Spending time

Being the operations director I don’t spend as much hands-on time with the ladies in our program as I’d like.  The healing and care that goes into transforming a victim into a survivor is in the hands of our wonderful safe house and assessment center staff, our dedicated counselors and therapists, and countless others who invest in the restoration of our women.  I get to see the ladies socially, or when I have business that takes me to one of the houses, and meet individually with a few for case management.

Today I had the opportunity to spend a good part of the day at our assessment center while the staff and director were in a training.  It was amazing.

The assessment center is where the women come straight from the street; they’re fresh out of “the game” and are exhausted, hungry, raw, unstable, and totally out of their comfort zone.

The house was quiet today, with only 3 women; two who have been there about a week and one who just arrived on Friday.  Just my coming in, a new face after even a short time in the house, shook things up for them.  They kept their distance, one her in her room and the other two on the couch, starting a movie.

The employees left for their training and I sat down to watch the movie, Goosebumps, with the two ladies.  We started laughing and as we got comfortable, one of them began sharing how as a child she’d read all of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and loved them. She went on to talk about more childhood favorites, many of my own, and how her parents used to buy her books all the time and make her read before she could go out to play.  As the movie went on, she fell asleep on the couch, looking very much like a child who’d been playing all day.

After the movie, all three of the ladies had on their schedule to do some independent study and while two of the ladies worked fine on their own, one of them, a very young looking, pregnant woman, asked for my help.  She was struggling to read and then to understand what she was reading, and the other ladies spoke up to say that she often did her study orally.  So the other women finished as she and I were getting started, and I read her the instructions, explaining what the words meant.  We took our time on a lesson that was all about believing positive messages about ourselves…. the one she struggled to believe was that she was smart.  We talked for quite some time about her gifts, and at the end of the lesson she hugged and thanked me, saying I was like her mom who always helped her in school.

As we prepared for dinner, we decided that with so few women there we could go out and get something to eat, which the ladies were thrilled with.  Two of them went to shower and “get ready” and the oldest of the group stayed behind and talked.  She’s in her mid-30s and done with the life, she just wants to change things.  She is full of humor and wit, wild stories and sass, sharing that she made it only through the sixth grade before dropping out and that she never got her driver’s license.  She is still struggling to get on schedule after coming off the street, and has been sleeping most of her time at the house so far, which we keep telling her is ok… but she’s ready to get regulated.  She says she feels at peace in the house and is amazed, that despite coming from hell and carrying so many demons, they didn’t follow her in.  She’s praying that she’ll be able to go to the safe house for long term help.

Spending time with these ladies today reminds me of how important this work is.  I don’t always see these things in my role, so when I do I like to make sure that I take it in and save it for all of the times when I’m at networking events or partner luncheons or coalition meetings.  These ladies are what matter.

 

 

Well hello there…

It’s been so long since I posted anything, for a variety of reasons. Busy, moody, exhausted, overwhelmed, or… just nothing to say.

I’m at the end of a quarter at school and my head is full of stuff, so I’ll share some pictures from the beautiful weekend my husband and I took last week in Nachitoches, Louisiana.

 

Hopefully I’ll come back with some actual words soon! 🙂

More of Mexico City to Love

So it’s taken longer than I’d hoped but here are the rest of the pictures from my trip to Mexico City…

There are a couple from the tianguis (traveling street market), some of our team working at a drop in center for homeless youth, one more from the pyramid, and the rest are from the Basilica of the Virgin de Guadalupe.
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🙂

Images from Mexico City

I spent last week on a mission trip in Mexico City and it was amazing! I’ve just started going through and editing pictures but I thought I’d go ahead and post a few. These are just places and scenes really, not much to do with the trip itself, but I’ll get there…

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I’ll get more done… eventually! 😉

You’ve Been on My Mind

Over the last couple of weeks I had a situation come up where I felt God calling me to share some things about my life that I haven’t thought about in a long time. I spent quite a bit of time thinking, remembering, and writing out what I would talk about… and it was hard.

As I was sifting through memories of bad decisions and experiences, I thought about people I spent time with and wondered how they might have turned out over the subsequent years. I considered how much my life has changed over the last 10, 15, 20 years and imagined… and hoped… that theirs had too.

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Nick, at my surprise 21st birthday party

I thought mostly about my friend Nick.

I met Nick my freshman year of high school when he was dating a friend of mine. They broke up but he and I stayed friends, going out on weekends and drinking and partying with friends. He was a couple of years ahead of me but we stayed friends when he went off to college out of state, going out and partying when he’d come into town on breaks. We stayed friends through getting married, having kids, getting jobs…. growing up! He was a troublemaker who always had a smile on his face and plan for a good time.

Some of my favorite memories involve Nick and some kind of ridiculous hijinks instigated by him over the course of our 20+ year friendship. I could tell him anything and know that I’d get the truth, without judgment (but possibly some teasing).

A few years ago, Nick got divorced and his life changed quite a bit. His wife and I never got along very well I’m afraid, but the divorce cut his free spirit free of any and all tethers to a stable life and Nick lost his footing. His drinking and partying, which had abated during the family years, stepped back up and he hooked back up with some old friends from past days. I was concerned, but I didn’t push the issue… he was Nick, and he was invincible. While I had moved on from that lifestyle, I wasn’t going to judge him for it. Then he moved in with a girl and saw his sons less and less, and I grew even more worried. The time between our visits grew longer, but he was still there for me.

And then he wasn’t. Almost 2 years ago he suddenly had a massive stroke one day at work and died instantly at 39 years old.

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Nick and I, Oct. 3, 2015

Now I wonder, did he regret the choices he was making? Did his choices lead to what happened? Was he happy?

The obvious message here is to treasure the people in our lives because they can be gone at any time. And that’s true. But something we were talking about in our class at church this morning was that we could be gone at any moment and that we should live as though that were the case.

“You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears only for a short while before it vanishes.” James 4:14

I miss my friend. A lot. But he reminds me that I could be gone in an instant, and that I need to take care that I live my life intentionally and leave a legacy of love.