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So much learned, and we’ve only just begun.

Just stepping into summer Hope and Friendship outreaches and I already have been enriched with more lessons than hours in the day.

I have learned that though one would think that when more teens than adults show up for a Mission Stay don’t think you won’t have the most incredibly productive workday.

I have learned that though some of us adults think we have it rough, some of our young people have it worse.

I have learned that a simple hug offered is often returned with a greater strength and love from one that is smaller than you.

I have learned that the compassion, energy, enthusiasm of young people fires me up to do more, listen better, and love with an untainted and youthful heart.

I have learned that some have so much often miss how something much less can be wholeheartedly enjoyed at the same value, if not more.

I have heard the most sincere and truest “thank you” from the tiniest of voices and had it reverberate throughout my ears and heart.

I have learned that what seems like a simple hands and feet act of kindness can be the answer to a prayer for one who would otherwise not be able to do it.

I have learned that allowing God to move you into the place, time, and action that He needs to be present in can be exhausting; frustrating; time, fund and heart consuming; but the most perfect life changing, enriching place, time and action that you would have missed out on had you held tightly onto the pen.

I have learned that my passion “to be” does not override my humanness, and though I felt invincible when my young friends united with me to conquer the weed forest for our 101 year old friend’s house, my weakness to poison ivy is raring it’s ugly head to remind me that sometimes I simply must step back and watch, learn, and soak in the lessons.

Truth be told….

I’d conquer that weed forest all over again with them because we felt a bond and happiness as we dove into that act of compassion.

Isn’t that what strengthens the heart and spirit? Bonding. Doing good. Laughing. Loving, unconditionally.

Just a week in and I already know this is going to be the best summer of my life, and of the history of Hope and Friendship.

I look forward to joining with more hands and feet, but skipping the weed forest and poison ivy next time.

May peace, love and purpose be yours my friend,



Highs and lows. Why does God allow this roller coaster??

Tonight is one of my most favorite nights of the year. Tonight I get to stand in the back ground and watch my son award high school seniors with a scholarship in the memory of his grandfather, Martin J. O’Neill, Sr. for whom Hope and Friendship Foundation was created for. Tonight I get to watch one of my dreams become reality. All of the other outreaches require so much work and time and sweat and sometimes blood (I move too fast and that often causes “incidents”) and tears. This one is one that I get to sit back and watch, teary eyed, and enjoy. Giving assistance to those who are choosing to continue on in their education or training to pave a path for what they are called to do is a humbling experience.

Tonight my heart smiled…..and then…..

Before the night began I received a call from a friend who was reaching out from a dark place. “I have no one to talk to, I need to talk. I’m in a very dark place.” Though I didn’t want to I offered to stop the fun of this feeling and join him tonight and just be the ears he so needed. We set up for tomorrow and I pushed it back just a bit so I could still experience the moment. Then as we were enjoying the company of others who were bequeathing scholarships and enjoying the jubilant feeling of granting assistance someone told me of the explosion in Manchester at a concert and the death toll. I felt the gut blow. A crisis was happening as we were laughing and enjoying the night. How is that fair?

As we joke, enjoy the moment and I soak in a brief opportunity to be with my a part of my heart others were being notified that a part of their heart has passed.

How is this in God’s plan?

As I watched my son on the stage talking about his grandfather and knowing that in 4 days I will watch him cross a stage accepting his doctorate I couldn’t feel carefree, someone was struggling within my corner of the world and so many were being notified of the death of their loved one in a corner of the world just over the ocean. It was a heavy cloud and I was heart torn.

Trying to rejoice in the moment I was watching, while anticipating the meeting of the ache of the one who was feeling the darkness was closing in right here, and thinking of the parents who were being greeted at the door with hopefully a Chaplain or Officer who would deliver the most painful news they could ever imagine entering their ears and heart.

Why does one person get to rejoice at victory while another suffers with loss?

Why does a prayer get answered for one when another is denied?

Why does the pain and trials seem to find their way into the same path over and over again when another household seems to have the golden horseshoe over their threshold?

