My dad was homeless.
I don’t mean that he didn’t have a roof over his head and four walls around him. I mean that he was homeless. He didn’t have a roof, four walls, pictures of family hanging, hot meals in the oven, the sounds of laughter from his children or the comforts of a true home.
He was a gypsy and shacked up wherever he could. Occasionally his home was our city homeless shelter but he mostly found people that he would convince to let him stay with them.
He was homeless.
My mom once told me that she always gives to our homeless shelter as her way of thanking them for taking care of him if even for a short time. Nothing has given me more peace than that.
My youngest triplet, age 6, has developed a huge heart for our homeless community over the last few years. We often stop on the street to give what we have to the homeless and we try to serve at our Church Under The Bridge where we praise and worship with the homeless and then serve them dinner.
I’ve watched this little girl give of herself, with complete abandonment, to the less fortunate and my heart swells.
After my father took his life, a friend of mine made small pouches out of his shirts so that my daughters could have something tangible to connect to him. We use them to put their teeth in for the tooth fairy.
My little girl has no idea that my dad was homeless or that he even struggled through life. She has no idea that his life ended in suicide. She never had the chance to meet him. She is clueless that our heart for the homeless somehow stems from any of this.
She simply loves the least of these.
Friday morning after tucking her tooth tightly in that pouch the night before, she sat up and frantically searched for what the tooth fairy had left for her. She carefully opened the Velcro and pulled out a crisp dollar bill. Her eyes lit up. She held the dollar so that I could see.
“Yeah, a dollar. Now I have more money to give to the homeless!”
I have to thank my heavenly Father for somehow using my dad’s life to make my little girl a better person.
Maybe one day I’ll tell her how it all connects or maybe I won’t.
I will remind her everyday that God makes beautiful things out of the dirt.
I will remind her that the troubles that we face form our faith and that we have a choice in life to be bitter or better.
My little girl has taught me to toss out the bitter and focus on the better.
“Heavenly Father thank you for turning our trials into our testimonies and our burdens into blessings. When our hearts are heavy gently remind us that the most beautiful flowers have to push through a mound of dirt. Help us to focus on the beauty that comes from the ashes and to let go of the burn that lingers from the fire. Thank you for the beautiful cross and what your son’s death on it means to us. In Jesus name, Amen. “