Friday, October 16, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

Ty turned 4 months old, today. I can't believe it. His video and photo shoot will come later, this weekend. For now, I've been thinking a lot about influences. In Ty's lifetime, there will be countless footprints, by countless people, pressed into his heart. One person, already shaping up to reach superhero status, is Ben. His daddy.

We went to Indianapolis, last weekend, to see my longest-running friend, Laura, and her family. We had an absolute blast and enjoyed our first ever family road-trip (with an exception of the 24 hour homecoming ride, with Ty).

We spent a good chunk of Saturday afternoon in downtown Indy, enjoying the sights, catching up with old friends, and listening to continual reminders from a three year old, that she had not and would not forget about the promised esclator ride, on the way back to the car.

We lunched at a quaint, little street deli, Au Bon Pain, and braved the cool temperatures to feed on the patio. It was a bustle of activity as I balanced the tray, ordered our soup (new lunch menus intimidate me), kept Ty quiet, and maneuvered the stroller through tight aisles. I was so focused on what I was doing I never noticed the man who's soup we ended up paying for, upon check out.

Have you ever heard Monk & Neagle's song, 21st Time?
[It's amazing] It starts out:

Nowhere to live,
nowhere to fall
he used to have money,
but he’s wasted it all.
His face is a photograph burned in my mind,
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

In the course of the day, I saw no less than 10 homeless men on various street ends. It's not that I didn't notice them...I did.

He sleeps under stars,
that’s all he can afford
His blanket's an old coat he’s had since the war
He stands on the corner of Carter and Vine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

I saw a wiry, old man holding a "Vet" sign and thought how sad it was that he had served our country so courageously...and was now reduced to collecting coin on the street.

He may be a drifter, he’s grown old and gray
But what if he’s Jesus and I walk away?
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
but I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time...

We're standing in the middle of Au Bon Pain and I hear Ben say, "Grab yourself some soup and whatever you need. I got it." I looked up to find a very dirty, disheveled man. Looked to be about 60. He had come in looking for soup samples when my Ben found him.

Later, someone asked, "Did you buy that man's soup?"

Ben answered, "Yeah. He was hungry."

That's it. That's the whole story. Ben didn't sit down and have a major theological discussion with the man or even ask him where he was from. He saw he was he fed him. I haven't been able to shake the experience from my mind, all week.

Life as a mom is so different than life not as a mom. Naturally, I want to be a better person for me...but when it comes to Ty, I'm continuosuly evaluating my actions and attitudes. I have been given the gift of shaping little Tyrus into a man - a good, godly man. And I want to do it right. My footsteps need to be sure and strong, if sweet Ty is going to follow in them.

I keep replaying our deli experience for two reasons. First, I never noticed the man. I was so wrapped up in my own life, my own agenda, I didn't see the opportunity within arms reach. I don't want this for Ty. I don't want him to pretent not to see people...

I want him to live God's love out loud.

Is it ever okay for us to walk past homeless men and women on street corners? I understand that we have places to be, shouldn't hand out money, etc, etc. But what if we came prepared when heading to an innercity area?

I thanked Ben for showing such kindness to that man and told him that next time we go into a city we're packing lunches. As Ty grows up, I don't ever want him to pretend not to see...

I want his eyes to be wide open to the pain this world aches...and to know the healing his hands and feet posess. I want him to be generous and kind and non-judging. I want him to walk in the confidence of God and the compassion of Jesus. I want him to look for every opportunity to be love.
I want him to be just like Ben.


