In my apartment in the middle of Tulsa the normal sounds of the city are a part of my day.

There are trash trucks regularly trundling down the alley.

A John 3:16 Mission truck parks behind the restaurant in the strip mall to pick up food. Every day I see the John 3:16 sign on the truck over my fence. I hear them open and close the restaurant doors as they carry the food to their truck.

When I happen to see them while out on the patio, I think of the people they serve. The unfortunate who have fallen on bad luck and can’t climb out of the abyss they find themselves in.

I looked up this organization and here’s what I found.

The Homeless:

On any given night, according to recent surveys, there are about 800 homeless people on Tulsa’s streets. Uncounted others remain, scattered throughout the city, though primarily concentrated in and around downtown Tulsa.

Annually, John 3:16 Mission provides about 29,000 overnight lodgings to homeless guests.

Approximately 6,000 people become homeless, at least temporarily, each year, some due to illness, job loss or an unexpected financial setback.

my kitchen counter

I see them everywhere. Standing on street corners holding hastily scrawled signs detailing their misfortune.

Pushing shopping carts containing everything they own. Huddling against buildings in the cold. 

We all see them. But then the overwhelming sadness makes us turn away.

Practicing Gratitude:

I look around me at this cozy home. Feel the heater come on that keeps me warm. I look outside at my car. It is 12 years old, but with very low mileage and running just fine.

I have much to be grateful for. The silence of my days. The fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to make money doing what I love.

I am rich in solitude and peace. In finally learning where strength comes from.

I have been better off and I have been worse off. I have lived in small homes and in large homes.

All in all, it really doesn’t matter, I’ve learned.

vintage bottles

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover:

You may know women who seem to have everything. A handsome husband and lovely children. She may have standing in your community and volunteer for charitable organizations.

You may find yourself admiring her lot in life. But you never know what it looks like once the door is closed. You can’t see what’s inside.

She may be a woman in an awful marriage with few options. In that instance, it doesn’t really matter where she lives. The walls are beautiful, but there may as well be bars on the windows.

There are all kinds of abuse. Physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse.

There are women in this country, right this minute, who fall into one or more of the above categories. Who desperately need help, but are afraid to ask for it.

living room vignette

Glass Houses:

George Herbert wrote in 1651: ‘Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another.’

I have to remind myself not to judge others. I know nothing about how a person came to live underneath a bridge. Or what led a woman to live in a glass house she can’t break out of.

I try to live by these words: Be thankful, be kind, and don’t judge.

During this wonderful and giving time of year, please remember them all.

Not just the homeless, but the hopeless as well.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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22 Comments

  1. Wonderful post, Brenda. We have a lot of homeless in our little town. We deal with them everyday in our church thrift store. We have a food cupboard and people come in everyday looking for food and warm clothes. What ever they need we try to give.
    Thank you for your post.

  2. Well said Brenda! We never know how the homeless got where they are, what their circumstances are or anything else about their lives. The same with the ones we see who seemingly have it all together. You just never know! I try to get up every day and mentally start a list of things I am thankful for…the list becomes pretty lengthy! Love and hugs sweet friend!

  3. Amen, Brenda! As I grow older, I have grown more compassionate and less judgmental, too. You never know what someone’s story is. Just last week, I met a woman whom at first I thought was stand-offish, but then she started talking to me and I found out that she had five kids. Out of the five… one is autistic, one is a drug addict (and she’s raising his toddler), and another died when he was 16 years old from complications from an accident he was in when he was 10. My heart really went out to her.

    It doesn’t matter if someone lives in a mansion or in a tiny apartment – happiness comes from within. The most miserable person in the world could live in a mansion and have every material good at their disposal. Like you, I drive an old car (mine’s a 2001 Honda Accord) but it only has 162,000 miles on it which isn’t bad for an almost-18 year old car! It runs perfectly fine, so I’m totally satisfied with it. I am not one of these people who always has to have a new car. Things like that don’t matter to me; it’s just a material possession that costs a LOT of money and depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot. My husband is the same way. We drive our cars until they die or when the expenses would be more than the car is worth.

    Great post!

  4. What a giving restaurant!! Your whole post warmed my heart. We need reminders so never stop your sweet words of inspiration, encouragement and blessed gratitude for every day we have on this earth.

