Friday, June 10, 2016

Blessings in Disguise

Everything seems so crystal clear right now. Seems as though everything has meaning. Holy ground....the sacred in the ordinary. I open the door after the usual hiccups getting all the garbage bags down the elevator. Rolly cart doing three summer saults down the stairs in front of Alvis. Big scene, everyone looking around, rolled eyes, rolly cart upside down, wheels still spinning....the blessings are here! I load way too many garbage bags onto the rolly cart and attempt to navigate it back up the ramp unable to see. You know, the usual. Make it to the elevator throw everything inside and then hit the down arrow. Sigh...success. Easy peasy. Down to lower level , take a few bags off the top, throw them off the elevator, peel myself out of the elevator trying to balance on garbage bags and for some unknown reason turn around and hit the up arrow sending an elevator full of blessed garbage bags back up to the main level. Perfect.

After a while, they make it back down and I roll the cart down the hall wondering if this will be my last time to be able to carry the blessings to "Hope's Closet". Such a fitting name for such a beautiful place. I put the key in the door on this quiet Thursday afternoon, I open the door on this day all alone in a barely lit room where everything seems to stand out like I am seeing it for the very first time.  Not for the first time, but certainly with new eyes and new vision. The purpose of what that room actually symbolizes to the hurting and broken women who enter there day after day. The transformation that takes place as the women from one side of town donate their extra clothing to help the women from another side of town feel beautiful again or maybe for the very first time.

Hope's Closet allows them to shop for clothing that will externally symbolize the transformation that had already began internally. The room is beautiful, it is arranged like Sak's thanks to the A & F sorter Jedi who donates her time to make it an experience for them.

Everywhere I look I am struck by the excellence of it all. The beauty of how the clothing is arranged. Straightened out, carefully displayed, not at all how it looked when it was dragged in here! It is brought into Hope's Closet in garbage bags. Most of the time the garbage bags are ripped because I have had at least one or more mishap trying to get them in the door and they may or may not have been sent to different floors without me. Who knows what happened to them without my supervision.  The get mixed-up, wadded-up, wrinkled, thrown out, dropped on the floor. Oftentimes, put in the places where they do not belong. Heavens, they are even called names, tags cut out and mislabeled. They are given names that don't represent them at all. I sat there staring at the box of belts labeled "Shoes". The irony God, I so see the irony.  If only they could see who they really are, or better yet "WHOSE" they really are.

What names are they still identifying with that are poisoining their dreams, their callings , relationships and destinies? Who is still accusing them from the recesses of their minds with names that they should have never been called. You call them "Beloved". You call them "Daughters of the Most High". You call them "the delight of your heart". You call the "chosen, "redeemed" and "precious baby girl". Why is that so hard for them to believe?

I am walking around the room thinking about that and a picture I drew a few weeks ago regarding the fracture of women with regard to love. I was writing about why it is so hard for them to accept the unconditional, gracious,  ridiculous and miraculous love of God. So few are truly able to accept the message of grace and  are never able to accept themselves just as they are.  They are certainly not able to  love anyone else with a healing, unconditional love. You cannot give what you don't have. Self-hate amd self-loathing cannot birth unconditional love for another. Everything halts right there. Anger and selfishness takes over. Not in a prideful way but in a self-loathing way....still self-worship, but its ugly step sister. I have been thinking about this for several week and this is the conclusion I have come to regarding the quandary. We are God's hands and feet on this Earth. Those fractures deep in the heart and soul can only start to heal when genuine love is extended to another....expecting nothing in return. Just love in whatever currency that needs to be.  It may be a meal, a listening ear, babysitting for a mom who is worn completely out, a bed for someone's babies, a hug, smile or a note. Without meeting these needs and extending a hand in genuine friendship and love, no one is going to want anything that we are selling. END OF STORY. Love does. It does not talk about it and then go sit down. It goes, it feeds, it clothes, it hugs, it sits with, it fights DOES!!! Talking about it is why everyone thinks we are a bunch of holy hypocrites. I get it.  We have to do the thing, Stop yah-yahing and DO THE THING. Geez Louise. It is not that hard. Ok rant over. Almost, we have to work together. Collaboration is the key. There is more than enough resources in this world to take care of God's kids. I know the GUY who runs this place and He told me so. So stop fighting over a dollar. Hold hands and lets do this and not care about who gets credit. Rant over really.

