So… It’s Easter Sunday Morning! Wooo hooo!!!

Last year’s Easter Sunday post… worth another look again this year…

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

So… It’s Easter Sunday Morning!  Wooo hooo!!!

But I don’t feel any different.  What happened?  Did something change?  You mean some women can’t find a dead guy?  You mean to tell me that a couple of sluts (a-hem, okay, FORMER sluts) and the mother of a death row inmate that got executed last Friday are running around in a dither because his grave is empty?

It’s still six months til Halloween, ya’ll.  What has changed?

Here’s the thing: Frank and Ed met up with Junior and Frisco yesterday and found a really sweet spot for a group of homeless men to crash for the night behind some tall weeds and a small grove of trees behind the No-Tell Motel.  It’s just two blocks from church, and it being Easter Sunday, these guys planned to go to Sunday Worship.

This is Easter Sunday, but they have the hope of COFFEE and…

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Easter Sunday and the Weatherman

(Side note: I know it is sexist to call the forecaster the weatherman.  But in this case it really is the man I hear repeatedly alerting us.)

Good Friday Morning, this Good Friday.

As is common, the forecast for Easter Sunday calls for a dip in temperatures, and the weatherman on the local channel keeps noting over and over that it will be surprisingly cool at sunrise on Easter.  I am sure he is alerting those devotees who plan to get up early for Easter Sunrise Services.  After all, you might show up in your best Sunday frock with only a little lace to keep you warm.

I keep thinking of all my street friends out there who will be spending the Long Night of the Soul in that cold.  Who cares about them?

You know… When Mary (and the other Mary, and the other women) came to the empty tomb that first Sunday of New Creation, they were surprised to find Jesus not there!  It was a surprise!  Oh sure, in at least John’s account, Mary Magdalene finds Jesus in the garden and does not recognize him at first (meaning he is there, and he is found), but still it is a surprise!

But the weatherman here in Lubbock does not want the worshipers of Lubbock to be surprised by the cold Easter morning.

I hope that some homeless people are camping at the worship spot Saturday night.  I hope the worshipers are surprised to find “the least of these” there in the cold at sun up.  I think that would be a nice surprise.

And at the very least, it would be nice to worship with these folx who surely have more invested in that sunrise than a new dress, new shoes, and a matching Bible cover.

Think about it.

Party With The King

Did you ever eat at The King’s Table?

I lived down in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix suburbia, when I was young, in the mid 1990’s.  I remember this one restaurant at one of the malls called The King’s Table.  I didn’t really care for the food there, but that is not really what I am talking about anyway.

The King’s Table.  Think about it.  We Americans have to get our heads into that game.  It takes a bit of work to do it.  It is not our nature, nor our second nature, to really consider it.  Royalty, especially in days gone by, was a far bigger matter than just celebrity.  The monarch had absolute authority.  Everyone obeyed his every word.  He was the most special person AND had the most power and glory of any in the land.

So if he invited you to eat with him at his table, you would dress up.  This would be a black tie party kind of thing.  And if you were a mere commoner, it would be a stunning event to be invited to eat at his table with him – a once in a lifetime kind of thing.  In fact, it would be almost certain that you would never be invited – a freakish thing that would call into question everything you know about how the world works!

Perhaps a quick look at II Samuel 9 is in order at this point.  There you find the story of King David, whose rule presided over the one time in all of history when it was truly good to be an Israelite, inviting the very unlikely guest Mephibosheth to eat at his table each day.  And I don’t mean King David was pulling through the drive-thru… No!  I don’t mean King David nuked a Hot Pocket in the microwave for two minutes on high… No!  I mean the meals at the King’s Table, even on an average Thursday, were far more festive and feasts than what we get at my house for Sunday dinner and invited guests!  For Mephibosheth, this was like joining a perpetual party in first class!

Well, this is Thursday of Holy Week – the time we traditionally believe Jesus hosted his Last Supper.  It is somewhat a vogue in the last generation for Christians to embrace the Passover celebration of the Jews as we meditate on Jesus’s Last Supper.  And there is no doubt that the Passover meal provides the setting in which this meal does it’s drama.  But it is also equally, if not more so, fashionable to meditate on the fact that Jesus shares this meal just before he dies for the sins of the world.  And again, there is no doubt that is completely appropriate, accurate, and right.