  5. I read somewhere, maybe on this site, where a woman would go to the Dollar Tree and buy soap, wash cloths, toothpaste & brush, and other essentials, a gift card included and put them in a gallon plastic bag (it was packed full) and hand them out to the homeless on the street or to those who held up signs. A wonderful way to help.

  6. Beautiful post, Brenda. I very much like the quotation from Emerson; also your resolution to be thankful, kind and to not judge. Words to live by every day, not just during the holiday season. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

  7. I just love you. I love you being a part of my days. I love your reminders of what is actually necessary for happiness in life. You do it more than just this post.

    You’ve known unhappiness, you’re legit in explaining what happiness is. Individual for whomever. You help ground me in my own anxious worries, and help me get back to base minimum.

    I also love that you worked Christmas into the house somewhere/somehow. It’s so precious to have the seasons mark time for us,,,,,,they are like a clock to me for the year. Something to look forward to always. New Years, Valentines, St. Patricks day, Easter, Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, 4th of July, (August is boring for me LOL) Labor Day, Fall decorations, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Decorations, Christmas and rinse and repeat. The movie Steel Magnolias began every segment/scene with the holiday currently happening. My life is like that it seems. I feel like I’m wringing all the life I can out of a year this way. I’m too talkative today!

    Anyhow, love you and your fur family and your real family and your gut honest history and your determination to live your best life despite all the trials and heartache.

    Your name should have been Resilience.

    XOXOXOXOXO

  8. Years ago, I knew a young woman, and she and her new husband built this big beautiful house. This was the second marriage for each of them, and they each brought children into the marriage. From the outside, it looked like happiness. In less than two years, when they were no longer together, I mentioned something to the woman, about leaving a home like she had. Her words were, “A beautiful home, does not make a life happier, than a tiny older home”. True words, as you so often have stated, Brenda. Her children are now adults, she has remarried, and very happy in a cabin in the woods…

  9. I like your post Brenda and it reminds us to look at each day we have here on earth and all the good things in our lives and not just the bad. There is always going to be someone out there that has a bigger hurt, loss or problem then ours. Just a reminder that sometimes life sucks and when you can do even a little thing like a smile or share something with someone that needs it will be the best way to live life. I love that the restaurant behind you is giving the food to those less fortunate and not throwing it away. Bravo to their kind hearts.
    Hugs,
    Kris

  10. Great post Brenda!
    It’s not just from divorces and someone losing their jobs though. It’s also from the doctors giving out pain killers in the 1st place! Then unfortunately those people get hooked on that s*?t! Then they loose everything that’s near and dear to them…kids, their families and friends cuz their afraid that they’ll steal from them or worse to get their fix!

    I know two families that I see it happening to and it’s scary to see that the mom’s are spiraling down! All cuz the damn big pharma making them selves rich! Look at all the celebs that had everything and then they overdosed! So very Sad!

    In the summer their was a few kids in my neighborhood that came up to me, when I was picking my berries, that I didn’t know and told me they haven’t eaten all day! I told them they could eat all the berries they wanted.

    I never picked anymore berries again! I went in my house and cried wondering where they lived and what kind of environment they were in cuz nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors! I never did ask where they lived and maybe they just wanted to eat those blk raspberries, so they lied!? Those kids had clean clothes on. Oh well, you just never know someone’s situation!

    1. Absolutely on the pain killers! Opioid abuse is an epidemic in this country. Some doctors are cracking down on prescribing too many pain killers, but it’s barely a dent in this horrible problem.

  11. I just sat down to read your post with my wet fur baby who just had a bath, frustrated that I have no place to put a Christmas tree because my small house is full of too much furniture from my big house. Thank you for the reality check that I have absolutely no reason to complain about anything. I have a very cozy, warm house, albeit a little crowded, an adorable little fur baby and a very loving husband who gives me carte blanche to do whatever I want in decorating. Now I am truly ashamed of myself agonizing over something so petty as to where to put a Christmas tree that will only be up about a month. What a wonderful post and a great wakeup call!

  12. Not only the homeless.. but the hopeless!! I love that … and this post!! Its incredibly sad and hard to believe… soooo many people without a home or a place to call home .. to go to at night .. out of the elements. Thank you Brenda for sharing this post !!

  13. An attitude of gratitude is a wonderful thing to have. One should never forget that it could have me. One should never forget that it is only by grace and mercy that it is not you or I on that street corner, homeless and alone. Good for you for reminding others. TFS

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