Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I Want Them To Have Hope"....Operation Sleep Tight: Part 6



Yes, my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5


I doubted the possibilities of Operation Sleep Tight.  I questioned myself in allowing Josiah to follow through with his thought of providing some warmth to the homeless this winter.  Is this the right thing?  How will this work?  Can our family afford 10 sleeping bags just in case he is unable to raise support?

Because of my doubt, I've been left with humility, gratitude, and amazement at what God has done through Josiah's mission.



Instead of raising 10 sleeping bags, as was the goal, Josiah was able to deliver 25 sleeping bags to those in need on Monday night while working alongside People Loving Nashville.  Then, an additional 15 sleeping bags were given to those at Green Street Church.  And as I write this, he has 6 more sleeping bags beside our Christmas tree and a few more coming in the mail.

Operation Sleep Tight has provided at least 46 sleeping bags to the homeless this winter!  And from the mouth of one man who received one, he sang, "I'm not going to be cold tonight!  Oh no!  I'm not going to be cold!"  (The dance he did was quite comical when reenacted by Josiah!)

Josiah personally handed out each sleeping bag and greeted each person respectfully.  When the last sleeping bag was handed out on Monday night, Josiah looked up at Sergio and asked, "Dad, what else can I do to help?"  Although there were no more sleeping bags to give, Josiah's sweet heart was not finished serving.  They joined a youth group and began passing out clothing items.


Josiah has been encouraged by his friends making homemade doggy treats to purchase some sleeping bags, he's been encouraged by our realtor whom he just met on Sunday, grandmothers, my long-time friends, Sergio's co-workers, a couple in our church here, & some of our neighbors.

Friends from Joplin, MO
I'd like to share one more thing about Josiah that I think you should know.  On Wednesday night, Sergio stood up before those at Green Street Church and interviewed Josiah.  Josiah was so shy and pretty much kept his face in Sergio's arm.  However, when Sergio asked Josiah, "What would you like everyone to know that receives a sleeping bag?"  Josiah quietly replied, "I want them to have hope."
 

I stood in the very back keeping our 2 & 3 yr olds quiet during their interview.  I watched as some clapped, some chanted his name, & as Josiah walked down the middle aisle to me, a man gave him a high-five.


We can not simply give them a title as "homeless" and be comfortable with all that it entitles.  No, because they are not just homeless; they are men, women, teens, and children who are hurting.  So, what can be done?  I couldn't say it any better than what the People Loving Nashville have already stated:

We are all hungry, so we bring food.
We are all shamed in our nakedness, so we bring clothes.
We are all broken, so we bring ears to listen and hear.
We are all scared, so we bring comfort.
We are all guilty, so we bring acceptance and honesty.
We are all living in chaos, so we bring peace.
We are all lonely, so we bring friendship and community.
We are all hurt, so we bring love.

http://www.good.is/post/i-am-here-billboards-against-homelessness/
 
Josiah showed me as well as others the meaning of unconditional love.  A love that shows no favoritism based on status, looks, needs, or what someone can give back to us.  Josiah showed me how to have faith like a child and believe that God will provide for His children. 

His words play over again in my head, "That they have hope", and I couldn't agree with him more.

Mother Teresa is quoted saying, "If you can't feed 100 people, then just feed one."

I think that it can also be said in other ways.  If you can't clothe 100, then clothe one.  If you can't provide 100 sleeping bags, then provide one.  If you can't share the Gospel with 100, then share it with one. 


But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.  Psalm 9:17-19


Operation Sleep Tight was not done by one person, but was accomplished by the generosity of many.   We are truly grateful.
 
Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.  -Mother Teresa



 







Monday, December 12, 2011

First Delivery Preparation: Operation Sleep Tight, Part 5


Before lunch last week, I asked Josiah to pray.  His prayer went something like this, "God, thank you for telling me to get sleeping bags for people in need.  I am having so much fun."

Wow!  I listened to him pray, looked over at the tower of sleeping bags, and my own heart was convicted.  Josiah has worked very hard and has done so joyfully.  I couldn't help but pray, "Lord, how many times have I walked away from a task that you've called me to and miss out on the 'fun' that You have for me and for others?  Or how many times have I grumbled over a task that You've given me?  Lord, I'm so sorry!"



 

Tonight is Josiah's first night of deliveries!  We are heading out to meet up with People Loving Nashville. 

Here are the plans....

I will finish cleaning out our van this afternoon, buckle in our four kids, pack every corner of the van full of sleeping bags, strap the double stroller on top of the van, pick up Sergio from work, head to pick up Dwayne (our friend who has already been blessed by People Loving Nashville), and then go to our destination. 



That's the easy part!

Here's where it gets hard.  How many sleeping bags do we take?  What will be our response when we pass all of them out and there is still someone who needs one?  Or what if there are 100 more in need?

My eyes fill up with tears just thinking about the 'what ifs'!

But let me tell you what I do know & where I choose to place my focus.  I am confident that the Lord has planned all of this and has been in charge of  "Operation Sleep Tight" this entire time.  He has given Josiah a heart of service and we are grateful for our son's love.  We have been praying that those who receive a sleeping bag will feel the love of Jesus and the hope that only He can give. 