Tonight I again presented that in my prayer and again I felt the need to pray the Serenity Prayer.

It was the prayer that led my father out of alcoholism.

It was a prayer that strengthened me through my divorce as I joined my father walking with him through his 35 month battle with matastic melanoma.

It is a prayer I have leaned on when I thought I would financially, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually fail and fall.

Right now I am leaning on it.

I can not change the happenings but I can change my thinking. It is not God who causes this pain. We live in a world with evil. We live in a world that has persons who chose to be selfish, heartless, consciousness lacking, fearless of the law of man or God, craving power and their face on the screen of our TV, computer or phone, we live in a world of pain and suffering. Where is God in this?

God is in the moments we allow Him in.

God is in the hearts that allow Him in.

God is in the lives that allow Him to be in.

God is in the pain that we are feeling.

God cries with us and rejoices with us.

God is here and now only when we allow Him to be, yet even for those people there is pain yet there is a comfort in knowing that our life is not to hit our peak here it is to travel the path so that we can peak there….

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

Are you praying for strength to accept what you cannot change?

Are you changing what you can change?

Do you know what you truly have control of and what you need to let go of?

When you lose your loved one it is hard to say “Ok God they are yours now, I’ll hope to see them later.” But my friend, the comfort in the pain is that they are not suffering and in pain in this world because they are in the world we are working towards. That leaves us aching but them in comfort and in the arms of God. Do we wish them back here or find minute comfort knowing they are there?

I wish my Dad was here.

So many days I have shed tears just wishing I could hear his voice on the phone or be the recipient of his hug. I’ve wished for his advice and guidance and have truly felt lost without it at times.

I only find comfort knowing that I believe he is not of this world anymore and of another that is so much better than I can only imagine.

He finished his race faster than I wanted him to but I will rejoice in his finish not wallow in my loss.

Only faith walks me to that peace.

Only faith helps me understand why some are mourning tonight while I was beaming of mother pride.

I felt guilty.

I wish I could be there putting my arms around a parent as they heard the painful words.

I don’t have control of that, but I do have control of putting myself in the chair tomorrow in front of someone who told me that they are in the dark.

I do have control of trying to be a conduit of words of hope, love and light, and if I chose to not put myself in that chair shame on me because I would’ve passed on what and who God put in my path.

If we could bring more light to the darkness my friends every single time we are presented with the opportunity, there would not be so much darkness.

If we spread more love than judgment love would be more prevalent.

Every person that commits these acts of darkness has left the light, hope and love of the One that understands suffering and being alone.

The one thing we have control of is to allow ourselves to bring light to every dark struggle that crosses our paths.

Do you know a person that needs compassion, a word of hope, a hug, or simply an ear? Have they reached out to you? Have you, would you, could you make the time for them?

I encourage you my friend to bring the light to those dark places.

The change in the world will only happen when we step forward to bring light to the darkness.

Be strengthened knowing you are “sent” to do this.

Be humbled, grateful and know you are blessed.

Be the light in someone’s darkness.

Be the change the world needs.


The world needs you now.

When “Happy Mother’s Day” makes your heart ache.

Hours to go, wishing it was less.

One day that feels like a month in time.

You have avoided people as much as possible because you dread that interaction that leads to the painful extension of “Happy Mother’s Day”; followed by the next dagger “What are you doing today?”

To those mothers who have buried their child.

To those mothers who never even received the chance to show their child what an amazing mother they were to be having lost them at, or shortly after birth.

To those who have stood at the graveside of their mother.

To those mothers who spent the day alone today, not by choice.

To those sons and daughters who wish they had the chance to spend time today with their mother.

To those mothers who children who are caught in the web of addiction.

To those mothers who truly need to hear that they are not a failure and that the heart they laid out for their child and has been wounded can and hopefully soon will be healed.

To those mothers who do not have a partner to help with the child raising, the running around, the household chores, the strain of balancing disciplinarian and nurturer, who simply feel tapped out and alone.

