Reflection on 31 Days of Good News

I thought I’d take this 31 Day blog challenge as a way to develop a habit of blogging more often.  Once I decided I’d commit to the challenge I had to pick a topic.  It sure didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted to write about.  I wanted good news; almost to the point of a need!  I was tired of politics, national debt, news stories of murder, kidnapping, corruption; it can really be enough to drive a person into depression.

As someone who lives with chronic pain that lends itself well to depression and a feeling of just being “down” I was able to truly see the value in searching for the good in the world each day.  You can spend an evening watching the local news, CNN or FOX NEWS and it can really bring an already rough day down a few notches.  I needed to turn up my faith in humanity!

I really didn’t expect the impact it would have on me.  For each of the 30 stories I wrote about there were probably another four that I came across each day.  Some of the stories made me tear up, some of the stories inspired me.  But most importantly it gave me the job of looking at the good still in the world.  I wish our news broadcasts told more of the positive.  I think it could honestly rub off on people and inspire them to great deeds of kindness as well.

Thanks for following along this month  – stay tuned, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the good news stories!

Stay Well ~ Live joyfully!

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A Selfless Adventure – Meet the Cooke Family

Have you every packed up your house and kids and moved to a foreign place away from all family and friends?   Boy we sure did!  Twice!

I remember the first time I moved away from “home”.  My husband got a job three hours north of our parents and we loaded up the U-haul and our two year old daughter and headed off on a grand adventure.  We already had friends in the area and a church to attend so despite it being my first time so far from family it wasn’t a lonely experience by any means.

Fast forward five years and we left on another adventure.  This time we moved from Michigan to Virginia for my husband to attend Liberty University.  We didn’t know anyone except for one first year college student who actually started at the college the same time we did.  This proved to be a more difficult transition.  Pretty lonely.  Financially strapped.  Mountains.  No snow.  Cancelling school if you had to scrape frost off your car windows.  Very foreign!

On both of my life changing adventures I was still only a few minutes away from a McDonalds, K-Mart, Wal-mart, mall, etc.  The people in the communities all spoke English and had the same culture I was used to.

Think for a moment of leaving home and going where you weren’t separated from family by miles of  land connected by highways but by miles of ocean.   A distance marked by a 47 hour flight consisting of 5 layovers.   Now think about doing this for the sole purpose of telling others about Jesus and meeting their medical needs.  Oh yeah, and the fact that there’s no money involved – you’re going to be living on a tremendously tight budget of funds you have to raise yourself.  So….  Are ya packing yet?

Meet the Cooke Family!  Chris is an RN and Sarah is a stay-at-home mom with four beautiful girls (Riley, McKenna, Amelia and Lucy) between the ages of 11 and 6. This summer they packed up their belongings and moved to Papua New Guinea; an island just above Australia.  They are there serving the people of PNG along with 300 missionary families in the medical clinic.  Their first term with the Mission will be for four years.

cookes

A few years ago the Cookes began to feel God was leading them to international missions.  Chris heard about the need for an RN at the clinic in PNG.  Their medical care is very limited and most of the tribal people still believe in using witchcraft as a method of healing.  Believing God had led them to hear about this position the couple started searching for a mission organization to work with.  It took 2 ½ years of planning and preparation before they were able to get on a plane.  Chris needed to obtain his PNG nursing license (which took a year itself) and everyone needed passports and immunizations.  They had to sell their house and they also sold most of their belongings.

Chris doesn’t receive a pay check at the clinic; like a lot of missionaries they had to raise their own support.  Once all the preparations were completed they purchased their airline tickets and were ready to go.  Even though they were only at 45% of their needed support they were heading out on faith.

The Cooke girls catching a nap during their 47 hour trip!

The Cooke girls catching a nap during their 47 hour trip!

When they finally landed in PNG they were off on an adventure of their own.  Simple things like hot water we take so much for granted here in the states; in the Cooke’s new surroundings they have solar hot water heaters which means a shower taken in the morning or on a cloudy day are going to be quite chilly!  What about learning the cultural differences – over there raising your eyebrows at someone is similar to us whistling at someone with a bit more connotation.  Can you imagine gestures you’ve grown up with now mean entirely different things due to the cultural changes?  Not only getting use to new foods and having to cook entirely from scratch, but also spending your mornings trying to learn new languages so you can function in this new culture that has 850 languages.  The cost of living differences are huge as well; their produce is really cheap since the climate is great for agriculture however their prepackaged foods are horrible expensive since it all has to be flown in.  A single box of cereal cost $12 U.S. dollars!MARKET

Chris has been able to help meet the needs of the clinic as he serves as the RN.  Outside of routine illnesses he helps prepare medical supplies daily to be sent out to missionaries living out among the tribes.  Since there are no road systems the medical supplies are often delivered via airplane.

neighborhood

The family has also been able to minister to a mother and her newborn that are staying with them who arrived with a serious life threatening virus.  Sarah has been teaching the mother about infant care and hygiene and the baby is finally gaining weight!nasha

Currently they are looking into purchasing a home so they don’t have to move around from rental to rental for four years and also it will help lower their taxable income.  They will need to raise $10,000 for a down payment in order to purchase.

If you’d like to learn more about the Cookes or support their ministry to the people of PNG you can check out their blog page through New Tribes Mission.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Adopt-A-Grandparent

My mom will be 81 next month.  She’s in a season of her life that can be rough.  She has me nearby, my husband and my kids but I know since my dad has passed away she can get quite lonely at times.  We live about 25 minutes away from her and I’m very grateful that she has some awesome neighbors.  They keep her sidewalks shoveled in the winter and visit daily for tea.  She has told me that the loneliest part of her day is in the evening, when it’s dark out and the light of day is gone as well as its promise of a possible visitor or drive outside.

