Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Homeless by Patricia McCommas

Welcome to Unwritten's part of the worldwide A-Z Blog Challenge!! Every day in April (except Sundays), we'll have a new post related to the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. Our theme here on Unwritten is "I Will Survive". I hope these stories will inspire and uplift you. Comments are VERY appreciated!

H is for Homeless 
Patricia McCommas
 As a young girl of six-years-old, my dream of growing up, getting married and having children remained a perfect Cinderella fantasy until I grew up, got married and had my two beautiful daughters. My childhood fantasy didn’t contain the difficulties of the real world. I’d already experienced enough of that at my young age. My view of the world had already been tainted by alcoholism, drugs, violence and homelessness. I just knew my grownup world would be as far removed from the harsh realities of my life as the east is to the west. I swore that my children would have a Leave it to Beaver perfect life with a white picket fence. I was wrong.
No mother dreams of being homeless. At least none that I’ve ever known. No mother wants to worry about where their kid’s next meal is coming from. It’s just not part of the Walt Disney world of fairy tales and dreams come true. It was quite an eye opener when homelessness knocked on my door, not once, but twice.
The first time happened during my daughter’s middle school/teenage years. I blamed myself, of course. Not because I was lazy, I worked hard. But for bad choices I’d made through trial and error. I wore guilt and self-loathing pretty well back then. I thought for sure God hated me, forgetting that I’d actually asked Him for this experience in my early twenties. I can even pin point the exact moment when this experience was set in motion long before it actually occurred.
I was studying one of my favorite stories in the Torah—Passover, when Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years on their way to the Promised land of milk and honey. I couldn’t understand how the Israelites could murmur against God about their survival when He provided for them miraculously every day for the entire journey. So I prayed:
“Lord, I want to know what it is to live by faith like the children of Israel did when they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.”
He heard me. I was twenty-three years old.
He answered me six years later.
I had just finished my first year of study at Glendale Community College when I found myself in the midst of divorce. In the midst of this crisis, I met another man seventeen years older than myself, and against my churning gut feeling of dread, went on a date with him because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. We were married before the ink on my divorce was dry.
Shortly thereafter we were homeless. He lost everything except his van. His van became our home. When this first happened my girls were spending time with their Dad. Then it was my turn to have them. I panicked. Where are they going to sleep? How am I going to feed them? I filled out application after application trying to get a job that I was more than qualified for.
Every door slammed shut.
I panicked.
The first door opens…the brother of the man I married offered to loan us his beat-up motorhome if we could get it running and cleaned up. We did. And while it only offered us twelve-feet of living space, it slept four people.
This occurred during the school year. So, no matter what difficulties we were undergoing, the girls had to go to school. We set up camp in the closest public land space we could find near their school…it turned out to be a garbage dump. We had no running water, no electricity and no heat…except for the fire we’d build outside. And it lasted forty days. That’s how long it took for emergency assistance to come through from the Welfare office.
During this homeless experience in the deserts of Phoenix, I took my daughters on treasure hunts amidst the garbage that people would clutter up the desert with in an effort to hide my worries and desperation from them. I’d say, "You never know where you’ll find buried treasure," with the sound of bullets whizzing by our heads from people target shooting the garbage we were looking under. We built an outdoor living room and games the girls could play from the garbage people threw away. We scavenged the desert floor with the coyotes every day for aluminum cans so I could buy them food. Daily I worried in silence about their safety and survival while desperately seeking God for help through silent tears.

One night we witnessed other vehicles being used for target practice. After I put the girls down for the night, I walked through the desert in the moon light crying out to God to protect them. I was so afraid that someone would think our beat up motorhome was abandoned and start shooting. I woke up in the middle of the night to a ball of light. It entered through the roof of the motorhome directly above me, slowly descended and hovered over me. I've never felt such peace. In that moment I knew that God knew our plight and He was watching over us. After the ball of light rose back up the way it came and vanished, I fell asleep shortly after and woke up feeling refreshed. It was only a day or two after that the money came.
The good news…not only did we have food every day of this experience but on the fortieth day five hundred dollars was waiting for me at a friend's house enabling me to get my girls out of the desert and into a place to live. This experience not only solidified my faith but has continued to inspire my daughters through their own difficulties, especially my oldest daughter.
And this was just the first homeless experience. The second one lasted four years filled with all kinds of faith building experiences that no amount of money in the world could buy. I learned through all of this that it’s one thing to say “I have faith in God,” when it’s untried, but an entirely different thing to know it. Faith isn’t something you’re born with. It’s developed through difficult times over a period of time until one day you can look back and know with conviction,  “He was there all along."
I found God in the deserts of Phoenix...amidst the garbage and flying bullets. Towards the end of the forty days, when my faith hung by a thread over the abyss of doubt, and I feared for my girls safety, an Angel of God visited me in the middle of the night. In that moment I knew…God.