To those mothers whose husbands always made the day such a special day of celebration, but now you walk through this day alone as a mother and a widow.

To those fathers who have lost their partner, soul mate, mother to their children and now painfully ache on this day knowing if you could you would make it 24 hours of everything special for the one you wish you had one more day with.

To those who simply ache today and have agonizingly pulled yourself through most of it but need strength to crawl through the last few hours.

Know you are not alone.

Please know that all of the well wishers, the posts you see, the people out celebrating, the gifts and flowers being bought are not surrounding you to cause you pain they are such bittersweet reminders of a day in the past, of what has been loved and lost and what is now only in your memory and heart.

No, it is not fair.

Yes it is painful.

However, you are one of many, contrary to your belief. Here within your corner of the world there are others who are looking at the clock just like you wishing you could will it forward faster.

Before you knew pain, He knew pain and so did she. Mary watched her baby boy grow, walk, run, speak, teach, lead and rise to The One that was chosen to lead a nation. Then she watched him unjustly convicted, suffer, abused and killed.

They put His limp and lifeless body in her arms and she uncontrollably sobbed. Her body throbbed with pain holding the one that held her heart.

I know you know that emotion.   I feel you understand that pain.

He understands your agony and so does His mother.

Know you are in the hearts, thoughts, and arms of those who understand with empathy not just sympathy.

Close your eyes and feel the love that can only come from those who have walked your walk.

Open your heart to know that days like this are extremely painful reminders of a love that you were blessed to have, hold and feel.

May that love, and the love of the One who created you, fill your aching heart and help you through the remainder of this day.

May these words let you know that you are not the only one who has struggled through this day.

Know you are loved my friend and if you need to be reminded that you are not being punished, you are not a failure, you were not created to fail, to suffer or to spend life grieving; I will passionately and emphatically remind you of that with a call, a text, an email, or over a cup of green tea.

Like the pain, today will pass. My prayer is that you are stronger for having loved as only a parent, partner, or child could have loved that special one that was blessed to you. Hold on to what has made you better for that love, let go of what the expectation of the day that this world communicates and know that you are in the eyes, arms and prayers of those above you and those around you that understand how hard this day was.

May you heart beat stronger and your passion be greater feeling that comfort and may you awake tomorrow still feeling that love.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

“It is time to teach society on how to be empathetic with people grieving.”
~ Nathalie Himmelrich

Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders

Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9

Easter Sunday…..He’s alive but the scars remain

Did Jesus need the stone rolled away to escape the tomb? Absolutely not.

Did the stone need to be rolled away for those to believe to enter and see that He had risen? Yes, otherwise there would have been doubts.

Jesus was healed of the extensive wounds he suffered from the crown of thorns, the whipping, the tremendous abuse that left Him bloody and scarred but the 5 wounds remained. Couldn’t God cure those? Of course He could have. Yet why leave the scars?

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”~ John 20:24-29

The scars were left for us to remember, to respect and to believe that the resurrection happened and that from these scars ours would be forgiven.

What scars do you carry? How many nights have you pleaded for Him to remove them or spare you from them? How many times has He assured you that you are loved as is and with your scars and that He will walk with you through the chapters that have laid them on you?

Those that have survived abuse. Those that have abused themselves. Those that have been born with deformities. Those that carry emotional and spiritual scars that weigh so heavy on the body and spirit. He understands. He appreciates the intense abuse and pain that come from scars and wanted you to understand that, therefore, He refused to have His wiped away.

May you feel the comfort, the strength and the companionship of the One who understands the importance and the validation of scars. You are beautiful. You are victorious. You are wonderfully made and loved as is and forevermore. Know that those scars you carry are a part of the formation and foundation of the beautiful you, and those scars are an opportunity to make you stronger in body, spirit and faith.

Do not hide your scars. Do as the One who created and loves you unconditionally and fully did, show your scars for all to see. Know you are stronger for them and stronger with Him walking with you both of you wounded, scarred but wholly, fully, and beautifully stronger for the walk you have walked and the scars you courageously and triumphantly bear.

