When the world's problems feel too big, too serious, too impossible to handle...do you just sort of implode? Feel overwhelmed, and then immobilized by the immensity?
I feel powerless to do anything significant to help meet people's needs, and everything I can think of to do feels much too small and inconsequential.
When I get discouraged and paralyzed by the the crises around me, I take a deep breath and realize, that though I may not solve the Syrian refugee crisis, I AM able to help ONE local family have a better life.
And YOU have helped, too.
It feels great to know WE'VE made a difference!
Last fall I shared the needs of Toni - (name has been changed for privacy) a single mom of three who needed a place to live, as well as basic necessities to get on her feet. At first, it seemed like an interruption in my busy life.
But it turned out to be an amazing opportunity for God to work.
You guys came through in such a big way, and I want to give you an update on how you - MY BLOG READERS - a small band of sweet, sweet people, have made an impact.
You have changed their world.
Here are a few highlights....ENJOY!
Your generous gifts made it possible for this family to rent a small house RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from us! Furniture, beds and kitchen wares were donated, so they had enough to get settled. It's been wonderful.
And the kids?
K. (girl age 11) completed 5th grade, and even though she had some catching up to do, she was able to pass her state testing to be promoted to 6th.
K. rides her bike over everyday after school, and we get to have snacks and do homework together. This summer, she wants to build a Barbie dollhouse out of cardboard and craft materials, and has enlisted me as her team member. I have been issued a list of supplies to gather. :)
Looks like we will be doing a lot of gluing.
A. (boy age 12) finished 6th grade with flying colors. He played trumpet in the band, and made friends at school. He loves being able to go fishing on our pond with Tom. Here he is with a prize bass:
A. even got to go to Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He tagged along with Tom for a meeting and got inspired by the beautiful campus. SMU is on his short list of colleges he'd like to attend after he graduates! We are so proud of him, dreaming big dreams and thinking about his future.
A. is the most polite kid you can imagine....he is sweet, through and through.
M. (girl, age 17) finished her junior year of high school, and even attended prom!
M. has such gorgeous eyes. She is thinking of going to cosmetology school after she graduates next year...she loves doing hair and makeup!
Tom and I have learned so much about what love looks like this year.
One of the ways love looked like was personally making up the difference when there was "more month at the end of the money." Other friends stepped in to help in the months we couldn't quite cover the shortfall. Our goal was for this precious family to make it through the school year - without having to move and change schools.
This summer, we've invited the kids to have lunch at our house as often as possible - during the school year, they are able to get breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria - and summer presents a challenge keeping everyone fed. (I'm an awesome grilled cheese sandwich maker.)
Our next goal is to provide a way for Toni to go to Nurse's Aide school (or other career training) at a local college. We would love for her to be able to stay in the house she is in so that we can continue to be available as a support system. Currently, she is working at jobs with odd hours so it's important to have an open door for the kids as often as we can.
So, this post is really both "celebration" and "continuation!"
We've learned that getting on your feet is a long road, and not for the faint of heart. Toni would be first to tell you that she has battled discouragement and depression, fear, frustration, and anxiety, as she works to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. We have so much respect for the determination she has - to simply make it through each day.
Thank you once again. Many of you have asked how our family is doing, and I'm so happy to report on this wonderful year.
You have truly changed their world.
Currently, Toni is looking for someplace cheaper to rent, but I worry about what options are available. If we can help her stay where she is through this fall, she can attend school and immediately have an actual career, rather than having to rely on temporary minimum wage jobs.
If you are interested in helping, I started a new GoFundMe page so I could adjust the goal. In my ideal world, I wish that they could receive about $300/month for the next six months to cover the shortfall in rent and utilities. Tom and I will continue to do what we can.