I (Alice) first met Cathy at the end of summer as I was getting out of my car one morning heading into the HOPE Chest to work. She was walking up Peoria St. which runs along side of our bldg where the donation 'drop-off' door is. She was bold enough to just ask me out of the blue if I could drive her up to the County Court House so she could get to her court appearance on time. So in my haste I inadvertently locked my keys in my car along with my bag and my spare keys (ugh!!) and Dave
didn't have an extra key on his set for his van (double 'ugh'!!) But I used his keys and took her in the van. My son later brought in a spare key from home when he came into work. That was my first encounter with Cathy.
Through the following months she would periodically come in with some serious life stories to share with me. I enjoyed seeing her and she me. For the recent Christmas Toy Give-Away at our store, Cathy came in and asked about getting a voucher to get toys for her sister-in-law or whoever the gal/friend that was living with her- for her kids. Since they were getting no other assistance we gave Cathy the voucher which would entitle her to pick 3 brand new toys and 3 gently used toys for EACH child. On the night of the 'Toy Give-Away' she and her friend were there - one of the first in line to 'shop' for toys specifically for her friend's kids. Cathy wrapped them and put them under the tree at her place. Some time after they had gotten the presents, Cathy found out that this gal's older son had drugs and needles in her house. Since she is on probation, she would be violating probation with these in her home. So she had to kick all of them out. In the meantime, Christmas came and went. The gifts remained under the tree.
On Friday Cathy notified us that the HOPE Chest was used by God to really do something special in her life!! She wanted to tell us her story and to go to church with us on Sunday! So Dave lined it up for me to go pick her up. As soon as I picked her up (she met me walking along the roadside), she
was so excited to tell me her story... which first was about having to kick this friend/relative and kids out because of drugs. In the shock of this whole discovery, they totally forgot about the gifts under the tree. But then Cathy proceeded to tell me her brother came over the day after Christmas and was so bummed out because he didn't have any presents for his kids and had been too embarrassed to seek assistance. Here she had a whole slew of presents but now no kids to give them to! So she told her brother about all the presents under the tree and that he could have ALL of the gifts for his
kids. When he took them home to his kids, Cathy said it was as if they had been picked out specifically for his children in the first place!!! Her little niece had to come back over and show her and thank her for her new doll. It so touched Cathy's heart that the gifts she had gotten for someone else initially were perfect for her brother's kids. To Cathy this was a miracle from God.
Her other brother Charlie started telling her that maybe God was trying to get her attention!!!...and He had. Then during the Sunday sermon, Pastor Dave said that some of us needed to start saying 'NO' to some of our relationships that have been tearing us down. Maybe some of us are needing to cut some people out of our lives if they are causing us to make ungodly decisions and pulling us down and away from God. She leaned over and said "I think he is telling that to me!!" After church I took her back towards her house but she wanted me to drop her off and she would walk the rest of the way home - she didn't want me to see her house. As I drove back into town, Cathy called me and she was almost in tears. The guy who she had let stay with her had stolen her money and had left her place a mess. She was so upset, rightly so. I reiterated what Dave had said and that she was
needing to start saying 'no' to people who were only wanting to use and abuse her. Cathy said her brother has been telling her that too. In fact, he too had been going down a really bad path and had ended up in jail. But somehow he found Jesus and decided to cut out all of his previous influences and wouldn't let them know where he was and wouldn't take their phone calls etc. Anyways, he was encouraging her and has told her she needs a personal relationship/friendship with Jesus. He also was telling her the same thing Pastor Dave said in the sermon. That's why even Cathy didn't know where he lived. He was saying "no" for a reason - so he could get his life back in order with God's help. On New Year's Eve she called me and was really down. After listening, I told her 'it sounds like you are at the end of yourself. God is chasing you and loves you!! Are you at the point of doing what your brother has said and give your life to Jesus?' and she said 'yes!!' So I had the privilege of praying with her. She surrendered her life to Jesus and accepted the forgiveness of all the sin in her life!!!
Later that night she decided that she didn't want to be tempted to drink or do drugs by any of her 'friends' and so she got a movie, locked herself in her little house, and acted as if no one was home. She said that she had people knocking on her door several times thru-out the night. Cathy also was trying to read her bible but it was so hard for her to understand (King James Version). On the 2nd of January Cathy came into the HOPE Chest and Dave gave her a Bible so that she could understand what she was reading. Later that night she text-ed us and told us she was so excited! She COULD understand it!!! and was totally loving reading her new Bible !!! She text-ed me and said she felt like a kid in a candy shop. In fact, she was reading in Romans!!! (what a place to start). She has text-ed me several times asking me to pray for her as she is being tempted with drugs or alcohol. But she has been standing firm against them with Jesus' help.
Her brothers found Cathy a little one room efficiency apartment in another town (about 30 min away) so that she can start over. She was moving through out the weekend despite the extreme cold. We were able to give her a sofa, new mattress, and microwave from the HOPE Chest through our Seeds
of Blessings Program. She still needs a little apartment size stove but that will come from somewhere. If you have one to donate for her just call the HOPE Chest. She text-ed me to pray for her as the people helping her were drinking and fighting and she would go into her bedroom to pray for God to give her strength not to drink with them or inspite of them. In the midst of this moving stress, not feeling well, thoughts of possible jail time, she is seeking God to give her His strength not to drink to escape.
I just had to share Cathy's story with you so you too can pray for her - a new Babe in Christ and
also thank God for another life that has been touched eternally by God's grace thru the HOPE Chest. She's got a hard road ahead of her but the road she was on was leading to an early death in more than one way!! Pray with me for victory in Cathy's life thru Jesus and that she'd make the next right choice.
Thank you for your continued prayers for, donations to, and support of The HOPE Chest. God is touching lives through His store - The HOPE Chest of Pekin. Helping Other People Excel.