Showing posts with label spiritual support. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spiritual support. Show all posts

Thursday, November 24, 2022

PTSD: Grateful Thanksgiving

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
November 24, 2022

The word Thanksgiving follows the word Happy. For many of us, we have forgotten what that word means from time to time. I know I did. This year started out with losing one of my best friends and struggling to rewrite my books. I ended up knowing I needed to go back into therapy to work through the grief.

I could have just dismissed it, because of all the other losses I've had in my life, but not honoring the loss of someone so dear to me, would have not been honoring what he meant to me. My therapist helped me work thru it and now I can remember him, think about him, remember the things he said, and find comfort in those memories. I'm not done with therapy yet because now we have to work on my inability to try to meet new people. I'm an extrovert, in case you haven't noticed that by now. That means being away from people is torture for me. Since we moved into our new home in New Hampshire 4 months before the pandemic hit, I'm having a hard time with it. Ok, honestly, working on these books has sucked up whatever free time I had. 

And all that brings me to this point in my life today. I am giving thanks for what I am grateful for, if not happy about. If you have PTSD, I bet that doesn't sound strange to you at all. I know for me, faith did not allow for the possibility that God could not have prevented it from happening. Once I got passed the fact I did survive, I began to wonder why. I was ok with that but when I wondered why He didn't prevent it, it ate away at my soul. Then I remembered how we all have free will and God doesn't mess with it.

We cannot control what others do to us, any more than we can control who does something for us. The only thing we can control is what we choose to do. I lived my life more about "doing for" than "doing to." Doing something to someone else brings no joy and whatever momentary gratification we may obtain, will leave us feeling empty. Knowing did something for someone because we could, fills us, even if we are the only ones to know we did anything at all.

Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief
Next week the books will be out on Amazon and I hope that this labor of love helps you find how much God put into creating you! For today, skip the "Happy" and just give thanks for what you do have to be grateful for!

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stranger Angels Among Us Healing PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 2, 2022

“If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

Those were the words Chris told his therapist. He wasn't a veteran but had #PTSD. It hit him after reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2012 when a bomb blast nearly killed him. It struck him again when his wife decided waiting for him to commit suicide was taking too long, and she decided to kill him. For seven years, he lost everything he had evaporate, including his faith in God.

On Google Play and Audio July 4th, 2022

The Lost Son Alive Again is part one of this three-part series. It is also available as an audiobook.

The series is about the PTSD all of us survivors face. Too many dismiss what we go through because reporters cover veterans more than the rest of us. If they don't know we're real, we feel abandoned with no way of finding comforting support to discover we are not alone and our futures are not filled with hopelessness.

Chris was a reporter and domestic violence survivor with PTSD. The only friend Chris had was the bartender at a local bar. Ed was an ex-pastor with PTSD after a young veteran committed suicide instead of talking to him.

Chris's best friend Bill since childhood was a soldier with PTSD, determined to stay in the Army until a member of his unit was kicked out under personality disorder instead of being helped. David was in the same unit with PTSD, also retiring believing it was his only option. They walked back into Chris's life on the night he decided it was time for his suffering to come to an end.

David and Bill told Chris about Mandy, a mysterious woman living in Gabriel New Hampshire that healed them. She was a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence because her husband abused her and then tried to kill her.

He met Alex and Mary Michaels, brother and sister Christian book publishers who had PTSD from child abuse. They offered him a chance to write a book about healing PTSD, sending him on a journey to not just change his life, but the lives of all survivors.

Grace was a retired Orlando Police Officer with PTSD after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. She was one of  Chris's best friends too.

Drake was a gay female wrestler until during her last fight, her opponent died. She had PTSD from that along with the suicide of her first love interest. She became Mandy's protector after Mandy saved her from suicide.

Benjamin was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and extremely wealthy because a Korean War veteran helped him heal.

Throughout these books, there are many different characters struggling to heal and when they find it, they pass it on to all those they come into contact with. 

Part two introduces more characters and covers their spiritual struggles along with how healing is always a work in progress. It is a battle no one wins alone, but with support, it is one that can be won. 

From Stranger Angels Among Us

Chris arrived at his therapist Dariana Kemp’s office. The pastor Ed told him about helping him heal and had retired but he suggested another pastor/psychologist he knew. She was a good fit for Chris and gained his trust. He called her for an emergency appointment before he left for Gabriel.

Her office was in an old mansion in the center of Salem. She was only middle-aged but had the wisdom of what Chris called an “old spirit” with short salt and pepper hair, piercing eyes, behind large rim purple glasses, and an infectious laugh. She knew more about the Bible than anyone else he had ever known. She got into working on PTSD using psychology and spirituality after losing her Vietnam veteran father to suicide.

Chris sat in the huge leather chair near the fireplace playing with his fingers as his eyes moved everywhere in the room, avoiding having to look at Dariana. He knew she could see right through him.

While he was looking at the massive wall of books, she gave him a few minutes to put his thoughts together, then gave up. “Ok Chris, it’s time to speak up. What’s going on? You said it was urgent.” She knew him well enough to have extra patience with him. For a great writer, he was lousy at concocting stories to speak and even worse at lying to cover up what he didn’t want to say. 

“I’m upset Grace isn’t coming because I don’t want to do this but she was going to make it a little easier to do. Now I have to go there alone, have my heart ripped out for Mandy, and then drive back alone.” He took a deep breath, finally looked at her, then hung his head down. “I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to.  I want you to tell me I don’t have to go there.”

“You don’t have to go there. You could just email Drake, get her thoughts about Mandy and let her approve the script or make her changes. But you already know that. Why do you need me to tell you what you already know?”

“I guess I needed reassurance.” Hating the thought of having to admit it, “My confidence is in the toilet right now. The first book was done and in book stores in six months and so was the second one. I’ve been working on this one for eight months and it still isn’t done.”

“What do you think is holding you back?”

