Sometimes I Cry

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Sometimes I Cry … When I can’t do nothing else.

It’s the truth, and though it sounds depressing…it’s rather freeing.

I’ve been trying to figure out HOW to blog over this past week when all I have on my mind are things that I can’t say because ofGod comes to you confidentiality or because certain things are hitting a tender place in my heart that I don’t know how to be as objective as I know ‘you’ the reader deserve.

So many new people have come into the headquarters along with their own version of injustice, hardship, suffering and despair. Stories that even make me cringe inside and I’ve gone through, and or heard, most every unimaginable abuse known (or so I once thought).

The evil in this world doesn’t surprise me anymore…unfortunately. But what keeps me going is the absolute resilience of people. I have looked into the creation of God who have suffered the most unimaginable evils not once, not twice, but multiple times and in multiple ways and yet they still make it to my couch with that sliver of HOPE.

Praise God!

It is a lot to hear but with God’s GRACE it’s the resilience and HIS HOPE I see in their eyes that keeps me determined to help Him pull them close because I know without a doubt that one day those unimaginable evils can and will soon be Tears are prayersa chapter in the past.It wasn’t until this weekend when I learned that this ‘mess’ has hit a little too close for comfort in my ‘broad inner circle’ and it thrust me into a vortex I’ve not quite experienced, (well without actually being the victim)…. straight in the middle of victim and accused. I feel disbelief, shock, uncertainty of truth, vindication for the victim, sorrow and at the same time anger toward the accused, and an overwhelming responsibility to the victim to help, especially because of this ‘connection’ and just by saying that, it makes a choice which then splits the act of  ‘betrayal’ down the middle as well. I feel betrayed and I know by saying where I feel I am best to help, then I betray.

I know for many I’m not making sense which is why I haven’t been blogging. I just need to end with two things…the statistics for actual ‘false reports’ of abuse are only 2% out of victims who claim some form of abuse or assault are actually lying. Only 2%.

Last, I am a big Chris Stapleton fan and this weekend when I had to be alone and put this to prayer I found that the only thing that comforted me was to cry. And then I heard this song by Chris Stapleton, “Sometimes I Cry” When I heard the main lyric, “Sometimes I cry when I can’t do nothing else.” it held my truth. Sometimes I can’t really do anything but I can cry for the victim and I can pray:

I’m not depressed. I’ll be fine. I’m just giving you my truth. How do I do this? many have asked me over the years. Well, now you know. 🙂

Blessings

Shannon

Shake It Off

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Taylor Swift has it right … shake it off! 😉 I had the best opportunity to shake it off this past weekend when I went with girlfriends to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It came at the perfect time if you read my last post. Sometimes there is so much awful in this world that it threatens to suffocate my spirit and when it hits close to home, well, it just about sent me over the edge.

provided by quotes gram.com

provided by quotes gram.com

I am a survivor who listens to other survivors and in doing that I am often reminded of the hellacious journey I’ve been on in these past few years. When I went away I was able to put that aside for even the briefest of moments and connect with a part of me that I’m not sure I even realized was fathomable.

Every survivor wants to feel ‘normal’, not the broken one, and for a time I was able to and I enjoyed every second.

I needed this in so many ways for so many reasons and it has rejuvenated me, and most importantly invigorated me to continue to be that positive influence for other survivors to recognize that they can thrive and enjoy life.

 

Now it’s time to get back to life….back to reality. 😉 Does that take you back? I’ll see if I can’t find that song on YouTube and put it in at the bottom just for nostalgia sake.

Now I am in my reality and my heart aches for the survivors I’m working with most recently. Their main struggle is self worth and overcoming all of the ‘crazy’ triggers, insecurities, and emotions that erupt out of the blue. Every survivor I’ve spoken to this week has said, “I know I sound crazy.” or  “I’m sorry, I know I’m wasting your time.” or “This is hard.”

True StrengthYeah, it is hard. No doubt. Life in general without having suffered past trauma is hard. But working through the process, exposing all of the junk that has been left inside, and replacing it with positive affirmations is a must and it is hard because it literally feels like a full spiritual (and at times physical)rehaul. When you’ve gone 25, 35, 40 years feeling ‘not good enough’ or ‘a screw up’ or ‘the cause of ___’ it is an internal makeover to replace the lies with the truth.

The key is making it your choice. Do you want to live a life of misery as a victim? Or do you want to recognize your ‘wildest dreams’ and live life in its richest form knowing happiness from within and embracing every moment of every second?

I know many times it doesn’t feel like a choice but it is. And a choice only YOU can make for YOU.

With God’s unfathomable love, accepting me for me, my mistakes and all, I choose to live and to thrive today. And I will choose this again tomorrow.

What about you?
Blessings

Shannon

Self-Sabotage

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The inner workings of an abuse survivor’s mind is quite complicated. I’m not sure those that haven’t suffered some form of neglect, degradation, trauma, tragedy, sexual assault, violation, etc would not be able to understand. Lately, I’ve been trying to explain these things to a gentleman who has a desire to help the ministry, but has not quite suffered any form of abuse. After three meetings I decided I needed to be up front and reminded him that I was a survivor of abuse, that I still struggled with self-sabotaging thoughts.

SabotageWhen he gave me a list of questions about the ministry, in regards to more of the business side (which consequently is not my strength) my mind would immediately release on an inner attack – “I shouldn’t be doing this. He probably thinks I’m a joke. I’m not sure I have what it takes to do this, I’ll never be enough. It just won’t work. I suck.”

When I explained this to him he was genuinely shocked. “I wasn’t thinking any of those things about you at all. I am impressed with what you’ve done and I’m just trying to look at it from my point of view to understand better what you offer. I always wondered why you said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I should just let it go.’ It didn’t seem like something you’d say, but now I get it.”

My cheeks flamed. I had no idea I’d said that out loud. Embarrassing.

I don’t feel that way. I really don’t. I’m quite confident in what God continues to call me to and I put it into His direction of what I should doing and what steps to take. However, after speaking to him I realized one of my trigger points is that insecurity of not doing something well or right. All of his questions, as harmless and even helpful as they were, triggered that insecurity and without even realizing it I went to the inner dialogue that had been comfortable for so long.

She believed she couldThe positive in this happening, and my courage to let him know the truth to this self-sabotage behavior, is that it helped him to better understand the dynamic of why Hopeful Hearts Ministry is helpful to those who had been abused. That it is very difficult to ‘just get over it’ when talking about many forms of abuse. That our goal is that we can acknowledge it an aspect of our life story but it doesn’t have to take our life.

I know there are many other ways we self-sabotage. For instance, I can also see that I beat myself up when I’m not able to have as much self-discipline as I’d like when it comes to eating certain foods. Or it can get us in the lack of or even over exercising, or our duties as a mother/father, wife/husband.

We must be kinder to ourselves. I’m preaching to ME today. I need to make an extra effort to recognize when these self-sabotaging comments invade my thoughts and STOP, REDIRECT, and PRAISE myself for how far I’ve come.

How about you? Pay attention to the thoughts that swirl about during these next few days… how is it you are self-sabotaging and what triggers it? And join me in taking the next step to breaking the unhealthy habit.

proverbs 31

Blessings

Shannon

Leslie’s Journey – Day 3 Part 2 – Beauty in the Ashes

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As Leslie and I hiked up the path that she had once been tied up and forced to hike up in healed boots, we kept looking ahead almost expecting this ghost of a boogeyman to pop out of nowhere. She kept saying, “It’s like a ghost town…or dream. Surreal to be here again.”

Then she stopped. “Oh my gosh!”

My head still caught in the ‘spookiness’ of the moment, my heart picked up pace quickly. “What? What’s wrong?”

“Look at that, it’s a sign.” She looked at me and I thought she might cry.

There in the middle of dirt, twigs, and burnt lumber from a past forest fire was a small spring bloom. Neither of us know what it is, very well could be a weed, but it didn’t matter. It was beauty in the ashes.

