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His finished work

It has been a long three months.

I don’t think I have ever worked so hard or planned so much.  I am honored by the new role I have been given and also stretched to grow in areas of leadership I never thought would be stretched.  In all these changes in my work at New Horizons, I try and remember something my dad always taught me by saying it so often, “you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”  

The great thing about that statement is that at any point, I can choose to be part of the solution! I have the freedom to let go of whatever I am doing that is part of the problem and I have the freedom to embrace what is part of the solution!  But we often see ourselves locked in; by our role we’ve chosen, by our community or surrounding, or by our fears, etc. But Jesus would tell us the same, that we are either for Him or against Him.  

This year I have learned a lot from being part of the problem.  I have learned that I am being part of the problem when I am doing for/owing to/ or responsible for the people I work with.  I learned to remember that I can always lean on God, and preferably!  Also, that things usually work out a lot smoother when I put it in God’s hands.  I have learned to remember the saying, “Let Go and Let God.”  You would think in the most extreme circumstances and the most extreme needs, God would make miracles happen by Your will!  But that is not the case and it is tragic when they don’t happen.  But letting God has a way of creating miracles.  That’s just my experience.

Many things have happened!  Many youth have gotten busy with school, new jobs, or other exciting things and we have transitioned to create a new Drop In program, Life Discovery program, and new Case Management design.  Everyday we are adapting and innovating to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  It has only been a couple months since this huge change started, but its vision has been cast in the stars.  

I want to ask for your prayer support for my staff and for our homeless youth and that you also consider (after Easter, His work finished) where you have been part of the problem and where you are part of the solution.  Also, have you learned to “let go and let God?”

 

God Bless and good night.

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This child of mine

Yesterday we saw a tragedy in our nation that has been felt with a shudder.  

    There is no easy way to push it out of our minds.  We have all been children and we have all loved our children and those children in our lives that remind us that there are those deserving of our protection.  The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary violates our conscience because we know those children are innocent and not deserving of the crime.

    This season, I have really been struggling with the tragic lives of the young kids that I work with.  Many deaths have happened in their lives this season and it has shaken them to their core.  Tragedies enter their lives with every piece of mail, every new kid on the street, and every failure that they have to suffer alone.  We don’t have nearly enough volunteers willing to step into those tragedies with them and love them unconditionally, to be the arms of God.

    This season, I tried to step into a young man’s trouble with an eviction the week of Thanksgiving.  We both found out too late what needed to be done and so after our thanksgiving party at New Horizons, I helped him move out.  Stepping into that situation was too hard and too scary for both of us.  I decided to put him up in a hotel for the rest of the week, giving what God had given me.  In that time, I learned the reasons why he had gotten in that situation, why his family wouldn’t help, and why it was such a struggle for me to step into someone’s tragedy.

Much family struggle and bitterness and fear and unlove had led to his situation.  We had to work through a lot of fear of failure, a felt lack of love from his family, a deep bitterness consuming his hope, and a lack of options.  I have never learned how much I depended on God until this moment.  At the same time, other youth I work with were deep in their fears and all the same problems.  I must be honest, I am no different than them.   I was broken when the Parable of the Good Samaritan came to me and I realized that I was fighting between being the priest who crosses on the other side of the road from the man in suffering or being the Samaritan who does what is needed, knowing God had brought him there.  In this work you are taught to set boundaries to protect yourself; I believe God wanted me to trust that he could handle my fears. We are never called to walk on the other side of the road, yet we don’t trust God is asking us unless we are beside ourselves.  I felt a real struggle with believing the family didn’t want to help and I thought of the Prodigal Son.  The family wanted to judge based on prior experiences, and at a point I felt that was fair. But then I realized how the father of the Prodigal Son didn’t wait for an apology nor took him in for punishment, he ran to him and welcomed him as a son!  There were no excuses made to put him out on the streets again, instead there was love.  All wrongs had been forgiven.  

    Often, in our society, we judge those in tragedy, we avoid them, and we turn our backs as they are victimized, letting it be payment for their wrongs or be more than we can handle.  We make rules, boundaries, or laws, that can be the same across the board so that we can call each other equal. But we don’t serve equality to people, we simply say, “this is what we can handle doing for everyone” and so what we cannot justify doing for everyone, we cannot justify doing for the one in need.  But we can do for the one in need, just as families are holding a vigil right now in that small town.  There are so many more children right now, young and old, that need that same love as the Prodigal Son received.