“The others were easier, I guess because I lived in that hell and I knew what put me there. With this, with it being about kids, it’s causing more emotional pain than I expected. I had to read so many articles on child abuse, that it made me sick. That’s why I knew I had to talk to the people already in my life because they lived in that hell and found their way out.” Dariana saw he was holding something back. She waited. He slammed the arm of the chair. “You know what pisses me off the most about all this?”

“That it’s all still happening?”

“Not just that. The so-called pro-life people screaming about how they are protecting the lives of the unborn! What about protecting the lives of the born? What about protecting them when they get raped or abused by their parents? I keep thinking about that woman who was raped and decided to have the baby so she could put it up for adoption but the rapist had rights just because of the state they lived in. If he hadn’t freaked out and got shot in jail, I wonder what would have happened to the baby.”

“Sometimes it’s like laws protect criminals more than the victims.”

“Ya. All these claims about morality and not a peep out of any of them about kids being gunned down in schools by weapons designed to kill as many as possible because other people want to have fun with those same guns. These born children should matter to all of them at least as much as the unborn. Since they don’t, since they don’t show up in mass to protect children born into this world, with the soul from God within their bodies, it proves those people are only pro-birth and I think that is a true abomination.”

“God granted everyone free will to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do or do not believe. Sometimes I wonder what gives others the right to force their own beliefs onto everyone else. They scream the loudest, so everyone else is their enemy and evil in their eyes. There are denominations believing people have the right to decide for themselves. Presbyterians fully support the right for people to decide for themselves so that every child is loved because they were wanted. I still preach when another pastor goes on vacation and gets into all kinds of discussions with folks because of all the other talk that’s out there. They know what is right for them and what their moral values are, but they end up questioning themselves because others try to force theirs on them.”

“And most of the others are phony as hell.” Dariana saw how the anger just rushed out of him. Then sadness moved in. “Like Mandy’s parents. I need to know what it was like for Mandy before she became a miracle worker. That’s the only way I can be able to help kids with the new book. I think the only way I can understand what it was like living in that hell, is to go in there so God can get them out.”

“So how are the mood swings now? How many times does it still happen?”

“They aren’t as bad as they used to be."

“Good. Work on that more. You’ve been hearing the stories of others for a couple of years now. Why is Mandy’s story so hard for you?”

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself more than usual in the last couple of months. I mean, I had a great childhood. My parents loved me, gave me what I needed and I always knew they were proud of me.” His hands began to tremble. He stood up, and she turned to watch him walk to the window. He was looking away from her, shoved his hands into his pockets, and took a deep breath. “In a way, I’m glad they passed away before all that happened. I don’t think I could have taken seeing the pain in their eyes. They’d have no way of knowing how things would turn out like this and it would have been seven years of agony for them too.”

“I can understand that. What do you think they’d feel about all this now?”

“They’d be proud but, I’m glad they didn’t have to suffer before my life got good again.” He slowly walked back to the chair and sat down.

She waited for him to say more, watched his body language and how his eyes were moving. “I think you’re holding something back, but when you’re ready, you’ll tell me what it is. “ How’s the drinking?”

“Good. I enjoy it now instead of abusing it and starting to learn how to, as you said, experience my feelings, like you said I should, instead of trying to drown them. It isn’t easy but you taught me how to stop fighting them.”

She grinned, “Seriously? Did you forget you suck at lying?”

“Honestly, I still drink too much when things get too intense.”

“We'll work on that and maybe start praying on it instead of trying to get plastered.“

“I’ll try harder.”

“We talked a lot about the flashbacks before but I need you to go back to right before it. Where were you going to?”

“We were headed to meet Bill and his unit.”

“What was your mood like?”

“I don’t know. I was pissed off about something.”

“Can you remember what it was?”

As he covered his mouth, his eyes were moving rapidly, then froze looking at her. “I was pissed off because I tried to get her to go a different way. It was like a premonition that the road was dangerous.”

“Any idea where that came from?”

“I don’t know. The longer we were on that road, the stronger the feeling of doom came over me.” He sat quietly searching his memory. “The more upset I was getting, the more she laughed at me. I told her she was just as bossy as my wife and told her they had more than just their names in common. Oh my God! I forgot her name was Brenda too. Wow! Anyway, we had the windows up because of all the sand, but for some reason, I opened mine.”

“You said you were looking out the window. Do you remember what made you turn your head to the left?”

He winced, “If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

“Just say it and then that memory will lose some of the power it has over you. Besides, I told you before, we’re all a little bit nuts.”

He didn’t want to say it. The words were trying to get out but he locked his lips to stop them from escaping knowing once he said it, he’d never be able to take it back. He looked at her, remembered how much he knew he could trust her, and the words escaped. “I heard my name.”

“Was it your driver’s voice?”

“No, it was a male’s voice. I heard it loud and clear but I can’t make sense out of it because we were going something like forty miles an hour and her window was still up.”

“Have your thoughts about that changed since it happened?”

“No. To tell you the truth, I forgot about most of that. Why? What do you think it means?”

“Maybe God was trying to prevent it? We hear stories of things like that happening all the time. Someone didn’t get on a plane for reasons they couldn’t explain and it ended up crashing. People decide to go a different way and then end up discovering there was a major accident or a bridge collapsed. I think God tries to prevent a lot of things but people don’t understand what He’s trying to get them to pay attention to.”

“All I know right now is, if I didn’t open the window, the glass would have shattered on top of the shrapnel hitting us. If I didn’t turn my head to the left because of the voice, if I survived it, my face would have been destroyed and I probably would have been blind. Hard to take in right now, but I know you’re probably right.

“I’m glad you told me that and let that secret out. That flashback will lose some power now, just like when you found out Brenda died and wouldn’t haunt you anymore. What about the dreams? Any closer to making sense of them?

“Nope. They’re getting stronger. Last night I saw Grace at the Salem Willows wharf. She was standing on the edge for a while then she jumped in. She didn’t come back up.” Chris looked down at the floor.”

“Is that how it ended?”

