You Stayed WHERE Last Night?

When this man first came to our Easter Seals office last October, he had two requests for us: to help him upgrade his military discharge status and to help him draft a new resume so that he could find employment. He filled out his intake information and passed the form over to Mother Goose. He met with one of our VA specialists to discuss the DD214 form upgrade.

He walked into my office and sat down in one of my many soft chairs. We began to discuss his employment history, and Mother Goose took copious notes so as to gather as much information as possible. He spoke softly and answered all of my questions with poise and sincerity.

At some points in our meeting, he wrote down exactly what he wanted to say on the resume. Mother Goose was impressed with his eloquent capabilities and could only wonder how this veteran could NOT be employed.

And then he mentioned that he lives and sleeps in the basement of a nearby church. AND has actually been staying in that place since last March! And apparently he was OK with that most of the time…except when he’s walking through neighborhoods and could see families in homes living out their domesticity. He felt a degree of weariness at having to spend his nights in the basement of a church.

He told me how he serves as the watchman and the maintenance man and the custodian for the church. I asked how much they were paying him for his day and night services. “Oh nothing,” he answered.

Mother Goose could feel her feathers getting all ruffled at the thought of this man working for a church for eight months without any visible and monetary signs of gratitude…

Light of Liberty Church

“Does the pastor know that you are doing all of this work for the church?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” David replied.

“And?” I prompted him just a little to expound on this pastor. Could he possibly be a blind man?

“No, they haven’t paid me for my work, but that’s OK. The Lord always provides.”

Well, the weeks have come and gone. David has come into our Easter Seals office occasionally to visit a bit and use our computers. He has been working “side jobs” over the winter, and traveled to Milwaukee to help his sister move around New Year’s Eve. He was VERY sick for a couple of weeks. The pipes and plumbing froze in the church over a cold spell in January — he single-handedly cleaned up the flooded mess in the basement of the church including the very important restrooms for the congregants.

He called me last week to touch base with how things are going.

“Are you still sleeping at the church?” I asked.

“Well no,” he replied. “A woman who is important to the church family came downstairs where I was sleeping and said, ‘You’re still here? I thought you left months ago!’ so I folded up the cot, packed my things and left. I went to the Duncan.”

Mother Goose was very sad to hear this news. As a Veteran Supportive Services Specialist, I try so hard to make life better for anyone who comes to Easter Seals for help. Though I wasn’t jumping and flapping for joy to know my friend (and brother in the Lord) was sleeping and living in a basement of a church, at least he had a place to lay his head at night. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I didn’t inquire of him regarding the Duncan. But the next day at my office, I did inquire of everybody I knew.

“David is at the Duncan,” I asked. “Do you know where that is?”

One woman shook her head sadly. “Oh that’s a transient hotel. I’m not sure where it’s at.”

Another person said, “There’s a Duncan YMCA somewhere.”

Yet another joked, “It wouldn’t be Dunkin Donuts…”

When David called back on Monday, I immediately asked him, “My brother, you sounded really tired last Friday on the phone. You said you’re at the Duncan. Can you please tell me where that is?”

“It’s the Dunkins at Harlem and Circle. They let me stay there all night, but it’s difficult to get rest and sleep sitting up…”

The Dunkin Donut shop. He sleeps sitting up at the Dunkins.

“You slept WHERE last night?”

Is There An Answer to the Dilemma of Lawrence?

Dear and kind-hearted readers, what is the solution to chronic homelessness in America? Wow, Mother Goose, that’s pretty huge for this early in the morning. Can you tone it down a bit?

OK.

Our friend, Lawrence Little, returned to our home on Monday which is the day after Sunday which is the day that we brought Lawrence to church with us. He sat at our kitchen table and drank a large mug of hot chocolate with Husband Goose. (Mother Goose was not present for this meeting as she occasionally works at a part-time job…) Recounting the previous day with our church pastor, Chuck Colegrove, Lawrence said that indeed the pastor did take him into the city to The Safe Haven Foundation, but there is a two-week waiting list to be allowed into their program.

Mother Goose is indeed grateful for all of the help that our church has shown Lawrence in the past eighteen months. Here is an excerpt from my pastor’s email describing just some of the care they have provided to our friend:

We have helped Lawrence on several occasions since first meeting him back in the Fall of 2012. We paid for 1 month of housing while he was seeking a job, paid for bus passes on 4-5 occasions that he secured a job or was about to secure a job….you’re right, helping with money isn’t necessarily the best option….when we’re able to, we help.