What do you have in common with the One whom we hope to be with at the end of our days? Scars. Touch them, feel strengthened by surviving them, and know His heart breaks for yours and His arms wrap around you understanding how painful it was to earn His for you.

Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders

Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Holy Saturday….the wait

You’ve become one with seat in the waiting room. With every movement or person entering the room your anxiousness rises. Your prayers have been said and now you’re waiting for God to do what He promises: “Ask and it will be given to you.” To even be in this stressful situation has aged you and worn on your heart and spirit. Will you celebrate a miracle, or being the process of mourning the loss of one you don’t think you could live without?

Cut backs are to be announced at day’s end. You enter your place of work in the morning knowing that by the end of the day you may walk out with a box of your possessions and your mind consumed with the need for an updated resume and a very stressful pressing job search. As to which way your life will turn will not be determined until after you have moved through the next 8 hours.

Words were said. Arms were flailing. Voices were raised. Tears were shed. And then the door slammed shut.  Is this the end? You’ve visited this fork in your relationship before. You could’ve chosen to turn the other direction, opted for the peacemaker and not the agitator, but in the heat of the moment you felt passionate about being “right”. Now everything feels so wrong and all you can do is wait to see if you will have the opportunity to truly make things right. If you can get that 2nd chance you’ll do things better from now on; more patience, more prayer, more selflessness instead of selfishness. You are so very disappointed with how you let this “little thing” cause you to hurt the most important thing: your relationship with the one you love. You vow to do better if you get another chance but you wouldn’t blame them for not seeing your intention to change.   You hope for another chance, but for now you wait.

In each of the gospels we are told that Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus were the last to leave the tomb. The stood at the foot of the cross when he took His last breath. Mary held her son when they removed His body from the cross. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were present and helping in the process of placing Jesus’ body in a borrowed tomb. Then when all had departed they remained. They just couldn’t believe this was how it was supposed to end. Grief and belief kept them holding onto hope that this was not the end.

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.” ~ Luke 23:55-56 They went home to wait through the Sabbath day until they could return and keep watch for a miracle. What a painfully long and sorrowful day that was. Do you know that feeling? Are you holding out for a miracle?

Don’t lose heart, spirit or faith. The “wait” is an opportunity to pray, ponder, and become stronger in your convictions of what is truly important to you. Perhaps what you want is not what is best for you and during this time of “wait” you are able to feel the gentle compassionate guidance in your thoughts and heart to understand that. May you have the strength to “be” in your wait, to grow in your faith knowing that He is with you during and on the other side of your wait. My hope is for your wait to be filled with peace, feeling hope, but most importantly feeling His love.

Good Friday….A demonstration of love.

