I awoke at 4am this morning with wide eyes and a full heart. As my feet hit the cold floor, I slid them into the warmth of my slippers, wrapped myself in a cozy robe, and made a cup of hot tea. Sitting down to write and pondering what the title would be, the only two words that came to me were the ones written above...thank you. My heart is so full of gratitude that my eyes overflow with tears, so it is fitting that this blog go out on this day of Thanksgiving.
To say that this year has been a year of blessings for The Delsa would be an understatement and I want to thank each and everyone of you for your support and encouragement.
Loving On Others
Last year I had the honor of coming alongside a precious woman who unknowingly was in her last months of life. This year I've had the blessing of coming alongside two. While I would never want to minimalize a life or reduce it to a few sentences, to capture the love, compassion, honor, and reverence there is in being able to spend these last months with such precious lives is unfathomable. How do you convey how immeasurable life is, how much we need each other, or how important it is to lay down our "busyness" and be present for those in need of love?
One of these dear women had her second home out here at the lake. She called it her "happy place" and indeed she came every weekend. She was a regular I saw every week at the local restaurant, and we spent time rocking on her porch sharing life stories. She loved when I would bring her produce fresh from the garden! In an odd twist through an injury to her leg, her life quickly turned and she found herself bed ridden at her home an hour away and unable to come to her "happy place". While I still visited her at home, brought more produce, and listened as she wrestled through her own thoughts about the situation and life, it broke my heart that I could not offer The Delsa to her as a place to recover....and sadly, she never did recover...or return to see her beloved lake again.
The other woman was someone I delivered meals to each week. She and her husband had become very special to me and I looked forward to seeing them each week. She had severe Alzheimers, and each time food would be delivered we would lovingly have the same conversation over and over. I didn't mind - she was so kind and always greeted me with a hug and a beautiful smile. One day when I pulled into the drive, her husband came walking down to meet me, which was unusual, and I could tell he was crying. He shared that he had been diagnosed with cancer and that they were putting his wife in nursing care. My heart sank and as I drove away the tears came without hesitation. Now they were both suffering and found themselves pulled apart at a time they needed each other the most. The agony for both was traumatic, and again I felt like I was watching from the sidelines unable to help. If only The Delsa were built...they could have at least stayed together.
From the relationships above came an outreach of special proportions. Along with the many others that have joined hands with The Delsa we were able to touch other nonprofits and contribute to the work they are doing. For this I am so thankful!
We were able to give coats, shoes, business wear, casual wear, and household items to Grace Given to help the homeless and women coming out of difficult circumstances get back up on their feet.
We were able to give formal wear, shoes, jewelry, and makeup to The Prom Shoppe to help young women, who could not otherwise attend their prom due to family financial difficulties, have a wonderful evening to remember!
We have joined hands in promoting Kinsley, Me & Company, to help single moms with physical and emotional support; and Down Home Ranch, that provides living and work opportunities for those with intellectual or physical disabilities.
We were able to accommodate stays at the base location this year to several individuals that needed to "get away". They were provided food, listened to, encouraged, given opportunity to reconnect with nature, and take a deep breath to find their strength again.
What an impact we've made this year!
Start Up Gardens
The Start Up Gardens were once again a success! This year we grew edamame, carrots, celery, pole beans, tomatoes (large and small), potatoes (sweet, red, and russet), brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, radishes, green onions, chamomile, italian basil, parsley, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, mini bell peppers (yes! from the seeds of those bought at the grocery store) and a beautiful crop of ginger!
It was a blessing to not only see the options of what we can grow expand, but what a joy to share from what we're growing at this point, and to understand through tracking the harvests that we can indeed provide ample food for those that will be staying at The Delsa retreat, as well as providing food for the surrounding community!
Volunteers and Connections
While we have our Board of Directors and Advisory Boards in place, there is a need for a core group to come together that understand and believe in the vision of The Delsa and become the team that makes it a reality. The "boots on the ground", if you will. That was my biggest prayer this year and He has answered in so many ways!
We've been blessed to have two men join hands with The Delsa that have the wisdom, experience, and insight, to provide counsel and direct the events that need to take place to raise the necessary funds to build the retreat. Bill Baumann (who is also a fellow neighbor here at Badin Lake!), has a passion for helping the elderly, sees the need and understands the powerful role The Delsa can play in not only caring for those in need of help, but in educating families on how to be proactive in learning to prepare for elderly care. Chris Gardner, a previous missionary and philanthropic advisor has a passion to network and connect likeminded people and causes, to empower momentum and impactful outreach.
Chris actually made an introduction to Stacy Shewey, who is the Founder of Hands4Life, a very similar vision to The Delsa, but on an international level. We have joined hands as "sister" visionaries' to promote each other's work and cover the globe. There have been several others who have stepped up and said "I want to help" and we are currently determining what role they will play and what that will look like. For all these people, I am extremely grateful, and so blessed to watch all of this unfold!
Building the Retreat!
How thankful I was to have my own daughter sit down and put together the first visual of the retreat! This is roughly a 20 acre site and while not an official plan, gives a good overview of the concept.
The exciting news is that we are currently underway to build an addition onto the base location that will accommodate two people in need of a place to stay!! We are building out two large bedrooms so that each will have an area big enough to allow for their sleeping area as well as a small sitting area. This will allow them to retreat to their own space if they want to watch TV, read, or just be quiet. If they are bedridden, it allows people to visit comfortably. Their restroom facilities will likewise be in their own space to accommodate privacy and ADA needs. We will have a guest room, another restroom, and living space also built out, along with an outside deck to view the lake and beautiful scenery. The structural engineer and surveyor have already been out and we are expecting final plans mid to late December and will update at that time. While this is just the base location, I'm thankful that this is actually happening and The Delsa base location is now becoming a microcosm of the big picture - the retreat!
Again, thanks to all of you for coming alongside and joining hands with us. Whether it's prayer, counsel, spreading the word, have volunteered in some capacity, contribute financially, or you're a Foundation Builder ($25/month) or have a Membership - I am SO thankful and look forward to making this retreat a reality that touches the lives of many!
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day and I hope that you will recall all the many blessings you have in your life. Even in the midst of the world turmoil, there is much to be thankful for!
From my heart to yours...