This married couple shared their story without hesitation in hopes that it would touch many and open your eyes to see that we, the homeless, are simply people who lost their way, but are more than willing to come back. Devin and Jody Pucket live here at the Mission together with their little one Holly and the pure happiness I saw and felt in their faces and in their words were more than evident. “When Doug first took us to our room,” Jody says, “we cried. Passing through those gates I thought we stepped into an oasis, like some sort of resort.” “I’m very glad,” Devin says, “the Lord has directed me and my family here.” Living in a stress relieved environment where the roof is always over their head and the students are all here to change to encourage each other with the Love of Christ allows Jody and Devin, for the first time in years, to focus on healing themselves since Holly finally lives in a safe community. “I’m more in tuned with God today than ever,” Jody says, “I take time every night to meditate and learn about God.” While Devin gets up every morning at five to drink coffee, dive into the word, and watch the sunrise as a new man. When it came to the professionals we have access to, case manager Brett Ryan clearly makes a positive difference in their lives. “All I have to say is good things about him,” Devin says, “I know he’s busy but he will give his undivided attention to seek our needs. You can see he walks with the Lord.”
This couple is a testimony to the vow I made during my own spell of living lost upon streets. I know we have all seen the man standing with the sign reading “Need work” and then pass judgment upon a fellow man we literally know nothing about. Devin and his family moved about the streets for six years living in motels or a truck when friends who once sought the Pucket family for a leg to stand on had no compassion in return. Every day Devin needed to make money for his wife and daughter so he found the only way he thought possible due to their situation, pan handling. When nowhere felt safe to leave their daughter for the day it was easier just to keep his family together so much of the time the little one was right by their side. Other shelters were filthy and the people who came and went worried Jody too much to keep her daughter around them. Motels were not the greatest alternative, “You could be living next to a mass murderer.” Jody says, “At the Mission they do background checks, you know you’re safe.” The idea of “flying a sign” as they put it, started with the hopes of buying Christmas gifts for their daughter they love dearly and that’s what they did at first. But the kind of money they were making in a day combined with the terrible addiction to hard drugs it soon became a lifestyle. “You don’t think about health when you are doing drugs until you’re clean.” Devin says, “You think I cared I had diabetes, went blind twice, and almost into a coma, I still wanted to use.” Jody added to the thought, “If we used more we thought maybe we will get better.” That is the real horror of drug use, the kinds of things you can make yourself believe because of addiction. These kinds of habits that form over decades of abuse take more than a simple rehab of three to six months, the very idea of that is insulting and undermines the real struggles of overcoming a lifetime acquired addiction.
Over the years of flying a sign, God sent Devin and Jody messages and always protected them. Some people came to them with offers of prayer, and the Pucket family never declined such a favor. One particular episode they shared with me I felt needed to be heard. They’ve talked to thousands of people, but none quite like this woman who had first drove by the Pucket family standing in the rain each with an umbrella and Devin bearing one lone sign. She stopped at a near by gas station when stepping out of her car she noticed three pennies on the ground. It was then God told her those three pennies represent the three people you just saw, go back and give these to them. When she came to them in the rain crying she shared this amazing story with them.
God has continued being good to the Pucket family since they’ve been blessed with a chance to live and heal from years of abuse here at the OCRM. “My bones are weary.” Devin says, “I don’t have another run in me. I’m shedding my skin becoming a new man in Christ.” “Since coming here,” Jody says, “my husband has done a one-eighty.” The best part of the story is little Holly gets to have structure and stability in her life and still receive love from her parent thanks to the miracles God gave us in the form of the Orange County Rescue Mission. “Watching her play with kids around her age,” Jody says, “it is such a joy to be able to give that to her instead of locking her up in a motel because we were too afraid of who was living around us.” Another awesome part to this story is Devin and I both share the same life changing scripture that opened our hearts and eyes to the love of Christ, proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding” he reads it every morning. “Today,” Devin declared, “I’m becoming a mentor, husband, father, and friend.” They finished by agreeing with God all things are possible.