Trinity’s 2016 annual Stewardship campaign included a blessing tree in our sanctuary. Each Sunday, members were encouraged to print on a “leaf” in their bulletin a way that God had blessed them in order to be a blessing to someone else during that past week. But the conclusion of our campaign, the tree was filled with leaves. Not all of the “blessings” could be easily categorized and some of the writing was difficult to read. But, below is just a sampling of some of the “categories of blessings” we were able to celebrate:
By Chris Lilly
As a teenager I started volunteering in our local hospital as a candy-striper doing whatever task the hospital needed me to attend to at the time. I found a good feeling come over me after being at the hospital helping people.
Shortly after Bob and I married I found myself in church agreeing to help assist with the third grade Sunday school class, after one year I was the sole teacher of the class. The children and I had so much fun together. Also around this time my husband and I became foster parents and over the next couple of years fostered two young boys.
Since coming to Lafayette in 2013 I have worked in the United Way program Read to Succeed, this will only take an hour a week of your time and is a huge help to the elementary schools. There is a background check but there is no training to go through other than meeting the principal and teacher whose class you are assigned to through the program. We all know how to read and you just listen to the child read and encourage them to read well, make sure they comprehend what is being read. The children for the most part are thrilled to have someone come just for them each week. Read to Succeed also holds a Kindergarden Camp which was at the school I read at. I volunteered for Camp for 3 weeks. At camp one of the students shared a personal story with me and I could not quit thinking about that child carrying that burden. Why such a young babe should need to deal with such adult issues and that lead me to my next volunteer role.
Becoming a CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocate involves a lengthy set of classes to go through. There are entrance and exit interviews with the CASA staff. Afterwards you take your oath with the judge in the courtroom. Then you are assigned to your first abuse and/ or neglect case of a child. You have a choice of age groups and type of cases you are or are not willing to work with.
A CASA is the child’s voice in court. The judge may not actually visually see the child; only see the child on paper. Kids ten years and older are allowed to attend court hearings and with the approval of the judge. The DCS caseworkers have so many cases today that the role of the CASA has become extremely important to all in the courtroom. The CASA is consistent with the child, visiting often and calling to check in with the family or other sources. The judge relies on the case manager, CASA’s reports and verbal comments in the courtroom.
All CASA’s advocate for the best interest of the child. The CASA gives each child a chance for a safe and permanent home. Knowing that I can be a positive, make a difference in the life of a child is what it is about for me. To give a voice to those who may not even be able to speak: how could you not want to do this as a few of us at Trinity now do.
By Morris DuBose
Exactly what a blessing is, is sometimes hard to pin down. The low hanging fruit of blessing is money. It’s very tangible nature makes it easy to decide if you’ve been blessed. And handing it out makes it easy to see if you’ve been a blessing. Other blessings are slightly more intangible, and less considered. Most people don’t think of their social status as a blessing, but it is. Think of a time when you were new. A time when you were nervous. You were alone. An outsider.
For me, “blessed to be a blessing” is inviting the new person to join me. It’s trying to get to know the person with whom I wouldn’t naturally connect. It’s easier to stand up to a bully, than to sit with an outcast. And since elementary school, one thing that always pricked the Holy Spirit within me was the isolation of others. When the mid-year transfer student came to my high school she sat near the front of the bus and stared blankly out of the window. Looking for all the world that she’d lost her life in a way that didn’t involve death. So, I sat next to her. And she talked about the parts of her family that she had to leave behind. And we became friends. And my friends became her friends.
I didn’t give her money, or shelter, or a job. I gave her the chance not to be a stranger in a strange land. Who in your acquaintance is new, or nervous, or alone, or an outsider? Blessing them will require exactly what you have.