Category Archives: Working with homeless @ Star of Hope

An interesting day…

After my last post, Joel said something interesting. He said that he needed time to calculate, plan and consider.
I said, “What?”
He said it was like when he asks me to make a purchase, and I have to consult with my Money software and crunch numbers.
I said, “What are you calculating?”
He said, “If we can afford for Darin to not have the impact the other kids did on our lives – to have you home for the first year with them.”

This phrase BLEW me away. He finally figured out how to say what has been dragging me down for weeks. I have tried to label it 100 ways. But it all comes back to feeling like Darin was just squished into a very full life…

So if you read Joel’s post, “Change, it is a’comin’…”, you will see the sweet, self-less plan he presented to me yesterday. For me to turn in 2 weeks notice at work, for him to withdrawal from UH and then to find a job. It is definitely the opposite extreme of our current situation.

But today, as I came to work, and took time to pray, I was able to break down my stress even farther… which I can now realized is my fault is alot of ways.

Basically, my biggest concern is a parent for Darin to be with 100% – no passing around between babysitters, etc. And Joel is able to do that EXCEPT when in class.

Well, the last week of the summer, as we looked at our schedule, Joel said, “There is no way I can do this and go to school.” And I said, “We’ve got to.” And he said, “But they don’t even have Russian Studies, which is why I was going to school.” And I said, “But we’ve got to.”

So, when I examined Joel’s new plan, to find a job and let me stay home, I found several flaws, but also an alternative with the same strengths…


  • Joel can not prepare to pastor the Basilica Community if he goes back to work. When he works, he gets home late, and he needs to spend that time with the kids. My job is perfect. Ministry, close to home, GREAT HOURS (7-3:30).

Key strength:

  • Joel quits school.

It seems like either way, Joel needs to be out of school. Either so I can be with Darin, or so he can. It makes sense… it is my fault that we didn’t see it before.


Joel withdrawals and stays home with Darin.


Today is not a good day. Darin coughed so much last night that at 2:30 am, I took him to the hospital. They suctioned out his mucus, then put him on oxygen. So, now he is being admitted to stay there for a few days.
This is icing on a bad cake. I have been having a rough week emotionally. I feel overwhelmed by my life and there is nothing to do but hope it passes. September was just a busy month… I wish it would be over.
I stayed with Darin until 6:30am, then Joel got to the hospital and I came to work.
I think the thing that is depressing me most is other people doing my job, being the mom. I feel like I have to organize childcare more than anything else. My heart is breaking.
I am asking God to help me find options that feel better.

Hurricane Katrinia evacuees

A story from the trenches…
Last Friday, I spent the day helping a man, Eugene Hamm, try to search for his wife. They were separated leaving Louisiana after the flood. His wife, Carol, went on a military rescue truck with her dad to get medical attention, and Eugene was left behind with his teenage son and the son’s girlfriend.
Starting about 7 am, we called the Red Cross, then started surfing message boards to see if she had listed her name and location on any of them. Since Eugene is currently transient and homeless, I listed by cell number as a way to contact him. Honestly, I didn’t know if we would ever cross information paths with Carol. Since just about every television station has set up a “Survivors of Katrina” message board, there are a lot of places to search. We searched until lunch, then I began to encourage him to make a plan about what he and his son would do, not dependent upon finding his wife. He was resistant.
After lunch, I went back to helping another family get in touch with scattered relatives. They were using my cell phone when it received a call. It was a lady in Pearland. She said that she read a post on the Yahoo Message board for Carol Hamm. She saw Carol on the CNN news live from Atlanta. Carol was in the studio, sending out a message to Eugene.
We tracked down the info for CNN Atlanta, then they sent us to the Red Cross Atlanta. When we called them, Carol was standing right there. We handed Eugene the phone and all started crying.
A good day in Social Work.

