Homeless and Cold

Today I am grateful. As I woke up to the conditions of the roadway being icy and school being cancelled I am filled with gratitude. Not because we don’t have school today (I LOVE MY JOB) or because we are iced in but because we have what we need.

This morning as the phone rang to notify us that school was closed I felt a small sting in my chest for some of my students as I prayed for their resilient minds. I remember a time in my life when days like today would cause extreme anxiety and fear for me. I relied heavily on those two meals, the restrooms, the smiling faces of my teachers and friends and the warm, fun classrooms.

There was a time that we lived in an old brown car at one point in my life and the sleep wasn’t that great in that little back seat. Food was scarce and the car heater didn’t work so we did the best we could to stay warm with the blankets that we had.

My biological dad was in prison, my sister had been adopted by a loving family when we were much younger and my older brother was with his biological dad somewhere in Texas. My mom and her boyfriend had struggled with addiction and domestic violence and recently separated for the near 100th time. We found ourselves without a shelter and all of the belongings we could take were stuffed into the trunk. It was so full it wouldn’t close and the hatch was tied down with thick wire. The three of us slept as well as we could while crammed into an old brown 70’s model Ford maverick. The nights in Texas can be cold if you are used to the usual warm climate. Some nights I would look outside the little window and wonder if we were going to eat the next day or where we would use the restroom. My mother cried often. My brother and I also cried. Somehow I always remained hopeful that life would get better.

I am so grateful it wasn’t as cold then as it is now. I hope all of my students are housed and clothed, warm and cared for during this cold winter.

I am also grateful that my own children do not have to sleep in a car or wonder where their next meal is going to come from. I am so grateful that I am not having to figure out how I will keep them warm from the harsh winter winds.

Today as I write this I am going to ask you for a favor. Choose gratitude. If you have a roof over your head, be grateful. If you have food for your children, be grateful, if you have a job, be grateful. If you have a vehicle, be grateful. If you have your health, be grateful. If you are breathing, be grateful because there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for! Looking back, I am grateful for the time that we were blessed with white powdered donuts and milk for breakfast because people in the community gave my mom some spare change and that we had that old brown car to sleep in when the nights were cold because the shell of it protected us from the winter winds.

Maybe today you can look for ways to give back to the community. United Way of Abilene helps families in our communities by helping organizations who help families! I am sure our Salvation Army is full at this time and may need resources, hands and feet.

Whatever you do, I hope complaining is not part of your day today. Pray for our AISD students and families, many are struggling right now! No matter where you are, remember that warmer days are ahead! Have hope! I love you! Love you!
-Steph

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