March Campaign – “Thirty-One Days of Thirty-One!!!!” It’s a raffle….

Our March campaign is ready to launch and we are super excited over here at Give Her Wings!  We’re trying something new with this campaign…. a raffle!  That’s right… you buy a ticket, you get a chance (or lots of chances) to a win a prize.  Easy peasy!

Raffle tickets are $10 each, and purchasing them is as easy as clicking that “Ticket” button on our site!   Upon receipt of your donation, we’ll assign you a ticket number(s) and you’ll receive an email telling you all about it!

Each day in March, we’ll be drawing a winner from the ticket pool.  SO…. the sooner you purchase your tickets, the more chances you have to win!  There are thirty-one prizes, one for each day of the month.

The prizes?  The prizes?  Oh, they are fabulous.  You’re going to want them all.  Each daily prize is a product from the current Thirty-One spring catalog!  Thirty-One is a faith based company, with a mission of Celebrating, Encouraging and Rewarding women and girls.  In other words, the PERFECT match for our organization!  Thirty-One offers a product line of purses, bags, totes and organizational products in a wide variety of prints… so, something for everyone!   The prizes can be seen on our PRIZE CALENDAR (below), so you’ll know what we are giving away every.single.day.  *And even if you DON’T win a prize, your email will also include a voucher, good for $10 off a $50 purchase, so still a winning ticket!

If you want to get a head start, feel free to go ahead and click that “ticket” button…we’ll make sure you get a ticket!  (The first prize will be drawn March 1, so a head start will get you in that first drawing!)  The “Current Fundraiser” tab has been loaded and is all prettied up with the instructions!

Please help us spread the word about our raffle… anyone can buy a ticket or two, and the more you help us share, the more tickets we’ll sell.  You can share our campaign link from the website, or “share” the posts on our Facebook page directly to your personal wall, enabling your friends and family to click right on through to our campaign page.  We love it when you help us work social media to our best advantage.

Thank you, in advance, for the money that will be raised for our “Overcoming.”  She has a special place in our hearts and we are looking forward to helping her get established and settled in a new home and life.  You can read her sweet story right here on the blog.

<3  Kelley

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We’d like to introduce our March recipient… “Overcoming.”

As most of you know, our monthly campaigns are often for the sole purpose of raising support for an individual woman.  We make it our goal to raise $1,500 to support her in the most needed ways possible.  This month, our recipient has stolen our hearts… your support will be used to help “Overcoming” (and her daughter) get established in a new home.  Here is her story:

“I was married for 30 years to a man who said he loved the Lord. This man was attractive, charming, well educated, abusive, unfaithful, and abused drugs. Just writing that is hard. It is hard to believe all those things can be present at the same time and in the same person. It was like living with two different realities and being told one was not really real. It left deep wounds. No one could see our wounds because they were internal and so deep. Listening to a father tell you for years that your mother is crazy, etc., takes a toll on children. And it took a toll on mine. My son believed his dad. My daughter wonders if that is the way all men treat their wives, and it terrifies her. We fled our home after an incident when my son stood up for me. His father looked at my son with such hatred, my son felt murdered and tried to harm himself. He couldn’t take it anymore. I had to protect my son’s life. For the last three years, we have struggled to find our way and find a community to love on my children until they believe it is real. We know the Lord is love, but when your earthly father denigrates you, refuses to support you, is a fraud, and the church has difficult time accepting this kind of abuse, there is a huge deficit in trust and love. My daughter struggles with hopelessness, despair and even the desire to live.

After leaving my abusive ex-husband, we were taken in by an equally abusive church, causing further damage to our hearts and minds. For 3 years, we lived amongst (and with) a dictatorial, patriarchal church where our every move was monitored. We began to lose hope.

Recently, Give Her Wings and others helped my daughter and me to escape that community. We are presently living between a shelter and a few friends but we hope to be able to live on our own soon. I continue to hope for that community and for healing for my now grown children. We hope to be that community one day, to comfort others through all we learn. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping us to get back on our feet. We are truly grateful and hopeful for the first time in a long time.

With much love, “Overcoming”

To participate in our March campaign, please see our current fundraiser page.

How “Overcoming” Began to Fly — By Bekah Mason

We are grateful and honored to welcome Bekah and Kat as our two newest team members. Besides the board of Give Her Wings, we have a ministry team — the “hands and feet” of our ministry. Bekah and Kat were more than happy to dedicate a few days to aide in the rescue of “Overcoming” and her daughter from an oppressive family. Overcoming had left an abusive marriage years before and then found herself in another abusive situation with an dictatorial, cult-like church that, in no way, represents God’s people. As we, on the sidelines, “watched” how the story unfolded . . . how God used these incredible women to show His love to Overcoming . . . we wept, laughed, prayed . . . and, oh! What a privilege! Thank you, Bekah and Kat and all those who helped. And, thank you, Bekah for writing it all down. Here is the story of the miraculous rescue:

Ministry runs in the blood of my family. My grandfather, my uncle, and my father were or are involved in full time ministry. I’ve worked in church and counseling environments and currently teach in a local Christian school. In three generations of full time ministry, we’ve seen a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, a lot of failure and disappoint, horror and sheer disbelief.

