Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Garden: Stepping Out

Ideas rolled around in my head like a sack of colored marbles spilled on a hardwood floor – there were a whole lot of them and they were moving fast. One of my girlfriends gently urged me to set a date (urged more than gentle). Setting a date meant commitment. Although, I knew I wanted to host the tea, the administrator’s delighted “yes” threw me into “Lord, what in the world did I just do” mode. I set the date, informed the administrator, but stayed in that mode for quite a few weeks.

One night, after sweating  buckets over my keyboard, a dam broke spewing the words to the donation letters. I tell you, composing those letters may have been the hardest part of this whole process. I wrote a letter for friends and family and a letter for area merchants. I solicited friends and family support by requesting a $20 donation that would be used to create what I coined as “Love Baskets” for each of the ladies at The Garden. The Love Baskets are filled with toiletries and a few non-essential, girly items like perfume samples (donated by a coworker) and MaryKay’s famous Peach Satin Hands® lotion (donated by a MaryKay rep and former school mate).

When I took the one small step of writing the letters and then the giant leap of actually sending them, it was as if I’d stepped into the Red Sea and watched the water form walls on either side. God did that, and He was definitely in charge of what was to come next.

To be continued…


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Garden: The Backstory

The backstory…

I didn’t want to register for wedding gifts. I’m so not good at “asking for things” and that’s what a wedding registry feels like to me. I’m also not good at picking things out on the spot (unless, of course, it’s really something that just knocks me off my feet). I figure you need to get married and get into a space together before you will really know what type of things you want and/or need.

Reluctantly AND under compulsion from one of my sweet sisters (thanks Michelle), I registered. I remember that day in Macy’s. I was irritable. Our Macy’s registry was quite small by wedding registry standards – filled with bath sheets and kitchen stuff. And then it happened. We finally stumbled across one thing that turbo charged my excitement.  A tea set… My sister knew my desire to host tea parties for women and encouraged me to register for it. I picked out a girly pattern of teacups and saucers and just about all the “accessories.” I’m pretty sure I saw my heart doing cartwheels and happy dances in the aisle of the china department.

Fast forward to my visit to The Garden. I knew I wanted to do something special for the women there. A tea party was what I had in mind. A tea party where I shower them with gifts and food of some sort, for no other reason than to encourage them and to let them know they are loved. Here was my opportunity to start pouring into someone else and somehow dig myself out of the hole I’d been in, a hole so narrow all I seemed to be able to do was focus on me and my sorrow.

So I shared with the administrator my desire to host a tea party for the ladies of The Garden, and she welcomed it immediately. As it turned out, a group had recently hosted a tea party for the children, yet it was the women who really desired to have one. Sweet confirmation…

To be continued…

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Garden: The Beginning

 

Photo courtesy of my friend's backyard

Photo courtesy' of my friend Jennifer's backyard

I was having a super bad day.

I think it’d been a few bad days, actually. Sadness, borderline depression, grief… As I exited the ladies room, our receptionist paused my stride back to my desk with her usual upbeat chatter. She’d spent the past Saturday afternoon serving a local non-profit organization – on the streets and under the bridges, feeding the city’s homeless. Her story lifted me from my stupor for a moment. As I listened, somehow the testimony of her time touching others for Jesus Christ was injected deep into my heart. Slowly, my countenance began to change. There, in my pool of grief, I was reminded there are still others whose plights are far weightier than my own sadness. The time had come to do something to turn the table on my lowliness. It was time to pour out.

I started researching the organization of which my coworker spoke. She’d mentioned they ran a shelter for women and a separate one for men; the women’s shelter grabbed my attention. I found myself visiting their website daily. Nothing changed from one day to the next but there I’d go…staring …studying…taking something in. Ideas were swirling.

I reached out to the administrator of this shelter called The Garden and asked if I could stop by for a visit. The day had produced a few rain showers. Yet, at the moment I arrived the sun was shining, children were playing and women were enjoying the 4 o’clock air under the shade of a tent. My heart picked up pace reflecting my nervousness. It would be my first time visiting a women’s shelter of any kind.

While touring the facility, I learned several interesting facts. One – how each woman came to be planted in this garden ranges from substance abuse, to domestic abuse, to simply missing a paycheck or two. Another – the shelter’s current population had shifted from being mostly women with children to mostly single women with no children. Wow…I flashed back to a period of my life (not so long ago at all) when I fit the same description – a single woman who’d missed several paychecks, not having full time employment for three years straight. Although my circumstances and support system were different, reality was many of these women were no different from me. There, but for the grace of God, could have been me. planted. in the Garden…

To be continued…