The Poor need encouragement not a lecture

I am just so infuriated and disappointed at the lack of compassion and grace the evangelicals who claim to follow Christ have by blaming the poor for their situation. Based on my research and with hearing other Christians speak, they blame the poor for lack of morals, principles and virtues rather than systemic injustice or lack of help. They seem to expect the poor to get out of their deep ruts on their own without help and get a job.

At the very least people who call themselves Christians need to consider that the poor are most likely brokenhearted and hurting and should be given love and encouragement and need to be lifted up and empowered by letting them know they have worth and value and that they matter. They need grace and support to get back on their feet. No, we don’t want to enable them, but nine out of ten people who are particularly concerned about enabling the homeless really don’t care about the help that would truly change their lives for the better either.

I want to start a ministry that truly ministers to the homeless in a way that really changes their lives instead of just what is needed for one night, food, a bed or worse kicking them out of their tent cities. If a homeless person succumbs rather than overcomes, the Christians are the first to blame them for making the wrong choices. You cannot judge what is in their hearts. Only God can do that. 1 Samuel 16:7. The homeless need people to care about what is on their hearts, whether they were hurting their whole lives or are merely discouraged and depressed about being homeless or about what happened to them before they became homeless. They need to have their stories heard and then take the steps to really lift them out of poverty in a way that works.

The sad thing is that I have no idea what to do that would give the poor and homeless a new leash on life. I am crying to God to give me the idea and resources as well as the connections and education needed. I just know deep down that there is something wrong with the attitudes a lot of Americans including Christians have towards the poor. I am at risk of falling through the cracks myself. I have a hurting, broken heart myself. I have a good paying job that pays the bills, but too much can potentially go wrong in this society and brutal economy where people care so little about whether you have enough and/or think you do not deserve to be paid well. I know how it feels to be brushed aside as though I do not matter. I know how it feels to be alone and excluded. I choose to forgive those I deem to be heartless, uncaring, cold, mean, unloving etc. and those who hurt me personally. I was having peace about my own life, trusting in God’s provision and no longer fearful about my finances when God once again burdened me about the poor and homeless. In my last post I wrote about how I visited the homeless with Mercy.

What does God really want American Christians to do? Are they really doing what God commands in His Word? Why do top Christian leaders seem to support corrupt business practices since they think the little people do not deserve to be valued and treated better for a job well done for example when they should be allied with the poor and fighting unjust treatment against them? Why? My heart is crying about this and it hurts!

I was taught my whole life that Jesus cares for the poor in the church where I grew up. I have learned over the years more and more about how evangelicals feel about those who are not blessed like they are and the poor. I understand the principles of Solomon, but it makes me heartsick when Christians judge others for not following what scripture says about money and wealth before taking the speck out of their own eyes first. They may have followed the principles for wealth and God has thus blessed them for that, but they still don’t get the heart of God’s whole message. God expects those he rewards for good money management and hard work to also roll up their sleeves and get the poor what they need to get out of poverty as God also commands.

Anyway, I crying for hope. Hope that God will come intervene and lay it on the hearts of American Christians what the real compassionate gospel of Jesus Christ is and what it means to truly help people. I promise God I will do what I can to help the less fortunate when He equips me with what I need to do so.

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Homeless man overtaken by the love of Jesus

Mercy and I went to a Presbyterian church in Vienna Virgina where they were housing some homeless for the night. We visited with other volunteers in the Veterans Moving Forward program. Mercy and I will eventually be visiting veterans in the program including troops coming back from overseas.

Tonight, I wanted to share with you an amazing experience of witnessing a man who was deeply touched by the love of Jesus that Mercy and I got to be a part of.

First, Mercy and I went around the room to visit with and meet with people. We went around and said hello and shared the love of Jesus with various people. It was a jovial atmosphere. There were a couple of guitarists playing praise and worship songs. It was such beautiful music.