However, there are more layers to this meal.  Layers still touching on Passover and crucifixion, but with dynamics normally not talked about – at least not in my experience (which is extensive).  Think of the Exodus story again for a moment.  Consider this: The itinerary that Moses presents to Pharaoh when he says “Let my people go!” is that he wants to take them a 3-day journey into the desert to party with God.

No.  Really.  Look it up (Exod. 5:1).

And you gotta think about that a minute.  If you were in Egypt in those days, and you set out into the desert for three days, there is a really, really, really good chance you are going to die out there.  In fact, it is almost certain.  It is so certain that if you were Pharaoh, and you wanted to execute a criminal, you could banish him to the desert where he would almost surely die a terrible death in the next three days!  And this is what Moses is saying he wants to do!  (No wonder the Hebrews grumbled!)

And while you are thinking about that for a minute, it surely has already occurred to you that the whole 3-day thingy is surely a little more than coincidental.  In fact, I would suggest that the Passover celebration was more of a dress rehearsal for Jesus’s Last Supper than the Last Supper being a look back.  A little like Miyagi teaching Daniel karate by having him paint the fence and wax the car!

And so as long as we are turning tables on our meditative memories, let us consider that Jesus, like the Moses Party, is going on a 3-day journey through the wilderness of DEATH, alright, but this is not actually just a death sentence.  In fact, this crucifixion will actually be a coronation!

Again, we Americans have to get our heads into this game.  We know the terms well enough, when we stop to really think about them.  Coronation is that ceremony when a prince gets his crown and becomes King!  And if you turn the page in your Gospels just one or two pages, you find that Jesus gets a crown!  AND they bow down to him!  They put royal robes on him!  They even put up a sign over his head for all to read that says he is KING of the Jews!

This is where things get really tricky.  To all the watching world, this coronation sure looks like an execution of an uppity, mouthy, don’t-know-his-place Jew-boy who took his LOVE message just a bit too far.  He got it up in everyone’s hostile face, and they put him in his!  And it is really, really, really hard to watch a man die in this kind of utter shame, humiliation, and degradation and think there is anything good in it.  But we Christians are pretty zany that way.  We think God is doing his most special thing in it.  He is giving Jesus dominion, rule, and reign over all of creation!

So, back up to that upper room two pages back again.  These humble peasants following this uppity prophet around are invited guests eating at…

DRUM ROLL PLEASE

…..

The King’s Table!

Now, for all the watching world this doesn’t look like a king’s table.  But… wait… what?  Oh… the world wasn’t even watching it.  Hmmm…

That is contempt.  The world has only contempt for this table, this party, and this king.  But on this Holy Week Thursday, if you go to communion, I invite you to look again at what the world cannot see.  It’s as plain as the nose on your face, but you can only see it with the eyes of your heart.  And like all true Passover celebrations before it, the party was not just a reenactment, and not just a meditative memory, but a living, breathing, embodiment of God’s mystery.  When those disciples joined Jesus in that upper room for that meal, they believed he would have God’s special favor and that at his command, salvation would come again and free the people – not least from Roman oppression just as God had freed them from Egyptian oppression so many eons before.

But they take a 3-day journey through DEATH with Jesus, starting at that party.  And they lose their hope on Saturday.  We know this because of how bewildered they are at first light on Sunday.  And God chooses these lowly subjects to eat at his table, to see the mighty mysterious LOVE of God overtake DEATH itself.

Humility and trust are the price of admission at this party.  There is a bouncer keeping out the proud.  He is a big guy who goes by the name “CONTEMPT”.  And if you hold this uppity prophet in scorn or ridicule, then CONTEMPT will kick you out of this party.

Jesus goes on trial tonight.  It is a dark night that lies ahead.  Here at Fat Beggars, I suggest you run down to the grocery store and pick up a jug of grape juice and a communion cracker (or bake your own), and then head out to the poor side of town, find some homeless bums, beggars, and prophets, and pray with them, break the bread with them, and share the humility and faith with them.  And see what you have not seen as you find yourself eating with the King.  He will eat it with you anew when he comes in his Glory too.

The Legend of Johnny Schitzo

For those wondering about the whole secret agent network, and the use of pseudonyms like Agent X, I will say that for me it all started when I found a blog post called The Legend of Johnny Schitzo on a little blog called The Agent B Files.  It’s a ghost blog now, but still there to be read.  The post was sad and funny – real. This one post had me hooked.  Eventually, I too joined the secret agent network started by Agent B.  Eventually I began ministering among the homeless.

