Posts Tagged ‘Jesus loves you’

“Sometimes when it gets real bad I curl up on my bed, hide under my covers, suck my thumb and sing Jesus loves me. It’s all I can do,” said one of the 30+ year old woman I meet with every Thursday in jail.

Anxiety sucks. post it
Jail sucks.
Addiction sucks.
Mental disabilities suck.
But Jesus loves.
And God is faithful.

As I read Psalm 91 again and again with the girls in jail today verse 15 kept jumping off the page at me. “He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble…” God doesn’t promise that we won’t have trouble, but He does promise that He will be with us, even in our trouble. And he will deliver us and redeem us.  This is a fact we can cling to. This is truth. God is bigger than our feelings, greater than our problems and stronger than our fears.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me….yes, Jesus loves you too.

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Lately my job ok, life, has been nearly consumed with CityServe. CityServe is a huge weekend of service we plan with the help of 3 other local churches and is completed with volunteers from several more! It is an incredible opportunity to see God at work in our community. And a wonderful chance to share God’s love with people who maybe have never heard about it before.

I’d say it’s a bit overwhelming, but then so incredibly worth it. I’ve been pushing back against it a little bit and being shown lots of grace from the team as I keep running off to jail, and other meetings that are not directly related to this crazy event. I try to make up for my absence by working in bits and pieces here and there. Sometimes early, sometimes late. I think after this I could learn to juggle. =)

Tonight I came home earlier than I was expecting and needed to just not do anything for a while. I needed to process. So I decided to write, because you may have noticed the silence on here lately…it’s been one of the things that just doesn’t get the time. But it seems that the rest of life just refuses to be put on hold during CityServe. So let me tell you a few of the things that made me “take a break” from CityServe work, but just don’t always count as a break…

  • Meeting a new woman in the jail who told me heartbreaking stories and didn’t believe that she deserves to be forgiven. It’s so humbling to be reminded that she is right. We don’t deserve to be forgiven. And it was such a sweet time explaining to her that she can’t earn forgiveness, but she can have forgiveness because of Jesus.
  • Getting a phone call from one of my older friends who comes to our months dinners, and doesn’t have any family in the community to learn that she received some medical tests telling her she is terminal. I tried to hold back my tears as we chatted about her options…will they try chemo? surgery? radiation? …no. I told her I couldn’t imagine how scary that must be, but she is a believer and she seemed to be at peace…at least that day. It was again humbling to remember that we are all terminal…the only difference is she knows her expiration date. She is very excited to be getting a group from CityServe coming to her home to help her this year.
  • Hanging out at the shelter: holding a puppy, chatting with friends, ignoring whatever crazy movie was playing, getting interviewed for a student’s photo journalism project, entering a ton of names into our database, and giving one of our girls a ride to her new apartment with a box full of food and a pillow and some of her few belongings. It was encouraging to see how many of my homeless friends are signed up to serve as volunteers during CityServe.
  • Going to another friend from the monthly dinner’s house unexpectedly. I got a call from her saying, can you please get a group to come help me because I was really sick and there’s …(insert all types of bodily fluids here)… in my bed, and I can’t carry all of that down the stairs to the washing machine while I’m still not fully recovered. Well, I couldn’t very well call the hospitality team to see if someone wanted to go over, so me and one of my amazing co-workers who is the one in charge of CityServe peaced out of the office after staff meeting to go strip her bed and wash it and remake it. She’s excited for her upcoming CityServe project…and I’m sure the volunteers will be glad we were there for the pre-CityServe work to make it a little cleaner for their arrival.
  • As I was getting ready to head over to my Life Group tonight and lead our study, I got a call saying one of my friends was in the ER. This friend is an addict and unfortunately the thought of him in the ER brought more frustration than fear. But I know that it’s really hard to stop being an addict, and that most things are harder when you think your alone in the world. So I made a few calls, and got my awesome co-leaders to fill in for me, and headed over to sit at the hospital and talk about making good choices and to give him a hug when we parted and tell him I love him. He can make me mad, sad, and disappointed, but he can’t make me stop sharing Jesus’ love with him.

So I get lots of distractions, some are emotionally draining, others are life giving, some are both. But I also have lots of emotionally filling things in my life! The moments when I come home and my sweet littles see me before I get in the door and yell, “Shelby! Shelby! Shelby!” or scamper off to hide behind the curtains waiting to be found. A friend I hadn’t seen in over 3 years dropping by on her drive from NY to OH and spending the night. Phone calls that work (even if they are short) to my family in Tanzania and the U.A.E. Encouraging words from so many friends. Lots of prayers. Watching our need for volunteers for CityServe go from 900 down to almost none! It is an incredible time. It is a crazy time. But mostly, it’s a time to remember that God is in control…just like He always is. And that He is going to do big things…just like He always does. Feel free to be praying for the nearly 900 volunteers who will be serving in and around our town this weekend at almost 170 different locations, and for all the people mentioned in this post. I love serving with a team…thanks for being a part of it!

