People Need to Grow Too

your most powerful testimony....

 

Whether you are a child or an adult, you never stop learning and you should never stop growing and changing. The moment you stop growing, changing or learning, might be your last moment on Earth.

The same goes for Churches and denominations. They should also grow and change and learn. People need to step away from their “check list” of sins and look at the truth that Jesus tried to tell us…… He came to break down the wall that man had built up around the basic rules or laws.  He said to love each other, pray for those who wrong you, and serve the Lord your God. That’s it.

The world is changed by

Now look at what we have done. We did the same thing. We have taken the basic book, the bible, and we scare people with it. We make people feel bad about themselves. We become judges and juries. “but it says in the bible….” Don’t get me wrong, I love the bible but the reality is that we have taken a book that was written through the holy Spirit yet put together by men with some political agendas. We have used it to intimidate people.  People stop coming to church and stop believing. They don’t talk to their children about God or Jesus. Satan wins!!!

Is that what we want? No! We want to be accepted, loved, supported just as we are. It is not a sin to be black, white, Asian, gay, deaf, blind, or anything that isn’t “perfect”.   you know it’s against the law to walk your elephant down the main road of  town……you laugh but people have not changed some laws that are way out of date.

 

It’s not a sin to get a divorce and marry again, or get married after a spouse dies. It used to be considered a sin but we changed with the times……

It is time we change again. Actually, it’s long overdue. There is a school of thought that our church is starting to lean toward.  We want to help people come back to God’s house and feel loved and accepted.

We need to make the change

I have witnessed my churches generous heart with my husband and I. We stopped going to our church because we didn’t feel the support from the pastor who led the church at the time. then a couple years later, my husband was mowing the lawn and on an incline he leaned over to clean the deck of debris. he lost his balance, fell off and the mower went over his hand. All I heard was the mower stop, I came outside to see him walking and holding his right wrist yelling, “call 911, call 911”. by the time I got 911, he was by my car, “just drive me”. I threw the phone in the back seat and drove like Jimmy Johnson. Lights flashing, hazards on, honking my horn at 120mph. I got to the hospital that was 15 miles away in 8 min. As I’m getting out the cop finally pulls up behind me, I ignored him, punched the numbers into the keypad and took care of my husband. It was the loneliest,  day of my life. My husband was out of his mind in pain, screaming things he would never say. It was heart wrenching.  I wanted my family who were all 8 or more hours away. I tried calling the only friends we seemed to have down here but they were away too. I called my Aunt Judy (my mommy God gave me) she would pray and tell the family. I then thought, the pastor, no matter what we needed him. I went. A wonderful man named Tommy Mitchell was at the church. I told him what happened. He said the Pastor was away but gave me a number to reach him.  I ran home to take care of the dog and pack a bag for my husband. He was to be taken to Duke to be operated on.  I got back to the hospital and saw Tommy Mitchell there.  He didn’t have to but that’s just Tommy, big heart, does as Jesus would do. When my brother called and asked what he could do I jokingly told him send the family. 12 hours later I got a call from my Aunt Judy that she was coming down. God is Good!!!!!!

After the amputation of fingers and some time…… we got a check in the mail from that church…..they knew Bruce had lost his job in June and now we had bills to pay.  That floored us. We knew what to do and we slowly made our way back to the church. They accepted us back, lumps and all. Pastors had changed and we just all clicked.

God picks up nobodies and makes somebodies

This church could have shunned us, but they didn’t.  Love, acceptance is the core of these people.  Yet some still let things get in the way of that….they go back to their check list of comfort. I don’t understand why there are not more black people in our congregation until I remembered what someone said, “they probably don’t feel comfortable in a church like ours”.   Really? or is it we don’t make them feel comfortable? or is it that some people don’t feel comfortable or they are too afraid what others will think?

live by faith, not by fear

In January a gentleman was invited to come to our service. He felt so accepted and loved that he and his husband have become a part of our church.  When I met them officially in April, it was instant kinship. I could feel it. The holy spirit moving through the church. These are men of God and an answer to my prayers for this church.  Some people got to know them and accept them for who they are. Some, took to their fears and are missing out on two great christian men!

