For Coffee Man

What does love look like?   It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
 It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.
Image
If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.  He’ll thank you for it.  Don’t worry about feeding him.  He knows the places along Main Street where he can get a meal. He doesn’t eat much.  Besides, his pride won’t allow him to receive a meal from the hands of a stranger. 
Coffee is different.  It warms him up for the day ahead.  He likes coffee.
2-DSC_0073

Don’t be offended by his appearance.  Living on the street, sleeping on park benches, makes it hard to be presentable, but he keeps his body clean.  It is a source of pride for him. They unlock the bathrooms at the marina at seven o’clock and you can find him there performing his daily ministrations.

You needn’t be concerned that he will harm you.  He won’t.  He’s seen so much pain, been victimized by too many to hurt a fly.

1-Homless - Aug 6, 2006 001

He has to know the intentions of your heart before he’ll let you help him so be careful how you approach him or he’ll hop on that old bicycle of his and ride away.  It’s best to bring a cup of coffee with you when you come.  Stand about five feet away and softly but casually ask him to join you.  He will watch you carefully.  If you make a sudden move, he’ll be gone.

You won’t get much conversation from Coffee Man.  He’s not the talking kind.  But if he does open up to you, it’s best not to ask too many questions.  He’ll tell you what he wants you to know.

Image

Early mornings before the sun would rise; Coffee Man and I would be the only ones at the marina.  He would sense my presence and sit up, watching always watching.  I would watch him too after all; it could be a little scary in the predawn hours.  I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me.  But soon, we became comfortable knowing there was another on the bay; watching.  I, for the sun to rise and he for the gatekeeper who would unlock the bathroom door.  Soon, I began bringing an extra cup of coffee.  One for me.  One for him, strong with a touch of milk and plenty of sugar.

When it was time for me to move on, he and I went to the coffee shop he liked. The only shop that would let a man who looked like him stay for a minute.  I gave the old man who ran the shop some money.

“This is for him,” I said.  “Make sure he has a cup of coffee each morning. Make it strong, with a touch of milk and add plenty of sugar.”

I received a text message Christmas Day.  It was sweet but it broke my heart.  I heard from Coffee Man, wishing me and my family a Merry Christmas.

I was glad to hear from him. I wanted to know that he was okay because I want everyone in my world to be happy. That’s naïve. That’s not going to happen.  But that’s what I want.  That’s what I pray for.

Coffee Man is still outside.  He’s sick and he’s lost a lot of weight. He told me that he had been beaten, his front teeth knocked out and his bicycle and his coat stolen.  He told me that he was cold, so cold.


Image

If you happen to be on the marina in Bay Shore, please look out for Coffee Man.  Make sure that he has a blanket to keep him warm.  See that he wears a hat and find him a coat that will protect him from the elements.  If you can spare a dollar, buy him a cup of coffee.  He likes coffee, strong with a touch of milk, add plenty of sugar.

1-000_0130-1

I know he needs so much more, but one cup of coffee will warm him up for the day ahead.

God will do the rest, if you pray with me.

3-DSC_0154

I know He will.

Advertisements

A Fallen Star and a Kiss From God

A star fell today.  The light that was called Pam no longer burns bright to bring life here on earth.  After the initial shock of her unexpected death, I had a choice to make.  I could wallow in my grief or I could dance in the glow of her lingering spirit.  I choose to dance.  DSC_0010

May we never forget how short the time we have been given is.  May we find joy in the simply things life has to offer;  like another star that shines, and presents itself so unexpectedly,  so simply, so sweetly and in his presence, in the brightness of his light, you can let go. You can laugh,  because nothing is required of you.  You can enter into His rest.  If only for a minute, you can simply live in the present and enjoy the moment that is.  It is a kiss from God.

Life is not always easy.  However, it can be joyous when we delight in the little kisses that God sends our way.  As we grow in Christ, reading His word, studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth, worshiping in spirit and in truth, praying for guidance, praying for our families and friends, we develop a total dependency of Christ as our sole source for direction and provision. We embrace the fact that only He can bring healing to a hurting heart.

When we reach the point in our spiritual progression that we know Jesus really loves us, that He is concerned with every aspect of our lives; when we reach the point in our spiritual progression that we know Jesus will perfect the things that concern us, we can let go of all of our cares and rest in Him.

