So as I sit in my favorite coffee shop, just having met with my writing coach, and feeling defeated when it comes to my dream of writing a book, she has encouraged me, “Just write, write, write, write, you have beautiful words that the world needs to hear, emotions they need to feel and stories they need to be apart of. A book will come in time, but for now you must focus on writing.”
I think of the stories that I’ve heard just in this week, I think of the two boys who I immediately judged last night, because they looked “shady” outside of my home, while in reality they were lost looking for a buddy and needed a phone to call and I had horrible thoughts running through my mind as I handed over my phone so they could call said friend, when he didn’t answer I entertained them by asking questions, and heard their stories. I am thankful this week for the opportunity I’ve been given to live even more intentionally within my neighborhood this week, for the gentle reminder that my community is more than just the three-four blocks that surround my home and for the stories I am going to be able to tell.
We’re in the process of changing our internet at our properties, and well my hot-spot only works about 0 times out of 10, so I have been forced to “live” in coffee shops this week for work (which I am NOT complaining about)! I’ve spent a couple of days at my favorite coffee shop in Federal Hill, but the other days I’ve taken up residency in the Dunkin Donuts that is just a few blocks from my house it has been great because I’ve met people who I never would have met otherwise, a group of men who meet every night for coffee, but this Dunkin Donuts also is the hub for street girls, and addicts who need a place to recover, who need a warm-up or just need to breathe for five minutes off of the streets, I’ve gotten to love and been loved this week is ways I never would have dreamed.
I’ve become an honorary member of the coffee drinking club, which is literally about 10 older gentleman who meet EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for coffee, what’s even more fun is that they are from all walks of life… last night they told me I have become an honorary member of their group, and before I could even get in the door they had already paid for my coffee and had it waiting in my seat. I even have my own seat in their circle.
This week I have learned more about East Baltimore than I ever could have researched on my own. Mr. John brought some pictures last night and took me on a walk down memory lane, his mother and his father were both born within in blocks of my house, I saw pictures of what the streets surrounding mine looked like before they became drug infested. And much like every other “ghetto” neighborhood in Baltimore, mine is no different, it was once a beautiful place, full of life… as I talked about the neighborhood now and the beauty I find there, these men hung on my every word, and at the end said they could never see the beauty in those things. I’ve been able to find beauty in places they used too, one of the men is a property manager and as he pours out story after story of people not paying their rent, and how he just can’t bear to evict them I am reminded of grace, as I listen to Bucky go on and on about traveling as a truck driver I am reminded of the beauty God has created around us, as I listen to Ed talk about being a retired painter I am reminded of the gifts we are blessed with. But there is an even greater part of this story!
The even greater part of this story is that through the relationship I have formed with my newfound friends at the coffee shop I get to remind them on a daily basis that, they are loved by a loving God. I’ve heard night after night over the past week or so, “I could never go into a church again, It’s been to long…lightning would strike me down, I’m too much of a sinner these days to go to church.” Each night as I pull out my bible to read the scriptures from my devotional before I began the email exchange with Travis about what we’ve read that day, my friends ask what I am reading, last night one of the scriptures, “James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Speared on an entire conversation about finding joy in trials, and I got to hear about some of the trials my friends have faced, I got to share some of my own trials, and how I’ve been able to find Christ in most of them. I’ve been able to pray for them each this week, I ‘ve been able to share how God brought me from Kansas before I even really knew Him and how He’d written my story, one that I never could have imagined.
I have learned this week more about being intentional then I would have thought possible, the irony in all of this is that a few months ago as my friends were adopting their words for the year, I decided that I wasn’t going to just pick any word, I was going to pray hard for God to reveal the word I need to focus on for this year, as I prayed the word intentional never left my heart. For those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while know that I lived intentionally within my community for almost two years, but what does the word intentional really mean? Does living intentional mean living in a community and fulfilling needs? Does it mean hanging out with your neighbors? I thought that I had a pretty good idea of what it meant to live intentionally, but I’ve realized as I’ve been focusing on the word intentional, that while I have been living intentionally within my community and sharing Jesus, I need to be more open to opportunities to live intentionally, I need to be more open to hearing and sharing the stories that God allows me to be a part of, I need to just write, write, write, and share the emotions and the beauty that I am blessed to be a part of daily.
My prayer today and from now on is going to be that I would be more open to the ways God wants me to be intentional, that I would be more open to write the stories that God gives me, that I would be more open to share the emotions I feel, that I wouldn’t hold back, that I would allow others to be blessed through the blessings God gives me by allowing me to be intentional in my community.