Come As You Are

Add heading (3)

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with his own blood”.-Acts 20:28*

This past weekend our church opened the second phase of our expansion and boy it was exciting!  My family attended the morning service and sat in comfy theater chairs in the new worship center.  From the lighting to the acoustics to the new building smell, it felt warm and cozy.  Hard to imagine a terrific storm was raging outside during this particular worship service.  As I looked around I realized two revelations; God is good, and our church family was dedicated to making this expansion happen.

For the last few years, our church has engaged in a campaign challenging our members to give above and beyond their normal tithing in order to expand our church physically.  This would allow our church to build relationships, grow, and offer more services to the community.  Our senior pastor, Dr. Waylon Bailey, and his staff had the forward thinking of providing a way to connect with people in our community and offer a safe place to play, shop, and commune with one another.

Church-cross

First Baptist Church of Covington now boasts an indoor playground for all the little ones to enjoy.   This option will be so needed on those hot southern Louisiana summer days!  What a great way for our church members to enjoy their investment and as a church, we can open our doors and invite families in to let their children play and minister to all of their spiritual needs.  Another addition is the Equip Bookstore which aspires to be the premier Christian bookstore in our area.  I love our local bookstores, but I am thrilled to have access to Christian reference material and the ability to ask theological questions of a knowledgeable staff.  Now, who doesn’t like a cozy café to buy your favorite hot or cold beverage, a little snack, and settle into a nice cushy chair to either chit chat with a friend or fall into a great book?  Our church now boasts the Connect Café’ and partners with a local coffee company to bring you delicious drinks and tasty treats.  Throughout the common area are comfortable chairs where one can sit, visit, or read quietly.  All of the new features at our church are open every day of the week except Fridays.

The Worship Center is a beautifully designed theater-style venue which seats about twenty-three hundred.  It is large but has the feel of an intimate family room.  Not only will we worship there every Saturday night and Sunday, but it will be able to accommodate musical concerts and special events.  Hopefully, we can attract some big-name bands to perform shows in little ole’ Covington LA!

worhsip center

When it is all said and done, this is a structure with space and services to use as a way of inviting the people to come and know Jesus.  A church is about the people who are dedicated to honoring God and His wish to love thy neighbor.  I am proud to be part of a church which opens its doors and says, “You are welcome in this place as you are” and cultivates relationships with each and other and with our Father.  If you are ever in the Northshore area, look me up, and I will give a grand tour of my church home.  Blessings!

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

 

Passion For Compassion

https_amensistablog.wordpress.com

“ 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/

Blessings In Grace

blessings-in-grace

“…Who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done, but because of His own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”-2 Timothy 1:9

“Here, try this pair,” I said to him.  His shaky hand took the eyeglasses and he put them on his face.  He grabbed the bible and looked at the words on the pages.  Then his mouth erupted into a big grin.  “I can see the words, I can read my bible!  Bless you,” he said to me.  All I did was hand him a pair of free glasses, under the overpass in New Orleans on a brisk day in January, and he was ecstatic.  Yes, he did bless me.

My family and I try to go once a month to downtown New Orleans to feed the homeless.  We have met a wonderful couple, Cliff & Kim, who devote their time, energy, and resources to help people in need.  I remember the first time we volunteered with our son a couple of years ago.  I was extremely nervous to put my child in the midst of homeless adults and could only think the worst possible thoughts.  Boy, I was wrong.  It was easy to be on the outside and look into the secret, dark, and dirty world of living on the streets and to pass judgment.  They must be lazy, they must be addicts, and they must have done something terrible and this is why no one in their family wants to help.  God whispered to me, “look a little closer and talk to them.  Find out their story.”  And I did.

I met a man, who had to have dialysis four times a week, and because of this, he could not hold a job.  Since he could not hold a job, he had to live in a shelter close to the dialysis center.  His family was scattered all over the United States, and he did not have the money to move and be close to them.  He was so appreciative of the hot meal we brought to him.  He was so thankful for living to see another day.

I met a young man in his twenties who ran away from home because he could not stand the rules being imposed on him.  He got hooked on drugs and was too ashamed to go back home.  He wasn’t sure if he wanted to get clean, but he was surviving on the streets.  He had not talked to his family in over three years.

I met a young woman with two small children.  My heart ached thinking these precious children would be living on the streets.  Thankfully, they had a small apartment they lived in and mom needed some help with a home cooked meal for her and the children on this particular day.

As much as the stories here tugged on my heart and made me thankful for my own circumstances, they also have brought clarity to why I need to be there and offer some food or pass out some free clothes, bibles, or glasses.  It is about grace.  As a Christ follower, I have been showered with abundant grace from God.   I feel His mercy and favor in my life and I want others to benefit from His providence.  This should apply to all people in my life, not only the homeless.

I have unresolved issues with others and need to forgive or ask to be forgiven.  There are people in my life who have different opinions and beliefs and I need to honor and respect their views.  There are individuals who need kind words of encouragement instead of defeating statements. I can control my actions in my close circle and want to demonstrate favor, mercy, and kindness instead of setting up hurdles of impediment and condemnation.

If we all took one step in extending grace to those close to us or complete strangers, think of the change it could make in all of us.  I hope to inspire others to evaluate their own situations and see how they can discover the blessings in reaching outside of their comfort zone and spread some grace.

**I volunteer for a couple of different organizations and listed below are the websites if you would like some more information. Blessings!**

Ragan’s Hope

Mission:  Ragan’s HOPE, is committed to helping parents of children with serious ongoing medical conditions or injuries endure the initial impact and embrace the future, in the name of Christ.

https://raganshope.org/

Our Good Shepard Ministries

Our mission is to glorify God by reaching hurting people and helping them rebuild their lives in a positive way.  We are reaching out to the homeless, hurting and any other people in need to give them a “helping hand” in an effort to move forward with their lives in a positive way by providing basic life necessities (food, clothing, furniture, household items) while at the same time showing them the Love of Jesus and helping them to understand they are valuable, loved and not forgotten.

http://www.ourgoodshepherdministries.org/