What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brook Besor moments

Have you ever reached your 'I give up moment'?

There is one more chore to do.
One more bill to pay
One more favor for a friend
One more night of working late
One more fight with your spouse/child/parent
One more day of frustration at work/at home/or just about anywhere.

It seems that no matter what you do, It's not enough. There are only so many 'Just one more's' that you can handle. When you reach that 'I give up' moment, you shut down. You cry, you rage, you sink into yourself, shut the door on the world and say NO MORE! I am tired. You go on without me.

1 Samuel 30:21-25

Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow him and who were left behind at the Besor Ravine. They came out to meet David and the people with him. As David and his men approached, he greeted them. But all the evil men and troublemakers among David's followers said, "Because they did not go out with us, we will not share with the plunder we recovered. However each may take his wife and children and go.

David replied, "No my brothers, you must not do that with what the Lord has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed behind with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike."

Two hundred men were exhausted. Too tired to go on. To tired to fight even for their own family. When David's men got angry at those who stayed behind, they cursed them and wanted them to go away. But not David. In all his wisdom he turned what could have been an ugly situation into one with dignity and respect.

These men stayed because they were pooped and no other reason, yet David gave them a way out. "They stayed with the supplies," he said. He dignified their decision to stay. He honored the soldiers that could not go on.

Isn't that the way it is with the majority of those you find in the streets? They are exhausted. So worn down by life, that they have just given up. There are many reasons they could have stayed at the brook. Divorce; a death of a loved one; medical disability; addiction. No matter the reason, they are in their brook Besor moment and need someone to be a David and tell them it's okay. It's okay to rest. It's okay to be exhausted from life. It's okay if you need to stay and sit for while. It's okay for you to watch over the supplies while we go to battle. God will fight when you can not.

Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

You and I are the soldiers who have gone to battle. We are the ones who leave behind the weary to watch over our supplies. Perhaps our own Brook Besor moments have not led us to the streets but we have all had them. A day of rest needed here. A day of exhaustion there. Let us be like David and accept them where they are. Then let us, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians, be like Christ and share our yoke with those who need to be carried for a while.

Inspired by Max Lucado "Facing Your Giants."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

In the last few days I have sent out over 1000 emails to politicians, corporate executives and media representatives. I have only gotten back about 2 dozen responses to date, many from enthusiasts, but mostly from skeptics and cynics. But, it's all good. It's all in God's timing. I am still moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other and having faith that it will happen exactly how it is supposed to happen. I still however, felt the need to respond to the skeptics and cynics.

I am being asked to prove I am legit before some will walk with me. Before they WALK with me?!? I am not so sure I understand that. I could see them asking that question if I were asking for millions of dollars, but I am not. I am asking for them to exert energy and spend "a mile of your time" with me . If I were Oprah or Angelina, I don't believe they would have been asked to prove they were legit.

Well...How do I prove I am legit? I exist. I have had a birth certificate for 54 years now. I have been driving for more than 30 years now, 18 of which have been here in Oregon. So how do I prove I am on the up and up? Do I have to for a walk? I guess so.

I don't know, maybe it's the way I presented the letters. The first one stated "What we are asking of the public is that if they believe in this cause, donate 1 penny for every mile walked, which amounts to $18.63. Although I would love them to support the organizations I have chosen to donate the proceeds to, the purpose of this walk is to get them to 'be a change' in helping the homeless into homes, so who they donate to is irrelevant.

What we would be asking of you, your staff and your clients, is to walk a mile or two as support for this cause and to show that the words of Gandhi are taken to heart. "Be the change you want to see in the world." With the participation of citizens such as yourself, the hearts of millions all over the globe can be touched enough to encourage them to be a change in the campaign to make poverty history, not just in America, but all over the world.

Oregon state senator Betsy Johnson was kind enough to point out that because I have not been around as a 501(c)(3) no one would donate to me.
"Okay. But I am not asking for money. I am asking for support. I even stated on my website that I was not a 501 (c)(3)."
"Oh well, I didn't get that from your letter. (Which means she did not look at the website. Oh well.) "I wish you luck and I will follow you as you walk." A little non-committal but I'll take support in any way I can get it.

My website states the following:
I am an individual trying to make a difference in the world by walking from British Columbia to Mexico as a representative for all, because it's the 'right thing to do'.
I am NOT a 501(c)(3).
If you want to be the change and do not feel comfortable donating to this cause, there are MANY causes out there just as worthy as this one.
Click on the PDF icon below for a listing of the many agencies listed state by state that could use your help.
Of course I do hope that you choose to help in supporting this cause, but where you donate is irrelevant. What matters most is that you help at all.