My mom is actually very fortunate; her health is great and she has good friends and a good church that keep her busy.  A lot of seniors aren’t as fortunate as my mom.  I hear her tell stories of some of her friends who don’t have families that live close by that can help them or worse, their families are around but for whatever reason the relationship is over or they don’t bother disrupting their daily life in order to help.

In August of 1978 Linda Langstraat found herself living in the inner city neighborhood of Grant Park in Atlanta, GA.  She was embarking on a new career of ministering to senior citizens with the Mennonite Central Committee. She started with a group of 35 seniors who had little support and lived alone.  In talking with the seniors she found out their greatest need was just having someone to visit with.  Linda immediately knew she could handle that and knew this was where God wanted her.

Shortly after she arrived in Atlanta she attended a workshop by Bob Lupton, Executive Director of FCS Urban Ministries.  After the workshop she knew she wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these seniors.  She and Bob began meeting on a weekly basis to brainstorm ideas for working together to serve them.

As time went on and Linda grew closer to her seniors she noticed repairs that needed done on their homes, hair that needed washed and many other long overdue chores.  She began doing all she could for them and as people started to hear of her work they wanted to help.  Churches quickly became involved and began helping and donating supplies.

Seven years later Linda realized those 35 seniors she befriended has given her much more than she felt she had given them.  Seeing how much this was doing in her own life she decided she’d offer the opportunity to others.  The Adopt-A-Grandparent Program came into being.  Over 1,000 seniors have been “adopted”, loved and cherished since those early days of the program in 1978.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

 

A Nice Debt Collection Agency?

Isn’t “Nice Debt Collection Agency” an oxymoron?

 

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Out Of The Ashes Poured Love From A Community

In his younger days you could find Vernon Freeman of Dallas anywhere in the community lending a hand.  A carpenter by trade he was known in the area as someone who would pitch in to help at your house if you needed it.   He had built a reputation for fixing whatever problem you had with your house even if you couldn’t afford to pay him for it.

Well in the fall of 2012 it was his turn to need a hand.  The 85 year old great-grandfather had an electrical fire in his family home of 50 years.   Not having insurance he decided to do whatever he could to work on the house himself.  It didn’t take long for his physical energy and finances to wear thin.  That’s when people began talking about his situation, even airing on the local news.

As people heard his story a few decided to step up and take action.  They began working on Mr. Freeman’s house and others started to join in.  He was living with his son temporarily while work was being done.  But he spent most of his days sitting on the front porch of his family home, watching the repairs.

As efforts continued the generosity of the town snowballed.  The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity donated supplies and an online registry was created for people to see what was needed and how they could help buy supplies.  Construction companies donated time and labor while a window company donated all new windows.  A local roofing company donated lumber, siding and insulation.  All the new floors were donated by a local design & carpet center.  Food vendors volunteered to bring their food trucks over to feed the volunteers.  Are you getting the picture here?  The list goes on!

Once as workers were finishing their day Mr. Freeman asked if they could leave the sheet rock tape at the house.  When they arrived the next day they found that he had stayed and by himself had taped the seams in two bedrooms and the kitchen.  He was thrilled to have the work get to a point where he could pitch in himself.

Mr freeman

As the house neared completion the generosity of the community remained steady.  Furniture, paint and appliances were all donated and set in place to welcome Mr. Freeman back home.  Target gift cards were even rolling in to help supply him with other essentials.

On July 6th of this year Mr. Freeman walked back in his front door.  Project complete!  Lovely example of a community giving back to one who gave so freely himself!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

A Single Mom Reaches Out And Ends Up Touching Thousands

In 1994 a recently divorced, 41 year old mother of two boys found herself struggling to pay bills and handle car repairs, and other problems with no one she could talk to.  This mom, Debbie Quick, put an ad in a local paper for any other single mothers who would like to get together and share their stories and struggles and be a support for one another.  In 1995 in her Santa Clarita, CA living room the first meeting of Single Mothers Outreach was held.  The group organized a closet of gently used clothes donated by the community as well as groceries allowing moms in need the ability to get free clothes for themselves and their kids as well as a few days worth of groceries.  Seven years later it opened its first storefront in Canyon Country.

The business functioned as a drop-in type service for years for people who were in crises providing the free clothes and food to those in need.  In 2007 they restructured and partnered with various organizations in the region in order to expand their services.  In 2013 SMO moved to Savia Community Partnership along with the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita and A Light of Hope so the organizations could all work together to help families in crises.  Their building was underwritten by members of Real Life Church in order to save SMO’s funding for their programs.   In February of 2013 they opened Closet on Main which is a boutique clothing store whose proceeds help fund the organization and also provides retail management training for some of the women they are helping.

Their primary focus is single moms due to the fact that they tend to fall into a lower economic status but they also serve single dads as well.  Over 60% of those they help have income levels under $15,000 per year and you may be surprised to know most are not those who left their marriages due to domestic violence but rather horrible divorce scenarios where one parent has completely walked away from the family.

They offer financial literacy programs from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as well as technical training, job search skills, group sessions and other resources.

DaAnne Smith is the current director of Single Mothers Outreach and had previously spent years on the board of directors.  Motivating her is a desire to see people’s lives transform from near hopeless situations to confidence that they can make it in their new life with the knowledge that there are others that care and who they can lean on for support.

They would love someday to see chapters open in other communities.  Seeing people rise above their circumstances and not stay defeated as a victim helps the person, the family, the community and ultimately the nation.

To date SMO has helped more than 2,200 single parent homes get back on their feet, gain independence and support.

For more information you can find them at http://singlemothersoutreach.org/.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Homeless Cover

Some of you may already have seen this story but it’s worth watching again.  I think too often we judge people by their position in life, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, etc.; that we often fail to notice the incredible person before us!

 

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.