Safe to Sleep

safe to sleep -header

I (Heather) want to introduce you to someone pretty darn special; her name is Jessica Luraas. We pick up our kids outside the same elementary school every day. Over the past few years a friendship has developed. As we wait for our boys to burst through the doors at the end of the day, we’ve shared conversations about our children, our school, our churches, our passions, and our God. (It’s amazing what you can cover in a few minutes!) When Jessica first mentioned a ministry she was involved in, I was spellbound. I had no idea this even existed in Springfield, Missouri. I asked her to share on our blog what she witnesses everyday. I think it will be educational as well as stirring—poking a giant hole in the bubble we live in—as we hear from one that is on the front lines of everyday suffering. You will also see a glimpse into this sweet woman’s heart. I think you will love her as much as I do!

———-

{by Jessica Luraas}

Its 7:30 on a Tuesday night. It’s been raining all day. The women stream off the bus and rapidly fill the hallway to the church gym with weary shoulders and wet feet. Small rolling suitcases and backpacks are propped up against their legs as they wait in line at the shelter sign-in table. One is young, just out of foster care at 19 years old, she is emotionally wounded from years of abuse and can’t keep a job. Another is 65, her husband passed away suddenly and she used her disability check to pay for his funeral. She missed rent and got evicted. And there is the 42 year old who has a mental illness so debilitating she can’t work. She is waiting on disability, stuck in the system and unable to pay for her own housing.

File_000 (1)

Every night of the year, thirty to forty homeless women in Springfield seek refuge through an emergency shelter program called Safe to Sleep. Dedicated volunteers spend one or two nights a month at the shelter, giving up a little sleep to ensure the doors can stay open. A host church offers its building for several months at a time. Countless donors give money and supplies that keep the shelter running. Women would be on the street without the shelter, it saves lives.

File_000 (2)

The next morning I’m driving to pick up a woman who stays at Safe to Sleep. I will spend a good part of my day trying to help her navigate the road to a home. She has fought a lifelong battle with chronic pain and mental illness. She gets into my car with the deepest, most painful cough I have ever heard. She has pneumonia and bronchitis. Can you imagine being sick and homeless? You just want to sleep in your own bed, in your own home, with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a movie, but you can’t. You have to stand outside for an hour and wait for a warm building to open to get your dinner and then stand at a cold bus stop to get a ride to a shelter so you can finally lie down.

We are headed to the social security office to get a letter confirming her disability award which will help with getting housing. I like her, she makes me laugh. Her frank stories, told from a deep raspy voice pull me in. I know her life has been filled with drugs, shoplifting, ex- husbands, and bad choice after bad choice. I’m not sure what led her to be homeless at age 70 but I really want to help her. Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves a home.

As we wait at a stoplight, she grabs my forearm and gives it a gentle squeeze. This tough lady with her weathered face, red fingernails, and throaty voice looks me directly in the eyes. She sincerely says “Thank you Jessica, it helps so much to have someone who cares.” This is my job, I get to make small things easier, because when you are homeless, small things are insurmountable.

People often ask me how I do it. How do I find empathy when a woman is rude to me? How do I take in a painful story and yet guard my heart? Do I ever get scared or feel unsafe? The truth is, sometimes I get frustrated and discouraged. Sometimes I have a hard time shaking a story I just heard. Sometimes I have no idea what to do to help. Sometimes I want to walk away and sometimes I have to walk away.

But here is the thing, it’s not about me. It’s not about how many women I help find housing. It’s not about how many hours I volunteer or how many new volunteers I recruit. Those things are very important, but what matters more is that God loves me and I love Him. He simply wants my heart–He wants every last bit of it. When I stop trying to please Him by doing things and start seeking a deeper relationship with Him, the doing comes naturally. The fruit of His love towards me pours out onto others. I am able to respond to His call on my life in freedom, without fear. The outcomes don’t matter because that is not in my hands. So that is how I do it. I don’t do it alone.

I will leave you with my favorite verse. It’s taken me years to understand what this verse truly means but I think I am getting there…“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4: 7). He wants our hearts to know Him, to know His love. When His love fills us up, we have enough to give to others. And we will always get more in return than we can ever give because His love for us is endless.

File_000 (3)

If you live in the Springfield area and are interested in volunteering with Safe to Sleep or if you’d like to donate toward this ministry, email Jessica Luraas (Guest Advocate) at jluraas@ccozarks.org. They have evening shifts that end at 10pm and overnight shifts.

———-

To learn more about Dancing On My Ashes, you can watch Heather & Holly’s 3 minute video: go here

To check out their book, Dancing On My Ashes: go here

If you are interested in learning more about God: go here

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s