Ministry often centers around helping the hurting, the broken, the forgotten. Give Her Wings is a ministry created to provide “gifts and money for mothers who have left abusive situations. Oftentimes, when a woman leaves an abusive marriage, she narrowly escapes with little more than her children and the clothes on her back. Give Her Wings desires to do all they can to help specific mothers who are living in very poor conditions presently.” Through monthly fundraisers, GHW gives love, support, and financial assistance to mothers who often feel alone, hopeless, forgotten.

But every once in a while, God places His children in a situation in which we get to physically step in and become the hands and feet of Jesus. We get to be a part of the rescue process, literally snatching someone from the flames of oppression and abuse. This is the situation in which I was blessed to find myself in the last couple of weeks.

This journey began nearly a month ago when Megan contacted me about a woman who lived within driving distance of me who had contacted her about her current living situation. Hoping to provide some support and encouragement, we exchanged emails, offered prayed, let her talk and process her experiences and current situation, and through the course of our conversations, I told Megan that I would just drive down and meet with her in person. Sometimes, people just need to know that they are seen and heard, and as invaluable as technology is to this ministry, you just can’t really provide that via social media.

So I hopped in the car with a fellow women’s ministry team member from my church, and we met “Overcoming” for dinner. We left broken hearted and convinced that this was a unique situation into which God had dropped Give Her Wings to be of special assistance to a woman and her daughter who had no where to go and no one to turn to for help.

From the stories we had heard, we had no idea what to expect. The family they had been staying with are members of a cult-like church, a group which emphasizes extreme patriarchy and teaches that men are not just the providers and protectors for their families, but are the priests (spiritual authority) and kings (total authority) of their homes and everyone living in them. This includes guests, and “Overcoming” and her daughter were increasingly expected to submit to his direction over their lives. Their movements were limited and monitored, they were expected to conform their lives to the habits and schedules of the family. They were told that they needed to submit their wills and their entire lives to the instruction and leading of the “Patriarch.” It appears the family hoped they would help with the house work and care of the family’s six children, and when it became apparent they would not, their connection to the internet was removed and a meeting with the church elders was demanded. At this point, “Overcoming” and her daughter left the home with a few belongings and headed to a hotel and we began planning to get down there to help them leave the house in which they were trapped. After long nights of prayer, longer days of phone calls, logistics, volunteer gathering, and number crunching, nearly a dozen people in 6 states had put together a plan.

This past Saturday, GHW ministry team member Kat, my friend Angela, and myself met at a local Starbucks and headed south, having no idea what we would encounter when we got there. Kat and I had never met, Kat and Angela had never met “Overcoming,” and the two men who were meeting us to load the moving truck were friends of a friend of another ministry team member. None of us had met the other team member or the two men. The miracle of technology brought together people united through the common bond of the Holy Spirit to do a work otherwise impossible to achieve.

Before long, we received a message from Kelley that said there was a problem with the moving truck. The one we had rented had been double booked, was I comfortable driving a 26’ truck instead? I called the rental company and told them that was fine, and we continued on our way.

When we arrived in the Home Depot parking lot, this greeted us:

movingTruckI had seriously underestimated what 26’ looked like. And it’s diesel. I’d never driven a diesel. It had a power lift loading ramp. None of us had used one. But we laughed, prayed, and pulled out of the parking lot.

When we met “Overcoming” at the local grocery store, her daughter and our two “heavy lifters,” John and Brandon met us, too.

We did introductions, hugged, prayed, and headed to the house to begin gathering their belongings.

As soon as we arrived, “Patriarch” cooly took over. Without even a greeting or introduction, he asked us to turn the moving truck around by backing it down their curving driveway and backing it back up the driveway. When we struggled to do so, he did it himself. After opening the garage and showing John where the rest of the furniture was in the house, he left us to get to work.

Empty boxes were divided between “Patriarch’s” family and those belonging to “Overcoming.” When we ran out of boxes, we began using garbage bags. When time and space drew short, we asked “Overcoming” and her daughter to make the impossible decision of what was essential and what could stay here and potentially be replaced. His older daughters closely followed us, second guessing what belonged to whom and running back and forth into the house to report what we were doing.

When “Patriarch” came out to check progress, he asked questions of the entire group, I would answer, and he would direct his answers to John. It became quickly obvious that he was unwilling to converse with a woman, so we complied and John spoke with him from that point.

“Patriarch” did help John and Brandon move the largest and heaviest furniture downstairs, which was much appreciated. After that he was polite when he interacted with us, but kept his distance.