There is a lot more behind the pseudonyms, but this is where I got involved.

See the post here:

http://theagentbfiles.blogspot.com/2006/02/legend-of-johnny-schitzo.html

 

 

Rx for the Human Broken Heart

It was a year ago when I read on Preston Searcy’s blog: “If it cries, hold it”.

Words to live by.  Words to minister by.

“If it cries, hold it”.

I have not forgotten those words.

Let me tell you a little scenario from the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners.  All four of the otherwise homeless souls staying in this house (not counting my own), are under the age of two.  None are speaking in complete words yet, much less sentences.  One is adopted, we expect it of another, and there is the ever looming question mark hanging over the other two.

The three toddlers are old enough to begin dealing with social issues, despite their language limitations.  They deal in matters of sharing/not sharing, inclusion/exclusion, bullying and jealousy every day.  I, as the shepherd of this fold, have the task of discovering and implementing worthwhile discipline WHILE AT THE SAME TIME managing other household matters.  There is laundry, dishes, baths, dusting, picking up of clutter, groceries to purchase, case worker inspections, therapy sessions, parent visits, and a yard to maintain – not to mention routine repairs on both home and cars, bills to pay, dinner to cook, and diapers to change….

Did I cover it all?

Not even close.

So when a toddler begins to cry in the play pen while I am cleaning up after breakfast, it could be that he just got bit, knocked down and a toy taken away, or some other social injustice… or… it could be that he is just lonely.

“If it cries, hold it!”

So, I put the mop down and go find one of the children (the runt of the litter) bawling his eyes out in the play pen alone.  Every single toy is thrown out of it, and there is nothing to play with.  My first thought is to scold the child for tossing all the toys out.  My second thought is to plea with the child to be patient, I am coming to give attention in a few minutes… as soon as I get that laundry moved to the dryer, the leftovers put up, and that spilt milk (I wanna cry over) that is coagulating on my kitchen floor mopped up.  You know… in just a minute.

Okay!  Okay!  Okay!!!!  I get it.  Move over.  I am climbing in there with you.  Hold on, let me grab that ball we bought for you just yesterday that you love so much.

The child with tears running down both cheeks just looks at me bewildered until I finally have the ball in hand and my butt sat on the floor of the play pen.  He droops and lunges for me.  I try to push him to the other side so that I can roll the ball to him, and he can roll it back to me.  Like we did yesterday! and it made for much laughter and smiles.  But suddenly, he bursts out with new cries!

What???

I say it in exasperation.

“If it cries, hold it”!

Okay!

I take the child in my arms, and the crying suddenly ceases.

I roll the ball to the other side in such a way to make it bounce back to me as the child sits on my lap watching.  Perhaps there is value in this exercise, but the real value is in the holding.  He watches the ball go back and forth, but holds his spot on my lap like his life depends on it.

“If it cries, hold it”.

Are you hearing me, dear reader?

If it cries, hold it.

I got this from Preston Searcy who got it from a college buddy’s mom.

I wonder why this doesn’t come up in our outreach classes.  We run to the “get a job, hippie!” chapter – okay, it’s said in different words with different inflection, but it is still a chip off the old Nazi propaganda block that said, “Work will make you free”.  But what if that homeless person needs a hug?  Did anyone think of that?

If I told you my foster kids are almost all recovering drug addicts at one year old and less, would you think any less of them?  What if I told you that about my street friends?  Would you think less of them?

If I told you my baby who is not a drug addict at all behaves pretty much the same, would that mean anything?  Would it suggest that needing to be held when you cry is a fairly common matter of the human condition?

Just look at all the tear-in-my-beer country music songs!  What does it mean to sing the blues?  How is it that every road house, honkytonk, and juke joint knows what you don’t?

I know that when I got divorced, I fell apart and cried a lot.  I know that those who came to listen a bit, to hold me and pray always got my attention, and my desire to be with them deepened tremendously and quickly.  And I was not on drugs!  Yet I also know that a LOT of my street friends were born hooked on drugs and from broken homes long before they were homeless.

“If it cries, hold it”.

It’s not a Bible verse in and of itself, but perhaps it should have been.  And anyway, I think it should get a chapter in the course material for any outreach class your church would offer.

