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Monday, March 22, 2010

She Remembers.

The Garden is a ministry in Atlanta that provides homeless women and children with temporary shelter while they find jobs and permanent housing. The ministry assists the women in both spiritual and professional development. Jason Sebren, the outreach pastor at The Vine, has a special heart for this ministry and has been working with The Garden for quite some time. It is indeed a very special place.

I have had the privilege of leading the ladies in a few of their Monday night Bible study sessions. They are such beautiful women. Their stories of trials, perseverance, faith, and strength will truly melt your heart.

LuvBug Photography. Copyright 2010

Belle Marie is a woman that could easily be a co-worker of yours or mine. A woman working as the principal of a school who fell ill and after a time, her insurance and disability ran out. She had nowhere else to go. Zu is a beautiful soul who left the life she knew out West to come here to start over with her children. The temptation and influences at home were too great. She walked away from everything to make a new life for herself and for her 2 small children.

These women could be any of us. Statistics show that most Americans are one to two paychecks away from being homeless if financial disaster struck.

And sometimes, it strikes.

And sometimes, leaving everything behind is worth it to make a new, safe, honest life.

LuvBug Photography. Copyright 2010

He makes all things new.

During my first trip to The Garden, when I nervously spoke to the women with a message on that very Scripture, I shared a small portion of my testimony. Part of my story involves a song that holds deep meaning for me in my journey. It was the song that moved me to walk down the aisle at 11 years old to accept Christ.

"In moments like these, I sing out a song,
I sing out a love song to Jesus.
In moments like these, I lift up my hands,
I lift up my hands to the Lord.
Singing I love you, Lord…
I love you, Lord...I love you Lord…
I love you, Lord. I love you."

A simple chorus with a beautiful melody. A song I would never again hear until 20 years later, after running from God for twelve years. Nine years ago, driving home from a bar in the middle of the night, there it was on my radio. And everything changed.  I found my way back Home.

He makes all things new.

At the Garden that Monday night a few months ago, we all sang the song together. It was beautiful to hear their voices lift to Him such a sweet love song. I was so nervous that first time at The Garden, and I left feeling disappointed in myself.  For the most part, it seemed that the women weren’t very responsive. I felt as though I had failed to connect and that I didn’t make any real impact.

Fast forward to last month. The Vine sent a team to The Garden just before Valentine’s Day to lavish some love on these women and children in a very special way. On a special Saturday, the kids did crafts, played on inflatables, and enjoyed lots of fun games. The women were treated to a day at the salon – we did their nails, had a team of hairdressers to do their hair, and a team of makeup artists did their makeup. Here’s the really cool part: Jason’s wife, Nikki is an incredible photographer (LuvBug Photography, check her out!), and she took their pictures. You see, these women have lost nearly everything on the streets, including their family pictures. Think about what your family photographs mean to you.

Consuela, a shelter guest at The Garden, sat down at our nail table and extended her hand while I did her nails. As I held her hand to start her manicure, she began to sing…

“In moments like these, I sing out a song…I sing out a love song to Jesus...”

I didn’t recognize her.  I didn't make the connection. I said, “Hey, I know that song, and I love it.” She said, “Yes, I know. You taught it to us a few months ago, and now I sing it every day. Do you remember?”

Do I remember? Yes, I remember. I couldn’t believe SHE remembered.

God WILL make Himself known. Whether we “feel” it or not, His Word brings impact.  It truly is the sword that cuts through the darkness.  The darkness that falls when you have no home of your own.  His Word cut through her darkness.  And mine.

He opens ears and hearts and minds when His love is shown and when Truth is shared. It doesn’t matter if we feel it. It’s there. And they remember. 

I remember.

She remembers.
LuvBug Photography. Copyright 2010
  *Photographs included with express permission of LuvBug Photography.


Mom said...

Melissa, I remember so well you sharing this story with me about The Vine's Valentines Day special celebration for the dear ladies and children at The Garden. I was so blessed as you told each and every story in such detail of how each and every lady was pampered beyond words and of the children's fun day as well. You too told me how "She Remembered."
Melissa, I am so happy you are sharing this story in your blog. I truly believe with all my heart you are being used of God as an instrument of grace not only in my life but in the lives of others. Those who have had the priviledge of meeting you in person and for those who are meeting you through your blog. And on an added note the pictures of these precious ladies and the children are beautiful. Their faces and smiles melted my heart.
I love you so much and am so very proud of you!!!!!!!!!!

Julie said...

Melissa, this is beautiful... absolutely beautiful!