I am not sure how to even begin writing this post. I am flooded by so many emotions and feelings from the happenings of the last few days. All of which have come to fruition this evening, leaving me grateful, overwhelmed, sad, humbled, in awe, feeling powerless, raw, and full of love.
Last month I said a prayer, a simple prayer really, asking God to show me a family or individual that we as a family could help. Then I went on my way and didn't give it much more thought. With Christmas approaching we have done are normal charity/service projects and being the chair of community service at Charlie's school, I began to put a list together of other ways we could serve those around us.
Then I got a phone call from my mom one day. I heard the despair in her voice and the tears in her eyes. She spoke of a family that was renting from her. A single mom with 4 children. Over the years we have heard hundreds of very sad stories of her tenants, each with their unique set of circumstances. But this family was different for her and for me.
I thought, what can I do? There wasn't a lot in our budget to put towards this family, but I knew that if I was going to try and help them that I could not do it alone. So, I posted on face book a simple list of some of their immediate needs and asked if people could help we would really appreciate it. I also emailed 2 friends that are not on facebook.
Within a few hours I had a friend donate one of the twin mattresses. The next day another friend bought a brand new mattress and gave a gift card to a grocery store for $200. Another friend, who is unemployed as is her husband and they have 3 little children, dropped off brand new dishes, silverware, a gift for each of the 4 children and mother, blankets etc. The day after that another friend said her church had given her $200 to go grocery shopping for the family. The gifts just came pouring in, filling our basement. My mom bought a table and chair set for the family, toys for the kids, a few kitchen items. I went to the Salvation Army and bought the best 2 sets of twin sheets I could find and a Calphalon pot for $3!!!!! I also drove by the dollar store and picked up some everyday items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, Christmas candy, spatula, strainer etc. I dug through our blankets and found 2 nice bedspreads that we never use and 2 new pillows that just sit in our linen closet. The boys each picked out a book to add to our growing donation pile and we talked a lot about why all this "stuff" was in our house.
Out of the donations and the odds and ends from our home I put together a stocking for each of the family members and a gift bag full of goodies. I wrapped some of the gifts so that the little ones would have the fun of ripping paper to see what surprise was inside. I had so much fun putting everything together, trying to make it special for them.
I felt God's presence with each phone call and with each donation. This is what I had prayed for and it was right before my feet. Even if the mom sold the mattresses for crack (as someone suggested, and believe me, I had thought it as well), that didn't matter. What mattered was that people, Christians and non, were coming together to help a family that was truly in NEED. That despite our own financial struggles we were digging deep to help a family that had/has FAR less then any of us do. And if in our acts of service, just one of those children or the mother alike, could feel the love of Jesus' then it was all worth it!
My mom had told me that they literally had nothing, but I was no where prepared for what I saw. All of their possession could fit in my kitchen. They had 2 full beds (for 5 people), a leather couch that was literally falling apart, an old hutch that was beaten and worn and housed the smallest tv I have ever seen, and a small round kitchen table but no chairs. They were eating out of 2 bowls, if you want to call them that....they were empty tubs of butter and they had two or three pieces of silverware. There was not a picture to be seen, no children's art work hung on the fridge, no rugs on the floor, not a toy or book to be seen. It was as if no one lived there. Certainly not 4 children.
Forever etched in my heart are the eyes and smiles of those children. So sweet and innocent, so grateful, so BEYOND grateful. A truck that my boys haven't played within in months became their treasure. The 4 year old carried around a stuffed elephant that I had given her in one arm and her new Dora bowl in the other. The little boys clung to the Transformer my mom bought him as he helped carry in the items from the car. The mother couldn't stop crying or asking what she had done to deserve this blessing. The gratitude was on their faces, in their eyes and felt through their many hugs.
To God be the glory! Once again He orchestrated a mighty plan and put into motion a gathering of people to help a family in desperate need of help. I am humbled and grateful.