In a few hours I will be boarding a plane out of Denver and flying to Philadelphia for my niece's college graduation. I am so very excited to be able to attend her graduation and to spend time with my sister and my other nieces. It has been way too long since I have seen them and I am looking forward to our week together.
As I have anticipated and looked forward to the trip I have thought about the plane ride across the country. I don't mind flying as long as it is a smooth ride. "As long as" are the key words here. I do not like to fly when there is turbulence or bad weather. Recently our daughter Meredith and granddaughter, Payton, flew back east to visit friends and family. I asked her how the plane ride was and she said it was horribly bumpy the entire flight. I asked her how Payton did on the flight and Meredith's response was that Payton had slept the entire time. Aaaah.....the blissfulness of youth! But wait, maybe it isn't the blissfulness of youth as much as it is pure trust. Payton did not have a care in the world because she trusted. She trusted her Mom to take care of her and she trusted that her Mom would not put her in any dangerous situation. All Payton had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride.
I have thought about Payton flying on the plane and thought about trusting, relaxing and enjoying the ride. As we move forward on building the addition I know that is exactly what God wants us to do.....to trust, to relax and to enjoy the ride. Once again we don't know all the details of how the building will all come together. We are still looking for an electrician and we have materials that we need to buy with limited funds to buy them. Will God provide? Will it all come together? Will we arrive safely to our destination? I honestly do believe that the answer to these questions is absolutely YES!!!! God will provide. It will all come together and we will arrive safely to our destination.
Just like Payton sleeping peacefully on a very bumpy plane ride because she trusted, I choose to trust. I choose to trust God in unknown situations and to enjoy the ride. The ride of building an addition to help two homeless people is quite an adventure and it truly has been a wonderful and joyful experience. It has brought us joy to see how God has provided in the past and to see how He has brought so many wonderful people in our lives to help us build the addition.
As I board the plane this morning in Denver, I totally expect that I will arrive safely at my destination in Philadelphia and as we move forward to get the addition finished I totally expect that we will arrive at our final destination of having two homeless people living here at Soaring Wings Ministries. All I have to do is follow the example of my 4 year old granddaughter during a very bumpy plane ride.............. trust, relax and enjoy the ride!
Soaring Wings Ministries
This past Saturday we were in Fort Collins giving out Easter blessings bags that we had put together for the homeless. The Easter blessing bags were a small cellophane type Easter bag and in the bags were socks, paper, pen, kleenex, granola bars, a comb, deodorant and an Easter devotional about Jesus' death and resurrection. We had 25 bags to give out.
This past Saturday we also had the pleasure of working with two Middle School girls. They had chosen to work with Soaring Wings Ministries for a class project and had raised money to purchase and fill 45 backpacks. All together we had 70 bags to give out to the homeless. You would think that it would take a long time to give away 70 bags but that is not the case. As usual, the blessing bags went quickly and we finished giving out the bags within an hour. As usual, the people were very polite and very grateful to receive the blessing bags and as usual we were blessed to give out the blessings bags as much as the homeless were blessed to receive them.
As usual, there is one homeless person or family that stands out in our minds and captures our hearts in a special way. Usually, it is the most vulnerable of the homeless and in this case it was a little girl who appeared to be about 8 or 9 years old. She had blond hair, wrinkled clothes and a slight frame. She was with an older person who was her caregiver. I don't know how this person was related to her but it was obvious that this person was watching out for her and also watching over her. The girl was shy and did not say much. I had a child's sweatshirt with me that I was looking to give to someone and it looked to be just her size. I asked her if she would like to have the sweatshirt but she didn't answer me and didn't say anything. I told her to take it because it looked like it would fit her perfectly and I wanted her to have it. She took the sweatshirt from me without saying a word. We gave her one of the adult Easter blessing bags and we also gave her a child's blessing bag filled with candy, a child's Bible card game, some crayons and a pad of paper. We also gave her and her caregiver some water. They said thank you but that was about all that they said. We saw them walk back to their vehicle and as usual we saw that they quickly opened the blessing bags to see what was inside them. I was so glad that we were able to reach out to this young girl and her caregiver. As usual, I wish we could have done more.
As usual, some wonderful friends had donated blankets, sweatshirts and jackets for us to give out to the homeless. This past Saturday we took the 5 jackets and the 1 blanket that we had left hoping that we could find someone who needed them. We never know how many blankets or jackets we will need or if we will even run into some homeless who will need them at all, but as usual, God has everything planned out for us. All we need to do is to be obedient and faithful in reaching out to the homeless. We saw a group of 6 young men sitting on the ground, under a tree in downtown Fort Collins. We gave each of them a blessing bag and then we asked them if they needed a jacket, sweatshirt or a blanket. Each young man took a sweatshirt and one of them took the blanket. As usual, they were so grateful to receive them and as usual we had just enough sweatshirts and blankets for the 6 young men sitting on the ground under a tree. As usual, we once again realized that God had completely and easily planned the distribution of our hand full of blankets, jackets and sweatshirts.
As usual, our time spent in distributing the blessing bags in Fort Collins was a huge blessing to us. We ended our time there feeling that we had once again, in a small way, lifted the spirits of some very needy people. As usual, it felt very good to be on the giving end of the blessing bags and as usual it felt very good to be reaching out to the needy in Fort Collins.
