Finding new purpose after painful loss


I have received so many warm and thoughtful notes from my dear readers since my son Rick died. This one, from Pastor Katie Carroll, just seems to put everything in the right perspective:

"I imagine you are trying to find new routines and rhythms in the wake of loss. God blesses us with peace and purpose even in the storms of life."

As I read those words, it seemed a light bulb went off in my head. You are so right, Pastor Katie. I can truly say that I have found peace and purpose at this time in my life. I have learned that peace comes when I think of my blessings and when I feel the love and joy being sent my way everyday.

I believe my purpose on this earth is to be an instrument of peace to others; to offer whatever comfort and joy I can, in whatever way I can, while being ever mindful of my many blessings.

For the past six years, Pastor Katie, I have enjoyed the role of great-grandmother. It's a relatively new routine for me, but one that brings great joy. I've had to step up my "game” to keep up with my little great grandsons, Jaylen and Tavaris (cousins who are both 6). It is in them, that I find the new "rhythms" you speak of.

There is nothing like the curious and innocent insight of children to help put us on the right track; to let us know that life goes on and through them we will find the "new routines and rhythms" we need to carry on.

I believe I have found the "new routines and rhythms" that I need. Now will you pray with me, that I will find new strength to help me cope with them?

I'm going to need it: Jaylen,who loves to sit on my lap, just announced that he plans to sit on my lap until he is 18.

Churches show meaning of Christmas

This is the time of the year when many individuals and churches reach out to others, offering blessings and good cheer.

Recently, I heard from two churches — the Miami Vineyard and South Miami Lutheran Church — who go beyond the call of duty to reach out to help others.

Gretchen Schmidt, a member of Miami Vineyard, a nondenominational Christian church, wrote to tell me of the way her church reaches out.

"Every few years, right around this time, our pastor Kevin Fischer, takes one week's collection of tithes and offerings and gives it away to another church or organization in need. It's a powerful leap of faith (the church is taking the money out of its income, depending on God to provide), and each time, results in a wonderful story."

Once, years ago, Miami Vineyard learned of a church in Little Haiti, whose van need repairing. Vineyard decided to give the Little Haiti church its the week's collection, usually around $2,000, to repair the van. "We collected $8,000, enough to buy a better van."

Over the years, the church and its offerings have grown. Recipients have included a small church in Little Havana; a women's health center; and a church in Homestead whose building burned down.

Recently Schmidt wrote: "Last week, we did it again, when for the first time, a fellow church was selected." Pastor Ed Ryerson, leader of the small Naples Vineyard, had a particularly aggressive form of cancer and was diagnosed as terminal.

“Pastor Fischer felt the money would give this pastor some peace of mind as he prepared to leave this earth. So, last Sunday members of Miami Vineyard rode in a caravan across the state to Naples to join an evening of praise and worship — and present the church with a check for $75,000."

"What makes it even more poignant is that Ryerson died yesterday. No one knew how little time he had left."

Elaine Mills wanted us to know that this is the sixth year that South Miami Lutheran Church has gone to His House to decorate the outside and inside of one of the cottages. "While there church members do a craft workshop with the children and help them make cookies."

"For Thanksgiving, the members distribute 0 food and gift baskets through Lutheran Services for needy families and will do the same at Christmas." Mill said church members and the preschool families all participate in the Good Samaritan Christmas box program and collect over 100 boxes.

In addition, members donate toys for the Homeless Assistance Center and disposable utensils and other items to help feed the homeless at the Miami Rescue Mission, and have donated over 100 baby quilts to Jackson Hospital and the Jr. League of Miami and other outreach programs.

This year, the church participated in the Home Instead Senior Care Christmas program to help senior in Dade who may go unnoticed during the holidays.

The church will climax its season of Christmas giving when Pastor Arnold Perry, pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran in Coral Gables and the interim pastor at South Miami Lutheran for several years, conducts a candlelight joint service at 7:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve with choir and bell choir at South Miami Lutheran, followed by a service at 11 p.m. at St. Mark’s.

The Living Nativity is from 7 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 22 and 23 at South Miami Lutheran.

Christian Science teacher to speak

And speaking of purpose, Leide Lessa, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher, will give a lecture entitled, "A Life with Freedom, Purpose and Happiness" at 10 a.m. in English and at 11:30 a.m. in Spanish on Saturday. The lecture will be at the Holiday Inn Coral Gables-University, 1350 S. Dixie Highway

Lessa once owned her own language institute in her home country of Brazil, where she also organized Christian Science youth meetings.

She eventually sold her school and entered the Christian Science healing ministry, which for eight years also included serving as a chaplain at a city jail.

Lessa now lives near Boston and travels throughout the world for her speaking engagements. For more information call 305-448-3360 or go to

‘Wonder of Christmas’

Christ the King Lutheran Church, at 11295 SW 57th Ave. in Pinecrest, will present the fourth annual "Wonder of Christmas" Friday through Monday (Dec. 20-23) at the church.

The "Wonder of Christmas' will begin each night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., when the beautiful campus is aglow with lights. The, at 7 p.m. Friday, there will be a gospel/bluegrass performance.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, there will be a petting zoo open to children of all ages. The Las Posadas procession, with mariachi pinatas, will be at 7 p.m. Sunday. On Monday at 7 p.m, the church will host an old-fashioned carol sing.

Christmas Eve services will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday (family service), and at 8 and 10 p.m. This year's theme is "Follow the Light." All services will include a candlelight ceremony.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information call 305-665-5063 or go to

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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