So much time has elapsed since my last post and I am trying to think of excuses of why I haven’t written. However, all of my excuses escape me right now. I wanted to make sure that I post at least once in October as it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Even though I am immersed in a “domestic violence atmosphere”, as I will call it since I lack any better way to say it, I struggle with what exactly to discuss. Should I write something fluffy or should I write the truth? Truth it is.
So, let me tell you this, I have had a many conversations in the last year that shake me to the very core. They tear at my heart and evoke levels of empathy I never thought I could feel. I have heard stories of rape that are committed by both strangers and family members. I have learned of horrendous violence that once taken out on the mother, will continue onto the children who know no different nor are they able to protect themselves. I am painfully aware that forced use of drugs and alcohol will allow for greater control by the abuser. These individuals have an intense fear and shame that comes out of feeling that they cannot ask for help. All of these things and more have happened to victims that I have been in contact with.
Now, let me tell you, I have no children, so I have never so intensely experienced the feelings that come when you are so deeply invested in another a person or that you care for them so genuinely that their pain becomes your pain. At least not until I began working with the women and children here. There is a handful of women and their children here at any given time that I interact with on a daily basis. Their joys become my joys and their sorrow becomes my sorrow. And it’s difficult. I would be foolish to think that anyone would believe me when I say that it’s not always easy to hop out of bed every morning. There are days that hiding in bed sounds a lot better. But, the beauty of serving a gracious, loving God with a good sense of humor is that those are the days that I am caught off guard by someone’s joke that make me smile when I think I’m too busy. There are days when a child hands me the littlest, most delicate flower I think I have ever seen with immense pride. There are days when we all gather for Women’s Group and I see teamwork forming around the laughter and conversation that comes from being in each other’s company. I love it when a small child’s hug around my legs only gets tighter when lifted up and they can finally reach my neck. I continually promise myself that difficulty and discouragement will not cloud my mind when I feel His nudge to take a break and play with the kids that tug on my hand or to answer their curious questions, or to sit and talk about nothing in particular with a resident, or even to share a meal with some who needs it and to allow time to linger over the table for more discussion. Every day I have remind myself that these are the things that matter. These are the things that matter to the God I know. His precious children, every one of them, mean everything to Him and that’s exactly where I want to store up my treasures.
I have spent most of this post using words like “their” and “they” and I hate that. This is not a nameless group of people I am talking about. These are real life stories of individuals that happened to have crossed paths with me at the same place in time. Each story carries its own unique sound of beauty, resilience, and triumph. No one story is the same. And the privilege to work with “them” and know “their” stories is something that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I can’t begin to tell you what a big need there is for this shelter not only in this town but in the whole county. Now, like many other nonprofits as well as a majority of the United States we have fallen on hard times. To continue to serve our clients as we do currently we will need additional funds. These funds would allow us to provide transportation to our clients and their children, to keep the homes running with heat and electricity, repair additional homes so they are in working order and can house additional families, as well as continue to have a functioning staff. We also offer a unique 1 year transitional program that is very different from the 3 month long crisis shelters. The additional time allows our clients to find jobs, save money, go back to school, gain custody of their children, go through court cases, and as the list goes on their ability to gain independence grows larger and larger. If you feel in any way as if you want to join with us and our ministry please, please contact me. I know in my heart that we have vital resources to offer to our community and that our presence is needed here.
Until next time, friends. Blessings to you in your daily mission fields.