Now they are working on our second  contemporary service which has been shrinking because our youth is all growing up and going to college. They have taken it online so that if people can’t get back into town can see it now. It’s still growing trying to get more people to do the singing, fundraising, cooking, etc…..  They are working harder than anyone has on the mission of this service we call, “Spark the Fire”.  The mission is to create a place of love, acceptance, and reconciliation of all God’s people. All skin colors, all abilities, all ages. I’m even trying to do some sign language on there!!!! God is moving and grooving! Who knows, maybe I’ll even sing….. Here is the mission:

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We at Ahoskie United Methodist Church, embark on a journey of reconciliation as we celebrate the diversity of all God’s children and recognize the sacred worth of all persons regardless of race, age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, physical or mental capacity, education or economic or marital status.

The outreach mission of Spark the Fire Ministries is to proclaim this statement of welcome to all who have known the pain of exclusion and discrimination within the universal church, and offer a safe place for all to worship at our sides without judgment, and invite all to participate in our services without fear of exclusion.

The point? Churches can’t do the same thing for for 10 generations anymore. Jesus was friends with tax collectors, women, the unclean, the Lepers, the people that others felt uncomfortable being around. Well, as for me, I want to be more like Jesus and Thomas.   I said to someone, “half my family is black, half my family is deaf, part of my family is sprinkled with some Latinos and the rest is topped with a couple of wonderful homosexuals and if anyone has a problem with that, it’s THEIR problem, and they can keep it to themselves.”

What can I say, I have gotten bold in my old age and I love my family no matter what color or country they come from, and it makes me sad and mad when people say they are accepting but then they complain about people coming to a church. How can you do that? People seem to find a way to be against other people. Can we change this??????

It all baffles the Child-like faith I have. Call me crazy but I don’t let my pride or ego get in my way. I’m glad that there some people who are consistent and dedicated to this church. We all go through “growing pains” and we all come back to the basic conclusion, God meant for this to happen to see who were the strong of faith and who were not……  Who is part of a church for God and not just out of obligation?

Come back to church and give God a chance. good-church-quote-by-dr-martin-luther-kingjr-faith-is-taking-the-first-step-even-ehen-you-dont-see-the-whole-staircase

If you want to support our church please go to http://www.Ahoskieumc.org  or go on facebook to find Ahoskieumc or https://www.facebook.com/Sparkthefireahoskie/  or Ahoskieumw….contact us one way shape or another. We can help you learn about us, God and I pray heal your hearts.

As Reba’s new song says, “We are still worth saving, we got to give this world back to God.” and get out of his way.

 

Success: What is it?

success-definition-10820480     I apologize for not as often as I should….my only excuse is that this past year has been more difficult to get time to myself and my writing. In December there were some deaths of people that got me thinking. What will I be remembered for when it’s my time? Have I been successful? What is success?

Then I realized that this is what everyone thinks about. So let’s start with the definition.

Webster’s definition is:  favorable or desired outcome; also :  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

I believe there are 2 realms of success: success of the world and success of the spirit. you can have one or the other, you cannot have both. Though if you do have success in one it will lead to success in the other but only one way: Spiritual success must come first.

For me, success has come in many forms that most don’t think about. I was successful to not become an alcoholic like my mom, when all the statistics said otherwise.  I was successful in surviving for 10 years on my own, with very little pay, and bills that exceeded my income. I was successful to find a church that I wanted to be a part of which led me to my husband. God orchestrated all of these successes and he’s not finished yet.

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Now, many people believe that being a success is having a home, paying the bills, being able to save a little and give a little, as well as not having to worry about every little penny. They believe that if they don’t have a $50,000/yr or $500,000/yr job that they are not successful. Really??????

I tell my students that if they want to be able to live on their own they need to earn at least 25, 000/yr or $14/hr . The only way they can get to their dream is to figure out what God’s dream is for them to do……

 

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For me, no matter what job I was in, be it retail or hospitality, I was always teaching someone something. I finally got the hint from God that I was to stay in teaching, one way shape or another. I have tutored, been an assistant teacher, been a middle school teacher, been a GED teacher, and now a teacher for adjudicated youth. This is what God was preparing me for. My goals are to succeed at what God wants me to do. Teaching and writing are 2 of those things I know God wants me to do. I guess I need to work on some daily things, like patience and stress,  for that teaching before I will be a success at writing.

