Archive for the Christine “Clarity” McDonald Category

Setting the Stage for Kindness… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 20, 2021 by paulthepoke
shallow focus photography of cafe late
Photo by Kevin Menajang on Pexels.com

Continuing the series… If you are an outreach person or a drop–in center worker and have random encounters, it will take many encounters with the same person to build a relationship of trust. Here is a guide and process you can go through at the intake stage that will help set the stage for an organic relationship of kindness.

You are building a relationship organically and verbally, recognizing that they are hurting by offering tissues, water, and maybe special treats that aren’t usually readily available to them. They are seeing you show acts of compassion and kindness. Ask them if they would like to take five minutes before you move on in order to eat or drink and just allow them to breathe. Ask them if they would like you to leave the room for a few minutes, or if they would like you to stay.

Instead of leading off with hugs, try loving the hurting individual by serving them with kindness and a bit of hospitality. For example, you could lead with, “I understand this is difficult; may I get you a cup of tea? Soda?” Keep candy bars in your desk, in a bag, in your car, or in your purse for times like these. A little chocolate, a cup of tea, and a box of tissues can go a long way in helping the person have their space and be allowed to feel what they are experiencing.

Conversations

Don’t force conversations. Instead, ask them after you have given them some time if they would like to talk about anything. Fight the urge to engage further. After all, at this moment of the intake, you are just getting them to open up to a relationship. Don’t force things too early. Don’t probe to get them to talk just because you have a heart that wants to help and is ready to listen. They might not be ready to talk. Although your heart may hurt, you are going to have to fight the urge to hug them and tell them it will be okay. Just remember we are setting the stage for an organic relationship built by the participant, not filling your need to hug and fix!

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald

Setting the Stage for Trust… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2021 by paulthepoke

If you are an outreach person or a drop–in center worker and have random encounters, it will take many encounters with the same person to build a relationship of trust. Here is a guide and process you can go through at the intake stage that will help set the stage for an organic relationship of trust.

I know that for those of you who wear your heart on your sleeve, you are going to struggle with this. But don’t give up hope! I promise the relationships will be more authentic and more nurturing if you follow these suggestions. By addressing both the physical and emotional needs of the individual, you are making this participant–centered and not basing this on your own heart, desires, or emotions. It will be worth it! You will be building off the core identity of the person and not their brokenness.

Don’t take notes when speaking to a hurting individual. Instead, mentally take note of their hair color or other things that stick out. Taking notes when speaking to the person on the streets or at a chance encounter gives the appearance that you are not present in the conversation. Make notes after having a conversation.

What is their name? Maybe they gave you a “street name.” Don’t ask if that is their real name. If they had wanted to tell you their name, they would have. Remember, you are meeting this hurting person where they are, not where you want them to be. If they choose not to tell you their last name, then don’t ask for it. Many individuals don’t share first and last names, so don’t expect
it. You will know you reached a milestone of trust the day they do choose to tell you their real name.

Make eye contact. If they seem to avoid your attempt, don’t press the issue, but look directly at them when speaking. Believe me, they will remember. It will also help you when making your mental notes of the encounter as well as any notes you may choose to write down and keep after the encounter.

Refresh your memory before doing outreach again. Look over your notes. This will give you a baseline to say their name or ask about something that stuck in your mind from the previous encounter. This shows you care. This process will look different if you are an intake worker at a residential center or a caseworker at a service provider.

This is of utmost importance. Let the hugs come from the individual first! Yes, you can begin to foster these relationships, but the individual is hurting. You are doing an intake, engaging in how to find help for someone during an outreach or in church. There are hard questions to ask, yet you just met them. You hurt for them, so you say, “May I give you a hug?” It is natural to want to offer compassion in this way. But in those beginning stages of the relationship, focus on building trust first. This way, you can help them experience the true value of a hug when the time is right for them.

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Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald

 https://www.rpor.org/christines-place-drop-in-center/

Unspoken Responses… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2021 by paulthepoke

Your unspoken responses—your body language, eye contact, and positioning—speak a thousand words to those you are trying to engage with. Hurting individuals are no stranger to stigmas and judgment. While they are used to physical touch being distorted and misused, they are equally used to being held at arm’s length.

