November Bits of Thanksgivings from FPL
I feel as if time has zipped by so quickly, that suddenly I opened my eyes this morning and it is fall – and perhaps winter later this week if I believe my weather channel app!

So here we are moving quickly to one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, and I thought I’d write a few thanksgivings from the perspective of the Lawrence Family Promise Network:

We are thankful for:
* The opportunity to serve families in need and the blessing it is to do so.
* Over 1000 volunteers who serve families in need in our community – every evening and every night of the year.
* 35 communities of faith willing to serve in our community, by offering space in their own building, or coming alongside other faith communities who have the space to host.
* The joyful eyes of the children that great staff every morning, even when they are so tired.
* The sharing of stories between guests and hosts alike, and the change that takes place because relationships are built.
* The volunteers that were former guests.
* The honor of walking alongside people in a tough chapter of life, and knowing they will be there to walk alongside someone else in the future.
* The generosity of the residents in our community that make this all possible.
* The birth of a baby this month that reminds us of the urgency of this work.
* The enormity of God’s love and the creativity in how it is expressed in a myriad of beautiful acts of service, kindness, prayers, art, worship, work projects, relationships, errand running, homework help, ride sharing, sports, coffee and tea, through the sharing of meals, encouragement, faithfulness and on and on and on…
* For each of you and your part in this good Kingdom work.
“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.  As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have”  1Thes 1:2 (nlt)

November Family Update:
Year to date, you all have helped 22 families in the rotation and 11 families in the Temporary Housing program.  Currently we are full in the rotation and only have one vacancy in Temporary Housing, which will likely be filled this month.  We have received nearly 300 separate families calling in need of our services as of October 31st.  The need keeps expressing itself dramatically, so we are in the process of looking at expanding services to further address the needs.  Stay tuned for details from our Board of Directors by early 2015!
The current rotation has 4 families, with kids in the age range of 2 weeks old to 14 years of age.  We’ve had 2 new families join only this week, with one of them joining rotation tonight.  ‘
The first week in the program is really difficult.  Picture the courage it takes to come into a program like this, admitting you need some assistance, bringing in your kids into a complete unknown, meeting new people every night, and accepting their kindness and hospitality, living in community with 3 other families, doing chores in a day center, much like you had assigned when you were a kid yourself, having staff involved in what is usually private business, such as finances, health issues, family dynamic issues, keeping up the family schedule, and trying to maintain some sense of normalcy with your own family.

One quote from a guest this year that I will never forget, came from a speech, single Mom, Ashley made at our Auction party.  Ashley said, “ Every night we transported our belongings to the churches and all they knew about my family and I was that we were homeless”.

The families who sign up, stick with it, through all the ups and downs, accept the help, always give back to the network in some way through their own love and service, in teaching and modeling hope, faith and love.  They report they come out in a stronger place emotionally and financially because of the people who surrounded them while in rotation, and that nourishes the desires to serve others as well.  These parents and children in the program are heroes.  They are the ones that do the hard work.  The network of volunteers and staff works hard too, but not harder than those in this program.  I frequently marvel at their tenacity and strength in pulling their family through this difficult chapter to arrive once again into permanent housing.  These are amazing people we all are blessed to work alongside.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life….Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.  Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.  Don’t get sidetracked; …” Prov 3:23-27 (nlt)