The number one question folks ask Monty and I is, "how do you chose the families you help?"
Our answer is always the same, "we don't -- God does!"
Let me unfold a story for you that will prove our statement. The family in this story will remain anonymous and as you read you will understand why but might also be able to figure out which one I am talking about.
Over a year ago we met a family who had lost everything. Nothing new, right? Their house had nearly 7 feet of water inside and they had done what they could to fix things. Some of the walls were already sheetrocked and painted and others were a mess. The kitchen was only stud walls and the electric was shot. Through months and months of paperwork preparation and delays that we couldn't understand the time finally came when we had funding in place and were ready to send in volunteers.
Week by week and month by month they went in and did whatever needed to be done. The girls learned to paint, the son helped out by crawling underneath the house to do electric that no one else wanted to do, the dad wouldn't quit working and both parents would transform things seemingly overnight working nearly until dawn.
I fell in love with these children, how could you not? When NBC Nightly News came and interviewed us for their "Making A Difference" segment they asked us if we had a family they could talk with and a home where they could take some pictures. (By now you've got it figured out) :) This family was "the one" and they were amazing! A smile and wave from a 4 year old little girl that could melt frozen butter ended the segment.
After 6 months of working on their home we finally got to pronounce it "done" and had a house blessing with nearly 70 people standing on their front deck just waiting to give them a hug and see their new home.
We have continued to keep in touch with them. I see the kids getting off the school bus many times and they always wave. We took baskets of small gifts to them on Christmas. On Valentine's day they came to our trailer with a red rose and my heart melted.
Each time we see them we are greeted with huge hugs and smiles!
About a month ago another friend called me to say that some very special funding had been released -- "respite" funds. I didn't even know what that meant but it means "rest and relaxation for those who have suffered amazing loss after a disaster." This friend asked me if I had a few families that would qualify?? She knew who to call !!
This family was the first to come to my mind. When I made the visit to talk with them they admitted that they had never been on a vacation! The oldest child is 14 so you do the math! When my friend and I talked about the possibility of being able to take a trip they all 7 immediately agreed they wanted to go horseback riding! I was surprised but remembered how interested they had been when Monty and I took some time over Christmas and did just that in Bandera, Texas.
They decided they wanted to go to the same ranch we had taken an afternoon ride at. I did some internet research, called the ranch owner and we put the package together. I also made a phone call to the manager to explain the details of how this trip was coming about. She immediately got on board and decided to make this a vacation of a lifetime for this family! They threw in a photo package for the family, decided to take them all to dinner for one night and to give them some riding lessons and let them ride for as many hours as they were in a day if they wanted to!
The committee with the funding approved our request and this was the weekend they went! I would have given anything to have been a mouse and seen their smiles and heard their laughter! (They actually asked us to go along with them but we said this was a trip they needed to do as a family!)
And now the icing on the cake -- God at His best -- I just received an email from the ranch manager, Diane, who was not only telling me how awesome the weekend was but --- they decided to "adopt" this family for the upcoming holidays! They will be bringing the entire family back to the ranch for a free weekend over the holidays! And I know there will be certain "surprises" awaiting their arrival!
As I read her email my eyes were filled with tears -- of joy! Watching God move -- knowing how awesome He is -- the reaffirming of His calling on our lives -- it's impossible to really put into words! What an awesome God we serve and how blessed we are to serve Him!
I hope this touched your heart as well! We never know God's ultimate plan. We never know how He can take some small act of kindness and expand it to reach to seemingly impossible lengths! This family has now touched even more lives -- an entire ranch full! And in doing so they themselves have been touched and have had their family expanded once again.
All God ever asks us to do is love others! So simple yet we make it so complicated!
Simplify your own life ---- love someone today!
Our thanks to the Running R Ranch in Bandera, Texas! If you yourself ever decide to go to a ranch and do some riding ---- they'll be ready!
Until next time . . . Susan and Monty