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When we need to extend an unconditional loving hand……

January 25, 2013

 

Have you ever experienced that suffocating feeling of being without hope? 

 

I try to always have a Plan B.  It is a survival tactic that I have learned over the years producing the safety net that has kept me from crawling through more “learning curve” failures than I already have accumulated.  However, there have been times that I have moved past the failed Plan B through Plan V and progressed onto Plan W with sweaty palms, sleepless teeth grinding nights, and dwindling hope of being able to bounce when I hit the impending bottom.  The fear that you’ve exhausted every chance of hope, as if you were scratching and clawing your way up from the darkness of a 50 foot concrete-wall hole you stumbled into or having been air dropped into a jungle and now frantically trying to find your way out before darkness sets in, without the aid of the SmartPhone GPS that you’ve become so accustomed to guiding you out of previous discombobulated messes. 

 

“For many people life is a jungle.  Not a jungle of trees and beasts…but comprised of the thicker thickets of failing health, broken hearts, empty wallets…hospital walls and divorce courts…complaints of our bosses and our predators being our creditors.” (Traveling Light, Max Lucado)

 

For the past 7 years, when I have met, befriended, reached out to our friends who are in these jungles, who have given up on there being any hope, I find it humbling to have been the conduit of unconditional love and support in any form that has been offered and I am then determined to in any way to break through the 50 ft wall or sickle through the jungle to show them that I and the friends of Hope and Friendship Foundation, will offer what they can, when they are able, to whomever needs that hand of a friend and glimmer of Hope for better tomorrows.  Whether it is an offering of a one of our many events:  Prom Dress Resale, Winter Clothing Drive, “Gently Used” Furniture or Appliance, Yard work & Minor Home Repairs during Mission Stay Saturdays, Summer Youth Events, a home cooked delivered to your door Christmas Dinner; a un-payable bill that can be covered by donations that have been received; fundraiser for a insurmountable crisis situation; a food shopping trip to help put healthy and fresh food in a home that cannot afford that necessity; or a meal, counsel and an ear for those times when you feel completely alone, as if no one cares who you are or what you are walking through. 

 

If this Foundation disappears tomorrow I will be satisfied to know that through it hope has been rekindled from dimming embers to a warm glow.  This only has happened because of an army of walking angels that enthusiastically offer and compassionately extend to those who are struggling within our arm’s reach acts of kindness offer them tidbits of encouragement to hold on for a second wind of hope.

 

Have you ever felt lonely, yet were surrounded by people?

As much as I enjoy being among a group of people, listening, observing and experiencing, I have often stood in a crowded room and felt disconnected from every person there.  The term “Friend” and the commitment that title carries have been lost in translation due to the competitive mission to accumulate contacts (aka: “Friends”) on our personal social media sites.  As our communication skills have suffered from the increase in texting and email, so too has our priority diminished in importance to commit ourselves to the face to face, “I’ll be there when you need me”, unconditional camaraderie in commitment and action. 

I just finished reading another book written by my favorite author.  In this book he speaks of a time he mentioned “friends” in one of his sermons:

 

“We have so many friends we can’t spend time with them all.” 

After that service a successful businessman corrected me,

You have more friends than you can see.  Not me.  I have none.”

“Loneliness is not the absence of faces.  It is the absence of intimacy. 

Loneliness doesn’t come from being alone; it comes from feeling alone.”

(Traveling Light, Max Lucado)

 

His sermon brought me back to the Thanksgiving homily 20 days after my father had passed.  Listening to the priest state that he would keep it short “knowing everyone had a place to be for Thanksgiving” stung me potently and immediately tears burned in my eyes and a lump swelled in my throat.  I was leaving church to spend the day with my newly widowed mother and help her move through one of the most painful days she had and hopefully will have ever experienced. 

We did not have a place to go. 

We were two people who were low on hope and felt painfully alone. 

That day, that pain, helped me understand and empathize with those that we, as Hope and Friendship, reach out to.  

 

Prepared me to comfort, passionately seek aid for and emphasize with the

*Family whose child is diagnosed with cancer.

*Family whose father suffers injury that disables him from supporting the family.

* The seniors and disabled who need the hands of friends to help “pretty up” the house during Mission Stay Saturdays.

* The widowed mom who is speechless upon arrival of the lavish Christmas Dinner and bounty of gifts for her kids, personal care and cleaning items care box delivered on Christmas Day.

*The senior couple who thought they planned for retirement only to find that a layoff for the Mr. at age 69 will leave them in danger of losing the home they have lived in for 30 years.

*The widow that had to put aside her own mourning to put first and foremost the ache and care of “their” child.

