Love, Hate & Life in Between   {Stories from our Front Porch}

Love, Hate & Life in Between {Stories from our Front Porch}

But life exists only inside messy, colliding relationships. From the sperm and the egg, the bee and the pollen, life is about crashing into each other—for better or for worse (and most of the time, a good bit of both).”

Catherine McNiel

(in a guest post for Ann Voskamp)

It was a full day in the neighborhood.  My usual morning walk  with conversations along the way.  The heat and humidity of the Alabama weather bringing out the best and the worst in all of us. 

I could tell from this particular Saturday morning conversation that  emotions were swelling with a mix of hurts, tears, anger and back to love and hugs.  Little did I know, that would be the climate that marked the entire day. 

I saw something that morning I had never seen before …a rage and anger with a forecast of revenge.  Life on the streets means every cent is worth it.  We watch from our front porch the recycling  of cans and metal for spending money.  It’s  serious business.  

Negotiations are made for items picked up along the way.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  A dollar here — a dollar there.  It all adds up.  

There’s no use trying to manage another man’s money.  The will has a way and a way will always be made to get what you need no matter the zip code.  Human nature is common to all.

And as Catherine McNiel states in her matter-of-fact way, “…life exists only inside messy, colliding relationships.”  Today was one of those days.

Photo by Kevin Hunt (2019)

One of our church families was hosting a picnic that afternoon.  The table always brings together  a potluck of food and friends.  The organic relationships beautifully bumping into each other on this hot, muggy day.  We were sticking together in a way that only Jesus could orchestrate.  His table is always the most interesting.  

Photo by Kevin Hunt (2019)


Homeless.  Hispanic.   Black. White.  Older.  Younger.  Men. Women.  Children.  Those with generous resources and those with  limited.  All gathered together…Jesus style.  Messy.  Colliding.  For better or for worse.

Photo by Kevin Hunt (2019)

And one homeless couple had been together  “for better or for worse” for about 14 years.  They had shared miles and miles of life on the road, in tents, and in tucked away places they called “home.”  

In an impromptu moment of emotion,  these two decided today was the day and this was the group to gather with    to do something they had been wanting to do for quite some time — renew their vows.   We had a preacher,  friends to stand up with them, plenty of food, and a yard full of  happy attendees.  


Life.  Community.  Family.

And love was in the air as a cell phone cued up  “The Wedding March” on the karaoke speaker.   Vows were declared.  Poetry recited and the happy couple knelt  on the grass as a blessing was prayed over them.

We cheered, we danced, we celebrated the love between all of us until out of the corner of my eye, I saw another collision happening. Fist to face with my husband in the middle trying to make peace in the middle of angry tempers flaring.  One hell-bent on fighting — the other life-bent on surviving.  

How much like human nature to love deeply in one moment and feel the heat of anger just a few hours later.  Life.  Community.  Family.

And somewhere in the messy collision life happened.  We loved through it.  There was joy in the journey and hope was restored …and as Catherine McNiel would say, “for better or for worse (and most of the time, a good bit of both),” 

And Jesus talked about the kingdom with a wedding  analogy when He said …

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,  and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come…

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.” 

Then Jesus went on to add…

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

(from Matthew 22 ESV)

“Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

I John 4:21 (NIV)

Life.  Community. Family…  


Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laurie

    This post has me a bit choked up! Thank you for sharing the realness in your life and neighborhood.

    1. Joy Waters Martin

      Hey Laurie — thanks so much for reading and responding. These are stories I feel need to be shared but they’re not always easy. Let’s keep praying for each other as we walk this journey of faith out in real time 🙂 .

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