There were people enjoying the music, and one man in particular was caught up in the sound of the music that was so glorifying to God. Mercy and the man met and immediately, the man fell in love with her. Mercy showed her sweet affection towards this man as he shed tears of joy. Mercy licked his face and nuzzled him as he put his hands around her burying his face into her. He also reached and grabbed my hand. The love of Jesus was moving this man through the music and Mercy as well as my willingness to hold his hand. He was so overwhelmed by the love of Jesus, that he gradually let himself fall to the floor. He laid there still for a while, and the nurse on duty ran over to see if he was all right. He got up again and continued to worship God and sing along to the music.

This was such a lovely experience, one that I will remember for a very long time.


Posted in Acceptance, affection, Agape Love, Beautful, Belonging, Celebrating, Celebration, Cheer, Christianity, Comfort, Compassion, Delta Society Pet Partners, Divine, Dogs, Embrace, Faith, God, God's Glory, God's Goodness, God's Grace, God's Love, God's Presence, Golden Retriever, Goodness, Grace, Healing, Homeless, Hope, Inclusion, Inspiration, Jesus Christ, Joy, Kindness, Love, Love of Jesus, Loveliness, Lovely, Matters of the Heart, Mercy, Miracle, Music, Outcasts, Pet therapy, Purpose, Serve, Service, Serving, Solace, soothe, sweetness, Tears, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Therapy Dogs, Unconditional Love, Unity, Valuable, Veterans, Veterans Moving Forward, Wellness, What matters most, Worth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Common Attitudes

The outcome of the election shows how people are not as accepting as I hoped. It is a common attitude to get people to conform our else be excluded. Sadly, too many American Christians are acting just like the world in their lack of compassion, lack of kindness, and lack of tenderness particularly towards those who are oppressed and downtrodden.

Jesus said that blessed are the peacemakers. Taking a stand for the less fortunate, minorities, the mentally ill and the outcast and promoting peace tends to run counter to the Evangelical movement. Taking a stand for justice is not a priority for the American church like I hoped. It seems as though the gospel and peacemaking are at odds with each other.

As someone with mental illness, I have come a long way, playing by the rules as best as I can. Many will think that mentally ill people who sincerely follow their passions need to adjust better to society. I agree that healthy people who are less needy are more able to function well in society, but that is no reason for healthy people to look down on others who are struggling. We are all mentally ill to one degree or another. Mentally ill people are challenged to adapt to the ways of the world, including excluding others who don’t measure up or conform. I believe adaptation goes both ways. The mentally ill in America still deserve more respect and support than they are receiving.

There are still people being judged despite doing the best they can, who are rejected and discriminated against needlessly. We need to take a stand for justice and for civil rights as well as be more compassionate to those who have trouble adjusting instead of looking down on them.

Posted in Acceptance, Accuse, Achievement mentality, Advocacy, Agape Love, Aloneness, American Christianity, American Culture, Anti-Bullying, Approval, Behavioral Health, Being fit enough, Being Liked, Belonging, Bi-polar Disorder, Broken Hearted, Bullying, Change the World, Childlikeness, Civil Rights, cliques, Compassion, Condemnation, Conflict, Conformity, Cooperatrion, Degraded, Demoralization, Demoralized, Deny, Depression, Desires, Destiny, Determination, Devalued, Difficulty, Disapproval, Discord, Discredited, Disdain, Division, Double Standards, Dreams, Embrace, empathy, Encouragement, Exclusion, Fear, Fundamentalism, Gentleness, Good enough, Homeless, Hurt, Identity, Included, Inclusion, Injustice, Intolerance, Judging, Love, Low Income, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Matters of the Heart, Measuring up, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Mercy, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Need, needy, Outcast, Outcasts, Overcoming, Passion, Passionate, Peace, Peacemaking, Penalization, Performance Mentality, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Priorities, Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self- Rigteousness, Shame, Social Faux Passes, Social Norms, social skills, Society, Special needs kids, Support, sweetness, sympathy, Tenderness, Trust, Uncategorized, Unconditional Love, Understanding, Unity, Valued, Values, Well-Being, Wellness, Worth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort in the midst of conflict

I was taking Mercy for a typical walk as the sun was setting. We went through the playground like we have so many times before. There is a group of kids that often come out to pet Mercy. She had her typical interactions with the kids, a few girls and a small boy. The small boy tries to climb on Mercy and so I gently correct him so as for him not to climb on her. Mercy was smart enough to walk away this time.

