Tag Archives: pride

Spreading Hope, Love and Joy to the Hopeless

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part II

preview-full-kindness

Point to Ponder:
How do you view the homeless or those on the street asking for help?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sadly, in Austin and in most cities it is common to see homeless, desperate or hopeless people standing at busy intersections asking for help. Despite being advised by law officials and professionals to not give them money, if I have cash, change or any unopened food I always give what I have. And, when I do not have anything to give I get embarrassed and avoid eye contact. Ugh! Definitely not a mature and or compassionate response! I realize that by giving money I could be enabling their pursuit of getting a job or supplying funds for their next possible drug fix, but I don’t know their life story or history so to judge seems wrong and unfair.

Shamefully, there was a time when I didn’t feel this way and my heart was filled with judgement. While I didn’t voice it, when I saw someone asking for help my thought was that they should have more pride and work ethic than to lazily ask for my hard earned money. After all, I grew up with limited financial resources yet managed to work my way through college and make it. Why can’t they? However, several years ago I attended a Caritas luncheon where the co-authors of the book, Same Kind of Different as Me spoke. This experience changed my heart and perspective.

If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to. Or if you wait until April 2016 it will be out in the theaters. In summary, through volunteering at a homeless meals program in Fort Worth, the co-authors Ron Hall (a wealthy Fort Worth art dealer) and Denver Moore (a literal modern-day hobo) developed a unique friendship. An intense bond was formed and both lives were changed– with Ron’s heart experiencing the greatest transformation. As a result of the book’s message and success, the two men traveled to speaking engagements, with Austin being one of them. Towards the end of the luncheon, Denver, the modern-day hobo and former prison inmate spoke. While he had no formal education, he understood life, the spiritual world, and had a connection with God like I had never seen or heard before. The room was silenced by his compassion, faith and wisdom and while I clung to every word he spoke, it was his advice on whether or not to give the homeless and hopeless money that I will never forget.

Having lived a life of homelessness, desperation and having people look down on him, Denver passionately urged the audience to bypass judgement towards the homeless, as we will never know what they have experienced in life and why they are in the situation they are in. Furthermore, he acknowledged that we’ve all been told not to give the homeless money, however he pleaded that we give what we can, and in doing so respectfully look them in their eyes and smile. Ultimately, he reminded us that we will never know if it will be our dollar, our smile or our words that will be the difference in their life.

After his sincere message, rather than look down on the homeless or beggars, I began to view them, their situation, and people in general with more compassion. I contemplated how I would want someone to treat me, my children, my family, and friends if we where homeless, desperate or falling on hopeless times. Or, if we were just in need of some help, support or encouragement. In doing so I realized how self-righteous and judgemental I had been. Then recently it was upon reading Matthew 26: 34 – 45, verses that I have listened to many times before, that I finally heard and realized how much more I can and need to do:

On His right, he will say; (Jesus) Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink; I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives; I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find you naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
And then He will turn to those on His left hand.
Jesus: Get away from Me, for I was starving, and you left Me with no food. I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see you without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.

Despite your faith or belief, the idea that we should treat others as we would want to be treated says it all. And, we have all been given a conscious that guides us and gives us valuable information, which is why I am unable to make eye contact when someone is asking for help and I don’t have anything to give them. I know it’s not right or respectful to not show someone respect and give them the dignity they deserve by simply looking in their eye and exchanging a smile.

As a result, several months ago I began creating baggies of crackers, rice crispy treats, and breakfast bars. And, as of last week I added our printable ‘iGnite spread hope love and joy’ note cards. I keep the bags in my car so that I can have them with me at all times and it truly has made a difference! Therefore, as we continue to focus on spreading hope, love and joy, I hope you will consider doing the same and making care packages that you can hand out when needed. While the person you give the goodie bag and smile to will appreciate your generosity, I promise that your heart will be the one filled with hope, love and joy.

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Goodie Bag Basket

Action Item:
Create goodies bags and fill them with helpful items and the printable iGnite note cards. Keep them in your car and with a smile and eye contact, hand them to the homeless, hopeless or someone in need.

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It’s Your Season, It’s Your Purpose

iGnite - living with purpose

Point to Ponder:
Do you struggle with defining or finding your purpose, feel confused about your life, or feel fearful that there isn’t enough time left to do what you want to do?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Since moving to San Diego, my life has drastically changed and taken a 180 degree turn. I do not yet have any friends here, and except for taking Durant and Malaine to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and tending to my iGnite responsibilities and duties from afar, I don’t have any commitments either. I won’t lie, when talking to the iGnite leaders, family, and friends and occasionally peeking at Facebook and Instagram, I experience bittersweet emotions. It stinks to be on the outside looking in, missing out and not able to take part in what I’ve created in iGnite in Austin. I have also experienced extreme withdrawals from my addictions: the “being busy addiction,” “having places to go addiction,” and the “feeling needed and wanted” addiction. There are times when my ego screams so loud that I find myself taken over with feelings of inadequacy and the desire to busy myself just so I can feel important and accomplished again. Then, finally, it dawned on me that not only was my evil ego in my way, but what I was really struggling with the most was my purpose.

