Category Archives: Three O Clock People

A year ago

A year ago today, I woke up alone in a basement room.  It was a little early and all of the food and drinks I had the night before were fighting in my belly.  This would be a rough day I thought.  I had to shop for Christmas dinner things and then go decorate a gym, with just a couple other people who might not show…or stay.  But then better dreams became real and the following story started gaining momentum.  Enough momentum for me to be sitting in a tiny apartment a few feet from my sleeping wife who will celebrate this anniversary by decorating the same place, but with 17x as many people!  

Here are some older words I wrote about the beginning of our story starting a year ago today.  I sure am glad you stayed and helped that night, Hannah Meeks!

For almost 20 years I wandered around looking for this elusive thing called love.  According to Wikipedia:

Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Love may also be described as actions towards others or oneself based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.

Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.

That is all well and good but like a lot of life it was not as easy to put into practice.  For me, after losing a friend and then my father to car accidents at age 19, I shut down and decided I didn’t need love.  Pushing away friends and family for a period of time and just dwelling in my own world.  I was still looking for things like love, but never really was able to give or receive it while being emotionally locked down.  The fortress was solid, the walls high and the inner workings idling but never revving.  As it turned out nineteen is an interesting age for that to happen since most guys go through that period for a few months or a year.

I was in that shut down, emotionally closed off period of life for 7 or so years until someone tried to break me out.  She was great and amazing but her eventual rejection brought up all the past rejections again.  It brought up a lot of pain and brokenness that did not allow me to trust.

“Do you trust anyone?”

-Not really

“How about yourself? Or your family? Or God?”

-Nope.  I don’t think they have my best interest and I apparently don’t either.

Those might not have been my exact words, but in 2009 I uttered something like that to a counselor…who then teared up and said he was sorry that the world was not a safe place for me.  We took a couple years to get through some of those issues, but I came out the other side victorious…mostly.

In the midst of those years, I started looking more actively for love.  I was pursuing what I knew as love.  It wasn’t always what love is, apparently, because it hurt, stung or made me drunk for a couple hours.  The dates weren’t defined, so the rejection wasn’t as harsh.  The interactions and calls just ended, and was often my fault.  The words and feelings were dealt with, to an extent, and laughed at by confided in friends.  It was fun most of the time.

Then, it wasn’t.  I realized I had fake love in 5 area codes, 3 country codes, and a couple Facebook profiles.  How was I to trust anyone when I couldn’t trust myself?  So I gave them all up.  I let some of them go.  I confessed fake, or projected, love to others and reconciled a couple more.  More dudes were confided in for advice.  A couple more girls entered the outer gates of the fortress but never were issued a treasure map to the hidden passage way.  Eventually those who were trying to be close gave up and no more invites were given out.

It seemed like a good day to renovate.  To open up a couple windows and air the place out.  To dispose of some old souvenirs that held more hurt than pleasant memories. While cleaning up the corners and deep recesses I was allowed the chance to see some amazing examples of love in those around me.  Love that isn’t written about but simply lived out.  The examples of friends and families loving each other whether in spousal relations or in neighborhood, employment or community realms.  I started noticing more and more how people made time for each other and just listened.  I started taking notes and planning when I would be done with the cleaning process…figuring the fortress needed to be cleaned well before anyone would want to come in or should be invited.

The yellow caution tape was put up… and this metaphor is losing steam.

As the old adage goes, when you aren’t looking you will find what you want and need.  Or something like that.

Last Christmas Eve, I was minding my own business doing what I needed to do relationally—preparing a Christmas dinner for 200+ people when circumstances set me up.  Only one girl stayed more than a few minutes to decorate. Since both of us were holiday orphans and had nowhere else to be. we worked for about 3 hours together decorating significantly better than the previous year…and talking… and towards the end I started admiring her smile and joy in life.

That girl quickly became a woman and something special to me.  Hannah walked past all the caution tape and somehow found the secret pathway into the fortress like she had been given the code and map by a higher power.

For almost 20 years, I had been searching for this elusive thing called love. Looking high and low, in corners and rooftops, in person and on phones. And yet that elusive thing called love simply showed up one day in a greater way than I would have ever imagined.  A way that in two months has made me a better man than in the 200 months previous.  The way that makes me wonder if dreams do come true and if Hollywood is writing my life story right now.  In a way that things just feel right…including the timing.

