Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, July 31, 2015

I attended New Wilmington Mission Conference in Pennsylvania again this year, just a week ago. My friends Kathleen and Roger were there, too, with their sons! I wanted to feature Kathleen and Roger’s ranch, Jeremiah’s Crossing, again. A #BestOf, for sure! Yes, the mission conference featured missionaries and mission agencies from far flung places! From all over the world! Yet, the outreach that Kathleen and Roger are involved in is right in Wisconsin. Their ranch specializes in equine therapy—where horses help kids! This kind of special needs outreach is moving, heart-warming, and super-special, as are Kathleen and Roger. So, it is with great affection and appreciation that I reprise this post from July 2014.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 25, 2014

mama horse and foal

Helping, with Horses! (Feature Friday!)

Ever see horses up close? Ever want to help kids? How about combining the two, at a welcoming place where horses help kids?

My friends, Kathleen and Roger Harris, are executive directors for Jeremiah’s Crossing, a nonprofit therapeutic horseback-riding ranch. This ranch is located in Babcock, in central Wisconsin. The nonprofit’s purpose is to help horses help children—and adults—who have diagnosed physical, mental, cognitive, and academic special needs. The best part? There is no cost for the therapy to the children or the adults.

The overall cost of caring for children and adults with special needs can be significant. The staff and those associated with Jeremiah’s Crossing do not wish to add to the financial burden of those families with members and loved ones who have special needs or disabilities. That is why “God’s ranch” provides Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) and lessons, for both children and adults, at no cost to the participants.

Kathleen and Roger Harris were married in 1995, and their children made a blended family from the beginning. They started the ranch in 2006. But even before that, they were gradually being led in the direction of helping kids, through a variety of activities. New Wilmington Mission Conference played a leading role in the Harris’s discernment and progress towards opening Jeremiah’s Crossing. The equine therapy part became more clear as God led them, too. Now, the ranch is a warm, welcoming place to everyone in families with disabled or differently-abled members.

The equine therapy is beneficial (to the persons with a diagnosed disability) in so many ways. First, the therapy gives people a positive nurturing activity that urges them to get into a regularly-scheduled routine. (to work on a regular basis with the trainer in their own therapy sessions, and in the training.) Second, horseback-riding allows for regular exercise and strengthening of their muscles. A bonus here is the assistance the riding provides for the balance center in the inner ear. And, God uses the horses in their riders’ lives in a variety of ways, including creating a friendship between the disabled person and the horse. This helps model relationship-building for the disabled people (especially the children).

The lessons are led by a PATH International Certified Instructor. The number of volunteer team members who accompany the individual riders depends on the needs and abilities of the various riders. The lesson content varies! The instructor plans each lesson on an individual basis, and volunteer side walkers come alongside of the rider and encourage appropriate posture as best suits the individual. Proper grooming, outfitting and care for the horses is modeled, as well. Everyone joins together in facilitating a positive, therapeutic experience for every individual who rides and cares for the horses.

As Kathleen Harris says, God has provided a beautiful place in Jeremiah’s Crossing as part of God’s plan to heal children and their families. Healing happens in a variety of ways—“God’s ranch” is one place where horses truly help to heal—physically, emotionally, mentally, as well as spiritually. Thank God!

(For more information, check out their website at http://www.jeremiahscrossing.org )

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Being Kind, Sharing Stories (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Different year, same week in July. Back again in western Pennsylvania. Yes, I’ve joined the delegates at the New Wilmington Mission Conference for another year. What an amazing experience. I’ve been wondering what will happen this week. How God will nudge me, or give a word to me. This year, too, there have been some amazing stories shared. Again. For example, tonight at evening meeting the conference honored everyone who had served in long-term (for two years or more) mission service. The stage was full, and the total of years was over 1000. Such service. Such devotion. Amazing.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 21, 2014

(109th) NWMC theme verse from July 2014

(109th) NWMC theme verse from July 2014

Being Kind, Sharing Stories

Such a plethora of stories today! Bits and pieces from all over. All kinds of fantastic ideas, and new thoughts, and different methods. My mind is running on overdrive, just from all of the excellent input. New Wilmington Mission Conference is truly a unique gathering.