I’m hoping that Safe Haven will get him on the right path. He’s had several opportunities in the last year with jobs but can’t seem to hold it down.

Chuck has also offered to write a referral for Lawrence if he needs something like that to speed up the housing process at Safe Haven. Thank you, Chuck, for all you do to bring joy and love to a dark and fearful world.

I may have mentioned that Lawrence does his “rounds” through the city — knocking on the doors of kindly people who have helped him in the past. Husband Goose described him as having a “rolodex of helpers” in his head, and I believe that is an accurate picture of how he survives. One day at a time, one handout at a time, one bit of help from his friends is enough to get him to the next day.

Obviously many people have shown him love and kindness. Many people have directed him to job opportunities and housing opportunities. I am sure that somewhere in this large city he has at least one case manager who has filled out the proper intake forms and has done everything to get him into the system of public care. He has had money in the past — according to his story, he used to have a LOT OF MONEY in the days when he was a street performer doing break dancing on a cardboard mat on Michigan Avenue…

He’s an artist as well.

Lawrence has been prayed for and preyed upon. The mean streets of Chicago can be rough — a stark contrast to the kindness of the people who God puts in his life to care for him in manifold ways every single day.

Is there an answer to homelessness in America?

I don’t know if there is anything else that can be done except for this one thing:

We must not lump all of God’s homeless people into one big category and call it The Homeless Dilemma.

Each and every one of those people at the busy intersections and sitting along the avenues with their cups and their cardboard signs is a real person with a history of good times and hard times. Each and every individual who wanders the streets looking for a way to get somewhere else has a story to tell.

They have souls that require as much nourishment as their physical bodies.

They need a hug and an ear to listen to them — they say they need money, but what they might need more is a short-term connection to someone who might give them hope for another day.

Hope is a survival tool for those who have little else to carry with them.

My friends, do what you can. One person at a time is enough. Give them the time of day, give them a hug, give them a mug of hot chocolate, but whatever you do, give them hope.

Mother Goose thanks you.

This is not Lawrence.  I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

This is not Lawrence. I have never photographed my friend, not wanting to seem exploitative in any way.

The Lawrence Little Dilemma Begins

Mother Goose didn’t really plan to invite a homeless man into her home for lunch.

And yet, the truth of it was that here she was in her kitchen making coffee, frying up bacon and eggs, and toasting a bagel for a man who had been living on the streets for the past ten years.

Sometimes, Mother Goose has to just shake her head at the unlikely turns that her life takes!

On Tuesday, as she was climbing the front porch steps after a long emotional tutoring session with the squirrels, Mother Goose heard a man calling out, “Ma’am, excuse me, ma’am, do you have any work for me to do? I’m homeless. I haven’t eaten in two days. I’m a man of God. I just need to do some work so that I can get into a hotel tonight. Do you have any work I can do for you, ma’am?”

Mother Goose turned to look at the middle-aged man walking up her sidewalk. He was dressed in a Carhartt chore jacket, baggy light-colored Carhartt overpants with a black stocking cap and gym shoes. His face looked a little tired, but he smiled at Mother Goose when he reached the bottom of the porch steps. He looked clean enough and didn’t have a beard. He didn’t smell bad and seemed to have his teeth. Most homeless folks really look homeless, but this man looked pretty “normal”. Mother Goose hates to use that word, but my readers will surely understand…

Normally, I do not strike up conversations with strangers who are walking by. I greet folks with a hearty “How ya doin’?” and then let them pass by my house.

We live just two blocks from the western border of Chicago, near a neighborhood where shootings happen regularly and gangs own the blocks. Territories are staked out and street corners are occupied. I drive through the Austin neighborhood everyday on my way to work — I am curiously drawn to these streets and the people who have little choice but to live in such extreme conditions.

Unemployment, drug deals, violent crime and guns are the real facts of life for these folks, and yet there are families who live on the residential streets of Austin. There are little kids who walk to school, and moms who pray that their children will arrive safely.