Ok, lastly, I want to show you what the blessings look like when I bring them in. More often times than not, they are a train wreck. It is what it is. I never said I was gifted in all areas blessing related. When we we start our journey to God, we are bedraggled ragamuffins. Hot messes....Jesus basically asks us to come dirty. It is his specialty to clean us up. Willpower is a joke. In our weakness, he is strong. This entire ministry happened because some really great sorter, organizer, business, spreadsheet person with mad skills decided to say no to the call of God and my hand went up. So this scrub and my crew that very closely resembles the team from the movie "The Replacements" got to go on the journey of a lifetime that is still going on to this minute with a new coach. Who has been called to lead then into the next phase of the journey.

He is still parting our Red Seas. It has been nothing short of miraculous and hilarious. God loves giving us good stories to tell of His wonder working power. I'm so grateful that person didn't say yes because I have got to witness God's strength in my weakness and His miracles in ways I never could have imagined.  Now I am off to the next journey, "put me in coach", let do this! I'll bring my ripped up garbage bags and you bring the miracles, like always! As for the blessings, be sure to look closely, you never know what or who you are looking at. Many of the deepest thinkers with the biggest hearts don't always come wrapped up in the prettiest of packages. You can almost be certain that if the bag is torn and stuff is hanging out, they will be much better friends. They don't have to work so hard to keep all that crazy tucked in...keeping crazy tucked in is exhausting. Get real and let's get busy. We got Daddy's business to do and He has just called for an expansion. Giddyup! Here we come....MO Blessings and FLO Blessings! Love and Peace! H

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Passing the baton- My Love Letter to Columbus

Hi All.    There is some news that I want to give you about Basement Blessings of Columbus. 

First, I want to thank all the amazing people who have come alongside me in the past 18 months. This has been some more amazing journey. Basement Blessings started as an "Isaiah 58 call" to get outside myself and start looking for ways to bless others. 

My daughter and I chose Burger King on US 23 in Lewis Center as our mission field. She would play and I would work the room trying to show the tired and weary moms that someone cared. My intro to these ladies was always "I really like your shoes" or "I really like your hair". That is where this whole thing began. 

The initial donation of 2 bags of clothes came from my soul sister Cheryl Langan from Cleveland.  That small donation was the birth of Basements Blessings of Columbus (BBC).

BBC grew to fill up my garage, then way out of my garage and into my friend Kelly's basement.  Before long we ended up in the back of CenterPoint Church in Lewis Center.

So why the weird post and the sign saying "FOR SALE "hanging out in my yard?

Well, the Smith family is moving to Springfield, MO. What does that mean for Basement Blessings of Columbus?

We will be running day to day operations as usual but working towards much more efficiency. We still have the same cast of characters that I love so dearly and are looking for more volunteers. Rich Kruse will be our new Executive Director and we will be working together over the next 2 months on a smooth transition that we will, without a doubt, accomplish.  In order to grow and be able to serve more people, we have to have people who are experts at managing complex operations.  Rich is definitely an expert and no doubt has been called to this position or he would be running from this like his hair is on fire.

I’ll continue to serve as National Chairman of the Board of Directors and work to start Basement Blessings of Springfield.  We already have another Warrior committed to opening a Tampa, FL operation and hope to build a model here that other cities can follow.