We have the blessed assurance that He is at work in us and for us.  Even in the darkness of death, He can make the light shine.

Our ability to enter into His rest is directly proportionate to our ability to believe His word.   As we utilize the word of God to navigate life, we gain victory over our circumstances.

God has given you many special gifts DL;  thank you for sharing your gift of laughter, my little kiss from God.  In your light the sting of death could not harm me.

1 Corinthians 15:54-55

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Hebrews 4:8-10

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

It takes the God kind of love

           One winter day in the early morning hours when darkness surrenders to light, the demon of bi-polar disease came and stole the gift of life that was my sister. My sister died alone, sitting on the edge of a dirty old mattress, riddled with cigarette holes, in the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. “Maybe,” they said, “She had been dead a week before she was found.”

           Old and ugly, decrepit and scaring looking, the house is still there, my sister is not.  But if you had walked by it last summer, you would have caught a glimpse of who my sister was.  In the front yard, growing around an old rusty light post whose light has long ago ceased to shine, bloomed big beautiful star-shaped white flowers attached to a chaotic arrangement of green vines. The vine of flowers was breathtakingly beautiful.  My sister told me it was a clematis vine.  My sister planted it.  My sister said that a clematis vine is the most aristocratic of all flowers. She said with all its queenly beauty, the clematis vine is very delicate. She said a clematis vine has to have support to bloom and grow properly, or it will die.

          If you walked past the oldest house on the block with the breathtakingly beautiful clematis vine, last summer and the window was open in the living room you would have seen the delicate white lace curtains my sister had hung, seductively dancing in the gently breeze. You would have heard the sweet melodic yet melancholy sounds of my sister’s flute.  You might have stopped to listen. Many often did.  My sister played so well.  You would have felt something pure and good, rich, and beautiful stir your soul. The music might invoke a sense of sadness but you would have left with a good feeling too, because each note resonated beautifully from the depth of her heart.
I loved her.  It was not easy.

229-27730007

             I miss her more now than I missed her when she was living even though we lived over eight hundred miles apart.  That’s the kind of distance I thought I needed to continue to love her. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease. In order to continue to love someone you believe you have to put distance between you. Either that or you must have an extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of you.

             If my sister were alive, I would wash and comb her hair again.  I did that the last time I saw her, a year ago.  I wanted to do it.  I braided it too.  It needed to be combed and braided. Her hair stopped being a priority many years ago so it always looked like that.  It was matted and pressed to her head on the side she slept on.

              I would bathe her, if she were alive.  I did that the last time I saw her.  She let me bathe her.  She didn’t let me touch her very often.  Sometimes touching made her mad.  I didn’t want to touch her very often.  It made me mad. I didn’t want to be around her very often.  She made me mad.  But the last time I saw her, I wanted to bathe her.  I wanted to clean that nasty rusty bathtub and fill it with clean fresh water.  I knelt on the black tile that was supposed to be white and washed her back.  I rubbed lotion all over the rubbery skin that clung to her frail thin body.  I put baby powder on her and a little perfume too.   I did that, the last time I saw her.  I slipped a clean fresh cotton gown over her head and gently bent her frail little arms to help her get the gown on.  I did that the last time I saw her.   I touched her face.  I looked into her eyes.   She looked into mine.  There were no words spoken, none that you could hear.  I loved my sister and she loved me.  It was not easy for either of us, without God.

           The last time I saw her, I packed up thirty-eight large trash bags of dirty filthy clothing that had accumulated in that old house and Son and I threw them in the trash. I threw out bottles too numerous to count that was once filled with alcohol. I turned over the filthy sheet less mattress she slept on, the last time I saw her.  I saw that her cigarettes had burned clear through to the other side but I didn’t tell her not to smoke in bed.  I put the clean fresh sheets that Mommy had bought for her on the bed.  I sprinkled baby powder on the sheets and I told my sister to lie down now and get some rest.  She let her big sister boss her around, the last time I saw her.  I pulled the covers up and tucked them up under her chin.  I kissed her and I told her I loved her.  She let me.
I went into the filthy kitchen and tried to figure out where to begin to clean.  I rattled some of the dishes in the overcrowded sink.  I needed to remove the dishes and clean the sink before I could begin to wash the dishes.  I had brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning, so I could clean that old house, the last time I saw her.

