|Outside the Dream Center, located in the old Queen of Angels hospital|
One of the opportunities we had (in addition to visiting with the homeless on Skid Row and helping with clothing distribution) was to go out on home visits to families participating in the Foster Care Intervention Program. In a nutshell, families that are on the edge of being split apart and having their children sent to foster care receive help in getting back on their feet. These are families that would lose their kids for reasons such as inadequate housing, lack of proper food, etc. (not instances where there is any abuse). Sometimes all they need is something as simple as a crib for their baby. We visited several families before winding up in the apartment of a single mom who rocked my world.
She told us her story, how she wound up supporting her daughter on her own and how close they came to the bottom before receiving help from loving people in their church and the Dream Center. What got me, though, was when she asked us if she could share with us "her verse" - the verse she had claimed for her little family and the promises they clung to.
Of course it was my passage from Jeremiah that inspired my OneWord2013.
This amazingly strong, determined woman shared with us how they felt rocked by the winds. There was so much insecurity in their world, but she dreamed of a time when they were able to stand tall. Like an oak tree in the wind, maybe blown about a bit but securely rooted into the ground. The tree was a safe place to run to, to take shelter from the storms of life. She hoped that her home - when she someday had a home of her own - would be a place that provided safe harbor. That because they were firmly rooted, others would be protected.
That encounter rocked me. That thousands of miles apart, God would bring this woman and I together in such a special, personal way. When we got home, I found this necklace to remind me. To remind me to pray for her, for her daughter, and for myself. That we'd all seek to grow deep roots not only for our own security but for the security of others who come behind us, as rootless as we had been.