I am so excited about today’s post. It is near and dear to my heart, and in a minute you will see just why that is. It is a long one today, so please bear with me. I promise it will be worth it.
Before I get into this story, I wanted to make a point to mention that this post is in no way meant to arouse any political or religious debates or conflicts. Neither am I speaking out against anyone’s personal beliefs. I am simply sharing my story and my personal beliefs and the journey that led up to the start of this Ministry.
I am a Christian – I have been for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Jamaica in the Pentecostal denomination, went to Catholic schools (even though we were not practicing Catholics), and I am now a Southern Baptist. Like a lot of young people who grew up in the church, I got away from my faith during my late teens to early twenties, but as you get older, you are often convicted of Christ’s call on your life, and you usually find your way back to the church. At least that happened for me. I married a wonderful Christian man in 2001, and he passed away from cancer in 2004. I watched him suffer for many months before he passed away, and that period of my life drew me closer to God. I couldn’t have made it otherwise.
Fast forward to 2006 when I moved from Florida to Texas, and started my career in Interior Design. It honestly felt like the complete opposite of what I felt God was calling me to do. How can my calling be to spend people’s money on “frivolous” things like furniture and draperies? Certainly there are more important things in life? It was a struggle for me for many years. I knew that my heart was to give back in some way; but how? You see, I believe that if God blesses you with a gift or talent or resources, or whatever, it is not meant to be kept all for yourself. You are to bless someone else.
I prayed long and hard for God’s guidance in how to merge my career choice with my spiritual walk. Until one day, I came across this book “Beautiful Places, Spiritual Spaces” by Sharon Hanby-Robie
You see, I was no longer alone in this struggle. A well respected Interior Designer like Sharon also struggled with what God’s will was for her life through Interior Design. I began to dig deeper into the Bible where I found scripture after scripture that proved that God was the original Designer – He created us, this beautiful earth and all that’s in it. But there was even more – more of what people would consider “frivolous” – Exodus 37:1-29 detailed God’s design for the Ark of the Covenant. The story of Noah’s ark also detailed the plans for the ark that Noah built Genesis 6, Proverbs 24: 3-4, 1 Kings 7 and so many other scriptures in the Bible describes God’s plan for us to live in peaceful and undisturbed dwellings.
I finally saw the connection between my career and my spirituality, but how do I use that to minister to others? How do I put it into practice? After much looking around I found the Houston Furniture Bank D.I.V.A.S. (Decorating Interiors – Volunteers At Your Service). Our mission is to help folks in transition by decorating their homes using donated items from the Houston Furniture Bank. I was finally giving back in a way that was impacting someone’s life in a positive way. My heart was full and I was blessed by each project I did with them. You can read about some of the projects here, here and here
But I still felt like there was more I wanted to do. I loved working with the DIVAS, and I still work with them, but my heart was longing for something else. I couldn’t quite figure out what, until…………..
I am sure we all remember the videos that made their rounds on the internet and the news not too long ago about Planned Parenthood. Without getting into the details of them, I immediately felt convicted to my true ministry. God was somehow using these current events to show me what He wanted of me. It was to minister to young mothers and their babies. Young girls, who despite the struggles they faced, chose to give their unborn babies life. They chose to bring them into the world even though they were afraid, alone, and unequipped. I had to do something. I had to help as much as I could.
I looked into starting a non-profit and ran into road block after road block! I was very down-hearted. All I wanted to do was help. And so for a few months nothing happened. I decided to announce it on my Facebook page as a way to keep myself accountable. I figured if I told the world what I was doing, I would have to follow through. One day as I was driving along alone in my thoughts, the Bible story about King Solomon and the two prostitutes fighting over the the baby popped into my head (1 Kings 3:16-28). Immediately I knew God was telling me to give it a name. Giving the ministry a name made it even more real. But I couldn’t understand what the name should be. Certainly not anything to do with Solomon – that is my last name coincidentally. That seems way to vain – As if I was naming it after myself. Then God spoke to me again “It’s not about you my dear” and I knew that “The Solomon Project” would be the name. That gave me renewed hope and renewed enthusiasm.
I approached the Pregnancy Help Center here in Katy about my desire to help in any way I could. I have long been a financial supporter, and may have volunteered once, but never did much else. The Pregnancy Help Center was Founded in 1989. They strive to provide excellent and professional service to men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy. They are dedicated to meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of anyone affected by an unplanned pregnancy. As a resource to the community, the Center presents alternatives to elective abortion, offers Christ-centered counseling, and educates on sexual responsibility.
The director didn’t quite understand what I was doing. And understandably so, she didn’t think I was very serious. I had asked her to identify a few young women who needed assistance with a nursery and/or a comfortable and nurturing space to bring their babies home to. We talked about putting a few names in a hat and do a random drawing. After not hearing back from her, I pushed a bit harder and finally got the name of this young lady – Destiny.
I called up Destiny with the most enthusiastic demeanor. I told her what I was doing, and she herself probably thought I was a bit coo-coo. I asked to meet at her home to see the room that she shared with her boyfriend Rafael at his mother’s house. It was a tiny room with just a small twin bed, and some random pieces of furniture. She needed everything from a crib to all the things a baby would need. She already had some clothes for the baby, but that was it.
She told me she was due in early June, so that gave me a couple of months to solicit donations and volunteers. She asked for a safari theme, as they were having a little boy whom they had already named Leonardo and were calling him Leo The Lion for short. How cute! So I set to work seeking donations from the community, my church, fellow designers. friends and family. I will include the list of donors at the end of this post.
I was amazed at how well-received The Solomon Project was. I received all the donations I needed to get this room/nursery together for Destiny and baby Leo. We did hit a bit of a snag in the process. I was set to install the at the original room where I met Destiny and Rafael, until she called the day before to tell me that she was no longer living there. This delayed the install for two weeks. Fortunately my friend Christine, who also has a heart for pregnant women, and who you will meet later in the post, came to my rescue. I was actually in the process of moving from my home as well, and had nowhere to store the furniture. Christine graciously offered to store the pieces in her storage unit. She even came to pick them up! Talk about an angel sent from above! Destiny was now living at her aunt’s house and of course the room was different from the room I was designing for. It was somewhat a similar size, so I made it work.
The room took about 5 hours to put together. I got some help from my installer Keith and of course Christine and her husband Judd delivered the furniture and the baby’s father Rafael and his brother chipped in to bring them up the stairs.
Ok, Ok enough talk………
Ready to see some pictures?
Here is the room before
So a few days before the install I got this picture
Baby Leo, Born on June 16th Weighing 9lbs and measuring 21 inches
I was so excited!!
Here is the car packed and ready to go
Here is the furniture arriving from Christine’s storage
CAR PACKED AND READY TO GO TO THE INSTALL
This is us after running up and down stairs with heavy furniture
FURNITURE BEING DELIVERED BY CHRISTINE AND JUDD (HER HUSBAND)
And Christine holding baby Leo before she had to head out
Lydia (Christine’s daughter), Christine, and Me
Ok, I know you are ready to see the finished space. So here it is
Christine holding Baby Leo
So you can see the Safari theme that Destiny originally asked for. I just love the lion mobile
I commissioned this original canvas from a friend Aimee Chaison to really make the Leo the Lion name even more special
The crib and bedding were donated and as you can see that they fit perfectly with the theme
The headboard was actually a floor screen that I purchased at At Home. The texture is great for the safari theme and the colors work great with the color palette of the room. A real headboard was out of my budget
This dresser was actually donated by Christine, and she also painted it with chalk paint
A closer view of the headboard and the bedding. I fell in love with the bedding immediately when I saw it at HomeGoods
A closer view of the crib and bedding
More of the playful lion
The room lacked lighting – there were no overhead fixtures, so I brought in these two lamps
This amazing changing table was purchased at Katy Christian Ministries and my friend Christine also painted it with chalk paint
I got the little nightstand tables at Homegoods as a great surface to place feeding items for baby Leo
We also upgraded to a full size bed. Her aunt bought her the air mattress
Just too cute!
The custom drapery was also donated by a fellow designer Kelli, and the hardware by Helser Brothers. See the donor list below for more details
I got her a few photo frames for pictures of Leo
More photo frames
She really wanted a rocking chair, and we were fortunate to receive a donation of one
A full view of the room
You can see that this small room packs a lot of punch!
What do you think of the space?
See what Destiny and Rafael think
And here is the official room tour by me
The official List of Donors in no particular order. Without the support of these individuals and company, this room makeover would not have been possible. Thanks for all the prayers as well. And if your name was left off in error, please let em know.
Christine Halladay Heartsill, Kelli Gencsy Chitty, Helser Brothers, Linda Price, Sharon Meadows, Georgia Woolery, Christie Goldstein, Amber Hughes Bradford, Misha Bhatia, Eyde Woods, Christina Espinoza, Jeanne Rodriguez, Pam Pierce, Susan Cain Moss
Photography and video by David Ganao
I would love to get project number started, so please pray about supporting us whether through volunteering, financial or donating gently used baby items. Also if you are, or you know someone who needs help, please have them fill out the form here and we will contact them.
The next project will hopefully be underway in about two months!
Thanks again for your prayers and support
Wishing You beauty And Inspiration!