Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tent Cities, Summer Camp & Bad Bosses

Tent Cities, Summer Camp, and Bad Bosses
My weekend started off altogether badly. I didn’t get my paycheck. Now this has happened a few times over the course of 5 years. On this particular Friday there was no one here to sign payroll because the bosses were busy spending company money on vacation. My boss told me to call my land lord and tell him to wait another day for his rent. Can you imagine the audacity of that simple comment?? Talk about out of touch with reality!! I mean, do I have company credit cards to pay for my groceries? Do I have a company credit card to pay for the gas that I put in my car? Do I own a company that pays my mortgage? NO. My bosses are, to put it mildly…spoiled. They have never had to “want” for anything. They take and take and take and then expect everyone else to live the same way that they do. OFF OTHERS!! They have no sense of loyalty to others…they just expect loyalty to be given and owed to them. I should not complain. But I have a right. I have started to look for another job. But at the salary that I make it will be hard to replace my job. So I am feeling stuck. Deal with it and be able to support my kids without too much hassle…or find another job and deal with the constant financial issues. Which is the lesser of the two evils??? I am more than just a little bitter here….can you tell?
This weekend was extremely hot for Virginia. We do get heat waves and one has come in for us this week. It is STINKING hot!! Yesterday topped out at 98 F. Did I mention that it was HOT?? This means that I sit in my house and lament over the $$ that is being pumped thru my house via the central air conditioning unit, all for the sake of comfort. Well, Sunday, I was asked by the Associate Pastor to help him with the Tent City outreach. I do a lot of work with a program in our church called Celebrate Recovery. CR is a Christ centered 12 Step program. So, I guess he saw that as a segway to the homeless people in our area. So, me and my 16 yr old daughter Rebekkah, and the Pastor went to the Tent Cities that these homeless people have set up along the Rappahannock River close to where I live. We took apples, drink pouches, crackers and fruit snacks with us in the hopes of offering these to the people living along the river in tents. Upon arrival to our designated meeting place my daughter was surprised to find out that there were little mini pods of tent people that lived so close to million dollar prime real estate river front homes.
Bekkah is a different kind of kid. She was almost taken from my when she was 5 months old. She almost died. And thru that whole ordeal…God had His hand on her. He gave me a word and a vision for her WAY back then. More on that some other time…But, I gotta tell you, I saw my daughter go trampsing thru the woods with a box of food in search of the homeless that needed her. She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t intimidated. She wasn’t shy. It was pretty cool to watch. She stepped right up and shook hands with these people and smiled at them warmly. It was crazy cool for me to watch. Bekkah is my missionary (that’s part of the vision). She has an amazing capacity to love others and accept them where THEY are - not where society says they should be. She is the type of “child” that will be riding on the backs of elephants in the bush to deliver food or medicine to the natives in need. Or she will be the one to stand in the face of adversity for the victims who have no rights. She would be the type of woman to smuggle bibles into a communist country. She isn’t afraid of anything when it comes to reaching out and showing God’s love.
OF COURSE at home she is quite the different person. Self centered. Selfish. Isn’t it weird how God brings out the coolest character in a person when HE needs it? But doesn’t it say in in Luke 4:24..No prophet is accepted in his hometown” there has to be a reason as to why. We can speculate. But I have life with Bekkah….I already know.
In these tent cities I found one common thing. These people may not be happy to be where they are at. But they have resigned to be there. They are victims…some self imposed. They are alcoholics and drug users that have made very poor choices and continue to do so. Some just have given up hope for a better way. They cannot see beyond the situation. And in any case, where does my responsibility as a follower of Christ lay? Jesus said, “the poor will be with you always”. He didn’t promise to wipe out poverty when He died on the cross. He didn’t promise that we would have it easy either. Cuz it sure ain’t!! So, as Jesus fed the multitudes, He walked amongst them and he loved them. He loved them right where THEY were. I must also do as He did. He is the ultimate example here. Not what society tells me I should do. Jesus challenges me to “LOVE the UN-lovely” and “whatever you do for the least of these…you do it for me”…How’s that for a challenge?? Not so easily done for me. But, I laid down my life and my comfort and my Sunday afternoon with my kids chillin at home to sweat my butt off climbing up and down river banks and thru armpit high grass to bring basic comfort to those who don’t have it. When our work for the afternoon was over, I went to my nice air-conditioned home. I drank a tall glass of iced tea. I took a hot shower. I ate a hot-fresh meal. I spent time with my children. I wasn’t getting bit all up by bugs. I was safe. Locked inside my home. My kids were safe. I had more than basic comfort.
The other thing that I came away with yesterday was with what had happened with my paycheck. I realized that I am just a few weeks without a paycheck away from being homeless. I have no savings. I have no nest egg. I have no spouses income for a cushion. I am all I have and the job that I cling to. Scary stuff right there!! Sobering if you think about it. Does that deepen my compassion towards those living in tents. NO. But it makes the compassion that I do feel a little sharper. A little truer.
Last but not least there is SUMMER CAMP. I packed my kids on a huge bus this morning off to North Carolina for a week of rock climbing, lake swimming, and hiking. This was an awesome gift that came my way. The church decided to sponsor my kids and two of their friends for this really cool cutting edge Christian Camp for teens. The cost for the week was $400 per kid. As you can see it was a great gift. To put it mildly there was tons and tons of mayhem at my house this morning starting at 4am. Missing money, can we stop at WaWa?, folding clothes, packing the car, don’t let the dog out!, where’s my camera??, did you put deodorant on??, you better not be farting on the way to the church, “SHOTGUN”….MAYHEM. And all the kids slept at my house. Lovely. Don’t get me wrong..I adore my kids and most of other peoples kids too. BUT 4am is not the time to lose $30 and kirk over it. So they are gone now. Just me and Jack The Dog and Sarah when she isn’t with her boyfriend. What do I do now? I want to go play hookie. I want to run away for the day to the beach. Something to think about. What will become of me when my kids are not kids and they don’t need me?? In the words of my heroine Scarlett O’Hara….”whatever will I do…where will I go”?…..Not exactly sure, but for certain it will be cheaper.

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