With the help of Martha Lynn Mangum, iGnite member and business coach, reminding me that our society inundates women with the destructive message that if we aren’t working 60 hours a week, involved in a million organizations, committed to regularly volunteering, acting as the home-room mom, and only taking two-weeks of maternity leave, or just tending to our own or our family’s and community’s needs, that we aren’t enough. Pu-lease! Don’t get me wrong, I believe in having a passion and purpose outside of our family, but not at the expense of jeopardizing our marriages, not being a present mom to our children and neglecting our relationships. Looking back, while living in Austin I definitely tip-toed into those zones and was drinking the toxic Kool-Aid. This is my destructive tendency, and I have to consistently check myself to make sure I am being counter-culture.

It has been a very long time since I have wondered about my purpose. While living in Austin, my family, friends and iGnite were absolutely my purpose and they kept my heart pumping fast and hard. Originally, I thought starting iGnite in San Diego would be my first purpose-filled project, but now I’m not so sure about that. For now, I’m declaring that I am on a prayerful, peaceful, intentional purpose-finding mission project. I’ve narrowed my purpose down to:

  1. Learning how to become a fully-attentive, loving and supportive wife to Russell (which is hard to admit because of my strong will, pride and independence)
  2. Appreciating this colorful and unique time I have with our preschool-age children and being a fully attentive and fun mother.
  3. Remotely supporting and leading the iGnite team, the iGnite members and our efforts to iGnite Austin and impact, inspire and empower every woman to live a healthy and purpose-filled life.
  4. Taking the time to get on my knees everyday and pray for myself, my family, my friends, iGnite and anyone I know who is in need of prayers or who I told I would pray for them. While I am a faithful person, embarrassingly my prayer life has been pathetic, and I’m tired of being lip-service only. Please let me know if and how I can pray for you. Seriously!
  5. Becoming involved with our church, The Rock, and serving the San Diego community.

I must confess that while I’m feeling content with my new purpose in San Diego, there is sooooo much I want to do in my life! For example, I want to write a book, I want to be on the speaking circuit and I want to grow iGnite so that women all over the world can iGnite in a positive and inspiring community. I wanna, wanna, wanna! And with that said, I get nervous and afraid that I am going to miss my opportunity, run out of time and miss out. But, thankfully, for the first time in my life, I found a Bible translation that I can actually understand called The Voice, and it’s teaching me about patience. Even though Adam, Pharrell, Gwen and Blake aren’t quoted in it, I have learned so much! One of the things that has been glaring is how late in life God uses people. Of course he uses children, like when He used David to defeat Goliath when David was only a teenager, but for example, Noah, Abraham, Sarai (Abraham’s wife) were waaaay past their “prime,” or what we today consider our “prime.” Granted, people back then lived longer, but by human standards, they were still considered old, and they fulfilled God’s purpose for them much later in life.

I recently watched a special on television called Try, Try Again where John Stossell chronicled the lives of great inventors and authors who not only failed before having success, but were also “past their prime” before having any success and fulfilling their purpose. Just to name a couple: Julia Child was 50 before writing her first cookbook, and Harland Sanders (a.k.a Colonel Sanders) franchised his first Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62.

All in all, I write this journal not to go off about my personal purpose journey, but rather to encourage anyone who is struggling with defining or finding their purpose, feeling confused about their life, or fearful that there isn’t enough time. For sure we all sometimes feel a sense of urgency because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but fear cannot be the reason why we do or don’t take action. Instead, remember that there is a season in life for everything and that our purpose can evolve, morph and even change. Sometimes we’re in a season of action, and other times we’re in a season of self-reflection, contemplation and quiet. Regardless of the season you find yourself in now, when you weave in prayer and intention, you will without a doubt be led down the right path and your fruit will be ripe.

Action Item:
Remember there is a season in life for everything and that your purpose can evolve, morph and change over time. Approach your season of life with prayer and intention.

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It’s Not What You Endure, It’s How You Endure It

 

iGnite - unshakeable faithiGnite Members Christie Skinner (left) and Kerrie Pennington (right) at Christie’s home while the iGnite Community helped her sort through her salvaged items on Sunday.

“Forget what you can’t control and focus on what you can control: your attitude, your faith, and your perspective. Choose to make the best of every situation that comes your way.”
(Anonymous)

Point to Ponder:
How do you tend to react when faced with personal loss or tragedy?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As our iGnite community received word of via email this weekend, on Tuesday iGnite member Christie Skinner’s home burned. Upon learning the news, I sent Christie a text extending my sympathy, care and prayers. Honestly, I was nervous to reach out because I feared my text would be burdomsome. But, I tried putting myself in her shoes and I knew that I would appreciate friends reaching out. I didn’t expect or need a response, though what I received just minutes later blew my mind. Here is our exchange:

Neissa: “Hello Christie, Kathleen let me know about your home and I want you to know how very sorry I am. I am so thankful you all are okay. Please know that Russell and I are praying for you all and will continue to pray for you throughout the recovery process. Know that you are loved and being thought of.”

