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Facing Homelessness

I am going to be uncomfortably transparent. I debated on writing this post, because it reveals an issue that causes me some shame and discomfort, but if I can change anything by being transparent then maybe it will be worth it. So, here it goes.

I have worked in the Food Service Dept. of a local convent for 6 1/2 years now. I make $10.51 an hour and work 72 to 80 hours a pay period. I have lived with my daughter, Cherokee, for 1 1/2 years now, to help her out with Ava, Christopher, and help her out with bills. Before that I lived in my ex-husbands rental house for 2 years for a reduced rent. I moved in with my daughter in March of 2016 when my ex and his wife decided to move into the house I was renting. Cherokee has been in a serious relationship for 9 months now and they are looking for a house to buy. She wants to be out of our house by March of 2018. That leaves me 6 months to figure something out. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I do not make enough to pay market value rent on a one bedroom apartment. Using the 30% housing rule, I estimated that I have approximately $350.00 a month to spend on rent plus utilities and still pay my other bills and be able to eat. I have looked and even low income apartment complexes are more than that. My only option might be to apply for public housing. I really don’t want to do that. At 47 years old, shouldn’t I be past that? Housing is a vicious cycle and at this point in my life the chances of me making more money are pretty slim. I don’t want to live on housing for the rest of my life. Further my education, you say? I have an Associates Degree in Human Services. I have the degree for an entry level, minimum wage job. Believe me, I love brainstorming, but I am coming up empty handed.

To complicate my income issues, I am on the state health insurance (couldn’t afford my employers insurance) and I will be making to much money to keep the insurance if I live on my own. I am a diabetic. I also have high blood pressure. So, do I lose the health insurance that I am legally supposed to have or do I work less hours and make less money? The real issues of poverty.

To add to my problems, I don’t have a car. I have struggled to get to work. I have struggled for 17 years as a single mom. The oppression of poverty is a real thing and in time it wears you down. The effort of fighting to survive effects you mentally, emotionally and physically.

 

The oppression of poverty wears you out to the point that you don’t have the energy for anything else. The thought that in 6 months I might be homeless terrifies me. What will happen to me? Where will I go? I am supposed to trust God in all of this, after all, isn’t that what this whole blog is about? Trusting God? I do trust that God will provide and protect, but I can’t say that impending homelessness isn’t on my mind every waking hour of my day. It has caused some sleepless nights too.

I work my butt off. I have sacrificed so much for my kids and now I face homelessness. So, I am writing all of this to say don’t judge a person before you know their story and just because you work a full-time job doesn’t mean you can afford market value rent. This is a real life situation that I am facing. This is my life.

Challenge: If my story has hit a chord with you at all, go out and fight for a living wage in your community and state. All people deserve to be able to live with the dignity of earning a living wage. It doesn’t matter the job. If you work, you deserve to be able to live decently and not have to struggle to simply survive.

If my story can open conversations about the effects of poverty and be a catalyst for change then my discomfort is worth it. How will things ever change without transparency? How will things ever change without open conversations?

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Reflection: I continue to give thanks. There are unknowns in my future that I am facing and even though I can not see what is ahead, I thank God everyday for being in control of my future and having a plan and a purpose for me and my family. There are always things to praise God for. We just have to have open eyes and open hearts.

Wednesday: Today was a pretty low key day. I found myself reflecting on my future and what God may have in store for me and my family. Things are changing and I find myself thinking about God’s purpose a lot.

Thursday and Friday: Okay, I did Thursday on Friday. So, I said I wasn’t being legalistic, but I have found that developing the habit to take time for God every night is harder than I anticipated. I have the time, even when I work until 7:00, I just get distracted with the computer and other unimportant stuff. Why is this so hard? I guess I have something to work on.

Saturday: Again, I played the catch up game. I did Saturday on Sunday. This next week, I need to really work on finding the time for God every night. I don’t want to play the catch up game on a continual basis.

This week has caused me to reflect on daily events and see how my reactions can turn potentially bad situations into something better. Yes, you would think at 47 years old, I would have realized this along time ago. Sometimes, even adults can become selfish and only see things from our own perspective. We need to choose to let go of our selfishness, our own agendas and choose to act in ways that bring peace in a situation. The Daily Examen has allowed me to reflect on my own reactions and choose how to react differently in the future. This is always a good thing!

