Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I Learned From A Homeless Man...

During my mid-afternoon break, I headed over to Ann Voskamp's A Holy Experience and read What Radical Christianity Looks Like Right Where You Are {Pt. 3} and about Baby Aleeda. She wrote:
We can’t overthrow whole systems today and empty out the sick wards by noon and mop up the whole planet’s oceans of tears by sundown and we can’t get hearts for the brokenhearted, but by God and in God and through God
We can show them God’s heart for them. 
We can rip back all these layers of busyness.
We can let the rest of the world all stampede by in this lemming lunge to suburban success. 
And we can slow.
And we can kneel.
And can take the time given to us to bear our bare, vulnerable selves, and show the broken down – the pulsing heart of God right in us, right with them.
That thundering question of Where is God? 
Is best answered when the people of God offer a hand and whisper: Here I am.
That thundering question of Where is God?
Is best answered when the people of God tear everything else away and take the time to show it: Here’s His love for you – beating right here, right here in me, right here for you. 
What else is time for but this?
Yes! What else is time for but this, friends?
As I finished reading Ann's blog post, I remembered that my kids' Youth Group is doing "Care Night" tonight! As I started to suggest to my girl that they should write cards to Baby Aleeda, she said, "That's exactly what I was thinking about just now, Mom!"

After a few quick text messages back and forth with her Youth Pastor, a plan was in motion... making and writing birthday cards to Baby Aleeda was going to be one of the care activities that the youth could choose to do at theUnderground Cares!

Birthday Cards for Aleeda!

After dropping off the kids at Youth Group...
... hubby and I had a decision to make. Where and how would we spend these two hours? Oooooo... the possibilities are endless, it's Yonge and Eglinton after-all! We can sip Starbucks. We can window-shop. We can eat cheesecake. We can stroll the streets on this unusually spring-like 15*C winter evening!

Tempting... but our hearts knew that God wanted us to be somewhere else tonight. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I was tempted to go sit at a Starbucks and sip my Tazo Chai tea latte!

Yet, one Wednesday evening before Christmas, we did this...

And, while we promised to be back... we haven't been back since that night due to the busyness of the Christmas season and due to hubby being sick over the New Year! Tonight was the first Wednesday night we were free to go back... and so we did! Because... what else is time for but this?

His name is Justin. He is a homeless man. I wrote his name down as I registered those who were in line for the "foot spa" and chatted with them as they waited for their turn.

As hubby filled and emptied water from the foot washing tubs, one by one, our homeless brothers and sisters took their turn, their feet being washed and massaged by one of four volunteer foot-washers.

Soon it was Justin's turn. As I showed him to his seat, I asked matter-of-factly, "How was your week, Justin?" I wasn't prepared for his answer... "Awesome! I am thankful for each new day."

He went on to share with me... "Being thankful and having a positive attitude for whatever life throws at you, that's the secret to living a full life. You just have to accept and be thankful for what God gives, no matter what."

I thought to myself, "Wow! This is a homeless man talking here..." I had no words. I managed to mutter, "Justin, your thankfulness is an inspiration to me."

Friends, what else is time for but this?
Yes, hubby and I went to this place hoping to serve the homeless. And yes, we did. But, God, in turn, had a gift waiting there for me... wrapped in a homeless man named Justin. Through Justin, I was reminded that no matter what circumstance I find myself in... I am to have a thankful heart.

It's been a tough few weeks for us emotionally as a family. And it's been an uncertain several months for me in terms of the direction of my career. There have been days that I didn't feel thankful, didn't want to be thankful. Meeting Justin last night has really given me an attitude check!
Live out eucharisteo. "At that time, Jesus answered and said, 'I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.'" (Matthew 11:25 KJV) In the midst of what seems a mess, in the tripping up and stumbling down of all hopes, Jesus gives thanks.
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.
In the tripping up and stumbling down of all hopes... Jesus gives thanks. And Justin gives thanks. So should I.
... happiness is not just an emotion you feel, but a decision you have to continually make no matter your circumstances. God has given us the ability to do all things and make it through anything because of Christ who gives us the inner strength. 
It is not about the outside situations that you will face, it is all about what God is doing inside of you and what He has given you through His word. He gives you peace, confidence, power and true happiness that will challenge the norm of our world!
And, taking it back full circle, to the start of this blog post... to Ann's words:
That thundering question of Where is God? 
Is best answered when the people of God offer a hand and whisper: Here I am. 
That thundering question of Where is God? 
Is best answered when the people of God tear everything else away and take the time to show it: Here’s His love for you – beating right here, right here in me, right here for you.
What else is time for but this?
In serving the least of these, we can answer for them that thundering question of "Where is God?"... yet the reverse is also true, as was my experience this very night... one of the least of these, Justin... God used him to answer my thundering question of "Where is God?"

I'm glad I said "no" to a Tazo Chai tea latte tonight and said "yes" to serving at the foot spa.

And, *I am thankful*!

Basking in the beauty of this night. 

Like standing on holy ground... and I continue on with what I was assigned to do, I jot down names, I start conversations, I squirt the soap and antiseptic solution into the foot-washing tubs, I watch as hubby fills the tubs with water and tired dirty feet submerge into them, coming out clean and refreshed... and my heart soars, in praise!
Radical is as simple as realizing God gave us two hands instead of one.
One to praise Him for the gifts given – and the other to pass on the gifts that never stop being gifts to pass on. 
God made us to be helpers, not hoarders. Conduits not collectors.
~ Ann Voskamp.
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I promise you will be blessed!

Compassion is a command, an act of worship, a song of thanks to Him.
Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God!


  1. Oh Ann... so beautiful and such a God moment... thank you friend for sharing here... A message we all need to hear!

  2. Aimee, I admire how you turn these words into action. I'm inspired today by you...

  3. Beautiful, Aimee. I'm currently re-reading One Thousand Gifts and doing the dvd study and it's hitting me in all the right places right now.

    God is using it and my one word (slow) to start me off in the right direction this year.

    1. Yes, it's absolutely a read-again book! I have the DVD study too... just waiting for me to dive into it. Soon, I hope.

  4. Oh my gosh... Aimee... I was reading both yours and Ann's posts and called you Ann... my word multi-tasking?!?!? So not my thing!!!

    1. No worries, Tonya! I thought you were saying "Oh Ann" in reference to the many quotes I have on this post that's from her blog. :-) Love you, friend!

  5. wonderful. much needed words. Thank you. So true. Its been a rough month for me too. HIGHLIGHT... meeting Maureen! He continues to show me....

    so thankful for YOU!


  6. oh reading the comments... I am reading One Thousand Gifts again too. I have the dvd study too... haven't started it yet. Wish we could all get together and do it...

    I so enjoy/love my online friends. YOU!

    1. Me too, Teena! Haven't started the DVD study as well. Soon, I hope. Thankful for you too, friend!!!