Category Archives: Three O Clock People

New Beginnings

Five years ago today my life changed drastically.   That old life is now unrecognizable.   I was horribly hung over after passing out at 7 pm the night before on the couch of a house made empty by roommates out of state with their families.  I was still drunk that morning probably.  I was literally sick to my stomach.  I had been eating grease while I picked up items for this big event.  I was exhausted and stressed out.  I was confused about the future and lonely as I looked at another Christmas alone.

I walked into a gym that was empty besides a couple tables for the worship bands to eat some dinner in one of the corners.  It needed to be set up to feed 300 people the next day, but also made nice as not to continue to feel stale and cold.  In my head we were throwing a party.  In reality, we were providing a needed meal in a warm building were half the people didn’t care what it looked like and the other half would judge me.

There were a few people milling around, and it turns out that the small attendance made people leave.  A father and couple teenagers started setting up tables with me.  A single woman started helping us.  After about 20 minutes the tables were set up and the family left.  The single woman and I spent about 3 hours working to make the tables not stale and to add Christmas lights and brightness to the massive gym, to make it small.  We also spent about 3 hours talking.  How we didn’t like traveling at Christmas.  How we didn’t have living fathers.  How our families were far away from Portland but actually close together.  Our jobs and hobbies.  How we liked being in Portland now.  Where we had been and where we wanted to go.

It was longer than planned so I offered to drive her home.  Something I had done literally hundreds of times before as my dad made me a protector of women to an often negative extent.  When I dropped her off, something was different than those times before though.  There was an awkward moment.

The awkward moments continued the next day as we saw each other and chatted a little as I ran around being in charge of chaos of a community Christmas dinner that comingled housed with unhoused friends.  By the end of the meal, I was wiped and had plans to sit in front of my computer and finish binge watching something I am sure.  But there was another awkward moment when she wrote out and handed me her phone number and an address to come hang out with her friend’s family.

Somehow I knew I needed to go. Even though I only met her less than 24 hours before I figured I should make an appearance.  So I did.  I grabbed a couple 22s from my cases of beer and went to a house, that apparently generally didn’t drink, and where I barely knew one person.  I awkwardly walked around saying hi and got another plate of Christmas dinner since I didn’t eat at the first.  And went and planted myself near this girl that intrigued me.  She played games with her friends and we made small talk about what we had planned for the week and how much time free she had.

I left after about an hour because I needed quiet not craziness and couldn’t fake it anymore.  I wished her well, told her Merry Christmas and said thanks to the random family that just set up a couple without knowing it.

That night there were quite a few texts from my dark, cold, quiet basement bedroom.  By the end of them, I had a real date with a real girl.

Within a week, I would start spending everyday with that single lady. Within a month we were pretty sure we weren’t going to be single long. Within 8 months we were wed and in a tiny apartment.  In 2 years we were no longer drinking much or going out to eat but just sitting around with each other.  In 3 years we had a child, a house and a family car.

Now it has been five years since I drank or partied like I did the day before I met the beautiful Hannah.  And tomorrow it will be five years since the best Christmas ever.

And I wouldn’t switch back to that old life for anything.

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

I am Overrated

BookCover-2DI read a book recently that has convicted, encouraged and reminded me.

Convicted because he openly talks about the struggles he has had and how he overcame them. I have struggles…that I dwell on a lot and wonder if I should just overcome them.

Encouraged because his stories show hope and ways of resolving problems.

Reminded because he quotes and brings up a lot of points about justice I forgot, or have stopped applying.

Eugene Cho, in his first book Overrated, confesses his struggles with the current justice movement. He shares personal stories of seeing the need for justice around him, and recounts how he has been attacked for being pro-justice. Unlike a lot of other books, he gives small goals. Instead of saying you are going to change the world, he reminds us to change ourselves and go from there. Instead of trying to put shoes on everyone in the world, or give them all a well, he reminds us that solutions need to be local and applicable. Instead of trying to get others to donate $100 million to “end something”, he talks about One Day’s Wages (an organization he started) that receives 0.4% of a person’s annual income to give small grants to a lot of agencies to assist their local communities. Everyone gives a little for a lot of work to be done. Seems simple but at the same time it is a new thought.

