Friday, November 26, 2010

Here I am!

If you come across this blog, please visit my new blog on Wordpress -

I update it a bit more often and chose to use it because it is more search engine friendly and is a more powerful blogging tool.

- Josh

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Father Time Steal Our Days Like A Thief

It takes a long time to kill a man
Fifty-five years at least
Until he breaks down
Starts to look underground
To go off, and get him some peace
I want to die a lot quicker then that

If that's my only way out
I've been counting up the cost
Getting up on that cross
I want to know what this is all about

Father Time steals our days like a thief
There's no price that I wouldn't pay to get some relief
I've become the empty shell of a man I don't like so well
I am a living, breathing hell
Come on and resurrect me

I tried to drown the pain with a friend of mine
It didn't seem to help
She's got a pretty face with her wedding lace
But I'm still waking up with myself

I know what it means to choke it down
Down until your legs get weak
I know what it's like on a Saturday night
To be alone in a crowded street

Come on and resurrect me


Monday, April 26, 2010

The American Mindset - Help!!!

The Monkey and the Fish

A typhoon stranded a monkey on an island. In a protected place on the shore, while waiting for the raging waters to recede, he spotted a fish swimming against the current. It seemed to the monkey that the fish was struggling and needed assistance. Being of kind heart, the monkey resolved to help the fish.

A tree leaned precariously over the spot where the fish seemed to be struggling. At considerable risk to himself, the monkey moved far out on a limb, reached down, and snatched the fish from the waters. Scurrying back to the safety of his shelter, he carefully laid the fish on dry ground. For a few moments, the fish showed excitement but soon settled into a peaceful rest.

- An Eastern parable

I know lots of monkeys.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's A Wonderful Homeless Life

Every year, my family gets together to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve and when I met Clarence outside of the Nashville Rescue Mission (Nashville, TN), this was the first image that popped into my mind, Clarence: The angel-in-training who saves the main character in the story, George Bailey, from killing himself and convinces him that life is worth living.

...In a way, Clarence from Nashville played the same role for me, but this story is not about me.

Clarence approached me before the food was served on the streets outside of the Nashville Rescue Mission. He got straight to the point - "Hey man will you pray with me". I said sure and we walked over to the corner of the parking lot and he poured out his heart to me. I'm not going to get into the details, but I want to share the basic story that he told me so that some of you can understand just how close to homelessness you really are.

Clarence grew up living an "average" life in a small town outside of Nashville. He got married young and had a family. He worked an honest job and raised his 2 kids. Then one day, Clarence was hanging out with "the wrong crowd" and got into some trouble. Normally, this would not be a problem, except that Clarence couldn't afford a lawyer or the fines, so he decided to "sit the time out" in jail. He served an 18 month sentence in order to pay off the debts. While serving this sentence he had been in contact with his wife and family occassionally, but not often. Once he got out of jail, he went to the home where he had been raising his family... To his surprise, the house was empty. It appeared to have been vacant for quite some time.

He looked everywhere for his wife and kids. All over town. Couldn't find them.

His wife had stopped paying the mortgage on the home - So the bank foreclosed.
She had stopped paying the bills - So they all went on his credit.
She had taken the kids and all of the furniture, so he had nothing left.

With no money in the bank, and tens of thousands of dollars in debt, Clarence stepped back into life.

The only place that he could go? The Nashville Rescue Mission.

And that is where Clarence is today. That is where he has been for the past several years. That is where he will remain for the next several years. But he still sees Hope. He still has Faith. Clarence told me, "Man, the day that I got out of jail and realized what had happened was the day I knew that I wasn't in control of my life - God is - every day since then I have trusted Him with everything, please don't forget to pray for me because I know He is listening."

The amazing thing.. Clarence still thinks It's A Wonderful Life

Let's pray for Clarence this week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fake Sugar, Real Life

Last saturday at the homeless kitchen we were running out of sugar. This is a big deal. The homeless love the sugar. They pour obscene amounts of it in their coffee to get a sugar buzz. So @DanielJayBryant directed a couple of us to the closest store (not the best part of town).

We got in the truck and headed around the corner from the feeding kitchen at around 10 a.m. As we turned the corner we saw a man laying on the side of the road, near the bus stop. I noticed his face. A face I will never forget. A face of death.

He appeared to be a homeless man by the way he was dressed. As we passed by, I could tell that he had been dead probably all night. What was going through his mind when he died? Was he waiting until the feeding kitchen opened the following morning? Was he waiting near the bus stop to go see his family? Was he sick without someone to take care of him?

I will never forget the empty shell of a person that I saw that day on the side of the road.

The story does not end there. We drove around the block to the shopping mart/liquor store/bathroom (evidentally). We went in to get some Sweet n' Low. This was not an ordinary shopping area. It was falling apart. Outdated food on the shelves. Disgusting floors and walls... I remember telling the person that was with me, "Man, I have been to 3rd world countries and not seen places this disgusting".

As we were waiting to check out I heard our cashier yell across the store, "hey so-and-so, get a mop, someone peed on the floor up here". Wow. Right by the register. A woman, probably not in her right mind, decided to urinate on the floor while in line to check out.