We quickly realized that there was much more to move than we had originally anticipated; our “wrong” moving truck was exactly what God knew we needed to accomplish the task He set before us that day.

moving1As we sorted, packed, and loaded, the work became more oppressive. Trips inside the home revealed a cluttered, depressed building, full of children, but devoid of laughter, play, or joy. As the older girls followed us around, they asked piercingly honest questions of a child: “Are you glad you’re leaving? We’re glad you’re leaving because now we get our room back.” While “Overcoming” and her daughter had been sharing a bed in one room, four of the children had been sharing another room upstairs.

Around lunch time, “Patriarch” and his daughters offered us pizza and drinks to take a break from our work. Angela and Kat had an opportunity to talk with the wife. Please pray for her and their children, as their spirits seem crushed by the oppression in which they live.

At the same time, three teenage boys and two younger boys showed up at the house. We thought they were friends of “Overcoming” who had come to help, because they were very friendly and began carrying boxes without even being asked. When “Overcoming” came outside, however, they said hello and she asked them if they had talked to “Patriarch” yet. They went inside and never came back out. The next time I went inside, they were sitting around the kitchen table, Patriarch at the head of the table, sharing some sort of instructional time.

I will not forget the anger I felt flood over me as I watched a man train the manhood out of those boys. They inherently knew they needed to be helping us work, but instead, they repressed that urge and mindlessly obeyed the command of the man in authority over them. When they left about an hour later, they passed by the truck, heads dropped and silent.

While they were having their study time, I took a break from packing the truck and looked into the window of the kitchen. My mind flooded with memories of a friend who had escaped across an ocean to save her family from abuse and oppression. I thought about those young men, and “Patriarch’s” young children and wife. I thought about how unimaginable it was that Kat and I had just had to ask “Overcoming” to go through her belongings and decide what she was willing to leave behind.

I was done at that moment. And at that same moment, one of the young girls who had been wandering back and forth, chatting with us and helping as she could, came up to the truck and said, “This is for you.” I looked down and saw this:

rockA white rock, covered in red clay. I immediately took this photo and sent this message to the ministry team:

Rev. 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ Whispers of mercy and reminders that He is here.

In the pain, oppression, anger. He was there. He is there still, with those kids. With their mother. With “Patriarch.” He is there, and He brings freedom. And that is my prayer.

My reaction to stress and trauma is to put my head down and get to work. I was feverishly focused on getting the truck safely packed. Two times that I distinctly remember, I stopped working and looked up to see Kat holding “Overcoming” in a tight hug, whispering prayers and words of hope in her ear as she wept under the weight of what was taking place. I was again reminded that God had assembled a random group of total strangers, each uniquely equipped to complete part of the task He had before us.

As the hours passed, we began to be concerned about the emotional toll this was taking on all of us, but especially our sweet mother and daughter. To help them prepare to walk away, we asked them again to seriously consider what they were willing to leave behind, and we moved only the items that were essential or particularly sentimental. We were unsure that a return trip would be possible, and if it were, we were fairly convinced that none of her belongings would be there when she returned.

Once the furniture was loaded, John and Brandon left, and we began praying that God would provide kind people at the storage unit to help us unload the things the men had loaded for us. Between heavy furniture, a freezer and a refrigerator, and an upright piano, we had no idea how were were going to get it into the storage unit.

moving2When it was time to leave, we cried, hugged, laughed in joy for the freedom already felt by us all, and we loaded in the truck and left.

The trip to the storage unit was light and uneventful. The relief felt by us all was tangible. The weight lifted from “Overcoming” and her daughter was physically seen. In just one week, there was a transformation in their body language, in their communication. There was light and hope in their eyes as we sat around a table at a fast food restaurant and listened to them continue to share.

We thought we were home free, but there were more surprises in store. While we were eating, God answered another prayer. Another family had heard that

“Overcoming” was moving her belongings and called to see if they could help. “YES!” was the answer they had received, and when we arrived at the storage unit, they were waiting for us!

moving3Immediately issues began. As the sun began setting and a 9 pm deadline staring us down, we struggled to open the gate to the storage facility. Once it was opened, we hit a huge wall: the key “Overcoming” had been given on Thursday did not open the door to the climate control unit she had rented. After making multiple phone calls, getting disconnected from one person (we later found out that he had dropped his phone in toilet in the middle of the call!), and being unable to reach anyone else, we began to get desperate. Fatigue and frustration set in. “Overcoming” went to the facility across the street, hoping someone might be there who would rent one of their units to her.

There was no one on duty.

The gentleman who met us there attempted to jimmy the door to the unit open. It wouldn’t budge. We considered taking the door off the hinges, but decided that was a bit extreme. When we had run out of options, someone suggested that find some basic storage units and empty the truck into them until they could reach someone about the rented unit.

moving4God was again gracious. Not only were there two units open, they were side by side. At the end of the building.

moving6The answered prayers, the loving and joyful friends, and the humor of the situation in which we found ourselves lifted our spirits, re-energized us, and we had the truck unloaded in less than an hour.
At that point, the tangible oppression we had felt only a few hours earlier was replaced by an equally tangible peace and joy that was inexpressible. We hugged “Overcoming” and her daughter, as well as our new friends who had come to save the day at the storage unit.und ourselves lifted out spirits, re-energized us, and we had the truck unloaded in less than an hour.