So there is no more confusion, although frankly I don't think there is very much difference, the letters I send out now, state" What I am asking of the public is to donate 1 penny for every mile walked to their local homeless shelter. If they would like to help offset the cost of this trip that would be welcome as well, but the purpose of this walk is not about the money. The initiative is to get America to be a change to the homeless and poverty level individuals and families so who they donate to is irrelevant. It's that they help at all that matters.

Maybe I just don;t know what they mean by legit. I have a website, albeit homemade, I have one nonetheless. I have put in months of planning, hours of walking, exercising, changing the way I eat so I can make all 1863 miles. I even made a commercial, and I HATE to have my picture taken.

I have to start somewhere. Nancy Brinker started with 800 people who believed in what she was doing. Now, Race for the Cure has over one million participants world wide. I'll take the 800. I'll take 80. Heck, I'll even take just one other person who believes in this as much as I do to walk side by side to help a neighbor that needs a lending hand, and whether or not we choose to accept them, they are our neighbors. By the way, the cinematographer of my short film donated his thousands of dollars worth of time and expertise because he does believe in this and knew it was the 'Right thing to do."

In closing, I remember somewhere in the back of my mind there was something called the Four Freedoms. Freedom of Speech. Freedom of Worship. Freedom from Want. Freedom from Fear. I can't help but wonder if it is because of the cynics and skeptics of the world that we no longer believe in nor do we feel comfortable in practicing these freedoms. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The bare necessities

By now, most of America knows the story of Michael Oher, the homeless teen who went on to become an NFL football player all because a family that didn't even know him, cared enough about his situation to help him. They didn't do it for their glory. Maybe they didn't even do it for God's, but they did it. They did it because to them, it felt like the right thing to do. Michael slept in his first bed at the age of 17. Can you imagine not having a bed to sleep on? I can.

During our homeless years, my kids and I slept where we could. Back when churches had an open door policy, we slept on church pews. I worked the carnivals when I could. This meant that while the rides were set up, we were able to sleep in the empty trailers. We slept in public restrooms; train stations; on strange peoples couches; in the woods when it was warm enough to do so. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have a tent. Mostly we slept in a car.

My youngest who was born in the streets was 3 the first time he felt a mattress underneath him. Not because I didn't want to give him one. If it wasn't in the budget to have a roof over our heads it wasn't in the budget to buy a bed. Sometimes it wasn't even in the budget to buy food.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because there are more than one and a half million kids under the age of 18 who don't have a bed in any given year. Many, like Michael Oher, have never had one. I am telling you this because there are kids out there who need you to be Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy.

They were the change.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Which Way Do We Go George?

Do you know how long it takes to map out a 2000 mile route? I didn't either. All I can say is thank heavens for Google Maps. I thought it would be a simple thing. You look at a map and plan your route. X marks the spot where you start and Z is where you end. Y is all the stuff in the middle. NOT!

I am walking. This should not be news by now, especially to me, but it was when it came to this map. You can not walk on Federal highways. You need permission to walk on state highways. Paper maps don't tell you that. Google maps does. But I of course did not believe them when they said you have to go 3 days walk out of the way to get past Mt. Shasta. Or you can not cross here cuz it's a bridge that doesn't have a way to walk across it. So there will be a select few places that I will have to hitch a ride with the van that is stalking me but in actuality is carrying 2 crew members and all of our equipment.

Paper maps also do not allow for terrain. Google maps does. It not only allows for it, but you can actually view the terrain you would be walking on. I mean actual step by step photographs! Can you imagine? So it tells me when there are routes I can not walk on. It tells of the little inconveniences that may slow you down, like death by avalanche, mud slides or erupting volcanoes.

So the trip begins on April 20th and allowing for Sundays to be days of rest; allowing for an extra day in each of the major cities; and barring any of the above mentioned mishaps, Tijuana should be reached by August 12th. Just shy of four months. Not too bad. A bit more than I thought and quite a bit more than what Google tells me.

You see Google is on it's own time zone and doesn't allow for resting. Goggle maps tells me it should only take 20 days and 4 hours to walk from Vancouver, BC to Tijuana, Mexico. Again, NOT! It doesn't take into consideration little things like eating or sleeping or the most important of all...peeing, which at my age happens a lot! Not so sure I thought that one through very well when I planned this walk, but again, I will have to trust that God has a plan. Even for peeing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?

I selfishly thought we would be able to touch the lives of a few homeless people. Instead 213 homeless people touched mine.

On December 23rd, in order to give a little extra warmth for the cold winter nights to some of the homeless people living under or around the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon, my son, two granddaughters and I played Santa Claus by giving out gaily wrapped gifts of gloves, hats and socks. But it wasn't the homeless whose lives were changed that evening.

Not one of those we gave to, took without a thank you. Not one of them was mean or belligerent and only a select few were drunk or high as we all have been programmed to believe. No matter the case, each and every person was grateful. It's not that they were grateful that someone thought of them at Christmas and gave them a gift. They were grateful that someone thought of them at all and didn't treat them as though they were a leper or invisible.

We didn't turn away and pretend we didn't see them. We sat among them. We laughed with them. We cried with them. We felt their pain. When a hand was outstretched, we held it. When a story was offered we listened. When a tear escaped them, we shed tears with them.
I knew when I went home that night that my life had been changed forever. I didn't know how. I didn't know when, but I did know that I had to do something meaningful to help these men, women and children that, whether or not we want to accept them, are our neighbors.

I knew I was not the only family member whose life had been changed that evening. My seven year old granddaughter who had gone with me on the 'glove box' give away gave me her jar of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and said "Here grandma. This is supposed to be our Disneyland money, but I want to give it to you. How many gloves and socks do you think we can buy with it?" Out of the mouths of babes. Thus the birth of "Change for Life."

We are asking for you to give to this worthy cause if you feel so moved to do so. We are not asking for $50 or $100. We are asking for pennies. One penny for every mile walked. 1863. Pennies from your change jar so you can be the change and help to change the world. But don't give it to me.

Give it to your nearest homeless shelter or agency that supports help for the homeless and poverty stricken. Give it to your nearest home for unwed mothers or shelter fo teens. Give it to your church and specify it is to help the homeless. It doesn't matter who you give it to. Just give.

MARK 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all they all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on."

So for today, my commitment in many is to write this blog as often as I can. For now it will be on my preparation for this trip. I do hope you will follow it.




Thursday, February 11, 2010

With Honors

Mark 6: 1-6
A Prophet Without Honor

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

"Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What is this wisdom that has been given him that he even does miracles?! Isn't this the carpenter? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." He could not do any miracles there, except lay hands on a few sick people and heal them. And he was amazed at their lack of faith.

The people of Nazareth had known Jesus since he was a small boy and they did not want to admit he had grown up to be someone special.

I'm not comparing myself to Christ. I am not God, nor do I have the power to save the world, but I can be the change I want to see in the world.

I knew that some of my friends would think I was a little off my rocker when I finally told them that I was going to be walking 1863 miles. The friends that I have only known for a short while are excited for this trip. They know that I have had this almost obsessive heart for the homeless and they are behind me 100%. They only questions they have asked of me have been "How long do you think it will take" and, "How can I help?"

It's the friends that have known me for years that asked the wounding questions.

"Isn't this a little extreme?"
"Aren't you going a little overboard?"
"And where are you going to get the money for this?"
"Why you?"

Isn't this a little extreme?
1,470,000 homeless people are African Americans
1,365,000 homeless people are white
455,000 homeless people are Hispanic
140,000 homeless people are Native Americans
70,000 homeless people are Asian
1,365,000 homeless people are under the age of 18.
40% of the male homeless population once proudly served in a military uniform. Tonight, those that once were our heroes will sleep in alleys, abandoned buildings and under bridges because they have no home.

Yes it is a little extreme. With more than 3,500,000 million Americans homeless in any given year, it has to be extreme. .

Aren't you going a little overboard?
Am I? Did you read my last blog? Oskar Schindler gave away millions of dollars to help 1200 Jews. Do you think the families of those Jews he saved thought he went overboard?

Mother Teresa gave up a life of wealth to save thousands starving in India. Do you think those lives she saved thought she went overboard?

What about Harriet Tubman? Do you think the 70 slaves she freed through the efforts of her underground railroad, and the descendants of those slaves thought she went overboard?

What about all of the police officers and firefighters that died in the tragedy of 9/11? Did they go overboard?

I only know that God is asking me to trust him and step out of the boat. If I go overboard and sink I will do it knowing I died trying to do the right thing.

Where are you going to get the money to do this?
I haven't a clue. There are three of us going on this trip with me being the only one walking. Will we camp every night? Sleep in the van that will be following me? Will we stay in hotels? I haven't a clue. But I trust that God will provide the funding.

Why You?

I can't answer that. Why did god choose Noah? Why did he choose David? Why Moses? Why President Obama? The list goes on and the answer will always be the same. I won't know until I die. All I know is that I have to do this.

Perhaps this will give you a better idea.

In Germany, they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time, no one was left to speak.