Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Can You Help These Kids?

What are your New Year's resolutions? Have you given thought to your charitable contributions?

I would like to ask you to consider a very deserving family. Please browse through my website by clicking Here and consider the way that you can help by clicking Here.

Here is a brief overview:

Following Hurricane Katrina we met a family at a shelter where we volunteered. We made friends. We spent hours playing with the kids, and fell in love with them. A month later we got them setteled in their new home. A few weeks later, the mom left with the kids, running back to her parents. We thought we would never see them again. But they came back.

A few months later she took the kids and went back to New Orleans. Once again, we thought we would never see them again. A few weeks later the kids were back with their step-father, although the mom chose to stay in New Orleans, choosing to live on the streets with her friends and her beer.

The Step-father is 70 years old, and while he is not the biological dad, he loves these children dearly. He is willing to give them a good home and teach them how to live above poverty.

We will do anything in our power to keep this family together. The dad's income is Social Security and Disability. The Disability denies him having any type of job, even one that he could do. But of course, the Disability pay is not enough for even one person to live on.

A recent illness reminded us that the Dad may not be able to raise these kids indefinitely. The kids spend every weekend with us and more, and they look to us as "co-parents" with their Father. We wish we were rich, but we are not. Adding on a room so that the kids don't have to sleep on the floor and have a feeling of stability has become our priority.

We are so thankful for all those who have donated cash, clothing and household items. Due to their generosity, we have been able to keep this family in a home with their basic needs met. But we know that the cost of raising 4 kids will only increase, while Dad's income will not.

So often we have asked ourselves these questions: Why did we happen to volunteer at this shelter? Why did this family happen to be there? Why did we form a friendship with them that resulted in our "Sponsorship" of this family? Why did the Mom send the kids back?

All we can think is that God has big plans for these kids! He has worked very hard to bring them back to their Step-Father and to us. It seems to me that we must continue this mission, no matter how hard it may be at times. These kids deserve the chance to live a life free of fear and with dreams for the future.

We have the opportunity to save these children from a life of alcohol, drugs and abuse that comes with living on the streets. What could be more important?

Can you help us in our journey? You can be assured that every dollar is used wisely to provide for the basic needs of the family. Our goal is to keep them in a home, provide heat and a/c, and make sure that they have what they need to live. Funds are used to provide the basics and fill in the items that are not donated.

Here is the link to the donation page on my website - Click Here!

Here are some things to think about:

Billions of dollars were donated to large agencies following Hurricane Katrina. These funds were meant to go to the people affected. It did not get to them.

Rebuilding in New Orleans is being done in a large part by very dedicated volunteers. There are many who cannot return to their homes. They are scattered across the country and left to fend for themselves. Their only choice was to turn to the communities that took them in, but the people of the communities had already sent their donations to the large agencies.

Not only were homes lost, families were torn apart. Family dynamics change, leaving parents disoriented and children bewildered. Learning to recognize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome has been an eye-opening experience for us. It can knock a person down until they can't function. A 5 year old boy draws a picture for his therapist of a house built on stilts so that the water can't come in. A 10 year old girl cannot enjoy being a little girl because she has to take care of everyone, making sure they are ok. Time does not heal everything!

Please give the kids a chance!


Monday, January 14, 2008

The Prayers of a Child

To understand how amazing Marquel's prayers are, I must first tell you of her background.

Born in New Orleans, she was the 5th child of an alcoholic mother. An older brother had already died of neglect not long before she was born. Another sister and brother would be added by the time Marquel was 5 years old.

Her mother could not hold a job, had no real desire to have one, and would do anything for her beer. The one room apartment had a bed with a filthy mattress, but no sheets. There were no clothes to wear. While mom was naked with some man, the kids were naked as well.

Hard to envision, isn't it? What horrors little Marquel must have witnessed and been subjected to.

At the age of 5, along with her sisters and new baby brother, she went to live with her mom's new boyfriend, Roosevelt. Having a bed and clothes to wear must have seemed like heaven.

After their evacuation to San Antonio, mom could not begin a new life, so she ran off to New Orleans. Marquel now lives here with Roosevelt, her younger sister and 2 brothers.

At the age of 10, Marquel amazes us with her desire to live a "normal" middle class life. She saves her money diligently so that she can go to college one day. She soaks in all the friends and people in our life that she can look up to and admire.

Her tightly held shell is slowly cracking and she lets us into her thoughts a little more all the time. She is beginning to trust us enough to ask us for help with her inner struggles.

Every night she prays. Her prayers touch us deeply.