Hurricane Katrina

Well, since I work with the homeless population, things have really gotten busy. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we have had alot of refugees from Louisiana. It has actually been really fun to have such a fast paced work environment. I figured out about a month ago that I like my job when I am busy. I don’t like it when I am bored.
I am really trying to refocus on the goal. So what is the goal… to glorify God. But what is the practical application of this.
As a mom, I am really working on playing more, bossing less. The last 2 days have been good. We have gone in the backyard and played hard after I get home from work. The kids seem to be responding to me better and acting out less – maybe they are just too tired to misbehave! I really want my kids to see me the way I see my mom. She demonstrates who Jesus is for me all the time.
As a wife, I feel like I need a goal. We have been so busy, I don’t know who to glorify God by my interactions with Joel. I have making an effort to nag less… hopefully, that is glorifying to God. I also want to support Joel more. Right now, I am in a holding pattern, waiting for him to attend the Acts 29 Bootcamp so I can follow him in the next steps for the Basilica Community.
As a child of God and member of the body of Christ, I feel like I have lost my plan. Before Darin, I had certain things I was directed to do for our church. I need to figure out if these are still the things to do.

Well, there was a big PAUSE here while I went to do some Star of Hope work…. it was really good. I got to talk to a lady for her extension (which means I decide if she can stay another month here)… she looked very sad. And for once, I had the boldness to share the Gospel. At least sprinkle some seeds. Pray for her… for confidentiality, call her GH.

Life update

My life is a very busy adventure. Joel and I have been married now for 4.33 years, and only know each other for 5 years… in that time, we have had 2 kids, adopted 1 kid, moved from 3 apartments, lived with his grandma, and bought a house. Every other year, he has worked and I have been a stay-at-home mom… then the other years, he goes to school and I work. This is my year.
My day job
While Joel and I were dating, and struggling to “stay out of trouble” if you know what I mean, we started visiting the homeless people that live under Pierce Elevated (the freeway) in downtown Houston. They were so fascinating, and appreciated what ever food or blankets we could scrounge up to bring with us. And I started wanting to know what resources existed to help them. So I applied to volunteer with the Star of Hope, who has 3 homeless shelters here. But on the interview to volunteer, they recruited me for a job.
I worked at the Star of Hope the whole time I was pregnant with Arabella (2000-2001). And I loved it. I felt like me skills in organizing and planning could really help direct people. When I quit to take care of Arabella, I was sad to leave.
So for 3 years, I tried to figure out how to come back. When I worked in 2002, I needed more flexiblity than SOH could offer, so I worked for ECI. But this year, when it came time to go back to work full-time, I was ready. I returned to the Star of Hope Women & Family Shelter in January 2005. Alot has changed since my last stint here… It has become very “business” like, specializing more in having a process than actually connecting with the homeless people. Honestly, I have trouble being here now. I am praying God will give me the direction on how I can make the new setup here feel meaningful. It doesn’t feel helpful.
But the schedule rocks
The best part of SOH is the schedule. I get off at 3:30, 2.5 miles from home, so I am home by 3:40 tops. From then on, I am 100% mom.
The real job
Like the triage nurse in the ER, I walk in and start planning which munchkin needs the most immediate care… Arabella’s fussing – get her a snack; Darin’s sleeping – throw his bigs and clothes in the washer; Holden’s bouncing off the walls – take him outside to swing. This is the work I truly love. I am exhausted and completely fulfilled.
Having babies, the pregnancy part, was hard for me. But caring for babies, daily, constantly, is not hard. I love it!
On being a wife
The job that I focus on the least, but wish I could focus on more, is being a wife. Joel is a great husband. He actually goes to school and takes care of the baby, carpools the kids to and from school, and is preparing to pastor a church. He does alot. And my usual response to him is to ask for more – more help, more time, more of him. I am a pain in his butt. But I don’t want to be… I wish we could just hang out more. That is how our love started – just spending 8-9 hours talking in a diner. We are definitely best friends.