As usual, we were blessed and encouraged to have others share in our work of reaching out to the homeless. We were so happy to work with two teenage girls who were giving of their time and money to serve the homeless in Fort Collins. We knew that there were so many other things they could have been doing on a beautiful Saturday morning but instead they chose to help improve the lives of some needy people. It was such a blessing to see them use their time and talents in such a meaningful and unselfish way. We know that they were also blessed to be on the giving end of their blessings bags school project.
We left downtown Fort Collins having reached out to over 60 homeless people with a blessing bag. As usual, we left with the wonderful feeling that we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do and doing it in exactly the place where He wanted us to do it. As usual we left downtown feeling very blessed and very grateful for the opportunity to serve the homeless in Northern Fort Collins. As usual, we know without a doubt that there is no better place to be than living in obedience to God and that there is absolutely nothing usual in the "as usual".
Soaring Wings Ministries
This past Sunday we hosted our 3rd annual Ladies Afternoon Tea at Soaring Wings Ministries. It is a spring time event that I always look forward to and this recent Ladies Afternoon Tea was, as I expected, a very special time. There is just something about sitting down with friends and enjoying each other's company while sipping hot tea and eating tea cookies and sandwiches that is nothing but delightful.
There are many things that I enjoy about "having tea". The special little cookies and sandwiches are always delicious and I love drinking tea out of a dainty tea cup, but the thing that I enjoy most about "having tea" is that the pace of life is slowed down for just a short little while. "Having tea" just cannot be rushed. "Having tea" requires that you take a break, relax, linger, enjoy the moment and enjoy the company of those who are "having tea" with you. Have you ever tried to rush through tea while sipping tea served in a tea cup on a saucer? It is very difficult. "Having tea" in a mug (or horrors of horrors, a styrofoam cup!!) isn't the best way to drink tea because a mug or a styrofoam cup usually implies that something else is going on at the same time. When I am working on a project like grant writing, or cooking in the kitchen I will grab a mug of tea for a pick me up, or if I am out and about doing errands I will sometimes grab tea at Dunkin Donuts or Paneras and the tea is served to me in a paper cup because I am on the go. But, when someone serves me tea in a tea cup with a saucer I have no other inclination but to sit down and enjoy the tea and the person having tea with me.
"Having tea" almost always lures you into putting aside all other distractions and focusing on nothing but the moment. Meredith and I both said that one of our favorite things about this past Sunday's Ladies Afternoon Tea, wasn't the food or the tea itself, it was instead the fellowship and the time that we had to enjoy the company of our wonderful friends. There was nothing to distract us from the pure joy of enjoying each other's company. No cell phones beeped, buzzed or rang. No one had their cell phones out checking Facebook or looking at text messages. No one was watching television or reading something. We were nine ladies of various ages, various stages in our lives and from various towns in Colorado who sat and enjoyed one another for two hours. While "having tea" we shared the stories of our lives, laughed at some silly situations that we had experienced, shared some of our hopes and dreams for the future, talked about how God provides for us in so many ways, shared ideas for fun family times and places to visit, and as the tea ended we were already looking forward to the next time when we could all visit together again.
We also had three little girls at the tea and they only added to the delight of the afternoon. They did not linger at the tea very long as they had another agenda that was more appropriate and fun for three little girls. They retreated to our granddaughters room and entered the world of "dress up". But the agenda of the three little girls was the same as the nine ladies "having tea" and that was to enjoy each others company. Rather than "having tea" the little girls connected with each other with dress up clothes. They giggled, laughed, made up cute little songs and later in the afternoon the ladies at the afternoon tea were treated to a fashion show by three very cute little girls. Just like the ladies, the little girls were not entertained by tv, cell phones or electronic games....they delighted in being together and in spending time with one another.
As our afternoon tea was ending and we were saying good-bye to our guests, I was left thinking to myself that spending unrushed, unhurried, uninterrupted time with one other is a very good thing. I don't need to tell you that life is rushed and hectic. The Ladies Afternoon Tea, wasn't a delight because of the food and the tea....it was a delight because of the time we spent with each other. As I was cleaning up our tea cups and saucers after our guests left my thoughts turned to the story in the Bible when Jesus spent time with Zacchaeus. I thought of Zacchaeus because of the little children's song that speaks of Jesus going to Zacchaeus's house for tea. Just to make it clear the Bible does not say that Jesus had tea at Zacchaues's house, but who knows, maybe their time together at Zacchaeus's house did include "having tea". I think that Jesus was probably very busy and probably had so many other things that he could have done that day rather than go to Zacchaeus's house but Jesus, being Jesus, knew what was important and knew what mattered. Jesus knew that it was very important to spend time with Zacchaeus at his house. There is so much more to the story of Zacchaeus and why Jesus chose to go to his house since Zacchaeus was a wealthy chief tax collector, but that is more than I will be writing about in this blog. The point is that Jesus took time to be with Zacchaeus and we should follow His example.
I know some of you won't be interested in "having tea" with dainty little tea cups and saucers....it just isn't your thing, but remember, it isn't about the tea, it is about spending uninterrupted and unrushed time with friends or family and enjoying each other's company. The idea is to find something that you enjoy doing and then take the time to share that with at least one other person. If you like the idea of sitting down and spending time with someone over tea I encourage you to grab some teacups, saucers, a teapot and some teabags put the tea kettle on an invite someone to join you. I can almost guarantee that they will be so happy to spend time visiting with you over tea. "Having tea" is such a simple uncomplicated thing but it is so very nice. I know that here at Soaring Wings Ministries I am going to try to use my teacups, saucers and teapots more often. I love spending uninterrupted and unrushed time with people and I can't think of a better way to do this than "having tea" together.
