Mercy Matters at MD Anderson

The beautiful thing about giving mercy is thinking about the person who is on the receiving end and what our small acts of kindness can mean to someone else. In my book, Simple Mercies, I share a beautiful act of mercy that my friend, Julie Anna, did while I had been at the hospital all day with a dear friend who died unexpectedly. I will never forget her kindness because it was the only light I saw on that dark day.

She is so thoughtful that it didn’t surprise me when I learned that despite being several states away, she was still doing acts of mercy. This time, with a little help from a friend.

This is how Julie Anna does mercy:

Mercy Matters!

Recently, my cousin and her husband traveled from their home in Missouri to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston hoping to qualify for a clinical trial for terminal cancer. Some of their friends from Missouri travel internationally teaching about God’s healing so they had their friends from WoodsEdge Community Church welcome my cousin to Houston. They visited my cousin and her husband at MD Anderson offering support and prayers for healing. Mercy.

My cousin posts updates to family and friends on the Caring Bridge site with specific prayer requests for a healing miracle for her husband. When I read her post about how the WoodsEdge Church welcomed them I wondered if this was where my close friend, Lesley, who had recently moved from Jacksonville, Florida to Houston, Texas attended church…And it was! A God Moment of Mercy, Not Coincidence.

I reached out to both women to let them know of this “small world” God moment and put them in touch with each other. Both women are amazing prayer warriors and are true inspirations of living/speaking your faith, trusting in God, and sharing it with others.

Lesley wanted to do something in addition to praying to help my cousin. Lesley’s 13-year-old daughter, Lindsey, was cooking dinner and told Lesley she wanted my cousin to have a warm meal. Lesley then made the 40-minute drive to MD Anderson, dropped it off at the nurse’s station, and drove back home. Mercy Me!

This act of mercy that Lesley and Lindsey made happen brought me peace. It’s so hard to be far away from a loved one when they are suffering and not be able to do anything to help. My cousin was so touched that a total stranger would bring her mercy. Lesley is now my cousin’s prayer warrior and can be available for them if they need her. Two strangers now connected by God’s mercy. Not a coincidence. Just mercy.

Small everyday acts of kindness matter! God’s mercy moments matter. I am learning to recognize these moments and thank Him!

PLEASE PRAY for my cousin Stacey and a Healing Miracle for her husband Russ ~ Julie Anna.

Hi, all ~ I love stories like these that have so many connections that could be passed off as coincidence but really have the hand of God all over them. And, I love how Lesley and her daughter, Lindsey, readily stepped in as an act of mercy to the sick and an act of friendship to Julie Anna. The picture above is of the cooler that I found on my dining room table on the day my friend died unexpectedly. I had spent the day pouring out mercy in every way I knew how and I came home and received it. Mercy matters. Giving. Receiving. Simple Mercies. ~ Love, Lara

To purchase Simple Mercies: https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Mercies-Works-Mercy-Fulfillment/dp/1681924536/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 or locally at http://bit.ly/larabooks

 

Parties, papers, and podcasts – oh my!

Thank you for the support you all have given me with the launch of Simple Mercies. I absolutely love being able to share it with the world and everyone has been so generous to help spread the word. Two dear friends opened up their homes so I could speak about the book and I so enjoyed meeting new people whose compassionate hearts make our community a better place. If you are interested in me speaking at your home, church, or organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out at lara@mercymatters.net

I have also been busy recording different podcasts. Here is one I hope you will enjoy https://ultimatechristianpodcastnetwork.com/meet-lara-patangan-author-of-simple-mercies/?fbclid=IwAR3eBHR2sLfOibvvmB3COFtL3Xz8ST9IR1pWPdNgG-hAYLUiGOfdqS2XosE

Lastly, I wanted to share this article that recently ran in The Florida Times-Union about the year I spent doing works of mercy. The author, Beth Reese Cravey, really did an amazing job capturing both the spirit of the book and that year. (I apologize for the gaps in the article. I had to make it into four PDF’s to share it here. And, by me, I mean my husband who actually reminded me that I was his only employee and that maybe I should be nicer to him. His comment made me really happy because by saying this he did the work of mercy to “admonish a sinner” while simultaneously bringing me grapes — “feed the hungry.”  So, if you think about it, I’m a soul-saving kind of boss).

To purchase Simple Mercies: https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Mercies-Works-Mercy-Fulfillment/dp/1681924536/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8 or locally at http://bit.ly/larabooks

 

Mercy at Trader Joe’s

A friend of mine told me about a prayer request for someone dear to her who was hospitalized with pneumonia in both lungs. Over three weeks his condition deteriorated and finally, he passed away. She had prayed for his healing but it wasn’t to be.

In her words, here’s what happened next.