Some people I know, others are new. Some of these stories are continuations from last summer or several summers before. Other parts are stunning. Or heart-breaking. Or chilling. I shake my head in amazement, or dread, or sheer joy.

And, I have been sharing some of my story, as well. The good parts as well as the not-so-good parts. I want to be honest and open with many of these dear people. That’s the kind of place this conference is. That’s the nature of the continuing relationship I have built up over more than fifteen years of being here in this place, at this conference.

It’s good to be here and to see friends again. Friends I have deep relationships with, but friends I only see once a year, for just a handful of days (if that).

I pray for this gathering. I ask God to richly bless the marvelous works that come out of this conference. (And, have come out of this place, for over one hundred years.) Some of these young, old, and middle-aged people are first-timers, and others have come back again and again for thirty, forty, even fifty years.

Just amazing. God, bless the people who come to this place. Bless those who were unable to be here, for whatever reason. And God—bless Your work in the world, wherever Your people gather.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!) #BestOf

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 6, 2015

Almost time to go to the mission conference again. Yes, my daughter and I will be going again this year. The service project (Stop Hunger Now) was so popular and so needful to so many people last year that the New Wilmington Mission Conference is going to do it again. Feeding people. Giving out a cup of cold water. Doing what Jesus would do. God willing, may I always be so willing.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 4, 2014

following Jesus

Be Of Service? Be a Part of Stopping Hunger! (Feature Friday!)

Stop Hunger Now! (This is a tremendous opportunity.) Imagine, being a part of stopping world hunger. Even if I can only do a little bit, only a tiny portion, I will still be doing something. This ministry opportunity is the selected service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC) in July.

Every summer for more than one hundred years, NWMC has sought to make youth aware of mission effort around the world. Yes, it’s a conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but it’s much more than just that. Held every July on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA (and thus the name, NWMC), this week-long conference has morphed into a multi-generational conference, going beyond just intellectual knowledge. True, NWMC informs attendees about its Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of mission outreach worldwide, but the conference also promotes active service and witness for God—and much fun is had while promoting it, too!

I’ve attended for a number of years. My younger children remember NWMC with great fondness, and every year this conference has a selected service project. Everyone who attends—no matter what the age—is encouraged to participate in the project!

For several years now, the service project has concentrated on world hunger. More specifically, Stop Hunger Now! (That’s the name of the mission organization.) This organization has come up with an efficient, tasty way of packaging dry meals, to be shipped where most needed. Where hunger is currently devastating lives. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix can be packed by volunteer teams, and sent all over the world. And, for a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too!

In 2011, the packaging team at NWMC made more than 24,000 meals which were shipped to Kenya. In 2012, NWMC sent more than 37,100 meals to Liberia and Uganda. And in 2014? God willing, that number will be even higher. Everyone who attends the conference is encouraged to participate. To be the hands and feet of Christ, feeding the hungry.

The use of volunteers to package meals makes the cost of each meal even lower. Plus, the use of packaging teams from all over the nation increases awareness of global hunger; many people become even more aware of how scarce food is, in large parts of the world.

This is an opportunity to be doers of the word of God, and not just hearers, only—like James said in Chapter 1 of his letter. What a chance to provide food for hungry people. And, what a chance to be helpful. Be of service. And be kind.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being Kind with Birthday Cards (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Saturday, June 20, 2015

I enjoy sending cards. I truly do! Good thing I do, for it’s a part of my job that I find touching and meaningful. I pray for each person who receives a card I send. And—unlike the mountains of junk mail that get slipped in the typical mailbox on a regular basis, a handwritten card is a lovely change of pace.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, June 22, 2014

happy-birthday-sky-wallpaper

Being Kind with Birthday Cards

Each day brings new things into my life, that’s for sure.

Now that I am settling into my new position, I am acquainting myself with a whole new set of activities. New list of priorities. And getting to know a new congregation.