Why did I tell you these stories? So that you know that these places and these things are happening right down the street from where you live. Not in other countries. Not in hidden dark alleys. Not in the middle of a forgotten place. Right down your street. We went to get Fake Sugar, and saw a bit of Real Life.

Get involved with "this area" of town. We are here to help these people. To give them a voice. To bring a bit of our abundance and love to "this area" of town. Come enjoy the crazies, the dirty, the lazy, the prostitutes, the drug addicts. Come see through these things and see that they are broken people. Just as broken as the suit-and-tie who sits comfortably in the pew infront of you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Road From Monster To Grandpa

This is a story about Calvin. He is a father. He is a new grandfather. He is a crack-addict. He is homeless.

I met Calvin last saturday at Cornerstone's ex-liquor store-turned-feeding-kitchen. The leader of the kitchen came up to me and said, "I need you to start calling around town and try to find this guy a detox/rehab facility". As I started making some phone calls, Calvin came up to me. A complete broken mess.

I called about 8 rehab facilities that morning, each referring me to another. No one wanted to deal with Calvin's issues on a saturday morning. In the end, there was no place for him to go... I know, ridiculous isn't it? So we went to plan B and decided to take care of him ourselves. After making a few phone calls, the church down the street told us they would take Calvin to the emergency room and he would receive help for his withdrawls.

As Calvin, Judy, and I headed up to the church, Calvin began to tell us his story. Through a sopping wet face and a screechy voice, he told us about how he had smoked crack all night and drank for 2 days straight and was ready to be finished with this life. He told us about how his first two granddaughters had been born on Christmas day and he hadn't even met them yet because his daughter wouldn't allow him in her house. "I just want to be Grandpa, not a monster", He said. For the next 2 hours, he cried, he laughed, he urinated on himself, he vomitted, and he got on his knees for help. I'm glad Ms. Judy was there with us, she helped to comfort him, and told him about her past life of brokeness and alcoholism. She shared encouraging stories, hugs, and advice. The Conerstone kitchen coordinator, Dan Bryant (@danieljaybryant), finally ended up taking Calvin over to the hospital and staying with him until he received treatment. On this day, Calvin made a decision to change. Crack is a monster and I hope he can escape its grip and get his life back. Thank you, Dan. Thank you, Ms. Judy.

I wonder if Calvin has seen his granddaughters yet or if he relapsed.. I didn't see him at the kitchen this week. This could be a good or bad sign.

Calvin needs some prayer and support. If you have a story of encouragement please send it in via email message on our website and I will make sure it gets to him.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shoes for the Soul

Last week a generous donor decided to respond and "made it personal" by donating a pair of work boots to a homeless friend of mine. This person heard about a need and responded. I'm writing this to tell you the impact this small donation had on Ed's life.

Ed and Gary (See previous blog post) are good friends. They usually spend most of their time together every day at the Dallas Public Library job hunting online or riding around Dallas on DART to pass the time.

Every saturday I see Ed, and every saturday he tells me the same story:

"Man, this week I'm going to get me a job at a barber shop, I used to be a real good barber." To the average person, this seems like an effortless task, but to Ed the harsh reality is that he has to survive on a day to day basis. Therefore, he collects soda cans from people's garbage from about 7am-5pm about 5 days per week and makes roughly $20 per day. But each week, he has the same goal ahead of him "I'm going to get my barber shop job back".

I hope that he never gives up on his goal. Right now it's all he has left.

He has tried to get a decent job, but tells me, "It's hard to get a good, steady job... people don't want to hire a homeless guy and it is obvious to them when I only have 2 pairs of old nasty clothes, worn out rain boots I found in the dumpster, no phone or contact number, and no home address". Ed is stuck in the homeless rutt.

On this particular day, we (ragamuffinLife) worked together to take a step forward to help Ed get on track and then I saw that something much more powerful had occurred.

A pair of nice, new work boots were donated. When I gave these to Ed on saturday, his eyes lit up. After finding out they were a gift for him, he snatched them out of my hands and immediately dropped to the ground, ripping off his ragged, dirty rain boots to try on the new work boots. A perfect fit. I wish I could have taken a picture of the look on his face; it reminded me of what I expect our reaction to be when we meet our Father in Heaven some day. -A smile from ear to ear, similar to the look on a proud, new father's face-

And then he said something that really tugged at my heart strings, "Man, somebody took real good care of these boots ::implying that they were hand-me-downs::" I told him, "Ed, these boots are brand new!" and he lit up like a 6 year old on Christmas morning. He said that since he had been homeless he had not received ANYTHING that was new. He took the food he was storing out of his backpack, quickly ate it, and put his new boots in it. "I'm only gunna wear these to get me a good job.. I'm not gunna get them dirty diggin for cans", Ed said.

He carried around the biggest smile for the rest of the afternoon, showing his new boots to anyone he came in contact with. You see, the boots were more than just new shoes to Ed, they were Shoes for his Soul.

Ed still needs some things to help him get "his barber shop job back". He needs a virgin mobile pre-paid cellphone, virgin mobile minutes for the phone, assistance with a resume, life counseling, and a job. He is not a drug addict and he doesn't drink alcohol. You will be able to donate on the website soon (currently under construction) or you can contact me directly to help Ed out.