God has plans for U

So, what is success for you? Do you really need to have that 5 bedroom 2 story house to feel successful? To be successful do you need to just have someone recognize your gifts and say, “I have a job that pays only $10,000/yr or $3/hr more than what you are earning now but there will be room to grow.”?    Is success just being able to get all the chores done, dinner cooked, and animals fed?  Is success taking just the right photographs that someone would want to purchase? Is success bridging two organizations so that one takes care of the other?

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For me, if I can inspire people, to do God’s will and to do good things and love others, then I am a success!!!!

What is Success for you???? What will your obituary say about you and your successes here on earth?

 

Humans Tolerate, God is Acceptance

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   I remember stories of a time long ago, when a church put in microphones, to record the pastor’s sermons, so that people who could not come to church due to illness or whatever, could get the tape and still be given the message. There were people who opposed this technology entering the sanctuary and they left the church. I always thought it was so silly for people to leave a church because of microphones or other technology. Why do you go to church? For the place, or for God? Those people eventually returned and tolerated the technology since all the churches were adding microphones…then later it was movie screens…then sound systems ….then people of other colors, races, or sexual orientations……. and people would leave then return.

   It all comes down to tolerance or acceptance. There is a big difference and it has to do with our human side and our faith.

    To have tolerance means to “put up with” certain people or behaviors. I have a high tolerance for certain behaviors that I expect out of my students and very low tolerance for behaviors that we are trying to help them with. Humans tolerate other humans.

    God is all about the acceptance.  God sent his only son to accept our sins, to accept us, warts and all. This is why he sent his only son, to live among us, to understand our reasoning, and teach us how we got it all wrong.  At that time, I believe, Jesus knew he could only reach a certain number of people. He also knew that, when the time came, only a handful would be there to teach others abut his one message of love.

    If you recall, Jesus had a core group known as the disciples. They had flaws like fear, lack of faith, and a little judgement. Jesus accepted this about them and just kept teaching and repeating the same thing, in different ways, t o love everyone.

just love God’s got this!!!!! Who are we to judge!

  Jesus even accepted the fact that there would be people, “stuck”, in their old teachings and thought that was the only way to heaven. We call them the Pharisees. He tolerated their persecutional questioning of his every move at every turn. He was patient with them and had the insight that his followers would go through the same persecution for generations to come and he had to show them how to respond to these Pharisees.

I also think that, even though the Pharisees seems confident, Jesus saw their fear. Maybe the Pharisees were afraid that people would no longer listen to them if Jesus was the Messiah. Their “power” would be gone.

     We all know some “pharisees”  of the modern day. Those people who say things like, “That’s not right, this is the way we have been doing it for generations.”   or   “If they start putting all that new fangled technology in the sanctuary, I’m leaving!”  or ” If they let THOSE people in, I may have to go to a “real” church.” All of these statements are paraphrases from people in the stories I was told way up in NJ.  Evidently, every generation has had some “pharisees” in them.

your most powerful testimony....   It’s our human side that has a fear of change. It’s our human side that Jesus accepted and died for. We can tolerate certain human things like fear, anger, violence, etc… but our faiths, be it Christianity, true Muslim, or Judaism, mean that we believe in God and God is all about the LOVE. We need to overshadow our human side with the acceptance that God shows us every minute of every day with love.

   God is love, love is God. Heaven is love. If we are to live on earth as we will in heaven then we must trust and obey. Our job on this earth is to love. Leave the judging to God.

    Please Lord, tell me if I am doing your will or am I pharisee too?  I pray that I show love to all as you show us. Amen

Many Ways To Grow

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I am so excited! I have had a request! Someone from asked me: how can the youth show such significant growth in the standardized test I give them? The answer is multifaceted. First I need to explain the testing we do, and the circumstances with which I work with.

