Defend the Fatherless

For months I prayed over this day...

The day had come, it was the Grace's Table Christmas Celebration.

Volunteers gathered and we prayed that Jesus would be known and that the girls would walk away from this night knowing more about their value, and we left it in His hands.

We took family pictures and checked little ones into childcare, and then the mamas gathered in front of a special door. A door that led to a fine dining experience and so much more.

The door was opened, and there were squeals of delight, gasps for air, and hands flung to cover their faces, because it really was a site to behold. And then she asked...

"Is this really for us?"

Yes, sweet girl, this is all for you. 

And the tone for the evening was set. From family pictures and amazing childcare, to a 4-course meals that is still being talked about, to a portion of the night where we affirmed value - these mamas know they are loved!

Later in the evening each of the girls were given a gift of a mirror. Ms. Karla, one of our volunteers shares the following...

"My favorite part was when we gave each girl, one-by-one, a mirror to look into and then told them all the magnificent things about them and their unlimited potential."

Many of the words they heard that night had been shared by their peers. We collected them and added some affirmations and then had the privilege of speaking truth into their lives.

How did the moms feel about this? One mama shares...

“I’ve never felt so loved and appreciated before in my life until last night”

Thank you to our Christmas Angels, Partners, Sponsors, and Volunteers. You made this night possible and our hearts are filled with gratitude!

Merry Christmas!

Lisa E. Anderson
Founder of Grace's Table

P.S. If you are celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with us - You have helped us raise One Partridge in a Pear Tree, Two Turtle Doves, and Three French Hens. THANK YOU! Today is Four Calling Birds ($600), almost the equivalent of a month of Life Skills Courses. Grab some friends and see if you can help us reach today's goal.

Moments that change you

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Yesterday our visit took place at Helen Devos Children's Hospital. We met with her primary doctor, and the neurological team. They shared that while they have been doing everything they can to ease the seizures, and Detroit Children's Hospital had done everything they could, the MRI revealed images that nobody wants to see for their child. Words like fluid on the brain, atrophy, hospice all hung heavy in the room. She silently listened, never breaking her loving gaze from her 9-month old sweet one. 

Many of you have been praying for months that the seizures would subside and health be restored and this remains our prayer. When this little family found themselves alone in Detroit, friends and family from JJ's House and Grace Christian Church  surrounded them and welcomed them into community through prayer, meals, and visits. For this I am eternally grateful. We do not know what the future holds, but Jesus remains our hope and anchor.

So much of what we do at Grace's Table is focused on new life. We celebrate births and milestones, and we cheer on the change that is taking place in our lives. We have the incredible privilege of meeting girls right where they are and learning their stories, and let me tell you that not one life that has walked through these doors, or met me for a meal or a hug on the street has left me the same. They change you. You ache with them something awful, you cry tears that do not stop, and you love them fiercely because as mentioned before, we never know how long we will have with them. And at the end of the day we find ourselves flat on our face before Jesus because the life that has been lived is too much to carry on our own. We cry out to Him, and ask for healing and peace, for answers that may never come, and we ask Him to fill the space that has been left in the hearts of these women and children that only He can fill. We pray that in the moments, the conversations, the celebration and the grieving that they would know Him. Then we ask that He fill us again so that tomorrow we can go out and do it all over again. 

Today, I ask that you will stop what you are doing and pray for this family, for miraculous healing, restoration, wisdom, and a network of people right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan to hold this family close. It is with deep and sincere gratitude that I thank you all, near and far, for keeping us in your prayers.

It Takes A Village

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If you would have been in this space tonight you would have heard and seen so much and I am convinced your heart would have burst from the beauty. It's impossible to contain the joy and love and sadness and joy that all exist within this space. 

The sounds alone are incredible. The squealing delight of little girls that is so high pitched your ears might just bleed a little. Or the cooing of a two month old little boy who has so much to say he can't possibly get it all out. A mama speaking in Spanish to her son and he responds and their conversation is seriously music to my ears, but then it is what I see that moves me to tears. 

A mama who gets down on her daughter's level to provide guidance and when she doesn't listen she redirects her out of the room to sit in another room and take a break. Not only did this mama do this one time, but three times and when patience was wearing thin, this mama chose to walk away because she needed a break and what happened next is more than I could have asked for. 

A mama follows the mama to encourage her and cheer her on. Another mama steps in to take over where one had left off and every mama in this house shifted to a new space. The space where she now needed to be. It was like everyone knew exactly what their part was in this village. In this tribe where mamas love one another and each other's children. Where nobody was threatened by anyone else helping them or their children. This was a beautiful picture of not just community, but FAMILY. 

Where encouragement amongst mamas ended in prayers for strength right there on the porch and love and community was not only sensed, but experienced. This is what we are about. This space is a foundation in the lives of many. This place represents stability. This space is love. 

 

Because of you

Last week during dinner a young lady began sharing her story of becoming a mama at fifteen and what that journey has looked like over the past four years.

You see our table presented a safe space for this precious mama to begin sharing about the tragedies, traumas, and deep wounds she carries with her each and every day. This table where meals are shared was a place that she felt free to exhale. This family she has said yes to was a place where she could begin sharing her story. A place where she chose vulnerability and offered us her sacred story in exchange for being known and I believe the hope of healing to begin taking place. 

Each week families come through our doors searching for something to connect to, something to call their own, a safe place in the midst of the chaos where the noise can be dimmed and they can experience peace and love in a family environment. 

This is possible because of you. The meals that you lovingly prepare, the donations gifted and connections you have helped us forge are the things that make it possible for us to gather our family together into community and we want to say THANK YOU!! Thank you for helping us create the space to love families well. We are truly bursting with gratitude for each of you.

Something Holy

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This morning a friend posted a blog entry from A Holy Experience and the words on family gripped my heart. Somehow they put pen to paper and described my heartbeat for this family we are building Around the Table. 

And we aren’t merely born into families, families are born out of our reaching out and holding on and serving anyways and giving always. Giving always.

That’s what family means: People love you & keep on holding on to you especially when you’re not lovable.

It’s not only the blood in our veins that make us family — it’s the blood and sacrifice in our days that makes us a family.

Every time we make time for each other, we make family.

Family is a verb. Family is not just what we are, it’s something that we actively keep on making.

Something holy is happening in this space at 835. Family is being built and when we talk about putting other's needs before our own it is happening: you to teen mom, me to you, teen mom to teen mom, and teen mom to me. This beautiful family is learning what it means to be family. It is not easy, it is not always fun, but oh to be known and come home to a space where you know your family is waiting for you and welcoming you with great anticipation. I pray that you would know this love, this family that breaks our heart and also makes it beat strong. There is so much beauty here.