It is not everyday a check for $20,000 comes my way. It Is not everyday God chooses to show up and affirm and encourage me in a huge way. Most of the time He works through the little things in my life - making a headache go away, helping me through a test - but once in awhile he is suddenly there in a way which is big and powerful and awesome and leaves me speechless. When those times happen, I get a glimpse of just how awesome and amazing He is! And as infinitely wonderful as He is, God cares intimately about the people here on Earth.
So, as you may now by now - a few weeks ago we were blessed with a donation of $20,000. I was thinking about what we can do with that money at The Torch. We have been in a fundraising campaign for awhile raising money to purchase the food truck. Suddenly, we have a truck, and not long after that, the money to customize it is available to us. I don't believe in coincidences and I don't know how anyone could think anything different than we are blessed! Sarah and I have spent a lot of time discussing how to wisely utilize the money. We were already working to acquire donations of equipment and etc to complete the food truck. There are a ton of items we need - like wiring and stainless steel and appliances and a paint job.
We had devised a plan to go to various vendors and stores and ask for donations of the specific items we need for the truck. When we got the money, we discussed whether or not we should continue with that plan and we decided we should. It is already in place and we are prepared to go and it will give us the opportunity to talk about The Torch if nothing else! But I think God will be faithful and provide those donations, because He answers prayers. There are plenty of other expenses we need to cover anyway - and whatever ends up being left over from the $20,000 gift will certainly help to cover those needs.
It is our goal to be wise stewards with the blessings God gives us. We hope to eventually purchase a motor home which cannot only be used for meeting with people in private at whatever location we find ourselves; but also to have a hair-washing bowl and styling chair so people can receive haircuts and some pampering as just one more way to show love to people. In addition to that, Craig has already begun to talk about food truck number two. He is a big dreamer like us.
But we have a God who is even bigger than our dreams. Sarah and I were talking about The Torch last January. I had all the projected numbers because I filled out the paperwork for the IRS and that was part of the requirement. She asked me how much money we were going to need to get the food truck and cover initial operating expenses. I told her $25,000. She asked a friend if she knew about any effective fundraising strategies. Her friend asked how much money we were trying to raise. Sarah told her $25,000. Her friend asked when we hoped to raise the money by. Sarah told her June. Her friend thought that was an awful lot of money to be raised in a very short time.
Thinking about it like that - $25,000 in six months - it does appear impossible. But, fortunately, the bigger picture only marginally includes Sarah and I and a fundraising scheme. The bigger picture includes a God Who loves deeply the people we are going to reach out to. It encompasses a God Who is at work in the world now and always.
God doesn't want people to go hungry or to feel unloved and unaccepted. And neither do we. This is our chance to go to people and show them love without judgment, and share the Hope we have.
A friend and I were talking recently about how difficult it often is for people to fit reading their Bibles into their schedules. I think we make time for the things which matter to us, though, so I don't always think time is the problem. Priorities maybe. Spirituality permeates every aspect of our lives, yet it often is the least-developed part of us. I read a book one time about the spiritual well-being of children and the author talked about how parents find time to take care of the physical, educational and sheltering needs of their children; while the spiritual needs tend to get neglected. If a child breaks an arm, parents find the time to take him/her to the doctor and then later to rehab if that is necessary.
I know this firsthand, my son broke one of his arms five times and his other wrist once. The doctor/hospital/rehab visits were time-consuming and tiresome but we went faithfully seeking healing for him. A broken arm is painful and easy to see - and quite necessary to tend to immediately, of course. My point is - as busy as I was I found time to take him in to the doctor and get that problem taken care of even though it wasn't in my schedule. Good parents take care of those needs for their children. Spiritual needs should receive at least the same or MORE concern and attention. And we cannot help others with their spiritual needs if we are not taking care of our own.
We are born with an unsatisfied spirit and a deep longing to know God. People mask it, ignore it, neglect it, deny it and try to fill it in a lot of different ways but still it is there. In this post-modern society we are expected to deny Truth and seek peace with everyone at the expense of losing faith in anything, especially God. We rush to the doctor to fix our broken health right away, but allow broken spirits to flounder desperately. I once knew a person who had such deep sorrow in her life; it made my heart ache to talk to her sometimes. She asked many questions about God, but was afraid to give him a chance because everyone in her life scoffed and scorned Him - and her experiences with Christians had been filled with judgment and left her feeling defensive. I pray for her restless soul still. If only she had had parents or others in her life who had invested in her spiritual health - and taught her to do the same - her life could have been so different!
Vending for Hope
So summer is really upon us. My apartment complex is visited by an ever-hopeful ice cream vendor two times every day now. Funny how I find that more interesting since I will soon have a mobile food truck out on the road. I hope we get a better turnout than the ice cream vendor does. Sometimes she is here for quite a long time, because she will park outside the building and just play her music. I guess she is hoping to give slow ice cream customers time to get to her. After awhile, she finally drives away. But she does make an appearance twice each day.
I was thinking it would be very disappointing to take the food truck to a neighborhood and be in there cooking away and have nobody come to eat. I don’t see it happening that way, though. Not just because it is free food, either. I think people will come because Hope is appealing. Sarah and Kelly and I make no bones about it - we are on this mission because God placed the burden on our hearts and we wholly believe people’s lives will be touched by Him wherever we go. Why? Because we aren’t just doing this to feed hungry tummys. We are asking God to use us to reach out to hungry souls, and sometimes God does that in new an unusual ways.
I think people often don’t even know how much they need His touch until they have it. It has to sneak up on them and catch them when their guards are down. Not only do I plan to deliver food, I plan to bring a smile, conversation, and a listening ear. I am diligently praying God will give me the ability to show compassion as He shows compassion. I want people to know I have been where they are and I have a God Who brought me through to the other side. I want people to know they can have the same relationship I have with the same God and receive the same blessings. I want peoples’ experiences with the food truck to be so different from anything else they might experience in any other setting in this world. It is unusual in our society to reach out to our fellow human beings purely in love.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
In my personal Bible study I am now making my way through the book of Matthew. It is kindof refreshing after reading all the Old Testament prophets’ books. Those were rather grim and scary. Necessary, but serious stuff. I always read through the Bible for my personal growth. I don’t know how many times during the course of the years I have read the entire Bible, but when I finish I go right back to the beginning and start all over. Most of the time I read one chapter a day, but sometimes more. I find if I read more I don’t necessarily contemplate what I read as much as I should. I read the chapters, pray them, think about them and learn so much from them. God’s Word is new and fresh every single time.
Matthew 6:34 struck home today. When I take it out and set it aside and highlight it - it reads like a command. It doesn’t say “think about not worrying” or “consider the possibility of not worrying anymore”. It says, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow...” Therefore means because of all the evidence given before this verse - you now have no reason to worry about the future. So what do the preceding verses present? A very logical discussion about the birds and the bees. Okay, not the bees, the flowers but the birds and the bees usually goes together..
Jesus is speaking in Matthew 6. He admonishes the people to think about birds, which I enjoy doing. He mentions the fact they do not save for the future. And I have not recently seen a bird which looked worried about tomorrow. They sing, they fly, they build nests, they follow their instincts and live. There is something about animal instincts - I think they are given and driven by God. How does a bird know the worm is there? God shows him. How does a bird choose a good place for a nest? God shows him or her. So birds just know God takes care of all the details and therefore I never see them sitting around looking worried and like they are discussing what to do about tomorrow. They take care of right now and sing and fly and make me feel happy when I listen to them.
Jesus also mentions flowers. How beautiful they are! They are given their beauty by God. Flowers don’t go on a search for awesome colors and shapes and designs. They don’t have to, they have the most creative clothier in the world! If God can take such good care of tiny little creatures like birds and plants like flowers, how much more will He take care of us?
I think sometimes in the past I would get so bogged down by that concept. I realize now I was confused. God promises to take care of my needs. He doesn’t promise he will cover all my wants. I used to have a lot of material possessions which were acquired more to satisfy my wants than my needs. And often, how I was going to hang on to those things would worry me. But I ended up losing all that and I can say in TRUTH God met my needs without fail.
Forgive Yourself And Move On
Recently, a friend said to me, “There are so many things in my life I wish I could go back and do differently.” I understand what she means as far as turning back the clock and not making the same mistakes again - but there is something to be said for being able to admit you made mistakes and learning from them. I am so grateful God forgets when He forgives. Sometimes it is hard to forgive ourselves for the wrongs of the past. And we certainly cannot always forget them, especially when our mistakes can have consequences which last forever.
Often, though, our mistakes don’t have eternal consequences; rather, they leave us with bad memories of our poor behavior and inability to always control our tongues and actions. Usually, the actions I regret most are from times when I reacted strongly in a negative way to a situation. Later, I wish I had been calm and more in control when faced with adverse situations. Other times I simply walked away when I should have stood up for what was right.
I left a church once when I was very poorly treated by the leadership. I was horribly betrayed and my trust shattered. Although I was already at an incredibly low point in my life - I wish I had handled that situation differently. I broke my connections with the church and just left. By doing that I think I gave up on God for a bit and didn’t give Him a chance to right the wrongs and bring healing and forgiveness among the people involved. I wish I had stayed longer and stood up to the deception and put more effort into working it out. I did make a weak attempt at reconciliation, but who knows what God could have done had I stood strong on my principles and allowed Him to work out the details? Maybe things wouldn’t have worked out differently, but I wish I had reacted differently.
So we finally made an announcement for The Torch letting everyone know we got a food truck! It seems surreal to me still. Can you picture Sarah and I driving around in a food truck? I don't even know how to drive a manual shift so Sarah and Kelly will have to drive it until I learn. I must admit I love to dream about the day we first pull up to a neighborhood or trailer park or wherever God leads and we start cooking food and handing it out to whoever is there. I hope we meet tons of children and teens. I also hope everyone who visits our truck will leave feeling encouraged and blessed.
I honestly don’t know how this is all going to work together. I know there is a niche for us somewhere and I know we will persistently search until we find it. I am fully confident we are on the road of our destinies’. It was a crazy route getting here. I don’t think many people can truly understand what it means to be homeless. To have nowhere to go where you feel you really belong leaves you with a hollow emptiness inside. When I was homeless I spent hours parked by a lake, just looking at it and praying for better days ahead. There were times when I felt so hopeless I wondered why I was even alive. Using every ounce of energy I had and every bit of intelligence I could muster did not help - I still could not think of a way to afford a place to live on the pay I received from my job. I knew of no place to go to provide security and safety for myself and my daughter.
I asked a student today what she wants to do with her life after high school. Then I started thinking it is kindof funny how young people get asked that question so much - and really have so little idea of what the possibilities could be. Usually they foresee some kind of college in their future. And they typically mention a job. The former, because it is generally expected of them and the latter because they want money. When I graduated from high school I had some vague notion I was supposed to become a doctor and I enrolled in college without any real plan, just expecting it to eventually happen.
After I took a Life Science class I started feeling like I didn’t really want to put so much time into college and I tried out Oceanography. I found that class AND the Marine Biology classes I took afterwards to be fascinating. But then I started to realize the limitations of such a narrow field of employment. I would have to live near a body of water in order to find work. I guess I didn’t love it as much as I thought I did because I changed my mind again and decided I was going to become a Kindergarten teacher. I thought that would be a good choice mostly because I didn’t think it could be very hard to teach Kindergarten and I would have my summers off.
In the midst of educational mind-changing my children were born, which slowed the academic process down considerably. Having small children made me realize I didn’t particularly want to teach Kindergarten and spend my entire day with little ones, so once again I changed my mind. With the help of my academic advisor, I listed my new major for my Associate’s degree as “Liberal Studies”. I laugh now, because basically that is what they name a degree which is earned with sixty or so unrelated credits.