Living Out That Crazy Love: Tina

Back at the end of May, I told you about a girl named Margo who shows some crazy love at the homeless shelter, Miracle Hill. Well, there is another friend of mine that has stepped out of her comfort zone and is showing some crazy love.

20130714-135200.jpg Tina is a mother of three and wife to Eric. She volunteers at the local animal shelter and dedicates a lot of time at the children’s schools. Her life was very full and yet, she felt like something was missing. Like many of us, she has all the luxuries of a nice neighborhood, home, healthy children and loving husband, but she felt a tug on her heart that there was something “more”. And it wasn’t more material things, but more value in how she spent her energies.

Tina’s faith began to flourish when she began attending B.S.F.- Bible Study Fellowship at a local church. This once a week, intensive bible study not only increased her knowledge of the bible, but increased her love for God. While driving with a friend one day, she lamented how she wanted to do more with her life, but didn’t know where to start. Her friend suggested Miracle Hill, where she knew many from her church volunteered. Tina showed up the next day to offer her time and talents.

20130714-140705.jpgI first met Tina when she showed up to babysit the children of the moms I worked with in Parenting Classes. What a blessing it was for the moms to know their children were loved and well taken care of for 30-45 minutes. Although not every week there are children, Tina still comes and sits in on the classes to support me and offer solid, motherly advice.

20130714-141235.jpgOnce a month, Tina provides free haircuts to the ladies at Miracle Hill. For many of the women, they haven’t had a haircut in a year or more. Yet, like any of us, they just feel so much better after having their hair professionally shaped.

20130714-141618.jpgMaybe its a trim or maybe a simple color touch-up, but no matter what, she is there with a smile and gives so much kindness and love.
Mother’s Day, this past May, Tina stepped away from her celebration and drove a new mom from shelter to the hospital so she could visit with her baby in NICU.

20130714-142337.jpgTina confessed to me one morning as we were walking to our cars, how she usually leaves Miracle Hill in tears. Her husband even suggested that maybe this wasn’t the place for her to be if she was going to be upset every time she came. Although heart broken for the pain the women experience, she knew that she was here to stay. In fact, Tina and I are signing up for Christian counseling classes so we can better understand and serve the clients.

Christians like to play it safe. We like to love and be around others like us. It’s easier that way. But what if more of us were like Tina? What if more of us stepped out of our comfort zone and started loving on those who might have addictions? Or difficult lives? What if we gave fully of ourselves even when it hurt? What if we did that one thing that God is asking us to do, even if our friends try to convince us to otherwise? What if we used the talents God gave us to serve others and not ourselves?

What if? What a lovely place it would be.

Margo Shows Some Crazy Love

Last week I talked about two books, Crazy Love, by Francis Chan and Same Kind Of Different As Me, by Hall and Moore. As I said before, reading these two books at the same time had a tremendous effect on me. In the same bible study, I have a friend who has been there beside me in this crazy transformation.

20130528-075804.jpgThis is Margo. She quit her job as a physical therapist and had no idea what she was suppose to do with her life. I encouraged her to read Same Kind Of Different As Me. She became just as fired up as I was, so she accompanied me on the tour of Miracle Hill Homeless Shelter. We were hooked and signed up right away.

We began volunteering once a week, doing whatever Becky, the women’s director, needed us to do. Because it was winter time when we started, women could come in from the cold for the night to a warm bed and hot shower. We would change the sheets on the bed and prepare care packets for the next night’s visitors. Finishing up our tasks, we would join the women for lunch in the cafeteria. I, honestly, was a little uncomfortable, not knowing what to say to the “lucky” gal who we would plop down to eat with. Margo, on the other hand, had no problem asking questions. “So, tell me how you got here.” Sometimes, the answer would be: “by bus.” Ok. So that really wasn’t what Margo meant, but it was a start. She wouldn’t give up, she would keep asking more questions. Meanwhile I would be sitting there, with my head down, eating my peas thinking “Oh my goodness!” Yet, Margo was right on the money. The girls usually wanted to tell their story. Margo never passed judgement, but just listened. Which is exactly what the girls needed, was someone to listen. As we continued to change the sheets, organize the supplies and build a clothes closet, we built relationships with the women. Margo has the wonderful gift of tough love.

After about a year, during a lunch meeting with Becky, we asked her what she felt was needed at the shelter. Becky replied that she would love to see the women exercise and a parenting program for the mothers. Well, say no more! Margo immediately said she would love to start a walking program. She is an avid runner, tennis player and lives an active life. My heart started racing about the idea of parenting classes, so I did some research into parenting programs. Margo hit the Internet to research walking programs for the homeless. She found a successful program in Arizona, contacted them and began her own program here in Spartanburg.

20130528-082934.jpgTwice a week, Margo picks up 10-12 ladies from the shelter and takes them to an area park to walk. They begin the session with prayer.

20130528-112325.jpgHaving a medical background, she is diligent about knowing the ladies’ health situation, checking their pulse and blood pressure.

20130528-113344.jpgMany of the residents are overweight, addicts or have psychological issues. These are all things that Margo considers when she gives them their exercise goals, whether they are walking or running.

20130528-113731.jpgThis Step By Step program not only gives the ladies a break from the mission, it encourages a healthy lifestyle, which many have no idea about. Physically the women see positive results like losing weight, finding a stress reliever, and getting a little more in shape. Margo has seen women who could barely walk a lap to being able to jog around the path. That in itself raises their self confidence. As the women walk around, Margo will join different groups or individuals and talk to them about their struggles and goals. She encourages them in all aspects of their lives, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and family.

20130528-115025.jpgAfter an hour of walking or running, Margo brings the ladies back to the shelter and gives out the rewards. She has a detailed sheet with the client’s name and their participation level. With her own money, Margo provides a water bottle for day one participation. For every day that the bottle is brought to a session, the client can receive a powdered drink packet. On designated days, one can receive a bus pass, a $10 Walmart card and even a pair of shoes. This may be the first time in their lives that there is consistency, goals and rewards.

20130528-120123.jpg This twice a week labor of love, is a great example of some Crazy Love! Margo’s strong belief in Jesus Christ and her obedience to Him has taken her on a wild adventure. There have been days where we laugh, we cry and when we just get down to business. We have made a lot of mistakes along the way, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is our love for these broken, hurting and beautiful women. We see so differently now.

20130528-120657.jpgThere are many different types of volunteers, those who do their once-a-year donation, those who write the check; those who even show up regularly, but can’t tell you one person’s name. And then there are the volunteers who are so crazy in love with God that they step out of their comfort zone and love the least of these. They use the gifts that God has given them and gone where He has asked them to go. Like Margo, they do the yucky, the hard, the smelly. They develop friendships with people unlike themselves.

Thank you Margo for being so inspiring!