A full house yet again; four families in transitional housing,  four families in the rotation through the congregations.  All the holiday decorations have been put away until next year.  I tossed the last of the gift boxes today in the recycle bin, kids are all back in school, and routines are back in gear. Also back in gear are the normal complexities of community living, 15 people, 15 schedules, tensions and stresses that come along with each family system and that are especially transparent in families in a situation of homelessness,  living out their lives surrounded by people 24/7.   Additional people, who along with them are doing the tough stuff to get their own family back into permanent housing.  Additional people who help set goals, budgets, make referrals for support services, people who monitor their savings progress and spending patterns, and hold them accountable for action items to achieve their family goals.
It is quite common for the families in the program to ebb and flow between holding it together and letting it all out.  They ebb and flow between hope and feeling as if they’ve permanently slipped into a pit.  They ebb and flow between anger, frustration and anxiety and joy, trust and peace.  This is not terribly different than the  dynamics in my own family.  This is not different than any family that comes to offer service at a hosting congregation.  The difference is that the ebb and flow for the families enrolled in the program, is that it all is played out in front of 3 other families, staff and volunteers each day (24/7) that they are in the Family Promise program.
Frequently after work, when the day brings facilitation of a family disagreement, or listening to an issue, helping to find that peaceful understanding and agreement, or working through tough bill payments and budgeting, or merely listening, I wonder  how would I handle all the stress and rigor of this program.  I wonder how my family would handle our own disagreements, meltdowns, stresses, the homework, the work schedules, the parenting issues, a social life, marriage arguments, etc , if all of life was carried out in front of other people?  When I reflect along these lines, I am humbled yet again by the courage of the parents who come into the program.  They endure the tough stuff, the rigor and the stress of the program to get their family to a different place, to a more stable financial situation, and hopefully along the way, a more peaceful,  holistic and healthy path of life; mind, body and spirit.     That is true courage and stamina.
Each person is a beautiful reflection of God.  Each person also has something to share with us.  It is a joy and privilege to work with these strong, courageous families during their time of struggle.  I am blessed by the learning they share with me. Even the youngest members, have touched my heart with rich, deep timeless lessons of love and hope, of trust and faith.   It is a joy and privilege to work with our network of volunteers, who willingly give of their time, talents and financial support to help make this world a bit brighter for families experiencing homelessness.  It is a joy and privilege to be a small part of God’s kingdom justice and to watch His work and His plans.
I want to ask you to keep Family Promise of Lawrence in your prayers this year.  If there are some of you, who would like to make a covenant with us to pray for the families, the hosting congregations, the volunteers and the staff, please let me know.  We are going to print up some prayer needs, lists, and guides for the year, and can get these out to you through an email listing.   It is a privilege for me to ask this of you, and to know without any doubt that Family Promise of Lawrence network will pray with us for the guests, all the families, the thousand + volunteers, the board and staff.
Thank you so very much for your prayers, service, time and financial support.
“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. “  Is 40:28-31 (NIV)