One way that I can come to know this group of new friends better is by sending them birthday cards. What a wonderful idea!

The office manager at the church had a list of birthdays of the members and friends of the congregation, already printed up. So, it’s a straight-forward activity. Except—I pray for each church member as I write and address the card. I hope and pray that they might have a wonderful birthday celebration, and that God might bless them and their family during the year ahead. I try to do that for each and every card I address and mail.

I just sent off two cards today. And, I needed to buy more cards already, too. That’s perfectly okay with me. I just love buying cards! I love receiving cards, and personal mail of any kind, too. I know that sending greeting cards might seem to be a habit of yesteryear for some, but almost everyone enjoys receiving mail.

I understand that people are grateful of the thought and care someone took for them, too. I know I appreciate being remembered with a card.

I know that several months ago, I wrote about my chaplain friend who has a card ministry. She sends all kinds of cards to all kinds of people. In my blog post, I also mentioned the Apostle Paul’s comment at the beginning of the letter to the Philippian church: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.” (1:3) What a touching way to remember each other! Sending a card or a note with a few words or sentences of genuine interest, care and concern. What a way to be kind! My chaplain friend finds this ministry an opportunity to serve others and to connect with those near and far.

Paul’s words tell us how much Paul appreciated his friends and acquaintances in the city of Philippi, from a long distance away. How much more can we express our care and concern for others through cards and notes?

Noteworthy features are the words chosen to communicate, the picture(s) on the card, and the sentiment and attitude of the person sending the card. In other words, things to appeal to the ears, eyes and feelings of the recipient. Also important, the card or note helps the recipient know that you and I care. It doesn’t matter whether we are near or far, what an opportunity to be kind and tenderhearted.

God bless my new friends and fellow parishioners, and God be with each of them as they celebrate their birthdays!

Be Kind? To Seniors! All Day (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, June 14, 2015

I enjoy preaching! And, I miss the lovely seniors at the several retirement centers I would occasionally visit. As I read over this blog post from last June, I vividly remembered several seniors with whom I interacted. And, I choked up. Dear God, I pray for them, and for all of the residents at that center.

 A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 11, 2014

BK kindness is a lifestyle

I preached at a retirement center today. Midweek service—Hymns and Devotions.

After being away from more of a chaplain’s role for a number of months, I felt really good as I revisited it. My pastoral care gifting certainly is being expressed when I do chaplainly things, that’s for sure! Plus, I can use the spiritual gifts of encouragement and helps in this retirement setting, too. That’s fulfilling (and filling!) for me, too.

Since I got there almost a half hour before the service was to start this afternoon, I took the opportunity to go into the chapel and greet the residents who were already gathered for the service. I went down the row of wheelchairs that were placed in the chapel, spending time with each person. A few had difficulties raising their heads. (What a sad thing, to always have to look at the floor because of difficulty with the neck and back!) Several of these extreme elderly showed significant signs of frailty, and a couple more had signs of dementia.

I was so pleased to see the organist! I have known her since I served at this retirement center as a chaplain intern. (Ten years ago!) The organist is also a resident. Such a sweet, lovely person. I especially enjoyed the hymn arrangement she played just before the service began. An arrangement of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” I made special mention of the prelude. I also said this hymn reminds us that God created everything, indoors and out, and especially the creatures, the animals big and small.

After opening the service with prayer and thanksgiving, the organist and I led the congregation in two hymns. And then, the scripture lesson. Ah! I chose the Acts 2 passage from Sunday, three days ago. The passage for the day of Pentecost! And then, I talked about a Power shortage. (Especially with our Lord Jesus gone!) I moved into talk of the Holy Spirit, and reminded people that Peter said these words at the end of our passage today. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!”

I certainly did my best to be animated and engaging when I preached and led worship this afternoon. I received some nice compliments from the residents and others who attended the service today. I do this as a labor of love, it’s true. In addition, I am so glad that my voice was clear and sounded good to the majority of these dear seniors in the chapel.