Christie: “Thanks!! It’s pretty sad but it’s just stuff!! And amazingly we are in the process of buying a little condo on Lake Austin so God’s timing is really good!!”

Neissa: “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

Christie: “You can bring me a Diet Coke on ice anytime you happen to be around.”

My initial reaction was, “Really? Did I read that correctly? How is it possible for someone to have lost so much yet have such tremendous perspective? And, she’s only asked for a Diet Coke? I can do that!”

I was briefly able to stop by Christie’s home today, Sunday, while our iGnite community helped her sort through her items. I’ve always thought that if a big project or job needs to get accomplished, the quick solution is a group of committed women. Indeed the job was getting done, and Christie’s spirit was contagious. She was positive, smiled and did what she needed to do. The entire sight was inspiring, like Christie’s faith and attitude.

I am always amazed by the events, circumstances and losses that the human spirit is able to endure. Most everyone faces some type of tragedy or difficult circumstances in their life, though what distinguishes one person from the other is not what they endure but how they endure it. The way I see it is we have choices: we can either (1) endure alone, without faith, think that life is out to get us, God is trying to punish us, give up and have a bad attitude — or, we can (2) let go of our pride, let others know how they can help us (even if it’s simply a Diet Coke on ice!), pray for unshakable faith, ask for others who have unshakeable faith to pray for us and trust in the plans that God has for us: a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

While we all will not experience the tragedy of a burned home, we all will experience loss in our lives. It is for this that having an unshakable faith, never underestimating the power of prayer, surrounding ourselves with a community of people who also have unshakeable faith, and trusting in the promise of a future is crucial. There’s no doubt that life is going to shake us over and over again, but it doesn’t have to break us. Thank you, Christie for showing us this!

Action Item:
Contemplate Christie’s response to the events of the past week and be inspired by her unshakable faith and ability to accept help in such difficult circumstances.

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The First Step: Be True to Yourself

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  And then go and do that.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
-Howard Thurman

Point to Ponder:
Is your ego holding you back from anything?

Action Item:
As you consider your passions and making them a priority in 2014, do so without allowing your ego to cast a positive or negative light on them. Your passion just is, and as long as it doesn’t involve harming others, go for it and don’t look back!

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Have you ever taken a personality, skills or spiritual gifts test? I have taken two out of the three, and at the beginning of each test they always advise the following: “for best results answer each statement and question according to who you are, not who you would like to be or who you ought to be.”  Despite this prompt, I am always very tempted to answer inauthentically. For example, one of the spiritual gifts test questions was:  “I enjoy doing everyday tasks that support the various ministries of the church.”  Even though I don’t make this a priority and it’s is not on my enjoyment list, I felt like I should have answered with a strong “yes!” After all, shouldn’t I want to partake in everyday tasks that support the various missions of the church?… and even more, what kind of person does that make me if I don’t enjoy these types of tasks? Another example from the personality test was: “You know how to put every minute of your time to good purpose.” Again, I wanted to answer “‘absolutely yes” because I really want to be that person who excels in time management. After all, isn’t that the type of person who makes the best businessman or businesswoman? And, because I do get sidetracked, that must mean I’m a failure!

As difficult as it was to provide the accurate answers, I didn’t fudge the truth. But, instead of feeling good about the strengths and gifts I’ve been given, I judged myself, thought I should be better and even made assumptions about what it means that I’m not good at certain things. Of course any reasonable and rational person knows you can’t be good at everything, so why was I trying to answer ‘perfectly’ when there isn’t even a pass/fail or good/bad score? This is insane! I thought I liked myself?!

After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason why I was so concerned with giving the “right answers” was because of my ego — i.e. my sense of self-esteem or self importance (not to be confused with egotistical). And the more I thought about it, it dawned on me that it is most likely our ego that prevents us from being 100% authentic, embracing all of who we are, accepting others for who they are and fearlessly pursuing our passions. We may not even be aware that our ego is at play every minute of the day through thoughts, questions and judgements like: “what will my friends, parents, children, spouse and colleagues think?” “I should be better,” “This is bad,” “That is good,” “I am right,” “You are wrong,” etc.

A personal example is since becoming a mother, my social life (outside of iGnite) has gone from a level 100 to a 2. Even though my reprioritization is a necessary and healthy one, I am constantly having to fight my ego and make peace with the fact that I have to say “no” a lot. The truth is that I really want to be liked, and being included in things makes me feel important and boosts my self-esteem.

To suggest that we can eliminate our ego is unrealistic. Rather, the goal is to be aware of the influence our ego has on our judgements about ourselves and others, as well as on the decisions we make.

 

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