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Heart for the Homeless Pt. 1

Hello! So I could give a whole explanation about why it’s been forever since I’ve posted, and I could try to promise to keep up a regular schedule from now on but I won’t. Let’s be real I can’t promise that even if I wanted to, so I’m just going to focus on this series of three posts for now. (P.S. I FINALLY GRADUATED SO I HAVE MORE TIME FOR FUN THINGS LIKE THIS BLOG)

Today I want to share about one of the best things that God has ever let happen to me. It’s been a story I’ve been wanting to tell for four years and I truly don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write it all down. These series of events have shaped my entire testimony, and without this story and the people in it I would not be the person I am today. Hopefully I can remember all the details but when I think about these events it’s like they happened yesterday so I should be fine. So here’s part one of this story. Look for the next part soon.

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When I was in 8th grade, my youth choir traveled to Poughkeepsie, New York for our summer mission trip. Since I was in one of the small ensembles, I went with my group to sing at a place called The Lunch Box. This is a place that provides a free lunch and dinner to people from all over the city who are in need of food. Before we sang, we served lunch to the men and women that came there and I was not very happy about doing it. I was uncomfortable and socially awkward and all I wanted to do was run away because serving food meant talking to a bunch of strangers. However, I made it through that and it was finally time to sing. I assumed it would just be a regular concert where a few people would listen to be polite and some might even would be invested in what we were singing, the rest wouldn’t care, and we would be out of there without any abnormalities. For the most part, I was right but I was also very wrong.

There was one thing I didn’t expect. We were singing one of the songs that our large choir normally would sing called “Someone Worth Dying For”.  If  I was being honest, it wasn’t my absolute favorite song but I thought it was pretty good and thought it had a sweet message. Looking back, it’s one of the most perfect songs to sing in front of a group like that. Towards the end of the song, I looked up to see a woman crying a few tables down from where I was standing and there was a man with her trying to console her best as he could. I knew they had both been moved by the words we were singing. As soon as I looked up and saw her I felt a prompting I was not prepared for. God wanted me to break away from the group (which was definitely not technically allowed) and go hug this woman. Me. The little socially awkward, scared 8th grader who hated to do anything that made people look at her, was supposed to go hug a complete stranger in front of a group of complete strangers. I tried to fight it. To be fair I put up a pretty good fight but there was no denying what I needed to do. So I did it. My heart was pounding and I was terrified that she would reject my hug and I would be totally embarrassed but I did it. As I walked away from the group and I could hear the sound of my friends behind me trying to figure out what the heck I was doing, and I could feel the eyes of everyone in the room looking at me. The amazing thing is, as soon as she and I hugged I knew I had made one of the best decisions of my life. I would also soon find out that I had just met one of the most incredible people ever.

After that, I went back to my place in the choir, we continued singing, and we finished the concert. As soon as we were done, she came up to me and gave me another huge hug and then hugged my best friend, Liv, standing next to me. She told us that what we had done had really blessed and spoke to her and that she was going to try to come to our large group’s concert that night in the building’s auditorium. I was ecstatic because that meant I was going to get to talk to her more plus introduce her to my mom and all my other friends. So, we said our goodbyes and both left feeling way better than we did when we came. Unfortunately, as soon as I left I realized I didn’t catch her name.

I spent the rest of the day telling all my friends about what happened. I was both excited about the concert that night but also worried that she night not show up which would mean I would never see her again to find out her name. My friends spent the day reminding me that what’s supposed to happen is going to happen and if she was meant to be at the concert she would be. I knew they were right but of course I wanted her to be there so bad that it was hard to trust that God was going to work everything out. Finally, it was time for the concert and I spent all the time during soundcheck and the break before looking at the doors so that I would see exactly when she walked in. When my friends went to the bathroom they said they may have seen someone that looked like the woman I had described but she had her daughter with her so I wasn’t sure if they had really seen her. She didn’t come in before the concert started and at that point I was pretty sad but I had come to terms with the idea that we had both been blessed by that small interaction and that was all we needed. I was just ready to have a great night. To my surprise, she and her family walked in during one of the first songs and I remember looking at my friends with pure excitement trying to get them to see what I saw. Part of the way through her boyfriend left, and I later found out it was so he could get back to the place he stayed during the nights. I was sad he had to leave but I was just content with the fact that the whole family had gotten to come at all. After the concert, I immediately dragged my friends over to talk to her and it was a blast. I found out her name. It was Bridget. I also got to know her two kids. I found out more of her story, introduced her to my mom, and we took a really fantastic picture. It’s a day I will never forget.

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The next few days, we went back to The Lunch Box one or two more times and I talked to Bridget and Michael and my mom got to even meet him too. I no longer dreaded going to serve at The Lunch Box. I valued my time there. One of the days, Bridget told me that after our concert her little girl just got down on her knees prayed on the stairs at the place that she and her kids stayed. I honestly thought that was one of the sweetest things I had ever heard. On our last night in Poughkeepsie, we sang in Hyde Park by the river. Bridget and her kids came to one final concert and we had an awesome time talking and chasing her kids around so that we could take good pictures.