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The group home teachers are instructed to give each youth a standardized test, called a WRAT (Writing, Reading, Aptitude Test) when they first arrive and when they leave, in order to show their growth or lack of growth.  A 4 part test in spelling, math, word reading and sentence comprehension.  It  helps to give us a basic sense of where their brain is academically. This is also a good time to talk a little and get a sense of the child’s personality and attitude. I try to wait to give this test with in the first month of their arrival. This gives the youth time to adjust to the group home. They go through a few days to a week of almost denial that they are there. Some seem angry, some accept the situation. So, I give them time.

You Are only confined by walls you make

When the youth arrive, they come in from all sorts of situations. Some arrive with families. Others arrive in handcuffs and shackles from detention centers. This may be the first time they have seen their family in a month or more.  Some of the youth that arrive come with academic information such as report cards and a few we are able to get their IEP.  Two or three times a year we get youth that have very low IQ levels of <70. In the 5 + years I have worked here, I have observed that if a child has an IQ less than 65 they won’t get much from our program.  However, with the tests, we have seen growth even with these low IQ youth. The fact of the matter is, even with all the stress these youth go through, about 85% of them leave showing huge growth.  I will give you a few examples.

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Most of these children come from single parent or grandparent homes.  I remember 8th grader who’s home was not good. His mother never came to see him. She would make promises right up to Friday morning when he earned his visit home and would call and say she couldn’t come and he couldn’t come home…..It broke our hearts. I gave him his first WRAT test 3 weeks after he arrived and he scored very low. 1.7 wr, 1.0 sc, 2.1 sp., 3.5 math. These are grade equivalency numbers.  3 months later he scored 2.4, 1.7, 2.0 and 3.8. Not bad for just 3 months. We found him a foster home and I had the privilege to go with him when the FSS at the time took him. I think he felt much better when I gave it all my blessing.

Another young man who was in 7th grade, seemed to always need to be near me. Every morning when I was trying to get things ready, or at break, there he was…..and I heard he always was ready for church, when he went home but his mom could not get him there. That didn’t discourage him. He kept reading his bible and keeping the faith. He increased his grade levels on those tests incredibly. Wr., 5.4 to 10.3, Sc. 9.9 to 12.9, Sp, 12.7 to 12.9 and math 5.1 to 5.9

God has plans for U

We have had some older youth who have come in with psychological and neurological disorders. I expect the same hard work from all youth. I teach them not to use their abilities as disabilities or excuses. One 9th grade female youth suffered from Axiety and it seemed everything triggered it. Other kids laughing or seemed like they were laughing at her, not doing a chore right, getting corrected by staff in firm tones, and she never volunteered to give answers in class or speak in front of the group.  “WRATwise” she increased her math from 8.7 to a 12.9, she was a 12.9 in the other areas. She raised her hand to answer questions in my class. She did her project for health and presented it in front of the class. At our annual graduation, the youth are asked if anyone wants to speak and she raised her hand first. I thought her Court counselor was going to fall over. I was proud of her.

One last example is a youth who probably should have never come but I’m glad she did. We were not told of her disability, but when talking to her you could tell, something was not right. After begging with the school for her information we found out that she had an IQ of 63. By the time I found out she was half way through the program. Here’s her results from the test:                     word reading:         3.5    to           7.4                       Sentence comprehension  : 6.5    to    8.2         spelling:  5.1 to   6.8                  and    Math         Kindergarten (k.0)     to        10.1                      Pretty cool!!!!! yet, her mother still worked at night and they lived in a motel.  Her perception of the world was quite ……different.  

Im still working on you-God

These are just a few examples of the growth. Some did not show growth at all and others only grew in one area.  But for all of these youth, growth happens on many different levels and you can’t test all that.  The only way to know if they grew as people is to find out how successful they are in life.  Every spring there is always a visit or a call from some former youth.  The girl with the Anxiety is finishing her GED and has a job that doesn’t cause too much anxiety.  The young man who was at my hip, he called and said he is finishing middle school and doing fine.  I even had a visit from a youth from my first group, back in 2010, letting us know he’s getting married and is doing well.