Suddenly, I heard a woman raise her voice, using profanity as a boy ran off of the playground. Apparently, she was infuriated as to how he was treating the other kids. “He’s just a boy.” said one of the other adults. I am not sure if the person defending the child was his father. The woman continued to yell using profanity as she walked our way. She quietly slipped past Mercy while the other kids were stroking her, obviously in need of her comforting prescense. One of the girls petting Mercy was the woman’s daughter actually. The argument between the woman and the other adults then escalated. One by one the kids bid Mercy farewell.

As I left I could her her yelling and asking her daughter to get her father.

My heart breaks over kids having to witness loud exchanges, or arguments, which can sometimes escalate into domestic disputes. I wish to minister to children and adults who have been victims of domestic violence.

Disputes and conflict, unfortunately, are all too common. It is possible that the lad the woman was yelling after had been bullying other kids. Kids needs to learn responsible behavior and to be taught not to mistreat others, however, it is also not okay for adults to verbally abuse children, regardless of what they have done. I am determined to do something to promote peace, unity and harmony and decrease strife among peoples after I get my counseling degree. I am passionate about peace and I wish to make my contribution to the world by helping others resolve conflict with or without a dog at my side.

Posted in Accuse, Advocacy, Agreement, Anti-Bullying, Arguments, Boys, Bullying, Calling, Change the World, Children, Comfort, Conflict, Cooperation, Counseling, Disapproval, Discord, Displeasure, Division, Dogs, Domestic disputes, Fear, Golden Retriever, Harmony, Healing, Human Animal Bond, In Agreement, Judging, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Paradise Lost, Peace, Peacemaking, Pet therapy, Purpose, Reconciliation, Strife, sweetness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Uncategorized, Unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Striving to be enough?

Often times I struggle to be fit enough for some things. I often feel degraded then rejected and excluded from what is important to me for messing up even with those things I am passionate about. I have been dealing with a lot lately, but I will spare the details for now. We should not feel like have to measure up in order to be included in what is worthwhile to us. I have felt that way however, and consequently, I feel as though I have to strive for achievement in order to live a satisfying life. I often feel degraded and devalued and therefore don’t feel capable of pursuing my endeavors. It need not to be that way. I recently visited a beautiful church, and God told me inside the church that I am not supposed to be able to make my life better. That’s up to Him. I will also believe in myself in Jesus Christ

We are often taught social norms that are contrary to God’s teachings, and me end up with a works mentality or achievement mindset, which combines legalism with materialism. As a result, we strive for control out of fear of losing what is valuable to us. We end up chasing happiness, seeking it in the wrong places. So please, if your children make an honest mistake, please don’t accuse them of doing something serious, lest they feel shamed. It certainly doesn’t empower them. They don’t need to be feeling stressed about being good enough for what matters by the time they are grown up. Unfortunately, it has happened to me, even into my adulthood. I am still seeking God for His grace and other answers and not giving up.

In light of all of this, I also encourage people to spend time with one another eating at one another’s tables instead of being about work and performance. This is the attitude Mary chose while Martha concerned herself with making everything perfect. Obligation driveness  and people pleasing out of fear of being disqualified is what society has wrongly taught us. It is far better to love someone from the heart. Don’t allow anyone to doubt your ability and willingness to serve (at least “correctly”) when you have a servant’s heart who wants to give to people what is best for them. There are no persons succeeding at the expense of the other or rejection or disqualification when we work together in cooperation, unity, and harmony since together, everyone achieves more.