    I am sure that if these children who have been lost in the shooting, at whatever age, 6 years old or 25, had the chance to come back to their parents, that no matter how much wrong they had done in their lives, their parents would run to them and wrap their arms around them and say, “This child of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

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YOLO Grace

The month of September was a lot of sun with a little ‘spot drizzle’! ..And yes, that’s a term.  

September was fulfilling, there were some of our youth that got into a transitional home and some are working full-time and loving life!  I am so proud of them and their resilience and courage in facing the daunting task of those two things.  It has become more and more clear to me how frightening it can be for someone who has been cast out or shuffled around in life so much, to trust an employer to keep you or a place to live to become your home.  They are not used to that.  It is the world to them when they feel like they can unpack a little and rest.  

This job can make you numb or it can make you saturated in empathy.  I have seen days of both and am learning lessons new each day.  One I learned recently was from a friend that showed me the very difference of our outlook based on if we choose to live by Grace or the Law.  The Law is compelling because it is just, it measures things, it feels realistic, but it can easily become slavery.  Grace, comes to us with what we Christians always talk about but rarely act with, and that is unconditional love.  We forget grace is extended to all, not just those we want to comfort.  To live by Grace is to have high expectations and to believe that others will meet them, someday.  If we don’t believe this, how much harder is it for them to believe it themselves.  I saw it first hand; one young man that I had been working with for months and who didn’t show commitment, good work ethic, and had some feelings of entitlement, completely turned around, did a 180!  After we formed a team with him, learned to believe in him despite our past experiences with him, and learned to encourage him and not shame him, he had a breakthrough!  He is now working, loving life and in housing.  He learned a lot of skills in a short time because he believed he could do something for himself and didn’t feel powerless anymore.  Our Grace matters to people, it may be the only thing that matters in their life.

Our annual Dessert Extravaganza is coming up on November 2nd and you All are invited.  Anyone who would enjoy sitting at my table that I am hosting, please let me know and also rsvp on our website http://www.nhmin.org  

Please pray for me as I learn to live by Grace and love these kids.  Also, we started doing Pongo teen writing with our youth and it has been amazing, please pray for its healing work.  God bless everyone.

 

Radiant

These last two months have been one of learning to honor the work accomplished and striving to prepare for the work ahead.  Thank you all for supporting me this year and, although a late announcement, I am happy to tell everybody that I was offered the job at New Horizons as their new male Youth Advocate!  

I am very happy to be here and relieved that I did not have to search for a new job too much.  I found peace though during the waiting period, realizing the work that God has handed me and accomplished through me this year and who am I to question that.  Even in times where we feel we are not very useful, God finds mighty use for us in our humble hearts.  I also got to pour into some of my wonderful coworkers and honor their work here as well.  We are going through growing pains right now and we need all the prayers, volunteers, and support we can get.  There are a lot of great accomplishments on the horizon and we will soon be there. 

This month, I have changed a few things about organizing my efforts and then with Ken gone for his honeymoon (Congrats;) I soon took on nearly a dozen new kids in a formal relationship!  It is stretching me more than any challenge before.  I could really use your prayers for my efforts to be effective for them and life-giving to them!  I have learned two major lessons these months: Take things seriously and others will too – people will reciprocate, and if you want life poured into you, honor people, because it is life-giving to both parties.  I am thankful everyday that I both have the opportunity to expect higher things from my clients and that I get to honor them for who they are, despite their difficulties.

I recently had some youth apply to the Apprenticeship at Street Bean Cafe and this was my first time recommending youth.  I learned a lesson that to not honor a person is to dishonor them and in the case of hiring, to harm them.  As their advocate, I am learning that my opinion should be more private and I should remember that I advocate for them, not just for one but for each and every one.  Being an advocate is like being a parent sometimes, you advocating for the best things for them!

Now that my internship has come to an end and I am now fully employed at New Horizons, I would like to honor all those who have honored me this year by believing in me and paving my way into what I felt called to do in life.  Thank you and I am going to focus time getting in touch with you and honoring you as you have honored me.  I am not out of the forest yet as I am currently desperately searching for a place in Seattle to live start September and am in the thick of work (that’s why this is so late), but I certainly will in turn honor you, my support, my listeners, my friends, my family.