Over the next 30 days I am going to be meeting and running and doing anything possible to find more volunteers to grow this organization.  I will speak at your church, civic organization or kitchen table about serving the community and the power it has to turn our "darkness into noonday". Any group, anywhere and anytime about being "All in to Serve: Unlocking God's Blessings to the World"

At the very beginning, God told me that I had to be willing to do the ridiculous to get the miraculous. We did and He has.  Time and again. 

Here is the deal my friends.  I have 30 days to build and strengthen our team of Warriors that will continue to fight for our vision. We currently partner with over 25 charities, ministries and organizations that are on the front lines of fighting poverty, homelessness and human trafficking.  The goal is to serve more.

I have walked into meetings that I never thought I should have been in and have received favor that was unimaginable.   This is the cool thing about God.  He goes before you and prepares hearts.  He opens doors no man can close. He has and will continue to do so.

I pray that my Warriors in Basement Blessings Brigade of Columbus, whom I love so very much, will be warring to make this city a model for Springfield, Tampa and for the nation. A beacon of light and love in a world where darkness is the norm.

We can do BIG things, my Warriors.  We have and we will continue. After all, this is not at all about us. It is all about them and about Him.   There are people who need us, so get out your armor and suit up mighty warriors. There is a hurting and broken world in your very own backyard and they need the gift that is you!! Please consider giving your resources and be part of a radical group of people who are living life on the outside. We need an army of people who give of their time and talents in the service of others in need. The world will change, but first the change must happen inside of us.  I love you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the miracles that I have seen and the blessings you have allowed me to be a part of in this beautiful city. Columbus, OH, you truly are a city on a hill.. Keep on shining and keep on loving. It is what will not only heal our city, it will start a chain reaction that will heal our world.



Please send all names, phone numbers and contact info to our new Executive Director:

Richard F. Kruse
Managing Partner
Gryphon USA, Ltd
614.774.4118 Direct

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Divine Relay

Everybody falls. Everybody hurts. It occurred to me this a.m. in a moment of revelation what Basement Blessings is really about. After all the mission statements I have written, all the "Who", What", and "Desired Outcome" charts I have filled out, I always end up with my head in my hands thinking about the dreams and visions that God whispers to me in my spirit. The scripture He gave me as a promise Joshua 1:16. I made a promise to do what God told me to do and go where He told me to go. He didn't just say serve the homeless, families in poverty or victims of human trafficking. He said to do what He tells me to do and to date that has covered way more than I ever thought possible. Things that I have no idea how to "do", people I have no idea how to help. Everyone tells me that you can't boil the ocean. Yet He has more times than I can count.  Boiled the ocean and parted more than one of our Red Seas. So it may appear that we are trying to drink from a firehose. We may get knocked back sometimes but it is never boring. The blessings keep coming. The needs keep showing up. Those needs keep being met above and beyond anything that we could have asked or imagined. Sound familiar? God likes to wow His kids. We are very well aware that this has absolutely nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him and them (His kids).

This week, however, has been a very special week, the clarified vision that I have been praying for has been given to me but not as all like I asked (as usual). This week, we have been able to bless some amazing ministries and organizations who are on the front lines of helping the homeless, autistic children, single moms, children in poverty, victims of human trafficking and we having meeting next week along with our partner and spiritual gangster sister Esther Flores to connect to several other organization and ministries in our area that are working hard to change their little sliver of the world. We are being called to connection. The 4 words we use at Basement Blessings to describe what we do ( and these are in order) are GIVE. We meet the urgent needs so that we are able to get the people to a place where we can address the "needs behind the needs". Physical needs are only a small part of the equation. If homelessness is the problem, then what is the underlying cause of their homelessness. Is it mental illness, alcoholism, addiction, circumstances, a combination? Meeting their physical needs is simply our currency or exchange to get into their life and provide help on a different level.

