Small is Big: What my son taught me about faith and compassion.

donnaandluke-1.jpgHave you ever learned that someone is facing a difficult time and just wanted to do something, say something, anything to ease the pain or bring a sliver of comfort? Often times, we truly feel helpless. Wanting to form words into a perfect sentence that will help them immediately feel better but the only thing that comes out is abject silence, because your mind is suddenly empty of any and all words. However, I have been shown first hand that there is so much we can do, no matter how small it seems.

When my son, Luke, was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation at age 10, our world flipped upside down. I was consumed and twisted with worry. Worried about his impending brain surgery. Worried about him being scared. Worried about what this meant for our future.

During this time, he was given a knitted prayer shawl made by a precious local ladies fellowship church group. Later, he was also given a prayer bear by a sweet friend of mine. His bear was placed at the right corner head of his bed and was there for almost 2 years. His prayer shawl went with us to the hospital and brought so much comfort to him. He told me he could feel all the prayers that had been prayed over it and love that had gone into it. That comfort and peace he got from a small caring gesture spilled over and brought unspeakable comfort to this mommy’s heart through surgery and the months of recovery that followed. DSC_0987

Nearly a year after his surgery, my co-worker was battling cancer. Luke and I wanted to reach out to her, to give her comfort, but in all honesty I simply CANNOT knit. So we decided to send her a prayer bear. Luke picked out the softest one he could find, just the perfect size to hug. We prayed over it, calling her by name and asking that it bring comfort to her as it did Luke. You can read more about this story published on The Mighty.

After that, we decided we could share love and comfort in a very small way through giving prayer bears. To start off, Luke sold some of his toys for donations. Since that first bear, we have given nearly 30 bears in just over a year to others who are sick or hurting, most go to children with Chiari like Luke and other conditions. It has been such an honor to be entrusted by these parents to pray for their precious children! And Luke always writes a card to each person, a kind message that he feels each one needs to hear.

And the sweet spring beauty that has blossomed from his painful surgical winter has been the most precious to me. Through the bears and prayers, I’ve seen my son’s faith and love flame into a burning compassion for others that has spread into all areas of his life. He is the first to meet and befriend others in new settings. He is kind to everyone and sees everyone as a friend. Whenever we are out, he greets strangers with a smile in passing in the grocery store or running errands and tells them he hopes they are having a great day, holds the door for them or helps them unload their cart.

This has taught me so much about the little opportunities we have each and every day. We can be consumed inwardly with ourselves and our struggles, (something of which I am profoundly guilty) or we can look outside of ourselves for small opportunities to share a moment of love.

Thank you my sweet boy for showing me that small things become big when love is in it! Chiari Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When You Try to Help Someone And They Won’t Let You

19973Last Sunday night, myself, my teen daughter, and my youngest son stopped to do the grocery shopping for the week. My husband and I both hate grocery shopping and I guess we both tend to procrastinate about it. So, anxious to get it done, I ushered the kids inside. It was crazy busy. I guess the whole community had procrastinated as well. We went from aisle to aisle from vegetables to toilet paper and everything in between. Finally we were finished and I eagerly pushed the heavy cart toward the check out lane. My children worked diligently on helping me load the groceries on the conveyor belt with surprisingly little bickering (which to me was an added perk).

Halfway through the cashier ringing up our goods, I noticed the old man waiting behind us in line. He had a frozen pizza, a peppermint patty and a green pepper that were half hidden behind my mounds of groceries still left on the conveyor belt. I looked at his patient face and felt convicted that in my rush and self-absorption, I had not let him go in front of me while we were unloading our items. As the cashier bagged the last few items, I felt God speak to my heart nudging me to pay for his groceries and so I spoke up and asked the cashier to please add them onto my bill.

The man looked at me and emphatically refused, almost seemed insulted. “Ma’am I’m not going to let you do that! I have enough money to pay for my own food.” Oh wow! That’s not the response I expected. Blushing and trying to recover, I said, “Of course sir and so do I, although barely sometimes week to week but I saw you standing so patiently waiting for her to finish my full cart and I’m so sorry I didn’t even offer to let you go ahead. The least I can do is pay for your pizza!” His face softened and thanking me several times, he continued to deny me the pleasure of paying for his groceries. So, I finished my transaction and began to leave. The cashier kept telling me how kind and sweet it was for me to offer with a rather shocked expression. Somewhat embarrassed, I grabbed my full cart, gathered my kids and headed for the door.19973

Walking to the car, I felt dejected and regretful for even offering. This was actually not the first time I had offered to help at this store and turned down. I could not stop thinking how in this day and age, people seem to have become so wrapped up in themselves or so unaccustomed to genuine love and care that we can no longer carry out simple acts of kindness!