 

That Thanksgiving day motivates me with an ambitious passion to reach out to those without hope and befriend absolutely everyone I cross paths that need to know they are not alone and help engage them to take action to attest to that.  Everything happens for a reason.

 

How do you find them & how do you know they are in need?

 

Recently I went to task for two widows who either were battling cancer themselves or had become a widow due to the non-forgiving sinister disease.  Knowing they both attended the same church I scheduled a meeting with the pastor of that church.  To me a church family should be able to come to the aid of those with whom they gather and celebrate their faith with.  After I presented “their stories” and my request for assistance the pastor looked at me and asked “How do you find these people?”  It took be back and I didn’t have an answer better than “Ahhh I dunno…”  (Bright as a burnt out 25 watt bulb sometimes!) Then after I was home and thought about how the meeting went I realized people “find” me because I will listen and I will commit with dedicated abandon to seek any and all assistance for those who humbly and meekly reach out for the simplest of requests:  a ride to chemo/doctor’s appt., help with groceries, a utility bill, or prescriptions when all funds have been tapped out by unexpected crisis’, to be visited again and often.  You helped to met those needs and more.  Each home received the assistance of one month mortgage paid from Hope and Friendship while they sorted out the earth shattering events that had unfurled upon them. 

Why do the people who lean on you lean on you? 

Because in their best defense and their smartest offense they find you as one of the very few who will listen.  May God bless your ears, heart and spirit if you are leaned on.  You are beautiful.  Your unconditional love is so needed. 

After Thanksgiving and Christmas giving events were completed I was questioned quite a few times from those that assisted on “how I choose those who received these meals”.  I love to have the opportunity to discuss Hope and Friendship, the mission, the needs, and those in need.  I will offer whatever I can to help you understand what energizes me with crazy enthusiasm to stretch in growing, continue in laying a strong foundation for the future, and engage all who want to  making acts of kindness happen. 

First and foremost I, representing Hope and Friendship Foundation, offer these acts of kindness knowing that very very few, especially in a community that is of more “have’s” than “have not’s”, will ask to receive and be acknowledged as “in need” if there truly is not a need.  Second I have not and never will judge.  That is not for me to do.  I will continue to live my days so as to be able to lay my head down at night not troubled by any guilt or fear of hiding dishonesty which as we were reminded in example by this week’s news stories will always be revealed at some point. 

I reach out in many directions and through many of our compassionate networks (food pantries, school staff, churches) and put our invitation of giving on the table.

We have many neighbors who are clawing their ways out of those aforementioned holes and desperately trying to fight their way through “life’s” jungles. 

A job loss to one spouse makes a home that required two incomes extremely hard to afford.  When you volunteer your time to the Hope and Friendship Act of Kindness events and pull up to a home in a “nice” suburb don’t question “how”, be thankful that you have avoided this confrontation with desperation to survive. 

The burden and exhaustion of a physical or mental disability has figuratively and literally crippled so many homes within our arm’s reach.  If you have health insurance know you are in the minority and you are very blessed. 

I believe in being a conduit of kindness. 

As long as there is a want and ability to give I will, and whomever leads Hope and Friendship in any future will put that on the table.  If a friend humbly reaches for that gift I will not question because I know how much lump in the throat, pride killing effort it takes to ask for help. 

I invite you to ask me and I’ll share the anonymous stories and help to open eyes to situations that you may never imagined that can bring you from the “have’s” to the “have nots”.   But what I’d rather fill your ears and heart with are the stories of those who have received and graciously and appreciatively return to give.   Many of those that have been recipients of past Hope and Friendship acts of kindness participate in current projects.  It is exhilarating to me to see someone whom we helped, emerge from the jungle, be present and participate as we continue that same giving effort.  What a testament to “pay it forward”. 

 

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.  Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14:12-14

 

I am asking you to look around you and see those who are hanging on the last string of hope, those who have isolated themselves feeling they are unnoticed in any other eyes, and to understand that if you have been able to be unscathed by the barbs of the “jungle” or the pit of no escape then know you are admired and envied by some not so far from your reach. 

 

I am moved by your compassion.   I am passionate about those who need a voice.  I am humbled to receive your offerings and deliver them to those who will hold on and see the break in the storm because of your generosity.  I am only what you allow me to be.  We together are hope and friends to those who have given up on both. 

Never give in and never give up. “ ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

http://www.hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com

email:  hopeandfriendship@comcast.net 

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One Comment
  1. Steve Fox permalink

    And please believe me Terri, you help people and don’t even know it. The waves you create with your kindness and friendship stretch much further than you know. Thank you.

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