A lot of the content in Overrated is not new but it is presented in a way that made me have new eyes for it. Many of the quotes were from books I have read in the last few years of learning about justice and the church, but it was great to be reminded of them. It was also good to hear some more of Eugene’s story. His stories of his upbringing as an immigrant in San Francisco and confessions of being rejected by Taco Bell as overqualified after they heard about his Princeton degree gave credence to his call for others to sacrifice and change their behaviors.

Perhaps these stories were edited for length but my only critique of this book would be that it was too short. A lot of points seemed clipped before completion and stories seemed rushed like some light jazz and dimming lights were signaling time was up. I would like the Overrated Director’s cut at some point because this copy was a fast read that ended too soon.

Most surprisingly, in this book about justice full of calls to be and do instead of acting, advocating and “raising awareness” about a justice issue, I was convicted most by the following quote.

“We need to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes the words ‘too busy’ are substitutes for ‘too lazy’. At least that’s true for me. What about you?” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

As I read this my bus pulled up to the stop and I headed into work. I logged into my computer and noticed the windows that popped up on the internet browser.   A couple work sites, then a couple email windows, a local news site, some sites that pay me a dime a day to click on things and a couple social media sites. On the blue themed one, I noticed a list of apps on the side. It was a good sized list, and as I realized I felt too busy the last couple weeks I clicked on them and noted the levels I had won. Level 242 on Farm Heroes Saga, 140 on Papa Pear Saga, Candy Crush Saga-313, Diamond Diggers Saga-56, Pepper Panic Saga-79… there was still Bubble Witch Saga, Bubble Epic, all the Angry Birds, Jewel Epic.

As a public service announcement, I must remind my fbook friends that if you click the X next to the game notification, you can turn them all off. And as a defense this was over a long period of time…at least a year.

But still, I realized I have the online life of a 15 year old loser who spends more time blowing up candy and vegetables than learning, exercising or talking to friends.

Then it hit me why I feel busy. I spend more lunch hours and alone time home reading blogs that I already agree with or playing silly games that are specially engineered to be addictive than working on getting the needed things done.

It has been 8 months since my last update to the larger community that helps me run a houseless meal each week. I have read 3 of the 12 books I have started this summer. There is a massive list in my phone of things that need to be done on the house, most of which would take 5-10 minutes.

But as Eugene Cho in Overrated says, “I didn’t want to leave my comfort for the sake of my commitments.” My comfort as of late has been turning off my brain and vegetating on line. I like to do timewasters when I should instead be managing my time.

Thanks to this book- After realizing this a couple weeks ago, I have no longer played any games, or wasted even a minute of my time. I only read books to learn in my free time. I only do chores when I get home from another stressful day of work. And I have personally called each of the 456 people that I haven’t emailed an update to apologize and let them know they are important to the ministry.

Actually, I haven’t done those things. But I have downloaded a couple music only podcasts so that I can read on the one hour bus rides to and from work. I have studied a list of quotes I took from Overrated so that I can remember that justice is important and is bigger than just me. I have been intentionally about praying for my family, finances and future while I walk during lunch. And I have started smiling back at the panhandlers and those asking for money from me on my short walks downtown. Which when you are the head of a local homeless agency is something that should come natural. I haven’t changed the world so far this year, but I have made a couple steps forward in improving myself and hopefully those around me.

I will end this post with one more quote that I think should be remembered by all attempting to do good.

“God has a long and proven history of using foolish and broken people for his glory.” –Eugene Cho #OverratedBook

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Editor’s Note: I was privileged to receive an advanced copy in exchange for a review and some publicity.  You can pre-order the book until September 1st by going to your local bookstore or going to www.areyouroverated.com 

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Filed under Global Community, One Day's Wages, Reviews, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People, Transparency

Homeless awareness

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Last Friday morning I stood in Pioneer Square with about 200 people of various faiths, ages, genders and experiences.  We had walked about a mile through downtown checking out some of the various ministries that serve the homeless and were now standing in solidarity for a change.

It was a good event, but it was…

It was a little too much like walking through a zoo for me.  Groups of 40 people passed the homeless waiting outside buildings for a meal or services while we were escorted through.   There were a couple women having a cat fight while medics took care of another woman inside.  Those becoming aware of homeless issues just listened about how there were services offered at this location to a vulnerable population.

While a massive group that had engulfed my solitary walk a few blocks before entered one of the largest shelters in town, a woman screamed, “I am homeless, are you aware of that?”

I knew I was done.  I followed the group into a large room that had been remodeled to fit more people for events, and listened to a sales pitch I had heard a few times before.  I slowly moved to the outside of the group and then busted for the same door that the homeless use to escape the loud dining hall.