“No. I was terrified and woke up. My heart was beating hard and I forced myself to go back to sleep. Then in the dream, she came up out of the water holding the woman from the other dreams. Grace was dry but she was dripping wet with her hair all over her face. The only thing I could see was her lips. She mouthed the words, ‘help me find my way,’ and then I woke up.” “Didn’t the sleeping pills help?”

“No, I stopped taking them because they made it worse. I couldn’t wake up after it started and then it just went into loop replay with the same dream. Without them, I can wake up and when I finally fall back to sleep, they usually don’t start again.”

“So the dreams could be tied to the book. You said they were getting stronger over the last couple of months and that was when you started to struggle with it.”

“I just keep thinking what if,” he didn’t want to get the words out because he knew once he did, it would become real. “What if I’m not supposed to write this one and that’s why I’m having a hard time?”

“What if you are and you are the one fighting yourself? Think about it. What came over you to want to write it in the first place?”

“Some of the letters I got about the other books. People told me what they went through and how much the books helped them. When I started to write it, that was around the same time the dreams started but they were only coming once in a while.” “That’s starting to sound more like a vision than just a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

Dariana got up, went to the bookcase, and returned with a book in her hand, The Vision Awaits. She handed it to Chris. “The book of Revelations was filled with visions of what John saw. It’s like the feeling you have that is compelling you to go back to Gabriel. The same thing you felt when you were compelled to go there the first time and back last year. It’s a vision of something you need to know has to happen instead of you just feeling what you need to do.”

“I trust God more than ever, but I still have a hard time trusting myself. Do you think the dreams are getting stronger because the time is getting closer to it happening?”

“Maybe. That’s something that you need to be patient for. None of us can see what God can. None of us know what’s the best way, but He does. Most of the time we create a mess because we don’t like to wait for anything, and what makes it harder, is when we lose faith it will happen. We screw things up by trying to do it on our timeline. I’ve done that plenty of times myself. I think we all have. I also know that getting to people soon after the trauma happens has a lot better chance of keeping them from the extra suffering.

“I know I wish I leaned on someone and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have suffered for those seven years.” Chris looked down at the floor. “I mean, I know it wasn’t all my fault what happened to me, but I decided to walk away from God when I should have been running toward Him.”

“You didn’t have anyone to open your eyes and give you a reason to. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Chris was feeling a rush of guilt, “That’s just it. At first, I did. Bill tried for a while. The Chaplain in his company kept reaching out to me whenever I went to cover the wars. I remember the second time I was covering them, I forgot my Bible. I missed having that comfort. The Chaplain handed me it and I carried it on every assignment until it got blown up with me in Afghanistan. Then, after I was back home, recovering, he kept calling me and emailing me and I wouldn’t respond. I think that was God’s way of telling me He was there for me but I refused to see it. Over the years, it was like I didn’t even want to admit someone was trying to help me. Bill, eventually he gave up too.”

“Did you try to contact him?”

“Who? Bill or the Chaplain?”

“Both. I know you have Bill back in your life but what about the years in between?”

“I wasn’t ready to listen back then. I guess after that, I felt ashamed of the way I treated him and the Chaplain. After the press conference we had about the Netflix series, the Chaplain wrote me a letter and said that he never gave up on me but put me into God’s hands. He said that he always saw something special in me and when he saw me giving my speeches, he saw it come out. He said he was proud of me.”

“Did you write back to him?”

“Ya. We even spoke a few times on the phone since then. I keep wondering what would have happened if I did listen to him back then. Would the rest of this still happen?”

“That’s something only God knows. I don’t pretend to know His mind any better than you do, but from what I’ve learned about you, I don’t think you would have accomplished what you did had you not suffered the way you did.

“What do you mean?” Chris was getting angry, “That my suffering was part of His plan?

“Hell no. What I mean is, that you weren’t ready to listen but above that, you had forgotten how powerful God is and how much all of us do depend on others in this world. That is what you’ve added to what you are preaching.”

“I’m not a preacher!”

“Yes, you are. You keep saying that as if you don’t want to admit it to yourself. That is exactly what you’ve been doing. Why do you get so defensive whenever that is pointed out to you? Is that what you’re holding inside of you?”

Chris looked down at the floor. “I don’t know how to say it. I’ve never told another person. I didn't even tell Mandy the whole thing.”

Dariana leaned forward in her chair. “Whatever it is, it may be what’s missing in your healing. Just close your eyes and tell me.”

“When I was young I wanted to become a Priest. That part I was able to talk about. It was a reoccurring dream that I never talked about before.”

“You’re in a safe place right now to talk about it. Just close your eyes so you aren’t trying to read my facial expressions and remember the dream.”

Chris leaned back, closed his eyes and the memory came to life. “I was in the sanctuary wearing the vestments of a priest, and carrying an empty challis, walking down the aisle, like the Holy procession but there was no one else inside. All the pews were empty. Instead of going up another aisle, I carried the challis out the front door. When I got outside, I was wearing a flannel shirt, T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, as I wore to school. I stood on the top step, looked down at the challis and it was full. I looked up and saw hundreds of people there. I gave Communion to all of them, and then preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was looking at him. “What happened after that?”

“I just saw it all again like it was happening.”

“Close your eyes again and tell me what you told the people.”

“I preached to the crowd about the Good Samaritan and how the stranger took care of the man who had been attacked and robbed. How those who claimed to be serving God had no compassion in them.” He recited Luke 10:30-37. Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was amazed. “You said that perfectly. How much more of the Bible have you memorized?"

“That’s the only one. I think it’s because I had that dream so many times when I was young, it became a part of me.” “Have you thought about why it means so much to you?"

“I’m not sure but I always thought about the Samaritan and what happened afterward. I mean, no one knew what he did other than the man he helped and the Innkeeper. So what Jesus said must have come from God watching it. I think God was trying to get the others to stop and help the man but the Samaritan was the only one who listened to Him. I thought about how he must have done a lot of other things only God knew about and that was the way I should live my life too. Now I get upset when people praise me and ask why I do it. The other thing that bothers me is when I get accused of trying to turn people away from the church. I mean, maybe in the back of my mind, they’re right. I mean, it’s appalling to me how so many members of the clergy, no matter what denomination, show absolutely no connection to what Christ taught. They give Christians a bad name and make people think they’re all reprehensible.”