Kat, Angela and I left while we watched the rest of our little group continue to laugh and fellowship in the parking lot.

Before we even got back to the truck drop off center, I had received a call from “Overcoming,” and I nearly didn’t recognize her voice in the message. She was joyful, laughing, chatting freely. She saw a victory won. She had hope. She’d been given wings and had taken flight.

Give Us the Courage to Take It.

This week, I’ve been reading Unashamed by Francine Rivers.  It is a novella based on the story of Rahab, the harlot of Jericho who aided the Israelites as they were taking down the city.

One sentence in this little novella has stood out to me beyond all the others.

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“Oh, Lord, my God, You are bringing us home to a land that you have prepared for us. You have laid out this gift before us.  Give us the courage to take it.”

One of the spies whom Rahab hid from the the Jerichoan officials was contemplating the enormity of what was laid out before Israel as they moved into the promised land.  It was big.  It was beautiful.  It was promised.  God had it all ready for them.  But they had to have courage.  They had to take it.

As I read it multiple times, it echoed in my mind and made me think of all the things on the horizon for Give Her Wings.  God has every thing ready just as he wants it.  But we have to have courage.  We have to take it.

Megan, Kelley and I thank you all for your continued support.  We ask that you continue to keep Give Her Wings in your prayers.  We also ask that you pray for us (and our soon-to-be-named board) as individuals to have courage to take what God has laid out before us.

 

Give Our Mamas a Little Love this Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day can be beautiful and it can be lame. I am pretty sure we are all agreed on that. For many, it is simply a reminder that we often find ourselves alone in life. For me, it has been an anniversary of the day my parents died. Late, late, late, on February 14th, 1998, a policeman and a priest showed up at the door to tell me that our parents had died in a car accident. It has taken all this time to begin to enjoy the day (16 years in just a few weeks). Part of my healing has come from my precious husband, David, who celebrates our love but also holds me when I cry. He has, in a word, redeemed Valentines Day for me.

Many of our mothers are loathing the celebration of love that is upon us. For some of them, they have never ever experienced a deep and satisfying love on this earth. This day is a reminder of their aloneness . . . and a broken marriage. That is how it was for me . . . for so many years. Unloved (and without another chance at love, or so I thought), I dreaded the day. I made it for my children, which was sweet. But, I was relieved when it was over.

Kelley, Dawn and I want to begin the process of redemption of the “love holiday” for our mamas. Obviously, we cannot “be their Valentine” or even begin to fill the gap . . . but we can show them just a spark, a bit, a seed of the Ultimate Love that fills our hearts as the Church . . . as His Bride. We can remind them of the deep deep love of Jesus, who IS Love by sending them a small gift this February 14th, reminding them, as always, that they are loved and cherished by us and by Christ. Will you join us?

By clicking below, you can give an inexpensive (but yummy) treat to one of 17 mamas who need to feel loved in February. If you want to give more — give more! You should know that we three ladies can take the littlest bit and turn it into something good . . . . quality . . . beauty. So, come now! Press that button! Donate!! Help us give each of “our” mamas a smile this Valentine’s Day! Go here to donate!

cookieGrams

Christmas 2013 Recap

I’ll just be honest.  Early December is a blur.  A distant memory.  A fuzzy memory.  Things were moving quickly, and there were many times I felt swamped.  Likely that is because I was LITERALLY swamped.  Why?  Settle in, sweets… it’s story time.

There was a point way back in late August when us gals at Give Her Wings were chatting… in a Facebook chat box, of course… about how much fun our August campaign had been.  The response from our supporters was fantastic, and we loved the process of gifting small items to our mamas as much as they loved receiving them.  During that campaign, a donor had purchased a hand held video game system for one of our kiddos. Her mamma had sent us a precious thank you note, and mentioned that the gift was hidden away for Christmas because it would be a perfect gift under the tree.  And then it hit us.  So many of our mammas are struggling to pay for their electricity and food… how do they “do” Christmas?

We chatted through what Christmas might look like for one of our mammas.  When words like “lonely, difficult, cold, and struggle,” started popping up, it became immediately obvious that Christmas wouldn’t be so merry for many of them.  Combine the struggles of every day to the reality that there was likely no money in the budget for gifts for the kids, and the picture was pretty bleak.  And well, we just couldn’t have that.  While we all KNOW that Christmas is about more than gifts, most of us make that kind of statement  while nestled comfortably around our family, food, and gifts, all warm and cozy.  We could not put families back together, heal wounds, fill empty bank accounts, or change bleak situations, but maybe we COULD give a gift.  Show some love.  Put a few items under the tree that said, “You are special and we care so much about you and your family.”