Lord, please send your angels to watch over us
Please send your angels to watch over my Father
Please keep him safe and well
I love you, Lord
Lord, please send your angels to be with ...(and she goes on to list everyone who has been an "Angel" to her)
Lord, please send your angels to be with everyone I know, and everyone I will know
I love you, Lord
Lord, please keep us safe

Her only request for herself is for the angels to be sent to watch over her.

A few weeks ago her father became very ill while Marquel was at our house. Not knowing what else to do to calm the kids fears, I asked them if they wanted to say a prayer for their Father. We did, and I put the kids to bed with a movie to watch, hoping that they would be able to go to sleep.

After a few minutes I noticed that Marquel had her hands folded tight. Soon she was up on her knees, hands folded and face turned upwards.

Where does this child get her faith? What great things does God have in His plans for her?

The kids spend most weekends with us. We go to church. We spend time with friends. We pray before meals and we ask the kids if they want to pray at bedtime. If they don't it is ok. We don't force "religion," we just let them soak up what is around them.

Please keep Marquel in your prayers, as she is including you in hers!


Friday, January 4, 2008

New Christmas Adventures

What a great Christmas we and the kids had together! Their Father wanted to go to New Orleans to visit his family, so we took the kids with us to Nebraska to visit Randy's family.

Generous gifts of books and DVD's came in very handy on the 14 hour car ride. When we stopped in Kansas to eat lunch, we got to have our first "ball fight with snow" as Annie put it. The look on Charlie's face when I picked up some snow and tossed it at him was priceless. The initial look of irritation quickly turned to a mixture of surprise and delight.

Arriving at Randy's sister's house, the kids jumped out and ran into the snow. Not really dressed for this, Charlie soon came back crying because his feet were so cold. The snow was deep enough to fall into his boots, so he took his boots off, and well, that didn't work too well!

Randy took Marquel with him to pick up the flowers for his mom's birthday party. Marquel had taken note of Deb's nativity set, and spotted more figurines in the shop. She picked up a little dark skinned angel who was holding a heart out in her hands and asked if she could buy it for Deb. Then she reached up on a shelf for another one. Randy helped her get it down and realized that it was a mother and daughter, reaching their arms towards each other. She wanted to get that one for me. It was very touching to receive this special gift from my new "daughter".

Chip made us all laugh when he put himself in time out. I had scolded him for getting M&M's out of Bryce's candy dispenser. He followed me up the stairs, walked down the hall and sat down. When I realized what he was doing, we all had a good chuckle.

Getting ready to spend some time in the cold and snow, I told the kids to put on the layers of pants, shirts and socks that I had packed for them. They thought I was really crazy! But when they came in, they said they were glad because they had stayed warm.

Randy's sister is a grade school teacher, so Deb went to the school to look through the lost and found for boots and snow pants for the kids. They came back all outfitted and ready for hours in the cold. They looked so cute all bundled up. The kids went down the hill behind Deb's house on their saucers, then ran back up the steep hill, over and over and over. After 4 or 5 hours, Deb would coax them to come inside. What a treat this was for the kids.

They learned to play Mexican Train Dominoes, and Annie was the champion as she figured out the strategy really quickly. I thought to myself that the kids Dora Dominoes that I had bought them as a Christmas present might be a little boring after playing the real thing!

One night as we played dominoes, Charlie got tired and curled up on the couch. Randy reminded him to say his prayers, and 5 year old Charlie recited the Lord's prayer perfectly all by himself. Deb had tears running down her face by the time he finished.

Dear friends Mardi and Gerry had told the kids to ask the Guaradian Angels to go with us on our trip. Each night the kids asked God to send the angels to watch over them, and to be with everyone they knew, naming them one by one.

Mardi told the kids the Christmas story in an animated, entertaining way. Each time we passed a nativity set, the kids would comment on what was missing - the angels or the shephards or the rich men who brought presents. They thoroughly enjoyed retelling the story.
There were so many new experiences; "Grandma" Ehmen's 90th birthday party at the nursing home, Christmas with Randy's brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and all their kids, Deb and friend Cec helping the girls with their workbooks, hiding eggs and hunting them with cousin Dianne, and Charlie got to drive cousin Jr.'s really BIG farm tractor! Everyone doted on them and had great fun. What wonderful family time the kids got to experience for the first time. We hope we gave them some good memories.

We have lots of new Angels to add to our list. Click here to see pictures

A HUGE thank you to all who helped "our kids" have a wonderful Christmas!

Until next time