“There is another way to look at it. You brought the Communion out to people who felt they couldn’t enter the church. That tells me what you’ve been doing is exactly what you were intended to do. It also means that the vision of the woman you’ve been having is not the first time you had a vision.”

“What do you mean?”

“That dream you kept having was more like a vision but you just didn’t understand it. You put hope back into the minds of the hopeless. You bring the power of God’s love directly to the churchless children of God. They’re learning that they’re not Fatherless. Maybe in a way, you’re also proving the frauds are not serving God.”

“I hope you’re right because I’m going to need to harness whatever power I have inside of me to do it. It feels as if something is brewing out there.”

“Then pray for the words they’ll need to hear.” Dariana smiled, “The spirit inside you has given you the words people needed to hear and will keep giving them to you. Believe that and trust that. It also explains why you feel so uncomfortable with people praising you. Just deal with it and praise God more so they’ll see He is behind whatever you do for them.”

When Chris got up to leave, Dariana decided to ask him a question she had been wondering since they met. “I have to ask you something. You’re a multimillionaire but you still dress like you don’t have any money at all and live in the same apartment you had. Why do you still live like you have nothing?”

“That’s an easy question to answer. I lived my life this way all along. Even when I had money living in LA, I didn’t like living in that condo. It was too fancy. I felt out of place. I also felt uncomfortable dressing up, like it wasn’t me. Anyway, I live a comfortable life even though it sure is an odd one.” He smiled and Dariana hugged him.

“Well, at least now I understand why you won’t let me tell anyone you’ve been paying me to take care of people with no insurance or money for the last three months.”

“You’re good and too many people need your help, like me. I want them to be able to heal like you’re helping me.

When Chris left, Dariana went over to her computer, opened Chris’s file, and said a prayer, as she always did when he left. She wrote, “I prayed for Chris that God would open his heart and mind and receive the courage and strength he needs for what is to come. I prayed that he would finally open his heart enough so that he would fully feel the joy of what true love is and let it fill the empty place still left in his soul.”

Chris got into his car and sat still for a while. He thought about what Dariana said and about the vision from his youth. It made him understand why he never wanted any praise for what he did for others and why he kept as much as possible secret.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

PTSD? Surviving was the first miracle

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 2, 2022

When you survive the cause of PTSD, it sometimes feels as if it is torture. People in your life don't understand what happened to you. They can't figure out why you changed. You hear stupid things like "Well look on the bright side, you're still alive." That isn't very helpful when all you can see is darkness surrounding you. Fear consumes you. At the time when you need to be comforted by someone, you are pushing them away out of fear you will be judged instead of being understood. 

You need help to heal, but may not feel as if you deserve it, even if there is a tiny glimmer of hope you can be. If you feel alone, and everyone is walking away from you, no one comes to help you, and all you see are news reports of others suffering too, you can't see hope.

I know what that's like. I survived over ten events in my life. I still know what that is like when there are many times when I can't find anyone to help me. I end up feeling as if they must not think I deserve any help from them, or even their time to listen to me. I know what it is like to need comforting and reassurance
that these dark days will not last, just like all the other dark days were taken over by brighter ones.

For me, when faced with great need and no one answer my plea for help, I turn toward times in my life when things were really bleak and remember what it felt like to have a miracle happen just when I needed it most of all, even when I felt as if the world was telling me I didn't deserve one.

There are miracles happening all around us. I can't explain why they come or when they come. I can only explain how they come. They come when people hear God and do what they can to answer our prayers.

Oh, sure there are some that come directly from God. The Bible is full of them. Sometimes they are huge ones. Other times they are small ones but when you are in great need and put your trust in God, that mini-miracle makes all the difference in the world to you.

Consider this one I found while searching for something to comfort me this morning. 
From Way Nation
The Never Ending Flour Jar and Oil Jug
For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:14-16

Why It’s Awesome:
I love this miracle because of its small-ness. It wasn’t big and loud. It didn’t help a huge number of people. And it’s not even the biggest miracle in this chapter. It’s just a woman and her son, yet God sees to it that their suffering and fear are alleviated.

It can be hard to believe that God cares about me and my struggles when so many other big things are going on in the world, but this miracle reminds me that’s just not the case.

 I had no idea this site was even out there, but I found it when I needed to. That was a mini-miracle for me. The fact you are reading this at all is mini-miracle for you, since that is the only way anyone finds this work.

The thing is, when we are forgotten by others, it is easy to forget about the times when we had people in our lives. Easy to forget when we knew we had God in our lives and found hope. I went to sleep last night after crying, feeling defeated because no matter how many times I tried to get help for what I need, no one replied. No one on this earth answered. God did. This morning I woke up with enough hope to even sit here and write this. Considering how much misery I was in last night, that is a monumental miracle for me, even though it may only seem like a mini-miracle to others.

When you survived the cause of PTSD, people helped you do it. You didn't expect strangers to show up, but they did. They showed up because they were sent to let you know you were safe again because God sent them to you and they responded. Every time we survive, we have a choice to make. Do we focus only on what was done to us, or do we focus on what was done for us?

We need to honor the feelings we have as survivors so we can begin to heal. Cry-scream-get angry-and get it out of your system. Then focus on the people who came to help you and let their acts of kindness fill you. Those who came to help, outnumbers those who came to harm. Those are the people I am remembering this morning and remembering they came when I least expected them to help.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Why are you still looking for proof of God's Love?

God's Love Surrounds Us

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 28, 2020

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

In troubled times, people seem to find it hard to believe that God is real. They say prove it, yet, if they open their eyes, they see proof of God everyday.

Right now while most of the country is isolating because of the Coronavirus, we are lonely and afraid that someone we love will be stricken by it.

We see hoarders taking whatever they can, while some are left leaving stores with nothing they need.

We see people act as if it is horrible they cannot go out and enjoy their lives in groups of friends and total strangers, only to pass on the virus to others who did not have a choice in their actions.

