Put on your coat!

I became one of those parents yesterday . . . The forecast was freezing weather. I made my three children wear their coats, much to their distress. They all boarded the bus frustrated, worried how they'd fit their coats in their puny cubby or locker. I reminded them that two years ago we ended up walking home at an early dismissal, in the snow, and had they been coat-less that day, the hour we had to walk would have unbearable, frostbite may have set in . . . besides, I used to walk two miles to school in the snow, uphill . . . both ways! Speaking of cold weather . . .

During the cold weather Woodmont Hills Church joins other churches in the community in hosting homeless people to sleep. About ten churches participate so there's a place to sleep each night during the winter months. I spent last night in the lobby of Woodmont with about a dozen homeless men, eating good food, sharing our stories, encouraging one another, getting a good night's sleep, some needed wash done, and a good shower.

Ronnie, a 45-year-old Black man with one top tooth and most of his bottom teeth, a big belly, a great demeanor, and one of 18 children born to a couple in Memphis, Tennessee who were married 65 years, encouraged me the most. His life wasn't so "productive" with children and happiness. He and his wife had divorced. He had recently received a letter from his father at the mission. His mother had died two years earlier. His father wanted him to come home. He and another man, Craig, wanted me to write out prayer requests.

But Ronnie wasn't fixed on his misery. Instead he was hopeful. He'd been off drugs, "clean," for four months, but he wanted to wait a while before returning home, to make sure he didn't arrive back in the "hood," as he called it, and fall back into the same messed up way of life. He said he'd gotten a woman pregnant recently. He didn't know what to do. He had no way to support her. Yet his prayer request was simply to say, "Thank God for this Room in the Inn. It's saved many lives."

Several times during the night he'd look me in the eye, then shake his head side to side and say, "You aint' seen nothin' yet. You don't know what God's gonna do." He smiled when he remembered his married life and I shared some snippets of life with my good wife, Jill, and our three children. He seemed to bask in the goodness of it all . . . in the midst of his wandering. "Nope, you ain't seen nothin' yet."

Well, I didn't tell you yet about the 12 days of Christmas as I said I would yesterday . . . but I will another day.

GeneralGreg Taylor