A mutual friend asked me to bring food to the reception after the memorial service. I offered to take my “go to Blondies.” Trader Joe’s mix in a box, perfect every time, easy peasy! So a few days before the memorial service I head out to TJ’s. Three boxes of brownie mix and the required butter were all I needed.

As I was checking out, the cashier asked if I could bring one back for her. I laughed and said, “Sure.” But then I thought better of my response. I told her that these were headed to a funeral. There probably wouldn’t be any left.

I looked the young lady in the eye and said, “Covid.”

She responded and said, “Covid is for real.”

I said, “God bless you, honey.” I walked outside toward my car.

Suddenly I felt someone coming toward me from behind. I turned and looked. There was the young cashier thrusting a bouquet of flowers toward me. She held them out and said, “I am sorry for your loss!” I thanked her. When I got in my car, I wept. And sobbed. And sobbed some more.

This last year and a half have been filled with loss. People, friends who vehemently disagree about how we can live together, trust, celebrating, time, safety….the list is endless. But in the midst of all of this loss, along comes a stranger, who heard my pain and offered consolation. And touched my weary heart, by telling the truth and caring.

And, I began to heal from a very rough season.

Hi all, this is such a beautiful simple mercy. Funny how a chance encounter at the grocery store can help begin to heal someone else’s grief but that’s the power of mercy. I love that the mercy came from a stranger too – just another reminder to all of us that we belong to each other.

Speaking of which, here is a link to a podcast “Quote Me with Lindsay Schlegel,” where I talk about my favorite quote. It’s by anthropologist Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I would only add that it’s done through love and mercy.

If you have not already purchased a copy of Simple Mercies, please go to bit.ly/larabooks or Amazon. We can be that small group of committed citizens who change the world. ~ Love, Lara

Praying Is a Work of Mercy

Guest post by: Barb Szyszkiewicz

Intercessory prayer is my superpower. I’m not the mystical type, but give me something concrete to do and I’m all set. Is it odd to think of prayer as “something concrete to do”? Not for me. If you’re in a crisis and you don’t live near here, I’ll pray for you. If you live close by, I’ll bring you a dinner – and I’ll pray for you while I shop for the ingredients, prepare the food, and deliver the meal.

During a crisis, many people find that they have a hard time praying. They know they need the prayers, but they feel like God is far away or not listening – or maybe they haven’t connected with God in a while. When someone comes to you and asks for prayer, that is an act of great trust both in you and in God. This is a work of mercy that costs you very little but means so very much to others. By praying for someone in need, you are shouldering their burden right along with them.

Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. (James 5:16)

Whether someone asks you, straight out, to pray for them, or you know they’re going through something and in need of your prayers, make sure to pray. Part of the mercy of praying for others is that they know you can be counted on to actually do the praying.

You don’t have to use fancy words or come up with something original every time. I don’t! I simply use some of the prayers the Church has already offered. A Hail Mary, Glory Be, or Memorare will work just fine.

Follow these three steps to make this work of mercy work for you:

Pray right away. You don’t have to pray out loud (maybe that’s not your superpower – it’s definitely not mine). But don’t wait. Pray right away. Read more

Simple Mercy: Comforting the Sorrowful

A picture may be worth 1,000 words but the picture this story paints just needs one – love.

It’s about Susanna and her neighbor, Mrs. Honeycutt. Susanna noticed Mrs. Honeycutt’s “angel sparkle” the first time they met. “She was open to listening and connecting, and I was warmed and magnetized by it. I’d lost my mother in my 20s so this kind of motherly attention from a slightly more “experienced” mama-gal made my heart swell…she filled a void just by offering me her presence.”

Unfortunately, in January, Susanna lost her dad unexpectedly. “Dad’s death made me feel pushed into a soggy, rudder-less boat adrift to the stupid, yuck-no-thank-you island of Parentless People. Losing Mom was one horrible thing, but when Dad died, I lost my bearings.”

With her brother and her husband, Susanna traveled to Mississippi to empty her Dad’s house: “a stunning Federal-style estate built in 1860 and filled with fineries, antiques and everything I did not want or wish to organize. To make it seem more glamorous or at least a notch up from the despair I was feeling over the process, I posted photos of Dad’s lovely interior décor online. It was a nice release to send some of Dad’s life vision out there into the world. It kept something of him alive. My compass recalibrated just a teeny, little bit.

About a week after we returned, a package arrived on my doorstep with a note on it that read, “You, me, Chardonnay on the deck?” I am always down for an invitation to slurp the chard – especially when it’s Mrs. Honeycutt doing the asking! But the package contents took the cake. That gal downloaded all those beautiful photos I’d taken of Dad’s house and made a beautiful little picture book out of them! A keepsake forever!

Read more

Mercy: Football and Flowers

Over the past few weeks, I have been highlighting what I call simple mercies — small things we can do for each other that help us get through a difficult time. The one I want to share today is from my neighbor whose husband recently passed away unexpectedly.  They were a beautiful couple and had been through so much together.

