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The Blessing Box

Today’s Reflection

FOR ME, the issue of homelessness hits close to home. Many people in our area who have no place to live congregate and camp along the nearby Puyallup River. To “take care of the problem,” members of the community have tried to force these people to leave. But where can they go? Shelters in the area are always overflowing with people who need housing. As the homeless population — and the controversy — have continued to grow in the Tacoma and Puyallup areas, so has my vision to create change within my community.

My passion for helping others was sparked by my volunteer work with Freezing Nights, a program my church participates in to help feed and house people during the colder winter months. The longer I volunteered, the more stories I heard about how people had ended up on the street. I came face to face with people who truly know what it’s like to have lost everything. Realizing the hardships our homeless community faces all year long really opened my eyes. ….

Feeling compelled to help, I began doing online research about blessing bags, boxes, and donation sites in general. Soon, I clicked a link for “Blessing Boxes” and started looking at the pictures. Before I knew it, I was writing down measurements to begin construction.

I wasn’t sure if a Blessing Box would be possible in my area because of the way some people view homelessness. I decided to talk with my pastor, Karen Yokota Love, about my vision that our neighborhood’s homeless population might have a place to go for resources, without being chastised for the way they live. I explained that I wanted to build a “Blessing Box” to offer a take-what-you-need and donate-what-you-can type of investment in and by the community. For example, if someone forgot a side dish for dinner, she could check the Blessing Box; if it’s cold, someone might look for gloves or a sweater; if it is 10 o’clock at night and someone is out of dog food, he can stop by the Blessing Box for essentials! …

I’m amazed by what has happened since I stopped dreaming about creating change and started working to make my vision a reality. Still actively involved in my community, I want to give back and help others, not just those who are homeless but anyone in need. I am so appreciative of my church’s encouragement, and I hope the Blessing Box will be an inspiration to other communities.
—Kheira Bach, age 18

devozine, July/Aug. 2017

From pages 17-19 of devozine, the devotional lifestyle magazine for teens, July/August 2017. Copyright © 2017 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Is there homelessness in your area? What opportunities are there to help? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And [Jesus] said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

John 1:51, NRSV

This Week: Pray for new beginnings. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Emily Balch (January 9).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2018 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • robert moeller January 14, 2018, 4:23 am

    This is something the church I attend is looking into. A church in the town where I live has a shelter. In the past I have worked as a volunteer at homeless shelters in New Jersey. Had never heard of blessing boxes.

    Thankful an overflowing brook did not flood Anneliese’s house and a sump pump took care of water in the basement. The fire department cleared ice chunks off the road. There has also been progress in relieving the muscle spasm pain, but is also started in her lower back. She will see pain management on the 18th, Thank you for your prayers. No update on Arnold, but should learn more today in church. Erich has been home coughing, he missed a day at work. Prayers for him. Thankful the big puddle next to the house drained with no problem. Thank You, Lord.

    Prayers for Marcy, Mary, her Dad and Mum, Jill and her parents, Andrea, Lowell and their daughter, Julie’s hands and knee, Chloe and her daughter, Connie, Rusty and K, Lou and her children, April, Cherie, Betsy and Grace, and all who come to the UR. The Lord is with everyone always.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling January 14, 2018, 8:53 am

      Thanks Robert!

      Spent the whole day with dad today. Grateful that he does not talk in his sleep and could spit out his phlegm several times. He is also eating well and sleeping well.

      Blessings

  • Jill January 14, 2018, 5:43 am

    I volunteer at the homeless shelter in my city. Last Sunday evening, in the midst of a very bitter deep freeze, numbers were up. It is a humbling experience.
    Will be spending the afternoon with my parents and sister. We will meet after church, have lunch and play cards. My parents are big bridge players and they taught me and my sister how to play. My brother-in-law has left for Florida to snow-bird. My sister is remaining in town, to see how things go with my parents’ health. So – it gives the four of us opportunity to spend time together. Will be intentionally mindful of my words and expressions with my sister. Father, assist me in this. May You be glorified and may my parents have a sense that we are a warm, loving family.

    • robert moeller January 14, 2018, 5:50 am

      Thankful for your work at the homeless shelter. Prayers that today’s family gathering will have the results you seek. It’s a great opportunity.

  • Julie January 14, 2018, 7:35 am

    Prayers for all concerns shared here aand those not shared.
    Would love to volunteer, but fingers do not allow. Right now they are nothing but raw pieces of bloody meat with no relief in sight until spring. Then next winter it will be the same again. Makes committing to anything impossible.
    Blessings and prayers, wish I could list all but this typing is painful

    • robert moeller January 14, 2018, 7:47 am

      Prayers for your fingers and hands. Thank you for your prayers and support. Keep your hands warm, do whatever you can to help them and then leave the rest to God. Your posts are always helpful, the the recipients be the decision makers there. Blessings!

    • Andrea January 14, 2018, 8:47 am

      Julie, I pray for pain relief and healing of your hands. I pray to your your knee is getting better. Blessings.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling January 14, 2018, 1:45 pm

      Praying for you Julie

      Blessings

  • robert moeller January 14, 2018, 7:49 am

    let the recipients be the decision makers on how helpful your post are

  • Andrea January 14, 2018, 9:00 am

    Please pray for my 2 1/2 year old grandson, who was at the ER Friday night with difficulty breathing and went home on steroids and a nebulizer. I asked my daughter if my husband and I could spend time with him today. Please hold all of us in your prayers.

    I pray for a new beginning with my daughter and that God will armor me with wisdom, humor, patience and understanding, and a thick skin.

    I have given homeless women money when they have approached me on the street. Although many disagree with that action, including my husband, I believe a caring response is what I best offer. Their gratitude moves me. I ask their names and say I will pray for them, and they offer their prayers in return. Then I turn it over to God. I do not volunteer in a shelter and this reading invites me to look into it.