Front Page Correction!

Managing staff here at Fat Beggars School of Prophets needs to print a retraction/correction on the Fat Beggars blog.  Twelve days ago, we reported lost verses found in a church in Lubbock, Texas from a passage in Matthew’s Gospel.  You can see the original/erroneous post here:

https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/lost-verses-from-matthews-gospel-found/

By viewing the previous post, you will find the reportedly newfound text printed in Bold Red font for easy detection.  Today it has come to light that those words are actually in dispute.  The real new text should read as follows:

Matthew 25:31-46 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me you OFFERED CLASSES AND HELD COMMITTEE MEETINGS WHERE YOU SIPPED LATTES AND DISCUSSED “EFFECTIVE CHARITY” AND DECIDED TO STOP MEETING NEEDS SO YOU COULD “START SEEKING” SHALOM.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you OFFER CLASSES AND HOLD COMMITTE MEETINGS?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.”
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food FED ME, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me, AND YOU ENABLED ME AND MADE ME DEPENDENT AND UNDIGNIFIED AS YOU BENT OVER BACKWARDS TO SHOW KINDNESS TO ME WITHOUT FIRST TAKING THE CLASSES, SIPPING THE LATTES, AND SEEKING SHALOM BY WAY OF STOPPING THE MEETING OF NEEDS.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

As you can see from this reprint, the interpolations from the original text are crossed out and the original bits that previously were omitted are now added in with Bold Red font for easy analysis.

We here at Fat Beggars School of Prophets do sincerely apologize for misrepresenting the textual discovery before.  One of our junior staff prophets published it without proper editing and has since been reprimanded, fired, and disciplined severely for the error.  Expelled for false prophecy, we trust he never makes this kind of mistake again!

Lesson to be learned from all this???

Be very careful what you read.  Do not just swallow every thing some “Christian” publication offers uncritically.  Weigh it against the actual Word of God, and devote yourself whole heartedly to him as you are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

God bless America!

Amen.

Over and out.

Half Full??? Or Half Empty???

Prayer at the Jones Football Stadium drew a little over half the crowds we were aiming for.  The figure expected was 50,000.  That is what I heard from the organizers on my TV multiple times.  The news report after the fact claimed a “little more than 25,000”.  Is this a success?  Is this a failure?  Is this a good start?  Or does it indicate that this dream is a self-delusion?

I have yet to hear from the organizers about it.  But if I were a betting man, I would bet they do their best to put the best face on it.  I bet they see the glass as half full.

There are two main ways I see this going.  One is that you just talk up the hype and don’t mention the disappointing numbers.  If this is the route taken, then I imagine any future plans for more will quietly fizzle out in the meetings of the organizers, and then there will not be any more mention of the event next year at all.  The other main way I see this going is to acknowledge the low turn out, but spin it as a good start.  And if this level of honesty is achieved, then surely efforts to learn from the mistakes along with renewed push to organize even better next year will mean at least one more attempt.

To my mind, though, this is very disappointing.  There are two main thrusts in my mission and ministry as I serve Jesus.  The one that everyone reading here surely knows is that I minister to the poor and lowly.  The other thrust for me is unity.  I don’t spend as much energy on unity, but it is the other big thrust in my mission and ministry, and has everything to do with why I confirmed in the Catholic Church several years ago.

I don’t mean to beat people up for not turning out to the prayer event, after all, even I was absent.  I expect plenty of people had good excuses.  Wanna hear mine?  I was stuck here at the Fat Beggars Home For Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners with three sick toddlers (diarrhea and vomiting) and an infant (so far not sick) and could not leave them unattended.   So, I get it.  Stuff comes up.  Lot’s of people have to deal with stuff coming up all the time.

But Lubbock is a “Christian” town.  We are just about as “Christian” as it gets.  We have huge monolithic church buildings all over town.  Some take up whole city blocks (and more).  We have dozens of mid-size churches, and probably a hundred or more small ones.  So when I say we have a church on every corner, I mean it.

And in these churches, I personally estimate that 90% (or close to it) vote the same way, cheer the same team, buy the same brand of bread and butter.  Though we put different denominational names on the door of our houses of worship, we tend to look alike, talk alike, vote alike, eat alike, drink alike and on and on and on.

And when it comes to the football games played in that stadium, we know how to pack the house week after week all season long!