  1. That is so AWESOME!! That's all I can say! Ty is so blessed!!

  2. I just love following your story. I nominated you for a blog award

  3. What an amazing post. Your Ben sounds like my dad. I remember countless times coming home from school to find a stranger helping my dad do a bit of work in the yard or a small project in the house - something my dad needed an extra hand to get done. And in return, Dad would take them out for a meal and a shop at the grocery store and the Salvation Army. Or having someone who we met on the street join us for lunch. It made such an impact on me from an early age and has shaped the way I interact with the people I encounter now. Dad could have talked endlessly about Christian hospitality and love of neighbour (and often did) but it was the actions, not words, that affected me most deeply. It's such a powerful witness - to all involved. (But not one without risk and vulnerability too, so it's worth mentioning that we were taught from an early age to be generous but not naive)

    I know where you're coming from in writing about what you were doing while Ben was buying lunch for man, but you too were engaged in an act of love and generosity by devoting your attention to Ty. That's important too and will also shape his view of the world.

    I have so much respect for you and Ben and the way you live and express your faith. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. I was just talking to Dan about that very moment last night. It was beautiful, swift, and without pretense. I was challenged and inspired.

    Go Ben.


  5. I love this story. It is inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Beautiful post, and a beautiful family.

  7. Beautiful! How blessed you and Ty are to have Ben.

  8. This post makes my heart smile :) You are such a great Mom and Ben is such a great Dad! Ty is so blessed! Ben seems like a wonderful man- many would have just walked right by that man. It warms my soul to know that good people are still out there. I completely understand how you felt being so preoccupied with what you were doing and didnt even see that man- You shouldnt feel bad. That experience will help you in the future see what we sometimes overlook- Ben was able to be a subtle reminder of generosity. Your baby boy has great models to look up to :)

  9. this is beautiful rebekah ~ i think about this all the time. you put my thoughts into words. :)what a wonderful ben you have. :)

  10. What a great story to read at the start of my Sat. Thanks for sharing :)

  11. goodness. What a great post. It got the tears a-flowin!

    I want my kids (and me) to be just like Ben, too.

  12. Amazing, and so true. Thank you for sharing. I just love hearing every part of your story!

  13. Your happiness makes my heart sing! It is giving..and trying to balance it all together with being a is magical!!! I'm sending you hearts filled with joy and love and upon touching them...they burst open with love and giggles!

    Big hug to you..and i love the photo of the 3 of you xx

  14. totally crying tahnk you for sharing!!!

  15. Wow, sounds like Ty has a GREAT father. On earth and in heaven. What a lucky little boy!!!
    Also, your words humble me as a mother, "My footsteps need to be sure and strong, if sweet Ty is going to follow in them."

    in GA

  16. Oh my gosh I love the pic of Ty...he is think you are so wonderful to put Rebekah up as your hero. You have never, ever forgotten why you have little Ty and for that I admire could have chosen to keep her in mind ocassionally but you are to be honored for never forgeting and thanking her for what she gave you.

  17. I'm so torn on this post- I see where you're coming from and more than anything you guys are great parents to sweet Ty.

    But the realist in me is saying what I know: in America there is no reason for any person, veteran or otherwise, to be homeless or hungry. (And I do think it is admirable what Ben did btw).
    The government (even as corrupt as it is right now) provides housing and state-sponsored soup kitchens that operate year-round.

    There are people who make a living by living off donations of the streets and many in turn use it for drugs/alcohol. Some don't. Many do.

    The second obvious point is, safety. My husband has a big job downtown Cleveland and gets approached no less than 3x/week by "homeless" people asking for money. He tells them he doesn't carry cash (the complete truth) and thank goodness he's never been hurt walking from his car to his office building. But what if someone doesn't believe him and wants to see for themselves?

    Again, I hope that doesn't come off the wrong way. I just needed to point out that there is no need for anyone to be homeless and not everyone who appears homeless is. Most legitimately homeless people are suffering a mental health issue that is preventing them from seeking the appropriate help (government funded housing for instance).

  18. Rebekah, when will you stop making me cry already? :) Beautiful.

  19. i'm glad ty has a daddy to look up to

  20. Rachael Schmees-BlackOctober 17, 2009 at 11:14 PM

    TY LOOKS SO CUTE!!!!!!