 

 

 

Reflection:

I am still giving thanks several times a day, every day. I still observe the hours of 9:00 a.m. Noon and 3:00 p.m. but have found myself giving thanks many more times a day. I have gotten into the habit of catching myself when I feel a complaint coming on and finding ways to praise God in the moment.

The Daily Examen:

The Daily Examen is a spiritual practice of Saint Ignatious of Loyola. It is a way of reflecting on the days events, giving thanks, and making heart changes where needed. The following five steps are the ones I use in my daily examen:

  1. Give Thanks: Start by giving thanks for all the ways God was at work in my life during the day.
  2. Reflect: Reflect on the days events. Reflect on the positive and the negative. Reflect on what made you happy and what caused you to be stressful, worried, upset or angry.
  3. Application: Are there any heart changes that need to be made as a result of your reflections? Set a goal to make those changes starting the next day. Changes take time, so don’t get discouraged if you mess up. Simply ask forgiveness and start over.
  4. Ask Forgiveness: If anything has happened during the day that you need to ask forgiveness for, then take this time to ask for forgiveness. End the day with a clear conscious and know that God loves you.
  5. Pray: End the time in prayer, letting God know anything else that is on your heart.

Sunday: I felt a sense of peace after reflecting on the events of the day. It was a good exercise and I am glad that I decided to add this to my journey.

Monday and Tuesday: I confess, I did Mondays on Tuesday. It was still just as effective and I have said that I am not about being legalistic. Monday was a bit stressful at work. I reflected on my own response to a situation and how I can respond differently in the future. Tuesday, I reflected on family and my willingness to take but not wanting to share. I also reflected on our family as being an example of what the early Church was like.

God is revealing some things to me that are interesting and I am excited to see where this is going. Doors will open because of my obedience to Him. I just have to be patient!

 

This week has been a week of thanksgiving. It has been a week of praising instead of complaining.

Thursday: I was able to stay on schedule for the most part. What I realized was that I found myself giving thanks and praising God at other times too. Even while at work, I was able to find things to praise God for! When I felt myself start to complain, I was able to quickly turn my complaint into a praise. I felt myself more at peace, even when I normally would have been stressing out.

Friday: I found myself a bit distracted today. I was worried about my ex-husband, Talon and Ty (my sons: 17 and 15), who had been visiting family in Daytona, Florida. I spent my day in constant prayer for their safety, but I also thanked God for protection and provision. I praised God for sheltering us under His wing and for having complete control over EVERYTHING that happens in the world. I praised God that even hurricane Irma was nothing in comparison to the power of God. I thanked God for bringing Howard and the boys home even before they were home, because I knew that He WOULD bring them home safely.

Saturday: I was off the “hours” today, but I still praised God for days off, for family and for bring Howard and the boys home. They surprised us about 5:00 p.m. It was a good surprise and my heart is full.

This has been a good week and I have learned about thanksgiving and feeling the peace that surpasses all understanding. In the moments when I felt worried, I still felt the peace that God was in control. I know that seems like a contradiction, but I wasn’t as worried as I would have been in the past. I thank God for guidance and for sending the Holy Spirit to disciple us when our hearts are open to receive.

 

Daniel 6:10

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

There are two things in this passage that stood out to me. Although, I’m sure that he prayed continually, this passage states that Daniel prayed three times a day, giving thanks to his God. I did some research and found that most of my sources listed the hours of 9:00 a.m. Noon and 3:00 p.m. are the hours in which Daniel prayed, giving thanks to God.

On Sunday, I started focusing on giving thanks to my God at the hours that Daniel prayed. 9:00 a.m. Noon and 3:00 p.m. I focus on spending a few minutes giving thanks for the things that I usually complain about. I turn my complaints into praise and feel myself cultivating a heart of gratitude instead of a heart of resistance and ungratefulness.