(Now… granted… a lot of those people packing the stadium for games are students from out of town, here for the education, and a lot of them are bikers, truckers, pagans and people you don’t normally see at church, but a LOT of them are!)

So, when I look at Lubbock, Texas and think that if I wanted to be elected mayor of this town, it helps tremendously if I can say I am a deacon in the Baptist Church and will almost certainly mean defeat if I say I am an imam at the local mosque, AND notice the ease with which a football game packs the stadium, then I wonder why Jesus doesn’t.  And the kinds of answers that come quickly to my mind are not flattering.

And I really don’t want to help cover over those things.  I want to see us deal with them honestly.  I want us to have real unity based really on Jesus.  I don’t want to see half unity or unity based on Jesus + football.

I reckon I am a bit pessimistic in my analysis, but I also reckon I am cutting through the nonsense too.  I wonder if the pastors of Lubbock, and the organizers of the prayer event specifically, would deal with this now too.

Pray Jones Stadium (Jesus Gets The Christians Together on Palm Sunday)

I want to go on record: Fat Beggars School of Prophets endorses Pray Jones Stadium 2018!

Normally, I avoid writing and reading blogs on Sunday morning.  I prefer both my readers and myself attend the assembly and give our attention to the Jesus we worship there.  But I have sick kids and must stay home today taking care of them.  And this being Palm Sunday AND the first meeting of Christians in Lubbock on a mass scale since Billy Graham came here in the 1970’s, I want to add my voice of encouragement for this worship event.

I have often lamented that nothing gets the Christians of Lubbock together quite like a football game – not even Jesus!  The biggest venue in town is the Jones Stadium where Texas Tech plays football.  During football season, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Catholics, and every brand of Christian in between get together with the pagans, the drunks, the students, and every kind of sports fan to cheer their hearts out for the home team, but they split up into their little enclaves to worship Jesus (those that even do that).

Not today.

Today the pastors of Lubbock join the church together to pray.  In some ways it is a small gesture, but hopefully a start down a unity path.  I want to support that!

I will not, sadly, be able to attend.  I really hate that I cannot.  But I hope some of the Fat Beggars do attend.  And I hope it grows and builds up so that we do more of this in the future.

Please, please, please.  See the link above, and if possible for you to be in Lubbock today, I hope you will join this prayer service and give glory to God.

 

 

Seeking Shalom with Agent V

Agent V.

I have only recently become acquainted with Agent V, who is of late Agent Mamma DJ’s room mate.  Thus she has become a de facto partner in the Fat Beggars mission to the streets of Lubbock – a fellow prayer warrior and hands-n-feet minister.  But I don’t know her real well, and it is likely that some of the facts I think I know about her are a bit skewed.  Nevertheless, I have a story to tell (a picture to paint, which I am sure in the broad brush strokes is accurate enough).

Agent V, a lady in her mid thirties, grew up in Lubbock with a Baptist background (so far very typical).  Somewhere along the way (I suspect due in part at least to giving her heart to a troubled young man), she became addicted to meth.  Eventually, her life became deeply troubled, but being young and resilient, she began fighting her way out of addition and poverty by pursuing (again, in part) a college degree on line.  But as anyone familiar with addiction knows, and familiar with all sorts of jams it brings with it, for most recovering addicts, recovery is a matter of 3 steps forward/2 steps back ON THE GOOD DAYS!  Point being, she has not moved on a straight line at all.  Desperation hunts after her around every corner.

In recent months, she came to live with Agent DJ, who also knows all about addiction and recovery and fighting her way out of poverty.  Agent DJ, who herself is only one step away from the streets and living in a precarious situation (which I will not describe in depth, but involves living in a small camper trailer with yet another room mate) took Agent V in with her.

(I would love to stop right there and preach a thundering sermon to all my rich, white, middle-class, “Christian” brothers and sisters who keep an unoccupied spare bedroom in their massive homes with a nice bed and matching dresser, with nice linens and matching drapes, with doilies and sometimes even an attached bathroom sitting empty night after night.  I won’t preach it here because I want to talk about the other reality just now, so I will leave that Shalom-Seeking sermon for another time. (Or you could just read through the archives on this blog.  I am sure you will find variations on it scattered all through.)  But I note here AS LOUDLY AS I CAN, that this fellow sojourner with practically nothing to give, takes Agent V in where she stays.)