We loaded the car and got in. As I reached for the ignition, my daughter grabbed my hand and with misty eyes said, “I am so so glad that God picked you to be my mom!” This coming from my teen who at every turn I seem to embarrass. It warmed my heart beyond words.

As I contemplated later on these things, it came to mind that I was focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on the man and felt a bit put off that God would have me offer knowing I would be rejected. I didn’t think about what kind of example I was showing for all the rest around me. It really opened my eyes to such a greater picture of God’s amazing plan. My obedience to the Lord might not have been for the old gentleman, but rather a witness of God’s love to my children and to the cashier and others of which I might not even be aware.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

A friend of mine recently reminded me of these words: “To love is to serve.” God’s great commandment is to love one another and to show that by serving others. It is sometimes so hard to do when we are rejected or don’t understand why God is asking us to do certain things for Him. As the scripture said, we must trust Him that he has a plan even when we don’t understand, even when we are rejected. Love and serve anyway. There is no better place to start than in your family and those closest to you.19973

Small Words Big Meaning

Have you ever noticed how the smallest words seem to have the biggest meaning?  Words such as “love”, “care”, “hate”, “hurt”,  and “kind”.  God has shown me in the last 5 years just how much those words can impact your life! As a pastor’s kid, growing up, we would go from church to church helping rebuild them and a lot of the churches were filled with “hurt” and “hate” from the division they had already gone through. At one point, we had moved to Florida when I was in the 5th grade.  The church members were very loving but it was still difficult being away from our home state.  I don’t remember a lot about school during that time, but I would come to remember a girl named April very well.  April sat next to me and she was different from the rest of the students.  She dressed a little differently and wore her hair in braids which some thought was not really in style at the time.  She had very thick glasses that made her eyes look very large and later I learned that she was legally blind.  I didn’t talk to her very much but I would some times chat with her while waiting for class to start.  We would exchange paper or a pencil if needed and that was about the extent of it.  After living there for six months we left Florida and went back to my home state. In 2008 I received an email on a social website from April. “Hi we were together for a while in 5th grade.  I am the one with the deformed eyes but you were nice to me anyway.”  “Nice”. I was so humbled in that moment by that word! I had to wonder that in the small interactions I had with her for her to say that I was nice, just how very hard it must have been for her growing up!  Kids can be so cruel.  (In blended families teaching your children to be “nice” and “kind” is especially important.  When you are not all related by blood and with all the difficult issues that come with it, being kind to one another can make an enormous impact.)  April and I exchanged a few more emails.  I shared with her my desire to tell women about my past, the abuse, and what God had done for me.  She replied   : “Many women have been beaten down by society’s unrealistic expectations reguarding sexual beauty and the ability to do it all: work full time, raise kids, look sexy everynight for the hubby.  Also too many women have been in domestic violence situations and too many women have been sexually abused. It’s my hope that God opens up an opportunity to witness to those who have been abused. I just prayed for you.”  Now there is a small word with big meaning: “Pray”.  When we pray, things happen.  In any situation that you feel there is not a thing you can do, you can pray.  “Positive praying is much more powerful than positive thinking. People may resist our help, spurn our appeals, and reject our suggestions, but they are powerless against our prayers.” ~Rick Warren, Daily Hope.  When you have been told by someone you love that you’re a failure, pray!  When you are worried about how the bills are going to get paid, pray!  When your marriage is in trouble, pray!  When you are caught in the middle between stepchildren, children, your spouse and the other parent, pray!  When you don’t know what to do, always pray!  “I just prayed for you.”  It was as if right in the middle of everything she stopped to pray for me.  That was the last email I ever got from her.  I sent a few more with no response so I made some inquiries and received a msg from her best friend Betty telling me that April had been battling cancer and on Sept 23, 2009 she had gone to be with the Lord.  “Thank” is another word, isn’t it?  I never got to really thank her for what her prayers and encouragement meant to me. Don’t forget to thank those who mean so much to you and most importantly don’t forget to thank God for the work he is doing in your life.  And last, another small word is “do”.  Get up and “do”. You only get one chance in this one life to do all you can do! Don’t wait to thank someone, pray for them, or show kindness to others, especially your blended family.  God hand picked them from other families and situations, no matter the circumstances, and blended them into your family for a reason.  It is not by accident but Divine purpose that you are in that family so don’t underestimate that.  Thank you so much April for showing me that even the smallest things can have the biggest impact!

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