The Hollywood voiceover narration would begin like this

There I was minding my own business when we were brought together.  Literally and figuratively. I wasn’t really paying attention to her when I realized there was something attractive about this girl whom fate made the only other person in the massive room that night. With whom I had to work together to string lights over a basketball court in the gym.  I dismissed the thoughts quickly.

The week before I told a friend that meeting people and starting to date around the holidays was worthless and would never be genuine.  It would be all about emotions, like spring flings and filling the need of being a holiday orphan.

Plus, the only reason I was in that gym was because no one else was willing to lead decorating on Christmas Eve. Also, I was done with girls for another few months.

But there she was.  With an amazing smile.  Giving up her Christmas and Christmas Eve to volunteer with a bunch of ragamuffins to a larger bunch of ragamuffins.  She seemed to love people, was beautiful and goofy and sarcastic and funny.

After what might have been the most stressful day of my year being a “leader” the beautiful Hannah invited me to a friend’s place for Christmas dinner and some games.

I was just invited to the decorating girl’s friend’s place for dinner.  If I go I know emotions will be involved. Encouragements and rebukes welcome” is what I texted a buddy.

I had noticed Hannah blush a little as she wrote down her number.  It seemed like there was something there, but I was exhausted, but what if this is the one chance Eminem talked about, but I’m really tired and I’m already late, but I should just go.

I went, late and with beer to celebrate making it through the largest event of the year, and for nerves.  I made a short appearance, lost at Skip Bo and went on my way home.

How was your night?” was the text I received as I got home.

It was fun. She is really cute and funny, but not sure if she is nice to everyone”, to the same buddy.

And 20 minutes later he got another. “Well, I know now…we have a date Wednesday

‘What am I doing?’ I thought.  I just asked a girl out on Christmasby text.  I thought similar things when I invited her to my friend’s New Year’s Eve party for our second date.  And when we took a 12 hour road trip two days after.  But… she was different…beautiful…caring… and open.

Little did I know these emotionally open, exhausted, completely censor free interactions would influence the rest of my life less than 3 months later.

Last Sunday, having planned a super romantic and creative way, only to have it not completely work, I surprised the girl of my dreams in her house when I asked her to marry me.  I was sick and Hannah was still waking up from her nap, but it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  The timing was a surprise but the act was not.

We had talked about marriage early in the relationship as we clarified our intentions.  A couple weeks before I walked out of a horrible movie with my mentee to call her mom and ask if I could marry her.  Her brother also gave his blessing.  My family was on board as was the inner circle.  My grandmother’s ring had been restored, sized and cleaned for her…and wasn’t going to wait until our trip to majestic Crater Lake next week.  And it is a good thing I didn’t wait!

We spent the weekend with friends in Bend, where it was cold and snowy and forest-y and beautiful.  I had gone to retreat, pray and figure out how to take over the world.  Hannah came because I was going away for the weekend.  Since I had the ring, and am not an eloquent speaker…just writer…I decided to type my thoughts out.  How amazing she is, has made my life better and how much I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with her. The standard things.  Because I knew I would want to actually say the words, I left the last sentence unresolved and asked her to read the last few sentences aloud…

The forecast for the mountain pass coming back to Portland was treacherous at best so I found a hiking trail near Salem that we could take a short hike and then when we returned to the car I would give her the letter while I changed my shoes and shirt, leaving me time to grab the ring and listen for her cue.  The pass wasn’t that bad but my cold was. It started to make me tired, stuffed up and nauseous occasionally.  As we approached the turn off for the trail, the skies opened.  It was not raining- even by Oregon standards.  It was dumping a month’s worth of sky water in a matter of hours.  So we kept driving, skipping the hike and I prayed…

God, I thought this was it.  Did I miss something? Am I supposed to wait? Is there a better place or did I mistake your timing?

The negative thoughts flooded in as my perfect plan failed.  I still had the letter and realized there was a better place and it would have more meaning.

After a much needed nap, we were sitting on the same loveseat we confessed love and infatuation for the other.  It was where we had shared some of the largest and deepest pains and hurts in our life.  It is also where we decided we were in this together and neither Hannah nor I was leaving. Now to make that official.  I had called her over to the chair after finding a song that we both enjoy- and she sings to me- and handed her the letter.

As she started reading, I held her and I could feel my heart in my chest, then throat… then forehead.  I waited as she read.  Setting the laptop to the side so I could get up and down on one knee.  I waited more.  I notice she was reading parts again so pointed to the margin note to read the last part aloud.