Time for me to go put the tea kettle on!
Looking forward to "having tea" with so many of you,
Soaring Wings Ministries
Lately we have had not had our usual Colorado weather of bright sunshine and clear blue skies. Instead we have had days of gray, almost white skies, temperatures in the 20's with snow and light drizzle. It has been perfect days for grant writing and general office work but I am not happy about those tasks.
If you wonder what we have been doing at Soaring Wings Ministries lately I can tell you in one word. Grants. It is a slow, time consuming process and many of you know that grant writing, computer work and general office work is not what I enjoy doing. There is no joy for me in researching information on the computer or even sitting at a computer. I get it done because it needs to be done but I would much rather be outside and quite often, towards the end of the day after being inside all day long, you can find me and others putting on shoes, coats, hats and gloves as we head outside to clear our heads. There is a saying in our house "I need to go outside so I can clear my head". Even our 4 year old granddaughter, Payton, understands what that means. It means that we've had enough sitting and thinking. It is time to go outside to move our bodies and to clear our brains doing something fun and active.
Even though I do not like working on a computer or researching information, I have to admit that I have found some of the statistics on homelessness quite unbelievable. For example, did you know that according to the U.S. Census date, Colorado's poverty rate has risen steadily since the late 1990's. That means that instead of people moving forward in life, more people are falling further and further behind in being able to provide for themselves and their families. Did you know that Fort Collins, Colorado is one of the cities with the least amount of available affordable housing in the entire United States? The average rental rate for an apartment within 10 miles of Fort Collins is $1, 245 a month. There is no way that families, especially a single parent, working at a minimum wage job can afford any housing in Fort Collins. How about this statistic for the Poudre School District in Larimer County of Colorado? There are approximately 1,000 students in the Poudre School District who are homeless every year. That is one thousand, ONE THOUSAND, children with no place to call home or at the very least a safe, adequate place to live.
It isn't only Colorado that has a problem with homelessness and poverty. Did you know that in the United States there are approximately 3.5 million people who are homeless? When I read this statistic I wanted to wrap my brain around 3.5 million a little bit more. How much is 3.5 million people? Well to put this number in perspective the State of Connecticut has a population of approximately 3.6 million people. To make this statistic of homelessness in the United States even more sobering, 1.35 million of the 3.5 million people are children! Again, I had to understand what this number of 1.35 million children looked like, so my research led me to understand that the population of Rhode Island is approximately 1 million people. No matter how you look at it 3.5 million homeless people and 1.35 million homeless children is a HUGE number.
My experience working with low income children and families tells me that having an unstable home or no home at all negatively affects children in so many ways. You don't need a degree in Social Work to know that children need stable homes to thrive and to grow into healthy adults, it is common sense. But what are we suppose to do with these staggering statistics? What are we suppose to do about 3.5 million people being homeless and 1.35 million children being homeless? Those numbers are overwhelming. Is it really possible to make a difference in these enormous numbers of homeless people?
I know that when I am confronted with a huge task that feels overwhelming the best way for me to tackle it is to break it down into smaller more manageable steps. Have an entire house to paint on the outside? How about breaking it down to getting one side of the house done. Have a mountain of paperwork sitting on your desk or dining room table that needs to be dealt with? How about first organizing it into folders marked important, file, and the best folder of all.....trash! Have a dirty house that hasn't been cleaned in months? How about tackling one room at a time? Need to lose 40 pounds? How about losing 1 pound at a time? Have 3.5 million people that need a place to live? How about housing 2 of them at a time? Two people out of 3.5 million people......it doesn't seems like very much.....UNLESS YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE TWO OUT OF THE 3.5 MILLION!
We know that as an organization there is no way that Soaring Wings Ministries can completely eliminate homelessness in the United States; however, that does not excuse us from not doing what we can to help people in need. As a Christian Non-Profit we are called to do something about poverty and homelessness. Personally, as a Christian, I have a responsibility to respond in someway to those in poverty around me. My faith in Jesus Christ calls me to action to address the issue of poverty even if it is a staggering number. James 2:15-17 says "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead".
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Words are so easy, but action is hard. Action takes time, effort and sacrifice. Action demands something of us. It demands that we get involved and getting involved can be unpleasant and uncomfortable at times. Sitting at the computer researching statistics to include with our grant applications is an unpleasant task for me, I actually dread having to spend time on the computer, but I am called to action to help the homeless and poor in Northern Colorado and submitting grant applications is part of the process. We need to raise the funds so we can finish the addition that will house two homeless individuals. I am called to action....called to do something about people living in poverty and children living without homes.
I know that everyone reading this blog wishes they could do more to reduce the statistic of 3.5 million people being homeless. It seems like an impossible task but the efforts of caring people, like you, reaching out to those in need multiplies quickly and has a dramatic and lifelong impact on those in need. Yes, the number of homeless people is overwhelming. 3.5 million is a huge number but that huge statistic should not be an excuse for doing nothing. If anything it should move us to work even harder to help even one person. One human, you, being helping another human being, a homeless person.......that is how the statistic of 3.5 million is reduced.