    Blessings and prayers.

  • April January 14, 2018, 10:26 am

    Blessing box/Little Free Libraries /UR Site Family Prayer Box? Seems that the idea of small is the word of the day and it is successful!! From books to food, these small, convenient resources are meeting needs of others. I started thinking outside the box (no pun intended) and thought of this UR site and our family that meets here to share concerns (spiritual/emotional/ “I need a listening ear” needs, etc) and then return to the site and receive the blessing of knowing that prayers have been lifted up to God for us (a reply left at the site for the person asking and all others in our family) or just the feeling assurance that prayers have been lifted silently without a posted reply. Someone else described this UR site as an oasis, and I feel that also describes this site. What a blessing the UR Site is!! Joy to the World!!

  • Marcy January 14, 2018, 6:59 pm

    I believe I’ve heard of these blessing boxes before and I thought it was here on the UR Reflections site. I remember that some people in the neighborhood were against it because of their views of the homeless. How cruel that seems to me. I’ve mentioned that I lived in my car when I was younger and it could so easily happen again if the social safety nets are taken away. It’s scary how easy something like this can happen to people. I enjoyed working at Lazarus House, cooking a meal, then serving it the same day. Or you could just prepare the meal and drop it off. This was very rewarding and I can’t wait till I’m well , although there is much work to be done on my body over the next year before the ACA is repealed, if they dont manage to take it away even sooner. I have two surgeries and treatment of another condition that must be done. They want to make Medicaid available only if you are working and I am unable to work any longer. There is so much to be done. I pray to God that He will see to it that all the people in this predicament are not left out to be tossed about, not knowing what is happening next. So sorry, but this is truly an issue for me. I live alone. I need these surgeries on my neck and right shoulder and treatment of a condition that could be fatal. Plus the pulmonary issues. LORD have mercy on my soul. I lost two days, yesterday and today, feeling sick and exhausted. Have my faith in God to pull me through, and all the prayers of this loving UR siblings and family to support me at the lowest ebbs. Thank you, to all who pray for me by name. This is powerful and I literally FEEL the LOVE and STRENGTH!

    Robert, praises that the possible flooding problem was taken care of at both you house and at Annaliese’s. I pray that the pain doctors will give her something to help deal with the pain and muscle cramps/spasms. I know this is frowned upon, but I’ve had to be on pain meds for eight years now and still have not abused them. Prayers for Erich, this flu season has been something else altogether. I had my flu shot and still, here I am in rehab! Yes, do look into helping out at homeless shelters, Robert. It isn’t too taxing if you’re just helping serve dinner, or making the large casseroles they usually ask for, and dropping them off. Thank you, Robert, for calling me by name when you pray for me. And I’m also thankful for silent prayers.

    Mary, so glad you spent the day with your Dad and he seems to be doing quite well! It’s very good that his coughing is productive, I was unable to produce anything for the entire time I was in the hospital. But this is different. Has he been able to sit upright at all yet? His body knows it needs to eat and sleep and it’s a blessing that he is able to do both with ease. Praise the Lord! And Lord, please watch over our sweet sister, Mary. Thank you, for your prayers.

    Jill, it’s wonderful that you work with the homeless. It’s always so interesting to hear their stories and in many cases, admire their faith. I’m praying that your afternoon together with your parents and your sister went exceedingly well! It’s encouraging that your sister wanted to stay and spend the time with you and your parents. Thank you for your prayers.

    Julie, you say an awful lot in a few words! I feel very cared for and loved so never worry one iota about the quantity of your words, when the quality of your words are so heart-warming and God sent. I pray that there is something one day soon, that can be done to treat your poor fingers and hands. Praying also for the swelling in your knee and leg. You could volunteer in the Summer months at any number of shelters, pantries or wherever God leads you. God bless you, Julie, and thank you for your prayers.

    Andrea, my friend, I continue to pray for you, Lowell, your daughter, son-in-law and grandson. This recent visit to the ER with nebulizer breathing treatments and steroids sounds very familiar. A friend of mine, or I should say more like an acquaintance, has a son who had a lung transplant in his teens. He wasn’t expected to live, was born too soon, he had to have a trache put in as a baby, his mother learned how to suction him. These were not God fearing people, they most certainly never believed in God but God performed miracle after life saving miracle on that child. And he’s alive and well today in his mid-twenties. I only tell this story to give you hope, I pray that God will step in and take care of your 2 1/2 yr. old grandson in the same way. God is good, all the time!!! I pray that the relationship between your daughter and you will be reconciled and mended. I pray she comes to see that Jesus Christ is indeed our Savior, and welcomes Him into her life. I pray all these things in God’s Holy Name; with Him, nothing is impossible.
    And I too, have given homeless people on the street, money. I’m convinced, as you are, Andrea, that from there, it’s up to God. It’s never very much anyway as I don’t have much to give. And as I’ve said to all here in the UR family today, absolutely spend some time volunteering at homeless shelters or food pantries, many of which are run by different churches. Much love to you, Andrea.

    Yes, April, I agree! We pray for each other when any of us request prayers. Or just hearing about someone’s struggle, will lead us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to pray for one another, specifically for their situation, in the Name of God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior. I believe it is Julie, who described the UR Reflections site as an oasis. I remember thinking how apt that word is, as we trudge through the occassional deserts. Our God is an awesome God!

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling January 14, 2018, 9:29 pm

      Thank you dear Marcy

      Praying that your health will get better everyday

      Blessings

  • Andrea January 15, 2018, 10:32 am

    Thank you, Marcy. I pray for your spirits to be lifted when you are tired and discouraged, and for you to gain strength in all ways. Thank you for your prayers and caring, dear friend.

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