Home Sweet Home

Last week was a humbling reminder of the challenges our community faces when it comes to housing and transitioning to independent living. It's not always sweet, but it is a little easier when you have someone in your corner.

Jenny is counting down the weeks until she turns 18. It's usually such a celebrated birthday, but this one is different. She's trying to figure out how to stay in school, provide for a child with special needs, work, and look for an apartment when nobody will consider her just yet because she isn't 18. She's racing against the clock.

18 is when she has to be out.

Out of her family's home and on her own.

She is scared.

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Caitlin connected with me through a local church. She is in an unsafe situation with her 8-month old son, and has nowhere to turn. Every call we make is met with the same answer, "We don't have space".

She looks to me for answers I don't have.

There is anger and there are tears. I am quiet and listen as she asks why nobody will help her.

She is weary.

Five years ago, Danae gave birth and shortly thereafter applied for housing. She has been couch surfing and still managed to graduate from high school. On top of that she has been dealing with the foster care system and fighting deep depression.

Last week she received the call...there is an apartment.

She says she will no longer have to worry about her physical safety or who is going through her things. This apartment means she is one step closer to reunification with her child.

She proudly tells me the local pantry helped her fill her cupboards, but she has no way to open the cans of food.

It doesn't seem like a big deal to purchase a can opener except she depleted her savings to get into this apartment.

She is stumped.

Three different girls. Three different stories related to housing. The girls have been working on goals during our life skills courses. They are learning to pull trusted friends into the mix to help rework the plan when they encounter obstacles. Oftentimes the girls pull in mentors.

A mentor encourages her to stay the course and offers to look at apartments together.

A mentor encourages her to make one more call after hearing no ten times.

A mentor hears about food insecurity and says, let’s go to the pantry together and makes sure she has a can opener.

Several girls are waiting for a mentor.

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Maybe that mentor is you.

Be sure to join us on October 11 from 6:00-8:00 PM to learn more about mentoring or getting involved at Grace’s Table. Come check out our space and learn how you can impact young families in West Michigan!

Looking forward to seeing you next week!

Mentoring through Storms

It started out a quiet Sunday evening. Doing a bedtime routine that I had done hundreds, maybe thousands of times before, but not finding rest after the lights were turned off as I would normally. Then the text came through… “Are you awake?”
 
Not far away, storms were descending upon the city and warnings abounded. Lightning lit up the sky, thunder crashed, and the wind howled. And a young mom, still not used to living on her own, reached out. “I hate thunderstorms.” 
 
Throughout our texts back and forth, I sent updates of what the radar looked like online, as well as where the warnings and worst of the storm was to help calm nerves. We talked about praying and finding a song that would be a comfort and calming in the midst of the chaos happening outside. But then I remembered the story of Jesus calming the storm and sent that along. {Matthew 8:23-27} 
 
Sometimes the fierce storms come up on us quickly. Yet there are other times we can see them coming from miles away… and can’t seem to change the fact that the storm feels like it is coming for us, no matter the path we choose. As Matthew shows us in this story, Jesus is always there… and will rebuke the wind and the waves. But we need to keep our faith that He is there to protect us no matter the how the storm rages and the chaos envelops us. 

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Today it was a literal thunderstorm, but tomorrow it could be unexpected car repairs or needing to find a new place to live.

And sometimes, for young moms or even those with years of life experience, knowing that you have someone that has taken the road before us, providing wisdom surrounding the storms we encounter in our lives and reminding us that our Savior is there beside us each step of the way, can make all the difference.
 
As a follower of Christ, I love that He has brought me to Grace’s Table to share my life with these women. In doing life with them, I can share my experiences and my faith. And hopefully, I can show them, even through the storms I’ve encountered, that God has been by my side the whole time. 

Julie
Mentor at Grace's Table

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Julie, also known as Aunt JuJu to her nephews & niece, has been a partner of Grace's Table for several years, and moved into mentoring a little over a year ago. In addition to mentoring she offers support and guidance during tax season for our families. Julie is a Compliance Manager with LVZ Advisors, Inc., and a genealogy guru! As a member of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, she has recently taken on the role of Editor of the Michigana - a quarterly magazine of the Western Michigan Genealogy Society. In her free time, she enjoys researching genealogy, digital photography, writing, reading, and playing board games.

You Made it Happen!

Mia experienced a lot as a young child. In her words, “Growing up I experienced things nobody, certainly no child, should ever have to experience. I needed my mother, but we all ended up separated.” Today Mia is the mother of a 1-year old bundle of joy, and a 5-year old determined and helpful Kindergartner. She is raising her children, working, and going to school to earn her diploma. It keeps her busy. 
 
Even though she has reconnected with her mother, she admits she needs someone to encourage her to keep going, to show her the way, and help her stay on track. Mia is experiencing loneliness and longing for connection. She would love to have a Mentor. With all she is handling she has found it hard to get to church and often prays that God would help her find a way to connect to Him.
 
One day an invitation to Grace’s Table showed up on her phone.

 
 This was what Mia saw on her phone.

This was what Mia saw on her phone.

 

It talked about community and looked like something she might enjoy. She took a chance, accepted the invitation, and then bravely rang our doorbell. We helped her get acclimated to our space as we did a walk through. Her eyes lit up when she saw Room to Grow – our new area for kids and she questioned,

"who built this place?"

I shared with her that YOU made it happen. Because YOU believe in the power of community, teen mothers, their kiddos, and their futures YOU said yes to building a space where they could be empowered, educated, and encouraged in their faith. 

After her kiddos were settled in and playing, we headed to join the group for Bible study. After our time together, she shared the following, “I feel like this is an answer to my prayers. I’ve needed this and been asking God for something. Maybe this is it.” 

Maybe it is, Mia!

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Today, I want to thank YOU for being part of God's provision in Mia’s life. When you said YES to building Room to Grow at  Grace’s Table you invested in this young girl who would one day walk through the door and find something she had been looking for... a place to connect with God and community. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Grace & Peace,
Lisa

P.S. Here is a tiny glimpse of a before and after picture of Room to Grow, but let's plan a time for you to visit and see it in all it's glory. 

What are the Chances?

This summer I had the opportunity to vacation with some of my family. I spent time reading, planning, connecting with loved ones, and enjoyed letting the waves wash over me (and take me out a couple times).
 
One evening my Dad shared stories from the PAC Tour he rode in 1996. This was ranked as one of the most difficult bicycling tours in the world! He rode his bike coast to coast, a total of 2,884 miles with 75,000 feet of climbing in 23 consecutive days. 
 
He told us that on the first day of the ride he was in trouble when the bearings in his front wheel began to make a lot of noise. Biking downhill at 45 mph was precarious at best. 
 
Can you imagine? 
 
His team leader wasn’t able to fix the issue because the parts needed were for an advanced wheel and not likely to be found in this tiny, remote town near the Mexican border. A Connecticut-based engineer from Spinergy, the manufacturer of my Dad’s wheel, happened to be checking in for the night and took interest in all the cyclists and learned of the issue at hand. 
 
What are the chances?!
 
The engineer happened to be waiting for an associate from a plant in Mexico, who would accompany him to a bicycle show in California the next day. He diagnosed the problem and called his associate who brought the parts from Mexico. The engineer went the extra mile to repair the wheel that night.
 
Again, what are the chances?!
 
22 years later my Dad was sharing this story with his Grandkids during our vacation, but this story wasn’t about chances. 
 
This story was about a God who provides before we know there is a need.
 
I often times find myself asking, “What are the chances?”, but listening to my Dad recount this experience reminded me of God’s provision, and encouraged me to be looking for it and being grateful.
 
There are so many stories of provision in the life of Grace’s Table, and I look forward to sharing them with you!

 
Have you seen God’s provision in your life this summer? Tell us about it!
 
Grace & Peace,
Lisa

P.S. Did you hear? Our family is growing!




An Unforgettable Gift

This Mother's Day, you can give one mother an unforgettable gift; sponsor her Mother's Day celebration

Last year Douglas' Mama began attending Bible Study at Grace's Table on Tuesday nights. She asked thoughtful questions about her budding relationship with God, and tender questions about her ever changing body and upcoming delivery. Last week, at just 34.5 weeks along, she delivered a 5 pound 8 ounce little guy - Douglas! The doctors and staff are making sure his lungs get good and strong before he heads home to find his new normal with his precious Mama. This birth will make Mother's Day all the sweeter for her and our community!

When you sponsor Mother's Day for Douglas' Mama, or one of her friends, she will experience an evening full of laughter, creativity, and fun! 

We keep our exact plans for Mother's Day "top secret" because we don't want to spoil the surprise for any Mamas. Check out the pictures below for a recap of last year's celebration!

Remember that your act of kindness can, and will, make her Mother's Day!

Will you join us this year by sponsoring our Mother's Day celebration?

Thank you for making this special experience possible!