A short bio about me, hmmm… For starters, I’M OLD, ancient even. My third great grandchild was born Friday, February 15, 2013. So that makes me…well…OLD. But, I’m young at heart and I believe that if you’re still breathing, it is never too late to achieve your dreams. In the twilight of my years I am off on another grand adventure as an author. I am a published gospel songwriter.  I wrote gospel songs for six years during the 1980’s. One of my poems was published in Seeker Magazine online a number of years ago.  It is called All There Is. It was a spur of the moment decision to submit it for publication and to my surprise and joy it was accepted.

I am currently working on my first novel called Stones of Destiny: The Gathering. This will be a series. I started book one in September 2012 during a free creative writing class I took through Writers Village University, known as F2K, and then furthered the book during NaNoWriMo’s write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in November. I am still working on book one and probably will be for months. I am currently a member of several writing groups at WVU.

I joined the Shenandoah Valley Writers Group at the onset of NaNo and have found a fabbie home of fellow writers and friends. I can’t say enough about the benefits of being involved in a group of like-minded individuals. It is a great learning environment and support group where each member is both student and teacher.

A few other tidbits about me: I can read Biblical Hebrew so long as the vowels are present. Love Hebrew. Beautiful language. I have studied many different religions. I am a (retired) paralegal and legal secretary by trade. I do love the creative arts. I draw and paint when I have time and feel inspired. I have also created unique leather bags and pouches as gifts. I am from Arizona but now reside in Delaware. I have two beautiful daughters, nine grandchildren (eight living) and three great grandchildren.

I am very easy to find on Facebook. As Porky Pig would say, “DDD…DDD…Dat’s all folks!” 


  1. Patricia, your story brought tears to my eyes. I can't even imagine being homeless and surviving what you've gone through. I know we are tested by many obstacles in our pathway of life.

    I'm glad all that happened to you is just a memory now. I'm glad you shared this, Patricia.

    And...there are a lot of ancient people out there. By July, I'll have two more great grand to go with the two I have now.

    1. I don't remember my Google password and the reply button didn't allow me to publish through facebook, so I'm responding as anonymous, lol.

      Thank you so much, Leo, for your encouraging comments. It means a lot.

      Congrats on two more great grandchildren. That's a blessed life to life to see multiple generations like that. And you are still young enough to enjoy them creating fond memories for them when they reach our age. :)


  2. Patricia, I am inspired by your story. I am currently unemployed, except for a couple of Direct Marketing businesses I have been half-heartedly using for extra cash. Now my health is starting to fail, and I'm worried that my social security income will not go very far. But my worries are so small compared to what you have been through. God bless you, and give you success in your writing career.

    1. Thank you for encouraging words and for sharing your difficult situation. It doesn't matter how young or old we are, the wilderness is always a challenge. But, I am confident that the One who created you neither slumbers nor sleeps and will provide for your every need. You are never alone.


  3. Patricia, I knew a little of your story, but it's so much more moving than I thought, so full of desperate times, and the power of faith all rolled into a powerful message for us all.

  4. Patricia's not only a fabulous intern at F2K, but a wonderful writer, a sweet friend, and a real inspiration for us to persevere and find the good in every situation. :) I'm so glad you shared your story!

  5. Patricia, Yours is the kind of story that reminds me to give thanks every day for the roof over my head. It is a blessing to be reminded that gratitude should be present in the words spoken every day. Your daughters were very fortunate to have such a strong and creative role model who loved them with all her heart. Thank you for sharing a part of your extraordinary life with us!


***NOTICE*** Thanks to a spam bot infestation, every comment must now be subjected to a full-body search. If you pass, you can skip the anal probing...maybe.