I typically stay in my car when I’m in the Austin community. Perhaps you read the story of the time Mother Goose rode her bicycle to an oasis within the neighborhood, the Garfield Park Conservatory

Unless I’m going to a meeting where we are working out ways to connect military families and veterans to the social services and VA-sponsored services they may need in their community, I try to be as safe as possible and just keep driving.

However, if I’m waiting at an intersection and see a homeless person walking between the cars trying to collect some change, I’ll immediately reach into my purse for whatever I can find. I drop the money in their cups — they say “God bless you, ma’am. God bless you.”

homeless

When Mother Goose looked into the eyes of this homeless man at the bottom of her front porch steps, her heart was filled with compassion for him and his circumstance. “I don’t have any work for you,” she explained. “But I’d like to help you anyway.”

Opening her wallet, she found some bills and handed them to the man. He smiled gratefully as he reached for the money, and said, “Thank you, ma’am. My name is Lawrence. Thank you so much.”

Softly, Mother Goose replied, “Oh my grandfather’s name was Lawrence.”

The homeless man beamed knowing he had made a connection. “Well, there you are,” he said. “I knew we had something in common. And what is your name, ma’am? I’d really like to do some work for you. Could I come back tomorrow for some work? I’d sure like to do some work for you.”

I told him my name and said that if he’d come back tomorrow, I’d find something for him to do.

Though I am a very giving person, even this was way out of the box for Mother Goose. This is called beginning a relationship with a homeless man. It starts with the exchange of names. Now it is no longer anonymous donations in an empty coffee cup. Now it’s personal. Now there are expectations and hopes and suggestions of help to come. Now it gets real. Now there’s a commitment of sorts.

Some people would say “Now this is an open can of worms.”

Mother Goose said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Lawrence. Around noonish?”

(Please return tomorrow to hear more of this story…)

Are We Pinning Yet?

Mother Goose welcomes you to Week Three of Compassion’s Blogging Month! In the unlikely event that you have missed the previous two episodes of this month-long campaign, we are finding sponsors for 3,108 children around the globe who live in various conditions of poverty. Compassion sponsorship costs very little in monetary units, and has an INCREDIBLE return on the emotional investment side.

Mother Goose invites YOU to go to their website, think about this for a little awhile and then make a life-changing decision to make a difference in the lives of one of these little kids. Since September 1st, we have found sponsors for 1,515 children — maybe you’ll be the next one.

Our assignment this week is to spread our social media wings and include Pinterest in our outreach for Compassion. And also, to post a picture of ourselves with the gosling whom we are currently involved with (sponsoring and/or corresponding). Here’s yours truly, Mother Goose, in India with precious little Benny.

Yeah, just kidding. I’m in my backyard holding a photograph of her.

Now, I must ask….have we discussed Pinterest here at Mother Goose Smiles? I’m thinking that we have not. I would like to cordially invite you over there right now to honk at my pins, repin my pins or just smile at them. There are various ways of enjoying Pinterest…. But first you have to sign up for that fun place. After that, just drop over and we’ll pin together.

I’m going there myself right now. See you at Pinterest.

Oh, yes! Here’s a link to my Pinterest page! HONK!

Mother Goose Writes a Letter to God

Dear God,

Can you hear me now? Are you there?

I know you’re there, of course. You promised that you’d always be there. You’re always with me, and you know my thoughts before they come out of my mouth or across my laptop screen. Our connection is so much more secure and reliable than my cell phone or my internet.

So, yes, you’re there.

But do you care?

You say you care. The Bible says all over the place that you love me, yes even me…

But, God, don’t you care about children around the world who don’t even have their basic needs of life met on a regular basis? What about kids who don’t have clean water, or nutritious meals or opportunities for education? What about little kids who live on the dumps of Ecuador or in the slums of Mumbai or on the hungry plains of Uganda?

God, don’t you care?

Yes, I know you care. You care a whole lot more than I do. You watch over the little ones day and night — you never leave their side. No matter what they have to endure in their worlds, You are always caring for them and protecting them.

Each child born into this world is a new bundle of hope. Babies and children are symbols to the world that life is going on — that love and genetics have produced another spark of miracle life once again — hope endures for another generation.

But the grind of poverty in a child’s life can extinguish that bit of hope.

Poverty tells a child that they are not important — not to anyone in this world and not to You, God.

Poverty lies to these precious and impressionable children, telling them that they are just another mouth to feed.

Poverty deceives these little ones into thinking that they are no better than the dirty dress they wear or the broken shoe on their filthy foot.

God, I know that I cannot erase poverty in this world. I’m just a goose — how can I change the world? This world is riddled with crime and disease and evil and poverty. God, the problems of this world are simply too complex for me to fix. I can’t make it all go away, and I’m sure you don’t expect me to try, do you?

Nope, you don’t, right?

Right, God?

/

You can click here to see other kiddos who need a sponsor. (Or you can just go check your email now or click over to some other website, and forget all about their poor faces and their poor places…)

But Mother Goose knows that she can make a difference. I have discovered first-hand, or first-wing, that sponsoring a child with Compassion International can change THEIR world. Suddenly, somebody outside their immediate family thinks that they are special! Suddenly, they matter! Suddenly, they have an importance!

And here is the bottom line: they didn’t have to do a thing to earn it. It’s all grace (oops, just like our salvation!). There’s nothing they can do to win it, deserve it or improve on it. It’s just a love-gift to a needy little person.

When they get a sponsor, their future immediately changes. My little girl in India actually jumped up and down when I sent her a picture of my daughter, AnnaRose. Now that little bit of hope within the heart of every child gets a little puff of love and blazes into real anticipation and expectation of good things.

Faith grows within the heart of a sponsored child. Mother Goose knows, because she’s seen it happen in the lives of three Compassion children already.

Oh, and God, are you still there? Could you please help the children that I personally hatched from eggs to get along with each other today? Thank you for loving them and me…

Gotta Love the Little Goslings

“My dear sweet Aunty, greetings in the Jesus’ name. How are you? I am doing well. I enjoyed birthday gift that you sent to me. Thanks for the nice gift. Pray too my studies ranks in my class. And my mother is a tailor. She often gets electric shock when she is stitching. So please pray for her, I pray for you! by G. Benny Kiruba”

Mother Goose gets letters every other month from this sweet little girl in India. She’s eight years old and lives alone with her mother who earns a poor income as a tailor in their village. Her father passed away due to complications from jaundice.

Mother Goose has been a child sponsor with Compassion International for so many years. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love of these children who live in faraway corners of the world. The letters they write are sweet, cheerful and sometimes heartbreaking, but always jam-packed with thankfulness!

This little Benny is the third child I have sponsored, and it seems she touches my heart the most.

Perhaps because she is alone with only her mother who gets shocks from her sewing machine…

Maybe because she is nearly the same age as my own AnnaRose…

Maybe it’s her precious smile and her pretty face.

Here’s how to sponsor a little boy or a little girl — someone just like my little Benny!

Maybe I just love the little goslings…

Whatever the reason, there is no shadow of a doubt that we have developed a real bond of love. I have compassion on her. I believe that she has compassion on me — after all, I’m only a goose!

Compassion International is celebrating new child sponsorships for the entire month of September with Blog Month — their goal (and mine as well) is to find sponsors for 3,108 children scattered here, there and everywhere around the world. And they are having a contest for bloggish people because they know that we know how to spread the good word to our dear, faithful, loyal and loving readers.

The ultimate grand prize for the blogger who hauls in the most new sponsorships in September is way beyond exciting — it’s the dream of a lifetime for Mother Goose!

Imagine…the blogger who brings in the most sponsorships through their blog between September 1st and September 30 will win a FREE ticket on a blog trip to a country where Compassion works.

Whilst on this trip, Mother Goose would get to write her stories from the field, meet incredible people (you KNOW I’ll love that!), and get to experience Compassion’s ministry to the poor, up close and personal. HONK HONK — this would be so GREAT!

There are other prizes as well: books, gift certificates, gifts to sponsored children and their families. Friends, it’s all good.

I wonder if you are beginning to get excited about this opportunity? Are you thinking that being able to change the life of a young person might be a heartwarming experience? Maybe you’re wishing for some just personal mail for a change instead of the usual bills and junk mail.

Sometimes we feel small and helpless in the face of the world’s problems and tragedies. We wonder how we can possibly change the world…

Mother Goose knows first hand that you change the world for one child.

Please click on this link — it’ll take you to the Compassion website where you can see pictures of real kids looking for real sponsors. God’s sweetest blessings on you today for loving His littlest goslings.

Important Stats for a Goose

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