Okay well, with that bit of backstory and the almost-sermon out of the way, let me refresh my regular readers here by recalling that a month ago I posted here asking for help getting Agent V to her job interview (which you can read here: https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/can-i-give-her-your-number/) and then posted the praise report when she got the job (which you can read here:  https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2018/02/24/praise-report-from-the-streets-job-starts-monday/).  And then hopefully you will also recall that I pointed out that Agent V, a lady working her way out of addiction and poverty, is now faced with walking nearly two hours to and from her new job.

Think about that.

And so just last Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to get free a while, and instead of attending the Seeking Shalom class, I went out to actually seek Shalom by paying a visit to Agent DJ and Agent V.  It turns out, these ladies, after securing the job for Agent V, have now moved out of the camper trailer they shared with a different room mate, and started renting (to own) another camper trailer next door.  It is a smaller place, a real fixer-upper, but it gives them more freedom, privacy, and space.

And so I asked Agent V about the job.  And as I queried and probed, a story of real hardship began to take shape, but the story of her determination also came out as well.  And in my view, this story needs to be shared.

It turns out that Agent V has worked every single day with no days off until Tuesday the day before I showed up.  That is a solid month of work every day!  This is good news, of course, but within it is hardship, and though she answered me with a smile, being pleased with herself for holding down the job and for thus affording the new digs and a few other needful things, I began asking about the challenges.

I asked if she is walking to and from work each day, and she said “yes”.  Every single day, she has had to get up and leave for work two hours early and start walking.  Some days a Good Samaritan stops to offer a ride, but when this happens the person doing it is usually a stranger.  One day it was two men she did not know.  This of course presents significant risk for a vulnerable lady walking along the road, but she took them up on it, and it all worked out.  However, the down side of getting a ride in this way (as opposed to either driving herself or scheduling to get a ride) is that she then shows up to work between an hour and an hour and a half early.  It is no fun to sit around waiting for time to punch in.  It helps to have cigarettes at those moments, because a smoker’s area is available to her, but since she only makes minimum wage, she only affords herself one pack a week!

(Now… to all my nonsmoking friends – especially those who never smoked – let me say… I KNOW!  I already know what you are thinking, and you are right.  Absolutely right.  And I will not try to persuade you differently.  However, I will say too, that if you struggle with the addiction to cigarettes (or ever have) then you should be capable of a deep empathy here that does not make sense logically or reasonably to those who never have.)

Going home is often the reverse situation.  I did not ask if she has a coworker who gives a ride, but it is clear that if that happens, it is not regular.  Thus the usual routine for Agent V is to get up early and leave home two hours before work, and when work is done start the long walk that takes two hours to get back, meaning a third (or more) of her work day is spent walking.  In my view, that is work – work for which she is not compensated at all.

The job is low pay.  Minimum wage, and to some ways of thinking, that is appropriate, but for Christian believers who have our worldview shaped by Jesus and perhaps specifically by his parable of the wages in Matthew 20:1-16, the “normal” sense of fairness about wages will not do.  She may be a late comer to the field, but in the Master’s vineyard, she gets the same pay as the rest of us who have toiled all day.  Thus, in God’s economy (Shalom anyone???) she should find grace (a raise?), not judgment or contempt.

I asked if the boss treats her well.  And there again, the despair hunts after her.  It turns out the boss is not nice, at least not to her.  Now, I am aware that this part of her account is highly subjective.  But subjective does not necessarily mean she is wrong at all.  It just means I cannot objectively trust that it is accurate.  However, there were details that lent themselves to her assessment, alright.

For one, the boss is not American and not white, but she is.  That in and of itself is not an indicator, but if I say he is of middle-eastern background (not naming his race or nationality to help keep this story confidential) and that most of the other employees are members of his family, then the margin for possibility opens up.  I can easily imagine a man of from the Middle East being a bit harder on his nonfamily employees, especially the females who don’t have a car and who are apt to mooch a smoke again and again.

This coupled with the fact that some of the chores Agent V describes being assigned when no one else is assigned them, does give credence to her assessment.  It’s not airtight, but highly plausible.

However, the fact that this boss does not believe in taking days off (which apparently affects everyone, not just Agent V) demonstrates that he is a hard boss.  And for those of us Christians, again, we think there is something to be said for Sabbath Rest!  Well, at least those of us not trying to blend American, Capitalist, business sense with Christian ethics see value in Sabbath Rest, AND we see it playing a role in “seeking Shalom” too.

