If you follow me on Facebook, then you know what a wild 24 hours it has been. Last night, I thought it would be a fun little experiment to invite some others to join me in contributing a few items to our church’s soon to be opened foster pantry, a place where families can get the items they need in those few hours between the placement call and a child or children arriving. I was floored, I suppose I still am, by the outpouring of support. Who knew the Spirit could claim virtual ground and call it holy? This is what the Lord gathered from among His people in a day’s time:
11 Stuffed Animals
10 Jesus Storybook Bibles
6 travel bags
5 binders/sets of sheet protectors for medical documents
4 bouncy seats
4 fuzzy cover children’s Bibles
2 single strollers
2 double strollers
2 car seats
2 booster seats
2 baby wraps
2 pack n plays
2 sets of bottles
$200 for diapers and wipes
$100 for necessities and toiletries
Hallelujah. Amen. Glad and generous hearts.
In many ways, I’m still speechless at the thought of what occurred, but one part is crystal clear to me, urgent in its message. I want each of you who have prayed for our family, who have lifted Gabe up and strengthened our tired hearts and grasped our hands in our grief…I want you to know that the love, food, encouragement, lawn care, notes, gift cards, chalk messages and more that have been poured out on our family were the catalyst that made the foster pantry drive a reality.
You see, less than a week ago I could barely even look at my phone. My brain was so overwhelmed and tired, just reading an email gave me a headache. I couldn’t engage social media, couldn’t ponder the articles, or engage the discussions. I had no space for imagination. I couldn’t pull my mind away from the difficulty of our story, from the fears and uncertainty abounding. But then you all happened.
And you filled us up not just to surviving but to the hope of thriving. And my mind had the freedom to dream and create, and along came the idea to collaboratively add a car seat or two to the pantry collection (oh me of little faith).
I want you to know that not just foster children will be blessed, but even my children are the better for all of this – for the constant visuals of what it is to serve and be served, for a mom who can smile and laugh because she’s confident she is cared for, for the growing awareness of the interwoven cycle that is life in the Body of Christ – pouring out, pouring in, suffering, rejoicing, sometimes all of it at once.
It’s been six days since we received the news about Gabe, since you all mobilized into action and showed us the hands and feet of Christ. I want you to know that I recognize your role, that your love for Gabe has spilled over into love for the orphan and nothing could thrill my heart more. Thank you for loving us so mightily that the amount could not absorbed the four people in our home. The force of it propelled us forward, propelled love forward, spilling over to touch the lives of dozens, hundreds perhaps.
Tonight, the evening before the one week anniversary of learning so much that explains so little, I am hard pressed to find room in my heart for anything but gratitude. And while the anger and grief and sadness will surely swell once more, the memory of a week like this, a week filled up and pouring over, will never be forgotten, will sustain when the darkness looms long. You have been agents of His light, His love, His peace. We are able to be us, to find wholeness, because of His outpouring through you. And so tonight, we watch in wonder, soaking up all He has done and continues to do. And we rejoice.
(Anyone still interested in donating to the pantry can Venmo me at Abby-Perry or PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org. Email for mailing address for checks. Funds will go toward most needed items at the time, likely diapers, wipes, etc.)