A Good Exit – Amy at the Rest Stop

We’d switched seats, and it was ok with me. After all, he drove the whole way up to Lynnwood, Washington from Newberg, Oregon. I wanted to give him a break.  Braylon piped up from the back seat that was laid flat, “I have to go to the bathroom”. Ricky says to me, “Take this exit right here.” I saw no signs for the exit, just the exit number, so I said back, “Nah, this isn’t a good exit to take. There’s nothing here.” still looking for a restaurant sign somewhere. “No, take it. It’s a Rest Stop.” so I swerved into the far right lane just in time. It was Mile Post 93, 11 miles south of Olympia.

The sky was dark and the air brisk. I stretched and looked around, noticing a woman sitting criss-crossed on the concrete. She held a sign, “A Little Gas Money Would Help. Trying to get to Medford”.

“I’ll be back. Gonna go talk to her.” My sweet, patient family waited for me in the car.

I squatted down by her, saying hello, both our backs against the same brick wall. She smiled back at me. I admitted I had no money to give her but I could offer something else. Prayer. To a listening God.

Amy was a slender, white woman in her late thirties, but looked a little worn out, like difficult times had taken a few years without her permission. We had Medford as a common topic as I’d lived there for three years. I tried encouraging her, that once she arrived, it’d be such a great place to live. To start over. Her husband Franklin was in the car, she told me. Her marriage had gone through some “bumps” in recent months. She added that to a short list of things I could pray for. I asked about her health and she said she was ok, but The Spirit in his quiet way, told me to dig a bit deeper. She told me vulnerably, she had Hep C. “Dudn’t give me much problems, though”.

The conversation somehow curved around to Jesus and I asked her if she would ever consider letting Him in, to take over. Now’s a good time to start fresh, after all, with a new chapter in Medford ahead of them (oh- and their three children who awaited them, at her mother’s house). I pointed out that her cardboard sign read “God Bless”. “You believe in God?” and to that she answered, “Oh yes, I know he’s there. He’s always listening.” “Would you want to pray with me to just invite Jesus to set up camp, or live inside of you, to surrender your life – the good and the bad – to him?” She’d mentioned that she knew about surrendering your life and your will to something, because she’d heard the concept in NA meetings.

“I could pray and to take pressure off, if you believe and agree with me, you could just say, ‘Amen’ when I’m done?”

She threw her hands up as if to say, “what do I have to lose?” and said, “sure!” So I prayed for her, thanked God for loving her from the day she was born, and asked him to take her from here.  When she said “amen”, it was like she meant it. Like she’d turned into a big black woman sitting her church pew on a hot Sunday morning. “Amen!”. I smiled and shifted closer to give her a hug and a blessing, and she wished me the best kind of blessing she could think of at the time – safe travels and good luck.

I keep thinking about Amy. I keep second guessing my words, my approach, what I missed… “did I remember to pray for…” I really did forget to pray for her Hep C to be healed and was so bummed about that for 2 days! But the grace of my God rushes in and gives me a holy hug. I believed for it to be done anyway, from afar. He reassured me of his love for both me and Amy. And that He’ll keep placing more people before me that need to know that same love, as long as I’m willing to be open. As long as I’m looking for them. Like you’d urgently look for an exit off the freeway.

“Nah, this isn’t a good exit to take. There’s nothing here.”  Yep.

I was way off.

But Such As I Have, Give I Thee

6/21/13: TAZ. (Vancouver’s Mill Plain 112th st. exit). I stopped & stayed thru a light to talk.

I said hi, and he said it back, & asked how my day was. “Great!”, I exclaimed and then apologized I didn’t have money to give him & he smiled in return and reassured me, “that’s ok! At least you rolled your window down and smiled at me!” I asked his name, and he he said “Taz” with a certain amount of confidence. He quickly asked for mine, and when I said Chelan, I was about to explain the origin, but he beat me to it…”it’s Native American isn’t it?”
Yes! I replied. How’d u know?
“For 18 years I was married to a woman named Tama, who was part Native American”.
“Oh, wow!” I replied. “My name means ‘deep waters’.” He did his best to give a compliment perhaps feeling like he owed me something for my time and attention, “deep, like your eyes.” But he seemed sincere.
I knew I’d raised my sunglasses for a reason. Looking into someone’s eyes without a layer of shades really does give a greater sense of intimacy and says without words, I’m not afraid of you or getting to know you.

