Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joe Knows I Am....

I was eating lunch at Wahoo's on South Congress in Austin 
when I had to step outside so I could hear and take a call from Paige.
I sat down in an Adirondack chair next to a man 
with no shoes, a stack of children's books in his lap
and a small worn photo book.

You know me...
Little Miss Curious...
I had to meet him.

Hi, I am Gina.

I am Joe.

You like children's books?

I sell them.
People on the streets like to buy them from me.
I like this book right here.
You can put your family pictures in it.

Do you have a family?

I did.

Joe, are you homeless?

I am.

I'm sorry.

Don't be.
I live down there with some friends.
It's my home.
I had a nice life.
Life brought me here.

I teach school to some children who live in nice houses.
I have a brother with the most amazing house I've ever seen.
I lived in a really nice house before I divorced.
...You know what Joe?
I've realized that you can have a house and still be homeless.

He agreed.
I asked him if he knew God.
He said yes.
I asked him what he knew about God.
He said,
God is I Am.
That's all I need to know.
He is I Am.

I really wanted to hear more about his story,
his life, his understanding of God.

I had to wonder what events in his life
brought him to describe God as such.
He didn't go into detail.
He didn't give me any theological references.
He didn't supply any anecdotes,
theories or personal experiences...
no religious upbringing to support his claim...
Just a simple,
He is I Am.

What has been his journey?
What path led him to the streets of Austin...
without a job, house or family....?

The idea that I might fail and lose everything
has tried to 
and haunt me.
I fathom the possibility of
and shame....

But my mind goes back to Joe and his words...
He is I Am.
And he spoke it with such certainty.

I never really thought about or
understood exactly the meaning of 
I Am....
Sounded like something was missing...

The only thing missing was my ability
to allow God to be my Everything.

When possessions
and relationships
are lost,
you find peace in
God being enough...
or maybe some of us have to
be left with little or nothing to make room for Him.

I don't know...
but I know Joe Knows I Am...
and I am 100% certain that
I will meet Joe again one day...
and that small photo book will not
be large enough to contain all the
pictures of our new family...

I am...

Friday, June 8, 2012

I'm so glad I asked...

So this book...People I Met While Searching For Myself...
The one I said I was writing...
Well...this is where it all began.

I'm in the doctor's office almost 4 years ago.
I'm there because I think I have a stomach ulcer.
I keep losing weight and I hurt all the time.
I look around the room and I am at least 3 decades younger than anyone else present.
I think to myself,
I am too young to be dealing with this stuff...

Directly across from me sits the most adorable couple I've ever seen.
She was giggling
And he was to blame.
They were not using their inside voices...
and they didn't care.
They were so absorbed in each other...
in their own world..
nothing and no one else mattered.

She had on a white sequined beret, red dress and big smile.
He had on denim overalls, plaid shirt and ball cap.
I could not take my eyes off of them.

If they weren't married,
they were the best of friends...

I soon found out they were both.

They were called back before me and finished before I was called back.

They left the office and exited
into the hall...
what came over me,
I don't know,
but I went after them.

Excuse me,
can I ask you a question?

They said yes.

I need to know why you're so happy.
I need to know what you know.
I just divorced and I'm scared.
What if  I'm in a doctor's office 40 years from now
and no one is there with me.
I want to get it right this time.
Please help me.
Tell me your story.

Bless their hearts.
They were probably thinking I need a psychiatrist instead of an internist.

They were so gracious.
I took their name and number and they said
I could call anytime and they would tell me their story.

Weeks past and  I could not stop thinking about
Mr. and Mrs. Cole.
Earline and Nathaniel.

I finally decided to call and got an invitation to their home.
I asked her why she would let a complete stranger into her home,
and she said,
"I know you're okay. I just know."

I wrote out some questions, grabbed my laptop and headed to Midland.
I drove up to the sweetest house and Miss Earline was standing at the door with
that big beautiful smile ready to greet me.

Mr. Cole was napping,
otherwise known as "reluctant".

She talked...
and talked...
and I listened....
and listened...

We still talk regularly.
I call and know to give her plenty of time to get to the phone.
Mr. Cole has warmed up to me...
he even gave me the secret to his delicious cornbread recipe.
They love me..
and I love them back.
They remind me to trust Jesus and
they pray for me and my girls.

