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It’s hard to even comprehend that just four weeks ago we were flying down a mountain at lightning speed as we were being evacuated. The fires were raging and our skies were billowing with smoke, our shoulders carried ash throughout the land and sirens filled our ears day and night.  Chaos had hit, animals were being rescued and people were gathering at shelters and homes of friends and family.  Even with the endless effort and courage shown by the first responders, homes were lost.

That was last month.  Since then my view of humanity has been completely altered.  I used to think people were pretty much consumed with their own circumstances.  Not that that was a bad thing, but folks were just busy with life and pretty much on overload with frustrations of their own and no real time or energy to think about what others might be going though.

We lost our house and belongings, but since then, we have been given the keys to homes of complete strangers who instinctively knew our need for rest.  We received help from new friends I met at networking events.  (If you don’t currently attend these I highly suggest it ~ the connections alone could save your life one day!)  We have received gift cards and donations to help our little family do wild and crazy things like eat a healthy meal and wear clothes that aren’t smoke damaged.  People we know and love have surrounded us with words of encouragement and boxes of food.  We are forever grateful ~ Thank you!

We are some of the lucky ones.  We raced out of our home thinking we would return the next day never even imagining we would never have a chance to go back!  We became homeless without notice, but what about those who have been living without a pillow for months?  What about those who have no place to rest and recharge and wash away the stench of a bad day and live like this for years on end?  To those who may have entertained this thought, please allow me to clarify: No one Ever WANTS to be Homeless – EVER!

Sometimes a set of circumstances has thrown an individual into a downward spiral in life. We just experienced this on a very temporary basis, but what happens to those who can’t get a leg up to leap out of the deep dark hole?  They may have gone through a divorce or a job loss and have not yet gotten employment.  First they lose their money.  Then they lose their home.  Soon they lose their dignity.  And eventually …..they lose their mind.

Not every person on the corner holding a sign is scamming us.  Being homeless does not mean you are a drug addict.  Some are truly trying, others are just weary and hungry, trying to make it through another day.  Instead of wondering what’s wrong with them, I now ask what they need.  When we were in the shelter, deodorant was a gift and a shower was a luxury,

We have been blessed by a community of compassion.  We have been given a second chance to make a difference in the lives of others.  Right now as I sit in our new home I am surrounded by bags of love.  Clothes for my daughter given by selfless teens, towels from teachers, business suits from executives, dresses from women of wealth who give secretly because they can.  I am overwhelmed by strangers who drove over 100 miles to bring us a bed and the wonderful widow who was compelled to give because she could.

I have been given the gift of hope in humanity that inspires into action.  I am not here to judge, but to encourage no matter what season of struggle folks may find themselves in.  So if you see me on the street engaging with the homeless, I am not trying to recruit them, or save their soul, I am reaching out with bags of love.