Writing here took a summer vacation. And then September came. And between a birthday and out of town visitors and working on a new project for (in)courage September went. So, here we are today for a bit of a check in.
Overall, things are status quo here. Covenant House is an amazing organization and the youth that they encounter are so complex and beautiful. It’s an honor to be a witness to what they are doing. Jason received a promotion back in August that has him overseeing the community services side of CH Orlando. It’s been a large adjustment, but is going very well.
We spent the summer really digging in to connecting with Orlando as home. We’re still waiting for that to happen. Which is frustrating for ALL of us if we are being honest. E V E R Y T H I N G about living here is so vastly different than the life that we’ve always known. What I’ve started to see is that perhaps that’s the point. You see, our journey to right now actually started nearly 5 years ago with the birth of our 2nd daughter and a severe back injury for Jason when she was just 9 weeks old. We lost A LOT in the course of that year, especially, but into the 2nd and 3rd year of recovery as well. Full time income. Overtime. Security. Friendships. My health. Innocence. Freedom. Independence. I could go on and on. We were forced into a life that we would never have chosen. We’ve been putting the positive spin on that life -the one that was forced upon us- for 3 years. Seminary and ministry and missionary poverty and outreach and impulsive moves for living out The Call and living a life that defies conventional logic? It’s exhausting. And lonely. And depressing. And shameful. *sigh*
In some odd twist of Intervention, we have become the very people we minister to. Perhaps that was the point all along? To die to ourselves so much that we became one with the least among us. Leviticus 26:12 maybe? Only I’ll tell you what, that sounds infinitely more noble than it feels. I’m still clinging to my middle class life. The one with insurance coverage. The one with adequate therapy for my kid is a phone call away. The one where there wasn’t a knot looming in my stomach every aching day. The one where birthdays and holidays were cause for excitement instead of dread. The one where living in a single family home again wasn’t a far fetched dream. The one where reading family and friends posts on Facebook and email forwards didn’t make you want to curl up and hide because they dripped with conservative stereotypes and degradation of welfare recipients. Perhaps they forgot who was amongst them. Perhaps they didn’t. Either way, here’s the news flash: The statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need does not at all equate to the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group. It’s almost laughable actually.
My friend shared this blog earlier this week. It’s an extensive list with lifestyle characteristics of being poor that was written back in 2005 just after Katrina hit. The list is long. Please read it. There are hundreds of comments. Please read them. There are truths shared there that most people will never even imagine, let alone breathe. I certainly never thought that I would, and yet here I am. So as I’ve gone through the moments of my daily life I’ve been formulating my own list because simply saying that I can relate to at least 70% of someone else’s words, be it first hand or through observation, didn’t feel adequate. Because you don’t know them. But you do know us.
For us, poverty is…
Poverty is always serving your family’s meal first so you are certain that they have as much as they desire and don’t know that there’s any lack.
Poverty is silently cringing as your kids rattle off their halloween costume dreams.
Poverty is trying to not freak out when your kids ask for another snack because they are growing.
Poverty is not being able to do your own shopping for your kids clothing.
Poverty is no date nights because even if you could find a free sitter, there’s not extra for going anywhere.
Poverty is desperately praying that your food allergies will be healed so that you can eat cheaper food.
Poverty is being too afraid to test the food waters because you can’t afford an ER bill if something goes wrong.
Poverty is counting down the days until your baby stops nursing so that you can save the $55/mo it costs for the blood pressure medication that keeps you from having a stroke while you’re lactating.
Poverty is feeling guilty for wishing her nursing time away.
Poverty is doing everything you can to make sure your kids don’t know that you’re poor.
Poverty is having nightmares regularly that other kids are making fun of them because they are poor.
Poverty is leaving a church because you don’t want to be the ‘charity case’ family.
Poverty is avoiding social connections because you don’t want to turn down another invite because there is no money for an activity.
Poverty is skipping a bill to feed your family.
Poverty is shut off notices.
Poverty is crying because you feel like you’re failing your kids by not providing them what you had.
Poverty is crying because your kids are so blessed by other people that your thoughtfully selected gifts for them get tossed to the side.
Poverty is self diagnosing medical issues and treatments because appointments are very expensive and treatment even more so.
Poverty is watching your bank account like a hawk.
Poverty is the panic that sets in every time you use your debit card to pay, even when you know there’s enough money.
Poverty is being at home way too much because you don’t have transportation.
Poverty is feeling like you’re short changing your kids because your world is so small.