Good morning! By now you know that it’s been cold outside. Winter Storm 2022 came and left its mark on Big D and the surrounding metroplex. It not only dropped below freezing but it stayed below 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night and in the wee hours of the morning for a lot longer than most of us living in big sunny Texas like it to be. Most of us Texans like about a minute of winter. For many of us, our idea of winter is traveling somewhere else to enjoy the snow, including activities like skiing, snowboarding, and such.
A week ago we said hello to wintry weather in February. Forecasters and prognosticators told us to anticipate a deep freeze for several days and they turned out to be right. For our ministry team, this meant initiating our Inclement Weather protocol to help keep the homeless population of Dallas alive, warm, and fed (physically and spiritually).
This is my second go around at serving the homeless during inclement weather. A year ago, shortly after starting at Our Calling, I was baptized by fire in the ins and outs of serving the homeless during inclement weather during Snowmageddon 2021. The experience left me both blessed and changed, along with some lingering secondary trauma. I was suddenly reminded of the value of the lessons I’ve learned in recovery.
This year, I found myself in the midst of Winter Storm 2022, better prepared, with a plan, and a ton more responsibilities. We had more staff—our team has nearly doubled in the past year—and multiple locations this time around. I’m still processing all the details, many of which I can’t share publicly nor in this forum. A few I will need to talk through with Lee, our company chaplain and perhaps even need additional counseling for in order to file it in the right box.
The entire inclement weather protocol is a complex process that involves a sea of people and a city of partners. There is a ton of planning, preparation, and prayer imbedded in the process. We learn each time we do it. This year is no different. In the coming days, there will be time to reflect before identifying opportunities for improvement.
For me, I was grateful to sleep at home and in my own bed last night for the first time in a week. I couldn’t be prouder of our team and the people I work alongside. We work for the best couple. Our founders are generous, kind people who love others and love the Lord immensely. Their passion for what we do drives us to be better servants of God.
When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (New Living Translation)
Where does the trauma come in? Perhaps it is in listening to the stories of a man trembling before me. As a child, he suffered horrific abuse at the hands of the two people he should have been able to trust most. He’s never going to be right. There is nothing I can do to make him whole. Only Jesus can heal the wounds he bears.
Or, maybe it’s hearing the story from a humbled, almost embarrassed man, who witnessed his pregnant mother suffer abuse at the hands of her boyfriend. Tears roll down his face as he recalls being in the room watching his mother miscarry after one of the many beat downs. It’s not something he experienced once, but numerous times.
On Monday night, knee-deep into another 18 hour work day, after having mobilized our team and moved nearly 200 homeless people from one location to the next, I walked out of the building to find a man laying on the floor convulsing and trembling. He was in the midst of a seizure. The cause is unknown. I called for the on-site emergency rescue team.
Afterwards, I go back inside and sit with a man who was feeling hopeless, unseen and unheard. Life dealt him a harsh hand.
As I arise, my eyes survey the building. There’s a slew of cots with people ready for sleep. I check on Miss Bonita, an elderly homeless lady. She’s mad. She’s had a little too much to drink, I believe. That’s evident in her growing belligerence. I ask her to chill. The last thing I want to do tonight is put her out in the cold. I’m praying as I speak to her. She quietens down.
In the midst of it all, there were conversations to be had and decisions to be made. Encouragement, direction, and guidance needed to be shared as the final hours of inclement weather service wound down. There is a tremendous amount of pivoting and fluidity involved throughout the entire process, but especially in the final hours. Make a plan, knowing it will change several times before you execute it.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:11-12 (New Living Translation)
It’s all part of the ambiguity of what feels like at-war conditions at times. And a war of sort it is. Our team recognizes we are fighting a spiritual battle as much as we are battling the shots the physical realm triggers.
I’m tired. Done. Fried. Cooked. Somewhere God grants me enough energy and gumption to finish the last lap of the race. We make the final turn. I see the finish line. Joy overtakes me. Love overwhelms me.
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (New Living Translation)
Now it is time to rest and recover. The race continues and the battle rages on. We’re not done yet.
The Devotional Guy™
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