EVERYONE HERE AT LIGHTING THEIR WAY HOME WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO WISH YOU AND YOURS A VERY MERRY AND SAFE HOLIDAY SEASON!
Thank you to our many volunteers and family members for working with such dedication to help bring these children home and find them justice.
2013 was a successful year allowing us the opportunity to see many children reunified with their families, and brought so much awareness to child abuse and how society should be handling achieving justice for victimized children.
On behalf of our organization and the children – THANK YOU FOR LIGHTING THEIR WAY HOME!!!
The holidays are upon us, and we are all once again caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas spirit. The malls are packed, trees are decorated, cookies are made and the Santa wish lists have been mailed out. Our children are counting down the days to Christmas morning, and amidst all of the cheer and laughter, old friends reunite, family comes together, and love is shared. There is very few moments that contain as much love and joy as those special Christmas moments when you are surrounded by family and friends.
This evening I went to my aunt’s house for an early Christmas dinner. I had the opportunity to see relatives I have not seen in years, in fact in more years than I would ever want to admit. I walked into the jam packed home, loud with chatter and little kids chasing each other around. The men gathered in the basement to watch football as the rest of us visited and caught up on all we missed throughout the year. I had a moment, when I was able to look around, and what I saw moved me to tears. My cousin fondly rubs her sister’s pregnant belly, laughing about how spoiled this baby will surely be. My aunts were sitting and laughing about old memories, recalling the names of grade school boyfriends. My uncles are swapping recipes for making sausage, and sharing the latest stories of hunting trips and days spent fishing. A group of cousins sat together, laughing hysterically, reminding each other of the embarrassing things we did as kids. As I took a moment to let all of this sink in, I knew that without a single doubt, I am one of the luckiest people on this planet, simply because I have the privilege of calling this crazy family mine. I was embraced in the types of hugs that come from pure love, where you both hang on for a while, whispering I love you, and I miss you, and I’m so happy to see you. It’s a night that you never want to end, but when the time comes to say good bye, I can take comfort in knowing that tomorrow I will be going to a movie with a cousin I haven’t seen in 10 years, although it seemed like 10 minutes once we got our arms around each other. I will be going Christmas shopping with my aunts and babysitting my beautiful niece, which is more of a pleasure for me than I have words for, and hey, I’m getting manicures that only a 3 year old can give. I will be spending time with cousins that are more like siblings, laughing, joking and yup, even arguing! Most importantly though, I will go to bed tonight with a smile on my face, way too much food in my belly and my heart full of nothing but love and contentment.
Now all of this is more than most people have, and it is a gift that is invaluable. Most people would think it can’t get any better, but most people have not had the opportunity I have had. You see every year for the past 10 years I have had the honor of working with the kindest, most passionate, loving, caring, beautiful people this world has to offer. My family does not end with blood, no, it extends on to the people that have given so selflessly to help change this world and make it a better and safer place for our children. It extends to all of the families who while in the midst of great tragedy have still shared so openly with me, and have still spread more love than you would think possible. My family extends into the home of each family that has lost a child to horrific abuse, into each home where a child won’t be waking up this Christmas morning, into each home of those who are suffering and missing someone this Christmas. Through the good and the bad I have had the honor to walk with all of these people, to hold their hands, share their tears and spread their stories. I have been reminded that with the great gift of an endlessly loving family, I also have a great responsibility to spread that love onto as many people as possible. From my family I take great strength and offer it up to those who will need it most this Christmas, to these families that are suffering so much. And while doing this, I witness a miracle. I see others who will spend this Christmas celebrating with a light heart stop, and take a moment to reach out to those whose hearts will be heavy. I see complete strangers moved by tragedy so much that simply sitting on the sidelines is not an option for them. These people are of every race, color, religion, culture etc. that this beautiful world has to offer. All borders are erased and there is no place on this Earth that is too far for the hand of love and empathy to reach.
I am sure you all know that it is each of you I am referring to. Not much of a guess is it? 😉 Many times I am told how incredible what I do is – and let me be very clear here – every SINGLE time, all I can respond with is that this is not me doing these great things, not even close. It is each of you who is doing these great things. Every single one of you that take a moment to share a child’s story, to reach out to a family that takes great comfort in knowing there are people out there praying for them and thinking of them, are the ones that make the impossible possible. It is your voices together that raise to a volume which cannot be ignored, and it is with the sincerest and most pure dedication with which miracles are born.
This Christmas I am grateful for many great things. I am grateful to know the love I know, and to sleep soundly at night knowing that I am never alone, no matter what the situation. Just as much as I am grateful for these things, I am grateful for each of you. I am awed and inspired by the love and compassion you each show, and that awe and inspiration which you all share with me, is what makes me wake up each morning ready to fight another day in the hopes that through each of you angels, we can spread the love and security that I feel each day to those who are hurting and in need of it the most. Through each of you we spread the message that no one walking through these dark times is ever alone. You all are the army that stands strong and proud behind these families. You are what catches them when they fall, and what holds them up when they cannot find the strength to stand alone any longer. You are the very source of hope and love that encourages not only these families, but the world, to fight another day, to not accept no for an answer, to break down walls which were once thought impenetrable. It is each of you that creates the opportunity for the Christmas spirit to be shared and spread to all. It is each of you that make miracles happen in the darkest of places.
I will never have the words to thank you, or express the love and appreciation I have for all that you have done, all that you are doing and all that you will do. Where words fail me, my heart does not. Every single one of you holds a very special place in my heart, and I thank whatever powers that may be for having each and every one of you in my life each and every day.
So from my family to each of yours, have a wonderful and love filled holiday season. Take a moment to appreciate yourselves and what you have accomplished. This holiday season is the best by far, because it holds the love of each one of you.
HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!