I found some things that had inspired me and I was happy to find. And I thought I’d share … with you here, about love, and life.
One was written by Mary Baker Eddy: “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power”. I like that one a lot.
The reality of homelessness landed squarely in my lap one dark December day 10 years ago. Despite all our efforts to prevent it, after three previous attempts, my much-loved 19-year-old son had committed suicide three months before, after suffering from bipolar disease all his life.
My husband left me shortly after, and despite the enormous blessing of eight wonderful surviving children, I was devastated.
I went to church, trying to pray about who I could help who was more miserable than I. The message came to help the homeless. I didn’t want to hear it. Homeless people had always scared me. My son Nick was never homeless, but had great compassion for them. Finally, grudgingly and nervously, I embarked on what I hoped would be a one-time mission. Instead, it became a labor of love that changed my life.
Dealing with homelessness feels like emptying the ocean with a thimble. But sometimes making a difference in the world, a big difference, happens one person at a time.
“In my earliest days on the streets, on a night when several disturbing-looking people ran up to me, I pulled myself together and thought, If Jesus came to me looking like this man, would I run? Or would I stand right where I am, face him, and embrace him? I forced myself to see Jesus in him every time I saw someone who scared me, and eventually I felt blessed, not frightened. And the people who seemed so upsetting to me melted into kind people, who welcomed us into their world. That vision worked for me.”
This is a VERY exciting year for me, with 6 new books being published throughout 2016. The first one, BLUE, will be published in hardcover on January 19th. It’s a very meaningful book because it is about two people who have lost hope. One has lost her family in a car accident a few years before, when her husband and three year-old son died. Since then, she has become a human rights worker, dedicated to helping people around the globe who are in dire situations, and giving up her personal life for them. The other main character in the book is a 13 year-old boy named “Blue” (because he has brilliant blue eyes.) He is homeless, living on the streets, with no family to speak of, and little hope of finding his way out of the maze in which he seems to be trapped.
When the two meet at the beginning of the book, right before Christmas, both are at low ebb in their lives, and each impacts the other in powerful positive ways. They change each other’s lives in ways they never could have expected. One chance meeting between a woman who has lost so much and a homeless boy changes everything in their lives forever, as each gives the other hope in unexpected ways. It’s a book about facing loss and finding hope when you least expect it. We never know when things will turn around, no matter how dark they seem. It’s about fighting for a better life, and facing the ghosts and demons of the past. It was a powerful, meaningful book to write, and I hope it means as much to you as it does to me.
So maybe our message this January, on a brand new New Year’s day, is to face the new year with hope and courage, and to expect good things out of 2016. I wish you a fantastic new year, and that all your dreams come true – even the dreams you didn’t know you had. Happy New Year!!
A Secret Mission On the Streets, Newsweek, June 23, 2008