So what can you be doing to help those in need? How are you called to action? If you would like some ideas on how you can reach out to those in need please contact us. There are so many things you can do. If you would like to serve those in need here in Northern Colorado through Soaring Wings Ministries please let us know as there is always plenty that needs to be done. If you have any skills for completing an addition and would like to volunteer your time and skills to build a home for 2 homeless individuals we would love it if you could come and help. If you want to make a donation to the building fund at Soaring Wings Ministries we would greatly appreciate the donation. We are currently raising funds for a roof, a furnace, plumbing materials, electrical work and septic work. 3.5 million people. So many homeless people and children. Don't get overwhelmed by the number. Break it down into manageable parts....one person, you, helping one other person in need.
I hope that you can take a few minutes from your day to respond to my blog. Let us know how you are answering your call to action and helping those in need.
While I have spent the morning working on grants and doing office work the wind has died down, the sky is now bright blue and the sun is shining. Enough computer work for one day. Time for me to go outside to clear my head.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
Leisurely evening walks.....just because. Quick trips to get ice cream.....just because. Swims in the pool morning, noon and night.....just because. Afternoon naps......just because. Sitting in lawn chairs talking about whatever.......just because. Rounds of mini golf.......just because. Reading a book in the middle of the day......just because. Consuming as much seafood as possible just because it is the most delicious thing ever. Visits with family and friends because you miss them and love them.
That is just a few of the reasons why I should never take another Florida vacation....... because I never want to leave! This year's trip to Florida, back in January, was even better than past Florida vacations because it was one of the most restful vacations I have had in a long time. I can't remember the last time my entire body and mind felt so relaxed. I absolutely LOVED every minute of it! Needless to say that leaving Florida, saying good-bye to friends and family and returning to Colorado was not easy and knowing what awaited us back in Colorado made it even harder to leave Florida. Before we left for Florida I made the huge mistake of not putting away any of our Christmas decorations, including our fully decorated Christmas tree. I dreaded even looking at all those Christmas decorations never mind actually putting them away. It is one thing to deal with Christmas decorations right after the New Year but another thing entirely to tackle Christmas decorations at the end of January after a leisurely Florida vacation. As we drove home to Colorado from Florida I was kicking myself for not taking them down before we left.
I also knew that upon returning home to Colorado we had, for me, the much dreaded task of applying for grants for Soaring Wings Ministries. I dreaded the task with a passion. It is a slow, tedious, time consuming task and I can't think of much else that goes against the natural inclination of my personality than applying for grants (unless it is working with Quick Books on the computer. A thank you to Ed for taking on that task and sparing me that torture!!!). I was a grump all during our trip home from Florida. I was having a big pity party and wondering why in the world we were leaving Florida. After all, Ed and I, are in our mid 60's and we were completely entitled to retire in Florida after working hard all of our lives. Each mile that we drove home took me further and further from relaxation, sprawling beautiful live oak trees, warm temperatures, seafood, swims, and most of all further away from family and friends. I was not happy. As you can see, I can complain and pout with the best of them and yes, God hears all of my complaining and pouting and yes, He can still use a complainer and a pouter.
I am so thankful that God is so very patient with me. Once I get over my complaining and pouting and confess this sin to Him I am ready to move on, push up my sleeves and get to work. This year, 2017, our main goal at Soaring Wings Ministries is to have the addition completed. I repeat this because it is so very important. In 2017 the addition has to be completed. It has to be completed not only because our building permit will run out and because it is not a good thing to leave a building half finished but it also needs to be completed because we are all more than ready to be done with the task of raising funds for the addition. We want to see a homeless family move in and begin the process of helping them soar on wings like eagles. We are tired of wondering who these people will be. We are ready to know them personally. Right now the picture of this family looks like an outline of a person's head in my minds eye. You know what I mean. It is the filler in a year book or church directory when the person was absent at picture taking time so there is just this empty space with an outline of a head. I don't know about you, but I don't like seeing those vague outlines of a head. I want to see the person's face!!!! That's where we all are at this stage of Soaring Wings Ministries. We want to see the faces of the people we will be serving! The only way for us to see these faces is to finish the addition and the only way to finish the addition is to raise more money because building an addition takes money....... a lot of money.
While I am writing this Blog my family is circled up around the television watching the Super Bowl. Not being a foot ball fan, it is a good time for my to have peace and quiet and to have the computer all to myself. Prior to game day we heard all about the pregame excitement on the radio and on the television. People were gathering in Houston for tail gate parties and other pregame events. The news shared that everything around Houston was over the top expensive because of the Super Bowl. One newscaster shared that some people were paying $35,000 a night, with a four night minimum stay, to rent a house in the area around Houston. That is $140,000. When I heard this on the radio, I cringed and gasped. Do you know what Soaring Wings Ministries could do with $140,000!!!! It didn't seem fair that some people could easily pay the $140,000 for a leisurely activity such as football without even thinking twice about it and then here we are working hours, days, weeks, months and years to build a home for a homeless family. So, since we don't have $140,000 to spend without thinking about it, we are left with no choice but to raise the funds and apply for grants to finish the addition so we can see the faces.