At the end of the night, my friends and I ran off the stage as fast as we could so we could maximize our time with her before we said goodbye. There were lots of tears all around but it was a beautiful few minutes. When some of our older friends saw what was happening, they came and asked to pray with all of us so we did that too.

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Finally, we said goodbye for the last time. My mom got her cell number and we promised to keep in touch. At last, we figured we had kept the bus waiting long enough so we left. I was one of the last on the bus and as we pulled away I looked back at her one last time. I cried all the way back to the hotel. Someone on the bus asked me if they were happy or sad tears. I said they were both.

Bridget told me that I blessed her and that what I did saved her life. I’ll take her word for it. Honestly, it was all God. I never would have gone up and hugged her on my own. That’s not really my style. God orchestrated everything about that situation perfectly. He distributed blessings all around. I have learned the power of God’s promptings and getting out of my comfort zone and the blessings that come when I follow his will. This story is the ultimate reminder of God’s faithfulness. I’ve seen how a reminder of his love can change someone’s path forever and how they will affect others around them. I met one of the greatest women in the world because God put us in the same place at the same time. She left me with words of wisdom that I will carry with me forever. So yes, what God did through me and my friends blessed her but she and her family blessed us as well.

Thank you Bridget. I love you.

This Week’s Video: HERE

 

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Everything is Going to Be Okay

“Life is difficult and full of disappointments, but that’s okay.”

-Jess Helms (me)

There’s a good story behind that quote. I promise. In fact, for a long time, that wasn’t even the quote. It was originally, “Life is difficult and full of disappointments.” It was an inside joke between myself and my best friends when little things didn’t go our way, but slowly I realized that it was pretty pessimistic. So, when I writing this Spoken Word, God showed me how I can turn a pretty negative statement into a super uplifting statement. I think it’s even better now than when I created it.

Psalm 34:17 – When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

I’m not under the impression that I have some horrible life. I know that I’m incredibly blessed and I have a ton of opportunities that many people around the world don’t have. I have a great community of Christian friends surrounding me and a church I can call my home all the time. (but let’s not talk about everything I’m thankful for… that’s for next time) However, just like everyone else, I do have rough times. I get sad, angry, and hurt. I’m sure you can relate. Struggling is no fun, especially when you feel like you are going through it alone. I have good news. God is beside you through everything. He is always right by your side when your struggles seem to overwhelm you. God uses our struggles to help us grow closer to him and he helps strengthen us in our faith. God even uses our struggles to help others around us grow.

These last few months have been pretty rough, but God really used them as an opportunity to teach me how to lean on him and not the people around me. I lost some things that were really important to me, and I genuinely felt like I could never possibly recover. Looking back, I realize how much God helped me through probably the hardest time of my life, and how losing those things have really helped me mature. At the time, all I could do was just pray that he would take the pain away, and everyday a little bit of pain left my soul. And I’m not saying everything is rosy now. Sometimes a hint of those negative feelings still sneaks in, but God always puts joy in its place. Without all those struggles God allowed me to go through, I would never have changed my perspective. I’m sure I wouldn’t be making videos and creating blog posts like this.

Often, God uses our struggles to encourage others around us. Whether that be someone seeing you in the middle of your struggle and watching you lean on God, or you using that situation as a part of your testimony to encourage others afterwards-which allows you to show how God has gotten you through it You get to show them you are still okay and joyful at the other side of it. This gives you a great opportunity to give the glory to God.

I bet you guessed it. I have a story to go with this point too. 😉

So a few months before I hit my “rock bottom” one of my friends hit it first and bounced back. I remember calling her and saying I felt like “all the strings broke.” She reminded me that there were always ways for me to bounce back and that God was going to get me through it no matter what. She really used her experiences to bring me back to the reality of how powerful God is. He had me in the palm of his hand the entire time and when I put my focus on him I could truly feel that. She helped me through it by sharing what God showed her through her experiences. It was super helpful to have a strong Christian who had gone through the same things as me there to talk to me and have encourage me in my relationship with Christ.

A few months after I began to start healing, another one of my friends began having to deal with something very similar. This time myself and the friend who helped me both tried to encourage her. We both shared our individual experiences and how God got us through them. I like to believe our stories helped her at least a little bit. That’s what being a part of the church is all about. We are there for each other to encourage and draw those around us closer to God.

The point I’m trying to make is… embrace your struggles. They’re obviously not fun, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that God has a purpose for everything that happens. However, the sooner you look up and consider why you might be going through that at this particular time in your life, you can begin to lean on God and he will show you exactly where your path is headed. As long as you remember to stay faithful to him things will always get better, because God will never let you struggle forever. He will use your struggles in ways you can never imagine. Just remember if you’re not okay, it’s not the end.

I’m praying that all of you will remain strong in your faith and that you will lean on God throughout all your struggles. I hope you all will also be praying for me these next few weeks as well.

I love you all very much and I appreciate your support.

-Jess

Bible Verses:

  • Psalm 9:9
  • Psalm 56:3-4
  • 1 John 4:4
  • Romans 8:18
  • Philippians 4:19
  • James 1:12
  • 2 Corinthians 1:9

This week’s Spoken Word: HERE