Mountains and Valleys

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Homeless ministry is a constant rollercoaster. On my truck runs, I can go from feeling the sweetest joy to utter sadness in just a matter of minutes. Before we jumped full force in to ministry, our pastor gave us good solid advice when he told us not to let our highs get too high or our lows get too low. Sometimes it’s really hard to put that into practice though. This week has been full of highs, but as we know, the enemy doesn’t like that and there have been some speed bumps to try to get us down as well.

The whole month of September is already set to be rather crazy as Briana and I do what we can to prepare for the birth of our son Titus in early October if not sooner. Our new home is set to be delivered at the end of September so I am trying to get the site prepared. It will go in the place where our RV sits so I have to bring in a larger underground power service, underground water line, and a propane tank. That said I have reserved a trencher, which I absolutely dread, mostly because it intimidates the daylights out of me to run equipment and do things that I have never done before and knowing it could make me look foolish. One of my homeless buddies says he’s operated many a ditch witch, but I am a little hesitant to really believe him and give him the reigns of an expensive machine I have on loan in my name.

 Interior progress of our model tiny house build by Kahler Homes of Midland

Interior progress of our model tiny house build by Kahler Homes of Midland

We are also preparing for our model tiny house to be in the Parade of Homes, trying to get our land deal finalized, and being filmed for a documentary. Sometimes I look at our calendar and freak out. Especially a few seconds ago as I saw how close the baby’s due date really is.

Speaking of land, as of Friday we have reached a tentative agreement with a donor to obtain the property for our village! There are still some steps necessary to put the puzzle together but Lord willing, we will have a place to call home very soon. I spoke at the Midland County Commissioners Court on Monday about our organization. It was an introductory presentation and we will follow up in a few weeks hopefully to present a proposal for county road extension to our property. This is something we have been praying about for so long and we thank you all for joining us in fervently asking the Lord for land.

That said, because it isn’t final, I am trying not to get my hopes up or get ahead of myself and celebrate before we cross the (first) finish line. As someone who has a background in land work, I know these deals are never over until the paperwork is signed and filed at the courthouse. It is hard to keep my emotions in check when we are seemingly right on the cusp of a huge blessing from the Lord so your prayers for the finalization of this deal are much appreciated.

The little things that have been popping up to keep us down include sickness, sleeplessness, unexpected expenses, general stress due to the mountain of stuff to do, etc. If we look at our big God, these things are nothing to Him and we should never worry, but it is hard not to allow ourselves to feel like we have to deal with all of these things on our own in a timeframe that seems totally impossible.

    Reading to us about Jesus            

 

Reading to us about Jesus            

Days like today really encapsulate what my life looks like. First thing this morning I arrived at the soup kitchen to find a homeless friend for us in a state of complete psychosis. This particular person has been struggling with his mental health for a long time and right now it is particularly bad. It is causing him to act in a way that is publicly inappropriate and sometimes frightening. The mental health resources in our community are very limited for the homeless (which we aim to change) so there is not much we can do to help him right now. To me, the way he acts is usually no big deal, but to a new volunteer that has never been around the mentally ill, it can be very uncomfortable. After we dealt with that situation the best we could, we left the kitchen to go see some of our regulars. We were greeted warmly and were blessed by the smiles and hugs we received. Then we went to see our sweet friend Ms. L.

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She hasn’t been well the past few weeks, struggling with her bipolar disorder. Today she didn’t come out of her tent, which has been the norm for the last week or so, but as I handed her the cup of coffee she gave me an envelope. I opened it and it was a Thank-You card; a card that she went to the store and spent her money on.  She has lived in a tattered old tent for the past 3 years so the money she spent on that beautiful Hallmark card was a great sacrifice to her. It is a little hard to read but I can make out words like thank you, blessing, food, grateful. Ms. L is a follower of Christ and at the end of the note she writes, “Continue this ministry according to Biblical teaching.” I was speechless after I read her note. Honestly, most thank-you cards are kind of generic and I would be just has happy with someone telling me thank you in person, but this time, the note touches me deeply.

After we left her spot just in awe of the blessing she gave us, we went to see our friend J. who read to us from the book of Matthew about the birth of Christ then prayed for us before we left. So beautiful and humbling! From there we went to a new area and saw a guy on the corner and a lady headed to work. We stopped to ask if they wanted breakfast and the guy was looking pretty miserable. I asked him if he wanted coffee and he said he was “dope sick” and didn’t want anything. I tried my best to empathize and asked if I could pray for him. He looked up and sneered at me saying in a loud and firm voice, “NO! I am going to hell anyways.” I told him that there was hope for him in Jesus as he walked away but he didn’t acknowledge. I felt sick to my stomach as I thought about what I just heard. Please pray for this man.

After finishing up on the truck, I went and reserved a trencher for Thursday to install our power service for the new house and made some calls to coordinate the house installation. Later on this afternoon I will go check on the progress of our tiny house build and then go out to our potential piece of property with our documentarian to look around and get some footage for the film. Then I will go home to my lovely and uncomfortably pregnant wife and baby girl for some dinner and time with the horses and maybe a popsicle before Truma goes to sleep.

What a beautiful life God has given us! It is hard, but His grace makes it so lovely. If I were to wake up one day and try to do all of this stuff under my own power, I would flop right on my face. Right now the pressure seems high on me as a man to be the provider and caretaker of my family, but I have to remind myself that I can trust Him for our daily bread cast my anxiety on Him.

At the forefront of our petitions to the Lord is our niece. We are trusting in Him and standing with our family in prayer and supplication as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law have arrived in Dallas for her birth.  We cannot be sure when she will come or what her condition will be when she is born. What we do know is that the doctors have seen symptoms consistent with a genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis and have identified several tumors on her heart, brain, and other organs. Though there seems to be a lot of uncertainty, we can be absolutely confident that she belongs to the Lord and that He loves her far more than we ever can. So far the doctors have been very positive about her life after birth, which brings us lots of hope. We are all of one heart and praying for God to be glorified by her life and for His will to be done. Of course we earnestly pray that He is glorified through her long and healthy life. Please pray for them to feel the mighty presence of God’s peace in the coming days.

 

Other Prayer Requests:

·      Our family and niece

·      Perseverance and strength

·      Our friend M. who is suffering greatly with mental illness

·      The man I met with no hope

·      Finalization of land deal and road access

·      A successful attempt at trenching