God, what a blessing to be able to serve these dear folks. I need to remember this wonderful feeling! God, thank You for the many blessings you provided for all of these residents, all through the years. What a witness to Your love, grace, mercy and power. Amen, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Another year older, another year flown by. I think about my children, and remember. I think about the little ones in preschool, and get nostalgic. Another school year comes to a close. The promise of summer vacation lies ahead. Have fun, little ones! Be happy, my children, now not so little.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, May 29, 2014

Saying “Hello,” Being Kind!

Suffer the Children - von Uhde, 1884

Suffer the Children – von Uhde, 1884

I love small children. I loved it when my children were small, and I could take them to the park, the beach, the playground. We would have such adventures! The smallest things captured their interest, and became the topics of deep discussion. Like a busy little ant nest next to the sidewalk. I remember one of my preschool-age daughters squatting down and examining it so closely, and for so long! We talked about that ant nest for some time afterwards.

Another time, I remember two of my children (I think one in kindergarten, the other in preschool) as they laughed and splashed in the outside shower, at the beach house near our condo. Simple pleasures. They spent a good long time having fun in the open air shower! I was relaxed and unhurried, and I enjoyed watching them having a great time.

Now my children are grown. (And almost grown—with my youngest at seventeen.) New ages, new adventures, new challenges.

But I still enjoy small children. I have the opportunity to see preschool aged children almost every day. At my work, the building houses a preschool that provides daycare, preschool and kindergarten for several dozen children each day. So, I get to see the children in the halls. In the bathroom. Outside in the playground. All around the church.

“Pastor Elizabeth! There’s Pastor Elizabeth!” And sometimes one or two of the braver ones ask me, “What do you do here?” and “Where do you stay when you’re here?” I laugh and tell them I am working here at church. “But this is our school!” I nod and say, “Yes, and my office is right around the corner, too!” I get happy “hellos!” and random hugs around the knees. And I say “hello!” right back!

I’m reminded of what Jesus said to His disciples and other followers in the Gospel of Matthew—He said that the little children had an open invitation to come to Him! There were some adults who wanted to keep them (and their mothers) away from Jesus—such an important Rabbi couldn’t be bothered with children, after all!

Jesus corrected the adults’ fallacy, and went ahead and welcomed small children. Then—Jesus laid hands on the children and blessed them. How awesome is that?

I want to follow Jesus’ example, whenever I can. Imagine, welcoming children, being friends with them, and encouraging and caring for them. And—their responses are so honest, loving and genuine! God willing, I’ll be able to continue to say “Hello!” for a long time. What a chance to be kind, loving, and caring. Thanks, God, for this awesome opportunity!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another day of service, another opportunity to be kind. I can be kind in all sorts of situations, including the library. Take a read, and find out how.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, May 19, 2014

dancing dancing

When I’m Reminded to Give It Away

Giving it away—doing things joyfully, for others. Being kind, caring and helpful, to others—that’s what I am trying to do!

However, I have a problem. It’s ME. I carry myself around each day, between my ears. I concentrate on myself, I am self-centered, and even selfish, from time to time. (Well, maybe even more often than that.) Some days—nights, too—it gets a bit old. Or unbearable. I feel badly, as I realize it yet again.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this my Year of Being Kind? Whatever happened to 365 Days of Service?

Oh, I almost forgot. My negative, self-centered state of mind is part and parcel of the human condition. Looking out for number one! That’s me. I freely admit it. (Don’t we all think—and sometimes act—like this, from time to time?) That kind of negative, selfish state of mind is part of the reason why I wanted to try to look for intentional acts of service to do each day. If I think about doing things for another person, I have the opportunity to get off the hamster wheel of self-importance. Serving others gets me out of my own head. Not that this is a sure-fire way to get off the merry-go-round of endless quid pro quo, you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. But being kind certainly goes a long way towards eradicating that kind of negativity.

I heard an acquaintance of mine talking about this very thing, earlier today. Being kind, with no strings attached. Why is that so difficult? Oh, yeah. The negative, self-centered thing. (Some might even call it ‘sin.’) Whatever it’s called, if I practice getting out of myself, being kind becomes easier. And easier.