One time, I met an individual who was walking around praying for Kansas City’s homeless. I had two black eyes and was sick. I weighed about 90 pounds and hadn’t changed clothes in days. I even had blood on my shirt. She asked if she could pray for me. I said, “Sure.” She asked if there was anything she could pray for me about that I needed at that moment. I said, “Food and a shower and clean clothes.” The entire time she prayed for those things for me, she was staring at the blood that covered my shirt.

The blood was from a beating I had taken from a buyer of sex. He had locked the doors of his car, and each time he’d stop and say, “Get out,” he’d lock the door again. He banged my head against the window, calling me a stupid, filthy ho. He’d drive, then stop, and repeat, until he at last let me out. I had a bloody nose, and I believe that is why he let me out. He cursed and punched me because I got blood on his car door.

The woman praying for me didn’t make eye contact with me. She just stared at the blood on my shirt, never connecting with me as an individual human being. I remember thinking, If she is one of those “Christians,” and I am asking her to pray for food because I’m hungry, how come she doesn’t have a sandwich or offer me some food? Was God, through prayer, going to magically put a sack lunch at my feet? As she spoke to my bloody shirt, she inadvertently confirmed the stigma and judgment I was so used to. She never once looked me in the eye.

A response like this carries a tremendous message to the hurting. It was as if she stood in shock at the sight of the bloody shirt, not truly hearing my words or seeing the person wearing the shirt. As far as I could tell, she was disregarding the pain that was right in front of her. She never asked, “What happened to you?” She just gawked. Her unspoken words and body language spoke thousands of words to me. I didn’t feel compassion from a woman who prayed for me. I felt inferior, isolated, and pushed away.

We can’t have these kinds of responses when engaging with hurting individuals. We have to hold ourselves together. Responses like these make them feel more shame, more hurt, and more brokenness. It is vital, no matter what is shared with us or what the person’s appearance is, that we never react in ways that dismiss their story or demean their humanity. Instead, we must always honor their hurt, their pain, and their journey.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Building Relationships With the Hurting… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , on July 23, 2021 by paulthepoke

Building a relationship with someone you are working with or trying to help is difficult. It is especially difficult for those coming at this from a faith–based approach. We have a true desire to embrace them, hug them, and tell them how much we love them.

When you are first beginning a relationship with hurting individuals, you may have all the good intentions in the world by touching them, giving a hug, or saying affirming words like “I love you.” But to hurting individuals at this stage in the relationship, you are just another person wanting to touch them, hug them, or tell them you love them. Frankly, in the beginning, it is just too much. Build trust first. Allow them to have their space. Honor them as individuals and allow them to connect with you rather than trying to force a connection with them. Give them the dignity of choosing that connection. That is a dignity that has been stolen from them in nearly every other relationship.

Early in my journey, I shared some of my life with a professional caseworker. As I shared, she began to cry. She reached out, gripped my hands, and asked, “Can I just give you a hug?” I, of course, said yes. However, inside I was screaming, What is wrong with this lady? She doesn’t know me! But I had been programmed to respond that of course I wanted to hug her back, just so we could get back on focus. I mean, at least she asked me first, right?

You may desire to hug someone, but make sure you are being cognizant of his or her needs. This discretion on your part will help them begin to seek out healthy human touch. It is a huge step forward for them to seek out something as basic as a hug because they desire to be hugged or because they want to hug you due to the relationship they have developed with you. We as feel–good believers just want to love on them, so we need to find healthy ways to build those relationships and connections first. At the beginning, loving them doesn’t look like hugs. Instead, loving them is done by respecting them, their space, and their forming awareness of what they choose for themselves. That way we are fostering a more organic relationship with heartfelt hugs later on from both parties: the individual who is hurting as well as you!