I have always thought it was an oxymoron for this day to be called “good”. What is good about a day that the One that was sent to lead us to a life of compassion, peace, forgiveness and love was brutally murdered by and as the people He walked amidst cheered the abuse on, the same people who had lined the streets singing His praises and celebrating His life days earlier were lining the path as He took the walk toward His death jeering Him, spitting and pelting him, all of this while His “friends” watched from a safe distance so as not to suffer the same violent demise? Each year this day dawns is an opportunity to reread the chapters that describe the actions, the pain, the betrayal, the courage displayed and the love that was laid down from the One who created world. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves just why this day is “Good”. Jesus demonstrated love through this hideous day by weaving it throughout the acts that transpired until His final breath. The strongest love was apparent from a Son to His Father, from a Father to His children, and between a mother and a child. Having been blessed to be a have my heart walk outside of my body in the form of a daughter and a son, I have learned first hand the intense power of a “mother’s love”. If there was or is any way I can prevent pain, aches and hurt from landing on the body or spirit of my children I will stand in that gap and do whatever I can to deflect it from them to myself. If I cannot prevent it there is nothing that would keep me from walking through the pain, challenge, burden or from standing by their side. There at the foot of the cross stood Mary broken, weeping, and watching the heart outside of her body about the leave her presence, her care, the world. If physical and emotional pain can be weighed the sum of that pain that Jesus experienced would scale to the pain that His mother sustained on that day. To lose a child is the greatest pain a parent can experience. To watch your child murdered by the very people He peacefully served, cared for and loved is an agony that only one mother has ever endured. Jesus knew the pain that Mary was suffering even through His own. “When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.” ~ John 19:26-27 He saw and felt the pain, and compassionately and purposefully did what He could before He died, to comfort the one God bestowed to Him as “mother”. He demonstrated love. When the guards were dividing up His garments to keep as “souvenirs” of the occasion, He didn’t order lightening to crash from the skies and level them to the ground. Instead He prayed on their behalf: “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” ~ Luke 23:34 He demonstrated love. When the criminal who suffered the same sentence and torture spoke up for Jesus defending Him proclaiming “this man has done nothing wrong” Then turning to Jesus, not asking for freedom from his cross but for forgiveness for he wrongs “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus compassionately eased the man’s remorse and honored his respect. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ~ Luke 23:43 He demonstrated love. The nails did not keep Jesus on the cross His love did. He could have committed the miracle of miracles and made the entire day not happen by reducing to ashes all who would and did condemn, abuse, and murder Him, but that was not the story of Love that was being written. He showed His love for His Father who was showing His love for the world, for you and I, by taking each painful step toward the cross. “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” ~ John 19:30 He demonstrated love until His very last breath. And, as we now know, even beyond….. May you feel the presence and love, on this day and every day, of the One who didn’t just speak of love, but demonstrated love from His first steps to His last. May you feel moved to walk through the day, this day, every day, with Him in word, action and prayer bringing your heart and His closer together, as He had hoped would be the result of this day. Today is a “Good” day to revisit, to continue, to strengthen, or to start that walk.

Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders

Holy Thursday, to humble yourself to serve, share and pray.

Pulling up to a table with delicious food laid out, the room filled with the aroma of the feast, and the table surrounded by the closest of friends sounds like the happy ending to any day.  Leonardo da Vinci captured the image with such skill that it is the Polaroid in our mind when we hear the phrase “Holy Thursday”.  Oh to be at that table.

However, the gift of that evening was not the food or the companionship that was to be shared, or the honor of being in the presence of the Lord it was the lesson prior to the meal that became a symbol and action that is repeated to this day more than 2000 years later; a symbol of serving, humbling oneself, and an expression of the deepest form of love.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:1-5

Then, the most valuable lesson, a timeless truth that I plan to write in my day to day calendar so I may remember a verse that I have many times read too quickly through:

“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:16-17

To serve is to love.

To love is to humble yourself to serve.

The power and presence of the love that was demonstrated from Jesus to those whom He carried in His heart, from this earth to heaven, is a love that is not limited to the capacity of that room, it is only limited by the capacity of our heart.  The love Jesus validated and sincerely offered to His disciples is the same love that He offers to us every day from our first to our last.  When we allow that love to fill our hearts it radiates from us to everyone in our presence therefore casting a most powerful, humble, serving, unconditional love to all whom we are in contact with, bettering us, those within our walk, and thereby the corner of the world that we have been placed in.

Later Jesus would lie face down on the soil of the earth in the Garden of Gethsemane weeping, begging, and praying so fervently that blood vessels would burst and blood would ooze through his skin, all of this as those He just loved in action, deed, and sincerity slept unaware of the last moments with him they were letting slip away.  Jesus knew his final hours would be offered at a price that was far greater than 30 pieces of silver, He would walk the path that was set before Him and stretch out His arms for the last time offering the greatest act of love our world has ever known.

From arms that served and loved in the room, to arms that serve and love our world.  We are conduits of that love now with our arms, our hearts, with His love.

May you serve the world around you humbled yet empowered with the capacity of love shown by the one who didn’t just speak it but who demonstrated it with His hands, His arms and His life.

Be the servant.   Be the messenger. Be Blessed.

Wishing you peace,

Terri O’Neill-Borders


Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9