None of those selfish acts came from God or what Jesus came to teach His Brothers and Sisters. It came because they allowed their own will, their own lust, their own self worth rise above every one else.

We are all capable of being like that. It is easier to take than to give. Easier to anger than forgive. So why is it that so many others are putting everyone else ahead of themselves? God's Love!

God Is Love
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen.

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:7-21
We see it when Doctors and nurses work long hours under extreme stress to do whatever they can to save as many lives as possible even though it puts their own lives in danger.

We see it when members of law enforcement show up every shift to protect the citizens in their communities while many of members of those communities hate them.

We see it in other first responders when they leave their own families and homes, put their lives in jeopardy to save strangers.

When people line up to take food to shut ins it is there.

We see it when people all over the country take the time to sew masks for hospital staff it is there.

Whenever you are looking for proof of God's Love, it only means you are not really looking at what is already there!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Samaritan’s Purse response in Alabama after tornado

Billy Graham’s Grandson Shares Greatest Need Facing Alabama Tornado

By Will Maule
March 5, 2019

Amid the utter havoc and devastation wreaked by this weekend’s massive tornados, devoted teams of volunteers have been pouring into Alabama, spending countless hours offering material relief and spiritual comfort to those in dire need. Samaritan’s Purse, an international humanitarian relief organization, is one of the groups that is on the frontline, responding to the destruction through prayer and action.
“Unfortunately, for several families, they have lost loved ones,” the former U.S. Army Major and grandson of the late Rev. Billy Graham told Faithwire in a phone interview. “It was a bad storm.”
Tragically, three children have been confirmed among the 23 who lost their lives, while countless others still remain unaccounted for. Edward Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, is working on the ground in Lee County with Samaritan’s Purse, where the grief and heartache is palpable.

read more here

Sunday, May 20, 2018

PTSD Patrol Finding Your Keys

Lost key ring
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
May 20, 2018

You are ready to go on a journey. You gather up everything you need. Ready to head out the door, you discover your keys are not where you thought they were. Frantically, you search the clothes you had on the day before. You look all over, and then as your heart begins to race, you look again.

When you do not find them, you start to wonder if you left them someplace else. Well, considering you got back home with them, they have to be where you are, but must be hiding.

Sooner or later, you decide it is best to retrace your steps. Best place for that to start is at the your car.

You soon discover your keys are still in the ignition.

It is the same as with your life. All too often, we forget to turn the key and turn our imagination on.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)
If you spent your time risking your life for others, that desire had to have come from somewhere. Right? After all, it is not "normal" for humans to rush toward danger instead of running from it. It is not what the majority of the other humans do. It is what the people we call heroes do.

Thinking about what it takes to do that, you should also understand that other than courage and a fast thinking brain, you are also equipped with what it takes to heal from doing it.

This weeks empowerment message comes from OEF-OIF veteran helicopter pilot Bob Roebuck served seven full tours. He spent time showing me around to see the huge vehicles at Spikes Tactical  earlier this week. 
read more here

Sunday, May 13, 2018

PTSD Patrol Sunday Morning Empowerment Zone: Four Tires

Four tires move your forward
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
May 13, 2018 

My friend Rev. Karen Estes has a message about how all of us need help along the way. One tire won't get you anywhere and you need three more. In other words, if we get help with what we need, then we get to move forward! 

When you are stuck because of PTSD, you may think you do not want to burden anyone else. Those same people would have died for you, but you don't want to bother them? The same people you would have died for, yet you cannot bring yourself to ask them to help you heal?

How is that right? What does that actually say to them when you did not trust them enough with what is going on with you, yet you trusted them with your life in combat?

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18 New International Version (NIV)
The second tire is the buddy, or helper to stand by your side. 
read more here

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Burnette Chapel Church Of Christ Fellowship Unbroken Faith

Nashville church tries to move forward amid shooting trauma, questions
USA Today
Holly Meyer
September 30, 2017
"I sat out here. It was early Monday morning and I was looking up and I could see Orion's Belt," Carter said. "I mean just how great — don’t understand why — but how great God truly is." Terry Carter
The sound of gunfire haunts Terry Carter.

She and the young students in her Bible class barricaded a classroom door one week ago as a masked man opened fire at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, killing one woman and injuring the minister and six others, police said.

The shooter did not go into the classroom, but the Sunday morning mayhem clings to Carter's thoughts.

"You can’t get some of the stuff out of your head for a while," Carter said. "I’ll gradually get there. But those sounds. The pop."

Carter and other members of the small Antioch church are trying to process what happened in the violent attack. In the midst of the pain and big unanswered questions, the congregation is moving forward.

The crime scene tape is gone and so is the carpet in the chapel. The 25-year-old suspect, Emanuel Samson, is in jail on a homicide charge. They have buried 38-year-old Melanie Crow, who was gunned down at the end of last week's service. And the victims who remain in the hospital are in stable condition.

After the Wednesday night service ended, Carter stood in the church parking lot chatting. Her great-grandchildren played nearby.

"It’s kind of a relief that we can get together and have a fellowship," Carter said. "That’s what we’re supposed to do, have fellowship and encourage each other. It’s going to take a whole lot of encouragement."

She was not certain the Wednesday service would occur nor that she would want to attend Sunday. But Carter will be there equipped with plans for better classroom safety.

She remembers hearing the first shot. It sounded too close. Carter put her finger to her lips, told the children to be quiet and turned off the classroom lights. Together, they moved furniture in front of a door and she cycled through scenarios in her mind.

Carter has her own questions. She knows nothing is guaranteed in life, but her faith is strong and she believes God is everywhere, Carter said.
read more here

Andrew Nelles
Kaitlyn Adams, a member of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, hugs another church member at the scene after shots were fired at the church on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Antioch, Tenn. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

Tennessee church suspect may have sought Charleston revenge

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Military Chaplains Find Help in Silver Spring

Helping the helper: Institute aids military chaplains suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
Christianity Today
Andre Mitchell
June 7, 2016

"I thought I had a handle on suffering. I thought I had a handle on understanding the sovereignty of God. I didn't know crap," Williams shared in a report by The Washington Post.
Members of the U.S. Army Chaplains Corps take a moment of silence to pray for their fellow brothers in arms in harm's way.
For soldiers coming home from conflict areas, the military chaplain is the person who is there to listen to all their troubles and help them cope with the trauma they are experiencing.

