Your Home Is A Castle Tonight {Guest Post 1}

*I've been so excited to share my first "Guest Post" with you. What a way to start this new blogging adventure! Hopefully you will be moved with compassion as a result of my friend sharing, from her heart. The post below is written and photographed by her {she would like to remain anonymous so that the God gets the credit}.


Last Thursday we had our first significant snowfall of the season--almost a foot. As we were dining at our usual Thursday-night haunt, the Mexico Restaurant, we struck up a conversation with a local homeless woman, with whom we have had some previous conversations; she's a Thursday night regular, too.

At the end of the year, we gave our friends at the Mexico Restaurant some money to pay for some meals, as they usually feed her for free. Since then, we've been praying for her, and how to serve her.

Actually, we have been praying for her for three years, when we first met her in the library parking lot stairwell on the Fourth of July. She was searching out a resting spot, as we searched for higher grounds to take in the holiday spectacle. As we passed her, we chatted casually, her urine-soaked scent chasing me through the corridor, and clouding my ability to focus on what she was saying.

That was the first time my son encountered a homeless person, a standout in our middle-class, blue-collar suburb. Since that night, my son and I have been quietly yet steadily adding pennies, dimes, and quarters as well as a few dollar bills to a small coin bank for a day in which we might actually meet again—and treat her to a meal, perhaps. A relationship had been born—at least some heart currency was invested.

So on the night of the storm, I struck up my usual casual conversation with the woman—whose name I still didn’t know. She was just the homeless woman with the blue coat and hoary straw hair. Through the conversation, we learned she wasn't able to get to her typical Thursday night PADS site, a few suburbs and county away. After about 30 seconds, I leaned in toward my husband and asked, “Can she stay in our basement?”He agreed immediately--he was going to ask me, but didn't want to impose. (He knows the angst I have about our small house and having company).

I’m not sure who was more shocked by the invite—Alana (yes, she has a name!), my son, or myself?

After we polished off our tacos and salsa, we brought Alana home and set her up in the Parks B&B. When she entered the home, she broke down in tears. My house, full of unnecessary antiques, spoke “home” to her: “Oh, my mom and dad used to have a piano just like this,” she cried as she tinkered out a tune. “Oh this is just lovely! You are so lucky to live here!” she sputtered through the tears.

After I showed her to her room, I scrubbed the much neglected basement bathroom, cleaning it as if for royalty. The following morning, she broke down in tears again, grateful to not be bathing from a bathroom sink and for shampoo that made her hair shine.

Our home felt like her home—a refuge from the cold, isolation, and daily fight for survival. Our home was growing into its purpose, as my husband, son, and I were growing into ours. The following morning, when I took her a cup of coffee, she said she felt like a queen, sleeping in the most comfortable bed. She’d strap it to her back if she could. Or, if she had the money, she would buy that very room to live in. A laugh-out-loud irony, considering the bedroom is roughly framed, and accoutered with cold concrete floors and walls.

The seemingly common Friday morning hinted at the sacred, as I thought: The Lord slept in my basement last night, and was pleased, and this morning I'm serving him pancakes. It doesn't get much better than this.

God has a great sense of humor--or great timing, as you might call it. This all occurred after a week of feeling particularly sorry for myself and whining about "my small home." That night, after seeking prayer from a close group of friends, one friend pointed out: "Your home is a castle tonight."

I couldn't have put it any better.

After I dropped off Alana at the library the next morning, I went downstairs to clean up the room, tearing up when I saw the bed Alana slept in, full of debris from her unlaundered street clothes. One night of opening our home felt like a paltry sacrifice when I looked ahead to the next 11 months that Alana would struggle to find shelter. The next night, she said, she’d be sleeping on the post office lobby floor. “It’s not that bad,” she tried to convince me with a smile.

An event like this is kind of like finishing your first long run when training for a marathon: something you thought impossible now is possible. The benchmark has been raised. You can do it again. There is no going back to the huffing-and-puffing 5k-days—the “I can’t imagine doing that” days.

Later that morning when I Facebooked my husband, I asked him what all disciples of Christ at some juncture of their spiritual lives ask, “What next?” In his typical matter-of-fact manner, he rhetorically posed, "What did it cost me?" It was tongue-in-cheek; being a disciple is supposed to be costly--at least we're told to consider the cost of discipleship. But both my husband and I are of the same mind: What did we really give up (A little hot water? Clean sheets? Easy, everyday privacy?) And what more did we gain? It's really the Profit of Discipleship.

What’s next is unknown, though I trust God will continue to answer the prayers of a wimp, such as myself, to continue to serve Alana. In fact, He already has. A mere week later—as temps dip to the coldest to date—Alana is again finding refuge in our basement: tossing a load of laundry in the machine; snuggling up under a heated blanked; and guffawing at a classic movie on TMC. Hope rises from the grim of the basement.

That same hope is what has called my husband and I to have Alana stay over once a week--get a good night's rest on a bed, take a hot shower, and enjoy some home cooked food around a family table--at least for the cold winter months. And that piggy bank of money? My son, husband, and I took her to Famous Footwear to buy some boots that will shod her from tomorrow’s fresh mounds of snow.

God is gracious: To invite us to serve. To show His great provision through our provision of others. To be faithful to the three-year-old prayers of a suburban mom begging for courage to do the scary work of following Jesus.


Mae said…
Great post. It gave me volumes to think about.
Wow. What being a disciple of Christ really looks like. A great lesson. Thanks for sharing!
Betty-Anne said…
Thank you for sharing this Alysa. I'm in awe of God, humbled by how far I have to go and inspired to believe that He can get me to the place He wants me to get.
Kari S. said…
WOW, that's all I can say!!!
That is so beautiful and humbling. Nothing speaks louder than radical hospitality!! Thanks for sharing your friend's story, Alysa.

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