Amongst the delightful chaos of five children running from room to room, one barking pup and countless welcomed interruptions from children needing apple juice and mommy hugs, I had the pleasure to talk with Antoinette and her sister-in-law Vicky about the unique way their families volunteer for Miracle Hill Ministries.
This is how their story begins.
Antoinette’s son Harrison, now 5, was diagnosed with Autism at age two-and-a-half. “This was a dark time for our family.” Wanting to be proactive and well-informed, Antoinette and her husband, researched how food affects Autism. “We learned so much about how fresh and organic foods positively affect health and development in Autistic children.” The changes in Harrison were evident. “Once we took away the dairy and the wheat from his diet, we saw almost immediate changes”, explained Antoinette.
Perhaps the biggest change they noticed came within days of changing his diet. Harrison had started working with a speech therapist with a vocabulary of only 7 words. “As soon as we revised his diet, he had added an astonishing 41 words to his vocabulary in just over a week.” It was clear that the elimination of certain foods and addition of more fresh and organic foods was a huge factor in his development and in guiding them in the direction they would go.
About this time, a flyer from Miracle Hill had found its way into their mailbox. “The flyer was asking for clothing donations, so I checked out Miracle Hill and loved what I found.” Antoinette and her husband knew they wanted to be more involved with the good works of Miracle Hill. “I spoke with Cindy Kelly at the administrative offices and what started to happen, through our conversations and prayer, was a work of the Holy Spirit. I just felt him saying, ‘You need to get involved in a very specific kind of way with Miracle Hill’, but we didn’t know what that was just yet.”
Through more networking, Antoinette had a conversation with Kris Blackman at the Children’s Home. “I swear it was like Jesus was on a three-way call with us!” Antoinette explained her vision of providing fresh meats, fresh milk, fresh fruits and vegetables to the children at the Miracle Hill Children’s Home on an ongoing basis. “We got the go-ahead and started shopping and delivering the fresh food to the four cottages immediately.”
During this time, Antoinette and her husband were still dealing with their son’s Autism diagnosis and decided that moving closer to family in Georgia would be best. “As I kept praying for God to send someone to replace me, I heard Him say clear as day, ‘Vicky will do it.’ ‘See, when we stop trying to be in control and get out of our own way to let God do his thing, it’s flabbergasting what He does with our lives.’ ”
Vicky and her husband have four small children, including a newborn, yet still make time to help others. “I was searching for a way to glorify God and knew Antoinette was helping Miracle Hill but I didn’t know the details.” Then a moment came. “I was sitting in the parking lot at the pediatrician’s office when I felt a little tapping on my shoulder and had the urge to call Antoinette to offer my help. I left a message that said in part, ‘Whatever you are doing, I want to continue it when you move.’ “
“The funny thing is, adds Antoinette, I thought she was going to be my replacement, but God had a greater plan for us all.”
Antoinette believed she heard the Lord telling her to stay in South Carolina. After talking with her husband, she realized that God had also confirmed this message to him in prayer. They decided to be obedient to the word of God and stay. “We ended up with a church we love and a small group we love. Had we tried to control the situation, we would have missed out on God’s plan.”
SHOPPING FOR GOOD
The lengths these families go to ensure the well-being of the children at Miracle Hill humbles me. They share how the shopping and delivering is done:
Antoinette: We stock up on fresh fruits like strawberries and blueberries when they are on sale so I’m always looking at ads.
Vicky: We know they get a lot of canned and boxed donations, so we make sure to supplement enough of the fresh foods into their diet.
Every other week, Antoinette and her family deliver fresh food to two of the four cottages that house the older children while Vicky and her family take groceries to the younger children’s cottages. “The house parents provide lists of which foods they would like weekly, which help us as we shop,” Explains Antoinette.
“Now that Vicky and her husband are taking over two of the cottages, we are free to do even more for the children, like taking Vause cottage to Winter Jam in February!” Antoinette pauses to remind me, “But this is not us. I want to make that very clear. This is so Him!”
Antoinette and her husband talk with Harrison so he understands why they are helping in this way. “We teach Harrison that the main thing Jesus calls us to do isto help widows and orphans. It is our responsibility to make sure these children are taken care of. Harrison understands why we are asking him to share in our journey. We were called to do something and were being obedient to God’s call.”
Vicky: I feel like I don’t do a tenth of what I want to do for Miracle Hill. Just delivering groceries doesn’t seem like enough. When I see what the house-parents do every day with those children, I am just humbled.
Antoinette: It’s the prompting of the Holy Spirit that leads us. We often make excuses that we are too busy, but once you get that in your mind that it’s God’s will, the story weaves itself.
Today, Harrison continues to thrive through the grace of God and love of his family. “All of the typical Autism issues with Harrison are gone! We’ve recovered him through food, supplements and tons of prayer.”
These two women certainly have a lot on their plate. But by putting God first and remaining faithful to His call, these two families are able to do more than they could have ever done on their own. Antoinette reminds us to answer when the Lord calls you to action. “A lot of time, Jesus is going to come a-knockin’ and you have the choice whether you want to answer or not,but when you do, it’s a really fun ride.”
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