But after absorbing the woes of soldiers, ministering to them, and seeing the battlefield scene themselves, some of these chaplains also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and need assistance themselves.

The St. Luke's Institute, a Roman Catholic Center based in Silver Spring in Maryland, has made it part of its mission to help these military chaplains.

One such chaplain is Pastor Matthew Williams, who has already been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Williams said he initially thought that he could take in everything he saw in the battlefield—from corpses in body bags to his "friends' faces all blown apart"—until he realised he could not take it anymore.
read more here

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Papa Ward, Pastor to Homeless Veterans Died on Christmas Day

The man who gave hope dies on the greatest day of hope
Daily Commercial
Tom McNiff
December 30, 2015
Papa Ward, the pastor of Logos Christian Fellowship church in Leesburg, died Christmas day. Those who knew him best say it was fitting that Ward, who brought hope to so many, died on Christ's birthday -- celebrated in the Christian faith as a day of hope.
Papa Chris Ward
Gary Kadow, Pastor Chris Ward, and Deb and Bob Peters pose for a photo on the day after Thanksgiving, a day spent worming with homeless people in the Ocala National Forest.
Long before there was a Project SOS, a veterans aid organization that, in part, helps homeless veterans living in the Ocala National Forest, there was Chris Ward.

The one-time Army Airborne Ranger, who became a minister after leaving the service, had been tromping across the pine needles and through the thickets of the forest looking for campgrounds where homeless veterans retreated to wrestle in solitude with the demons they brought back from the battlefield.

He brought them food, fresh water, clothing, blankets -- anything to soften their rugged day-to-day existence. But most of all, he brought something most people couldn't. He brought understanding, the kind of understanding that only another combat veteran could offer.
read more here

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Strength For Service To God and Country Best Seller

Eagle Scout brings back WWII devotional, making forgotten book a Pentagon best seller 
FOX News
By Perry Chiaramonte
Published November 15, 2015
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent letters to us asking if we could get this book published, people started sending checks, the Pentagon asked for a million copies to be sent over and everything started to fall together,” Hunsberger said. “There are so many signs that God was playing a role in this project, because there is now way it could have happened without his help.”
Evan Hunsberger was just 13 when his grandfather suffered a stroked that meant he would never be the same again. But the boy made an unexpected discovery among the two-war veteran's belongings that changed his life and gave inspiration to a new generation of American soldiers and sailors.
It was 1999, and Hunsberger, a Boy Scout, was somberly helping his grandmother sort through former Navy Corpsman Gene Hunsberger's possessions as he prepared to move into a Southern California nursing home. A book his grandmother was about to throw away caught the boy's eye.

It was called “Strength for Service to God and Country,” and the veteran had carried during his service in both World War II and the Korean War.

Knowing that the book he now held in his hands had helped his grandfather through difficult times, the boy got a little idea that would soon become a big one. “I wanted to republish book that brought him so much comfort when he was in harm’s way,” Hunsberger recalled to “I asked him, ‘Papa I am going to publish this book, and do I have your blessing?’ read more here

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sarah Palin speaking at PTSD foundation gala?

Sarah Palin to speak at PTSD support foundation gala
The Courier
September 4, 2014

Former Alaska Gov. and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will speak at a charity gala event to benefit the Mighty Oaks Warrior Foundation at WoodsEdge Community Church near The Woodlands at 6 tonight.

Tickets are still available to attend the gala. General seating, including admission to the silent auction and dinner, is $100 per person. Premium seating is $150 per person. A reserved table for eight guests with front row seating is $2,000; and a VIP table, including dinner for eight, a private meet and greet, photo and book signing with Palin, is $5,000.
read more here

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Homeless veterans facing eviction from group home

Homeless veterans facing eviction from group home
Florida business challenging others to help
Ministry needs $180,000 to buy the home
Jeff Skrzypek
Jul 28, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- - The clock is ticking on several homeless veterans in Vero Beach, who will be kicked to the curb and out of the group home they have been staying in unless enough money is raised to buy the house.

Breath of Heaven Ministries, which runs the group home to help veterans, has until Thursday to raise $180,000 or they have to move out of the home.

After hearing about the situation, West Palm Beach tow truck company owner Kenneth Duvall, is pledging money and hopes other small businesses follow his lead.

"Veterans deserve it. They are why my small business is successful," said Kenneth Duvall, owner of Duvall Towing.

Pledging $1,000 to help, Duvall hopes others follow his lead and help pitch in to save the home before the owners sell it.

"There's a couple million people between Palm Beach County to Vero (Beach) and I figured if 1-in-10,000 of those people would give a thousand dollars, it would be $200,000 and it would be done," said Duvall.

Time is running out on the veterans who are counting on the home to get them back on their feet.
read more here

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Vietnam Veteran Helping Others to Come Home

‘We have to learn how to come home,’ says veteran
The Olympian
Staff writer
March 8, 2014

A well-timed bear hug from a Vietnam veteran persuaded Jonathan Wicks to put down the gun he’d raised to his head and start seeking therapy for the post-traumatic stress he developed after serving in Iraq.

Nine years later, Wicks is the one giving back to former military service members as a counselor at the Tacoma Vet Center. It’s rewarding work for a veteran inspired by his own therapists at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“PTSD showed me what my meaning is” in life, he said.

Wicks shared his story Friday with an audience of nearly 200 at the University of Washington Tacoma, urging them to show compassionate, nonjudgmental care for veterans leaving the military after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His testimony was part of a conference on veterans and military families that was targeted at professionals in social work, counseling and human resources. They’re among those most likely to encounter veterans struggling to adjust to civilian living.

