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
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