It is our desire to see the faces and a desire to complete the assignment that God has given us that enabled me to drive away from a place that I love, from friends that I love and from family that I love. Being a Christian calls us to be more like Christ. This means that our Christian lives, like Christ's life, will often be a life of sacrifice. I think so often of missionaries all over the world and in the United States who are serving Christ. We personally know missionaries in China, Dubai, Guam, Michigan and New York and we know that most of their lives are filled with busy, exhausting days and that so many of them are far away from places, family and friends that they love. It is a life of sacrifice to serve Christ. As Christians we don't get to do what we want to do and yet the mystery of it all is that there is no other life or place that we would choose. If I was given the opportunity to retire and have a life of leisure in Florida at this point in our lives, I would say no. We are right where we are suppose to be and doing exactly what we should be doing. Anything that would take us away from this assignment God has given us would not only be a huge mistake it would be wrong. James 4:17 says "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it". As Christians, our relationship with God calls us to be pleasing to Him in all that we do not the other way around of having God do all that pleases us. Maybe some day God will be pleased with our work here in Colorado and we will be able to "retire"in Florida, but that time is not yet. We have work to do so that we can we see the faces of the people we will be serving rather than just a vague outline of a head.
In closing, I would ask that you pray for our grant writing process. We will be submitting 10 grant applications over the next 3 months. We need your prays for God's blessing in order to have our grant requests result in dollars received for the addition. We also ask that you pray about your financial partnership with Soaring Wings Ministries to determine if you are able and feel led to support our work here in Northern Colorado on a monthly basis. Also, please remember our missionaries serving God in foreign countries and in the United States. We know first hand how much a phone call, email, hand written letter or donation means to them. Lastly, we pray that each one of you will love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and that you serve Him with all your being where ever you are.
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
Every year I like to buy a new Christmas book to read during the weeks before Christmas. This Christmas I chose a book called " Hidden Christmas" by Timothy Keller. We were visiting our oldest daughter, Karin, and her family in California and during our visit with her we took a day trip to Solvang, California. Solvang is an interesting and quaint town with lots of shops and good restaurants. There was this very small book store in Solvang and I went in to browse through the books. My browsing time was limited as our youngest 4 year old granddaughter, Payton, was with us. I managed to have a few minutes to look in the religion section, hoping to find a Christmas book to read for the Christmas season, but interestingly enough, the religion section did not have any Christian books. I kept looking around and I found two small shelves under a counter with Christmas books. On the top shelf were two copies of the book by Timothy Keller, "Hidden Christmas". The remainder of the title stated that the book was about "The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ". The book intrigued me. I have been a Christian almost all of my life and I have celebrated Christmas as a time to remember Christs' birth, so I couldn't imagine what the surprising truth could possible be behind the Birth of Christ. My curiosity led me to purchase the book and I am so glad that I did.
I have to share with you that I have been a Christian all my life and I also have to share with you that during my lifetime as a Christian I have never felt that I loved the Lord with all my heart, my soul, my strength and my mind, and that I loved my neighbor as myself as Jesus has directed us in Luke 10:27. Yes, I loved the Lord, but honestlly could I say that I loved him with all my heart, soul, strength and mind? And what about my neighbors? I wasn't even sure that I loved my neighbors. Sure, I cared about them, but love them, as I loved myself? I don't think so. I knew that I did not love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and I did not love my neighbor as myself. I knew I was selfish and wanted to put myself first. My needs, my wants, my ways before all else. Sure I loved God and yes, I cared about my neighbors but not totally and completely as I should.
I struggled to figure out what was the matter with me. Other Christians seemed to have it all together and here I was struggling with why I didn't love God with all my heart and why I didn't love my neighbor as myself. The desire to love God with all my heart was there and the desire to love my neighbor as myself was also there but I knew that you can't muster up love, or create it, or fake it. Love is either there or it isn't. So what was my problem?
From reading "Hidden Christmas" my problem that I was struggling with became so simple and clear. I needed a Savior to help me love as I should. I needed a Savior and that Savior is Jesus who was sent to us by God. I recognized that my sins weren't just things that I did but also things that I didn't do such as loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind and loving my neighbor as myself. The reality that I would never be able to love God and my neighbor within my own power was so freeing. I needed a Savior, Jesus, to help me love as I should and as I wanted to.
Some of you reading this may not think this is such a big deal. Some of you may have been blessed to get this from the very beginning and some of you reading this may not care at all, but for me this was a big deal. My lifetime journey of faith in Jesus has not come without questions, wondering, struggling, and searching but in this journey, God has always been by my side guiding and directing. The Bible verse from Isaiah 30:21 is so very real to me. It says "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it". God has been with me and guiding me as I have wondered, struggled and searched. He was with me during this past Thanksgiving time as I searched through a little book store in Solvang, California for a Christmas book to read during the Christmas season.
I am so very thankful for the author, Timothy Keller and for his book "Hidden Christmas". It is a book that tells it like it is.... that we all need a Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so very thankful to God who always guides and directs my life to draw me closer to Himself. He wants to do the same for you too.
So what does all this have to do about serving the homeless at Soaring Wings Ministries? As most of you know we are in the process of buidling an addition to house a homeless family or young adults here at Soaring Wings MInistries. My prayer for many months has been that as we prepare a home for a homeless family or young adults that God would also prepare our hearts to love these people as Jesus loves them. Little did I know that in reading "Hidden Christmas" that God was answering my prayer. Within my own power I will never be able to love them as Jesus loves them but by confessing this sin and trusting God to fill me with His love for the homeless then I inded will be able to love them as Jesus would.