“We have to learn how to come home just as well as we learned how to go into the military,” said Stephen Robinson, a retired soldier who helped bring the conference together as vice president of external affairs for Prudential.
“The people who helped me the most were not combat veterans,” he (Anthony Hassan) said. “They just showed me compassion. They showed me compassion I didn’t know people had.”
read more here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fort Caron Chaplain's assistant cares for 900 in Afghanistan

Soldier Helps to Meet Comrades' Spiritual Needs
American Forces Press Service
by Sgt. Eric Glassey
Sep 19, 2013

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Army Sgt. Michelle McCullah lights a candle, adding its glow to the spectrum of color cast through the stained-glass windows into the chapel.

McCullah is a chaplain assistant for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, stationed out of Fort Carson, Colo., who is serving here with Regional Command South.

Her responsibilities are as diverse as the world’s religions as McCullah works with Army Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Rico to provide spiritual ministry to the battalion.

“In this unit, as a chaplain, I have to be concerned for the spiritual needs of some 900 people in some form or another,” Rico said. “That’s a lot for one person. It helps having her keep me on track.”

McCullah takes being a chaplain assistant beyond simple administrative work by extending Rico’s ministry to the soldiers.
read more here

Fort Drum soldier gets intervention at Massachusetts church

Soldier seeks spiritual guidance at Boxford church
Reported by: Jonathan Hall
September 19, 2013

BOXFORD, Mass. (WHDH) -- Boxford police say a soldier on his way home to Maine from Fort Drum in New York, got off the highway and approached a church Tuesday morning looking for a bathroom and spiritual support. “He saw a church was having a difficult time and wanted to speak with someone about his problems,” said Lt. Jim Riter, Boxford police dept.

As parents were picking their toddlers up from a preschool at the church, someone let the man in to use the restroom. He then asked to speak with a minister, who was in a different building.

“He was wrestling with both psychological and spiritual issues. He was sick, he needed medical help,” said Rev. Laura Gronberg, 2nd Congregational Church of Boxford.

When the soldier said he had a gun in his car, the minister dialed 911. The man accepted and got into an ambulance for a mental health evaluation.

However, police say the soldier changed his mind, bolted and ended up in a garage where he startled a homeowner and then ran off again. Police say he reemerged on Kendall Road where they found him and took him into custody without a struggle.
read more here

Friday, December 14, 2012

Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'

I am so tired of religious leaders taking the easy way out of saying "there is no good answer" when the worst tragedy happens. It shows they lack the ability to see God in all things including times when evil is committed. They forget that God will not interfere with man's freewill. It is up to them if they listen to His voice to do good in this world or to turn away and do evil against others.

Today we focus on the pain and the horror of so many children being killed along with innocent adults just trying to teach them so they could have a better future. That future will now include remembering this evil act, yet I refuse to ask "where was God" because I know He was there.

Some parents are holding onto their children tonight and some will thank God it wasn't them at the same time they grieve for the other parents. Some parents are waiting to be able to claim the bodies of the children they kissed goodbye this morning as they sent them off to school. Some of them are asking "where was God" and some will blame God. All of them will be searching for answers and turning to clergy for help but if they hear "there are no easy answers" their healing will not begin.

God was there when teachers risked their lives to pull children to safety. He was there when police officers rushed to the school only thinking about the kids not knowing what they were rushing into or if they would also die this day.

He was there when arms reached out to comfort and when the nation sent up prayers to heaven for strangers they would never meet. He is there when crisis responders drop whatever they were doing and rush to be there for all of those in need including the responders having to cope with seeing all the children.

God is always there when times of crisis come but we focus on the evil other people are capable of.

The gunman pulled the trigger of the guns and according to reports this far, he was shooting at random. Why he did it we may never be able to understand but even knowing why will not change the outcome. We do know that parents loved their children and their children loved them. We do know that teachers wanted to give these children a bright future as they hoped one day these children would grow up to change the world for the better. We do know that the members of the police force and emergency responders cared about the members of their community enough that they were willing to risk their lives for them. While evil did surface this day, love did as well.

If you are a member of the clergy don't give them easy answers or try to back out of giving any answers at all. They don't need you to fix them right now but help them cope with this horror and listen to them. Don't tell them one of the stupidest things I've ever heard come out of the mouth of a pastor, "God only gives us what we can handle" because when you tell them something that sickening you are telling them that God either did it to them or He allowed it to teach them a lesson. If you think that gives anyone comfort ask yourself how you'd feel hearing that. To be there for them you have to really be there for them, all of you. Your ears must listen, your heart must feel and your prayers for them must include God giving you the right words to come out your mouth to actually give some comfort to them even if it is tiny compared to the depth of their pain.
Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'
By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
December 14, 2012 06:17 PM ET

(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.

“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.

“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.

From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.

Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.

“Every single person who is watching the news today is asking ‘Where is God when this happens?’” says Max Lucado, a prominent Christian pastor and author based in San Antonio.

Indeed, many religious leaders on Friday stressed that the important thing is for clergy to support those who are suffering, not to rush into theological questions. A University of Connecticut professor on Friday hung up the phone when asked to discuss religious responses to suffering, saying, “This is an immense tragedy, and you want an academic speculating on the problem of evil?”

“There is no good answer at that time that anyone can hear and comprehend and take in,” said Ian T. Douglas, the bishop for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut, referring to counseling family and friends of the dead. “They’re crying out from a place of deep pain.” read more here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saving a life turns into bad reflection of what is going on

I just posted the report of Suicides at Fort Carson appear to be rising and then saw this headline.

3rd Medical Depoyment Support Command prevents suicide through intervention

I read it thinking that this could be a really great story but soon after I began reading it, I was sad. This isn't a feel good story of a life saved but a reminder of how many have been lost because they didn't get what they needed to want to stay alive.

3rd Medical Depoyment Support Command prevents suicide through intervention
3rd Medical Deployment Support Command
Story by Master Sgt. Serbennia Davis and Sgt. Anthony Mitchell
Sgt. Anthony Mitchell
Spc. Ciera Burts shares her story about a time when she saved a classmate from attempting to commit suicide. She stayed with her all night until she could get professional help for her on the next day.

