Loving the Least of These

'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

Matthew 25:36-40

A few days ago, I met a new couple in the hallway at church. They seemed nice enough, and after a quick introduction, I hurried to the nursery to drop Micah off and then went about my business, teaching class in the youth building.

Only later did I learn that the couple is destitute, which, according to the definition of the word at, means that they are lacking basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. My jaw dropped when I heard the news.

I live in a nice, small, Southern town. I know that there are poor people in our area, but honestly, I never see them. I didn't know that our little town had projects until I stumbled across them one day when I took a wrong turn. When I read passages in the Bible like the one above, I think, yes, we should feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, but really, Lord, where are they? They're not here.

Turns out that they are.

A lot of people have rallied around the couple, and they now have a roof over their heads, food in their pantry, and clothes on their back. They don't, however, have a car. Did I mention that the woman is pregnant? And the hospital in Iuka will flat out turn you away if you walk in with a pregnancy complication. The closest place to receive care is Corinth, 20 miles away.

Can you imagine?

They walked the mile and a half to church from the less-than-reputable motel they were staying in.

I don't think I've ever wanted to go to church so badly that I set out walking.

Even Dennis, who literally grew up around the corner from church, has never walked there.

We are so privileged, and so often, we don't even realize it. Three years ago at this time, I had just returned from a monumental trip to Africa. It was there that I first realized how absolutely undeserving I am of the life that God has chosen to bless me with. Here I am, three years later, learning the same lesson all over again.

Yesterday afternoon, I cleaned out my pantry and linen closet, bagging up items that I had gotten for free thanks to my couponing efforts. It felt good to be able to give so freely out of the abundance that God had given me, but I wonder if there is something more we can do.

I know that there are people like them all over the place. The reminder that they exist, even in a place like Iuka, has shamed me for the way I have failed to do the things that God has asked me to do. I don't feed the poor or clothe the naked. I certainly don't visit anyone in prison, nor do I intend to anytime soon.

I think there's something wrong with that.

I know that I am doing a ridiculously poor job of loving the least of these. And that's a sobering thought.

As I contemplated ways that we can actually help the poor in our midst, I was reminded of God's commands to the Israelites. If they were so fortunate as to own a field, they weren't to harvest it all the way up to the edges. They were supposed to leave a margin of unharvested food around the outside. That way, those who were without could come and collect food to eat (see Leviticus 19:9-10). That, by the way, is what Ruth was doing in Boaz's field. Collecting the grain that had been left behind.

Now, Dennis and I don't have a field with grain to harvest. But we do reap a paycheck harvest every month, and I think we can do a better job of saving some room at the edges to help the poor.

I want to be able to give freely out of the abundance that God has given us. This whole experience has reminded me that it's time to be more disciplined and intentional about the way we handle our money and resources. As Christians, we are called to love the least of these. It's well past time for us to get started.

Until next time, grace and peace.


In October, Dennis and I will celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary. In the four and a half years that we've been married, I haven't contributed much to our financial situation. Granted, I was working on my MDiv and writing an occasional article, but for the most part, I was better at draining our resources than replenishing them. When I graduated, I thought that I'd finally be able to contribute financially, but it turns out that it's really difficult to make much money as a freelance writer in a collapsed economy. At least, it was difficult for me. The only assignments I got came from contacts I already had, and most of my queries merited no response at all. It hasn't been much fun.

I know that it takes time to build a reputation as a writer, but it's disheartening when it takes longer than expected. That said, I'm not sure I could handle lots of writing assignments right now. Micah takes up a great deal of my time and attention day in and day out, and until she gets out of the baby stage, I'm sure that it will continue to be difficult to set time aside to write.

I'm not giving up on writing. When I'm offered assignments from myMISSIONfulfilled, ec, and Clarity Publishers, I take them, and I'm grateful for them. But I'm also not actively seeking new assignments these days. I've finally learned that I have limits.

When I decided to let writing take a backseat, I was disappointed that I still wouldn't be able to contribute to our financial situation. Then I started considering other ways I may bring money into the household without ever leaving the house. I've always enjoyed design, and I have a fetish for pretty paper, so I began designing notecards and invitations in my free moments. Before long, I'd built up a pretty good catalog of designs, and I'd even sold some cards to friends around town. I'm lucky to have a good friend who offered to carry my cards in her store, and I took the plunge to open a store on etsy called Senojal Designs.  In the past month, I've made 17 sales on etsy and brought in several hundred dollars.  I'm surprised and excited all at the same time.

If people continue to buy my stationery at this rate, I will be able to pay off my student loans from Beeson in less than two years.  It's thrilling to finally be able to contribute financially: it gives my days a sense of purpose and helps me feel like I have a life outside of mommyhood.

All of this to say, this probably won't be the last time you hear me talk about Senojal Designs.  The name is simply LA Jones spelled backwards, and my tagline is "simply designed custom stationery."  I've loved working within the etsy community, and the custom projects I've worked on have allowed me to stretch my creative muscles and design some really pretty paper.  If you're a paper freak like me, stop by my store and check it out.  If you're really serious about pretty paper, you can follow Senojal Designs on facebook.  Then come back here and let me know which designs are your favorite.  I'd love some feedback.  I wouldn't complain if you decided to purchase some cards either :).

Hope you're all doing well out there.  Thursday marks the beginning of my month-long write 1,000 words a day challenge.  Are you excited?  I am.

Until next time, grace and peace.