The second thing we do is CONNECT. We connect with them personally and through serving with compassion try to earn their trust and build relationship. We try to encourage them and keep in touch so they know they are genuinely valued and cared for, it is amazing how many people have never felt the power of being connected.  The next connection we make is to other organizations. If they need food assistance or housing, we try to put them in touch with the resources that can help them meet those immediate needs. Again, our goal is not to enable or further create a system of dependency. It is to meet their urgent needs for the moment so they are able to connect with the resources they need to help them secure a job, get a resume, alcohol/drug treatment, education, etc.

The third thing we do is MENTOR. We ourselves have a volunteer group of over 400 members who not only give of their physical resources in the form of donations. They give of the most priceless gift they have....the gift of who they are. This gift is priceless because it is comprised of your gifts, talents, experience and education. This is truly the gift that keeps on giving. This gift can change lives and the legacy of the generations to come. This gift doesn't just give a man or woman a fish, it teaches them, their children and even their children's children to fish as well. It is the gift of freedom, hope and a better life.

The last word that I think is built into everything we do is LOVE. They should know us by our love. It doesn't matter if we are loving them with clothing, housewares, diapers, a baby shower for a single mom, toys for a special needs school, whatever the currency needs to be, the outcome is love. We want them to feel loved. It is the only language spoken by all. It is the healing, calming balm that heals the human body, mind and spirit. Love is the answer no matter the question.

So basically, Basement Blessings, 1Divineline 2Health, CenterPoint church and all the other amazing people we work with, along with all the other ministries and charities that run along side us believe that we are here to run a race. We all fall at one time or another during this race, it is so common. What is uncommon is knowing that you have someone right beside you at all times who will grab your hand and help you up and then hand you off to the next person who can run with you and guide you until you are ready to run your race all on your own. We will all be there still running together just in case anyone trips. In my opinion, it is time we all got out of our single file denomination, ministry and charity lines and start looking for ways to hold hands and work together.  I know my place. We are at the beginning of the need chain. Hope dealers, as my friend Joey Moats of Hope Over Heroin calls himself. Ultimately, we are all hope dealers. Joey is one of the most shining examples that I have ever seen of our testimony being BY FAR the most powerful thing about us. He knows his lane.  I know my lane and how far I can go. Gratefully, I have a team of sprinters who run other parts of the race that I can hand people off to know that they are in capable and loving hands. Even when I don't know all of these people, I "know people that know people". You know what I'm sayin'? (In my most Goodfellas Southern drawl) I know people that know people who have the same heart and the same mind, people with the same Daddy. We all know our job is to love on His kids.  I know I can take them only so far on their healing journey. Together my friends, if we pool our gifts, talents, time and some resources we can rock this world of ours. An army of love warriors running hand in hand occasionally dropping hands to grab the hand of one of our fallen brothers or sisters. No one deserves to run this race alone. Stay blessed! H

Friday, January 8, 2016

Where is the love?

You will know them by their love. I have seen this in action so many times in the last few months.
I have seen people love in ways that have pierced the hard hearted while mending the broken hearted. That is what love does. It is a miraculous and beautiful thing to watch. Love changes things. Love and hope are the most powerful weapons we have at our disposal when waging war against evil and darkness. I am not sure if you realize it or not but we are in a war right now. Good versus evil. Dark versus light. All you have to do is turn on the news. (Actually DON'T turn on the news. It is so much easier to have love and hope when you turn off the news.) Anyway, this is day one of the blogfest where we will be documenting the miracles, signs and wonders that happen on a daily basis as we go about our daily life just believing that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says he can do.  This is not our show at all. We are all well aware of that. God has stolen the show and we sit back and watch Him GO!!! He only needs a willing heart, combined with surrendered hands and feet. That's it. That is really not that hard. We have to get rid of our agendas, our pitiful plans and surrender the to the WAYMAKER and HIS PERFECT PLAN!. His ways are far higher than our ways. Everything else is easy.....just sit back and watch the show! It is always a great one...fireworks, dancing monkeys, talking donkeys...the whole enchilada! Never ever disappoints! See you next time in the bleachers. Order the large popcorn this is going to be good!