Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I wrote a little about Micky a while back and how he REALLY wanted to have one "last chance" to play the piano. He's been in pretty poor heath, but you could never tell that by his spirits. He will tell you that he knows his time is coming, but he feels as though its a blessing. And I can totally understand that when he says that he is excited to go home and be with his Dad...with his HEAVENLY FATHER! Really though, what could be better? Nothing! But, I'm not going to lie...this man has had me in tears more than once! He is just such a beautiful soul. It's heartbreaking to see him under that bridge, pretty much waiting to die.
This video is from a couple weeks ago. The Walls family was kind enough to open up their home and let Micky come down and play their piano. He played tons of beautiful Christmas songs and we all sang along and drank hot chocolate. Seriously, something straight out of a move. It was indescribable. I'll tell you I'm not a big fan of Christmas music, but I'm willing to bet I won't forget that day or those songs he played...and that Christmas music I'm not so fond of may just carry some special memories from here on out. I really wish I could explain that afternoon to you...it was simply of God! Praise Him for that!
Keep praying for Micky if you would. For his comfort and safety this winter, and also for a continued feeling of peace that he so frequently expresses. Or, you could just come out and meet him yourself and see just what I'm talking about! Seriously! :)
Last Wednesday was the first time I'd seen him in a couple weeks and I was pretty excited. I just asked him if he remembered me and he smiled his BIG smile and shook his head yes. So, I continued..."Your name is Jacob, right?" He shakes his head yes. "Would you like anything to eat?" He smiles and shakes his head again.
After Amber and I went and fixed him a plate, I told her I was determined to get this man to speak to me. I started right back up with the questions. "Are you from Indianapolis?" and I just got a smile. Finally I said, "You know, you've never talked to me..." as he kept smiling, I asked why and he pointed to his throat. I felt awful at first, thinking this man was mute or something and I'm sitting here poking and poking and asking, practically begging to hear words come out of his mouth.
With a few more questions, I learned that he CAN talk, but it hurts him to do so. I obviously didn't get details. But, wondered how anyone knew his name if he didn't talk...apparently he had a short conversation with a good friend of mine and told her his name and he was on the streets because he lost his job.
I asked if he would talk to me one day and with that big, beautiful smile of his he nodded yes. We also made a deal that if we didn't get to talk, he would just write me a note...which is cool too! I'm excited to get to know Jacob and his story!
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The night we first met Mickey was unforgettable. We got a call from Plainfield United Methodist, who also does outreach on Wednesday nights, asking if we had any blankets. There was a new guy under one of the bridges who had nothing...he wasn't prepared at all to be sleeping outside. As Kim and I sat down to try to get to know this new face, the first thing I noticed was his clothes. Not your everyday homeless guy get-up. He had on a nice collared shirt, dressy pants and shoes, and a peacoat. It was his second night on the streets. Not second night this time around, second night EVER! He told us incredible stories about his life. He is a really neat man...born in Russia, retired school teacher, Jewish, has a handful of children, concert pianist, and it went on and on. None of us wanted to see him stay out there another night, but he said he knew that God wanted him there. So we continued to visit him and tried to get to know him a little better each week for the next few weeks...but it wasn't long until he dissappeared.
A few weeks ago, I had taken some of the High School kids from the Riverside neighborhood downtown to do outreach, while the rest of the "grown-ups" went to the bridges and camps. We all ended up back at the DAT House looking for more stuff...coats, blankets, gloves, and things of the sort. It was then that Kim told me that Mickey was back! NO WAY! I was really glad to hear that...well, not glad that he was back under the bridge, but glad that he was alive! He really did have a heart attack and after he was released from the hospital he visited some friends and family up in Michigan, then made his way back down to Indianapolis.
Honestly though, he is looking rough...the streets and his health are really taking a toll on him. Tonight was the first night I actually got to see him and talk to him since he's been back. He's been asleep a couple of the other times I had come under the bridge...but, he also had ANOTHER heart attack last week! He's talked about "the end" since the day we met him, but he is talking about it a lot more these days. Mickey is certain that it's almost his time. He tells us that he feels blessed to know that...it gave him a chance to make peace with himself, with God, and with a few people...and he is ready to go. I know reading that may sound sad, but if you could talk to him and hear it from his mouth, I promise you would smile as big as we were tonight! I'll tell you that he flipped my night upside down...God sure spoke through him tonight! It's funny how that happens...EVERYTIME, everytime I'm having a crappy day or am in a bad mood or just being a jerk for no real reason. It's almost like God is saying, "Yeah, go ahead. Just TRY to act like you have ANYTHING to complain about. Seriously!" He's funny like that! I wish everyone could sit and talk with Mickey...I can almost promise you would get something incredible out of it as well!