Sunday: I worked today and watch the clock most of the day anyway to stay on schedule. I was an hour or so off at the 9:00 and Noon hours, but was on time at 3:00. I am not about legalism though, so I praised and gave thanks as soon as I realized what time it was. The hours are simply a reminder. It is about developing a habit of giving praise, even in the storms of life.

Monday: I was on schedule all day today. Even in my work, I take a few minutes to mentally praise God for my work (which I don’t like most of the time. I feel like I am drowning 90% of the time and deal with continual anxiety because I am a people pleaser). I praise God for my kids and family. I praise God for showing up in the times of need.

Tuesday: I was off today and watched my grandkids. I took them to Wal Mart and was a bit distracted by the cuteness of my 4 year old granddaughter and my 1 year old grandson. As soon as I realized I had missed my hour, I gave thanks for the time I have with my grandkids, a vehicle to drive (even as rough as it is), and the blessings of the cooler weather and time with family. I usually am more on the impatient side with the kids and I actually had a good day with them today. I felt the calm of Jesus in my spirit.

Today: I have focused on remembering the hours today and I have done pretty well. I look forward to finishing the week and seeing how God works through this journey.

I already feel more at peace with my present circumstances and my future. As I have praised God for being in control of ALL things, I have felt the reassurance that my heavenly Father is not going to let me drown in my struggles. I have felt more peace in my spirit. My next update will be Saturday.

Praise God in ALL things and in ALL things give thanks for the life we are given. 

 

 

 

September: Prayer

 

I wanted to start this journey with prayer because prayer is our lifeline. Prayer is what keeps us connected to our heavenly Father. Prayer is a 2- way conversation. It is not just us going to God with our list of wants, or lamenting over all that is going wrong in our life. It is an opportunity to pour out our hearts in joy and sorrow, in praise and anger, in worry and worship. Prayer gives us the opportunity to listen to what the Father says as He guides us and reveals things we need to know about the future or our own characteristics. Of course, we can ask for the things that we want or need. He wants us to ask. He loves us and wants to give us the desires of our hearts. He will answer according to His will. I am hoping that over time, my prayers will become less about my wants and more about what God’s will is. I seek a deeper communion with God through prayer.

Week 1: Praying like Daniel

Week 2: The Daily Examen

Week 3: Journaling

Week 4: Putting it all together

I invite you to walk with me as I journey toward God.

 

 

I have struggled with the idea of being church “homeless.” I have not had a home church since 2011. As much as I would like to blame it on the fact that I don’t have that many Sundays off (I have had 5 Sundays off this year), the truth is that I have become weary of what I have started calling “secular Christianity.” I am searching for Jesus and sadly I have not found Him in the Church. I am not saying that there aren’t great churches out there, I’m simply saying that I haven’t found one that is more Jesus and less world. I grew up in the church and I have never been discipled in the church. Most Christians today do not have that personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. I long to abide in Jesus every moment of my life. There is nothing more important to me than living out my life in deep communion with my Savior. So, I quit the Church and in His tender mercy, God has sent the Holy Spirit to disciple me in ways I never imagined. I have grown closer in my relationship with God outside of the church, than I ever did inside of the church. It saddens me that the church has become more like a business and less like Jesus. I am not perfect. I fail miserably at times. But, I have made a commitment to living a life of celibacy, simplicity, compassion, prayer, and obedience. I did not find these disciplines in the church, so I am finding them on my own. This is my journey. I have started a year long journey implementing 12 Christian disciplines into my life. Every month I will have a different discipline and each week, I will pick a practice to implement that will help me draw closer to God. I’m sure it won’t be “perfect,” but if this journey brings me closer to Jesus then it will be worth it.

Over the Summer, I began to feel the calling to go deeper in my relationship with Christ. I felt this longing for something more. I wanted to find that missing link. I realize that discovering Jesus is a lifelong journey, but I knew I could be doing more. I didn’t want to wait until January when most people begin new journeys and the Fall seems like the perfect time to start a journey like this. It is a reflective time of year. A time of year when the new school year is starting and new journeys begin. It seemed like the perfect time.

I encourage you to join with me, if you would like to draw closer to Jesus in your own life. Let me know how it is going for you. Let’s encourage each other.