One of the things they enjoyed doing was attending Jacksonville Jaguar football games together. So, I’m sure it was difficult for Bonnie to get a call from the Jaguars asking if she would be buying tickets for the upcoming season. She explained that she wouldn’t be renewing their tickets because her husband passed away. I imagine when someone close to you dies you have to have a lot of conversations explaining how life will be different now.

But, I didn’t imagine it going any further than that. Neither did Bonnie.  Still, a few days later, flowers showed up at her door expressing condolences. They were from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

When I began this series, I really wanted to show the people to people connection. It wasn’t about business or even non-profits but just people serving. And yet, this act of kindness reminds me that businesses are not just entities but groups of individuals who can make a difference through the positions they hold. I don’t know who the individual or group of individuals were who decided to send my sweet neighbor flowers but I would want them to know that they could not have sent them to a nicer person. And, even if it only gave her a moment of sweet relief, she is worth that effort.

What I love most about mercy, about stories like these, is that we know they don’t end with the act of kindness. Instead, they are like waves of cheering fans: rising, spreading, and lingering long after all has gone quiet. Football or not, that’s got to be the best kind of win.

Hi, friends ~ This past Sunday marked a year since I experienced a spontaneous carotid artery dissection in my neck. I often say I was the stereotype of the “healthy person who drops dead.” Only by God’s mercy and the prayers of so many dear people like you, I didn’t die.

These kinds of anniversaries are strange – filled with gratitude, anxiety, and emotion. Sometimes I wish that our hearts healed as completely as our bodies do from injury but it seems like these kinds of traumas sometimes take a little longer.  But they also remind us how much acts of mercy can mean to others.  So for all of you who have gotten me through the last year, who sent up so much as a single prayer, know that I am grateful.  And, I’m more determined than ever to share the mercy you showed me with others. Likewise, I hope you are inspired to keep sharing your compassion with others, I promise it makes all the difference. ~ Love, Lara

If you are interested in reading about how acts of kindness can bring peace, my book, Simple Mercies is available for pre-order now at bit.ly/larabooks or https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Mercies-Works-Mercy-Fulfillment/dp/1681924536/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3F4TVB0MQ94V6&dchild=1&keywords=simple+mercies&qid=1619481953&sprefix=simple+merci%2Caps%2C163&sr=8-2

Simple Mercy: Keeping Children Safe

Nancy Sebastian has spent much of her life working to keep children safe. This is how Nancy does mercy:

“Sharing what we know about personal safety with the children we love is an act of mercy that can save a life. It’s as easy as teaching a child to cross the street. Children who recognize red flags and know circumstances to avoid will be safer. The same is true for teens. In addition, teens dealing with depression and anxiety are now at an all-time high. Showing concern and kindness can make a huge difference to them.

Everyone wants to know they matter.

I feel very blessed throughout my life to have been able to empower children and teens to protect themselves and their peers from harm and live safer, happier lives. As a mother, teacher, school counselor, and now Executive Director of the KinderVision Foundation for the past 27 years, my journey has been one of amazing grace and awesome miracles, both personally and professionally, with the well-being of young people always a priority.

KinderVision began in 1991 as the result of the abduction and murder of a 7-year-old little girl. Her case remains unsolved. We wanted to prevent future tragedies so we created a video with personal safety tips for young children in English and Spanish narrated by an 8-year-old little girl and a police officer. We personalized our safety video by recording the child on the end to encourage viewing. Hundreds of thousands of children have benefited from that program. It is now digital and the safety tips can be found at www.KVKids.org.

Ten years ago law enforcement asked us to create a program for teens, the age group most at risk for victimization. The Greatest Save Teen PSA (Public Service Announcement) Program was our response. In this peer-to-peer personal safety program, teens choose any topic on teen victimization, research it, and create a 30-second video message for their peers. The messages are then organized by topics and used by schools across the country to raise awareness, engage students in discussions about personal safety, and end teen victimization. Read more

Simple Mercies: Teaching the Faith

Growing up, Wendy Nelms wanted to be a reporter and travel the world. Instead, she answered a greater call as a beloved teacher sharing the word of God.  She has been at Assumption Catholic School most of her life — first as a student and now as a teacher.

We know teachers practice mercy in countless ways, but here is how Wendy does mercy:

“I am thankful to say that my life as a teacher is one of my greatest blessings. In my time at Assumption, I have had many different roles but my favorite is being the 7th and 8th-grade religion teacher. I am inspired and amazed at the insight and faith of the students I teach and truly love coming to work every day.

Being with teenagers and listening to them share their faith gives me true hope for the future of our church. While being the religion teacher, I have had the amazing opportunity of taking groups of students to serve at Catholic Charities and attend the Steubenville youth conferences. Watching students see the reality of what is taught in the classroom is one of my greatest blessings.