I may only have them for 4-6 months now, and maybe, others just think I’m a “glorified babysitter” or just a mild mannered teacher, 20151213_153053

but I know that I am a certified NC teacher who chose to work for God and teach the children that others find challenging.  I create the transcripts and the IEP’s (in a single bound) . I teach 5 subjects, created a working/growing curriculum,   plug in several skills into the lessons, and teach 6 core values everyday to children who don’t want to be there or who view all adults as the “enemy”.  (It’s a bird, no it’s super-teacher)Super_Teacher2

If anything,  Methodist Home For Children’s group homes show that with a smaller class size, hard work, structure, and a lot of patience and love,  most adjudicated youth can be taught and become successful in life.

Keep the requests coming and God bless you all!!!

Connections

bridge kids

It feels like my whole life I have been “the connector”, “the hinge”, or the “bridge” between everyone. When I was little it was between my grandfather and my brothers or my paternal family and my maternal family.  I have been a “link” as long as I can remember. There was a time I didn’t want to do it. I was tired and scared to be the one to keep people talking to each other.  At one point my brothers were at odds with each other but a wise person told me, “remember, it said in the bible, a child shall lead them.” So, I started to accept my position as the “bridge” to bring people together.  Part of me still wanted to fight it. After all I’m not that special.  Yet, last summer I was still trying to make re connections with my cousins and Aunt on the paternal side of my family and I succeeded.    20151128_120606

I found my cousin, Vicki, living in Idaho, married and happy. Her brother, Scott, successful and married in NJ. My Aunt was suffering from dementia. I gave information and connected my brothers to our cousins again. My  cousin decided that since she was retired she had more time to take care of my Aunt in Idaho. My aunt loved the re-connection. She wrote to me and they even had a chocolate cake in my honor on my birthday. Pretty cool that 2000 miles away I could make her smile.  Sadly,  right after this Easter, Aunt Carolyn had a stroke and a week later she died. I was very upset. I tried calling but the connection was very bad. We are texting and emailing as much as we can.  God must have thought that since I did such a good job connecting my family, he would give me a larger challenge. Connecting strangers.

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Even though the original orphanage in Raleigh, NC was started by the United Methodist Church, time and community needs have changed that part of the relationship. Now we are separated from the church itself because we work with state programs. However, it is the kindness of the members of the churches that keeps us going.

April 3rd,  I was invited by our volunteer who teaches art at my group home, to come to her church because the members had bought bibles for my youth! She wanted me there for the blessing and to thank the church for their involvement with MHFC. It was a very touching and fun service at Camden United Methodist Church.

See, I believe that God put me into these different positions to make more or deeper connections between the people and MHFC. I am a teacher for MHFC, a member of the Ahoskie United Methodist Church, and the United Methodist Women’s District officer for Membership and Nurturing.umw

The more people I talk to the more people find out about MHFC and all the different programs there are. We do serve 1500+ youth and their families. We are also adding new programs such as private adoption, an assessment center in Butner, NC, and one in Winston-Salem.

One kind act or word will change a life

It’s time for the people to make connections. Take a chance.  We need people to give their time, their hearts, their talents,  and their gifts. I work for God and am blessed enough to  get paid, monetarily and spiritually. I am even more blessed to work with people who  go through the volunteer paperwork and  come to our group home to work with our youth for no pay at all.  Our art teaching volunteer says that having the chance to do her favorite hobby with the youth and watching the growth of some youth is her paycheck.  The “paycheck” that God has is one that pays on Earth as it does in heaven. It is priceless and not bound by this world. Take a chance on something that will pay you the rest of your life. Make the connection and find out what you can do for MHFC.

(Click on the “Being Proactive” menu at top of page)

Part 4: It Just Takes One: Book

It only takes one book to change the way you see things. For me, it was a book by Harper Lee.  “You have to step on another person’s shoes and walk around in them”

Anne-Frank-Book   From then on I would stop and think before I judged. the Human comedy covertokillamockingbird

Many teachers have taken the classics out of the classroom like “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Diary of Anne Frank”. This is why I love teaching in a non public school. I get to choose what they read based on the lessons they will hopefully walk away with. I make sure there are questions through out the book, weekly quizzes, a final test and an essay to write at the end. I create the quizzes, the syllabus and the vocabulary sheets.

I-Am-Malala-Cover

The class just finished a book called, “I Am Malala”.  It’s about that young girl from Pakistan who was advocating for education for girls and got shot in the head. I remember how it seemed the world was amazed by this young girl and her plight. Then the world watched as news came that Binazir Bhutto, the female prime minister of Pakistan, had gotten killed after returning from a 9 year exile. The final blow was when Malala had gotten shot. A child of 16 who just finished her final exams of the year and was on her way home.

