This summer, the power of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich was made known. (First shared over at (in)courage.)
Beauty amidst broken

Steam radiated throughout the air and sweat rolled down places my deodorant would never reach. I don’t know why I even bothered applying it that week because the putrid smells rising up all around me banished any attempt at hygiene.

I spent a week walking the streets of downtown Atlanta.

Armed with sacks full of PB&Js and water, we meandered through parks and side streets. We rode the subway and sat on curbs. We picked up trash, drug paraphernalia, bottles, and a host of unmentionables. Then we sat again.

Curled up on the curb, we made new friends with those who lived on the streets. We swapped stories, shared life, and broke bread. What started as an offer of a cold drink on a scorching day bridged the awkward gap that age, circumstance, and glaring differences might have otherwise divided.

beautiful art work under bridges

It was on the third day that we met.

I saw her leaning up against a light post — alone, unkempt — with tension and burdens bound in her face and body language.

I broke the ice with my water and sandwiches. We exchanged small talk for a few minutes, but the Lord knew this was a heart needing to unburden itself, so I tiptoed deeper into conversation.

She looked into my eyes and responded, “You wouldn’t understand.” I translated her message as, “We have different backgrounds, different socioeconomic standings, different skin color, and more. I don’t want to talk.”

As I placed my hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes, our spirits joined. Slowly she opened up about her children. Specifically, her own beloved, addict daughter now giving her twin grand baby girls at just 19. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Unbridled emotion poured out, devastated with the hold that poor choices had over her daughter.

I put my arms around her and cried with her. I cried for her children. I cried for my own of the same age. I grieved over the stronghold that grips our next generation and I prayed. I prayed till my bones rattled and I shook my fist at the devil, “NO MORE! You cannot have our babies!”

In the midst of the bustling city, with horns blazing and smells polluting, this cracked sidewalk held two mommas sharing the same heartbeat.

Strangers moments ago, but now joined in longing, seeking, and storming the gates of heaven for the hearts of our children.

Everything in me wanted to fix this! To do something. To make her hurt disappear, but I couldn’t fix the situation. I was helpless. She was helpless. And at this moment in time, the Lord brought two helpless mommas to the feet of the Cross in complete abandon to our own inadequacies. I felt her suffering and she felt mine.

Our commonalities striking in the moment. Two sisters who are better together. 

That week changed me in profound ways. When I wrestle through the root problems and struggles of street homelessness, I’m convicted of this. We are ONE BODY in Christ!

For me, being the hands and feet of Jesus didn’t just mean extending hands to the outcast on my terms and on my schedule. It meant slowing down enough to stop, to see, to hear, to empathize and to cross the great divide that society has manufactured.

When I slowed down, I met a dear friend that day. Her name is Carmen and I think of her often. I pray for her often.

clouds in the city

incourage beauty

The Lord revealed so much to me that week.

In the midst of brokenness, I found beauty in every hidden crack and crevice. It’s there, every day. If we just seek it out.

Would you join me in prayer for Carmen and her family?

“Then the King will say to those on the right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'” {Matthew 25:34-40, NLT}

In our office, on our street corner, in our grocery store, let’s bridge this great divide.

For as long as we’re on this side of heaven, we’re all “homeless.”

Making Care Packages for Homeless

Would you like a practical application for reaching out to the homeless in your community? Make some Care Packages for the homeless to keep in your car.