Sunday, October 25, 2015


The Bible states that when we give, we should do so without boasting. 

The story I am about to share is not for the purpose of boasting or for personal glory, so please do not take it as such. Rather, I am sharing it because this story has shown me the measure of how far my children and I have come in a year, and I would like it to be a story of hope for anyone who may feel discouraged in their own lives. 

There's a song out there that I wish I enjoyed listening to, with lyrics that are truly fitting for this season of my life. The chorus is as follows-

"You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer"

After church today, en route to our home, I had a fleeting recollection of a secret journal I had written beginning the night I took my children to stay at a local homeless shelter. Upon returning home, I opened it up to read it. I wasn't sure why I felt compelled to do so, as I didn't want to rip open an old wound, but I read my words anyway. 

The first entry states:
"This is where my story has veered.

Perhaps you know me. Many do. But how many know me really?

For the past few months, I’ve been living a secret life. Not many know about it, but some do, I apologize if you haven’t until this point, but I have been trying to hold into a sliver of dignity.

My husband and I separated a few months back. My naive self didn’t see it coming. I stood by him and cleaned his messes through so many trials, I never thought he would stop coming home.

Tonight, my babies and I checked into a hospitality house. That’s a nice way to say homeless shelter. For my birthday in October, our landlord emailed to say we had two weeks to get out as he was selling our house. I had entrusted my husband with providing for his family, and he hadn’t been. In December, I went from a stay-at-home-mom working for a direct sales company to a daycare employee.

Tonight, here we are. In a family room at a homeless shelter where we can’t have food or drink in our possession, our clothes had to be sanitized before we could have them, we can have no TV, and minimal personal belongings.

I have a bachelors degree in social work. Somehow, I’ve become that person I was educated to help.

I know I should and shouldn’t feel both ashamed and embarrassed. I do feel both. As I walked through those doors with a few bags of clothing and a few handfuls of toys, I knew this was the bottom or very close to it. I feel betrayed by myself and my marriage and my hope and my faith.

As I laid down beside my two toddlers tonight to help them relax and fall asleep, I sang to them, and their eyes quickly closed. My tears started flowing, and I realized that my heart is still so full of love. I feel beaten, but I feel brave. I have been told for years I am strong. People admire my strength and my outlook.

Tonight, I am tested. I am at the edge of my strength and my positive outlook. But, I am going to take that leap of faith that miracles will happen and my children and I will have a home soon. I have faith that my credit can be restored. Someone will give is a chance. It won’t always be this. I won’t always be at the bottom.  I am seeking strength like never before. Strength I don’t know that I have. I am praying endlessly for miracles. God can redeem this all, and maybe if I’m so fortunate, my children will have a mended family someday too.

Dream big or “go home,” right?

Its not over."

These words, though they sound somewhat optimistic, were written under a suffocating blanket of hopelessness, confusion, dismay, and uncertainty. I read them now, and see the pep talk I was attempting to give myself.

Miracles have happened. My faith sonehow remained strong, and my children and I have come so far since I wrote that entry in January. I have written about this before. 

Yesterday, however, a new level of realization hit me. Yesterday, I realized that the kids and I, though still living meekly, paycheck to paycheck on faith and hope, we could give. Once upon a time, I was able to give to various people and causes much more freely, and over the last year, I have had the humbling undertaking of being a recipient instead. While I see now that it's "okay" to have or need help sometimes, I have had a yearning to be able to be back to giving. 

So, I loaded up the kids, packed away some things in the van, and drive back to the St. Francis House for the first time since August. I honestly have had zero desire to drive that route again since leaving there, and yesterday, all I could think of was how much I wanted to make that trek across town. 

I pulled up and opened the door to the main shelter and was greeted by many faces that I recognized and even more that I didn't. The smiles on the faces of those who knew me were beaming, and I explained why I was there. They were grateful, and we talked a bit about how the kids and I are doing. The executive director and an office manager commented on how proud they were and how great it was to see my own smiling face. Then, I said my farewell and left.

It wasn't until I was a few blocks away that it hit me- I had just given back. Up until that point I knew what I was doing, but there wasn't a solid emotional connection. 

My tears weren't of pride. They were tears of thankful exhilaration as I realized that I was not in the place I was when I arrived there, needing so much, so broken, and so scared. I realized I am in a much different place, and that my prayers have been answered. Maybe not all of my prayers, but many. My tears were tears of redemption, seeing how God has turned our lives around. They were tears of release and relief, letting go of the baggage I didn't realize I still carried to our old temporary home.

I know I am not done healing. I know have a long route ahead yet. But sitting where I am now, with the sun shining in my living room and the breeze blowing my curtains, listening to Collin narrate his dinosaur play, I can the lengths I have already traveled. I feel refreshed this weekend.

If you are interested in giving to the place that helped my children and I move forward on our journey by providing us a home, here is a link with more info-

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