop. Thank you so much for all your thoughts.

  57. I haven't read through the comments before I make mine, because I don't want them to influence what I type.....I'm like a sponge as I read other people's posts. Yeah, I am like that. So here is how I've managed to give, to teach my (now grown) children to give:

    When my kids were small, we would shop for groceries together so they would learn to stay on a budget, compare, stick to a list, ad nauseum. Then we would buy a hamburger & fries as a reward for getting through the monthly chore of buying food. (Certainly a First World Problem)...On one occasion, a man sat on the corner of the grocery store parking lot holding a sign, asking for money. I stopped the car, rolled down the window and asked if he was hungry. When he said he was, I went and bought him a burger, fries and a drink and gave him my last $5. My kids were speechless. My oldest son, about 10 at the time, said "What if he uses that money for booze or drugs? Isn't that the only money you had left?" My reply was that yes, it was the last of the cash until payday. As for what the money would be used for, my answer to him was this: I am not accountable for what he does with the money I give him. I AM accountable for showing charity, grace, forgiveness and generosity. I AM accountable to God for the things he has blessed me with...including the $5 that was left over in the grocery budget. My adult kids still talk about that day and are now raising their own children using the same principle.

  58. I adore this post. Your honesty in conveying the struggle so many of us share is just an encouraging reminder that we are all in this together. I've loved gleaning wisdom here in the comments too!

    it is embarrassing how often my excuses are:: I was in the wrong lane OR the light was green.

  59. I adore this post. Your honesty in conveying the struggle so many of us share is just an encouraging reminder that we are all in this together. I've loved gleaning wisdom here in the comments too!

    it is embarrassing how often my excuses are:: I was in the wrong lane OR the light was green.

  60. His love like a hot cake! Love it hon. Matthew 20:16 FPFG style!

  61. I remember being a child and seeing someone with a sign. My mother said that we couldn't stop to help because we needed the money to take care of our own family (which was totally true), but when I became an adult that became my litmus test for whether I should help or not. When I realized that I didn't need the $2, or the $5, or whatever cash I happened to have to take care of my family, that my family was just fine, then it became easy for me. I can't always give. Sometimes I really am in the wrong lane or the light really is green, or I don't have anything with me, but I do what I can and I always send prayers either way.

  62. i often find ways out of giving to this or that but i all to often recall my own advice to a friend who was so excited to tell me about a time where she gave money to a man at as gas station. she was thrilled. and it was cool. but then she said "i feel dumb though because i heard after that it's a place where people use drugs." i told her (and remind myself all the time) It's not my job to find out what they are doing with that money. when god calls you to give then you give. and that's it.
    no strings.
    just give.

    but again.... i mess up more than i get it right.

    and i am picturing you in your underwear after your world got nuked.
    in a non bad way of course.

  63. My husband's grandpa has a saying: don't give till it hurts. Give till it stops hurting.

  64. First off I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your writing and the way you communicate, I literally wait for you husband Cory to post that you have written a new entry, and then I curl up on the corner of the couch with my phone and ready it very slooowly because I dont want it to end :) true story.
    But about this particular post, I have been meaning to write to you for over a week. Last Tue, I read this and it really shook me up and I tossed and turned a lot that night. The next morning I got up got our boys up and ready to head to the Elkhart County 4H Fair for kids day. I stopped at the Atm and took out $60 and headed out. I took SR 15 and as I was approaching the light I saw a lady holding a sign stating that her husband had left her, her daughter sat leaned up against a post in the median with what looked liked her moms sweatshirt on pulled over her knees because it was so chilly. I knew without at doubt that was your lady, and this was her child. I got the red light (of course) and I was the car closest to her. I sat there and thought to myself I would like to help her but I dont have any small bills, I only have three 20's. I felt God telling me, I want you to give her a $20, say whaaaat?! Before I could truly figure it all out I took out a $20 opened my door and gave it to her, the look in her eyes I will never forget. "Thank you, God bless you." she looked desperate, hopeless. There is no way a loving mother would put her child in the middle of an extremely busy intersection on a small median, leaning up against a skinny post, she had to have been desperate and feeling hopeless, thats what I told myself. I felt like God was having me give what you couldnt the day before because she had left. I knew in my heart we could go without, I could say no to things at the fair and we would be fine. I find no "coincidence" in what happened, God is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart that day, it stirred me to action in Gods perfect timing.

  65. I read this post just after my husband and I were having an argument about whether or not to give our third and extra computer away to a kid from our church who is moving away to college. I was arguing that we are already doing enough, helping him with his expensive tuition, buying him all the supplies he needs for his dorm room, buying him a fancy (and in my opinion overpriced) bag for his books. He has a family, but they don't support him in any way. We have taken him under our wings this last year and have been amazed at seeing how God is transforming his heart and mind, but this kid isn't the only one transforming. Every time we talk about giving him something else, I am stretched. My argument last night was "when do we stop giving?" I am comfortable, and I am selfish. I have a whole list of things I could do with the money we would save if we didn't spend it on him. When is enough, enough? So last night I argued. My selfish heart was stubborn. My husband was calm, patient, and prayed with me. Immediately after our conversation I read this post and wept. While this kid isn't as needy as the mom you described above, he isn't any less worthy. Your post was a much needed reminder that what God has blessed me with is not my own. I am going to try and give, even when it hurts and is frustrating. Even when he lets us down and pushes us away. I have no idea what God has in store for this kid's future, but God is asking me to be a part of his present. I know the next time he tells us he needs something else for school I will probably grimace again, but this was a good reminder to give what I can and realize I am not in control of anything other than my heart.