Connect with us

Articles

The Starbucks Neighbor

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

I made my way through the large glass doors that marked the entrance to our hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf, and had to pause.

The crisp early morning air rushed to embrace me like a long-lost friend. Shrouded in a dense fog, its touch awoke my senses.

I felt exhilarated.

My eyes traveled longingly across the street, to the Bay. Past the Hyde Street Pier, the Golden Gate Bridge played a game of peek-a-boo through the midst, teasing me with faint glimpses of its famous red hue. Not far from this architectural marvel, the eerie shadow of the retired penitentiary on the island of Alcatraz was a stoic watchman, its now-empty cells guarding nothing but memories.

I inhaled deeply, savoring the salty sea air and the unmistakable aroma of fresh seafood — rock crab, bay shrimp, California halibut. The tang of sourdough bread drifted down Jefferson Street from Boudin’s Bakery. I was growing hungry, but sadly breakfast was still an hour away.

A slight drizzle misted my hair as I turned the corner. Leaving Jefferson, I continued up Hyde.

Pulling my white jacket snugly around me, I had to smile at the sight of the Hyde-Powell cable car turnaround. Historic Ghirardelli Square served as its backdrop, standing one block west.

It was surreal.

For years, I wanted to visit San Francisco. While I credit my teenage devotion to the ABC sitcom Full House as the spark that lit the fire, I’d like to think it wasn’t fiction alone that kept it burning. That instead, it was the true life tales told of breathtaking views of the Bay, gourmet meals crafted by master chefs from locally-grown ingredients, and the international intrigue of a melting pot population.

After much wishing, finally, I was here.

And on this Saturday morning, as my husband Ted enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in, I ventured out for coffee.

Rounding the corner to Starbucks, the perfect in my morning came to a screeching halt at the sight of a large, hunched over form.

I hesitated, my defenses rising. It was either forge on ahead, coffee still my goal, or turn back and avoid what I knew was coming — a request for money.

The desire for coffee won. With my uncertainty somewhat in check, I put one foot in front of the other.

Two steps later, it came. The request.

“Help a homeless woman?” the form implored.

I glanced down. A large green comforter adorned her shoulders, under it a floral blanket like the ones I remember using at my grandparents’ house as a kid. Both kept watch against the early morning chill. Next to her sat three or four plastic grocery bags, each home to a handful of aluminum cans on their way to recycling.

The woman’s appearance and the timbre of her voice caught me off guard. A chiseled, masculine face, large hands, and a voice that reminded me of John Travolta in his role of Edna Turnblad in Hairspray left me wondering if “she” was a “he.” The presence of a purse at her side and a scarf carefully draped over what appeared to be long, gray hair was not enough to convince me that her femininity was genetically-given.

Uncomfortably, I replied, “No.”

I quickly climbed the small staircase to Starbucks. Taking two steps at a time, I put into practice what Lot’s wife lacked the self-control to carry out: I didn’t look back.

Inside, I worked to quiet my racing heart.

Since our arrival in San Francisco the day before, homeless people had become a familiar sight. In the few short hours we’d explored the city, I’d grown accustomed to being asked for money. Sometimes by those living on the streets. Other times by individuals peddling maps who sought to profit from our wonder-filled expressions and Nikon D40 which clearly marked us as tourists.

Up until now, Ted stood at my side, offering a sense of security. Today, on my own, I felt unprotected and insecure—even though I was far from the only coffee lover out that morning.

Joining the line, I quickly reviewed the menu. While a regular at Starbucks, I liked variety and toyed with the idea of trying a new drink.

“One tall, peppermint mocha frappuccino light,” I told the barista, deciding to play it safe and go with a slight twist on one of my favorites.

Standing there, the bananas on the counter caught my eye. It was then that my resolve broke. I looked back. Back to the homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk.

Jesus, my heart whispered, what would He do?

In that moment, a story he told to a lawyer two thousand years ago became my own.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.1

I knew little about the woman outside. And in all honesty, had my doubts as to whether she was a woman or even homeless. But there was one thing I didn’t doubt — that this individual had been battered and beaten by the harshness of life and the realities of sin. Like me, she had need of a Savior.

Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.2

When the priest and the Levite spotted the man on the road, they didn’t know what brought him there. Was he a drunk? Had a series of poor decisions finally landed him rock bottom? Perhaps his wounds were self-inflicted.

I too had questions.

What compelled this woman to sit on a San Francisco street corner and beg? Was her need genuine? Had she fallen on hard times, and like the well-known story of Christopher Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness, unexpectedly found herself homeless? Or, were the doubts I harbored as to whether she was a woman or even without a home legitimate?

Like the priest and the Levite, I allowed my questions to justify passing by a broken individual, unwilling to inconvenience myself; afraid to become involved even by the small act of offering pocket change. My love for God took second place to my fear.

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”3

As the Samaritan, was I willing to move past apprehension and show compassion regardless of what her story was? Or would I leave that to other early morning coffee drinkers?

Wrestling with these questions, my brown boots didn’t seem that different from the worn, dust-covered sandals of the ancient lawyer. My heart, as his, seeking to justify myself. “Who is my neighbor?” I asked, hoping that Jesus wouldn’t point to the homeless woman outside.

But He did.

At the story’s end, I faced a question much like the lawyer did, “Who, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the woman begging on a San Francisco street corner?”

My answer?

The same as the lawyer’s: The one who showed mercy.

“Anything else?” the barista asked, as he prepared to ring up my frappuccino.

“Yes, one drip coffee and a banana,” I replied. “It’s for my neighbor.”

  1. Luke 10:30, ESV
  2. Luke 10:31-32
  3. Luke 10:33-35
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

Click to comment

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

Published

on

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone

Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageEmail this to someone
Continue Reading

Become An Insider!

Enter your email address below to stay in the loop on the latest from Ungrind.

Welcome to Ungrind!



Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

Latest Articles

What Women Are Saying

"Ungrind speaks to women who yearn to look beyond the surface and get to the heart of life; whose purposes and loves are eternal. Their articles are practical, spiritual, and encouraging. In a world of shiny treasures that will corrode before we can blink, Ungrind helps us focus on the things that matter -- remembering that we are, first and foremost, women of God."

--Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Heart to Heart: Meeting With God in the Lord's Prayer
COL_TeamUs_BannerAd

Five-Minute-Friday---4

familydevotional

Disclosure

We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.

Trending

The Starbucks Neighbor

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 5 min
0