My prayer for each of you this Christmas is that you will recognize your need for a Savior and that you will "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all you mind and love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).
Merry Christmas to each one of you from all of us at Soaring Wings Ministries!
499 Trinity Lane
I don't know about you but I am already looking forward to spring and summer with warm temperatures and long days filled with bright sunshine. I am not a cold weather person. I love a lot of light and a lot of heat so the winter months, with cold temperatures and short days, are not my favorite time of year. We had a very warm October and November and I enjoyed every precious minute of those warm, sunny days, but now the reality of winter is settling in. My plants that continued to have green leaves and even some flowers during October and November are now completely brown. Temperatures are no longer above freezing so I hauled out the heated water bowls for our chickens and dogs and dug through our closet to find winter gloves and hats for us. I find that I now hurry to finish my outdoor chores so that I can quickly return to the warmth of our home.
So very frequently, after coming in from outside to our warm house, I think about the homeless people who are living on the street or in their cars. I especially think of one woman who was living in a mini van with her little dog in Fort Collins. Where is this woman living now? How does she manage to stay warm? How does she manage to keep the water that she uses for herself and her little dog from freezing? My water is nice and warm in our house so it doesn't freeze and even our chickens and dogs have electric water heaters to keep their water from freezing! But what about this woman? Her mini van was her home and we all know how cold a vehichle can get when the temperature drops. The back of her mini van was where she and her little dog slept, ate and lived. I have thought of her so many times since winter has settled in. How does she or any homeless person survive during the cold, dark winter months? I feel ashamed for the complaining and whining that I do about winter when I have a nice, warm, cozy house. It must be so very dismal and despairing to be a homeless person during the winter. I can't even imagine it. I can't imagine what it must feel like to not have a warm kitchen or warm living room. I can sit at my kitchen counter and enjoy a nice cup of hot tea anytime I want to or I can curl up on my couch with a good book and a blanket and feel warm and content. I can't imagine always feeling cold! I can't imagine not having any place where you can feel warm and content. The hardship of day to day life for a homeless person is beyond anything most of us can imagine and when you add cold, windy, winter weather into the picture then the life of a homeless person can't be anything but difficult and discouraging.
Soaring Wings Ministries does what it can to help the homeless get through the winter months. We have given out coats, hats, gloves and sleeping bags to the homeless but these efforts to help seem so pitiful and puny in light of what they really need. They need a home. They need what most of us reading this blog have. As I am sitting here writing this, I can hear our furnace kicking on to keep our house warm. I can also look out the window and see the addition that is being built for a homeless family. It needs a furnace. There are other things that need to be purchased and put into place before the addition is finished, but for right now a furnace is what comes to mind as I think about how cold it is outside.
Most of us are so very blessed with a warm house during the winter months but there are so very many people who are in need of the basic necessity of shelter. As God directs you please remember the homeless during these cold winter months. If you are able to send a donation to help purchase a furance for the addition it would be so greatly appreciated. You can mail a check to the address listed below or you can send a donation via PayPal at this webiste. As you go through each day remember the homeless who are trying to stay warm during the cold winter months. Keep some gloves, hats or warm socks in your car and share them with people that you see in need. If you really want to step out of your comfort zone, offer to take a homeless person to get a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or a hot meal. Even a short time out of the cold with food and a warm drink will reduce the effects of the cold on their bodies and spirits.
We here at Soaring Wings Ministries continue on during the winter months to serve the homeless. All that we do is done because God directed us to reach out to the homeless. We serve them with love in the name of Jesus and pray that God will bless, protect and care for the homeless during the cold winter months.
Soaring Wings Ministries
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
This past week the headline in the Fort Collins Coloradan on Wednesday, March 26th was "Park Goes Private". We immediately knew that this article was referring to the Jefferson Street Park in downtown Fort Collins. This was the park where the homeless gathered during the day and where we would go to pass out water, coffee, donuts, blessing bags, socks, hats, gloves, blankets and sleeping bags to the homeless. The article informed us that the park was officially closed as the property was sold earlier this year and the owners were making plans to build a new restaurant on the site.
We immediately wondered where the homeless people would gather now that the park is closed. The article suggested that perhaps they would gather in another park or maybe in an area along the Poudre River. As I read the article I was left with conflicted feelings. I understood the desire to make downtown Fort Collins attractive and that closing Jefferson Street Park would move the homeless out of that area and yet I felt bad for the homeless people as this is where they gathered and now they would have to find another place. I was also thinking that just because a new restaurant will be on the property where the homeless once gathered it will appear that the issue of homeless in downtown Fort Collins has been addressed but in reality it has not. Homeless people will still be living in downtown Fort Collins and they will still gather together in a specific location even though it won't be in Jefferson Street Park.
We know that Soaring Wings Ministries does not have all the answers to address the issue of homelessness in all its' totality. The issue of homelessness is a complex one and homelessness has been around for a very long time. There were homeless people in the Bible who were looked down upon by society and many of them lived out their lives in caves. I don't think there is any one person or any one organization who has the knowledge or finances to completely eliminate homelessness in Larimer County. On the other hand, I do believe that there are many people who can help at least one homeless person. As Ed often says, "It is not rocket science to help a homeless person". Homelessness is a complex issue but to help one homeless individual is not. Homeless people are human beings. They need what every other human being needs. They need someone to invest in their lives with loving care. This investment into someone's life takes time, it takes money and it also takes self sacrifice. If you have children, especially grown children, just think about the amount of time, money and love you invested into each one of your children so that they could grow up to be loving, independent, caring and successful adults. It didn't happen over night, did it? It took years and years and years of loving them even when they weren't very lovable and of caring for them when we barely had the strength to put one foot in front of the other. Just think about the money we have spent or will spend on our children when we provide them clothes, food, dental care, school field trips, helping them with their first car and never mind adding in the cost of college. I can guarantee that very few of the homeless people you see in Fort Collins have had anyone invest in their lives with genuine loving care.
It is hard to imagine, isn't it, that there are people in the word who literally have no one to care about them. I remember when I was working at Early Head Start in Concord, New Hampshire as a Home Visitor and I remember one specific visit with a single Mom on my case load. It happened to be her birthday on that day I was visiting her and her children in their home. I naively asked her if she had anything special planned for her birthday with her family. She told me that she had never had any celebration of any kind or done anything special for her birthday. Her family had never made a cake for her or given her a present or taken the time to visit her on her birthday. She told me that she had never even received a birthday card on her birthday. I was heartbroken for her. I told her that her birthday was a very special day and it should be celebrated. She didn't have a lot of money but I told her that every year on her birthday she should take the time to celebrate her birthday. Together we came up with some fun, inexpensive ways to make her birthday special and as I leaving her home after our visit together she headed into her kitchen to pack a picnic lunch. She was taking her children to the city park for an afternoon outing to celebrate her birthday.
I believe that there is nothing that has the potential to pull a person out of poverty and homelessness except genuine loving care. Eliminating homelessness requires that we invest our time and resources into the lives of homeless individuals, one at a time. We cannot look at homeless people as a group.....we need to look at each an every homeless person as an individual.
Soaring Wings Ministries does not exist to eliminate homelessness. It exits to lovingly care for homeless people as individuals and to create wholeness and an empowered future for homeless and hurting young adults through the love of Jesus. Will Soaring Wings Ministries be able to completely eliminate homeless? Absolutely not. Will we be able to make a difference in a homeless person's life to the point that they will be self sufficient and no longer be homeless? I truly believe that we will. As soon as the addition is completed we will have two individuals living here who will receive what every human being needs in order to be given a chance for success. As Ed says, "What we do here at Soaring Wings Ministries isn't rocket science". It is the act of giving individuals the genuine loving care they desperately need.
Soaring Wings Ministries
Hello from 499 Trinity Lane! Today we are so blessed to have 5 generous and hard working men outside working on the roof for the addition. In case you aren't up to speed on what the addition is all about, Soaring Wings Ministries is building an addition to house two people who are currently without a HOME or place to live. Soaring Wings Ministries started this addition with more faith than funds and every step of progress has been accomplished because of God's blessing and faithfulness.
Back in January of this year we met as a staff and decided that it was time to begin the addition. We had a fair amount of funds to begin the addition but we did not have enough funds to complete it. We decided to start with the money we had and prayed that God would provide as we moved forward. He has not failed us. The work that has been done on the addition so far has been mostly completed by volunteers. We paid for the foundation work to be completed but the rest of the labor has been done by volunteers. These volunteers have arrived from New Mexico, New Hampshire and from right here in Colorado. The volunteers come with different interests and different skill levels but they all have one thing in common. Their commonality is their willingness to use their time and skills to serve God through Soaring Wings Ministries in order to create a HOME for two homeless individuals. We know that all of the volunteers have a hundred other things that they could be doing with their time. All of our lives are busy and full and we are humbled and so grateful that they would donate a week, weekend, or a Saturday of their time to come and pound nails on the addition or to lay piping for the plumbing. Each one of the volunteers is an answer to our prayers and a testament to God's faithfulness in getting the addition built.
It really is a miracle and so very, very exciting to see the progress that is taking place each time the volunteers are here. The framing is completed and we can see how the whole addition looks now that it is laid out. Today the roof is going up. The windows are on order and the sliding glass doors have already arrived. We hope to have the rough plumbing and the entire addition enclosed before winter sets in. As of this writing, every piece of wood, every box of nails and every window has been paid for with cash. In order to be good stewards of the money that people have donated we made a decision that Soaring Wings Ministries would not take out any loan to complete the addition. As God has provided we have moved forward on the building project. As we look at the work that has been completed our hearts are filled with unspeakable joy to know that we are proceeding with no debt due to the generosity of so many volunteers and supporters from all over the country.
The progress that has been made on the addition has been done in faith and trust. We did not know where the funds would come from to reach this point and yet God has been faithful. Right now we do not know where the rest of the money will come from to complete the addition but we do know that God will provide.
During the building of the addition we have made many trips to Home Depot to buy supplies. Each trip is a deep depletion in our bank account as the cost of supplies is very expensive and it forces us to dig deep into our bank account for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Each trip of hundreds of dollars adds up to thousands of dollars over the months. When we pay the cashier for the supplies I often think "Yikes...that is soooo expensive" and then I walk out of the store with gratitude that once again we were able to pay cash for the supplies. Praises to our God!!!!!
