We all love a happy ending, don’t we?
The princess rescued from the tower.
The game won by the underdog.
The child reunited with his parents.
The plot foiled and the good guy still stands.
What do you do when the rescue begins, the game is still being played, the search is still on, the plot is still unfolding, Richard Gere hasn’t yet hailed the limo?
You hang tight. You keep praying. You search for answers. And you certainly don’t stop believing.
That is where Melanie Ford is today. We all wanted the fairy tale ending for her, didn’t we? You will remember Melanie from the People magazine article published this summer that featured her family and the charity, Blessings in a Backpack. Her story, and especially her exceptional son, James, stole hearts across the country.
If you have followed this blog at all, you know that Melanie and her family were able to move out of a hotel room that sat in a crime infested area of Orlando to a house in Pinellas Park, Florida. She had the promise of a job. All six of her boys were back with her under one roof, as the hotel wouldn’t allow them all to be in one room, so the older boys had to stay with a grandparent. The move was an answered prayer. The house was an answered prayer. The togetherness was the biggest answered prayer.
But the fact remains: life isn’t a fairy tale and struggles still abound. What is difficult to understand is that God brought them out of that terrible situation but the struggle still abound. As you may remember James was not Melanie’s only son. She has five others ranging in age from 17 to 10 months old. In order for Melanie to start her new job, she must have day care for her youngest and after school care as well. The money has just not been there for her to take advantage of the job opportunity that she was offered. Although her text lead me to believe the job is still waiting for her, and she is beyond ready to start work, this steadfast, single mother must first make sure her children are cared for.
I have no doubt that if God was willing to get them out of that horrible hotel room, and lead them to a home in Pinellas Park, Florida, it was for a reason. I have full faith that God is nowhere near finished with this family.
In fact, she is already using her story to help others. She texted me one day to tell me some “big news”: The Justin Rose Foundation asked her to speak, and she was so flattered. She also found out Blessings in a Backpack is not operating in Pinellas Park, Florida, and she is hopeful that she will be able to help get their program to the area. She said to me, “I know first hand how it feels to not know how you are going to feed your kids, so if I can help one and they can help two and so on, it would be awesome.”
Her texts have become a bit like opening a present lately, so I asked Melanie to write something to all of you so that you would be able to hear how she feels about all she has received since the article was published. As I know there are many followers of this blog who found it all because you were Googling “James Ford, Melanie Ford, People Magazine Article, ect…”, I want you to join me in opening that precious gift of her words:
“First I would like to say thank you, thank you for your love and prayers. We are still getting settled. James has started the gifted program and is loving it, and what they are studying in gifted is art and culture; he is so excited! I have not started working quite yet but God will make a way. I finally may have an end in sight for day care for Caleb, James, and Edward; I just have to get all of the enrollment piece together.
We would love, love holiday cards. Last year, we were in the dark, unsafe room with no Christmas tree or anything , so this year God has blessed us with the house. I would love cards everywhere to fill the house with love and joy. James is always needing art supplies; he also journals daily now, and so do I. It is awesome. Times may get hard, but look where God brought me and my boys… from when we didn’t wake up together last year for the holidays due to we were separated [to where we are now.] I cannot wait.”
Again, thank you all, and God bless you always.
There are a few things that I’d like to share that I’ve come to realize about Melanie over the last few months. She genuinely appreciates the attention she has received, but what strikes me is that when I asked her to write y’all a letter, she could have used that opportunity to ask for all of the things that she lacks right now in order to take care of her children. She mentioned that James can always use art supplies, but there is only one thing that she specifically asked each one of us for. A Christmas card.
Melanie has texted me a few times lately when she has been down and feeling discouraged, but she has not asked me to send her anything. She is not asked me for money or for clothes; I am the one who asked her for sizes and for her to detail what her needs are. Those replies have not always come quickly. Instead, she has asked me for encouraging words and for prayer.
Friends, just as each one of us who read that people magazine article fell in love with James there was someone who was already in love with James…but not just James. Melanie Ford is in love with Michael and Caleb and Edward and Matthew and Zedekiah as well, and all she wants is the energy, the strength, and the encouragement to remind her of what she already knows: that she is an amazing mother, a faithful Christian, and a strong woman. Sometimes, she just needs an “atta girl.” And don’t we all.
At the end of one of our text conversations she said to me, “All glory to God. Thank you, Jesus. Hugs back to you–14 arms; all seven of us.” That sentence made me smile so big, and I could envision all 14 of those arms, wrapped around me. 14 arms I’ve never seen, but 14 arms I’ve come to care about deeply.
I had hoped for the fairytale ending for Melanie and her boys. I had hoped for a house full of new furniture for her. I had hoped that she would be able to find affordable day care, and that her job would be based financially and emotionally fulfilling. Those things have not happened. Yet.
The rescue has begun.
The game is still being played.
The search is still on.
The plot is still unfolding.
And Richard Gere hasn’t yet hailed the limo.
But Melanie is doing exactly what she should be, and I don’t believe for a second that God is remotely close to closing the curtain on this particular story. So while she waits to see the ending He is going to write….
She is hanging tight.
She is continuing to pray.
She is searching for answers.
And she certainly hasn’t stopped believing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~So though she didn’t ask you, I’m going to. These are the needs that she has for herself and her children. If you are so inclined to box up some clothes, diapers, ect….I think she would be relieved.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Caleb is 10 months old, and he wears a size 12 month. He is in a size 4 diaper.
Edward is almost 7 and he wears a size 12 to 14.
James will be 9 on November 26, and he also wears a size 12 to 14.
Michael is 13 and he wears a size 18 to 20.
Matthew is 14, and Zedikiah just turned 17, and both of them wear men’s size large shirt and 32-34 pants.
As it is about to get colder they are all in need of pants and long-sleeved shirts, and hand-me-downs (in good condition) would be just fine.
Melanie can use clothes as well. She said she can wear anything from a 12/14 to a 16/18.
Anything you send can be mailed to: 5710 67th Avenue North, Pinellas Park, Florida, 33781.
One last thing. Some people sent me money for Melanie, and I was just able to collect it all and send her a money order. (My readers are so generous. I’m so thankful for y’all.) When she received it, this is what she texted to me:
“oh my gosh wow can’t even type from the tears wow I don’t even know what to say to you. My gosh I just open the mail the card and your words and the picture was enough, then I saw the money order…screaming thank you Jesus as I text you….I just don’t know how to express our gratitude….you all are so awesome thank you I can’t even type no more so overwhelmed with love and God’s grace! Wow, my friend, Wow.”
Then she wrote “Thanks a million to you and your friends… it felt awesome to go to Walmart and get all of our toiletries that we have so long been without. Thanks again, if you could forward this text to your awesome friends that helped I would so appreciate it. All love and many blessings upon you all thanks again.”
So. Big lesson for me, here, friends. This woman, who I wanted to help so desperately to have a pretty house and nice furniture and all of the things every woman wants (and I still WANT her to have those things) needed toiletries. She didn’t need a dining room table. She needed toothpaste. I wish I could send her a thousand tubes.
The holidays are coming, and most of us reading this right now are incredibly, beyond fortunate. I hope this message encourages you (and I speak to myself here, as well) to remember just how fortunate, and whether it is the Ford family or someone in your own neighborhood, help is always needed. It is my prayer that we will all give it, and give it abundantly.
Because my idea of a fairy tale for those sweet 14 arms, and so many others, and Jesus’ are two different things.
I think I’m gonna prefer His ending.