Posted in Acceptance, Accomplishments, Accuse, Accused, Achievement mentality, Achievements, Advocacy, Agreement, American Culture, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Authenticity, Autism Awareness, Being fit enough, Believe, Belonging, Bi-polar Disorder, Burnout, Calling, Challenges, Christianity, cliques, Closed Doors, Cohesion, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Competition, Cooperation, Degraded, Demoralization, Demoralized, Depending on God, Destiny, Devalued, Difficulty, Disappointment, Disapproval, Discord, Discouragement, Discredited, Division, Dog Training, Dreams, Driven, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Exclusion, Faith, Fulfillment, Fundamentalism, Giving, Giving up on someone, Goals, God's Glory, God's Love, God's Presence, God's Will, Good enough, Grace, Growth, Guidance, Happiness, Harmony, Healing, Health, Health Care, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Identity, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Jesus Christ, Judging, Leadership, Light, Luke 10:38-42, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Matters of the Heart, Meaningful, Meaningful Life, Meaningful Purpose, Measuring up, Mental Health, Messing up, Ministry of Reconciliation, Mission, Mixed Messages, Opportunities, Overcoming, Passion, Peacemaking, Persistence, Pet therapy, Prayer, Purpose, Qualified, Quality of life, Reconciliation, Rejection, Relationships, Relaxation, Respect, Second chances, Seeking God, Serve, Serving, Setbacks, Shame, Social Norms, Stress, Strive, Struggling, Success, Teamwork, Thriving, Togetherness, Trust, Trusting God, Understanding, Unity, Values, Vocation | Leave a comment

Persistence pays off

After a few setbacks, Mercy and I are back in the saddle. God was dealing with me for a while, purifying my heart and humbling me. Back last November, I decided that I would let my Therapy Dogs Inc., (now Alliance Therapy Dogs) expire. I attended a Pet Partners workshop, then took the Pet Partners evaluation a month later. We passed. I saw a saying on the wall motivating me to give my life to serving God, for the evaluation actually took place in a church. I filed my paperwork, and received my credentials. I found out about the Animal Assisted care program at Inova  Fairfax Hospital through the Pet Partners workshop I attended. It took a while, a few months to go through the volunteer requirements and in the meantime, no other prospects appeared to be opening up like two TB tests and a flu shot. I remember how depressed I felt as I dragged myself into the pharmacy to get the required flu shot. I was wondering, “Is this even going to work out or be worth it?” since it seems that for the last couple of years, my efforts went unrewarded. I have had so many trials and errors both in pursuing activities with Mercy and other areas of my life with roadblocks and such. I also took my fifth class in pursuing my Masters in the behavioral sciences department at Liberty University, Multicultural Competence in Counseling this past winter.12994543_960744733980580_1911693422186824092_n It is only by God’s grace that I made it as far as I did. Even now, my computer seems to be resisting me typing up this blog. It is not how much one appears to be accomplishing on the outside, but what they have had to overcome that counts. I finally made it into the program. My first visit with Mercy to Inova Fairfax was on April 1st. We went this past Friday as well. It was so worth it. Mercy got to visit pediatric patients and get on the bed with them, wagging her tail the whole way, while the patients were overjoyed with smiles and giggles! Stacey Harris has been so helpful in initiating me into the program. Unlike some other therapy dog groups, where there seems to unspoken rules, the requirements of the Animal Assisted Care program are more explicit. I had also been invited to perform a shift at the Accessibility Conference, which took place a McLean Bible Church this past Saturday.

I am learning self-acceptance as I focus on believing that I am lovable, capable  and valuable as I focus on God’s love. I depend on God’s goodness and righteousness. I shall continue to share His love with others and glorify Him as I do His bidding and pursue the highest cause in the universe, His kingdom.

Posted in Access Ministry, Accomplishments, Agape Love, Animal Assisted Therapy, Assessibility Summit, Autism, Autism Awareness, Behavioral Health, Believe, Belonging, Calling, Career, Challenges, Change the World, Children, cliques, Closed Doors, Comfort, Compassion, Competence, Confidence, Counseling, Dealing with Reality, Depending on God, Depression, Destiny, Determination, Difficulty, Divine, Dog Training, Dream, Dreams, Embrace, Empowerment, Encouragement, Enrichment, Faith, Faithfulness, Fulfillment, Future, Goals, God, God's Glory, God's Goodness, God's Grace, God's Kingdom, God's Love, God's Presence, Golden Retriever, Goodness, Grace, Growth, Hard Work, Health, Heart, Hope, Human Animal Bond, Humility, Identity, Important, Important Endeavors, Included, Inclusion, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inspiration, Jesus Christ, Joy, Kindness, Leadership, Liberty University, Life, Life Change, Life Transformation, Light, Love, Lovelyness, Making a difference, Making an Impact, Meaning, Meaningful Purpose, Mental Health, Mercy, Ministry, Mission, Obedience, Open Doors, Overcoming, Patience, Pay it Forward, Peace, Persistence, Prayer, Priorities, Purpose, Pursuing, Reassurance, Righteousness, Seeking God, Service, Serving, Setbacks, soothe, soothing, Special needs kids, Struggling, Success, sympathy, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Therapy, Therapy Dogs, Trust, Trusting God, Uncategorized, Unspoken Rules, Valuable, Worth, Worthwhile, Worthwhile Endeavors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is directing me on a new path