My job is to take their hands and lead them to Christ and then let go. That is the hardest part for me-letting go. Once they walk through my classroom, they know they are always a part of me. There is nothing better than watching someone become who God created them to be!”

Note from me: The spiritual work of mercy, to instruct the uninformed, is about sharing our faith with others. Wendy taught my son and she has an incredible gift for ministry. But all of us have something we can teach others – even if it’s only through simple acts of love.

One of the reasons I wrote my new book, Simple Mercies, is because oftentimes we fail to recognize the way small acts of kindness can make a difference. For the next few weeks, I’m highlighting simple ways that others are sharing mercy as an organic part of their daily life. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this series, please email me at lara@mercymatters.net to share your own story of mercy. If you would like to learn more about the ways that mercy can bring peace and fulfillment to your life while answering God’s call to serve, preorder Simple Mercies, at this Amazon link or San Marco book store http://Bit.ly/larabooks ~ love, Lara

Mercy: Sex Trafficking

Ruby Greers may be a grandma but she doesn’t shy away from a hard fight. And, perhaps it is because she is a grandmother that she works so hard to help eliminate and educate others about sex trafficking.

This is how Ruby does mercy:

I’m especially passionate about educating young people because I saw a quote from a 17-year-old survivor of sex trafficking who said, “How did I not know about this?  Why didn’t someone warn me? Had I known, I would have never fallen into this.” 

Whether it’s sex trafficking or labor trafficking, most people simply don’t know much about it or realize how prevalent it is, not to mention how evil it is. It makes me angry that traffickers seek out the most vulnerable people and exploit them. Many people do not realize that pornography fuels sex trafficking and that some of the people “acting” in those videos may actually be victims of sex trafficking who are being forced to perform.

I got angrier when I attended an all-day seminar titled Sex Trafficking in Schools in Florida (How crazy is it that there was a NEED for that seminar?) and learned that traffickers are putting “recruiters” in schools to befriend the most vulnerable, unhappy kids and that the porn industry is targeting six to 10-year-old children by putting “click here” buttons on gaming sites. Many of our 12 grandchildren are in or near that age range and I could just envision the younger ones sounding out “click here” thinking they were going to get more jewels or swords or whatever, and instead getting a pornographic pop-up.   It’s just a click away on any device. 

So maybe my efforts to educate people about human trafficking are self-serving in that I’m using some of the energy God gave me to burn off that anger. Or maybe I am trying to protect young people like the grands I love so much.  Or maybe the Holy Spirit has hit me on the head enough times to realize that we are ALL vulnerable when we trust the wrong people and those wrong people see us as money in their pocket.  Whatever the reason, I can’t not do it… I can’t just walk away from the subject unless traffickers miraculously realize it’s terrible to take advantage of other people.  Because as long as there’s a demand for paid sex and for cheap goods and labor, there will be human trafficking.  But, God willing, there will also be this grandma educating anyone who is willing to stand still long enough to listen.

Note from me: One of the reasons I wrote my new book, Simple Mercies, is because oftentimes we fail to recognize the way small acts of kindness can make a difference. For the next few weeks, I’m highlighting simple ways that others are sharing mercy as an organic part of their daily life. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this series, please email me at lara@mercymatters.net to share your own story of mercy. If you would like to learn more about the ways that mercy can bring peace and fulfillment to your life while answering God’s call to serve, preorder Simple Mercies, at this Amazon link or San Marco book store http://Bit.ly/PatanganSMB ~ love, Lara

 

 

 

Simple Mercy: Diversity

Latasha and I attended Bishop Kenny High School together. I didn’t really know her well. This wasn’t because she’s black and I’m white. It’s because she was smart and athletic and in different classes and social circles than me. She was the girl who ran towards the ball and I was the one who ran away from it. As the Captain of the 1990 Girls’ Basketball State Championship Team, Latasha did plenty of running towards the ball.

These were not differences based on race but just on who we are as individuals. Admittedly, I didn’t think much about race back then. I could tell you this was because I was thinking about boys or passing algebra but it’s just as much because I didn’t see how it affected me. And, no matter your skin color, racial injustice affects us all. Mostly, it goes against Jesus’s message to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

In her volunteer role as the Chair of the Task Force on Diversity at Bishop Kenny High School, she works with the school to deepen the level of understanding of racial diversity and inclusion that reflects the tenets of our Christian faith. “Bishop Kenny is in a unique position to combat this hatred and promote diversity and inclusion because it is educating the next generation of leaders. We must ensure that our children understand the history that created barriers for people of color and the need for intentionality when addressing issues around race,” Latasha said.  “We cannot be afraid to tackle this issue head-on. We are all charged with standing on our Christian principles and truly trying to figure out how to make an impact in our daily lives. Our children are listening to and watching us.” Read more