This blog will continue each month as I start my new employment and I will keep sharing my inspiration from my time here.  Please stay tuned and feel free to tell me if you would rather view my blog on your own time rather than get emails.  

 

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”  ~ Psalm 34:4-5

Open Heart

June, oh June.  A reminding month.  God has turned me around this month and shown me the footprints in the sand, so to speak.  I have been like Israel in the desert at times and for that I was wandering, but He continually shows me how he has provided for me and those I serve all along.  I love Him and his call, to be faithful even when hard work is before you, even when scarcity deceives you of God’s generosity.  Freely He has given, freely give.  One of our youth is learning this well recently.  He does receive a lot from us and is now too old for Drop in, but recently I allowed him to do the food group’s dishes to earn his food, only because he asked.  I was impacted by that offer and let him go to work and he amazed the kitchen staff!  He stayed to help as much as possible and gave back to those who had served him so many times.  He has other places he can go but he chooses to come here where we are family.  I love working in a unique place where decisions are built still on relationship and love.  We try not to be a resounding gong, but rather a retelling of His love.

God’s peace is in my heart and he has shown me that what He has done is good and that it is not my place to worry about if His work gets done.   I visited one of my youth in jail every week this month and I have realized that many times God lovingly transplants us from rough soil to fertile soil, where we will grow and learn about the nature of this seed, God in us.  God has changed his path and he feels blessed in some ways by it.  He knew that he wasn’t choosing what he wanted but what was easy at the time just to survive.  Now education is his route, even in prison.

Two friends who I love are moving on to God’s new soil prepared for them and I am already missing them as I say this.  I thought it was going to be me they said goodbye to.  This is my shout out to them for the divine lessons they have taught me by the spirit inside them and the grace they carry everywhere they go.  To Sam, you showed me what Bold love is and how powerful accountability is when paired with love.  Your guys truly admire you and I always will.  To Nora, you showed me the effectiveness and brilliance of a spirit of warmth and you taught me countless lessons that I would have forever questioned if it weren’t for your reassuring experience.   Sam, I’ll miss your laugh, and Nora your tramping around in the hallway.   God is good to give us who we need when we need.   And God, I have realized this year, even in hardship, does not disappoint a surrendered heart.  He loves to show His favor.

God bless everyone this new July and enjoy even your hardships with an open heart.

May Joy Abound

   God has been teaching me to listen for his still small voice and this month I have needed it the most.  As much as I worry sometimes, God still provides exactly what I need before my expiration date.  Just like when Elijah was on the mountain of God and saw God’s magnificent power, but God chose to be present in the calm wind after the storm, I have seen God’s magnificent power; but that I can second guess.  It is his smallest blessings that I feel closest to him in and renew my trust that he will do his work in his time. I learned today about being a good steward of the trauma placed in my hands.  The author of the book, Trauma Stewardship, shared that if we become numb, we eliminate the only thing that can help us out of our saturation in the trauma, that is – being present.  If we are not present, we cannot gauge if we are doing harm.  Most of us, regardless of our profession, have developed great habits of coping with the problems people bring to us.  I say “great habits” because they make us comfortable in avoiding the hard work of self-care that it takes to engage them and still be present.  It could be taking a trip on the blame train, or the guilt train, or the gossip train, or it could be a number of other symptoms, but in the end, it is avoiding care for ourselves.  I have been bad at that this year, but learning.  I used to overwhelm myself with people and commitments to maintain and was often consumed with guilt when I didn’t.  But this year I have improved, though I am still a long way from where I need to be.  Learn today with me: Don’t be anything less than your best, do the work now and you will avoid prolonged harm.  

   I have never worked with a greater team of people or under a greater organization and I can say that I would choose to work here for years to come so long as I’m useful.  This month I have gotten to see multiple kids get their very own homes and it has been the most joyous times of their lives.  I have gotten to see hard workers on the streets because of distasteful family problems find regular employment and a second chance!  I have seen one of my young men convicted for a crime he confesses he didn’t commit, who has turned his misfortune into opportunity for growth and joy.  There have been many trying times, but  these can’t and shouldn’t hide the great moments from sight!

  Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  I say God is revealing his glory in us everyday!  It takes many days under the clouds to appreciate the sun.  Anyone in Seattle knows that!  And though it dumps rain on us, we see even greater beauty in the sun’s rays afterwards.  I have had some trying times this year, and I have been more isolated from those who know me than before, but sometimes God likes to let us learn from our own punishments because then it sticks.  I am learning to manage not only homeless youth, not only a crew of volunteers, but my Own Life!  That last one is really hard, and I appreciate the multitudes of people that care for me, as well as the few who are my closest allies.

  Thank you for not only caring for me, but caring for yourselves enough that you can care for the others close to you.

-T

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   (Imagine how our youth feel when those who are supposed to care for them are overwhelmed)

April showers

Happy late Cinco de Mayo! I keep writing later and later, sorry.  Please help me this June by pledging for our annual WALK and Block Party.  Here is my web page for it: https://nhmin.dojiggy.com/pledge and you can search my name.  Last year I only got 3 people so I am not very good at this.  But you should come enjoy the Block Party anyways, it will be fun!  

April.  April has been a time of testing.  This month, I have found connections more difficult, meaning hard to capture, losses hard to handle.  I found that some months are given to us for reflection.  The kids I have been working with have been few and far apart this month, and they are all very difficult situations and not gaining hope fast.  But this month I have also been gathering many kids at the excitement of having work! I have taken many down to Command Center in S. Seattle, a temp agency that knows the needs of our former-convicted homeless and rewards good work and responsibility!  It is a blessing to many.  Despite their reasons for feeling worthless in society, many of our youth want a job bad.  Over half of young adults, age 16-24, today are unemployed in the US.  That is a scary number when a job can do so much for a young person.  There are many reasons for that number, and many are in school or dependent on family, but for those young people that school just means debt you can’t pay and there is no family you can rely on, that is a really scary number!  

Recently, I have been educated more about Civil Rights.  I have heard over the year how often the civil rights of our youth are violated in tenant situations, job interviews, and criminal investigations.  I have seen our homeless be treated as though they don’t apply to the same rules in our society.  In other words, I have seen segregation.  I have grown up with segregation, though in a diverse population.  Our churches are largely segregated, as are the people we associate with.  We all can claim respect for another culture or race, but the thing about segregation is, we want the other to come to us.  I find myself lazy to act on my better judgments and quickly defend my comforts even when they may segregate.  We live in a world where race means nothing to a white person, until they step into a community segregated from white people.  There are few of those.  I have seen South Africa, where every white community is 2 to 10 times the size in houses as the black communities and every fence has a wall all around with shards of glass or spikes on top!  I know the power of our own discomfort.  I know it makes us avoid those we don’t relate to, don’t feel comfortable around, or don’t like.  Something my parents taught me when I was young was that it’s Christian to invite those in that may be scary to associate with.  A kid down the street who I knew was invited into my home as a friend always welcome, even though he smoked in fourth grade, was in a gang, and had violence in his life.  I really admire the fearlessness it takes to be Christian and stand up for those you could choose to fear; those you could choose to segregate.  I have at times segregated myself, and where I live is segregated.  It may be uncomfortable to partner on behalf of those you don’t know, but as a Christian, it desperately needs to be part of our practice, for our health and for others.  We can’t go fixing up people’s lives, we must care for them as our own.  Jesus talked about the Good Samaritan because he was helping someone whose people segregated him.  He made his needs his own.

If we want to end homelessness, our low-income (homeless) housing needs to stop rejecting people with Misdemeanors.  If we want to end homelessness, our court system needs to stop making the homeless wait in jail over 6 months just to plead innocent.  If we want to end homelessness, our businesses need to stop violating civil rights and holding a flat rejection of the convicted as well as those without an address.  There are reasons why our kids and our adults who are homeless are treated like they are hopeless, and it’s not our right to blame the victim.

This new month, I am taking more seriously that segregation, which I hate, is real.  It is real Everywhere and it IS caused by me and my inaction.  And I know this because I have seen it from the other side.  We can label it Racism, Classism, Nationalism, Elitism, Marginalization, Segregation, or Prejudice, but it is all being excluding of those deemed outsiders.  We all let the powerful make those bold choices of segregation for our comfort, but we don’t understand when those alienated by it are upset.  

This month, I have been struggling to make my neighbor’s yoke my yoke, his burden my burden, but that is out of doubt of God.  I am deciding to make this month about my neighbor’s burden, and I will be all the happier from it.  God bless you all and thank you for making my burden yours.  Please join me at the walk if you can and get the chance to meet our youth who may show up.

God Bless.