I started this blog 2 years ago. I really wanted to write and share my cooking abilities.
God had plans for me.
God was really laying on my heart to help the homeless. I started cooking for them and have made roughly 9,000 meals in the past 2 years. In the midst of this work, something happened that I was not prepared for.
I lost my friend to addiction.
She died too soon. We were friends for 27 years. I decided not to let her die without it meaning something. So I started to dig deeper into helping others. It has been quite the journey.
You can read her story and what this fantastic foundation does here, nothidden.org.
Naturally, I want to share my experiences with the world. I want others to recognize what this means to our world. We have people starving in our towns and cities. Last winter, in Akron, 4 people froze to death, local rivers are contaminated with diseases, and there are thousands of vacant homes. Ohio is experiencing a catastrophic economic crisis. This is the result of over 600 homeless people.
Akron, Ohio. The closest big city to where I grew up and where my mother worked for 20 something years. Akron, Ohio. Not a third world country. Not New York City. But little ole Akron, Ohio.
I always felt like I wanted to help others. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. I lived in multiple group homes and foster care for a few years. That is where God started using me. That was 30 years ago. Until recently, I didn’t understand why God would allow my life to be the way it was. Now it all makes sense to me.
I made my first meal, roast beef, and mashed potatoes for my 7 foster siblings. They loved it! My foster mother, who was a lovely person, was not much of a cook. She bought mostly frozen dinners. I grew up eating what was grown in our garden. Going from garden-fresh to frozen processed was not an easy adjustment.
My stepfather, like so many men in the 70’s, was a Vietnam Veteran. He was a heavy drinker. He had PTSD. It was not a healthy combination. He couldn’t keep a good job. He didn’t get along with others. He wasn’t a hard worker. My mother did all of that. But he wasn’t a horrible person. He had severe problems and handled it poorly. One thing he was good at was cooking. I was raised in a home that always had good food.
What God has done with my life has really helped me understand my father more. I don’t feel anger for him anymore. It is true. Helping others helps the giver just as much as it helps the receiver. I hope to prove it to the world too.
I don’t mean that I am a saint now. Although a lot of people call me a missionary, a minister, and other things, I don’t feel I am. It’s hard to take praise for doing something we all should be doing. We aren’t in this world to help ourselves, although hurt people think that way. I believe that is because they build walls to avoid emotions. I know I have done my share of wall building and not caring. It never ends well. That is what I know about that.
The truth is, we are all healing from something. Pain is part of life. Some of us are fortunate to have others to love us when we experience life’s abuse. That is the difference. We all fall; we don’t all rise. The people we have fighting in our corner makes a big difference.
Please don’t take this as it’s the parent’s fault. Addiction is something different. You can’t help someone who steals from you. I mean, you can. You can feed them. You can give them clothes. You can tell them you love them. You can help them with rehab. You can listen to them. You can forgive them. You can try everything. Living with you or your grandma, No! You can’t expose your children to their lifestyle. And most importantly, you can’t stop them from using.
They become homeless.
I couldn’t sit across the room from my father, and I sit with addicts and alcoholics all the time. That smell of alcohol and cigarettes is actually a trigger for my own PTSD. I use to cry for “no reason” when I was around those that drink too much. Especially when you add in my personal alcohol abuse. That smell makes my heart beat really fast. Indeed it makes me lose my mind. I have gotten into fights with spouses, boyfriends, other bar members, and friends over this. Not just little scraps either. Horrible battles that ended marriages, relationships, left me with black eyes and created words that no one meant to say. Every heartbreak left me with thicker walls.
Now my life is very different. My husband loves me, unconditionally. Everyone in my life knows why things are the way they are. When I was young, I didn’t understand or do the right thing. So I rebelled against the world. I am still a rebel, but I rebel against the bad now. I use my anger for good.
God got ahold of my heart, finally. He waited so long for this season of my life.
I remember going to a group home in the middle of the night. I cried all night long. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if people would like me. When you’re a kid, those things really matter. I hated God for all the pain. I thought God was punishing me. Now I know God hated that pain too. He was lying in that bed, crying alongside me. There were times I wished I were dead. God never let that happen. He knew what was coming. God knew I needed to heal so I could help others to also heal. He knew that I was punishing myself, and he needed me to stop.
I am grateful I see His love now. I am even more thankful that he can use my light to light the world.
I am going to attempt to share the ups and downs, along with recipes for the 100 weekly meals. I use all my frugal ways to do it. God still does not allow me to forget them. I will never stop finding ways to save. The more we save our money, the more we can give. That is my new addiction.
I hope you will all join my journey, and most importantly, it inspires you to do more.