“Well, I better go”, I said…this time using words. “Maybe I’ll see you later!?”.

He flashed his smiled again, bearing a missing space that a tooth once filled,
“I sure hope so!”

As I drove off, he obviously wanted to keep talking. I didn’t have money, gift card or even a Cliff Bar or after school snack I keep a stash of by the console. I had nothing of monetary value. But such as I had, gave I he. My smile, my time, my eye contact, a quick 3 or 4 minutes of sweet conversation.

Pray for Taz. Pray that we all become prepared to give whatever we have in a moment of someone else’s need. It may not make the lame walk, but it could very well make a homeless person’s day. It could be just what he needs to boost his self esteem and see a glimpse of his true value. Taz is important. Valued.
Loved by God.

The Someone Else

The kids are out of school all week – Thanksgiving week.

I met with a new friend who is interested in spreading awareness about sex trafficking. So the kids had to come along to Starbucks, but were patient and colored and read and played quietly for over an hour. Before we went there, we noticed an older gentleman by the exit, asking for food on a cardboard sign. It read, “Just Hungry”. The kids and I discussed that we’d see about buying him lunch if he was still there later.

After my meeting, I was hungry too, and in my search for food as I drove through Tualatin, I noticed that man was no longer standing there. But a young man was…also holding up a sign, and stood on the other side, toward I5 north. I rolled my window down and asked him if he’d let me read his sign. It said, “Clean and sober over 1 yr. Anything helps.” I yelled “would you want lunch?” to which he replied happily, “Yes!” and off I drove through my green light, still looking for a place to buy food. I ended up at Subway. As I told the Sandwich-Artist my order and how one was for a homeless man, he asked me what the man looked like and where he was. I told him, and his reply kind of took me off guard, “Yeah, he’s not homeless”, he said with a smirk. “You know him? I presumed he was homeless” “His name is Wade. He’s actually got a nice home and a nice vehicle too”. Well, I didn’t change my mind. I still bought my two subs and left, and said a little prayer as I drove off. What should I do, Lord? I then shot the same text to Ricky. He quickly replied, “Drive around looking for another one”. So we headed south on Boones Ferry. Perhaps there would be someone at the Wilsonville exit. Braylon was swift to ask, “Uh, mom? Where are you going? You promised that one guy lunch.” “Well, I don’t know if you heard the man in Subway, but he knows that guy…and it seems as if he’s not really in need. Me and Daddy think we should look for someone else to give the sandwich to.” And a few minutes later, we came to the Wilsonville exit.

And there he was. The someone else.  We turned around and parked in a perfect spot nearby where he stood. As we approached, the sound of the freeway drowned us out, so when we said hello, and he saw Braylon and I, it shook him a bit. Bray didn’t ask him his name like I suggested, but asked him if he’d like a sub sandwich, and handed it to him. He was very thankful.  I got his name, “Raymond Woods”. Before either of us could then ask him what his story was (because we all have one, don’t we?) Raymond told us he has been battling cancer. Colon Cancer. He’s been ok for the last 7 months, but needs to see a doctor to make sure it hasn’t returned. He said he’s travelling from WA to CA., in an old van, but it only gets 8 mpg, so he tries not to drive too much.

His skin was leathery and wrinkled, probably 50-60 years old. Most of his teeth seemed to be missing, and his eyes were a soothing baby-blue hue which off-set his unshaven cheeks and chin dotted with unruly salt-n-pepper hair.

Angel was in the front seat of our van, watching, as I asked Raymond if he minded if we prayed for him. I’d never done that before, not like this. It was surprisingly easy and comfortable. And I was glad it wasn’t raining at the moment. I took his cold hand in mine, noticing his long, dirty nails. Braylon followed suit, later telling me he didn’t want to hold it tight, so he held it loosely, but also noticed how cold it was. I knew that serving the homeless last Thursday with Bridgetown Inc. prepared Braylon’s heart for this moment.

I prayed for a minute, in Jesus’ name, for Raymond’s health, healing, fulfillment in this life, and provision as he travels to California.

He thanked us again and off we went. As we turned the car around again to head home, Braylon was filled with excitement. He said to me, “Let’s go to the Dollar Tree and buy a bunch of stuff, and go around looking for homeless people to give stuff out to, all the rest of the day! And we can get a few things for me too, there at the Dollar Tree.” How could a mom not smile at that? What a incredible, kind, and honest little 10-year old I have. Angel chimed in, “Me too! I want to too!”

It was a beautiful opportunity God gave us, to be a small part of His story, and be used to possibly make some kind of impact on him. And he on us.  On the way home, I told Braylon and Angel how what had just happened ties into scripture…as  Jesus said, “when you did this to the least of these, you did it to me.”..and conversely, “when you didn’t do it to the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.”

 Today, Raymond was Jesus. And in a strange way, we got to be, as well.

Who knows… one day we may be the someone else.

 

A Sample Day in my Fight Against Child Trafficking in Portland

– I parked right by an Ambulance & walked over to the driver, told him we needed a medical emerg. person onsite and he wrote down GEORGIA with AMR (@ 793-8240) who I need to schedule that with – said she was great to work with, and to mention his name. He told me to tell her he said to give me a really good ‘deal’.

– Walked by 6 people in their 50’s-70’s who were standing in Pioneer Courthouse Square, holding hands, praying. I waited for the right time, and then offered them some postcards & said briefly what the Walk was about. They were happy to take them, & said they have been called by God to come to the Square ev. Mon & Wed. @ 12:10pm to pray for city and other things. And they told me they would pray for me, this event and the planning team too. I was so encouraged by this little group of faithful believers in the Lord. The leader told me he could tell I loved the Lord because he saw joy in my eyes. That made me smile.

– LM for Mayor Sam Adam’s assist. who I supposed passed it along to someone else in his office who called me back saying that she will begin looking into my two requests! This is great news for the homefront! :

1.) to help me find a highly visible place to hang a banner to advertise the Walk

2.) to set up a video recording of the Mayor saying something in support of SCTNow (since he can’t make it to the Walk)

– Heard back from a recycling receptacle co. who works w/the City (‘sustainability’?). Was referred to a very professional man who is in charge of providing these receptacles for non-profit events in Portland…and that this service including signs for these receptacles, is FREE. YEAH! I will call this Eric tmrw.

– LM to ask a friend to borrow his truck to transport all the tables, chairs and tents – ALL donated by City Bible Church (WOW) from their facility to the venue (may need to do this at like 6:45am Oct. 2nd).

– Rec’d approval for the 2 donated banners’ layout (3rd layout try). I’m HAPPY with both! So grateful. I was hoping for 6 weeks prior to the walk, but I’ll take 3 weeks prior. 🙂 It’s all free publicity. I do hope these two banners can be completed by this weekend – the 19th; I want to bring one with me when I speak Sunday at Horizon Community, & have it above my registration table. 🙂

– Drove all the way across town to meet with an Artist from Granada, Joachim to exchange a painting of his for a tax donation-receipt re: out SCTNow Art Auction I’m thinking of naming, “Art in Action”. http://mcmillangallery.com/paintings.html … only to realize after waiting and not hearing from him that I remembered the date wrong – actually thought it was THURSDAY most of the morning. So felt pretty dumb. But at least we’re still going to meet … tomorrow!

I was able to make it back in time to hug my amazing son Braylon Emmanuel, at the bus stop.

It was a packed day, but still I have nagging thoughts of what things are yet undone. Maybe the small volunteer team can pick up where I left off on the route. If I continue to return to all my to-do’s all day long, every day, I will break under the pressure and do what I usually do in those times – just sob. Or in worst cases, have a panic attack. Sometimes I have to force myself to push those thoughts out of my ever-spinning brain so I can have a good chunk of time & focused attention on my family..or on praying. So many people I know of right now, need prayer.

I really want a date night with my husband, without thinking about this event. He’s never been busier w/his small business either. So we are in new territory – the both of us are up every night on our laptops til 12-1:30am. But there is always a light: We are both tryin to make sure we celebrate one day off a week…with no technology…no work…no TV & sometimes no cell phone…it’s usually Sundays. God is helping me to prioritize every part of every day.  Again, new territory. I’ve always struggled with time management, but this is a whole new ball game! Ricky is so great about being there for me, being patient, and giving me gentle reminders. A couple times in the last few months, they were not so gentle. But for good reason. I was out of balance and his frustration was honest and well founded and helped me evaluate my schedule & make some needed changes…like:  many days of the week now, I do not have my laptop to even be tempted to work during the day. I don’t watch TV (which I’m glad is not a temptation), so these days I basically force myself to do housework, make meals and (not force myself on this next one… but) spend some time on FUN activities with the kids like fishing, live concerts in the park, cheap matinée’ movies, swimming or hot tubbing (like this afternoon with Braylon), going on a walk or out to ice cream…or watching his favorite show right alongside him.. tonight it was, the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild! Or Angel’s choice yesterday was a movie, “Wild Animal Babies”.

I am planning a road trip for the 3rd weekend of Oct. for us 4 to drive down the Gorge & over to SE Washington … Walla Walla. Visit relatives, fish, roast marshmallows on an open fire pit, & just soak up God’s beauty – the beauty of a close knit family & of His nature in the fall. It is so amazing. I’m also planning on attending a live concert w/my mom, to see one of my favorite artists of all time, perform THIS month, on the 28th…Harry Connick Jr. I can’t wait!

I can’t believe the Lord is utilizing me the way has so far – and will be the rest of the year. It literally would knock my socks off if I had any on. He has opened so many doors for me in this new ministry to help put an end to child slavery & forced prostitution, to sing again -at church (after October, mostly but I am singing a solo Sept.26th already – a wonderful song of hope and vision-casting!)… and to just share about His goodness & faithfulness to friends.  I’ll end this long-winded post with the lyrics to the song I will be singing. It really does encompass my whole reason for living right now. I long to have God’s kingdom come and his will be done right here in Portland, as it is in heaven…and I strongly believe in the vocal declaration of these things he has already said are his will – that are YET TO COME, YET TO HAPPEN –  believing for them and rejoicing in them before they arrive and when they do, WOW. What an even greater story to tell, to brag on our Lord to everyone – yet one more example of His never ending love and faithfulness. CHECK out these lyrics below.


~ Do it Lord ~

by, Tommy Walker

I see your glory, covering the earth Lord
Just as the waters, covering the sea
I see the millions, coming to salvation
I see revival, fire in the land
I see the lost, nameless ones remembered
I see the widows, shouting out your praise
I see the friendless, loved and cele brated
Orphans fullfilling Lord, your calling on their lives

Do It Lord, do it lord
Do it Lord we are praying
Do it Lord, do it
That your glory may be seen

I see forgiveness over taking hatred
Pride and prejudice, now giving way to love
I see depression replaced with joy and gladness
And Satan’s lies, now bowing to the truth

Do It Lord, do it lord
Do it Lord we are praying
Do it Lord, do it!
That your glory may be seen

This is our prayer oh God
This is our desperate cry
In these days that were living now
Let your kingdom come
Let your will be done

I see the brokeness of families, brought to wholeness
I see the prodigals, running home to you
Father’s hearts, now turning toward their children
And the children’s hearts, turning toward the fathers

I see your Church, all rising up in power
Laying down their lives in unity and love
I hear the sound of every tribe and nation
Giving glory to Jesus Christ the Son