FORT GILLEM, Ga. – “When I got a call on the weekend, I knew something was wrong,” said Maj. Renata Hannah in a very serious tone.

Maj. Hannah recounted a time when she intervened with one of her soldiers who wanted to commit suicide.

“I was on my way out of town, but I immediately turned around and kept her on the telephone for 45 minutes until I reached her house,” continued Hannah.

She had ministered to the soldier for six months prior to the phone call. She could tell that her soldier was in deep emotional distress. Maj. Hannah reminded the soldier of her children and family. She used her training in suicide prevention to avert a disaster. Her actions saved a life on that particular day.

Recently, 3rd Medical Deployment Support Command conducted an extensive suicide prevention stand down. The purpose was to educate every soldier in effective ways to help a struggling soldier who might contemplate or attempt suicide. Army-wide suicide is a very serious problem that 3rd MDSC leadership is fighting to eliminate. In the stand down meeting, 3rd MDSC soldiers were introduced to startling facts and statistics.

“There have been more suicides in the Army than combat deaths,” exclaimed 1sg Sgt. Danny Kelley when addressing troops.
read more here
There is no doubt Maj. Hannah saved a soldier's life that day. The soldier trusted her enough to make that call. That says a lot about the Major.

Now let's focus on the rest of the story.

Six months she ministered to the soldier. Yet she still wanted to commit suicide. That says despite all the Major's dedication, it was not enough to help enough to help the soldier heal enough.

Spc. Ciera Burts had to stay with the soldier all night until the next morning for professional help but we've been told there is someone available around the clock. Why wasn't there someone the Spec. could have taken the soldier to?

There is so much wrong with what is happening that someone needs to be held accountable. Why are there more suicides and more push to repeat the same mistakes?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One in five Americans has no religion

When I am asked why I decided to become a Chaplain, this is pretty much one of the biggest reasons. Talking to veterans and their families it becomes apparent that most of them do not attend church. Most of the people I know don't go and they were turned away more than decided they didn't want to. Too many ended up not getting what they needed from the clergy they were listening to. Even more had bad role models. Instead of finding another church where they would find a place that "fit" their beliefs, they walked away from the institution but did not walk away from God.

Survey: One in five Americans has no religion
Editor's note: CNN recently won four first-place reporting awards from the Religion
Newswriters Association.
By Dan Merica

Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The survey found that the ranks of the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans.

Thirty-three million Americans now have no religious affiliation, with 13 million in that group identifying as either atheist or agnostic, according to the new survey.

Pew found that those who are religiously unaffiliated are strikingly less religious than the public at large. They attend church infrequently, if at all, are largely not seeking out religion and say that the lack of it in their lives is of little importance.

And yet Pew found that 68% of the religiously unaffiliated say they believe in God, while 37% describe themselves as “spiritual” but not “religious.” One in five said that they even pray every day.
read more here

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Georgia pastor hears the cries of homeless veterans and church answers

Pastor's plea inspires charity in Georgia parishioners
By Stephen O'Kane

Marietta, Ga., Feb 18, 2012 / 03:42 pm (CNA).- It began with a simple idea of providing candles to MUST Ministries in Marietta, Ga. for the homeless in hopes of keeping rats away while they slept in the streets.

Just two months later, the response and support of the parishioners at the Catholic Church of St. Ann in Marietta, Ga. has turned into a full-fledged ministry to help the less fortunate.

When St. Ann’s pastor Father Tom Reilly was approached during a liturgy meeting with the idea of collecting candles for the homeless, the priest felt that there had to be something more they could do to help. So he recorded a video message to be played during Mass throughout Advent, encouraging members to get involved in this budding ministry.

“I applaud MUST Ministries for doing this, but at the same time I was deeply affected by the thought of collecting candles so the light would keep rats away,” Father Reilly said in the message. “What has happened to us, as a country, a state and a world? … 16 percent of the homeless nationwide are veterans. In Georgia, that number is eight percent.”

“These veterans are men and women who served our country and fought to keep us free,” he continued. “Many of them have returned broken because of their experience. These are the people Jesus is talking about when he implored us not to harden our hearts when we hear the cry of the poor.”

Father Reilly asked parishioners to light a candle and keep it burning in their homes to remember the plight of the homeless. Over the next week, thousands of candles were collected and distributed at a homeless shelter. Richard Campbell, a friend of the pastor, suggested that the parish also collect military backpacks and distribute them with some basic supplies to homeless veterans.
read more here

Most Christians know the story of the Roman Centurion going to Christ so that his beloved servant could be healed. What most do not think about is how powerful this event really was.

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come here,” and he comes; and to my slave, “Do this,” and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
The Centurion was an enemy to the Jews but above that, Christ knew Roman hands would nail Him to the cross when this man dared ask for help. What did He do? Christ loved him and healed the servant. It took a lot for this man of power to ask Christ for help but he must have trusted just enough to take the chance.

Across this nation there are military men and women coming home from where we sent them to do what was asked of them. We said go and they went. After September 11th, there was no need to worry about people stepping up to respond to the attacks. Young men and women were signing up while still in high school. Older veterans were saying "Send me again." and they reenlisted. They trusted just enough to do all that was asked of them expecting little in return.

They expected if they were killed in combat, their bodies would be laid to rest with honor and their families would be taken care of. They expected that if they were wounded, their wounds would be taken care of and if they couldn't work, they would be compensated for the loss of their ability to provide for themselves and their families.

What they didn't expect was to become homeless and living on the same streets they risked their lives serving. They didn't expect the American people cheering as they left these shores to switch to the other side of the street when they saw them begging for spare change. They didn't expect to hear a Christian say "They are homeless because they want to be." or hear "They are just another drunk looking for handout." They didn't expect to be suffering spiritually and have the churches shut their ears to their cries for help.

If your church has done this, or you hear a friend say the things you just read above, give them a copy of this so they know what is possible when we do what Christ did and when we look at our veterans with love.