This afternoon, I went to the library and asked the children’s librarian for help in choosing some recent picture books. I’m getting ready to read to the preschoolers tomorrow. (Tuesday is reading day!) So, I was gearing up to be kind. To be of service. She was so helpful, knowing which books were recently released. And, I really enjoyed going through some possible books and deciding which ones would be good to read. (I love children’s books with innovative illustrations and engaging stories!)

So—an enjoyable afternoon? Talking with a librarian-lady who obviously loved her subject material? And, choosing books that I hope will be amusing and engaging for the children? All wonderful things. And the best part is that I didn’t get caught up inside my own head and my mental hamster wheel once. Not one single time! All in all, I think this was a good day for being kind.

Thanks for the good ideas, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

 


 

Have Bible Study? Be Kind! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Helping? Being of service? Why not with a bible study? This way is a natural for me. I love teaching, and I’ve been told I’m fairly good at leading groups. As I read over this post from last May, I thought, “How encouraging!” See if you agree.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Peace I leave with you Shalom

Have Bible Study? Be Kind!

Another Wednesday morning, another bible study. Sure enough, the good people who came together to study the Bible today were gathered for their regular, weekly meeting. And I was there to help, to facilitate, to lead the study. And, as a resource person, too. (I do happen to know a good deal about the Gospels, which were our study this morning.)

The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. That’s been our topic of study for the weeks after Easter. Today, we were back in John chapter 20. All kinds of interesting things came up! However, as I was going down the regularly-scheduled bible study I had prepared, I had a sudden thought. And I asked a question—actually two questions. My first, what do the bible study members think were the disciples’ reactions when the saw the risen Christ? Well, a whole bunch of answers came up. Discussion was lively! I thought the interaction was great, too!

In fact, discussion was SO great that I asked a follow up question. “What would be our reaction if the risen Christ suddenly appeared in here, right now?” Sudden silence. I could almost hear everyone thinking!

I won’t mention anything further about the bible study group, but instead I’m going to concentrate on my reaction to the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. (And hopefully, your reaction, too.) I probably would be scared of the Romans, for a whole lot of reasons, too! (Just like the disciples.) I might think I was hallucinating, because of the complete oddity of the situation. And I might—just maybe—find myself filled with joy at the Risen Christ’s return.

I found myself considering (in my head, in my mind’s eye) what it would be like if our Lord Jesus came in to the choir room (where there’s a large table, and where church meetings are often held). How would it be for you, too? Would we be totally happy that Jesus was here, in the here and how? Or would we reserve a corner of our hearts for our own business, our own lives and affairs?

And what about our feelings, our emotions? What would they be like? If you met Jesus in your church basement or Sunday school class, would you be afraid? How about sadness—even with Jesus right there? Anyone know the feeling of guilt? Would you feel even more guilty if you came face to face with Jesus? And what about happy? Anyone with feelings of pure joy at the prospect of being in the same room with the risen Christ?

Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace be with you!” He says the same thing to us, too. God’s peace is right with us. All the time. We have the opportunity to access that peace, that serenity. That shalom. Wholeness, healthfulness. The disciples had that opportunity. We do, too! Isn’t that a wonderful prospect, that we can access God’s peace, any time?

That’s how I was kind today. I shared news of God’s peace and love. Thanks for the opportunity, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I love going to the gym at the YMCA. I really do. In this post, I saw how a chance encounter can be so touching and meaningful. For me, as well as for my friend.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, May 9, 2014

prayer is powerful

Helping, Serving, Praying On the Track! (#BestOf)

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my . . . oh, wait. No, that wasn’t me.

Well, I did wake up. I did get out of bed. And, I did bustle over to the YMCA for a quick work out. A couple of tiny twinges of arthritis this morning, but that’s okay. After all, I’m not a spring chicken any more. I managed to cross the threshold of the lobby in good time, ready and raring to go.

With so much else going on in my life, I haven’t been focusing as much on my gym time at the Y. However, I have been continuing to go to the gym! I want to keep consistent.

