In October 2015 I had the incredible opportunity to be a part of a service project for the Villages of Hope in Palm Beach, Florida. Little did I know that what I thought was a one-time service project, would change the course of my life forever. I helped a team furnish and decorate an apartment for two young women who had aged out of the foster care system. Before this day, I had never given any thought about what happened to kids once they turn 18 while in foster care. Let’s just say this epiphany hit my heart and I cried the entire three hours we were there and couldn't shake the thought that these girls could be my kids. At the time, my daughter was 17 and my son was 20, nowhere close to being able to function as independent adults after a lifetime of guidance and nurturing let alone being shuffled from family to family, never having one to call their own. God called me that day, He broke my heart for what breaks His…..the plight of the orphan. I came back home to Charlotte, NC and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to do something. I have read in the Bible, and heard many Sundays at church, that God calls us to share our talents with others. My talent is design, filling a space with the things that make a home. I wanted to replicate my experience of decorating that apartment for those young women here in Charlotte, the only problem was there is nothing like the Villages of Hope in Charlotte. So I reached out to Josh Kolkana, the director of the Villages of Hope to see if he had any resources here. After a few weeks of searching and phone calls, we came up with nothing.
Fast forward to January of 2016 when I began meeting and talking with some dynamic women from my church as well as a very special lady from our local DSS office who has been a Godsend. After many months of discussions and no real action, I prayed to God for a sign. Fast forward a few more months and it became crystal clear why I kept coming up short, God was leading me to start my own nonprofit. So I did it, I was introduced to an incredible attorney, Paula Yost of Country Shack Law, who drew up my papers. Four months later in October of 2017, almost 2 years to the day I helped at the Villages of Hope, I received a letter from the IRS that The Open Door House was officially a 501(c)3. I couldn’t believe it, we did it! And then the realization hit me, we did it. Now what? More discussions and advice from my trusty advisors, awesome guidance and support from Josh, love and support from close friends and family, and prayer, so much prayer. I started to build some momentum this past spring, the fantastic Rick Hoffarth created my logo and helped me along, but I still felt like God was pulling me back. So, I prayed for a sign and I prayed for clarity to know when the time would be right. For almost 3 years since I felt the Lord calling me to serve these young people, I kept thinking how slowly everything seemed to be moving. Last year when I became a nonprofit I tried to take matters into my own hands and push through, the whole time also feeling completely ill-equipped to take this on. My good friend, Angela, often reminded me to take things slowly and have faith that God will let me know when the time was right. So, I took her advice and I learned to stop worrying and just prayed for Him to lead, to help me take this time to learn and grow, experience what I needed to and most importantly grow in my faith. I needed to build my house on a rock instead of sand.
"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock." Matthew 7:24-25. This verse resonated with me. Once my foundation became that strong rock, God let my heart know the time is now.
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” Psalms 27:14.
August of 2018 has been my turning point, God lit a pilot light in my heart back in 2015 and this month he turned the flame all the way up. I could hear him shouting, It’s Time, It's Time!