    I hear ya, when I moved to LA the sheer number of homeless people I encountered was a little staggering- wasn't prepared at all. I didn't feel good about tossing out loose change- so I went to McDonalds and bought gift certificates. They come in paper coupon books, $1 each. I used to buy several booklets, and when I'd encounter a person who was also homeless, I'd pass out a few McBucks. Made me feel like I was at least doing some small part- and was a lot easier than packing lunches.

    That's an awfully thoughtful Ben. Glad u had fun.


  21. Thanks for sharing, as always!!!

    LOVE that picture of Ty in the header!! Could I just squeeze him!!!!!

  22. Such a beautiful post!! How very sweet. Your family is amazing!

    I LOVE the new banner picture at the top! Love it!

  23. I followed Lana's nomination to your blog and discovered that Ty an my daughter Kadie were born a few days apart.

    I stuck around for a while last night and read, read, and read some more. Your story is just awe inspiring. I laughed, I cried, I felt my heart leap and my heart sink... I can only imagine how it is for you to have experienced it first hand.

    I will keep all of you in my thoughts and prayers, and will definitely follow-you.

  24. I love this story. It's so great to see men doing that kind of stuff because, let's face it, it's not always safe for women to do it since we can put ourselves in a position to be taken advantage of. I'm not saying we shouldn't help these people; I'm just saying there's more than just the "normal" risks with us. That's another reason it's nice to see men step up. I like the idea of packing lunches too.

  25. Oh wow. I have tears in my eyes. What a great post and an amazing man you're married to. It's no wonder God answered your prayers. What better couple to teach Ty about love than you.

  26. Thank you. I've been reading your blog for quite some time...and I was comfortable doing it "secretly" till today. I am always so encouraged when people decide to advocate on behalf of the homeless. I have been involved in homeless and transitional family ministry for about a year and a half now and still remember who I was before I realized all people are created in the image of Christ. Thank you for desiring to raise a son who is aware spiritually and culturally.

    The homeless situation in our country is staggering and despite our best efforts (housing, government and faith-based agencies, etc) I think it it is wise to remember the poor will be with us always. Who are we to judge?

    So thanks for being open and honest.

    P.S. love the song!

  27. Ty is such a cutie pie!! So glad Ty has a father like Ben to look up too!! =)

  28. Very very sweet!

    I live in the inner city and I have to tell you, though, that many of the beggars are con artists (which is why you are told not to give money, of course). But there are some people that you just *KNOW* are truly homeless. I saw many of them in the streets of London on a missions trip years ago.

    I think what your husband did was noble and courageous. Ty is very blessed!

  29. Where do you guys live? I live in Indy also. I love your blog. We're adopting in 5 weeks. :)

  30. Beautiful story. I hate that I sometimes get so absorbed in my own little world that I miss seeing all of the suffering that is around me. We are trying to teach my oldest about giving. Its hard for a 5 year old to go to a toy store to buy toys for kids he doesn't know but we do it several times per year and I hope he is learning a valueable lesson.

  31. Ben has compassion that God put in his heart. Many of us think of things to do. Ben does them.

  32. Love the family shot at the end of the post! So cozy!

  33. Hi Rebekah, I am sure you get lots of suggestions but I wanted to offer one helpful one for you. I was watching you feed Mr Ty his may want to use his carseat as a place to feed him for now or other semi reclining chair as that is the way you get the cereal to kind of go in and stay. You are doing a fantastic job. Also, if the doc gave the ok a little applesauce mixed in the cereal might get him to like it a little better. I love the happy birthday video to Rebekah. You are so kind.

  34. That is such a good idea, to pack lunches. So simple, so tangible, so easy for the kids to get involved. In fact, I think I'm going to write down supplies for that on my grocery list right now. I'll have some nonperishable items and some lunch sacks ready to go so that, the next time we go into Houston, we can pack some with us. I, too, wondered how to handle it as a Christian.