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Building Trust and Relationships With the Hurting… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , , on July 10, 2021 by paulthepoke
crop friends stacking hands together
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The church can make a difference—and indeed, has a responsibility to make a difference—for men, women, girls, and boys who are hurting, victimized, addicted, exploited, and suffering. Jesus Christ came to set the captives free, and Christians have the amazing and humbling opportunity to be His hands and feet in this redemptive recovery. Christ calls us to reach out not only to those who are in physical captivity in commercial sexual exploitation escort services, street prostitution, internet exploitation, strip clubs, and other bad situations, but also to those who are captives in their own minds to the lies of the enemy and a distorted understanding of life formed by terrible experiences in their pasts.

It is a great privilege to get to build relationships with hurting individuals and assist them on their path to recovery. But there is much to be learned and understood in order to be effective and helpful in those relationships. The rest of this section is my attempt to help you process through how to foster a healthy relationship and connect with the individual in a way that is empowering for both of you.

For a person who has grown up in a relatively stable, functional environment, things like the words “I love you,” hugs, and other simple, physical touches are normal and generally accepted signs of affection, compassion, or relational affirmation. But for individuals who have been trafficked or prostituted, or are victims of other forms of abuse, these seemingly innocent gestures take on a whole different meaning.

In order to help these individuals, building a relationship of trust is vitally important. But to build that trusting relationship, you need to understand how these gestures—which might be instinctive and well–meaning for you—may affect the individuals you are trying to help. Then you will be equipped with the knowledge you need to be able to discern when these gestures are appropriate and good, and when they are not.

With victims of trafficking, violence, and abuse, you must first understand that their views on relationships have been distorted by their traffickers, abusers, and the men who paid them for their touch. Traffickers and other abusers have emotionally, physically, and sexually harmed them. They have used physical touch and the words “I love you” to coerce and manipulate. Or, worse, they have used these things to initially build trust in their targets, then shown their true selves and brought harm. Some of these individuals were victimized by family members, who used words like “I love you” while doing it. These words and actions now have a tainted internal value. They no longer convey authentic affection; they are tools of manipulation and harm.

When you are trying to build a relationship with someone you are working with, it is nature to want to extend physical gestures or words of affection and affirming. Oftentimes, the individual will reciprocate because of their preformed responses and learned behavior. You may think they are receiving your gestures well when, in fact, their response is a sign of their hurt and abuse. You could be unintentionally intruding on their space or causing them discomfort, yet they have been preprogrammed to give the expected responses instead of responding in a way true to their feelings.

For an individual who has experienced trauma, disparity, abuse, and other ill−treatment, they often have no clue what their true feelings are. The longer an individual has existed in a dysfunctional lifestyle such as substance abuse, neglect, early childhood trauma/abuse, homelessness, and prostitution, the more distanced they become from authentic emotions. Every bit of passing time adds complexity to the challenge of learning to process their true feelings and build organic relationships with friends, acquaintances, helping professionals, and family members.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Food For Thought… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2021 by paulthepoke

I wanted to share my experiences and help you see a personal side of those who are hurting. I wanted to give you some insight into the moments that help and heal, as well as the moments that hurt and scar.

These appendices are specifically written for those who work in the helping professions or ministries or who desire to help the hurting. I want to give you a few tools to help you do your much–needed work as effectively as possible. What you do can open or close doors in a hurting person’s life. I believe in the work you do and I want nothing more than to see you fling those doors wide open for those who need it. So, this isn’t a story. This is a toolbox.

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I have been a hurting person. I have been broken, deceived from spiritual disenfranchisement, bought and sold, and trauma bonded. I have suffered at the hands of domestic violence. I have been consumed by the darkness of hopelessness and addiction, stigmatized by the world around me, and blanketed by guilt and shame. I have been harmed by professionals, leaders of faith, and the folks who seemed to be the okay people of the “normal world.” I have been excluded by agencies for services that cherry–picked clients to assist.

Unfortunately, there are many “helping agencies” out there that select to help only those with the highest chance for success. The successful clients are used to pursue grant money that would be impossible to access by those with the greatest challenges or barriers. If someone is deemed “too needy,” then they pose a risk, because if their success can’t be qualified and quantified, then there is no financial compensation for helping them.

