Be the Change You Want to See
I know it’s been awhile since my last blog, and I can tell you that it’s not from a lack of trying. I have been managing small groups, leading exercising gathering , becoming more involved at my church, and taking care of my family. The last couple months have been challenging for me, yet they have also been a rewarding time as well. I have truly been working on digging deeper to be a healthier happier mom, and I have come to realize that being this person means going outside of myself to do for others. I must give, pray, smile, care, and love on others without it having anything to do with me. When you live and operate outside of your “own world,” you become filled with so much joy, love, and peace, realities that no one but God can give you. I have not received any money, credit, or recognition for anything because that is not my purpose for doing the things I do.
Is it Possible
Being a stay-at-home mom of five and living on one income can be challenging when my husband and I have very giving hearts, yet our resources don’t always allow for us to step outside of ourselves for others in BIG ways. We simply do what little we are able to do when serving others. That was until a few weeks ago when our Pastor, Corey William at Impact Church Savannah, talked about going to a church in Houston, TX, for a hurricane relief missions trip. I’m sure you must be tired of hearing about the effects of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and, most recently, Maria, but this is real life for many people every day. These people have lost almost all their possessions, their jobs, and some have even lost their lives. Such loss and devastation can seem so far removed from those of us who weren’t impacted by the hurricanes. It’s important to remember, however, that these people are our brothers and sisters, our fellow humanity, so their “problem” is, in reality, our problem as well. While listening to Pastor Corey talk about the missions trip, I felt pulled to do more, to give more, to participate in some way, but I wasn’t sure if I could do anything. Well, my husband and I discussed it and prayed about it. We both knew we needed to do more to give to others, so my husband used all of his PTO (paid time off) to stay home with the kids, and suddenly I was going to Texas for five days. Wow! Just like that, in a matter of hours, we were stepping up in a way that we didn’t expect or believe we could accomplish.
A few days before I was due to leave, myself and the forty other missionaries from various places received word from the church in Houston. They had received so much assistance from so many people that they no longer needed any help with cleaning up. Great! This was such exciting news to hear! Then why did I feel disappointed? I shook off that feeling quickly and gathered myself together as I started to put away my luggage. I felt a little silly for feeling a bit let down when what I had been praying for was actually taking place: people from all over was coming together to help one another. God was answering my prayers. Hallelujah! However, I couldn’t escape my feelings of disappointment. You see, I didn’t understand in the moment why He seemed to be closing the door on this service opportunity, but I would know soon enough…Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who still felt the strong urge to “do something,” because a few hours later I received a message asking if anyone wanted to go help the people outside of Key West, FL connected to Key Vineyard Community Church. Absolutely! The trip was back on, and we left on Sunday after church. After stopping at Impact Church in Jacksonville, FL, to pick up a few more people, the “lucky thirteen” were off to be a beam of hope for the people in Big Pine, FL.
I was excited yet nervous, as I was unsure of what to expect. No one could have prepared me for the devastation I saw only nine hours from where I live with my family in our comfortable home. When we first arrived I felt so many emotions upon seeing the hardship in Florida. I felt sad and grateful, but I also felt guilty for still having my home and possessions still intact. God brought the words of Pastor Corey Williams to my mind just when I needed them most: “God doesn’t comfort us to make us comfortable, but to comfort others.” Our days were spent clearing out houses by carrying furniture, appliances, beds, anything and everything we could lift…A family’s entire life was emptied out of their home and set on the side of the road. Suddenly unknown faces of people I had seen on the news became real to me. These weren’t just people on a TV screen…they are mothers, fathers, your neighbors or friends. They have names. They are not just pictures you scroll past on social media. They are not people simply needing you to click the “Like” button while you scroll past them to another story to be read and then dismissed. These people–Skip, Wayne, Mary, Terry, Debbie and so many more–need you to step up in any way you can to help them and those like them.
For three days we cleaned up debris and trees in yards, removed furniture and appliances from homes, and saved as many precious memories as possible. However, perhaps the greatest gifts we gave the people of Big Pine, FL, those who have been stripped of everything, were hope, faith, and strength. We lifted them in prayer and watched as God gave them back their strength, courage, and hope for the future, even as we dragged their entire lives out to the curb like trash. They needed to know that they had not been forgotten, and we all need to know that, as human beings, we are all called to do more to help those less fortunate.
You may not be able to go to another country, another state, or even five hours away, but there is plenty you can do right in your own community. Pray. Give. Donate (what is NEEDED, not what you want to get rid of). Serve at your church, local Salvation Army, shelter, or simply be a good listener for someone who needs to talk…No matter what your current circumstance is, you have the ability to contribute positively to a cause or person beyond your immediate family and circle of friends. Those in the most desperate circumstances need to know they have not been forgotten once the next “big” story hits the news feed. There is a time for everything, and right now could be your opportunity to jump in, join others, and truly help someone else. God calls each and every one of us to step up in His name. So how will you step up? However you end up serving, I am certain that doing so will impact you in ways you can’t even imagine. I pray you can experience the indescribable gifts that comes when we help each other…Happy serving!