I know I have not written in a long time. I have suffered some setbacks with Mercy since my last post. Mercy has needed more training to renew her skills and manners lately. Needless to say, life has been very stressful lately.

I need people who believe in me who will help build me up and set me up for success, instead of other dog people giving up on me, excluding me or ratting me out when Mercy and I are having difficulties. I know that Mercy has great potential. I am made to feel like Mercy and I must stand on the porch because we are facing a few hiccups. The lack of grace in the dog world is more than I can stand sometimes. It makes me feel as though I do not matter. Some people involved with therapy dogs will devalue rather than compassionately help someone to overcome who is slipping up. What I really need is more understanding and support, not penalization. For one, I struggle with social skills because I have a form of high functioning autism as I mentioned before on my blog. I am also working on dealing with fear drivenness, shame and arrested emotional development from my past.

Thankfully, I have found a dog trainer 30 miles away who will help me get Mercy back on track.

I have strongly considered giving up my Therapy Dogs Inc. (Now Alliance Therapy Dogs) credentials and trading them in for Pet Partners credentials. Yes, they are stricter, for good reason, but they are also more supportive. If you are sincerely working with your dog, doing your best to be a competent therapy dog handler, some local Pet Partners instructors/evaluators will work with you to ensure success. I was a Pet Partner 10-12 years ago with my previous dog, a Lab/German Shepherd mix named Coal. I retired Coal from therapy service after I got married in 2006. Coal then died in 2009 when my son was only 3 months old, so I was without a dog for 2 1/2 years before I obtained Mercy. Since it had been a long while, I need to go through the steps all over again as a new Pet Partners handler. I attended a Pet Partners class yesterday as one of the required steps to get my Pet Partners credentials. The woman who taught it was awesome. In fact she was the evaluator who passed Coal in 2003 and again in 2005. Leslie Horton is everything I have been looking for in a mentor. She has high standards for excellence, but she is also fiercely loyal to her volunteers, working with people, not giving up on them, even those who have gotten a Not Ready on their evaluations. She runs the Animal Assisted Care program at Inova Fairfax hospital and has been running it for 15 years. She is such an expert in animal behavior and is also understanding and patient with people. She is amazing. She has the life experience that has helped her to be more compassionate and accepting of people from all walks of life. She recognized me right away.

I am having my Pet Partners evaluation with Mercy on December 5th (Not with Leslie). I also have an interview with someone at a program for troubled teens on December 11th. Things are looking up. I could still use all of your prayers. Encouragement will be very helpful to me at this time. I have my work cut out for me over the next month to get Mercy in tip top shape for the Pet Partners evaluation. I still have to get another copy of her rabies certificate and a cat brush among other things to do to prepare for the evaluation. I will certainly keep you all posted as to how things turn out.

Posted in Acceptance, Animal Assisted Therapy, Approval, Arrested Emotional Development, At risk youths, Autism, Autism Awareness, Believe, Bi-polar Disorder, Calling, Career, Challenges, Cohesion, Comfort, Common Purpose, Compassion, Competence, Comrade, Confidence, Cooperation, Disappointment, Dog Training, Dogs, Dreams, Encouragement, Faith, Fear, Goals, God, Grace, Hope, Hurt, Love, Mental Health, Outcasts, Purpose, Rejection, Respect, Second chances, Setbacks, Shame, social skills, Stress, Struggling, Support, Understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment