Tag Archives: encouraged

the Readings

We all gathered in a downstairs living room, warm and cozy it was, bellies full of deliciousness. Sitting, each in our chair or couch and waited for what was to begin. Some of us were anxious, there were those who were getting drowsy from over eating wanted to go first before sleep overtook them, others were just patient, calm. All were in expectation for the next phase. We were celebrating Christmas as a family, a community of coworkers. This celebration happens each year, something to look forward to, not for the wonderful food, the time away from the busy hustle of answering phones, working on our projects or going through our routine motions, but for this exact moment. No, we do not play secret santa, white elephant or any other typical gift exchange. We celebrate each other. We have all prepared something exhorting, encouraging and affirming. We write these things down and on this special occasion, in this moment we begin to express these words to each other. However, who will begin?

So here we wait, wondering who goes first, the primer for this time. Silence, a pause and a prayer. Finally it was decided that the person with the closest birthday should begin. Some sighed a relief, others, who’s stomachs where causing a state of lethargy, were waking themselves to pay attention. A quick reference to my internal calendar gave me the realization that my birthday was next week. Oh the joy of being first. It wasn’t that I did not want to participate in this adventure, this privilege, but I get supremely nervous. Immediately my palms began to sweat. I reached into my bag and pulled out what I had, what I prepared. I unfolded the papers and drew a deep breath.

“I’m nervous.” I said in a funny voice, to make others laugh and to ease my nerves. It half worked, some laughed, my nerves remained, grew.

My hands shook like leaves in the prevailing winds; a proverbial chill went up my spine. I began and the silence in the room was stifling, but I held on and pursued my reading. The further I went down the page my now cold fingers held fast to the papers to keep them steady. Each sentence I read was off track with my breathing and I’m sure it was hard to understand. As I reached the end of my writings, my affirmation I felt relief flow over me. I believed what I had written had sunk in to the person I was reading it to. I finished. Slowly I pried my eyes form the trembling papers, I looked up and saw her smile, small tears in her eyes, success. I had conveyed what was in my heart, despite my nerves, despite my shaking voice and hands, the sweaty palms and the broken breaths.

We went around, one after the next, reading and finding our voice. We laughed, smiled, tears fell, all was peaceful, grand. Everyone read with grace and full of heart. Each person was read to, hugged and loved. This time is special, this time is needed.

As I watched and listened to my friends I realized I am a part of something unique, something more than myself and this season of good cheer. A smile filled with love and happiness was a permanent feature on my face. Eyes teary at times with each word spoken, this is good.

Far too soon it was time for me to be read to, to be wrapped with words of love and encouragement. My nerves struck once more upon my body, my insides. I often do not accept nor believe I am worthy of such things. This stems from some reasons known and unknown; it is a constant struggle to accept them. Today, in this time, I will try.

She spoke so calmly, so directly, my coworker and my friend. She had a poem she had written, just for me. She began. Words flowed from her lips that blew over me and calmed me. Love emanated from them, kindness fell on my ears and melted my heart. My eyes misty, the same plastered smile of joy was a signal to all that I was more than touched, I felt love and at home. She finished and I hugged her and thanked her from my deepest point.

These experiences happened to all of us that day. We all realized we were loved, are all part of a true family that cares more for us than even we ourselves do. Those filled with anxiety were at peace, those with full bellies stayed awake not wanting to miss a word and those already at peace were added joy.

As the time ended I looked around the room once more, memorizing each face, each expression. I do not want to leave these coworkers, these friends, my family. A slight sadness began to creep in with the realization that this time would not come again till the next celebration of this season, that the love felt this day was to be prolonged. I walked up the stairs to go and I felt my colossal smile had begun to fade, to turn into my normal everyday expression, which is a cross between a smile and contemplative, but it stopped short. My mind reminded me of something good, something wonderful. We have this celebration not just during this time, but we have the opportunity, the privilege to share, to encourage, to love every week, every day. Not just at regular subscribed times, but during all hours of the day. We can do these things whenever we desire, not just during special occasions. My gigantic smile returned; my heart rang out with joy once more. Thank you God for this, for all of them.

– Josh Jones

 

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Vulnerability and homelessness

There is something about being homeless that reveals you to the world. You are laid naked for all the world to see your imperfections, your failings. I want to become a more open person. While supervising at the Timothy House I had the privilege to meet a man named Jasyn. He has been homeless several times and is currently staying in our shelter. He is an artist with beautiful and professional talent. He creates music that I call “poetry in motion” and can draw to inspire. He is most proud of his work as a tattoo artist despite it being viewed by the some of the world as worthless or meager. He may never be acknowledged for doing something great, but he is surviving and he is an artist. Life has dealt him a hard hand but he is choosing to pursue his dreams with opposition facing him at each side no matter what he decides. Who ever said the Homeless have nothing to offer the world, who ever said the homeless want to live that way? This man is not so. He is teaching me to be more vulnerable. I have a choice to hide behind the walls of my home or the mobility of my car, but why? If this man and many others are offering themselves up to be seen just as they are with no masks to hide behind, then should not I do the same? Maybe I have a choice but does that give me the right to choose to hide?

 

Sean and Alena are both over the age of 60 and want to learn how to use a computer. And do you know, I get to be the one to teach them? How blessed am I to be the one to teach someone else anything. Sean would like to work for the newspaper doing photography but first needs to learn how to use a computer. He asks often if he is silly for wanting to re-enter the work force. He knows it will be a lot of work but I tell him if he is willing to work hard at it then maybe it can happen. Sean has never used a computer and often becomes discouraged by that fact and the difficulties of typing. I am encouraged though, by the beautiful people I am allowed to work with. It is difficult to see them struggle through life and computer class. As they get older, the world of technology advances and they are left behind. I want the best for them, even if the best is not available. I want to believe they can achieve anything if they work at it but that is not always the case. Often I am conflicted over such things but I am glad to be part of their journey of life and technology.

 

– Nicole Little

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Jerry taught me

I have been leading a poetry group each week at the community event Good Works sponsors called Friday Night Life. I want to share a brief story about how I saw Christ there.

    Jerry is an elderly man who attends the supper every week. He is social but he doesn’t seem very “intelligent.” For a long time he had been telling me about his poems. I kept asking him to share it with the group but he always said he couldn’t find them. I just thought he was pulling my leg the whole time. Not only that but he would come to the group, carrying his large volume of American poets, and ask other people to read his favorite poems since he didn’t bring his glasses. I wasn’t trying to judge but I began to suspect that this man couldn’t read and had never written any poems in his life. Then one week he brought a paper to the group and said he was prepared to read his poems. He read two original and beautiful poems with tears streaming down his face. They were both sacred memories from his life. Other people affirmed Jerry and encouraged him in his work. I sat stunned and humbled. Stunned by this simple and “unintelligent” man’s eloquence and depth and humbled by my own elitist mentality. I silently thanked God for allowing me to see Jerry as he sees him—a man with plenty to offer despite all appearances.

Often, God has appeared in “the least of these” during my time at Good Works. He always seems to appear to humble me and remind me that I am but dust. And that all people in his body have special and unique gifts that I need in order to experience the fullness of Christ—if I would but see them and believe!

To the outsider, the poetry group might seem like just an outlet for people to express their feelings. But I believe it is more than that; I believe it is a glimpse of the kingdom of God. It is a place where people come and actually want to listen to each other. The members are open and honest. The atmosphere is peaceful. Class distinctions are forgotten. There is no awareness of education levels. Though some write beautifully and others a bit rougher only encouragement is ever spoken. It is a circle of friends sharing a common passion and also sharing their hearts and lives with one another. I am grateful to be the “leader” of this group where I discover, in fact, that it is I who am being led in the ways of the kingdom of God.

– Dan Kauffman

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