The book had some great themes such as the desire for an education when the world around you is falling apart. The practice of Islam from the people’s point of view and from Malala’s family’s practice. Evil versus true faith. How man built up laws around the Qua ran the same way they built up laws around God’s 10 laws.  The way women saw themselves and how they were persecuted and targeted by the “new Islamic order”.  Also how familiar this all sounds to those who have read “Anne Frank: the Diary of a young girl”.  Which is why that is the next book we are reading currently.

 

You may ask why I bother to teach these books to a room full of youth who have made some poor decisions in their lives, such as stealing, not going to school, breaking and entering, or even possession charges. They need to be exposed to other children who have had it worse than them. Many American kids are spoiled. They have never had to learn how to duck under a desk when they hear bombs. They have never had to live in fear that someone may come and shoot them. They have never had to dig in a rubbish bin for food. They have never had to hide for years because of a dictator who practiced pogrom.

Most of the children that I work with have a parent or a relative that cares for them, clothes them, and feeds them, to the best of their abilities. If we see a chance to help and improve their way of living then we do all we can. We send social service people to help the parents or guardians organize themselves and maybe be stronger in parenting. Many youth that I come across seem have control of adults. They tell me they were taught, ” you give me respect then I’ll give you respect” .  They have little respect for authority figures because the adults in their lives are more their friends than their parents. We teach them they are children and we are the adults and there really is a difference.  However, as long as parents/guardians don’t enforce rules,  and teach them that they can do adult things, there will always be a JSS court system and juvenile multipurpose group homes.

 

If the parents/guardians make the change, the youth have a much better chance at staying on the right path. However, if the adults fail, we try to teach the youth what they need to do for themselves.

I do what ever I can to show the youth how other families handle hard lives. I pray that something from one of the books may affect a child enough to have them want to change the way they look at life. To always do the right thing. To have faith and education. To treat others with respect first in order to get that respect in return.

It just takes one book to help someone change their view of things. Maybe, it will be one of these books for the youth that come through our group home.

 

Easter: Living for a Greater Purpose

 

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What if we were to live our lives the way one Jewish man lived his last 3 years on this Earth? He loved everyone, prayed incessantly, served humbly, spoke boldly and honestly, healed without expectations, took ridicule with dignity, took punishment for sins and crimes he did not commit without complaint, and always did What God told him to do. If we lived like that, there would be less strife, less evil, less crime, less litter, and best of all, less political crap.

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If we lived the way Jesus did in his last years on this Earth, we would be living for a bigger reason than ourselves and our family. I’m not saying that we should sell everything we own and roam around the country or the world preaching, though that is a good mission, not everyone has that gift.
I believe that if all the Christians and the Jews, that would be 2,214,500,000 people of faith, lived as Jesus lived in his last years on this Earth, there would be no more ISIS! Think about it, over 2 billion of us against only 200,000 of Satan’s Demons.

God has plans for U
What is the greater purpose? It’s all the stuff that really matters in life. In my own life I think of my grandmother, years ago, picking up trash on her daily walks. I think about how our family would gather at a moments notice for a celebration, a brunch, or just because we were all in church on one Sunday. I think about my husband giving away extra vegetables from our garden to people who could use them. I think about how I can teach my youth everyday about how to live and do the right thing to change their behaviors. I think about how I know I am doing God’s will by teaching. I think about how God has helped me and guided me to where I am today because he had a purpose for me here on Earth that I will probably carry on in heaven.

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The greater purpose is part of you. It’s that part that , no matter were you go, you can’t help but do it. It’s almost a reflex. For example, my husband is a caretaker/people helper. No matter where we go he is helping someone with advice or even pulling out the EMT bag and checking them out until 911 arrives. I teach, where ever I go. I can’t help it. It’s either animals or kids my radar picks up.
So, can you do it???? Can you live your life as Jesus did? Can you stand up for what is right? Can you help others? Can you dare to be different then the world and NOT be selfish? Can you be an Easter Person?????