            “You’re making me nervous,” I heard my sister call out from the bedroom.  Her voice was low and sweet sounding. This time.  Kind of rhythmical, sing songie, like.  I never heard her talk like that before.
“I’m just gonna clean your kitchen, then I’ll head back to Mommy’s,” I called back to her.

            When she replied, in that sing song like voice, “You’re making me nervous”, the second time, I froze for a second, my soapy hands suspended in time, over the sink. Fear crept up and down my spine. Recovering, I tilted my head to the side to listen for the muffled sound of footsteps, scurrying across the hardwood floors coming from the direction of the bedroom, sounds that would signal danger. The last time I heard the sound of footsteps sliding across hardwood floors, my sister tried to push me down a flight of stairs. Hearing none, I quickly dried my hands on my jeans and grabbed my purse from the doorknob where I had hung it when I first got there and I left my sister all alone.

             Therein lays the deception about bi-polar disease.  You hear the things that are not spoken, or things spoken but might not mean what you think it means. You learn to hear and interpret what is really being said. You learn or you might get hurt.  You learn to listen to the sounds and interpret the movements.  I heard my sister the last time I saw her. In that sing song like voice, she told me she loved me but she might hurt me.  She told me she didn’t want to; but she might. In that sing song like voice, she loved me enough to warn me. That’s the God kind of love.

          We did not understand the forces that would cause a beautiful intelligent talented woman to walk naked down a darken street.  We did not understand the forces that made her rant and rave one minute then cry uncontrollably, with such a heart wrenching sorrowful wail the next.  Bi-polar was two opposites fighting against each other, in thought and behavior, within the frailness of my sister’s body.  This disease progressively wreaked such havoc on her thinking process that alcohol was the only medication she believed would weaken the process and bring a form of stability to a mind that would not keep still.  Not meant to be a cure-all, alcohol, overtime, too, deceived her and eventually, eroded her liver.  My sister died alone.

          We did not understand what she tried to make us understand because her actions so often offended and assaulted every sensibility that we possessed.  She stopped trying to tell us.  When communication failed, she went away from us to her own little hole, a place where she could go and lick her wounds and not embarrass us anymore. My sister retreated to the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house. There she planted, around an old rusty light post whose light had long ago ceased to shine, a chaotic arrangement of green vines that brought forth big beautiful star-shaped white flowers. She retreated to the only place she could freely communicate the vestige of her heart through her music.  She loved us when she was unlovable.  She loved us when we were unlovable. That’s why she went away. To the oldest house on the block. She played the flute and planted a clematis vine. She never asked for anything more. She died alone.

          I loved my sister and I miss her.  Like the clematis vine, she was beautiful and delicate. Like the clematis vine, without support, its pattern of growth is chaotic. My sister needed my support to live. But it takes the God kind of love to love someone unlovable. I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me to.

           I finally cleaned her house but she was no longer there.  I wanted to do it.  I wanted to do it alone.  I brought Lysol and bleach, baking powder and Greased Lightning. I opened her closet. Unlike the madness evidenced in every room in her house, the clothes in her closet, were arranged neatly and orderly by color. That’s the deception of bi-polar disease.  If only we could have seen behind the closet of her mind, beyond the chaos of her actions; we could have seen the order that was there to see. But, it takes the God kind of love.

         Among the dirty filthy clothing that once again had accumulated on the floor in her bedroom, I found a reminder of who she once was. I found her gold charm bracelet with a solitary little gold heart with her initials and her birthday inscribed thereon. It dangles from my wrist now. I never take it off. I found her flute. She played so well. I took her collection of CD’s. Surprisingly, I found only songs of praise and worship. Now, eight hundred miles away from the oldest house on the block, down the street and around the corner from mommy’s house, I play them, and I raise my arms in gratitude to a holy and merciful God because I know He knows.  I loved my sister and I miss her.  I wish I could have had that extraordinary amount of the God kind of love inside of me that I could summon up when I needed to, when she needed me too.

           Down the street and around the corner, from Mommy’s house, there is a solitary grave among many where my sister rests.  You cannot miss it. Look for the vine with little white star-shaped blooms. It is a clematis vine. It is the queen of all flowers. There is no light post to support the vine, only a tombstone.