This kind of repeated rejection can only happen so many times before individuals seeking help give up. Their view of help becomes so tainted that they believe they can’t be helped. As you saw in my journey, I myself reached this point after trying to seek help many times.

These experiences on their journeys shape their perceptions of “helping people” or “good Christians.” If these experiences have been negative, then your work is cut out for you. Remember: Every action, or inaction, has the potential to heal or to destroy. My goal is to help you increase the chance that your efforts to help will accomplish the former, not the latter. I don’t believe that the people in most helping agencies intend to compound the problems; they simply lack the inside understanding of these individuals’ experiences and true needs. There are some ways to become authentic and relational with these hurting folks that will assist you as well as them.

As you begin to read this, remember that you are engaging with hurting persons. Some of you engage with homeless individuals, trafficked/prostituted persons, rape victims, violent crime survivors, and more. While many of these tools are relevant to women/girls and the types of things they endure, the general approach and considerations can be used with men/boys who are hurting as well.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Not In Our Community, Combatting Sex Trafficking… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , on April 30, 2021 by paulthepoke

Non-profit agencies, law enforcement, government officials and area stakeholders have joined forces to combat sex trafficking and prostitution in Northeast Kansas City, specifically on Independence Avenue.

The new initiative, which was introduced on April 23, includes billboards and street signs in areas known for activity, circulating photos of “Johns” – buyers of sex – and implementing reform strategies, and resources to help those who are being trafficked.

“This strategy is going to say, ‘Not in our community, not in our city. Not now, not ever, will we allow you to come in and pay for our people. If there wasn’t demand, there would not be traffickers exploiting our vulnerable.'”

For the remainder of the article, see the link below.

http://northeastnews.net/pages/anti-sex-trafficking-coalition-targets-buyers-with-new-initiative/

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Brown Bag Friday’s… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , on April 9, 2021 by paulthepoke

…I sat in a meeting listening to their plans to reach out to the community. At last I had a moment to speak. I asked, “What about the homeless, the addicts, and the prostitutes who exist outside here along this street?” And that’s where it began.

We started Brown Bag Fridays. We took sandwiches, sometimes burritos, and sometimes $1.00 double cheeseburgers. We would drive up and down the streets of the area and ask if they were hungry. Rarely did anyone say no! But in the rare event that they did say no, we would say, “You can always save it for later,” and they would take it.

We expanded, collecting coats and jackets and socks. We would go out on Christmas Eve and pass out goodie bags and food. On Thanksgiving, we would put together a hot Thanksgiving meal and drive up and down the streets, giving out hot meals.

This was my passion, my calling. I knew it. I knew in my heart that these folks needed us. They would at least eat when we came through.

I would often meet up with my friends, the people I had coexisted with on the streets. My journey on the streets, through all those years, gave me an understanding of their lifestyle. I could empathize with them and understand their needs. I had walked in their shoes and had survived. Now I was filling a need, helping these people to not feel invisible, the way I had all those years. How many times had I wished, even prayed, for someone to pull up beside me and hand me food, with no strings attached? How many times had I wished that someone would help me without preaching at me first, not turn me away for having no shoes? Now I had this huge passion for acceptance, to see those people accepted right where they were.

By this point I was totally blind, completely without sight. I heard her voice. It was her, my nemesis. On three different occasions with three different pimps, we had both worked for the same guy at the same time.

I thought, What will I do? I am blind. I can’t defend myself! My heart raced.

She called me, using my street name, “Hey, Ellie! I’m so glad to see you. I’ve been waiting for you. I’m starved.”

I handed her two sack lunches, and she said thanks. Then she hugged me and kissed my cheek, and said she loved me. She thanked me again.

This is what I had seen in my vision. Those were the words I had heard 17 months prior. The church, my church, was the very church where I had been invited in all those years ago, the only one of those three churches that never ran me off or made me feel unwelcome.

Again, seeing it all brought full circle as I look back through the years, I see that God was always preparing a place for me. God knew the journey I would take, and He knew how it would be used for His Glory.