She started, “After thinking of you in all these ways, I have made a decision that both delights me because there is no one as perfect as you and scares me as I wonder if I can protect and love you as much as you deserve, but it is with incredible certainty I ask… ”

I have to admit I teared up a little as I asked her to make me the luckiest man I know.  She accepted. We hugged and stared at each other.  Called family.  Texted friends. Told my Portland family at Sunday night dinner.  Then I went home alone to my cold now lonely bedroom, ready to start the next chapter of this thing called life.

So there is the story.  And no, we are not getting rid of that chair anytime soon.

Let's go.

Let’s go.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Marriage, Storytime, Three O Clock People

Christmas Day Meal

I wrote this to get people to come out.  If you are reading this before the 25th of December and don’t have a place to party on Christmas in Portland, come on out.  1302 SE Ankeny and look for signs.  And please for all that is planned, just bring yourself!

Gut sucking good time

Hanging with the boss

Three Octobers ago, I was watching over the controlled chaos (that a 3 O’clock People meal can become) when Spider, 3OP’s houseless friend and leadership member, came up and asked, “So you guys are serving on Christmas right?”

I responded, “Yep, every week we are out here.”

“Well, Christmas Day is a Saturday this year.  You should let these guys go inside and hang out for a bit.  Make a nice feast and let us just hang out and have some your church folks hang out with us.” He continued. “No place will be open probably.”

Sadly, he was right, I called around and only one place would be open to give out some “snacks and such.”  I asked around the church and got a lot of thumbs up and thus began the Three O’clock People Annual Christmas Day Meal.

December 25, 2012 marks the third year we will decorate the gym like a massive dining room, put some games and cards on the tables and set up 36 feet of tables of the finest ham, turkey, sides and desserts that Imago Dei members can make.

There will be tables of gifts near (too much to be under) the trees of donated socks, clothes and tarps for anyone who is in need. (If you’d like to donate items, tarps, gloves, hats, sturdy clothing, socks or rain gear, you can drop them off at church on Sunday, December 23rd during the morning services.) We will eat, hang out and throw a community party for Jesus’ birth.  We will listen to each-other’s stories of joy and sorrow, of victories and defeats, of abundance and of need.

The best part though is that YOU are invited!  Everyone is.

If you have too much family in town, cook a turkey and bring them all down to hang out with someone else for a couple hours…and to eat with us.  If you are feeling like a holiday orphan for any reason, make a pie and come enjoy a full meal with us. If you have coworkers, neighbors or friends that don’t know where to go, bring them on down.

There will be some volunteer spots available, but more, we want you to just come ready to eat and listen to the stories of others, whether they are houseless, lonely and overwhelmed, or just want a bigger family to celebrate Christmas Day.

The dinner will be held in the Imago Dei gym (across the path from the sanctuary building), from 3-5 p.m. on Christmas Day. Imago Dei Community is located at: 1302 SE Ankeny, Portland, OR 97214

Please RSVP what and how much you are bringing to and we will save a seat for you!

For more information on 3 O’clock People, please click here.

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Filed under The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

Still Here

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Well, I woke up this morning.  And honestly, I was a little disappointed.  I figured the Mayans were wrong. But hey, who really knows?

Disappointed because… I am tired.  I am busy, stressed and was quite ornery last night.

Disappointed because… I knew I would pass some homeless sign holders, while I wanted a snack and guiltily spent the money I might have to later claim I didn’t have to feed my grumbling belly.

Disappointed because…the world is cruel place and we need a reset of some kind.

Disappointed because… I would have to still plan the Christmas dinner and figure how to feed between 150 and 300 people without having left overs or RSVPs.

But then I noticed the beautiful Hannah and realized something.

While the world is still broken and messed up, there will always be something to wake up for.  For me and for everyone.

Because, even when 90% of my Facebook wall is talking about kids being shot and the need for concealed weapons < or > a weapons ban; 9.6% of it is funny kid or cat videos and 0.4% are messages from friends that care about me.

There is cheap sushi to eat and expensive beer to drink.  There are birthdays to celebrate and world domination strategies to plan.  There are jokes to hear and stories to tell and …

Well you kind of get the point.  There is a lot that could have been fixed with the world ending, but there is a lot more to do now that it hasn’t.  So go enjoy your holiday season… tell someone Happy Solstice today, Merry Christmas in a few days, Happy Boxing  Day after that and Happy Romanic New Year the week after that.  Eat some pie or cake.  Eat some veggies or beef ribs.  And smile some.