One thing that he did mention tonight was that he would REALLY love to be able to play the piano one last time! (Okay, that part was sad...even with his big beautiful smile.) We are working on making that happen...so pray with us on that one, please!
A few of us are going to try and take him out for lunch Saturday afternoon and hopefully hunt down a piano somewhere downtown...if you've got ideas, those would be super helpful!
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
And those of you who really know me know that music and lyrics are one of my "escapes"...so needless to say...the music has been BLARING the last few days! :) This song has been a favorite for a long time...and it's perfect right now! I'm not going to say it doesn't hurt, but...I really am "Thankful, For Every Break In My Heart, I'm Grateful, For Every Scar..." Because I've been here before and know all too well that I can't go backward...so I'll go forward and just keep learning.
Lessons Learned -- Carrie Underwood
There's Some Things That I Regret,
Some Words I Wish Had Gone Unsaid,
That Had Some Better Endings,
Been Some Bad Times I've Been Through,
Damage I Cannot Undo.
I Wish I Could Do All All Over Again,
But It Don't Really Matter,
When Life Gets That Much Harder,
It Makes You That Much Stronger,
Oh, Some Pages Turned,
Some Bridges Burned,
But There Were,
And Every Tear That Had To Fall From My Eyes,
And Everyday I Wondered How I'd Get Through The Night,
Every Change, Life Has Thrown Me,
I'm Thankful, For Every Break In My Heart,
I'm Grateful, For Every Scar,
Some Pages Turned,
Some Bridges Burned,
But There Were Lessons Learned.
There's Mistakes That I Have Made,
Some Chances I Just Threw Away,
I Never Should Have Taken,
Been Some Signs I Didn't See,
Hearts That I Hurt Needlessly,
That I Wish I Could Have One More Chance To Mend,
But It Don't Make No Difference,
The Past Can't Be Rewritten,
You Get The Life You're Given,
Oh, Some Pages Turned,
Some Bridges Burned,
But There Were,
And All The Things That Break You,
Are The Things That Make You Strong.
You Can't Change The Past,
Cause It's Gone.
And You Just Gotta Move On,
Because It's All
Saturday, December 05, 2009
A lesson I learned quickly when I started doing outreach was not to get too bummed out when we "lose" someone...people are ALWAYS moving around...ALL the time...so it's impossible to keep in touch with everyone you meet out there. Once in awhile we "find" someone out of the blue. Well, it's never an accident...God always seem to put us where He needs us...and sometimes it turns into a nice surprise!
Kim and I met Spanky back in July...and as I walked under a bridge downtown tonight to visit my friend, Rodney, I was introduced to this "new" guy...Rodney was like, "This is my friend, Jena! I'm famous, she will tell you!"...and he does this almost every time I see him. (I was looking at pictures on Flickr one day and someone had taken a picture of him out panhandling...I told him about it and joked that he was famous because he was on the internet...now he tells everyone...it makes me smile!) So, naturally, I asked him what his name was and he says, "Spanky". I got pretty excited...Here is a little bit of what I wrote back when I met him this summer...
"I would like to tell you about Spanky. He promised that was his real name, so as far as I know, Spanky really is Spanky. We bumped into him tonight on Meridian Street. He told us he dances in front of the bars and sometimes that is how he earns money; he was actually dancing when we approached him tonight. He definitely got a smile out of all of us. What really bothers me though, is what happened to him and his friends last night. Spanky and his friends sleep in a parking garage downtown and he woke up last night to someone kicking him in the side, once he realized he wasn’t dreaming and that someone had really just KICKED him WHILE HE WAS SLEEPING, they did it again. He told us he asked them why they were kicking him, but that is about as far as he took it since he is a pretty small guy and he didn’t want to get into a fight. Then he told us he was really scared about things going on in town this weekend. He mentioned that in the past years, during this same weekend of festivities, he has had other homeless friends both SHOT and STABBED, for no other reason than hatred. I’m really uneasy about all of that. I’m not sure how someone can have the nerve to kick a sleeping man, let alone stab someone just because their lifestyle seems strange or bizarre. And this sure isn’t the only story I’ve heard about violent acts being carried out against the homeless people of this city, but this is just fresh in my heart and in my mind." [Rude Awakening...]
We looked for Spanky in quite a few parking garages downtown for a couple weeks after that...no luck. He tried to explain to us where he slept, but we couldn't find him.
But, back to tonight...Rodney told me he found Spanky laying in an alley and he was really, really drunk! He said he "drug" him under the bridge and had been taking care of him for a couple days! Rodney is such a sweet guy...I just love him! We did our best to get Spanky whatever he needed...socks, gloves, a meal...but unfortunatly no underwear. He made sure to tell me he was "free-ballin' it", haha! But seriously...Spanky needs some prayers. He is supposed to be going into rehab on Tuesday. He told us he would find us when he gets out and that he would be a different man. We let him know we were going to hold him to that. So, it looks like I'm going to "lose" Spanky again...but this time I hope I DON'T see him for a while...pray that he can stick it out in rehab and get back on his feet and off the streets!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
So, I think I'm just going to sing, and dream, and love...anyway!
Anyway -- Martina McBride
Something From Nothin'
One Storm Can Come And Blow It All Away
Build It Anyway
You Can Chase A Dream
That Seems So Out Of Reach
And You Know It Might Not Ever Come Your Way
Dream It Anyway
God Is Great
But Sometimes Life Ain't Good
And When I Pray
It Doesn't Always Turn Out Like I Think It Should
But I Do It Anyway
I Do It Anyway
This World's Gone Crazy
It's Hard To Believe
That Tomorrow Will Be Better Than Today
Believe It Anyway
You Can Love Someone With All Your Heart
For All The Right Reasons
In A Moment They Can Choose To Walk Away
Love 'Em Anyway
God Is Great
But Sometimes Life Ain't Good
And When I Pray
It Doesn't Always Turn Out Like I Think It Should
But I Do It Anyway
Yea - I Do It Anyway
You Can Pour Your Soul Out Singing
A Song You Believe In
That Tomorrow They'll Forget You Ever Sang
Sing It Anyway
Yea, Sing It Anyway
I Love Anyway
In case we don't really know each other, I'll catch you up real quick on the BIG things God has done in my life...
For those of you wondering how I got involved with TDWM and things of the sort...
Now that you are up to speed, I'd love to share an important letter with you...so, you know the drill...
946 E. Pleasant Run Parkway N. Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46203
P.S. Please, feel free to look around the rest of my blog! :)
"The No. 1 thing we need to do is create public awareness. We all need to be talking about this and be aware of this so that these homeless children don't become invisible," said Bill Stanczykiewicz of IYI.
Statistics showed there were more than 8,400 homeless students during 2007-2008 school year, up from a little more than 7,500 in the 2005-2006 school year.
IYI officials said the federal tracking system did not include the estimated 5,400 kids under the age of 6 who aren’t served by public schools.
Outreach Inc., on Indianapolis' east side, is a drop in center that helps homeless teens "that functions as a one-stop shop so they can come in and get food, clothing, basic first aid, take a shower, do their laundry, talk to a case manager,” said Eric Howard, executive director of Outreach Inc.
Howard said the organization saw a jump in the number of children who rely on "survival sex."
“A significant majority of our youth admitted to being involved in survival sex, which is an exchange of a sexual act, not necessarily for money, although it could be for money, but for a place to stay, for food for shelter, just some place in which they can get off the street,” Howard said.
Organizations that help homeless children say it’s important to get children in school and in federally programs that can help them.
“The entire community can play a role through our volunteer efforts, through our charitable giving. We can all make a difference to help these folks,” said Stanczykiewicz.