No matter what your story, no matter what your past, God is preparing a place for you. He knows the journey you have taken and will take. He knows how it will be used for
His glory.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Answers To A Vision… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , on March 19, 2021 by paulthepoke

Although this all seemed to take forever, the vision was gone as quickly as it had come. I knew deep in my heart my soul that this was God.

I sobbed. I hadn’t gone looking for God, but somehow He had found me.

I realized that God had been with me all along. He was with me through my journey of exploitation, homelessness, and substance abuse. He had been present in all of those experiences. He had brought it all full circle. Here I was, alone in the house we rented, just one block from where I had worked for so many years. We were just a block and a half from the corners where I had prayed for death near those three churches.

It could only be God’s perfect timing. Just thinking about it right now, as I write this—my goodness, the individual pieces required to make this all happen simultaneously fill me with awe!

Moments after my “vision,” I heard a knock at the door as my heart still pounded and tears still flowed. I was scared to open the door, but then I heard a woman say, “Hello! I’m Kris, from the church down the street.” I opened the door and let her in, and we visited. She invited us to church. It was just down the street, on the corner. I agreed. For sure, this was what I needed to continue on my path of growth, away from the streets!

After I started attending the church, I realized it was located right across from my favorite corner, the one where I had worked for years. It was the one with the three churches—one that ran me off all the time, another that had police parked in the parking lot, ready to run me off. Then there was this little one. It was very small, kind of like a little house, located behind Sonic. I had slept in its doorway before, and gotten high in the parking lot. I had even been invited in for service one year by someone who was going into the church on a Sunday morning.

Now, here I sat years later, inside that same church. I asked someone, wanting to make sure I was correct in my thinking about where it was. I was.

Feeling a connection, feeling drawn to attend, I joined that little church and got baptized. When I was taken out of the baptism water, I asked, while wiping the water away from my face, “Can I join your outreach team now?” They agreed, and I started attending the meetings.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Church on the Corner… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , on February 26, 2021 by paulthepoke

There were two churches on the corner where I worked, one right by where I stood, and the other directly across the street from it. There was a third church just a block away, down the hill.

Three churches, all of different denominations, two of which often called the police on me. I respected them and chose not to stand on their corners on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings during hours when they had cars and churchgoers. One of these three churches allowed me refuge from time to time, never calling the police or telling me to get away from their property, though they certainly didn’t condone behaviors such as mine, either.

In fact, this little church just off Independence Avenue never once ran me off. One time I was sitting outside of it, getting high, when an individual pulled up. I immediately stopped getting high. This individual got out of the car and smiled at me. I remember looking directly at the ground.

architectural photography of white and green church bell tower under clear sky
Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I’m sure it was my shame that motivated that almost instinctive response to individuals who tried to look me in the eye. She walked toward me and said hello. She mentioned her name, but I don’t remember it now. I was standing by now, walking off the parking lot. However, she invited me in. I remember her saying, “All are welcome.” The other two churches never did that. I knew I was not welcome in their buildings, and no one in all the years from either of those churches had ever said hello.

But this little white church had given me shelter many times. I would huddle by the front door out of the rain and out of the wind. When I tried to seek shelter from rain or snow under the awnings of the other two churches, they were quick to call the police on me.

The church on the corner of Independence Avenue and Spruce knew me well. At least I suppose they did. I was there, after all, almost daily for many years. I began to pray on the steps of that church, “If there is a God, may He hear my request to end my life today.” Simple as it was, I prayed it daily. I believed that my friends who had been murdered had found their out of this life, and that death would be my only out as well. I prayed and prayed, “The next car I get in, let that driver be the one that ends my life.”

The days and nights continued. They seemed endless. I had lost all track of time, even the year. Just endless hopelessness, a very dark place to be. Until something shifted…

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald
636-487-8986
Christine.CryPurple@gmail.com

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

Through The Eyes of Grace – Christine C McDonald 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEj5RbFpuzjx_CuksAqgyXA/featured

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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