“I have to leave something here.” And she explained what she wanted to do. Now it was me who couldn’t stop the tears. I had her explain for you all:

 

Once she put the charm in it’s resting place we held hands and said a prayer for the other survivors that were with her for that horrific week, as well as for all survivors who are currently struggling to take their life back, and for those that have yet to go through the struggle, that they will know the warmth and comfort of God’s peace despite the horror of the situation.

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Once this was done we started walking a bit more up the mountain and then we heard a rustle.

“I’m done,” she said. And we both booked it back down the path, laughing along the way. We weren’t scared but we weren’t stupid either.

We celebrated with lunch, shopping and later that evening a fantastic meal at the Twin Lakes Lodge with my parents, Tim & Judy McGraw, who had been gracious hosts the entire four days.

Who can resist a sheep dog hat? It's the 'in' thing... ;)

Who can resist a sheep dog hat? It’s the ‘in’ thing…😉

Leslie, Tim, Shannon, and Judy. Thanks again mom and dad!!

Leslie, Tim, Shannon, and Judy. Thanks again Mom and Dad!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a successful trip and one I am honored to have been a part of with Leslie. I pray what you take from Leslie’s example is not so much shoving, stuffing, or ignoring your past, but about facing it, acknowledging it, and giving yourself credit for surviving it…and then move on to thrive. 😉

Blessings

Shannon

Leslie’s Journey Day 3 (Facing the Past and Taking it Back)

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When God wants it to happen He makes the seas divide… sometimes the ‘God-incidences’ of our trip were simply amazing.

God's plan for us

On Friday, Leslie and I planned to go for a drive through the Collegiate Mountains to see if we could just get an idea of where she was held for five days. Before we left, my dad sat down with her and a map of the area. At the same time a man working for my parents to fix up some things in the cabins overheard them talking and offered his assistance. He lived in the area for his entire life and new every back road, hiking trail, etc very well.

From what she described and could remember he pointed to an area of the Collegiate mountains that was only a 10 minute drive away from my parents place in Twin Lakes.

“From what I knew about the Collegiate Mountains, this is the only trail that does what you are telling me. It has to be right here that he took you.” He highlighted the area for us and later that morning we set off to see if it jogged any memory for Leslie.

I wish we had a dashboard camera… from her Day 1 & 2 video she talked about how she remember it being very barren of trees as they drove for awhile up the Collegiate Mountains and then he pulled off into a section of road that went into the trees.

Well, we found it. The spot. The very spot.

This is on the trail Leslie and the others were forced to hike up the mountain, with hands tied.

This is on the trail Leslie and the others were forced to hike up the mountain, with hands tied.

I’ll let her explain, in her own words, what she recalls.

 

Leslie reminisced about how she remembered actively putting this ‘into a box’ (quite literally, she hid the newspaper articles in a box) for decades because of one person, whom she loved, saying to her, ‘Weren’t you embarrassed?’ when she spoke of the ordeal.

This is a view looking up the trail that the abductor took the car and then bottomed it out... making them get out and hike up the rest of the way (Leslie with heeled boots and none of them were dressed for the cold weather)

This is a view looking up the trail that the abductor took the car and then bottomed it out… making them get out and hike up the rest of the way (Leslie with heeled boots and none of them were dressed for the cold weather)

Sometimes people can’t fathom such tragic and horrifying truths and they say things that can hinder someone’s growth. Most often not intentional, but still harmful. Leslie and I both agreed that we realize to those that have not had anything traumatic occur in their life it is difficult to accept as reality and when they have someone like us, that brings it close to home for them, it messes with their inner sense of safety so they will often say inappropriate things almost as a personal comfort.

Tomorrow I will share Leslie’s final reaction to meeting her past head one, what she chose to do to commemorate the moment, and how she feels today.

Blessings

Shannon

Leslie’s Journey Day 1 & 2 of Regaining Her Life

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Wednesday was good to Leslie. An uneventful day… a few nerves wondering what memories or feelings will this journey uncover?

Leslie and I in the airport on our way!

Leslie and I in the airport on our way!

On our two hour drive from Denver to Twin Lakes (where my parents have cabins …which is in-between Bueno Vista and Leadville, Bueno Vista being the place of Leslie’s five day ordeal in the Collegette Mountains) Leslie began to talk about what she remembered of that time.

I would tell her story but this is giving her the courage she needs to tell it on her own. I don’t want to take that away from her so I will stick to her journey of going through this process.

I’ll let her tell you where she is today (Thursday) in her own words:

 

 

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Leslie and I with the Collegiate Mountains behind us, where the five day ordeal took place…we will be venturing there tomorrow, Friday.

 

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Leslie with the Twin Peaks mountains behind her (home of my parent’s cabins)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait till you hear what happened the next day!!!

Blessings

Shannon

Leslie’s Journey – Taking Her Life Back

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How often do we  get through life pushing our past into dark hidden corners, stuffing it into tight spots, shoving it into closets praying no one will ever find the secret fear, shame, and guilt the past harbors?

Survivors of abuse, any abuse, are pro’s at shoving, stuffing, and hiding… and then we are shocked when we realize the ugly remnants of our past have actually seeped out into our reactions and responses over the past 10, 20, 30 years. So we finally talk about it.

taking back your pastOur voice arises from the dark hidden places and much to our surprise we realize how freeing it is to be heard. We desire to conquer the past, to put it behind us once and for all, no longer harboring any undo fear, or guilt and shame that is simply not ours to store and carry.

When this process takes place, this is when the survivor moves to thriver. And it’s a beautiful sight.

This week I have the great honor and blessing of joining one survivor, Leslie, on a journey of taking her life back. She’s unearthed her past, spoken on the various abuses she’s been through and finally wants to face head on the one incident in her life that had held her captive for many years.

LeslieFlakeWe are going to the mountains in Colorado where Leslie was abducted and held for five days. It was around 1984, 24-year-old Leslie applied for a job through an employment agency working for a new car dealership in Amarillo, TX. She was under the impression she was to help go to car auctions and drive them back to the dealership.

Having landed the job, Leslie, along with two other young women and a young man (under age, 17 who had lied about his age to get the job) headed out to Colorado with their employer, David Benz ( who at the time gave a fake name).

Traveling the ten hours to Colorado no one suspected that the man behind the wheel was a convicted kidnapper and rapist. He had escaped from the Pueblo Mental Institute out of Pueblo, CO.

Place a period where God placed a commaFor the next five days these young people were held captive in the mountains of Colorado. And this week, Leslie and I are going back to the area she’d tried to keep hidden in her past for so long.

Join this brave survivor, as she takes back her past and courageously reclaims her present and future.  Where we will be staying might not have the proper internet to be able to post … please stay tuned as I plan to help Leslie capture this time in the way she sees fit to share.

Leslie newspaper story

Blessings

Shannon

Momma’s Don’t Let Your Babies to Grow to be Rapists

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Oh, I’m sorry, am I being a bit sinister? I can’t seem to get that old song tune out of my head “Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” by T.R. Dallas.  I mean, hearing yet another absurd news story about the leniency of a young man’s sentencing for being caught in the act of violating an unconscious woman near the dumpster and his father begging the judge to not allow this 20 minute mistake to ruin his life, accomplishing the said extreme lenient sentence of six months in jail and probation?!?!

Revelation 21 4I stood in my bathroom yesterday morning and stared at my reflection in the mirror willing the unclean words that wanted to come out of my mouth to stay put and dissolve with a grace that well surpasses my human ability.

The first sentence of the survivor’s [and no doubt this woman is a survivor and not a victim] letter to her attacker she let’s it be known in a powerful way how the first second of waking up from that ‘twenty minutes’ is like a lifetime sentence to a sexual assault survivor:

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

She goes on to explain the feeling of waking up in a hospital, not knowing she was in a hospital, wearing a gown and for the first time realizing she had nothing else on but the gown:

“Everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling.”

The BUZZFEED article published this brave young survivor’s letter in full and it is not for me to retell what she so eloquently puts in her OWN VOICE… so please feel free to read her statement in the Buzzfeed article here.

However, what I do wish to address is how in the world did such an ‘accomplished’ Stanford bound young college athlete (apparently a swimmer with Olympic dreams) become so ignorant, heartless, self-serving and blatantly disrespectful?

According to the young survivor’s letter, in response to this young man’s very own statement to the court, he blames the entire incident on alcohol. Alcohol?? Well, he wasn’t too drunk because he remembered the incident, enough to change his story a few times.

But I can’t put into words any better than the survivor herself in response to this claim:

no means no“Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.”

Just common sense, right? Whether or not you are drunk…it’s human decency. This young woman addresses the young man with a simple statement of what human decency might be, even in the worst of situations:

“I want to know, if those evil Swedes [his words] had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.”

Most of you who have been reading this blog over the past eight years know that I have two sons. One is headed into his senior year of high school and the other a sophomore. I got to this point of writing the blog and had to take them both to see the doctor for this horrendous cough they’ve been battling for two months. We got into the car and my mind wouldn’t stop racing. So I turned off the radio and let them know what was on my mind.

I explained what had happened to this woman, her letter to her attacker, his responses and excuses, and my response to all of it.

Both boys were shocked. “Mom, you’re preaching to the choir,” one son said.  They were disgusted, didn’t want to hear anymore. And that made me realize even though Neal and I can do our best to drill into our boys respect and dignity of every human life, no matter the circumstance or situation, does it stick? Do we say enough? Do we do enough to convey this message?

I looked at both of my boys sitting on the exam table waiting to be examined and I saw before me two young men that are complete opposites in every way. In their physical attributes, their demeanor, their personality… yet they come from the same mother and father. I know that they have their own free will and will ultimately make their own decisions in life, that it’s their journey and all I can do is do my best to set them up for success but it’s up to them to take what we’ve given and run with it.

Who knows what kind of family this young man came from… maybe his momma did try to keep him from being a perpetrator. Maybe society leaked in other factors that led him to the deterioration of his common sense and decency. Maybe he was viewing too much hard core porn that is becoming more and more popular in our society, further abusing the ‘actresses’ by forcing them into rape situations and other demeaning role plays in order to feed the demand that no longer gets off on simple sensuality. Or maybe it isn’t so much the family as the entire society as a whole for allowing ‘rape’ to become a common place adjective rather than a horrid, unthinkable act.

Has society, in general, become so desensitized to the various acts of sexual assault that they (I say ‘they’ because I will not put myself into this general population) associate it with every day behaviors? In her own words the survivor eloquently states what this ’20 minute sexual assault’ does to both parties:

“Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.”

Click HERE to read the entire letter.

Once again, my hats off to this young woman. She is my hero. And along with her those two EXTRAORDINARY Swedish men who simply did what I’d like to think we are ALL programmed to do – HELP ONE ANOTHER.

Click here to read their story.

Talk about itHopeful Hearts Ministry is booming and I don’t like it. Why? Because I want it to be that we survivors have spoken SO LOUD that there is no more of this ‘culture of rape’ or ‘ignorance to abuse’ in our society. One day, it is my dream to see that Hopeful Hearts Ministry has to shut every door down because there is no more need.

Until then we are realizing this overwhelming need to clone ourselves… thrivers are desiring to pay forward what they’ve learned and to peer counsel other survivors to a place of thriving. Locations all over Texas, California, Washington State, Louisiana, and even across the seas in Sydney, Australia are asking ‘How can we implement a Hopeful Hearts Ministry in our area?’

I’m working on it…with God’s GRACE I’ll get there. But in the meantime, do as this young woman and SPEAK ABOUT IT.

Momma’s talk to your sons. Let them know what this story does to your heart. By doing so you might prevent a future sexual assault from taking place.

Blessings

Shannon

 

Leslie’s Journey – Taking Her Life Back

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How often do we  get through life pushing our past into dark hidden corners, stuffing it into tight spots, shoving it into closets praying no one will ever find the secret fear, shame, and guilt the past harbors?

Survivors of abuse, any abuse, are pro’s at shoving, stuffing, and hiding… and then we are shocked when we realize the ugly remnants of our past have actually seeped out into our reactions and responses over the past 10, 20, 30 years. So we finally talk about it.

taking back your pastOur voice arises from the dark hidden places and much to our surprise we realize how freeing it is to be heard. We desire to conquer the past, to put it behind us once and for all, no longer harboring any undo fear, or guilt and shame that is simply not ours to store and carry.

When this process takes place, this is when the survivor moves to thriver. And it’s a beautiful sight.

This week I have the great honor and blessing of joining one survivor, Leslie, on a journey of taking her life back. She’s unearthed her past, spoken on the various abuses she’s been through and finally wants to face head on the one incident in her life that had held her captive for many years.

LeslieFlakeWe are going to the mountains in Colorado where Leslie was abducted and held for five days. It was around 1984, 24-year-old Leslie applied for a job through an employment agency working for a new car dealership in Amarillo, TX. She was under the impression she was to help go to car auctions and drive them back to the dealership.

Having landed the job, Leslie, along with two other young women and a young man (under age, 17 who had lied about his age to get the job) headed out to Colorado with their employer, David Benz ( who at the time gave a fake name).

Traveling the ten hours to Colorado no one suspected that the man behind the wheel was a convicted kidnapper and rapist. He had escaped from the Pueblo Mental Institute out of Pueblo, CO.

Place a period where God placed a commaFor the next five days these young people were held captive in the mountains of Colorado. And this week, Leslie and I are going back to the area she’d tried to keep hidden in her past for so long.

Join this brave survivor, as she takes back her past and courageously reclaims her present and future.  Where we will be staying might not have the proper internet to be able to post … please stay tuned as I plan to help Leslie capture this time in the way she sees fit to share.

Leslie newspaper story

Blessings

Shannon

Blessings Outshine Sufferings

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Last week I had one of the best days ever. Survivor, Caitlin, received one blessing after another in my presence and it as amazing to see her filled with such awe and wonder to God showering her with such love.

If you don’t know, Caitlin is one of my “I Have a Voice” participants and one of my first Hopeful Hearts Ministry ‘survivors’. She was a rape victim at the age of 11 and was 16 when I was introduced to her. She has struggled through bullying, family issues, and it has seemed that every chance she got a ‘leg up’ she’d get knocked down. She is now in her 20’s and she never gave up.

She put herself through homeschool then went on to get a certification in dental hygiene, at the same time working at the local Wal-Mart Central Market. Two weeks ago we had a horrible storm blow through with 60 mph winds that knocked two trees into her home. She lost everything. Clothes, furniture, etc.

That same weekend we had our Taste of Sonoma party that was auctioned at our gala. I briefly told everyone in attendance Caitlin’s story because I wanted to help her in some way. She didn’t ask for the help and she didn’t expect it which made me want to give her more.

By the graciousness of the souls who attended the event I presented her last Wednesday with $960. She broke into tears. “I can’t explain how much of a help this is,” she wrote later in a text. “Thank you so much. It really really means the world to me.” I know she plans to write a thank you to everyone who donated as well.

Never EVER Give upOn that same day, while with me at the office, she received a call she had been anticipating – she got approved for the lowest interest rate to buy a modular home! The light in her eyes made me beam with pride for her. Not to mention the promotion she received at work the day before to Customer Service Manager. (If you live in the Kingwood area be sure to go and say ‘hi’!!)

I went to take a peak at her new, fully furnished, home and it is adorable. She opened the door, turned and said, “It’s like I finally get a clean slate. A brand new start.”

Amen. This is why I love what I do. Caitlin went from a 16-year-old who barely clung to the will to live to a 20-year-old who knows she has an abundance of life waiting for her to enjoy.

Caitlin and her fiance Joe at the Hopeful Hearts Gala

Caitlin and her fiance Joe at the Hopeful Hearts Gala

Just one more example to remind you to never never give up.

Blessings

Shannon