The plan started very simply.  One gift per child.  A single gift for every child of our mammas.  AND, if our campaign was going splendidly, we hoped to also purchase a small gift for our mammas too.  (We knew they would want the kiddos to be provided for first, so we set our priorities accordingly.)  We laughed as we tried to guess what kind of gifts a teenage boy would want… unchartered territory for three women who have never had a teenage son!  We needed some help, so we enlisted one of our mammas!  It was such a blessing to watch her in action as she helped us choose appropriate gifts based on age, responsibilities, weather, special needs, and other factors.  Our mamma was AMAZING.  (She can be my personal shopper anytime!)  We also contacted some of the mammas individually and used their input to help put together a wish list.

From there, the concept of a “store” came to life.  Our sweet supporters could CHOOSE the gifts they wanted to give, pay for them right there in the store, and we would take care of the rest!  Dawn worked her magic on the website and the finished product was just incredible.  Even more incredible?  The IMMEDIATE response from our supporters!

I truly wish that everyone could’ve watched US as we watched the items being purchased, and flying off our shelf!  My phone was “dinging” all day with notifications as Dawn or Megan would squeal, “Someone bought the tool kit!” or “Tea Party Set is sold!”  (Confession:  this was MORE fun than watching the last hour of your eBay auction when three people get in a bidding war for an item you just want gone from your house….)

Then we had a problem.  Our items were selling out and it was still early November.  What if we added some things?  Would they sell?  I think confirmation for this came one crazy morning when I posted in our message box about how I had woken up in the middle of the night, thinking about a story I had read to the kids from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  And it was suddenly on my heart to get a Bible like that in the hands of every one of our mammas.  I told Dawn and Megan, posted pictures of the pages I had read to the kids, and we decided to just go for it!   And, as they always do, our supporters jumped in and bought them…all of them!  So, we decided that Christmas was going to get bigger and better.

Donors began stepping in with their own ideas for making this Christmas merrier.  They were offering to do things that we had not considered.  Stockings for each kiddo came into play.  “Pampering” gifts for our mammas.  Donated bags and totes to put the gifts in!  Pajamas for Christmas morning. It was growing, and growing, and growing.  (Much like the Grinch’s heart, if we’re sticking with Christmas themes here…. yes, you know the scene.  Makes you smile every time.)

Many of our “store” items had been directly shipped to the mammas… they were all hiding Christmas goodies in closets and under beds and such.  But our extras had to be delivered somewhere “neutral” to protect the names/locations of our families.  I volunteered my home.  Why?  It was simple. My favorite part of the whole Christmas gift tradition is wrapping gifts.  Seriously.  I love it.  And I love thinking about the recipient as they unwrap it, and I love boxing them and shipping them and, and, and…  so, I got to be “Give Her Wings Central” for this campaign.  Oh boy, oh boy.  I volunteered BEFORE it grew like the Grinch’s heart.  In hindsight, a large storage unit may have been needed!  I apologized to my husband when I notified him that he would see his desk (and the whole office) AFTER Christmas.  He didn’t care.

Items started arriving.  Everyday.  The FedEx and UPS men both had to ask at one point.  I really chuckled the day FedEx arrived about the same time as my husband and his employees.  You cannot imagine the blessing (and humor) in hearing my husband’s employee tell the FedEx man about Give Her Wings and the Merry Little Christmas campaign as they worked together to haul a few BIG boxes in the door.  To listen to this man talk about an American Girl doll (he is single, with no children) and where it was headed was kind of music to my ears.  These men hauled boxes, moved boxes, carried boxes to my car… and got to listen to me talk about boxes!  My point here?  This campaign was contagious!  It seemed that every time I opened my mouth to talk about it, someone wanted to help!  And they did!

(Dawn and Megan were having the same experiences, as donations and gifts were handed to us at every turn.  We were in tears one Sunday afternoon as we all hopped into our chat box to say the same thing… someone at church had handed us a donation.  That’s right.  Three different states, three different churches, three different donations… one Sunday morning.)

I have story after story about check out clerks who broke into smiles (or tears) when I told them what I was up to.  (They have to ask questions when you are buying 35 boxes of movie candy one random Thursday morning, or 17 cookie kits late at night…).  It seemed that everyone had a personal story to share about a woman in their life who could’ve used a Merry Little Christmas once upon a time.  I shed tears with a woman in a Dollar Tree.  I hugged a clerk at Big Lots.  I made friends with the postal employees.  And it was pure joy.

Yes, I was swamped.  Literally swamped.  The office area of our house was reduced to a small path for navigating through the middle.  The rest was covered.  Stacked. Consumed by the Merry Little Christmas campaign.  (I had to clean it up to take a picture!)   I fulfilled my need to wrap gifts.  And then promptly wrapped at least 50 more!   (My kids may or may not have received their own gifts in gift bags this year…. ahem.)  I cannot describe to you the happiness I felt in weeding through all these gifts that represented love and care for our mammas and children.  It was an honor to crawl over boxes and sort items and work through the insanity of making sure that each gift was in the right box for shipping!