I walked past another couple minders and jumped the MAX to our final destination.    I was glad for the warmth of the train, because it was cold out and I couldn’t really take it.  I felt like one of those I was supposed to become aware of as I was eyed for not even pausing at the ticket machine.  Except unlike most of the homeless that get judged, I had a job that provided me an annual transit pass, which was in my pocket.

As I exited the light rail train…after one stop…I walked towards my employment as I have most weekdays for the last five years, but stopped in the square for a cup of mediocre coffee from the big blue bus filling a need.  I looked at the vendors and realized I have them in the Rolodex of info in my head but haven’t really used it.

While tempted to just head to a warm office, I stood there for the hour of the presentation…on the outside of the circle…near the homeless and the travelers who were just in the square for the coffee.  I, like they, became very cold just standing there and started moving.  The whole time I kept an eye on the clock to “respect my employer”…or honestly, to get out of the cold and be able to sit down.   I enjoyed the presentation but was a little tired of hearing about the problem while it is still everywhere around us and seeming to get worse.

As I left and walked the three blocks to my paying job, I felt not very different from 2 hours before when I started the walk.  I realized I can’t take the cold and wondered why anyone would choose to be homeless in this weather.  I wondered if I would ever be able to relate to the population that my heart seems drawn to help.  If I would be gracious, kind and generous enough to help.  Or if I would continue to judge both the homeless and the suburban churches who help them differently than I do or would.

Along the way, I sent four people to the big blue bus for coffee as they walked around to get warm.  Then as I walked into my nice office building…with 3 layers of clothing, time -faded jeans and hiking boots…I was looked suspiciously at by the fill-in security guard.   He stared at me while I boarded the elevator and then watched the security cam of what I would assume was the elevator’s camera.

It took an hour for my feet to warm up, my knees hurt until after lunch and I had a headache all day.  And all I did was stand for an hour on some hard bricks and walked less than a mile.  Maybe I did become aware of the plight of the homeless.  Maybe the cold taught me something about having and using resources.

It would be great if we thought of them, and did something that would make them thankful for us this holiday season.

I bet a smile, pair of socks and question of how they feel will go a long way! 

If you need some place to donate time or money in the PDX area please comment below and I’ll hook you up!

 

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

Woe!

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As I have once again started reading news and blogs about the US political system and international struggles I came across this verse.  It sums up what I think about it all succinctly.

 

Isaiah 10:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

10 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.

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Filed under Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

American Winter

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A couple weeks ago, the beautiful Hannah and I went to a film festival. It wasn’t as high brow as it sounds.  It was actually very sad and business like.  We saw American Winter, a story about our city and its agencies for the poor and desperate.  I say poor and desperate, when I actually mean those struggling to make ends meet a little worse than most of us.  I know I say we are rich, but sometimes when we look at the balance of our savings, credit card and check accounts, we definitely don’t feel like it.  This film showed people who are substantially richer with love and family than most, but have no money for bills.

American Winter chronicles 5 families in the general area who have lost work, family members or health and ended up “where they never thought they would”.  Asking for help and approaching homelessness.  The life you never dream of as a child, teenager, college student or young professional.  Having to move your family back in with YOUR parents.  Having to sell your needed possessions, or visit the food pantry or petition the electric company to turn on your electricity for the health of your children.  That is NOT the American dream, you’d think.

But sadly as the film details, it is a large part of it.  These five families in Portland probably portray thousands of similar stories in our city, region and the world.  This film exposes the horrible parts of the system.  Being overqualified for a shit job.  Being told that you have to be more in debt to apply for help, then when you are, hearing it is too late.  Hearing that there isn’t any help available because you are one of thousands with the same problem and the agency, church or business just ran out of funds or resources.

I am part of the last problem.  Having to say, “Sorry, that is all we have”.  Many times a month, I grimace after hearing a story of loss or struggle I believe and have to turn people away.  Or more honestly, farther away.

American Winter is a story that each of us can relate to.  If you are one of the lucky ones that has access to HBO, check it out on Monday night, March 18th.  If you are reading this later, or don’t have HBO check out the websites below for more showing and information.  It might come to a city near you!

Local report

HBO

Facebook link

American Winter- official website

 

 

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Filed under Global Community, Obese Obsessions, Reviews, Three O Clock People