I am writing to sincerely thank you for all the support, thoughts, and prayers you’ve provided in my life this far. I’m also writing to invite you to be a part of the next steps in my journey with the Lord. I have received a wonderful opportunity to come onboard as a full-time staff member with an incredible organization called Tear Down The Walls Ministries. TDWM’s mission is to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with Indianapolis’ homeless population and at-risk urban youth. My main responsibilities include: mentoring TDWM’s high school interns, organizing and facilitating weekly youth group meetings, homeless case management and street outreach, as well as managing phone, e-mail, and social media communication. I am very excited to see how God is working right here in Indianapolis, and how He is allowing me to be a part of it.
These past several months have been exciting and difficult ones to go through. The Lord has been challenging me to follow after Him in every aspect of my life. He has been asking me to chase after Him without worrying; reminding me to simply walk in His footsteps knowing that He has a plan and will continue to guide my path. I feel that this opportunity with TDWM is a vital piece in my walk with the Lord. I have spent a great deal of time volunteering with TDWM and have come face to face with so many people who are frequently thought of as the lowest and most hopeless in our society; but a lack of possessions, less-than-ideal living situation, or past and present struggles do not make anyone less deserving of God’s amazing love. I’m learning to look at the world through the eyes of Christ and reach out with love in all circumstances. I am so excited for this chance to be the hands and feet that help bring the powerful love of Jesus to people who have felt or been told for so long that they are beyond hope or that they are not good enough to be loved. I am so thankful that God has given me a heart able to reject this world’s view of inner-city troubles and those who are hurting or struggling. I am confident that God is going to continue to break my heart for serving those who are constantly shoved aside and continuously overlooked.
As a staff member I am responsible for raising my entire salary. So, needless to say, I am taking a giant leap of faith, but I am completely confident that God has called me to this position and I trust that in following His plan all my needs will be provided.
I am asking you to, first, please partner with me in praying for TDWM and all those who are served through the many programs and services provided. I’d also like to ask you to pray for my effectiveness as part of this organization as well as my personal and spiritual growth.
Second, please consider supporting me financially in this ministry opportunity through start-up or monthly contributions. No gift is too small, nor will any amount of support go unappreciated. Anything you can commit to will bring me closer to my goal and continue to make this opportunity possible.
Finally, think about offering your time, energy, or resources to stand alongside TDWM and myself. There are an infinite number ways that you can make a positive difference in this city, in someone’s life, or even in yourself by being willing to take a step outside your comfort zone.
If you are willing to partner with me and/or TDWM on any level to help extend genuine love and quality time to both the homeless population and at-risk youth in Indianapolis, I have enclosed a Partnership Commitment Card for your response. There are a number of ways you can be a part of this with me, so please do no hesitate to reply with whatever decision or commitment God has laid on your heart.
I have been so blessed by the situations in which God has planted me and the people He has placed around me. It’s almost impossible to explain how much work God has done in my life and in my heart to mold and shape me and bring me to where I am today. I know the thoughts and prayers of great friends and dearly-loved family members had more than a lot to do with that. So, as much as I need your financial support, and I really do, I also really need your prayers.
I want to thank you again for being a part of my life. I’m excited to continue to share with you where the Lord is leading me and what He is teaching me through all this. Please don’t hesitate to keep in touch with me as I continue to journey this path along which God is guiding me.
Because He First Loved Us,
If you are interested in hearing more about TDWM and/or my involvement, please do not hesitate to call, e-mail, or reply via postal mail. Again, anything you can commit to is greatly appreciated and I am thrilled to be able to share this step in my life with you.
Please Include Your:
Name, Address, Phone Number, E-mail, and Preferred Method Of Contact.
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946 E. Pleasant Run Parkway N. Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46203
All donations are tax-deductible and checks can be made out to Tear Down The Walls Ministries.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Please, please pray for Bryant! And pray for Riverside -- we love the kids that we work with and would hate to see anything happen to any of them! God has given a lot of people big dreams and provided them with great imagination of what that neighborhood could be if people would learn to love. So, really...pray for Riverside!
I have a fondness for all of my Wave kids but Bryant holds a very large place in my heart! I would bring him home in a heart beat if his Momma said it was okay. He is my Buddy! We just got off the phone with his Mom, we called right away when we read this. We found out that we know the boy who stabbed him as well. He used to come to the ... Wave. Bryant's Mom is very scared and upset, as well she should be. It is time to get more serious about these boys lives! Time to step up and do what we as Christians are called to do! This really hits home and brings the reality in to focus of what it means to live in Riverside and how God has placed us there to Disciple these young men and woman and Roar like a Wave over Riverside. Thank you so much for letting us know and your continued work with these kids! We love you Jena!"
Friday, November 13, 2009
These were a couple of my favorite songs!
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Tonight, Patrick told the story about the woman at the well (John 4:1-42) and the aim was to share that Jesus can and will forgive anyone of any sin -- I love how Jesus expresses his gentleness and love in this story! Anyways, it didn't take more than a couple minutes for hands to start popping up and asking questions...I'm not sure where they all came from or why the students chose this week to speak up, but I'm thankful. We did our best to keep everyone on topic and not dig too deep into the "hard stuff" -- you know, the classic theological debate questions. It's so, so, so much more important that we help them understand Jesus' love and forgiveness and the fact that we've all been given the chance to be right in God's sight.
After splitting into smaller groups, we took a few minutes to break things down and give an opportunity for discussion and questions. My girls were FULL of questions! It was really cool to get them thinking about what forgiveness really meant and how serious the love of the Lord really is! It was only a few weeks ago that one of the girls pretty much told me I was wasting my time being there -- she literally told me that maybe if I was "like them" people would listen to me (the neighborhood we serve --Riverside -- is predominantly black). I won't lie and say that thoughts like that have never entered my head, but walking away over skin color makes no sense to me. After asking the girls if they've ever felt if they were "beyond" forgiveness there was some hesitation, so I thew out the fact that I've had those feelings more than once. As soon as I shared a couple examples of things I've struggled with, girls began to sit up and look at me like they understood. Then the conversation got rolling again...and this time I felt like they were listening and were no longer thinking I was some crazy white girl trying to butt into their lives and tell them a bunch of irrelevant garbage! It was question after question after question at this point...Weren't there really 11 Commandments? Does the Bible talk about other planets? It's okay to lie to other people, just not God, right? What if you want to ask for forgiveness after you die? And...one girl shouts out, "But, I eat apples!"...I wasn't ready for that! Her concern was the "fruit" in the Garden of Eden and what kind it was and what if she eats it today?
These young ladies (and gentlemen) could benefit tremendously from opportunities to spend time in the Word. Please pray that they would hunger and thirst for more and continue to ask questions and seek out the answers. Any frustrations I've had over the last couple months were completely stamped out by what I experienced tonight...these kids really are looking for that "something more" out there, whether they've realized that yet or not! I'm excited to see how God is going to use The Wave and move in the lives of the kids in the Riverside neighborhood.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today, a couple of us from TDWM met with on of the teachers from IndyMet to help get our newest intern all set up and ready to go. Aqilla has actually been volunteering with us for the last few months, so it was exciting to hear that she wanted to intern with TDWM. She will be working with us on Wednesdays, which happens to be one of the days that we have our Bible study and lunch. I could sense some excitement from her when she realized that as part of her internship she was going to get to study the Word...personally, I think I had that same feeling of excitement when I realized that one of the really great things about working with TDWM full-time meant that, twice a week, it was my "job" to study the Bible. And, although seeing her enthusiasm was a real blessing, there is more...
On Thursday nights we have our youth program for students in grades 7-12, called The Wave, which Aqilla is apart of, along with her older sister and one of our other interns. We talked tonight about how God DOES use young people and discussed the stories of people like Ruth and David. While explaining how important it is to listen to God in order to know where He needs us to be and what He needs us to do, it was mentioned that it is absolutely crucial to spend time reading God's word. It is amazing how God can speak to each and every one of us through that book, that we may have read a million times over OR never even opened. Seriously, just flip through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and read about Jesus' life here on earth, I'm positive God will move! But, back to what has me smiling...we announced that we were going to start having a girl's Bible study and a guy's Bible study every week in order to help them break into reading and studying the Bible on a more regular basis.
As we were packing up and heading out the door, Aqilla told us how happy she was, because she had been praying for a while that she would be able to get involved in a Bible study...and now she has TWO chances each week! It's encouraging to see these high school students so eager to learn more about our Savior...almost every kid at the Wave tonight signed up to attend the Bible studies! Praise Jesus on that one, for sure!
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."