Just smile.  Because the doomsday people were wrong again.  And you are still here.

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Filed under Freewrite, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

Big Issues

Today I went to a forum on homelessness and affordable housing in the region.   In a small room were Mayor Sam Adams, City Commissioner Nick Fish, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Cameron Whitten and many non profit leaders.   I heard a lot of stats like:


  • 7 million households are doubled up— 2 + families in a single occupancy home. (nationally? State-wide?)
  • 20,000 homeless k-12 students in Portland area
  • 85% of local homeless services are paid for by local (city or county) budgets
  • 17,000+ people sleep outside nightly
  • 4 housing authorities and 3 work force offices independently offer services in metro Portland (need more partnering)

There were solutions like:

  • We need to offer training for the jobs available. Farming, skilled labor, mechanics, manufacturing
  • stop bank foreclosures and prevent empty houses
  • decriminalize camping, and loitering in parks and abandoned lots
  • provide temporary “rest stops” in the city

Overall, I agree with the solutions. They just seem so difficult to implement.  And I seem to always “get” both sides of a law, which makes things like decriminalizing homelessness complicated in my head.  I was raised to respect authority.  So I do…even when I don’t agree.  That is one of the reasons the forum was nice today.

I was surprised at the civility of all who participated. These issues can easily cause divisiveness.  Right to Dream 2 aka R2D2 and the city were well represented and respectful even if they are breaking codes and being fined daily. The only interruption was by an occupy related protest group who was also civil and spoke their piece on a momentary break before leaving again.

It is still sad to me that it is such an issue that a forum is held and a movie is made about it.  A movie called American Winter is about the affordable housing in my city. It saddens me that we have to have a social services line. To prevent people from falling thru the cracks in a broken society. From being “left behind” which was mentioned a lot.  Because we don’t train people well. We don’t offer dignity. We don’t offer relationship.  And so we have forums.

At the end of the day, the whole thing renewed my faith in government and bureaucracy to an extent.  I felt like a grown up as I sat next to Commissioner Fritz and was actually corrected by her for not using all my resources available.   The day made me remember that I am not alone. And I live in a great city!

Speaking of which, I have Blazer tickets! See ya!

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Filed under Global Community, Heathen Healers, Obese Obsessions, Three O Clock People

Working Kirk

As the election coverage was winding down this week and Facebook was becoming bearable again I saw some posts popping up about the white tuxedoed trumpet player all Portlanders have seen.  He had passed on, and more info would follow when the family allowed.  Today it came out that his family still hasn’t been notified because no one knew who they were and roommates suspected he committed suicide.

That hit me hard.

Last week, I saw Working Kirk Reeves as my bus rolled over the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown.  He was up early and looked really tired.  Knowing what I know now I can imagine him being up all night before deciding to give it one last chance.  One last chance to make money, a living, a connection, a smile or a friend.

I judged him like I judge most street performers.  They perform because they need to, like it or can’t do normal work.  I lumped him into the same category as the guitar players that charge for a picture or the statue dude that paints himself silver and juggles slowly.  It is possible they were friends and knew each other.  But I have seen most of them on off days in bad moods as well.

I judged him as being a little crazy or developmentally delayed.  Which he might have been, but he might also have been just awkward.  He spoke slower and different and there was a chance meeting at the local grocer where he was opening the readymade food to smell and inspect it before putting it back.  Again knowing what I heard yesterday, it was probably because his cataract was making him blind.

He smiled and laughed.  He threw a plastic ball in the air sporadically and played 2 songs mediocre or well.  He had puppets for the kids and was learning to juggle to entertain.

I am not sure that is what he thought would ever be his career.  Or that he really believed he would be discovered on the triangle of a bridge. I think he did it to entertain rush hour traffic and make some cash for food.  He was homeless at times, had a rough childhood and lived a hard life.

But I wonder how many people didn’t know his name until this week.  I didn’t.  And I wonder how many people who are now commenting on social media and leaving flowers at his corner actually talked to him.

I didn’t.

And once again, we are hearing the story of someone you should have said you liked or loved, before it’s too late.

Let’s not let Kirk be a statistic or story in our lives, but our motivation.

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Filed under Adulthood, Death, Three O Clock People