86: Hope and Reality

86: Hope and Reality

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Hope and Reality

There is a fine line between dreams and reality, it’s up to you to draw it.

~B. Quilliam

Disney World? We’re going to Disney World! Both my kids were beyond ecstatic while I sat there in shock. My brother had just given us our Christmas present: a trip to Disney World. I was a single mom, always broke. I didn’t even have a reliable car to make the long drive from Conyers, Georgia to Orlando, Florida. Before I could thank him, he stated, “There’s only one condition, I get to drive y’all there.”

Both my kids, then six and twelve, adored their uncle. He was still single, so we did a lot of fun stuff together. He was one of my best friends during some very tough years.

Four months later, the four of us piled into my brother’s new, red Ford Escort hatchback and off we went on our magical Disney vacation.

I was extremely tired and worn down. Working, taking care of the kids, constantly being broke, and still healing from a terrible divorce left me feeling hopeless most days. I felt like I was living in a dark tunnel with no end in sight. My lack of education kept me from getting a better paying job. I was thankful for the job I had, but it barely supported three people.

I’d already been through foreclosure and bankruptcy. I lived one paycheck away from eviction all the time. I longed for a break from everything.

Sometimes I’d wish there was a place where single moms like me could go live temporarily while getting specialized help. I needed an education, some counseling, help with budgeting, and a supportive environment that would help me get on my feet.

This trip came at a perfect time. Planning for it lit a flame underneath me, making me feel revived and refreshed before we even pulled out of the driveway.

We stayed at a wonderful resort that had a large pool with slides and diving boards where my twelve-year-old son played when we weren’t at Disney World. There was also a large playground near the pool that my daughter loved. I found my special place on the porch of an inviting out-building located between the pool and playground.

This building had a huge covered, wraparound porch with wooden rocking chairs all around. You could get fresh towels after swimming or a refreshing drink. Or you could simply sit on the porch out of the sun like I did.

This place was perfect because I could see both of my kids on either side and still talk to them while I sat in a rocker on this huge porch.

This was the first restful time I’d had in so long. I felt safe and at peace. My kids were playing happily. I sat and rocked, enjoying my surroundings, as the burdens I’d been carrying drifted away with the balmy breezes.

While sitting there wishing this moment wouldn’t end, I was startled by a vision. I saw a large house with a big wraparound porch and rocking chairs. I can remember to this day saying under my breath, “I wish other single moms who are hurting and in need could feel what I feel right now.” Then I thought, “There needs to be a place where struggling single moms can go for a break and receive help getting back on their feet.” Every time I’d sit in this spot while my kids played, the vision flooded my mind.

When we got home, life returned to the usual stress level. Months and years passed, and we lived through one crisis after another.

Sometimes I shared my vision, but only with a few people. I prayed often about it, feeling that this vision had come from God. He’d have to be the one to fulfill it because I sure didn’t have the means to pursue such a venture.

Then life took over, years passed and the kids grew up. I remarried and started a new life learning how to be a wife again. I always wondered what that initial vision and idea for this type of ministry meant. There were times I thought, “Oh, that was just a silly idea you had because of where you were in life. People won’t support it.”

Even when I put it on the back burner and tried to forget about it, it would resurface. I’d share it with someone, and they’d say what a tremendous need it would fill. One day I even shared it with my pastor, who agreed it was a good idea. But I’d always get wrapped up in my life again and let it go.

One day when my husband and I came home from out of town, there was a message on our answering machine. A woman’s voice explained she’d gotten my number from our pastor. We went to the same church but had never met.

She went on to explain the purpose of her call. She and her husband were purchasing some property with a house on it. They were buying the property to specifically be used for ministry, but weren’t sure what yet. She further explained that our pastor had shared with her my vision, and she hoped it was okay that he gave her my number.

When I returned her call, she wanted me to go see the property and let her know what I thought. She gave me the address adding, “It’s a big yellow house with a full wraparound covered porch.” She had me at “wraparound.” I asked God, “Is this You?”

I drove to the property full of anticipation. When I pulled into the driveway and caught a glimpse of the house, my heart fluttered and stomach did flip-flops.

I slowly pulled up, taking it all in. “Wow,” was all I could say. I stepped onto the wide covered porch that wrapped all the way around the house.

I slowly walked around the porch, gazing at the woods, peeking through large windows, remembering my vision from eighteen years earlier. Through a rush of emotions, I knew it wasn’t a silly dream, but something real and tangible.

The covered porch was massive, and I thought, “Plenty of room for rockers and patio furniture where single moms can rest while planning the course of their lives as their children safely play on the seven-plus acres.”

Today, that vision is a 501(c)(3), non-profit ministry to single moms. In early 2015 we hope to take our first four single-mom families into a residential program where they can receive a little help getting back on their feet by going to college, getting better jobs, learning parenting skills, getting counseling, joining support groups and becoming strong family units.

Now I know my nineteen-year, single-mom journey, with its struggles, triumphs, joys and sorrows will not be wasted. This is God’s vision, His dream, and it continues to unfold day by day. I can’t wait to see what He does next.

~Terri Webster

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