Keep in mind, Agent V is grateful to have this job!  She sees it as a blessing!  My Christian brothers and sisters who pay $25 a head to sit around watching video seminars and attending weekly classes to help them determine “effective” charity also see her job as a blessing!!!  And so do I!

This job ENABLES Agent V to pay rent on a new place she shares with Agent DJ.  It ENABLES her to put food in their fridge each week.  And it ENABLES her to imagine a future where she can get back into her college program that has been in hiatus for the last year due to hardship.  So, yeah, this job is a blessing, by anyone’s standard.

However, the girl could use a bit of encouragement.

Can I get an AMEN???

I look around at all my “Christian” brothers and sisters who worship in multimillion dollar facilities praising the God of creation and Shalom and think that out of all of them, surely one or two could arrange to give Agent V a ride to work each day, and maybe a ride home each evening.  That would be HUGE!  That would be a fantastic way to encourage her.

Oh, and Agent DJ – who is seeking Disability Benefits (and has been at it for years), sells papers on Sundays, when she feels strong enough for it, and has taken a few odd jobs here and there that don’t break her down – has a car left to her from a deceased friend.  But it is tied up in storage, and she needs to get proper paperwork ironed out and notarized, AND must pay a back fee on the storage to get it out.  But once these hoops are jumped through, she is the proud owner of a decent set of wheels that also will get Agent V to work and back as well as get DJ where she needs to go.

And there are perhaps a hundred little needed things that would help these ladies get along in life as they work their way out of addiction and poverty.  Little things, and a few big ones too.  But things that my church friends have plenty of… stored up in attics, storage units, barns, woodsheds, and garages collecting dust.  If word circulated among them, surely some of these needs could get met quite easily!  And every little one would be a deep encouragement.

But it requires that you CARE.

(Oh, and that you read here, too.)

Can I give her your number?  I asked that one month ago today.  No one gave me a number to pass along.  But it’s not too late.  Agent V is still working.  Agent V is managing without your help, so far.

Look.  She is a recovering addict beating the odds here.  I know that not every choice she makes is “the wise one”, or the choice you would make or I would make.  But even that is a bit subjective on our part, actually.  Nevertheless, she is a go-getter, out there beating the odds.  I would think that someone “seeking Shalom” would want to meet a few needs there.  I think they would want to ENABLE this one!  I think they would want to encourage her and help bear her burden just a bit.

 

The Stand-up, Sit-down, Poop Pump

Last summer I offered parenting advice based on my experiences with toddlers and babies here at the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners.  I don’t consider myself an expert or guru by any stretch, but I learn some things here and there that just might be useful for others.  You will find the previous advice linked here:   https://fatbeggars.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/agent-xs-advice-for-new-dads-and-mr-moms-out-there/

Thus I make this kind of offering.

Jesus-Pants

In recent weeks, I have developed a little program I call the Stand-up, Sit-down, Poop Pump as a means of ensuring a better quality nap-time.  Here is how it works:

After lunch, as you clean up the toddlers still in their high chairs, get their little hands and faces wiped down, but leave them where they sit – briefly.  I am not suggesting you walk away and forget them, but give them a few minutes after for thorough digestion.

This is a good time to read a short Dr. Seuss book.  Just 5 or 10 extra minutes should do the trick.

Now every kid is different, but I have a marauding horde of toddlers here, so experience for me expands exponentially and fast.  And it is my experience that sitting and digesting helps start the process of getting that diaper dirty with the 2-point scores, but rarely gets the job finished.  So after the book is read and the kids are wiped down, give the toddlers another 10 – 15 minutes to play with toys in the play pen where they will actively stand up and sit down and run around squatting and so forth.

The squatting position is where the real cash value is.  But moving in and out of it acts like a poop pump system, which is important because after you get this diaper changed, it will likely be more than 2 or even three hours before they need another.

Now your kids are ready for nap time.  And once they fall asleep, they will not be awakened by any harsh, rash-causing messes in their pants.  If you keep your Metallica jams in the headphones, they should have no reason to wake up for the next hour at least.

Remember you heard it hear first!

And we look forward to sharing more time-saving, mess-reducing ideas with you in the future.