We are grateful for all of you who have donated funds and sent sleeping bags.  The total is in the 40's and I will have a definite number in the next couple of days.  There have been a couple of families who have bought some online and have had them sent to our house.  Any bags that arrive after Wednesday, will be taken to Green Street Church the following Wednesday where they can be passed out to those in need.

I will post soon about tonight's experience and hopefully will have some pictures to share of what the Lord is doing because of your generosity & prayers!

Many will be a little warmer this winter because of Operation Sleep Tight.

Thank you for partnering with Josiah!





*Sorry about the quality of pictures, they were taken with our cell phone.*








Monday, December 5, 2011

The Need is Great! Operation Sleep Tight: Part 4

I would like to send a big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in donations for Operation Sleep Tight.  As of today, 23 sleeping bags have been purchased and donations continue to come in, so this number is still growing.  We are truly grateful!!

 


Our initial plans were to take the sleeping bags to one location, a church off of Green Street in Downtown Nashville, but God has been working on another location as well. On Monday, the 12th, we will meet with "People Loving Nashville" at the Belmont Church in Downtown Nashville to deliver some of the sleeping bags.  We were connected with this ministry through our friend, Dwayne, who has been blessed by them.

"People Loving Nashville" meet at a church, fix meals for 150+ people, pray, and then deliver them out into the community.  They are meeting people face-to-face and building relationships.  Some of them already know of people who could use a sleeping bag now.

Josiah may not be able to meet one-on-one and to build these relationships, but through Operation Sleep Tight, he's able to come alongside and help meet a need of another ministry, like People Loving Nashville & Green Street Church.


Here's their mission statement taken right off of their website:

As People Loving Nashville…
We do not make assumptions about the people we meet.  We cannot know what life is like in another person’s shoes.  We do not pretend to have answers for every problem.  We do not bring judgement, control, disrespect, arrogance, or violence.

But…

We are all hungry, so we bring food.
We are all shamed in our nakedness, so we bring clothes.
We are all broken, so we bring ears to listen and hear.
We are all scared, so we bring comfort.
We are all guilty, so we bring acceptance and honesty.
We are all living in chaos, so we bring peace.
We are all lonely, so we bring friendship and community.
We are all hurt, so we bring love.


Check out their video.  It's only 2 minutes long & well worth the time:


On December 14th, we will head out to Green Street Church to worship, serve a meal, and hand out the remainder of the sleeping bags.  Josiah will be talking about his heart to give everyone a warm bed this winter and how he could not have done this alone.

We are very thankful for all of your donations, sweet words, and prayers.  God's love has been shown through so many of you.  There have been mothers who have given on behalf of their kids, grandmothers donating in honor of their grandkids, birthday gifts being given by purchasing sleeping bags, a fundraiser ran by two siblings in order to donate, long-time friends from my childhood years, relatives, Sergio's sweet co-workers, and much more.... the list of people given keeps growing.

Thank you for your generosity!
 Thank you for supporting Operation Sleep Tight! 


The need for sleeping bags is great.  If you'd like to donate or would like to read more about Operation Sleep Tight, you may do so Here



Thursday, December 1, 2011

"No One Should Be Without A Bed" Operation Sleep Tight: Part 3


Via pinterest.com (no web address found, only image)
"I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
-Ralph Ellison "Invisible Man"

When you think of the homeless, what picture comes to mind?  Is it the man walking down the street in dirty, torn clothes pushing a shopping cart?

Via pinterest.com  (No web address, only image)


Or is it a picture of an old lady sitting outside a local coffee shop begging for your change?



















Via pinterest.com (No web address found, only image)

The images of homelessness do not stop there.  It has taken it's ugly face and affected the lives of not only adults, but also children.   


Via myfantasticlife.blogspot.com
"If you look at homelessness today, you will see young people aging out of foster care, runaway youth, single women with children, chronically homeless men and women, young families and single career people who have lost employment during the recent recession, and veterans returning from recent wars. Homelessness increasingly affects families. In Nashville, 2,077 school children were homeless during the past school year."  

Homlessness in Nashville has risen 30% in the past two years.  Key Alliance's Site

There have been times when I, myself, have looked at the homeless and questioned what can be done.  I have a few ideas in my head, but honestly, simply having ideas without implementation accomplishes nothing.

Shamefully, I have no good reason as to why I have done nothing.  

Via pinterest.com (no web address found, only image)

Homelessness has to end.

"No one should be without a bed.  They should not be sleeping outside on the cold, concrete sidewalks."

These last two statements are not my own.  They come from the lips of my son, Josiah.  I look at his heart for people that he doesn't even know and I am inspired to be a better person.


"Operation Sleep Tight" is his ministry this winter.  Out of his concern for the homeless, he is working on raising money to buy sleeping bags for the homeless.  Because in his words, "everyone needs to be warm this winter". 

As each box arrives, Josiah has carefully brought each one into the house and opened them himself.


Since Saturday, November 27th, he has been able to purchase 15 sleeping bags!  We are grateful to all who have given donations & words of encouragement to this ministry.

Notice the tower of empty boxes behind him?  :) 

Each sleeping bag is a great reminder of loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).



Sergio and I are proud of all that Josiah has accomplished.  He is young, but he is not helpless.  He has chosen to do something.  It is up to Sergio and myself to teach him that this work is not about us, but about our Father.  And to Him, we give all the glory and honor.

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."  Proverbs 14:31




Part One of Operation Sleep Tight is located here.