Tuesday, July 7, 2009
The Heart of Ordinary Hero....From the Beginning
So how and why was Ordinary Hero Foundation birthed? Let me tell you, it was all by accident. I have often asked myself why I have a heart to help people. Why is it when I see a person in need I want to stop what I'm doing and go to them? Why is it that the dirty, helpless people are the ones that draw me in? Instead of shuddering and turning the other way I want to go sit right in the middle of them. I have asked myself this question for years.
When my children were small and I felt they were complaining too much or just needed a good dose of reality, my husband and I would load all 5 of them up and head downtown to look for the homeless people on the streets of downtown Nashville. I would bake some of my famous pumpkin bread beforehand and fix a big thermos of coffee and we would head out to see just who God led us to. This adventure always had the outcome that I was looking for in the children. As we would pull up to a homeless person laying on a street vent for warmth, I would gather a piece of bread and some coffee and my husband or myself would get out of the car and let one of our children hand this person the food. The homeless are always very grateful for their unexpected meal and a lot of them give thanks to God right there on the street for it. Sometimes they would stand and talk to us...some of them without teeth, dirty, and holding a pack that held everything they owned. Our kids just watched in shock as they discovered that people actually live on the streets and have no home or food or clothing. This did open our children's eyes and made them appreciate the things that they did have. This was the goal I was going for.
This then turned into me taking my bible study groups that I led, downtown to do the same thing when I felt their focus was only on themselves. One night as we hit the streets to look for the homeless we couldn't find any of them. It was cold outside and I stopped at the men's shelter to ask where everyone was and they told me I should go up to the women's shelter. At this time I didn't even know there was a women's shelter. So our little group headed over to the women's shelter where they graciously let us in. I was expecting some women to be in there similar to what I had experienced on the streets, when all of a sudden little children came running into the room. They quickly lit up when they saw the snacks and ate them right up. I was shocked to see them living in a homeless shelter. I guess it had never crossed my mind that there would be little children and their mothers living in a shelter. My heart just broke for these children as I learned of their stories.
In 2006, as our church was preparing for our annual fall festival on Halloween night, I couldn't quit thinking of the children in the shelter. I stopped in and asked the director if the kids did anything fun for Halloween and she told me that they did not. I then went down to the shelter and took pictures of all of the children and wrote down 3 things that they wanted to dress up as for Halloween. I then sent an email and had many people step up to donate the costumes for each child. We then took our church buses and picked up the moms and kids and bused them to our fall festival. A night that was just supposed to be some fun for some shelter kids ended up being life changing in so many ways. Lives were touched, relationships formed, a life saved, and the beginning of something great was in the making.
I met a girl named Candice and her two children. My heart went out to her after I heard her story so I arranged, through email and many great people stepping up to help, for her and her children to move into an apartment. She got a job and a car and things started looking good for Candice. To view a video I put together of the outreach in 2006 CLICK HERE.
That then turned into another outreach in 2007 and then again in 2008. We were able to help many women and their children through these outreaches because of so many people who stepped up to help them. I quickly discovered that people want to help but most just don't know what to do. When I put the need out there people so willingly stepped up to fill it. These outreaches opened people's eyes to the need right here in our own community. It was also doing something in my heart as well.
This opened a door to the shelter which then led me to cross paths with a pregnant mother who was hopeless and thought her only option was to have her baby and walk away by leaving her child at the hospital under the Safe Haven Act. My friend, Janet and I sat and talked to this young mother and told her we would help her. Within 24 hours we found a family for her baby and got an adoption attorney and a homestudy social worker on board. She was able to meet and approve of the adoptive family and she was then left with peace as she saw to it that her child was going to have a better life than what she could give her. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have encountered to see how the Lord stepped in on behalf of this child and orchestrated it all as He did. To read about this whole amazing story in a blog post
During this time we had also felt the call to adopt a child. We started our journey of adoption in Ukraine and tried for two years which ended in a failed adoption due to the country shutting its doors. We were then led to a boy in Nigeria that we spent a year trying to adopt only for that adoption to fail due to government regulations in that country. But what that did was open our hearts to Africa and led us down the road to Ethiopia where we finally brought our 4 year old son
home in August of 2008. To view the video of our adoption CLICK HERE.
Once in Ethiopia and experiencing the need first hand in that country, we came back with our spirits stirred once again. I came home and sent out an email about two brothers that were best friends with our son in the orphanage. They were still waiting on a family to choose them for adoption. That email circulated across the country and I am blessed to say that they were quickly sought after and chosen for adoption. So that got me thinking about how easy it really is to open people's eyes to the needs of children that cross our paths on this life journey every day. Every need I have ever seen or had any part in helping has always been that which I ran across because of something that God laid on my heart. But once around it, once I had seen it, touched it, had my eyes open to it, I could not go on in this life and pretend that it didn't exist.
I have had the privelege of helping people in many different ways over the past few years. I have put out the call to action and I have seen ordinary people like me and you step up to the plate to make a difference in a child's life. I have seen people donate their time, their money, their precious items, their cars, feed a child, love on a child, train a child, adopt a child, foster a child, and simply take a child into their home and show that child love that they so desperately need. All of these people are friends and family and the people who I have reached through email and because of the word spreading. This has shown me how the most unlikely people, the most ordinary, the ones who have very busy lives of their own, the ones who have every excuse to turn the other way, are the ones who become a Hero to a child by showing them love in so many different ways. What this does is give the child what he/she needs the most in this world and it is called HOPE. Hope is the anchor for the soul. The love that provides the hope is the very thing that plants a seed in a child's life that could help lead them down the road to their destiny. An act of love and kindness is a way that any ordinary person can make a difference in a child's life. Beyond that great, miraculous things can happen, I have seen it first hand when one puts action to their faith.
During this amazing journey over the past few years God has then brought me back to my questions I had in the beginning. Why are the sometimes dirty, helpless people the people that I feel a connection with? Why are they the ones that my heart goes out to? Why are the children the ones that I am drawn to? Well, within my journey the Lord has brought purpose to my own pain. You see, I was the victim of a kidnapping and rape at the age of 16 years old myself. Because of my own personal experience of feeling dirty and helpless to the circumstances around me, I have discovered that I have a connection to those who are themselves in helpless situations. My heart is drawn toward them in a way that somehow relates to their situation, especially the children, as I was just a child myself when I experienced tragedy that no child should experience.
Because of the rape I was told I would never be able to have children. After going down many roads to try to find healing myself, I finally found the Lord and all of his healing power. He not only healed my mind, my spirit, and my soul, but he healed my body and I now have 5 beautiful biological children and 1 adopted son. Because Jesus Christ laid His life down for us, all of us who are victims of this fallen world can allow Him to carry our burdens which then allows us to walk in freedom and forgiveness and tell others that there is Hope.
CLICK HERE to watch a 700 Club video of my story.
Thus Ordinary Hero Foundation was born. Every Child Needs A Hero