"This week’s update is written by a friend of ours, Erin Brown. Erin has a heart-warming story to share about moving from comfort to compassion and her personal involvement with one of our families at Hope Gardens…" - Dan Anderson
Recently I found myself in a rare moment, feet up, nestled on the couch in a quiet room during a sweet family weekend. Shortly after I had put our two kids to sleep my mind began to wander to the tasks of yet another busy week ahead as I looked through emails one stood out. Pastor Dan had written of Myra describing the peace she has even as she faces death. My attention was quickly focused on the remarkable story.
Myra was just diagnosed with stage four cancer and wants to fill her remaining days with happy memories for her 8 year old daughter. At the top of her list was to take her daughter to her, first-ever trip, to Disneyland. Her wish resonated with me as her daughter is the same age as my son. I truly cannot fathom receiving this sort of devastating news as a mother.
So hesitantly, crazy schedule in tow, I reached out to Pastor Dan saying, if God can work the timing between my family commitments and work trips, I would step into a day at Disney for this mother and child's sake... Did I mention I’m feeling way too busy right now for a trip to Disneyland?
The beginning of the day was filled with sweet introductory exchanges, especially with Miss Navaeh, Myra's daughter. Getting to know each other, seeing the commonality that runs through each of us, comforted any uneasiness that may have existed. From the outside Myra looked healthy. Yet learning from her best friend Robin, and soon to be Nevaeh’s new mom, that Myra had a fraction of the energy she once did, slowly her limitations became evident but so did her courage to make this day special for Navaeh.
Myra got on and off rides with a smile on her face, but it was apparent that the rides shook her body too violently. Even the sidewalk bumps, at times, brought discomfort. The struggle to get in and out of rides made her wheelchair a welcome sight.
Yet I know she was willing to do anything to make this day special for her daughter. She would ask her Nevaeh to sit on her lap, to steal a kiss, or just share a moment of closeness. Still, I could detect a slight wince from the discomfort of pressure as her daughter pressed against her very sensitive abdomen.
While my mission was to be a curator of fun and laughter, my mind and heart would call out to God, asking constantly for a miracle for Myra and for anyone & everyone suffering. God used this situation to broaden my perspective, to reprioritize my needs versus wants, and to focus on His peace that surpasses understanding.
Let me say, God is just so good to have stirred my heart from the comfort of my couch that day. Stepping into meeting Myra, creating a relationship where once a story existed, did far more to soften my heart for broken and hurting people than I could have imagined. To say Myra & her daughter have led a hard life would be a vast understatement. Pastor Dan said it best, "They are remarkable and I admire their courage and conviction to overcome extreme odds in life."
Volunteerism is never without personal sacrifice and we should all expect it to be inconvenient at times. But as Pastor Dan said of his friends fighting their way out of homelessness and hopelessness at the Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens in LA, "I hope you can meet some of my other friends here. To meet them, and know them, is to love them."
Deed & Truth is a non-profit started by Pastor Dan Anderson (also by his amazing wife Betty) to serve those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles by showing Jesus' love in practical ways- deeds & truth. I encourage all my friends to consider getting involved.
It's rarely convenient and not always comfortable to let your heart break for what breaks the Lord's heart, but I have to believe that sharing a person's joy or pain makes this life as beautiful as Jesus intended it to be on this side of heaven.
- Erin Brown
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!