A New Friend

 

HOW I MET THE AMAZING RESHELE

A couple of days before Christmas I had gone to Joann’s to get a couple of items. Ahead of me was a lady with a huge basket of fabric who told me to go ahead. Chatting with her, I learned that she was making blankets for the homeless.   When I went to pay for my items the cashier didn’t tell me the total, but just handed me my receipt and change for the $20 I was holding. I laughed and told her that I hadn’t paid, yet.” She wasn’t taking my money and kept pushing change at me.  while I kept trying to explain that I still had my money in my hand. Finally she said, “It has been paid for.” I wasn’t comprehending, but noticed others in the line looking at the lady with the full basket, who was acting like she wasn’t paying attention. It hit me what she had done. I asked why and she said she wanted to bless me and that God has blessed her.

I got a huge lump in my throat and tried to say something but I wasn’t making any sense.

Another lady   stepped forward asking if she was Reshele, hugged her and said that she worked at Union High School.

I learned that Reshele is Reshele Jackson, who had been a Tulsa Public School bus driver for 16-17 years, then had two pulmonary embolisms, was in the hospital for 12 days and almost died.

Her son who was diagnosed with autism as a child and who was not supposed to ever talk, but who today is  on the National Honor Society  prayed for her:  Guts Church filmed their story here.

However, Reshele could not get the doctors to release her to return to work, since there were other health issues, including, but not limited to seizures, knees swollen from osteoarthritis,  taking three painful shots in her back every few weeks which left her unable to drive herself back home.

She was devastated because she loved working and loved the kids.

She has a heart for the homeless because with no income, and through no fault of her own, she  was 10 hours from was losing the  apartment where they had lived for several years and they were so close to being homeless.

Today she makes gift baskets to sell so she can buy food and items for the homeless to go with the warm blankets she makes for them.   Praying with and for them, she was out each day in the cold, before and on Christmas Day. She now has well over 500  friends on Facebook.

A humble lady, who doesn’t do anything for her own glory, she never said a word when all three local tv stations did stories on her. However her friends began posting the links on her Facebook  for the rest of us to see.   (See the news stories in links on this blog, written by a friend of hers who is always amazed by her:

When she heard about A Heart for the Widowed she said, having been raised by her grandparents and seeing how hard it was for her grandmother when her grandfather passed, that  she was in on doing something to bless the widowed.

She began making gift baskets to sell to make money to buy Valentine’s gifts for them and for others who may be left out on that day.  Her gift baskets are first class. She buys good quality chocolates, Bath and Body and other nice things to put in them.

Sometimes she will make an extra basket and spot someone at QT or some place and give it to them simply to bless them…or like with me she will pay for their items at a store.
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On Dec 26th I mentioned to Reshele about a security  guard at the mall who is around 80, who lives alone by Pryor, OK and who worked the evening shift on Christmas eve and then on Christmas.  She didn’t know him nor did he know her, however,  she made him the most beautiful basket and delivered it to him. He kept blinking and asking why and who she was.

She always goes out of her way to help others and will drive anywhere in Tulsa deliver a basket so the buyer isn’t inconvenienced.

Her vehicle has had some problems, but even when it does she doesn’t get mad. She is thankful for when it does run. Her apartment flooded yesterday and she found the good…   it didn’t ruin any of the gift baskets.
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She has the most positive outlook about her life. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. I saw  comments she made to keep friends and family up to date on her Facebook that helped me to understand more….since, like I said she doesn’t talk about it:

  •   after a 12 day stay in hospital, with two pulmonary embolisms in 2015 and  less than  18 mos after that a car accident…”seizure activity, EEG abnormal, passing out, losing sensory,  seizure disorder diagnoses”  her neurologist refused to release her to go back to work.  “I miss driving” (She has been off work since Nov 2016 )
  • A nap won’t help. I am not lazy. On meds that cause nasty side effects.may look and sound  fine, but I struggle with pain & fatigue every day. Doctors say it will never get better.

When asked why she does all this to help homeless and widows or others who may be forgotten, she quietly said that her son has autism and was told he would never be able to talk or learn.  “We were 10 hours from being homeless. Everyone left, family and friends stopped calling, wouldn’t answer text or phone calls unless they were in need of something.”

Reshele just doesn’t want anyone to ever feel forgotten.

In a few days she is moving from her current apartment to a smaller place, yet she continues to give.   When friends show concern about where she will go she says “everything is ok, “God has this”.

I have tried to do things for Reshele, but she won’t let me. I tried to bring her pizza and she wouldn’t let me. She goes in for painful shots in her back and can’t drive herself. I have begged her to let me  help her  in that way and she just will not do it. This woman is a true giver….not a taker.

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Here is her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/reshele.jackson.3

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Today, I had one widow left whom I wanted to make sure was remembered as she has been so good in helping to recognize other  widows.

I randomly chose a florist in her town, asked for the owner and explained about Heart for the Widowed and why we do it.

The florist quietly said she would send an arrangement to this lady (She was doing this at no charge).

When I asked her name for my notes I recognized the last name as I knew some people from there with that same last name. I asked who she married, but told her that I didn’t know him, as he must have been younger. She said he died three months ago.

She had never even let on while I was talking about Mary who had been a widow (of about 5 yrs,after her husband was killed in a tragic car wreck.)

What a precious lady to do this for another widow.  Like in the Book of Ruth where the poor widow took care of another widow. I pray that, like Ruth, she will be greatly blessed for her kindness and compassion.

When Mary got the flowers she was stumped. She asked if I had and when I told her who she was shocked as she did not know this lady. She was going to have a gift card delivered to Susan  tomorrow.

Here is Mary with the flowers: https://www.facebook.com/1600kush/photos/a.150870294926426.32925.135808236432632/1970872096259561/?type=3&theater

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Then there is Deborah.....  We had sent little chocolates and a few small things in red velvet Valentine’s bags with a card, with a beautiful butterfly by Darla Berinti  to Deborah (a widow in a small town) to share at church.

Although I had sent more than she thought they needed we learned that it wasn’t enough. She gave up her own gift bag, so that another widow wasn’t left out and never said a word about how she would be the one left out.  I pray that something really good happens for her tomorrow. I’d love it if you would say a prayer for her, also.

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Another story

I had gotten a frame like this for a friend, back in the fall.   Henry (the exec. director for the organization where I volunteer) liked it so much we ordered more to give to other widowed.

Sunday night Feb 11th I was already in bed when it came to me to give one to  my former boss (yeah, 40 years ago).   I got out of bed and looked   up her husband’s obit and learned that the very next day Monday Feb 12th was the anniversary of his passing. I remembered they had a little girl named Lori, back then so I looked her up on Linked in and found she worked for Cherokee Nation. I figured that was so big I ‘d never find her so went to bed.

Early the next morning I was walking and saw a lady who used to bring her baby to walk. When you walk you usually just speak as you go around someone, so that was all I knew about her.    She had been gone for a few years. In fact she said that baby was in school and Monday was the first day of her retirement.   Learning that she retired from Cherokee Nation I asked if she knew Lori. She had Lori’s contact info with her and immediately texted her and then gave me Lori’s email. I forgot to ask the lady her name.

Another wonderful coincidence, since I hadn’t seen her is a few years, didn’t know her name and here she not only worked at the same place but had Lori’s number and e-mail!

The anniversary of a spouses passing is hard day  for the one left behind.  For this to ‘come to me’, the day before that anniversary…Coincidence?

Lori and I agreed to meet at Hobby Lobby when she got off work. Since I saw an ‘additional 20% off even on sale items’ coupon in the newspaper for Michaels (and since Joann’s will take competitors coupons) I decided I’d go over to Joann’s to look around for something for the widows Valentine’s gathering while I waited .

I finally wandered  to the counter to pay.  Chatting with a couple in front of me the nice gentleman offered  to pay for my item. Again, someone wants to pay? I
A  bit embarrassed I said, no, thank you.  He insisted and I kept saying no. However, when theirs was rung up I who noticed they didn’t use  a coupon  I tried to bring up the Michael’s coupon up  on my ancient phone so they could use it. It wasn’t coming up so I suggested  so that we could both use my paper copy if he’d pay for mine , the 20% off would be taken for both then I’d reimburse them for mine. He said he’d really like to pay for mine to bless me…well that did it. I knew God would bless him back and agreed.  The cashier  used both of the coupons on my newspaper which took off an additional 40% from one of his other items. So this wonderful couple who paid for the item that will bless the widows was blessed back with a very nice discount.  Isn’t God good?

My new friend James and I stood and chatted while his wife went to the restroom. I was “all over the place” trying to tell him about how I met Reshele at that same counter a couple of days before Christmas (which was actually the last time I was there) and how she had blessed me in the same way.

James mentioned that he so enjoys doing Random Acts of Kindness.  He wasn’t even aware that this is National Random Acts of Kindness week.

Valentines Day falls in the middle of Random Acts of Kindness week, which ends on Saturday Feb 17 with Random Acts of Kindness week. Just think if everyone paid kindness forward!

 

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There is one on titled Are Churches Failing the Widow: https://tulsage.wordpress.com/widows-and-widowers

We can all do a little more.

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These all work toward helping the Widowed

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This year’s state proclamation:   Heart for the Widowed  state proclamation for 2018  

Thank you, Gov. Fallin for signing it and Thank you, Sumer Curry.

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Truly Making a Difference in the Life of Another.

When you get face-to-face with those in need, it’s seeing them through Christ’s eyes.
You realize just how much you have in common.  We are all poor; we just have different
forms of poverty.

There are wonderful individuals with tremendous economic needs, who have had difficult lives. A handout often leads to co-dependency, not self-sufficiency. By teaching people ‘how to fish, instead of just giving them fish’, we help them make long-term, real life changes with employment skills, sobriety, good family relationships, budgeting and good spending habits.

They need to know how much God loves them; that He finds them acceptable, complete
and fully pleasing to Him. It requires a network of people working together. Amazing life
changes are being witnessed in the many individuals that Stand in the Gap is empowering.

– Buddy Stone, co-founder of Stand in the Gap

 

Posted in Beauty, OK, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, volunteer, Volunteer work, Volunteering, volunteers, You can make a difference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Longer Running: The Rhonda Bear Story

Hiding from the police under a brush pile,  while sleet fell around me, I lay shivering  inside the black plastic trash bag of laundry where I slept.

It seems that I had always been running, trying to escape the sexual abuse  when I was 8 years old, a violent step-dad, deep poverty,  parental abandonment…

The Valium from my soccer coach at age 12  to calm my nerves before a tournament was the best feeling I’d ever had. I began using cocaine and dealing drugs before I was in high school….shooting up meth and stealing to support my habit,  kicked out of  a foster home, 8th grade dropout…sexual relationships  with  the lawyers prosecuting my case to make the charges go away…running away…joining a  biker gang…involved with the boss of an organized crime group…drug-induced blackouts…marriage to a Baptist minister’s son who believed he could help…bringing children born  while using methamphetamine and cocaine injected with a needle…drugs broke up the marriage ….selling drugs to support my kids…an attempted suicide…

I had been off the needle for six years, was in a drug recovery program, had obtained my GED and was working toward a social work degree when a  ‘one time’ shot of methamphetamine led immediately to an even more severe addiction.

I was wanted in six counties and two states for various crimes burglary, illegal drug possession, assault on a police officer and passing a bogus check.

The freezing cold and the wounds of childhood were nothing compared to the anguish I felt about the pain and shame my children were suffering.  The bounty on my head had kept me from seeing them because I knew the authorities expected me to show up there.    It is not unusual for children to turn to criminal activity to obtain drugs to deaden the pain. Emotional distress and household instability may lead to the child becoming homeless.

There in the darkness,  completely alone and isolated from everyone, I decided I would do whatever it took to get my kids back and protect them from living a life like this.
I didn’t really know if God was listening as I prayed for courage to change and do something with my life.
 
10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’   Isaiah 41:10  (NKJV)

ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT
Wanting to spare my children the trauma of seeing their mother arrested, I contacted the district attorney, promising that, if allowed  to spend one full day with my kids, I would turn myself  in. Celebrating Christmas early that year, I looked each of them in the eyes, apologized for being the mom that I had been and assured them that I would be different when I returned for them.

The Sequoyah County judge, who sentenced me to 10 years in prison, added a provision to suspend the rest of my sentence  if, while incarcerated, I completed a  12 month drug-treatment program.

THE CHILDREN
Imprisonment destroys families by disrupting the nurturing relationships that bond mothers and their children.  During a mother’s incarceration many kids end up living in poverty. Often others pass unfair judgment on children whose parents are imprisoned, making children feel undeserved shame and social stigma, leading to behavioral problems, depression and low self esteem. Wondering what they did wrong, a child’s embarrassment and pain can manifest as attachment disorders, physical health problems and attention problems in school that lowers academic performance. Thus, children do the time with their mothers.

While some children live with a grandparent, intergenerational incarceration is common, with grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts  imprisoned at the same time.  Nationwide, an estimated 70 percent of children with an incarcerated parent will someday also become incarcerated. (Source: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

Prisons were not created to address the brokenness and poverty from which many inmates come.

ENCOURAGEMENT PROVIDES HOPE
Hope empowers the women to accomplish their goals leading to restoration of the family, as they become more mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy.  Breaking the cycle of recidivism can save a mother, which in turn can save her children.

Trained volunteers  came along side to support me with love, acceptance and prayer during my transformation toward a normal life, after nearly three decades of drug abuse.

I finished the rehabilitation program in a year and  was released on parole, after serving only 19 months, due to the provision the judge had made.

Inmates are regularly released from jail at midnight on the day their sentence ends. Some have no one to pick them up and no place to go. Few have any savings. The stigma of a prison record  can act as a continued sentence, making it more difficult to gain employment to become productive, in order to support their family and gain acceptance back into society. The WIT volunteers mentor inmates through their entire transition back into society. According to the National Institute of Justice nationally, over 67 percent of released prisoners will return to prison or jail within three years, yet only 3 percent of women who have completed the entire WIT program, have returned to incarceration.

A place to live, a vehicle and a wonderful job, were all in answer to prayer.   God reunited me with my kids; healing and restoring our relationship.

Finding safe housing where women and children can build a new life is very challenging, when landlords will not rent to them.  With support from the wonderful Claremore, OK community, my husband and I opened His House Outreach Ministries, in May 2008. While the original plan was to offer temporary housing for up to two weeks, God had a greater plan!

Today the program includes seven faith-based transitional homes for women recently released from prison. Twenty one women at a time, who focus on getting their children back, are helped with employment, education and goal setting.

Many of the women haven’t completed high school or earned a GED. A lack of skills, an absence of a steady employment history and few resources make it difficult to obtain employment to support their family. Unemployment is a prime motivator in criminal activity, when the only sources of income former prisoners can think of are illegal.

Employment, which is essential in reducing recidivism, allows former inmates to become a productive member of society and part of the community, while providing for their children.

STARTING A BUSINESS WITH $300

A $300 budget to create a job training program for former inmates might have deterred some folks, but the Lord had already given me a name for the business. The $300 purchased coffee beans, a coffee pot, hot chocolate, a crock pot for apple cider and space at a flea market in downtown Claremore. She Brews Coffee House opened for business, in November 2012, in that rented booth.

When a storefront, nestled in a block of antique stores, became available there was, once again, an outpouring of community support to move the coffee house from the flea market booth to the neat brick building. Donations came in for everything -carpentry work,  furnishings, cooking lessons, kitchen-grade equipment and even membership in the local Chamber of Commerce. A silent auction raised $12,000.

The coffee house provides a place, for women who live at ‘His House’, to gain valuable work experience as they learn responsibility, problem solving  and social skills. Appreciative of the opportunity to interact with members of the community, the ladies take pride in doing their best. Encouraged by the kindness and respect shown them they are eager to prove their trustworthiness.   From the coffee house the women move on to higher paying jobs or pursue degrees to better provide for themselves and their families.

I was an uneducated drug addict who had a life-changing experience. My recovery and transformation has been an amazing journey.  Thanks to the ongoing support of the community many lives have been impacted for the long term– the women, their children, future generations, and society at large. I give God all the glory for the success of the women who have been helped.

TODAY
I am happy to be going back to prison, where I serve as a Program Manager  to pay forward the generosity of those who gave me the hope I needed to change my life. I teach others the skills that I was taught for a successful transition, which allowed me to get my children back.  Over 1,000 women a year in Oklahoma prisons go through the 12-week course learning how to be productive 

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UPDATE: The above is Rhonda Bear’s story. Rhonda’s LinkedIn profile states under experience simply “I love that I get to teach women how to successfully leave prison and reenter society.”

We had to do research on the  internet to learn that, in addition to her work at the coffee shop and  executive director of seven transition  homes, this devoted, wife, mother and grandmother:

  • teaches re-entry courses to more than 1,000 women a year who are leaving  prison.
  • received her degree in Social Work from Northeastern State University, actively advocates for change in our justice system on behalf of incarcerated women at the legislative level  through her role on the Board of Directors for the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition.
  • a DOC volunteer, she volunteers at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center (where she was named Volunteer of the Year), Mabel Bassett Correctional Center and Rogers County Jail.
  • teaches anger management to women from Turley Correctional Center at St. Luke’s Redemption Church the Tulsa and Rogers county jails, and several Oklahoma City area facilities.
  • became a Kairos volunteer three years after her release.
  • group leader of Women’s Celebrate Recovery at the First Baptist Church of Claremore, OK.

AWARDS

Rhonda doesn’t brag about her awards and recognition, but so far, we found these:

  • Claremore Main Street and the Claremore Chamber recently honored “Leading Ladies” in business and the community. Rhonda received the “Leading Lady of the Year”
  •  Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year.
  • One of the top 10 Young Women in the State by the YMCA  – YWCA Tulsa’s Women of the Year is a distinction  reserved for 10 fearless Green Country women.

A Grateful Heart is a Magnet for Miracles. -author unknown

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Hot Dogs They taste good but….

Hot Dogs can cause headaches.

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Free Places for Veterans to Eat on Veterans Day (OKLAHOMA LIST)

With gratitude and admiration we honor our Veterans  who have devoted themselves to serving and defending our  nation with brave and selfless service and extraordinary courage….to make a difference in this world.

And now, without further ado….Tulsage presents the 2016 list of places for Oklahoma Veterans to eat for free on Veterans Day

Posted in Air Force, Army, Free meals on Veterans Day, Honoring Veterans, Marines, NAvy, OK, Oklahoma, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Reserves, U.S. Army Air Force, USN, Veterans | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Finally! The Desmond Doss Story

The true story of US Army medic Pfc. Desmond T. Doss who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman despite refusing to bear arms during WWII on religious grounds. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance but went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness and compassion after he risked his life — without firing a shot — to single-handedly save 75 of his comrades in the Battle of Okinawa, while under constant enemy fire.

Here is the documentary that makes me cry every time  I watch it. For years I have wished someone would make a movie of his story. Humble, Desmond  didn’t want it done. He passed on in 2006.

Hacksaw Ridge had its world premiere on September 4, 2016 at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, where it received a 10-minute standing ovation.

 

The Conscientous Objector

 

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HEALTH BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER

Did you know that seventy percent of disease processes are directly related to stress,  which triggers hormones that suppress the immune system,  raise blood pressure and can lead to fatal obstructions in arteries?

Cortisol and adrenaline are activated during times of stress, hostility and rage.  Adrenalin bombards the heart, forcing it to beat as if in a constant state of fight or flight.  Mental stress can cause inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack.

THE GOOD NEWS
Research has confirmed that intense laughter causes the body to produce dopamine, a natural stress-reducer, which  has a vital role in protecting health, provides a general calming and anti-depressing effect and can help reduce  potentially more-serious illnesses.
Dopamine lowers cortisol, a culprit for fat around our midsection and central organs.

Hearty laughter:

  • lowers blood pressure by increasing the diameter of the blood vessel which allows more blood flow.
  • boosts the immune system by increasing infection-fighting antibodies and T-cells (natural killer cells that destroy viruses and tumors). Many doctors attribute cancer patient’s longevity to their choice of a positive outlook by looking for the humor in every situation.
  • increases respiratory rate and enhances oxygen consumption, stimulating the heart and lungs and aiding muscle relaxation. Dr. Michael Miller, director of the Center of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, recommends laughter as part of a heart healthy program for patients.
  • reduces pain. Researchers at Oxford University found that those who laughed at comedies tend to withstand pain longer, while laughing along with others relieved pain better than laughing alone.

 
Dr. Bernie S. Siegel, M.D wrote in  ‘A Book of Miracles: Inspiring True Stories of Healing, Gratitude, and Love’  that survivors who laugh, live longer.


Some effects of laughter are still present the next day.

Laughter is contagious.  When we see many people laughing, we end up laughing involuntarily, according to a study at University College of London.  Laughter connects us with those who make us laugh by making us feel more comfortable, and thus strengthens relationships.  Just try to watch this all the way through without laughing

Laughter has no side effects, is available for free, wherever you are. Choose to look for the humor in every situation in your daily life…and share your laughter with others.
A merry heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.(Proverbs 17:22)

~

Tulsage 2016

Posted in All in Fun, Baby Boomers, Beauty, Blessings, Great ideas!, Inspiration, Oklahomans helping Oklahomans, Prescription Drugs, Widow, Widowed, Widower, widowers, Widows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments