Passion For Compassion

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“ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9*

This past weekend I was able to visit a mother and her premature baby at the hospital.  This precious little girl was born three months early and came into this world at a hefty one and a half pound.  When I saw her this weekend she was five pounds twelve ounces and on her way to leaving the hospital and going home over the next couple of weeks.

God is good.

It is incredible what modern medicine can do for babies born prematurely.  I walked into the NICU and was in awe of the tiny infants working overtime to grow bigger and stronger with the assistance of machines, nurses, doctors, and parents.  It was controlled chaos and everyone knew how they fit into this complicated puzzle of sustaining, nurturing, and growing this tiny miracle.  I witnessed their passion to embrace and provide in order to save these beautiful little babies in need.

Through my grief journey, I have also found a desire to help others in need.  What started out as a grief facilitator at my church has opened the door to other opportunities in the church and in my community.  We live in a world full of pain, grief, sickness, fear, and death.  My own grief has opened my eyes to show me how God has gifted me with compassion, love, and comfort for others who are less fortunate.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines compassion as the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”**.  I bet the majority of people feel this way but may not know how to act on it.  I have listed a few suggestions for someone who knows they want to assist others and make a difference:

  • Select a group which feels comfortable. Do you like to work with animals, the elderly, the homeless, or children?  Who do you connect with?
  • What is your passion? Talking with people, physical labor, teaching, reading, writing, organizing, praying?
  • Decide on how you can assist. Is it by giving your time, money, donations, creative efforts, prayers?  What amount is appropriate for you? (How much time, money, donations, etc.)
  • Would you prefer to volunteer with family, friends, or go solo?
  • Check out opportunities through churches, hospitals, non-profits, shelters, schools.
  • Ask family and friends if they are involved in volunteer work.
  • Commit and follow through.

There are plenty of opportunities to explore and find a good fit. Reflecting on these suggestions has directed me to the right choices, and tapped into my compassion for helping others.  I think one of the most important actions I can do for others is to pray.  I have seen prayer change circumstances and lives in unexplainable ways which only God can control.  He loves to see us lift each other up to Him in prayer because it shows we are focusing on others and not ourselves.  For me, this was an important step in my grief journey.  In the beginning, I needed to focus on me, my kids, and my well-being.  One day, God showed me it was time to share my journey with others and here I am today, involved with some outstanding and compassionate organizations.

I believe my compassion has grown from my grief.   I know how the pain hurts so deeply and wrecks you emotionally, mentally, and physically.  I wish no one ever has to experience the misery, but it is the reality.  I have lived through the torment and want to testify to others they too can move through the agony in their painful circumstances.  My prayer is for you to find a volunteer opportunity which allows you to serve others and passionately demonstrate your God-given talents.  Blessings!

 

A couple of the organizations my family volunteers with:

Ragan’s Hope   http://www.raganshope.org/

Ronald McDonald House Charities https://www.rmhc.org/

Our Good Shepherd Ministries http://www.ourgoodshepherdministries.org/

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/

Through A Mother’s Eyes

Through A Mother's Eyes.png

In 2004, I watched “The Passion of the Christ*” in the movie theater with some ladies from my church and let me set the stage.  I had been widowed for three years and my focus the entire time was my children and their mental and physical well-being.  I was hypersensitive emotionally and as a visual person allowed the entertainment to paint the picture.   When the movie started, I sat in a movie theater in Grapevine, Texas and for the next two and half hours, I was transported to Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.  I could feel the dry, dusty dirt on my body, the heat radiating off the sun and the immense hatred of the crowd who wanted Jesus crucified.  I could hear the men screaming and women wailing and watched the merciless beating of Jesus. What caught my eye was observing Mary, mother of Jesus, in the back of the crowd, gazing at her precious son and connecting with her as a mother.

I am not sure if it was the timing of this movie in my life or the intensity of the film, but I was extremely moved as a woman and a mother at Mary’s part in the final hours of Jesus on earth.  I have not lost a child nor am I comparing my children to Jesus, but I can relate to a woman who gave birth to a child, raised him, provided protection, and prayed for him.  I found myself in the theater sobbing and grieving right along with Mary as a Christian and as a mother.

I realize in the movie there were added components to make it more dramatic, but I was curious what if anything was mentioned in the bible about Mary in Jerusalem.  In reading through the four gospels, I found it interesting only one mentions Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically which is in the book of John.  In John 19:25-27 it reads, “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciples whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”**  Jesus identifies his mother and the disciple mentioned in this passage as John who wrote the gospel.***  There is not a great amount of detail around Mary but it does put her at the cross where Jesus was crucified.  I also know from history women of this time were not considered as important as men, so it is a safe assumption they would not be near the crosses but in the background.  I find it fascinating Mary and a few other women, made it to the base of the cross and with His dying breaths, Jesus acknowledged and spoke to her and John.  Mary demonstrated even when her actions went against the norms of the day, what a mother will risk in order to be there for her child.

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As a mother, I would want to try and deflect any type of pain, sorrow, embarrassment, or failure from my children.  I wish my children at a young age did not have to experience the death of their father.  I wanted to “fix” them with therapy, love, church, and praises.  I could not take this pain from them and they each had to go through the grief, grow into it, and accept it as a part of who they are.  Mary had to stand at a distance and watch her son ridiculed, mocked, beaten, tortured, and eventually hung on a cross to die.  We both could do nothing but be a witness to the pain and suffering of our children.  We are the mortal women who carry the burden of birthing, nurturing, protecting, loving and fearing for our children.

Easter is about the good news of Jesus and how he died and rose again for each of us.  I celebrate this joyous occasion and understand because of His sacrifice, I have a new everlasting life.  I additionally see Mary in a different light, as a mother, during this Easter season and have come to appreciate her role in the event which exhibited the sacrifice and true love for all of mankind.

*The Passion Of The Christ-A Mel Gibson Film-2004-Icon Productions

** The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***Bible Hub 2016 and Berean.Bible-Benson Commentary John:25-27

 

Agree to Disagree

handshake

It was the fall of 1982 and our drill team officer group had a huge debate ensuing.  We had two dance routines prepared for the pep rally.   The problem was we could not agree on which routine to perform.  I was in the minority but fought tooth and nail to get my favorite routine picked.  My best friend was on the other side with the majority and they won.  I was hurt and angry but moved on and agreed to disagree.

I know a major catastrophe averted, right?  At this time of my life, it was an extremely important deal to me and my little world.  I had choreographed this particular routine and basically the group, and my best friend rejected it.  I did not hold a grudge, or “hate” my friends for not agreeing with me.  So why in today’s society has it become common practice to become angry and violent when people disagree?

When you look at a beautiful painting you see different colors and objects.  Generally, a work of art evokes various emotions and ideas from one person to the next.  There is diversity in a painting, as in mankind. We are all uniquely made by God with individual thoughts and opinions.  Our world is made of up of a medley of people who look and act divergently.  So why do we start hating those who do not think and act like us?  We resort to angry actions, words, and violence to get our point across.  We talk about a “politically correct” society and yet we alienate and polarize those who look, think, and act uniquely.

It happened to Jesus.  He was questioned, mocked, arrested, and eventually murdered because of his beliefs were not the norm.  And yet, He asked his Father to forgive them.  Where is the compassion and forgiveness when dealing with a vast array of ideas?

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”- Proverbs 21:23 NIV. 

It has to start with me.  I can control the way I react to others with differing opinions.  One of my biggest struggles is to hold my tongue.  Because I have a thought does not necessarily mean it needs to be shared, especially on social media.  If I do need to engage in a discussion about differing opinions, I will consider moving it to a more private setting.  The world’s stage is not where banter should take place, especially if others can jump in and offer their two cents.

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”- Matthew 7: 1-2  NIV.

I should not judge others who don’t align with my beliefs.  We are given free will to think and believe different ideas.  Even Christians have varying points of view.  Last time I checked there were both Democrat and Republican Christians! If decisions need to be made, we should use negotiations and compromise to resolve a situation.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret-it leads only to evil.”-Psalm 37:7-8

In today’s society, we want everything NOW.  Technology has afforded us “breaking news” and sensational media.  Most stories reported are those of murder and other heinous acts.  We find ourselves forming opinions on the information which is fed to us and become judge and jury.  I want to step back, be still, and wait patiently before rushing to any conclusions.  If it does not involve me directly, then I need to zip my lip and not offer my commentary.

I believe God created us uniquely so we would offer so much to this world and each other.  I also believe He gave us the common sense and tools to use in handling disagreements and coexist with one another.  I challenge you to think how you can handle a disagreement differently, in your family, at church, or with a neighbor.  There are many different sayings which state you can get a lot farther being kind than being stubborn or mean.  I think this is exactly what God wants us to do, agree to disagree, and love one another through it all.

Be the Hands and Feet

Be The Hands and Feet

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?’  And I said, “Here I am.  Send me!”-Isaiah 6:8

My heart aches.

So much devastation.

I can’t keep up with the statistics.

Neighborhoods ruined, businesses wiped out, school districts closed indefinitely.  Where do these people go?  This is my backyard.  This is a part of Louisiana I frequently drive through as I travel to and from Texas.  I see on TV the familiar exit signs off the highway but can’t comprehend all the water up to and even over parts of a major highway.

Unbelievable.

I ask myself- how can I help?  The Holy Spirit whispers in my ear, “Be the hands and feet of Me”.

There are tragic events all around our country.  Flooding in the Southeast, fires in the west, riots in the cities, and anticipated hurricanes in the oceans.  I am calling on all prayer warriors to take your bible as your sword and shield and lift up all areas afflicted with devastation.  There is power in prayer and collectively we can change our world by lifting it up to Him.

There is a reason it is called “good works”.  It is when you are actively participating for the benefit of others.  There is plenty we can do in our area; gutting houses, feeding people, donating items, fostering animals, and the list goes on.  Don’t wait for something bad to happen.  Get out in your community and help.  There are nursing homes to visit, homeless people to feed, Habitat for Humanity or trash pickup in your town.  Be engaged in helping others.

Tragedies happen frequently in our world.  Living in Texas and Louisiana there are certain actions to be taken every year for hurricane season.  I make sure we have extra water, hubby checks the generator, and we make sure batteries and flashlights are ready for use.  I am taking it a step further and working with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief group and going through certification to be able to respond to future disaster relief anywhere and provide assistance as needed.

This is not a sprint, but a LONG marathon.  It will take months for homes to be gutted, dried, treated, and rebuilt.  Insurance companies and contractors are stretched thin and those who are living the nightmare daily want to be back to “normal”.  Please pray for the first responders, doctors, hospitals, churches, volunteers, and the victims of this epic flood.  Blessings !

God’s Got This

God's Got This

I was on hold for twenty minutes with the insurance company and I was thinking to myself, “Why does this have to be so difficult?”  My father was dying and I was trying to get all his affairs in order for my mom so it was one less thing for her to worry about.  I knew what loomed ahead.  I had walked this path after the death of my husband.   I remember the agony of having countless discussions with social security, utility companies, insurance companies, sending copies of death certificates, and answering the same questions over and over.  I did not want my mother to agonize through the bureaucracy of death because she had a much bigger journey to face.  All I wanted was to help my mom in her time of need.

We all have a time of need.

Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual there are times when we can’t do it alone.  In those times, I take great comfort in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.  This teaching reassures me God is with us during our different seasons of life.  When I feel despair, anguish, and loneliness, He is there summoning the right resources for assistance.  I love how the needs are listed in the Beatitudes with the first identifying those who are vulnerable:

THOSE WHO ARE DEFENSELESS-Matthew 5:3-5

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

 I am so thankful God is there with me during the fragile times in my life.  When I have self-doubt, grief, or my will is spent, He continues to bless me, lift me up, and bring the necessary support to my aching voids.

The next group of scriptures describes those seeking and testifying for God through their works.  When I bless others by lifting them up during their time of need, God indeed blesses me.  I am thankful for those who have lifted me up in the past and see how God blessed them for the love and support for a sista in need.

THOSE WHO SEEK AND TESTIFY FOR GOD-Matthew 5:6-9

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God.”

The last part of the Beatitudes describes those who will publicly stand for Christ.  In today’s world, this is a HUGE need.  As Christians, we need to follow in the disciples’ footsteps and testify to the world about the truth of Jesus.  We strap on the armor of God and are sent out to fight with His word against the hate, evil, and sin of this world.

THOSE WHO WILL PUBLICLY STAND FOR CHRIST-Matthew 5:10-12

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

I was able to help my mom after my dad passed with all the insurance claims and administrative paperwork.  She was weakened by all the months of taking care of my dad, grief, and physical exhaustion.  I was glad my assistance could take some of the burdens off of her plate.   It has been almost two years since dad has passed and mom has made it through the vulnerable stages of grief and now assists and shares her faith with others who are hurting.  We both have journeyed through the vulnerable parts of life and now live to testify and stand up for Christ in our actions and words.   I find the Beatitudes reassuring, comforting, and a reminder as we live through the messiness of life-God’s got this.

BE THE LIGHT

Be the light

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”-Matthew 5:16 NIV

I despise the word hate.  I try to not use it in my vocabulary because as I say to my kids, “Hate is such a strong word.”  I prefer to use I don’t like or I don’t care for instead of the four letter H word.  In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary hate is defined as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from FEAR, ANGER, or sense of injury. HHHMMM, what does this describe?  Our present world and society.  People not understanding other people’s views, opinions, lifestyles, and religious beliefs lash out in hate for the fear of the unknown.   Social and news media in general pounce on hatred events and fuel the fire with speculation and prejudice.  Before you can count to ten, situations have been exploited, intensified, and created division between one another.  All of the negative reports of people hating on other people can be so discouraging and overwhelming.  What can I do?

PRAY– I love the term prayer warrior.  When praying for others, I imagine myself strapping on the armor of God and heading to battle.  God hears our prayers and I know He answers.  And the great thing about prayer is I can pray for anyone around the world, at a moment’s notice, from southern Louisiana and not leave my home.  This is why the church, bible study groups, prayer circles are so important to God.  “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”-Matthew 18:19-20 NIV

LOVE-So easy to say; so hard to do.  Yes, we should show love to ALL.  The terrorists, rapists, murderers, and thieves are children of God.  The man who cuts you off in traffic, the women in the grocery line who is yelling at the cashier, the parents on the opposing soccer team screaming unkind words to your child, they are children of God.  God expects me to be kind and show love-EVERY TIME.  I have to ask Him for strength during these moments and hold my tongue.  There are times I won’t show love like I should, but I have to strive for this level of forgiveness and empathy daily.  “ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45 NIV

BLESS-I have found in serving others it blesses both me and them.  Sure I have planned events which I volunteer, but I am talking about the spur of the moment acts such as allowing someone to pull out in front of you on the road, or carrying a dinner tray for a mother who has small children bouncing around her while carrying a baby.  My husband makes a point when he sees someone from the military approach them, shake their hand, and thank them for their service.  It is such a blessing for him and he is sincere in his appreciation for their sacrifice. I should take the time to serve others without any desire of praise.   “But I tell you who hear me:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 NIV

I know this sounds like an optimistic, make believe solution to a larger than life evil problem.  If Jesus could show love and compassion to everyone, why can’t I?  Why can’t I choose to love my brother and sister regardless of how they treat me?  It has to start somewhere and I am the one who can control my thoughts and actions.  I can be the light and shine God’s love to others in this sad, cruel, and unfair world.

I would love to pray for you-check out my prayer request page.  Blessings!

All Lives Matter

all lives matter

I am numb and devastated.  We have had 2 high school young men in our community commit suicide in 2 days.  Unbelievable.   One of them was about to graduate in a couple of weeks and enter into his adult life.  How can I wrap my brain around these horrific events?  I do not understand how anyone could make such a permanent decision over a temporary situation.    I am angry and I am going to unleash my anger where it is due.   I blame sin and Satan.  I pray about this seething pain I feel for two young men I don’t know personally and I realize I have to give this God.  Only he can make sense and “fix” this inconceivable situation.  As I pray to understand and accept this reality, a few thoughts rise and grab my attention.

YOU ARE LOVED– God loves each one of us.  He made us uniquely for his wonder and enjoyment.  If He spent so much time on creating us, then we must realize we have a purpose and should live our life to meet our potential.  He is our protector and healer.  We were created in His image to thrive and do great works for Him and His kingdom.  “ For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”-Ephesians 2:10

HE HAS YOUR BACK-no matter how bad it gets, turn it over to God.  He can handle it and then some.  We will face hardships and painful experiences, but we don’t have to deal with them by ourselves.  He knows what is best for us even if it gets uncomfortable.   “Be still, and know that I am God;   I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”-Psalm 46:10

YOU HAVE SUPPORT-there are people put in our lives for a reason.  To love, support, and build us up.  They may not be our blood kin, but could be a friend, pastor, or neighbor.  We all have cheerleaders and people who want us to succeed.  Reach out and let them know you are hurting.  It blesses others to bless and love on you.  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-“. Hebrews 10:24-25

We live in a broken world.  There will continue to be violence, death, and destruction until Jesus comes back to declare His new world.  What can I do now?

  • I need to give my anger to God.
  • I will pray for those left behind.
  • In my immediate circle, I will commit to building up my family and friends and let them know they are loved.
  • I want my circle to know I love them for who they are and God does too.

I do not understand how anyone can take their own life and I am not condemning anyone who has contemplated it.  Please know it is not a simple fix and it affects more people than you realize.  All I ask, is you wait and seek help before making the final decision.  There is a national suicide prevention hotline number- 1-800-273-8255.  If you can’t talk to a family member, friend, or a pastor, please make the call.  There is someone out there who cares and wants to help you.  Your life matters. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’“.-Jeremiah 29-11