Last night I was invited by a gentlemen in our church to go to our local salvation army dinner.  The goal of the evening were to celebrate the wonderful things they have done in the past year, as well as recruit "bell ringers" for the upcoming Christmas season. Through all the celebrations and handing out of awards, I was wonderful to see what God has used incredible people (many who do it voluntarily) to do in West Chester. During dinner I was able to sit next to a woman who had been a bell ringer the prior year. As we began to dialogue I heard her story. A little over a year ago her 18 year old son took his life. Tears began to well up in her eyes and throughout the evening she would continually take brief moments to gather herself. I tried my best to encourage her, to let her know of loss I have had and how even though we never believe it at the time, it  DOES get easier. Tears turn to smiles, loss turns to recognizing the blessing that we were blessed to have the time we did, and life in general moves on. 
      I was in love with her story for one particular aspect. After her son took his life she began to go through his bible. She bought around 50 of the exact same bible and highlighted ALL the same scriptures her son had highlighted in his bible. Her goal was to find some of his friends, or anyone who has gone through loss and grief and give them to them. Strong is the heart of a mother. Stronger then grief.
The theme of the night was Salvation Army's general theme "Doing the most good". Nothing could have been more demonstrated to me that night then a mother who loved her child, and desired to do the "most good' out of a horrible situation. 
I was reading Pete Wilson's blog today and he spoke of a story where someone texted him this powerful scripture. It sums up where our hope, courage and faith comes from.

Lamentations 3:21-24The Message (MSG)
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God19-21 I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember--
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.



Tori Markou
10/26/2012

I rang the bell for seven years, and the majority of the time the most generous donors were the broken and those with the most heart wrenching stories. Grief and loss knitted together with Christ's love comes forth as compassion and grace.

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