There is so much more to the story,
but I will save it for the book.
It's worth reading....
and The Coles are worth knowing.

Their story was more than I ever expected and
I was so glad I asked.
A story that broke my heart and mended my soul at the same time.
I am in love.
With them.
with their story,
with life.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jonny Baby

I don't know what I'm searching for...
but I know I will find it.
And I will love it.
I will know it's what I was trying to find,
even though I didn't know what I was looking for.
I promise.

Speaking of searching, I am writing that book I told you I was going to write.
And I plan to share bits and pieces of it as I go.

It goes something like this...
People I Met While Searching for Myself

The purpose of my mission is clear.
The possible outcome is not.
I am already in love with it.
That's really all that matters.
I will share more about the details later, but for now...

Meet Jonny Baby.

He's bad. Real bad. And he wanted me to know it.
A former associate member of the Bandito Motorcycle Gang,
Jonny has slept in a jail cell dozens of nights,
sold drugs,
done drugs,
treated women poorly and carried anger in his heart in an effort to leave no room for anyone else.

How do I know all this? ...because I asked.

I stopped at his antique store to look for a particular photo prop and upon leaving I noticed the same devotional I've been reading sitting on his desk.
Are you reading that?
Me too. I've read several devotionals in the past but I'm really, really liking this one.
"I like it too. I've only been a believer for 4 years but I like the way this one speaks to me."

That's all it took for me to want to know more. I love a good "How I found God story".
Can I interview you?
Can I take your picture?
Yes. But I've done some really bad things.
Okay. It's okay. Just don't tell me anything you don't want everyone to know...Because I'm writing a book and everyone is going to want to read it.

I ran to grab my camera and realized my notepad was not in my car.
I went back in and had to ask to borrow some paper and a pen...
Glad I did...
He hands me a notebook with a skull and crossbone on it...
"Told you I was bad."

His name is Jon Willey but his friends call him Jonny Baby.
Never married. Not that he didn't want to, just hadn't.
He believes in love. In fact his best example of a loving relationship is close to home...his own parents have been married for 62 years.
They still kiss each other goodnight and hold hands everyday. Sweet...
He loves his friends and family...and now he loves God.
In the middle of my questions he asked me if I was happy.
It took me by surprise a little.
I am the one asking questions here Jonny.
I answered him and then found myself struggling to hold back tears. What is going on here?
I walk in an antique store with one purpose and now I am finding my heart touched by a self proclaimed "bad boy".
Then he shows concern for me placing myself in possibly dangerous situations by interviewing complete strangers...
Did you feel safe because you saw the devotional on my desk?
No, it was more than that. I saw something in your eyes. I knew I was okay.
Me saying that to him blessed him and then he got teary eyed.
He went on to say how God removed anger from his heart.
He went to church with some friends, not with the intentions of finding God, but to go eat afterwards...
He doesn't have a burning bush mountain moving, earth shattering moment...just a realization that God is real and He took his anger away.
"It was gone. No more anger. I can't explain it. It just happened."

Simple enough. Make room in your heart for more God and you leave little room for anything else...Okay. Got it.

Lately I wonder if God hears me. I pray so hard for people that I love to give their hearts and lives to Him. It breaks my heart when they don't. I realized after 15 minutes of asking a complete stranger a few simple questions that God will get to people when He wants to. He has not forgotten my prayers. He is listening and loves them even more than I do. He will take care of people's hearts...all I have to do is love them. I can't save anyone. I can't even save myself.

If you want to meet Jonny Baby, he and his new motorcycle gang, The Wigglers, are serving free meals every Sunday evening from 6:30-7:30 at the Outreach Cafe in Brownfield, Texas.

He's sounds real bad, doesn't he?  Be afraid. And then give him a hug from me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

this Christmas...

Wake up to snow.
Not just any snow...but Narnia like billows of endless flakes for over 24 hours.
Hannah said she prayed it would snow.
prayer answered.
I prayed for God to permeate the walls of my house with laughter.
He answered that one too...
I am so blessed.
at peace.
I am beyond thankful.
I am amazed.
May you enjoy this day.
Don't just give presents...
be present.
Look around you.
and when things are not perfect...
appreciate the imperfections.
make new traditions.
there will never be another Christmas...
just like this one.
...wishing you laughter.

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