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A Thank you, A Testimony, and An Offer of help

 

114 Beautiful faces will be meeting for the first time at the Kiev Airport 20 days to fly together to the USA in to the arms of waiting loving families. You made this possible, and thank you SO much. You helped forever change the lives of 114 sweet children. Together THIS community changed the world for 114 kids. I’m indebted to your generosity and giant hearts.

Although the last few months have been a race against time and raising plane fares, it feels like an eternity has passed. We have ridden the roller-coaster of fear, sadness, joy, worry, and elation.

This is only where our story begins.

In 22 days we will welcome an orphan into our home for the summer. She will be part of the family and we will lovingly guide her through all the things she needs to know while she’s here. She doesn’t know she’s coming into a family that is very excited to embrace her. We look forward to guiding her with fellowship through the next few months of her own journey, along side the ever growing community that surrounds us.

As I watch the families prepare for their children to arrive, something inside me changes. I reflect on the circumstances that brought me to this place, a mother of five participating with a group of fiercely dedicated volunteers to run an amazing non-profit to save orphans in Ukraine. That’s pretty specific, and also pretty amazing to see where my life has taken me, and how my struggles have uniquely prepared me to take up this new set of challenges.

From my mid teens when I started life completely on my own, through my bridge burning 20’s I did everything the hard way, because I knew everything. Completely full of justification for my poor behaviors I was plowing through the china shop, just like a bull. The skills I so badly needed to learn I didn’t even know existed. With my limited insight I was stuck in a self-perpetuating cycle of anger, disappointment, and negativity.

By the time I got to my late 20’s and beginning my 30’s I saw very clearly all the skills I need to be (and should have been) working on, and with a house full of kids I feel like there is literally not enough time in the day to get everything done. The time I spent playing Tetris in my 20’s has become a literal life skill as I delicately fit the pieces of time together to pack in as much life as possible. I want to learn everything, practice it all, and be the best possible human I can be.

As I look to my future, I look at the strong men and women who are leaders in the world to be my guide. I don’t mean famous global leaders, but the men and women that are impacting the world. I look at the decisions they’ve made that got them where they are, the hard work they endured and the planning that set them to fulfill their dreams. I look at people that are my mentors, whether they know it or not. I look to people like the Executive Director of a small non-profit that ran with her dream, held to her morals and values, and is creating change and forward movement to transform lives. I look as she balances her own home life, while being totally open to embracing a clumsy 30-something like me, with warm smiles and patient words. I’m finding in this journey there is a balance of things you let go, things you remark on, and things you stand up for even if you’re standing alone. These people have taught me to cling to my sense of self, be open to changing my approach, and most importantly to traverse whatever rocky waters come my way to hold fast to what I stand for.

In light of recent teen suicides in my community, I have to reflect on my teen struggles, and in the moments of desperation I know how it feels to be completely alone in the world. Alone at 16 and on the street, struggles in your teen years are overwhelming, and without the support of a healthy community can feel too much to bear. I have been there and I promise if you’re reading this, regardless of your age, suicide isn’t the answer. There is hope, there is help, and its worth pushing through. My 30’s have been the most satisfying time of my life, to work hard, see results, and be inspired by those that came before me, and a journey of hope to look forward to all I can be. If I had given in to those feelings I wouldn’t have been alive today to raise my 5 beautiful children, save lives at work, and open my home to give hope to an orphan. I chose life, and because of that I gave myself the opportunity to positively impact so many that will come after me, just like the men and women impact me so deeply. There is a community for you, there is help, and the first step is just reaching out.

If you need someone to talk to, someone trained with resources to ACTUALLY help you out, call Call 1-800-273-8255. National Suicide Hotline saves lives. People care. I care, and you are not alone.

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Stephanie is a nurse, mother, and advocate. Follow us on Facebook Here.