Love Thy Neighbor #GivingTuesday

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (‭Luke‬ ‭10‬:‭25-37‬ NIV)

The parable of the Good Samaritan has always been my favorite! This #GivingTuesday I wanted to share with the world how it has impacted my life. This blog post will be a little different from the rest. But I hope it can encourage each of you to do as I always have and reach out to those in need or lend a helping hand. Do it without looking for anything in return, do it just out the goodness of your heart. We need more selfless people in this world.

If you read my blog post Epilepsy Will Not Silence Me, you know I had one crazy summer. Three months of not working due to my disability being denied. Health care company felt as if seizures didn’t qualify for assistance even though my doctor disagreed. I ended up not having any income the entire summer, closing out Changing Focus Photography (that’s why you haven’t seen many pics lately) and selling my camera just to have money for meds and other expenses. I literally hit rock bottom. I have been living with others since June. It’s been me, my car and suitcases. My faith was put to the ultimate test. I learned that God will break you down to your knees because He wants your heart. He wants you to trust in Him so He can use you for His purpose, not your own.

I’m the one who everyone else runs to for help. Understand, God will send the people you wouldn’t even think of to help YOU. He will use just about anyone. Right before I came back to Dallas, He sent 3 people who I have never asked for anything from but every last one of them said to me “Whitney you would do it for anybody else, I don’t mind helping you.” I would often think I was flying under the radar doing good works but people were actually noticing. That’s because I never wanted anything back. From those 3 people it pushed me to continue to do good.

After going back to work and getting my seizures back under control, I went on this volunteering spree. I always did volunteer but stopped for a little bit when the seizures started again. Even though I was going through so much, I still had something to be thankful for and there’s many who have it worse than me. Why walk around feeling sorry for myself when I can put a smile on someone else’s face? I volunteered for multiple Cancer and disability 5k Walks/Runs. If just one person smiled or said thank you then my day was made. I ended up volunteering for one of the organizations, Heroes for Children, permanently.

November 8th, I was ready to complete the DFW Pancreatic Cancer Walk in honor of my dad who is in the fight back in New Orleans. On the way downtown I stopped at the ATM to get money for parking so I withdrew $20. The usual parking lot I park in, I couldn’t get to for some reason so I went to another one. When I parked I noticed a man walking to two other people briefly but I thought he worked there. I went up to the Self-Parking machine and it says “exact change only”. Really? *side-eye*

The guy walks up to me and says “Ma’am do you have some change? I just need some food” (FYI, I get distracted easily and I’m known as Dorie from finding Nemo lol.) I said huh? While thinking how could this machine not take a $20?! Then he asked again. I said a quick prayer and said “so you sure you need this for food?” And he said yes I promise I just need to eat. So I paid for my parking with my card $5 and gave the man the $20 in my hand. He thanked me and we went our separate ways. Later that night I said “God if I did what was right in your eyes then I’m happy I served you but if he had different intentions I know you will handle him accordingly.”

The next day I went to the sports bar I usually go to in order to watch the Saints game. While sitting at the bar with some friends, an older guy sits down next to me and he joins in the Saints chat. In the 4th quarter he says “I noticed you’ve been drinking water, did you eat anything?” I said yes in the 1st quarter. He calls the bartender over and says, “I’m going to pick up her tab.” What?! Where did you come from sir? Lol me being me “No you don’t have to do that!” He insisted saying “You have a good spirit and there’s not many warm people these days that you encounter.” Of course he paid and didn’t let me see the tab. So again, me being me, I added up everything I had $20.96… I get in the car, wait a minute $20 is what I gave the man asking for money. I smiled and said I know that was you God.

That right there shows you that when you do things with the right intentions, good will ALWAYS find its way back to you. After that I started Paying it Forward. Not looking for anything in return but because I loved the feeling of joy it gave me. I sent things to a couple of friends back home, randomly picked some followers on my social media pages to bless and sent inspiration to family and friends. The joy it gives to make someone else’s day is unexplainable. With that being said, I’m happy to share with you I’m finally back on my feet with some serious determination and will be in my own place again this weekend!! Someone from the place I volunteer at, offered to help me move since I do so much to help them out. I was offered an opportunity to speak on behalf of the Epilepsy Community in NYC. No worries, I’ll replace my camera eventually to get Changing Focus Photography back as well.

So for this #GivingTuesday I challenge every one of you to give back! Pay it forward! It can be as simple as helping someone in need, donating to your favorite charity, paying for someone’s gas, coffee, volunteering, help/mentor a child, ANYTHING to give back! Don’t let it just be for December it EVERY DAY!!

Having trouble figuring out what to do?

Changing Focus Epilepsy will be participating in the 9th Annual National Walk for Epilepsy in Washington D.C. on April 11, 2015!! You can donate or come join our team in DC below. The Epilepsy Foundation is a great organization to support. There is no cure for epilepsy so help us raise money for research and therapies for those of us in this fight.

Make a donation today and any day up until April 11, 2015! Team Changing Focus

With love,

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