It takes the God kind of love.

106-20110712_23

English: Puawhananga (Clematis_paniculata) flo...

Less we forget

 I want to remember your smile

Not your tears

I want to remember your smile

Not your fears

I want to remember

before                         

   The madness

     I want to remember

before

 That there was joy

       In your life

before

Then I will not forget

           As it was in yours

So it was in mine

Because you were there

before

Jesus said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15: 4,5

                                                                                

Wishes of Her Heart

DSC_1828
There comes a time that we must face our own mortality. A time when we realize that we have more years behind us then before us.  A time when we begin to think about the end of our life and make preparation, for Tricia, that time has come.  No, she is not sick or dying.  She is alive and well.  She is still a valuable employee of corporate America.  She simply wants to exercise some aspect of control over her end time.
Tricia is one of those people often described as “eternally youthful.”  Even in her mid-sixties, she is beautiful.  She is so full of life; giving and vibrant, mentoring and mothering everyone around her.  To meet her is to love her.  Five years older than I, Tricia was my mentor through those all confusing college years and the maid of honor in my wedding.
We have had an extraordinary friendship these forty some odd years. Time and distance, arguments, men, children, or money may have tested our friendship but, we withstood them all and for all intents and purposes, we are sisters.  Sisters of the heart.
I believe that’s why she called me yesterday.  She wants the wishes of her heart made known and she wants me to do it.
Her wishes are simple enough:
  • She wants to be cremated.
  • A Japanese Maple is to be purchased and planted in her daughter’s yard and she would like her ashes are to be buried under the tree.
  • She has set aside approximately two thousand dollars for a party in her honor.  Where those who love her can gather together and tell stories about her.  No solemn, boring funeral for her.
  • She appointed me to speak on her past and someone whom she has worked with for twelve years to speak on whom she is now.
  • There is a picture that hangs above her bed that she wants blown up and set on a stand at the party for all to see; because those who love her will understand why she chose that particular picture.
  • She made me promise that her beloved Chihuahua, Co Co, her companion and best friend be cared for and not be placed in a shelter. But if she and Co Co die together, like in a car accident, that they be buried together.
 These are things that I can do.  I can convey her wishes to her family. I  will be strong and fight for her when the time comes, if she precedes me in death.
 There was however one additional request that she made of me.  There is one wish of her heart that is not within my power to grant although with all my being I will try to fulfill.
 The telephone call I received from Tricia was prompted by two dreams that she had.  In one dream, she saw someone she could not identify at the point of death.  In that dream, there was an inordinate amount of blood.  The second dream that she had she felt was directly related.  Someone that she did not recognize asked questions of her.  “Do you know?”  They asked, “Do you really know?”
 Her dreams affected her so, she rose from her bed and called everyone she could think of to find out if they were okay.  Finding her loved ones well, her thoughts turned to her own mortality.  Tricia said she began to think about all the people that she encountered and interacted with in her life.  There are so many.  She began to think about all the people she had befriended and helped along the way.  After everything said and done, she surmised, she has only three, maybe four, friends that remained through all of her life’s ups and downs.  Friends that did not run when the hard times came.
Tricia asked me to  promise one last thing.  “Don’t let me die alone.”  She asked me to be there to see her through. “To die alone,” she said, “means I never lived.”

I know what her dreams mean, and with God’s help, I will see her through.  Not because she’s dying, but because she’s living.  Now is the time to make this wish of her heart come true so she will never be alone.

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me,

be with me where I am;

that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:

for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:24

Launch into the Deep

DSC_0145

I was told that if you want different results, you have to do something different.  I am getting ready to do just that.  Different for me is leaving behind the big cities of Atlanta and New York that have been my place of abode for the years that I have lived on this big earth.  Different for me is going to a place where I know no one.

Why – why – why – why ??????????????

To find my life I have to lose my life. 

CSC_2645

I did everything I was told to do.  I have the degree’s – I have raised very nice kids – I have raised plants, dogs, cats, fish, birds, children, men.  I helped many along the way, opening my home to others, feeding the homeless, community and church work, cooking and cleaning, working on jobs that left me emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I have closets full of business suits, coats and heels but only three pair of jeans. I have accumulated a lot of stuff that I have to take care of and keep clean, most of which is in storage.  Everything society said to do to have a successful fulfilling life, I did.

DSC_2066

Now an opportunity has come  it appeals to me at this season of my life.  I want simplicity.  My life was starting to feel so complicated.  I need to sort out what I want from the wants of others.  I want to find out what is relevant to me as opposed to what I’ve been made to believe is relevant.  I have sacrificed me to others so long, I don’t even know what I like or need separate from the opinions of others.

DSC_2326

I’m launching into the deep.  Sink or Swim; are my only options. I am going to swim.  I have to. I have to save my life and lose it to the life God intends. After all these years, it’s about time.

Come on Jesus, Come on Holy Spirit, let’s do this.  Together.

You lead, I’ll follow. I’ll do it Your way this time.

I trust you.  Completely.

Luke 5:1-11  King James Version (KJV)

5 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

I Will Stand for You

Do you remember when you first left God?  When you believed you stood all alone?

100_1704 - Copy - Copy

I do.

DSC_2785

Do you remember the price you had to pay for doing so?

I do.

I remember the subtle hints that I ignored.

DSC_2009

First, there was a devastating situation that I thought I had to go through on my own.

100_1900

I believed that no one could possibly know how I felt. Who could possibly know how much it hurt.

DSC_2824

When or if I tried to discuss the matter with my loved ones, I didn’t  accept their advice.

DSC_0468

They were too old. Too spiritual. Too lame.  Too Dumb.  Too something.  They just didn’t know nothing about nothing.

100_1729

I believed they were clueless.  They had never experienced what I was dealing with and couldn’t possible understand.

DSC_1840

Second, I began to look around in my circle of acquaintances to find someone to commiserate with. 

100_5119 - Copy

I looked for and gravitated toward someone who would validate my feelings of  “It’s me against the world.”

DSC_1095

Finding others who were as  hurt and angry and broken as I, who echoed my sentiments and resentments, they became my source of support. I thought they could relate to my experience. We could get through the madness together.

DSC_0318

Third, I sought a antidote for my pain.  It could have been drugs or alcohol, sex or pills; anything that I could physically hold on to, to help make it through the day.

DSC_1253

Fourth, I kept my family at a considerable distance. Deep down inside, I knew they loved me.

DSC_0191

But it was’nt enough. I didn’t want them to know how far I had strayed from the values and principles I learned as a child.

DSC_1274

I no longer believed as they did. The world was not a good place. Only the strong survived. I had to fight my way through.

DSC_1246

Together with my cronies ….

DSC_3471

who were wise to the ways of the world and was fighting what I thought was the same fight;

27740006

I begin to formulate my own strategies to make it because I thought I was so smart. I thought I had all the answers.

Fifth, as I begin to sink lower in the abyss of life; I begin to question the nature of God.

100_1703

He couldn’t possibly love me because if He did he would have stepped in and untangled the mess of my life. He would have changed my situation. He would have stopped the hurt and pain. He would punish all those people who hurt me and did me wrong.

DSC_0047

If He didn’t love me no one else could.

Six, as my journey of deception completed its cycle; I began to hate who I had become.  

DSC_3279

Seven, I felt empty, unable to feel for anyone or anything.

100_1898

Satan thought he won.

But God said…

DSC_0030

NO!!!

Someone stood in the gap.

DSC_1884

Someone was praying for me.  Someone was interceding on my behalf.  Someone told me God loved me.

DSC_1828

Someone who would not give up on me. Someone who would not give up the fight.

Homless - Aug 6, 2006 005

Someone stood by me through it all.

DSC_2572

Someone clothed with the helmet of salvation and the breast-plate of righteousness. Someone whose loins were strong with the truth. Someone who held the sword of the spirit in one hand and the shield of faith in the other.

DSC_1604

Someone whose feet remained steadfast, forging on until the victory of peace was won. For me.

Covered by the blood….

DSC_0208

Now, I can stand for you.

I will stand for you.

Now I have power to tread on serpents. I have power over the enemy of your soul.

DSC_1612

I stand for you.

I will fight for you.

MVC-003S

Don’t you worry. God already told me, I WON!!!

Walk with me in victory!

I’ll hold your hand……

093

because I stand for you!!!

So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.       1 Thessalonians 2 – 8

For ye are our glory and joy     1 Thessalonians 2 – 20