Right now, after months of investing our funds into the addition, we are scraping the bottom of our bank account at Soaring Wings Ministries. Are we worried? No! Are we hopeful? Yes! Are we trusting God to complete this addition? 100 percent yes! Our goal is to have two homeless individuals move into the addition by the Spring of 2017. We have no idea where the money will come from to complete the addition but we know that God knows and we know that He will provide. The addition being built belongs to God and we know that He will work to bring the addition to completion. We also know that God uses His people to accomplish His work here on earth. We have a little over 400 people on our mailing list. Just one person on our mailing list can make a difference but what if all 400 people joined in to make a difference? WOW! Everyone doing a little bit can accomplish much. I was thinking if everyone on our mailing list invested in the building fund Soaring Wings Ministries would have the funds needed to complete the addition. If everyone on our mailing list donated from $50.00 to $100.00 each, this would translate to anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. So very much could be accomplished with this amount of money. The septic system could be installed. The electrical work could be completed. A furnace could be purchased along with sheet rocking the interior walls and installing plumbing fixtures. I wish that all of you reading this blog could see the amazing, amazing progress that has been made on the addition without one penny of debt. The addition is solidly built and it has also been lovingly built as each volunteer has recognized the importance of building a HOME for two human beings. A HOME so that two human beings could have a place to live. A HOME. So basic but so necessary.
The staff at Soaring Wings Ministries cherishes each and every volunteer and donor. Without the help that Soaring Wings Ministries has received from such wonderful, caring people the addition would still be a thought but instead it is so very close to becoming a completed reality. Please join us in bringing this project to completion. The need is so great as so many people are not able to afford their own place to live. Soaring Wings Ministries is able and so wanting to provide a loving, caring, Christian HOME for two individuals. We need your help to bring this building project HOME. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you are able to do and may God bless you as you reach out to help those in need.
Anita Rennells and Staff
Soaring Wings Ministries
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
One of my favorite Bible verses that I have leaned on all my life has been Proverbs 3:5&6. It says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." I have always loved this verse and have turned to it many times when things in life just didn't make sense to me. This verse told me to trust in the Lord rather than my own understanding of a situation or life circumstance. In order for me to trust in the Lord, I had to acknowledge Him. To acknowledge means to express gratitude for; to recognize as being valid or having power. This verse gives me a promise that if I acknowledge God He WILL direct my paths. The word "will" makes it quite clear and leaves no room for doubt that God is with me and guides me through out my life in all situations...even those that don't make sense.
I have tested this verse with my own life many, many times and I have found it to be true. There have been situations in my life that just didn't make sense and I have had to trust God. Through trusting Him and acknowledging Him, I have found that indeed He has directed my paths. One path that that God has recently directed us on here at Soaring Wings Ministries has been the path of beginning the addition to house homeless people. Back in January of this year Ed, Meredith and I sat down for a planning meeting and made plans for what we wanted to see happen at Soaring Wings Ministries in 2016. We all said the exact same thing and we all agreed that we wanted to begin the building project for the addition in 2016. We all prayed together and asked God for his guidance and blessing as we stepped out in faith for this project. We knew that we are embarking on a project that required more financial resources, skills and physical strength than we could muster together. We knew that in order for the building project to even begin, we would need to trust God 100 percent for His guidance along the way.
Going down this path of construction for the addition, with God as our guide and project manager, has been amazing and exciting! We are ordinary people with ordinary skills. We are not carpenters, plumbers, builders, engineers or architects. Ed and I were social workers before we retired and Meredith was a youth director in a church before she moved to Colorado. These are not jobs that exactly lend themselves to building an addition! We literally had to trust God for each phase of the project. We did not know how it would be done but we stepped out in faith and moved forward with God as our guide. With the stepping out and moving forward God has provided and directed clearly and abundantly. We had the excavating work done and the foundation poured, not knowing when or how the framing would be completed. God knew and the framing is completed. We ordered the roof trusses not knowing how or when the roof trusses would be put up. God knew and the roof trusses are now in place. We ordered the materials for the outside walls not knowing how they would be put into place. God knew and now the outside walls are up. We had a plumber who was volunteering his time and skills but illness prevented him from coming to do the work. God knew about this too and provided another volunteer plumber for the job. Every job that has been completed, except for the excavation and the foundation, has been completed by wonderful volunteers offering their time, skills and strength.
Time and time again God has proven His faithfulness to help us and guide us with this building project. Ed, Meredith and I love to look at the addition and sometimes we will just stand out there and bask in the joy of what God has done. We look at the addition and the amazing progress that has been made and we think back to January and our decision to step out in faith. We acknowledged God and He directed our path. Without God providing, directing and blessing, the addition here at Soaring Wings Ministries would not be happening. The addition truly stands as a testament to God's amazing power, love and faithfulness. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5&6.
The addition is not yet finished. There are still pieces that need to come together before it is completed. We need someone with a backhoe to come and dig a trench, 36" deep, from the addition to the septic. We don't know who or how but God knows so we trust Him. We need to have the electrical work done. We don't know who or how but God knows and so we trust Him. We need additional funds to pay for materials and building supplies. We don't know where these funds will come from but God knows and so we trust Him. While we wait for God to provide we continue to acknowledge Him in all our ways.
If you have any doubts about God, about whether or not He exists or wonder if you can have a personal relationship with Him, doubt and wonder no more. God exists and He is a personal God who has a relationship with everyone who acknowledges Him as Lord and Savior. Come visit us at Soaring Wings Ministries. We would love to tell you and show you all that God has done and to share with you how trusting God, acknowledging Him and not leaning on your own understanding gives way to God's guidance, blessing and protection.
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries