Wednesday, December 21, 2016
I am a relational person. I LOVE to talk to people. You learn how to help them, how to pray for them. Maybe that's why what I'm writing about is so heavy on my heart.
Up until about 4 years ago Christmas was all about me and my family. Making sure they had everything they wanted. Making sure I had everything I wanted.
House perfectly decorated=check
Perfect gifts bought=check
Perfect amount of cookies baked=check
Perfect Christmas outfits=check
Christmas story read on Christmas morning (to make sure we got Jesus into "our" plans)=check
Then it happened.....I got out of my bubble.
I learned how things worked outside of my nice, happy, perfect bubble. Four years later, I'm still learning how things work outside of the bubble. In the circle that I have been in all of my adult life everyone had everything they needed and just about everything they wanted. We're all living that nice, comfortable American Christian life. We don't worry about having food in our fridge's (when we don't have food it's because we're so busy we haven't had time to go to the grocery store, so we make a quick run to McDonald's). We have a house with a two car garage. We have the cars to go into the garages. We gave to people to ease our conscience. Not because we actually cared about the people. This right here is how I lived my life.
I AM NOT PERFECT. I DO NOT HAVE THIS THING FIGURED OUT. But I have learned a thing or two on this journey God has sent me on. These things I have learned are accurate for every day, but they seem more to be more in my face during the holiday season.
1. Not all people have all they need. It's not just during the holiday's that they don't have all that they need. It's also from January-November that they need some help.
2. Food Baskets, Food Pantry's, Clothing Give A Ways are AWESOME, but they should just be a tool. Meeting physical needs is a necessity, but they shouldn't be the end. They should be the beginning. The way to form a relationship with the people you are helping.
3. Relationships are the key. Lots of people are trying to ease their conscience by doing something good (I can say that because I have been that person). But not a lot of people are on the streets trying to get to know they people they are helping. I think this part is key......we gripe because people don't/won't change their lives. What are we doing to help them? Are we spending more than just our money on them? Are we spending our time with them? Building a relationship is KEY! Being a friend is KEY! Not looking at others as a project is KEY!
So, let's keep helping people through the Christmas season, but remember they will need help as well when January rolls around. Keep doing those food and clothing give a ways, but use them as a tool, a way to connect. Don't just give your money, as a director of a non-profit we greatly appreciate the money, but lives are changed because relationships are built!
Friday, September 16, 2016
Monday, September 12, 2016
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you begged God for it to happen? Have you ever begged God desperately for something to happen only to be met with a NO?
This is the story of my life. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia 44 years ago. As far back as I can remember all I ever wanted was to leave here. I had it all planned out. I was going to be either a fashion designer or a fashion merchandiser. I have all of the drawings from my childhood somewhere to prove that I was going to make it big and blow this joint. You see my dreams were far too big for this tiny town. There was no reason for me to stick around here. New York City-that’s where I was headed-that’s where the dreams would come to life. I stayed around all through high school and graduated from Milton High School. I am a proud member of the class of ’90. I began a little detour from the plan as I walked across the graduation stage 6 weeks pregnant. September after graduation I married my baby daddy and I did get to blow this joint, but only to Roanoke, Virginia (baby daddy is now 47 years old. He's gonna love that name now).That was not exactly the dream. Although, I did at least get out from West Virginia. I couldn’t hardly even say that name without gagging and rolling my eyes….you think I’m being dramatic? Uh no! Not hardly…..
At 18 years old I was out. You would think that I would have been happy right? Wrong….I was greeted by adulthood with generalized anxiety disorder and massive panic attacks. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t stay alone. I had a year old baby (our girl was born in February of 91) -+and was a prisoner of my own home. Baby daddy basically lost his job because of me. I’ve been a lot to deal with since day 1. He was so busy taking care of me that he couldn’t work. No one really knew what was going. I didn’t really have any friends at this point in life and who wants to go around bragging that you can’t leave your house. The care of me was really up to Paul and he couldn’t keep me and a job. So we packed up and moved…..guess where we headed back to? You got it….back to the hometown. I couldn’t even be filled with dread because I was in such horrible shape I would live anywhere to get help. My mom, step dad and grandmother lived here (I am a 5th generation West Virginian) and would be able to help me get to the places I need to go. They would also allow baby daddy to get a job and get back to work without worrying about having to take care of me.
We got back here and got settled in. Paul found a job. We found a little house to rent in Barboursville and a about a year and a half later we bought our first house in East Pea Ridge. It was nice little “fixer upper”. Help! We made it the home of our growing family for 5 years. In that time we added the boy and baby girl to our tribe of children. We moved into a new home (another fixer upper…HELP! Why did we do this to ourselves). It was a little larger and it accommodated the needs as these kids kept growing. About 5 years after that move, we made the move to where we are now. FINALLY, a ready to move into house! Thank you, Jesus! Baby Daddy already said he wasn’t moving if it wasn’t in “move in condition”. Through the years and through these moves my mental health began to improve. I could drive! I could stay home alone! The panic was not disruptive to my life anymore. I just kind of lived life during these years. Enjoyed my husband. Enjoyed my kids. Enjoyed my church. I didn’t really pay too much attention to where all of this living was taking place. After homeschooling for a bit our children went to a Christian school. All of our friends were church friends. I didn’t work outside of the home. I wasn’t a daughter of Marshall (although I think if I weren’t so old I’d like to be now. I’m super proud to live in the city that’s the home of Marshall University), so I had no real ties to the community. I was happy, but not because of where we lived.
Then that inner “I hate this place” monster woke up again. And it came back with a vengeance. Paul and I were on a 20th anniversary trip in Charlotte, North Carolina (because that was THE dream city). I remember sitting outside at a restaurant talking about what it would take to live there. Paul owns his own business…..why couldn’t he just pack it up and do it in Charlotte?......Our boy and baby girl were still in high school at this point. Baby Girl made us promise not to move till she graduated high school. So, I figured we had like 5 years left to go. In my head I figured if planned a bunch of trips then we’d be gone all of the time and it wouldn’t even be like I lived here. Two years after I’d made all of these plans God stepped in and said “Good try! Now let’s do things My way”.
I got very sick. Truthfully, I should not be here writing this, but God decided there was more He wanted me to do. I figured that if He left me here I needed to get busy doing what He wanted me to be doing. I got involved in the Brown Bag Ministry taking food to girls on the streets. I started spending a lot of time in downtown Huntington. At some point along the way I began to fall in love with her people. The people no one really sees. I began to learn more about her problems and the uphill battle she was facing. I wanted to do something. I wanted to help….inside I’m thinking “Help? This city? These people? NO! This is the place I want out of.” Baby daddy and I began doing prayer walks over the city. We began taking date nights that ended up sitting in a car praying over buildings. Inside I’m thinking “What are you doing God”? I began going to Community Leaders Prayer Breakfasts. I began to fall in love with the people leading our city. I sat in prayer meetings listening to our mayor talk about the good we have going on around here. Baby daddy and I even began a non-profit to help our people.
I also began to explore around here a little bit. I found some pretty cool stuff that our city has going on. I went from falling in love with our marginalized people to falling in love with our city officials to actually falling in love with this city! I have no idea how it happened, but it did and I’m ok with it! I find myself wanting to tell everyone about all of the good that’s going on around this place! Baby daddy and I just celebrated anniversary #26 on the 8th of this month. We really needed a break from our life, so we got a baby sitter for our two foster girls and we did a “stayiversary”. You know like a staycation =). We didn’t want to travel too far and we didn’t want to spend too much money…..also I’d rather spend any money that we were going to spend locally. I can’t wait to come back next time and share all that we did around town. But until then let me leave you with this……
I am a Huntington HOMETOWN GIRL and I’m proud of it!