A Bold Proposal

A Bold Proposal

Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old he will not depart from it. — PROVERBS 22:6  I HAVE A BOLD PROPOSAL: we should celebrate Christmas in November and Thanksgiving in December. It seems backwards that we spend a Thursday in November expressing gratitude for life’s blessings, and just hours later, we’re celebrating consumerism at Black Friday sales to kickoff the Christmas season. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Of course, it’s tough to change traditions. And when those traditions don’t make sense, we just shrug our shoulders and accept them. Most of the time, that’s harmless. But for some families, what has become traditional is unhealthy and downright dangerous. I think about that each time a child comes to live with us. What have they seen at home and how are they processing it? What unhealthy attitudes about relationships have become normal? What patterns do they repeat because they’ve been modeled at home? I vividly remember one little boy looking at his mother and saying, “I’m going to hit you in the head and you will die.” He wasn’t being angry or malicious. He was simply repeating what he had heard the adults in his home say. That’s why our work with children is so critical. If we can break that cycle of abuse and prevent little boys and girls from growing up in homes where domestic violence is a way of life, we’ll achieve a true victory. This holiday season, I hope you’ll create wonderful memories (and maybe some new traditions) with your family. And I’ll spend my family’s traditional...
Making a Difference

Making a Difference

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.— PROVERBS 2:7-8 At a recent meeting, I was asked to create a pie chart showing how we divide our time between providing services directly to domestic violence victims and delivering prevention and education services. Then I was asked to create a pie chart showing what we wanted the proportion to be in 15 years. My dream is that our prevention and education efforts become so successful, allowing that piece of the pie to grow as demand for services to victims shrinks. What would that take? What new programs and services are needed? Which existing programs should we expand? What resources do we need to gather? The answers kept coming back to you and the many others in our community who support the work of Sheltering Wings. The only way we can increase awareness of domestic violence and reduce the number of victims is for people like you to step up and help us. How? There are so many ways. You can invite us to your workplace to educate managers about the warning signs and what to do when they see them. You can host us at your next neighborhood association meeting, because neighbors who look out for each other make communities safer. You can educate your fellow church members and join together to make it clear that your church will fight abuse and support victims. You can teach your kids about healthy relationships and effective forms of...
Groundwork For Transformation

Groundwork For Transformation

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.— ROMANS 12:2 The words “conform” and “transform” may end the same way, but they produce very different results. When you conform, you comply with rules and behave the way society expects. Transformation, on the other hand, involves a dramatic or complete change in your form, appearance, or character. Our first priority is providing emergency housing for women and children who are escaping domestic abuse. Once their safety is assured, we lay the groundwork for transformation through Life Skills programs and services that build self-sufficiency. We want them to deeply understand that they are worthy of honor and respect. We want them to eagerly reach out and take advantage of the educational and occupational opportunities available to them. We want them to learn how to cope with stress, manage anger, and parent more effectively. We want them to develop all the skills they need to live safely and independently, from budgeting to self-advocacy. When a woman arrives at Sheltering Wings, our goal isn’t for her to simply conform to society’s standards. We hope she’ll experience a transformation that will dramatically change her today and every day for the rest of her life. Her transformation is our ultimate goal. Sheltering Wings...
Escaping Domestic Abuse

Escaping Domestic Abuse

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.— TIMOTHY 1:7  I’ve occasionally wondered if using the terms “emergency housing” and “emergency services” ever deters someone from seeking assistance when escaping domestic abuse. After all, deciding whether one’s situation is an emergency is a matter of perspective. A person who has experienced abuse throughout life, who watched parents verbally and/or physically assault one another, and who sees friends and relatives in unhealthy relationships may view his or her own circumstances as normal. “I’m not in an emergency situation,” they may think. “I don’t need to call the crisis line. This relationship is just what it is.” It’s a way of thinking that troubles me. You see, someone who becomes accustomed to this negative pattern of behavior may accept it as normal. That makes them difficult for us to reach, even though they’re often the people who need help the most! Abuse escalates over time, so abusive relationships can be both chronic and critical. Our staff members who take help line calls have specialized training. When a victim (or someone who knows a victim) calls, they use standardized assessments to gauge the degree of danger, so they can recommend the best course of action. Some callers need safe housing. Others need referrals, safety planning, and support. No matter what their situation, Sheltering Wings is ready to help anyone who calls our help line, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you or someone you know needs assistance, or just has questions about abuse, please call us. Sheltering Wings Spring...
Being Part of a Strong, Nurturing Family

Being Part of a Strong, Nurturing Family

Religion that is pure and good before God the Father is to help children…  I was talking with a toddler at a recent church bonfire. Every question I asked resulted in the same emphatic response: “I am Rachel and this is my mom.” When I asked about her friends, she replied, “I am Rachel and this is my mom.” When I complimented her boots, I heard, “I am Rachel and this is my mom.” I laughed all evening and smiled on the drive home, touched by her pride in her mother and family. Few things are as important as being part of a strong, nurturing family. That’s a blessing, but it certainly isn’t a given. The children who walk through our doors have grown up in homes where the dynamics are terrifying and where they witness power struggles that leave them fearful and confused. There are many days when my drive home from the shelter is filled with prayers to help youngster’s families become more loving, safe and life-giving. Fortunately, we can (and do) break the cycle of abuse. We teach parents what proper discipline and support look like. We help children create safety plans at home. We show teens healthy dating relationships so they can establish patterns for healthy adult relationships. With your support, we create new habits built on trust, respect and love. This newsletter focuses on serving those children. As you read the stories, I hope that you find inspiration and see the great opportunity to invest in creating healthier, happier futures for them. It’s never too late. Sheltering Wings Winter...
Becoming Enlightened

Becoming Enlightened

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. – PSALM 119:105 Did you ever wonder why we refer to gaining knowledge as becoming enlightened? Enlightenment is a beautiful word and a wonderful concept that’s expressed so well in Psalm 119. We say that we’re “in the dark” when we don’t know something, and darkness makes most children and many adults uneasy. But when we turn the lights on, ignorance and fear disappear along with the darkness. Like so many evils, domestic violence depends upon darkness to survive. When people don’t know about it, or when it stays hidden behind closed doors, or when our fear of the dark makes us turn away, domestic violence thrives. When we throw light on abuse by learning more about it and calling attention to it, it has less power over victims and others. Just as God leads us out of darkness with His lamp and light, enlightening people about abuse will help us overcome it. That’s why outreach and education are key elements of the work we do at Sheltering Wings. As people become more aware of the problem and we bring abuse out of the darkness and discuss it publicly, it becomes easier for victims to step forward and find the support they need. Instead of being isolated in the darkness, they can step into the light. If we are going to eliminate domestic violence, we must continue to talk about it, learn about it, and share our knowledge with others. Enlightenment is amazingly powerful. What will you do to be a...