I am afraid I missed a whole week, several weeks back, what with the bathroom facelift and the carpeting change-over in our condominium. Oh, and the middle of a busy Lenten schedule, and with several other personal things going on. However, I am now back on track. And among other things, like my weekly yoga class, I have returned to the running track at the Y.

I just love the track! Something about being up there, working hard, concentrating on my pace (first, power-walk, then alternating with jogging). I often meet people I know on my way to, or coming down from the track. Or—in the case of today, when I arrived I happened to meet a good friend up there, power-walking already. It was great to see my friend. After I stretched, the two of us power-walked around the track. And talked! We sure do like to talk. Both of us do. (*grin*)

My friend asked me what was new since we hadn’t seen each other for a number of weeks. After giving a brief description of my new job, my friend suddenly said “Ow!” and stopped as the two of us were just rounding the far turn on the track. “What’s the matter?” I asked. I was concerned, and immediately felt for my friend. Then the story came out. A continuing medical concern, for several years. A new flare-up, and a trip to the doctor was indicated. I heard some concern and anxiety, too.

When my friend mentioned that this was the last lap around the track, I immediately asked whether I could pray—either right now, or later. “Now would be great!” said my friend, with a big smile. So we prayed, right there by the edge of the track, near the door.

I prayed for comfort, encouragement, for pain to go away, for the medical staff looking at what was the matter, for my friend to discover any good exercises to do in the meanwhile, and finally—for a good outcome, short term and long term, too. Talk about encouragement! We hugged afterwards.

Thanks, God, for the opportunities You give me for prayer. And thanks for my dear friend, too!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

(#BestOf) Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading through this Feature Friday post from a year ago, I am reminded again of how important this is—helping one woman at a time. Providing a refuge, a support, a place of encouragement for women in need, discouraged and hopeless. Sarah’s Circle is one of those wonderful places of encouragement and assistance. Read more, please!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 25, 2014

heart balloons

Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

Imagine being afraid. Downright terrified. Needing a safe place to stay. On top of that, being homeless. No place to go. Nowhere to sleep. Nothing to eat. On top of everything, you’re a woman. Got that? All of those things, rolled up into a tight ball of frantic fear and anxiety.

What to do? How to cope?

There is a place to go. There is a solution.

In the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Sarah’s Circle provides a refuge for women. They may be homeless, or in need of a safe place to go, or both. Sarah’s Circle provides assistance in terms of housing, case management, referrals, and other necessities of life. In other words, this organization provides hope for women who have just about run out of hope.

A friend of mine, James, is the business manager for Sarah’s Circle. I talked with him recently. He told me this organization “is a place where any woman can come and find support no matter what their situation is.” James is quite enthusiastic about the services and other resources these caring folks provide. Their day program is open to anyone. That means—anyone. Regardless of the reasons for homelessness and loss of family, employment, living space, dignity—women can come to Sarah’s Circle and find help and hope for themselves.

In addition, this non-profit organization also supports twenty-two units of permanent housing. (This is in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.) Sarah’s Circle is an oasis in the challenging, sometimes fearsome desert that is the city of Chicago. This group helps vulnerable women through difficult times, as they rebuild their dignity, stability—their very lives.

Women have gender-specific reasons for difficulties in their lives, which include many types of trauma.

Not only can homelessness be a result of poverty and domestic violence, but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently occurs. As a result, trauma can contribute to mental illness and substance abuse.

Sarah’s Circle reports: “Approximately 56% of women who are homeless have been sexually assaulted; this is more than three times the rate for homeless men and for women in the general population. Research shows a strong correlation between frequency and seriousness of past victimization and diagnosis of mental illness as well as reported drug and alcohol problems. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. “

Sarah’s Circle is not a religious organization, but many people of various faith expressions work or volunteer at this organization. As I reflect upon service to the poor and homeless, giving a cup of cold water to those in need, I can’t help but be reminded of the verse I’ve chosen for the month of April. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

May I be given the willingness to go and do likewise. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

For more information about Sarah’s Circle in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, check out their website: http://www.sarahs-circle.org/

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)