So honestly?  Early December is a blur.  But it is a beautiful blur of joy and tears and exhaustion and giggling… and knowing that we helped HER have a Merry Little Christmas.  And if I think about it, it really helped ME to have a Merry Little Christmas.  I can speak for Dawn and Megan as well.  This campaign was a favorite.  It confirmed for us that this organization is very much needed.  That expansion is a necessity.  That a non-profit status is a must.  That clearly our supporters love our girls and will continue to care for them.  And that our Father is using these little ideas and concepts and campaigns to bless EVERYONE involved.

I did manage to capture some of “blur” of this project and I think that the pictures are worth a thousand words.  Enjoy our little video.  Revel in what YOU helped to accomplish this past Christmas.  Share it with your friends, talk about us.  Talk about our mammas.  We are growing and we want you on the journey…. thank you for walking this path with us. I cannot help but smile when I think about all that is to come.

Merriest of Little Christmases,

Kelley

Looking forward to 2014

The GHW team is still completely overwhelmed with the love and generosity poured out during our Christmas campaign and for our December mama.  There’s another post on the way about that.

For now, I just want to give you a little update on what’s going on here at GHW…

First of all, Megan, Kelley and I have all enjoyed this little break with our families during the holidays.  It’s been a good time for us to get refreshed and geared up for the new year and all it will bring.

“What is it going to bring?”, you ask.

It will undoubtedly bring new mamas and children into our GHW family. It will also bring new ideas of ways for us to help (some of these we know and some we’re still working on)

The biggest news for this month is something we told you was coming…

We are beginning our journey to becoming an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  We are excited about the new opportunities this will bring Give Her Wings to grow.  The credibility it gives & the tax benefits to donors will encourage more people and organizations to get involved.

We thank you in advance for any prayers for Give Her Wings and Megan, Kelley and me as we begin this process.  We’re confident that we are following God’s plan for GHW and desire to continue on that path.

Also, please consider donating this month toward the legal/accounting fees, accounting software, and any other office expenses we come upon. There is a donation button on the sidebar of this page and on the bottom of each page of the website.

Thanks again for all you do to encourage us and to lavish love on “our” mamas.  We love and appreciate all our supporters.

Our December Mother — “Courage To Soar”!

We would like to introduce our newest member of the Give Her Wings family — “Courage to Soar”. This dear mother of three took her children and herself away from a highly abusive husband/father. Courage is incredibly brave (in our book) because she left a well-respected pastor (yes, her ex husband was a pastor) in order to give her three children a healthy life.  In the process, Courage lost the support of her family and her ‘c’hurch family. Finding herself completely alone, Courage has also managed to share her story with the authorities. Her ex husband is currently being charged with criminal sexual conduct, invasion of privacy and criminal defamation. Courage’s stress level is extreme . . . but she continues to work hard and do her best to provide for her children.

Our hearts feel a deep concern for Courage because it is the holidays . . . and, when I spoke with her last week, she had only $3 in her checking account. I cannot imagine how scary life is right now for this dear lady. It is not an easy time for her. Here is a bit of her story in her words:

I’m a single mom of 3 beautiful children. I have a 14 year old autistic son, a 13 year old son and my youngest is my little 11 year old princess. I have been living in a verbally, physically and sexually abusive marriage for 15 years now and finally found the strength and courage to seek safety and freedom. I’ve been on my own with my kids for 9 months now. It’s been a struggle in every sense of the word, but yet an amazing journey! I’m learning how to trust myself and my decisions again. I’ve been learning that I will be ok! That I can be ok! I have choices! My choices have not always been popular and through my choosing to keep both myself and my children safe I’ve lost most of my family. Would I change those decisions? No! I know, in-spite of the pressure to return to the abuser to save face, that each decision I’ve made over the past 9 months have been the right ones. God has been showing HIMSELF to is in such a real way! I wouldn’t trade that! I don’t have support of my family but I have the support of people those at Give Her Wings! My heart is ever grateful for their love and support!!! I’m pressing on! Taking another step! And growing! ~Courage to Soar

We want to help our dear sister, Courage, during the month of December. This will be our last campaign before we take time off to become non-profit. We “fronted” Courage (by faith) over $300 last month to cover an electric bill and some gas money. We have also already been given $500 toward this campaign (yay!). We need to raise $1000 still. I do not think I need explain how much this will mean to our mother this Christmas season. And, as always, our goal is to remind her how much she is loved and cared about. She is not forgotten by God or by the Church.

Won’t you help us?

Why I Love “Help(ing) HER have a Merry Little Christmas”

I’m not much of one to cry when I’m happy.  I can cry a river when I’m sad, but it takes something really special to make me tear up with joy.  But, I’ve done just that several times this month.  And, every time it’s been when I was telling someone about the “Help HER have a Merry Little Christmas ‘store'” and the lovely response that it’s gotten from people.

I’m starting to figure out why that is. Although my family and my life aren’t perfect, I have to say that I’ve been blessed with many happy memories of Christmases past:

  • I remember my dad strapping a Christmas tree on the top of our car and driving from NC to MD.  By the time we got there it looked like something Charlie Brown picked out.
  • I remember my sister L peeling the stickers off of her off-brand Rubik’s cube and showing it to those of us in the other car on a trip up to grandma’s.  We so believed she solved it.
  • I remember having to go to BOTH grandparents’ houses for a Christmas meal because they wanted us there.
  • I remember baking Christmas cookies with my sisters and my mom and sometimes my grandmother
  • I remember my sister B and I licking candy canes to sharp points and sticking each other with them, probably while complaining that someone crossed the middle of the backseat.  (but your kids didn’t hear it from me)
  • I remember my now-28-year-old nephew making police car noises and telling me I had a police car stuck on my head.  In the back of a station wagon.  For 6 hours.   (He’d had a toy police car stuck in his hair a couple weeks earlier)
  • I remember our finding out my cousin was having her new boyfriend over for Christmas,  and my dad pulling out a can of tennis balls from the trunk of the car It went something like this: “We can wrap these up for him.”  “Oh, does he play tennis?”  “I have no idea”.  He didn’t play tennis.
  • I remember all the years when a family member would be trying to figure out what to get someone for Christmas.  Another family member almost always said, “why don’t you get him/her some tennis balls?”
  • I remember last year in the hospital my dad opening up the tennis ball that “Santa” left him and laughing hysterically.

But, one of the Christmases I remember the most was the one when I was 13. We were moving to a new city over Christmas break.  The house we were going to rent wasn’t going to be ready until Jan 1.  I’ll spare the details, but the reason for our move wasn’t a fun one and we had to move out of our old house the week before Christmas.   I was angry.  I was confused.  I was sad.

That Christmas, there were 5 of us in my older sister’s one-bedroom apartment with little to no heat, mattresses on the floor,  a dog, and a cat that loved to terrorize everyone.  Overnight on Christmas Eve, I developed a raging ear infection that ruptured my ear drum.  I was running a fever and was in severe pain by Christmas afternoon.  There wasn’t much room in the apartment kitchen, so we went to my older brother’s place for lunch. When we came back, we realized nobody had taken a set of apartment keys with them

Picture this… 3 adults, a college freshman, and a sick middle schooler…on the landing of a second story apartment on the main downtown street. So what was the most reasonable thing to do?  Of course…use the table knife in mom’s bag to break into the kitchen window.  Yes, my father, known as a pastor to the people in the area, was breaking into the apartment above one of the most well known florists in town.  On Christmas day.

Oh wait…it get’s better.  My mother (the pastor’s wife) then climbed through the kitchen window, across the table, and came through to open the front door.

Other than a very vivid memory of thinking I was eating a piece of candy with coconut in it while biting into a bourbon ball that one of my sister’s clients had put in her candy basket, I don’t remember much else about that day.  (I still can’t stand the smell of bourbon balls)

Little Girl Smiling

Honestly, that Christmas could have gone down on record as one of the worst Christmases ever. But, every time I think about or tell that story, I get a cheesy grin on my face, much like the one that 3-year-old me has in this picture.

I don’t remember ever having a Christmas that I would call bad.  I remember that I did get presents every year, but I don’t remember what most of them were.  Looking back, the specific presents weren’t so special by themselves.

Besides the obvious celebration Jesus’ birth, I think the reason for that cheesy grin is that I’ve always known that someone loves me.

(Ok, I’m crying again…)

I don’t know what kind of Christmases our GHW mamas and their children have had before.  But it touches me at my very core to know that THIS Christmas they will know that they are loved.   Every person that has provided a gift loves them.  Everyone that prays for them loves them.  The GHW team loves them.  God loves them.

Thank you to every one of you who has helped me have a front seat to see the miracle of love flowing out to these families.  I am blessed daily by your generosity and your kind words.

If you haven’t yet visited our “Help Her Have a Merry Little Christmas” store, and you are able, please do so and help us to show “our” mamas and children extravagant love this Christmas! If you already have, please share the link with others.  We’ll be adding even more options in the next few days.

Kat’s Story and Why She Helps

We have been blessed by some regular “givers”. But, Kat does not only help our cause, she encourages the down-trodden and uplifts the oppressed in a thousand ways. She is an inspiration. We have the privilege of being able to share her personal testimony here at our blog. Thank you, Kat. Read why Kat helps spiritual widows and orphans and be edified:

My father left my mom when I was less than one month old. She says he left when I was literally at her breast. I have two older brothers 4 and 8 years ahead of me. Mom has an amazing life story. Adventurous, educated, humorous and friendly. She’d been a teacher off and on after meeting my dad and moving to El Paso, TX, to marry him. She’d been a TV producer in San Francisco.