Sometimes I wish I could only tell you the happy things. I usually tell the stories with happy endings, or at least the happy parts of stories, but what about the days that leave me in tears? What about the really hard stuff.

The problem with helping is that in order to help you have to know. And knowing hurts.

Just the other day I spoke to four people who don’t have money to pay for heat. So they are cold. I spoke to a woman who cried as she told me she would have a glass of water for dinner because she was out of food and money and didn’t have any more food stamps. I spoke to another woman who called and said that her grandkids had been staying with her and so she had run out of food – normally she can live on what the food bank gives her, but because she had extra hungry mouths, she ran out. I heard about cancer, and sickness, and loss. That was all on one day just in the office.

Later that week, as the chaplain in jail, I heard about more. I heard fear, questioning and wonder. I heard women talk about their kids, husbands, boyfriends, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and even one’s unborn baby. Who they can no longer care for, protect, and help. It’s so scary to be in a situation where everything is out of your control.

It’s hard to know all these things. But I also know that God cares and loves all these people. He sees them as the people they are, and not for the problems the are stuck in, or the problems they have caused. By knowing about these things I can help. Just this week I was able to pray with people and tell them, “It’s worth it,” “hang on,” “keep fighting through,” “don’t give up.” I was able to help coordinate rides to the doctor, get some food delivered, and get people connected with a team who can help to provide heat.

Not everyone I meet gets the help they need, but it’s worth knowing the needs are out there so we can keep fighting to provide the solutions. Jesus was a problem solver, but He didn’t just take away all the world’s problems. He shared God with people. That’s what we should do too. As we meet the physical needs that we can, we should also be loving people with Jesus love. Because ultimately, He is the one who can bring healing to their souls. Look at the people around you, one or many of them may be in serious need, and just not know how to tell you.

To the man traveling all the way from Alaska to visit your daughter. I’m sorry. Sorry for the multiple missed flights. Secretly it was nice to see the same face at multiple cancellations, but that was kind of selfish, so I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry that your time with her is going to be much shorter. I hope you guys make the most of it. Your calm acceptance of the situation reminded me of my own dad. I miss him, and wish I could go visit him, so it made me happy to know that one daughter/father combo would be together soon…maybe not as soon as we all hoped though. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To the woman going to India for your mother-in-law’s funeral. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that because of our delay you will miss the funeral. I’m sorry you didn’t make it back in time to say goodbye. I’m sorry you are alone. That you just said goodbye to your daughter and son-in-law and brand new grandbabies to make the trip home to India. I know you left early trying to make it before your mother-in-law, the woman you’ve lived with for the past 35 years died, but you didn’t make it. She died too quickly. And now, as we sit here waiting, you know that you will miss your connection. You know that you will miss her funeral. I am praying for you. You know this…I told you…but I hope you remember. I hope my one hug was enough to give you the strength you need to get back to India. I’m glad that she was a wonderful woman, and I wish I could hold your hand the whole way to India, but for now, I’m thankful to have met you. I’m thankful that you made eye contact with me and that when I asked why you were going to India you were honest. I’m glad you let me share your sorrow for a while on those uncomfortable airport chairs. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To the man going to visit your mom. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the reason for your visit is that she isn’t doing well. I’m glad you weren’t on my flight that you were flying somewhere else and are able to make it there to see her as she struggles through the end of her life. I’m so thankful to know that your mom loves Jesus and you not only get to see her right now, but you have hope to see her again in heaven. Thank you for telling me that. It was encouraging to me. I thought about that hope while I sat in the airport.

To the ticket counter people. I’m sorry. I can only imagine how hard your job is and how many frustrated people you deal with…I got to see plenty of them as you explained again and again to all different groups why they would miss their connections or not get home on time. (Word of the wise though…maybe it’s worth hiring faster pilots.) Thanks though for your encouragement. Your apologies. Your sorrowful smiles. Your effort to keep trying to get me home. It was appreciated. I tried to make sure you knew how much I appreciated you, and that I didn’t hold this against you…I hope I was successful. Anyways, as I watched you stay calm with the frustrated people around me, it reminded me to stay calm. It reminded me that God has a plan that we just can’t always understand. I thought about your attitudes while I sat in the airport.

To my friends in jail who I promised I would visit today. I’m sorry. I’m sorry to stand you up when I’m one of the very few you’ve come to believe and count on. It broke my heart to not visit you today. I would’ve given anything for that jail food today. =) I’m sorry to the two of you who will likely be transferred to other prisons by the time I get to visit next week. I’m sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye. The past few months of talking with you, reading God’s word, and praying for you, your friends, your families has been life changing for me, and I hope it has been for you too. I don’t know if I’ll find you again, but know that I will search. I will try my best to, at the very least, send you a letter explaining why I didn’t get to say goodbye. I thought about you while I sat in the airport.

To my friends and family I’m not sorry. To you I am very thankful. Thanks for the phone calls, text messages, airport visits, rides, bed, food, encouragement, thoughts and prayers. Thanks for reminding me that God is in control…always. Thanks for loving me well. This adventure reminded me of just how wonderful all of you are! And I thought about you while I sat in the airport.