Her story: my dad couldn’t keep a job.

His story: she was crazy.
My story: They’re both right.

So, my mom had to go to work and find someone to care for me. My brothers were in preschool and elementary school. I was the one with the greatest needs. Thankfully, we lived on the border when it was more open than it is now. My mom couldn’t have afforded much. but we lived in a nice middle class neighborhood, anyway. She fed us rice, pasta, corn flakes ad nauseum. My mother had been raised in Virginia during the Depression. She knew how to pinch pennies, even if she didn’t know how to cook.

Back in the seventies, people would cross the border to “shop” with shopping passes. The women would board busses and go to jobs cleaning houses. The men would wait for trucks to drive downtown and offer them jobs — mowing, roofing and yard work. These people were risking it all to put food on the table at home.
We went through several maids (they’d be called housekeepers/nannies now). They’d live at our house Mon-Sat am for a whopping $70 a week (standard pay at the time).

I don’t know the total headcount. I know my middle brother was fondled in the tub by one woman as a little boy. When he innocently recounted story, my mom packed the woman up and put her on the curb. It must have been many years . . . I remember being hit in the head with brushes when I’d cry while the tangles were being yanked from my head. Another woman locked me in her bedroom with a black and white TV showing Mexican soap operas.
I can only imagine the complete horror my mom felt when I recounted those scenes at the dinner table.

Then came the angel that saved my life. Maria. She was much older than my mom (who was 41 years my senior). Her hands smelled of hand cream. Her wrinkles were deep and smooth. She sang while she scrubbed and cleaned and told me how much God loved me. She laid on my bed with me until I fell asleep. I tiptoed past my mom’s bed when I had bad dreams and into hers. She spoke only Spanish; I spoke only English. She wouldn’t correct me. It wasn’t her place, she said. So, we had our own language. It was love. Pure love. she told me how God loved me and would always love me. How much she loved me.

I got to travel over the border with her, once, when I was about 10. She must have been 75. There I was with blonde pigtails riding the busses and vans down dirt roads holding the hands of MY Maria! My protector, my Angel.

You see, she knew what I didn’t fully comprehend until after she passed away: my mother was a sick, mean woman. Constantly under the care of a psychiatrist, yet she never really understood.
She was smart and charming. And had the tongue of a viper.

I was called “Selfish Bitch” from the time I was five. My mother withdrew her love when I was less than perfect, but never gave it to me even when I was. Her tongue cut me down daily. As she drove me to church, ballet, private music lessons, etc., I endured her disdain.

Oh, we looked good from the outside! She was a whiz with money. She could provide clothes and home for us. She had a good job. She made friends everywhere we went.

But at home….sick and full of hate.

Maria loved on me. Raised me. Told me where my worth was…in Christ alone. She had to leave her 6 children to take care of me and put food on their table. She knew struggle. She knew pain. But she knew a love that surpassed all of that.

My mother remarried when I was in second grade. Cold and indifferent, he only lasted 5 years. But he wore Maria out. She was uneasy with him. And she was getting old. She “retired” a few years into that marriage. I knew she worked tirelessly at home.

We wrote each other. Maria’s nieces and nephews would write for her and translate my letters for her. I found neighbors to translate hers.
My mothers verbal and emotional abuse never ceased. Still to this day, she is volatile and unsafe. She is now almost 82 years old. When struggling with dementia, my brothers and I found out her brothers had molested her. No wonder she was sick and mean!!

I forgive her. Anything else would eat me alive. And did for years and years. But, I guard my heart and my precious family. The generational sin stops HERE. NOW.

I will not allow her around me without a friend or my husband. I will not allow her in my home. She still can swear and cut down me or my family in the blink of an eye.

Maria. She is my mother. When she died, I went to her funeral. As a senior in high school, I got to weep with her children. In her cement-floored home with no bathroom, she was laid out in the most beautiful coffin. We cried and held hands and told stories. Her youngest told me how she’d resented me as a young girl because Maria would tell her that I needed her more as she left every Monday after only being home less than 48 hours. Weeping and holding each other, she said how she came to understand that my danger was real. And that her mother had a purpose…to love me and show me the love of Christ.

She gave all she had. Her love. And I choose to do the same.

I learned how not to be from my mom. My father was not a part of my life other than miserably awkward required visits that ended when I turned 18.

I learned to love; I learned to give; I learned to trust that God has a plan…even in the murkey waters of life….to show His love to us and through us.

Maria loved me when she had nothing. How much more can you ask of a person? That, my friend, is Christ.

There are so many out there who are hurt by husbands, boyfriends, mothers, fathers. We live in a fallen world. But that doesn’t mean we fall over. We rise up…praising God and sharing the love that he gives. For without it, I would be nothing.

The end.
Or…the middle or the beginning.