Statement of Becca Stevens after CNN Hero Awards

Becca Stevens at 2016 CNN Hear Awards Ceremony
Becca Stevens at the 2016 CNN Hero Awards Ceremony

It was a great honor to represent the women of Thistle Farms on the CNN Heroes Tribute last week in New York. The experience allowed us to make new friends and tell a wider community that love does heal. My favorite part of the weekend was becoming friends with the other honorees. I loved hearing about their work and laughing in the van on the way to interviews and the gala. From voting daily, to telling friends, I’m grateful for everything this community did to make such a big impact. We have a lot more work ahead and many women waiting for us to expand our reach. Love heals for sure–especially through the tireless efforts of everyone in the circle at Thistle Farms. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Becca Stevens, Founder & President

Visit the Thistle Farms Website | Learn about the Mission of Thistle Farms

Growing an oak from an acorn

I admit it: it’s a metaphor. This post is about water, not oak trees. Please keep reading even if you are more interested in trees than water.

Once upon a time a little girl, Rachel, only 8 years old, wanted to raise about $300 to help provide clean water to children she would never meet (the acorn). For her 9th birthday she asked friends and family to give to charity: water instead of to her. Events after her birthday turned out far differently than she or her family imagined. The hoped for gift ($300) turned into a $1.3 million gift (the oak tree).

In 1975 I was ordained a deacon. Since then I have been to several diaconal ordinations. In the Episcopal Church those about to be ordained deacons are instructed with these words: “You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world.” Though I was subsequently ordained a priest I continue to take this instruction seriously. It did not disappear when I was ordained a priest.

In our Forum we seek to understand the needs, concerns and hopes of the world so that we may respond as the Spirit directs.

Clean water, clean and accessible water, is a human need in every time and place. Access to clean water is a concern and fundamental hope of every human being. I continue to contribute to charity: water. Here is why. You will find “the rest of the story” about Rachel in this report from NBC News.

Here you can find out more about Rachel’s Gift from the folks at charity: water

What is the Spirit saying to you?

Feeding the hungry

Many of you will remember Margaret Watson who served as an Associate at St. Margaret’s (2003-2005). Her friend Maria L. Evans visited Margaret in South Dakota at the Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission and came away with an inspiration for her church and community Trinity Episcopal Church in Kirkesville, MO. The rest of the story (and a short video follows).

Maria posted this on Facebook (a note to Margaret, seen by many) and shared the video which follows. (You gotta love Facebook for its ability to share Good News and inspire the creation of more Good News.)

Hey, Margaret, I wanted to show this to you (if you haven’t seen it already) b/c I also wish to pass my thanks to the wonderful folks I met at Eagle Butte as part of the seed of where this came from. When I was there in the spring, between watching everyone make sure others were fed at funerals and comfort services, as well as the weekly food ministry at church, it was a huge part of what helped me come to believe that it was truly possible to fill a pickup truck full of food in Kirksville, MO (Adair County has 1/4 of the population at or below the poverty line) for the local food bank. Turns out the Holy Spirit saw fit to fill TWO pickup truck loads full of food.

I would not have believed if not for what I saw happening in Eagle Butte. The idea would not have come to me, I don’t think. It was part of what God called me there for, I believe, and I suspect God is not finished working with me on that one, yet…God bless the dedicated folks who feed others at Eagle Butte!  Shared on 16 August 2012

What is the Spirit saying to us? Keep the conversation going.

THOSE SERVED by Wounded Warrior Project

THOSE SERVED by Wounded Warrior Project

In our Opportunity Calendar you will find a description of the Wounded Warrior Project with links to other Veteran’s resources. Today, via their Facebook Page, Wounded Warrior Project shares who they serve and why

More about THOSE SERVED by Wounded Warrior Project

In our Opportunity Calendar you will find a description of the Wounded Warrior Project with links to other Veteran’s resources. Today, via their Facebook Page, Wounded Warrior Project shares who they serve and why

Get stirred up …

Quote . . .The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so, do that which best stirs you to love.
—Saint Teresa of Avila

via Word for the Day :: G R A T E F U L N E S S.

Our categories (1) James 1:22 and (2) Opportunity Calendar may help stir up the love that you put into action. ~dan

Here is an opportunity to “change the world” — use it

Part of taking action on behalf of others is being informed. Then, part of effective action is joining with others to enhance the action taken (you know, “strength in numbers” and so on). I would like to introduce the Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) Blog to you by sharing from today’s post. You will see that the blog is intended to be “a forum for discussion, sharing and community.” Be informed.

Then, as we enter the season when gifts are given, hear Rob Radtke’s appeal. Rob is the President of ERD. He has donors who will match every donation made through November 30th up to $500,000. Consider a gift that will be twice as large (with the help of others) and do a world of good.  Then, make a gift. Here is Rob’s introduction:

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning, there’s a chill in the air and the holidays are rushing toward us. And as I write, we’re over halfway through our 2011 Matching Gift Challenge. Just as they did last fall, some extremely generous donors are again matching every donation we receive through November 30, dollar for dollar – up to a total of $500,000.

As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s generally not my policy to ask for donations on our blog. I try as much as possible to honor the goal of this space: to be a forum for discussion, sharing and community. But once again, I’m making an exception because of this remarkable opportunity.

Thanks to our special donors, a gift today will go twice as far to reach people living in extreme poverty and hunger around the world. You’ll be able to provide double the amount of emergency relief supplies for those affected by disaster, two times as many meals for hungry school children, or twice the number of life-saving malaria nets and training to protect families.

via Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo: ERD blog

9/11 story shows the way to bring Paul’s words to life

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
—Paul to the Romans a long time ago

“Do something extraordinary!” was probably not in the mind or heart of Susan Retik as she grieved the loss of her husband in the events of 9/11. Susan was pregnant with their third child, at home in Boston, when she heard that her husband had died as United Flight 11 was crashed into the North Tower in New York by terrorists.

At the right time, however, she and Patti Quigley, another 9/11 widow, did something extraordinary. Together they started Beyond the 11th Foundation. The Foundation helps widows in Afghanistan to earn a living to support their families.

We have presented Susan’s story here: Is it possible to forgive? It is the subject of a documentary, Beyond Belief, available on DVD (and streaming on Netflix). I bring her story to your attention again after reading it again in USA Today: “Lessons from one widow to another

As we prepare for Sunday (8/28/11) I offer this to you: What Susan and Patti did in the sorrow and grief following 9/11 was (purposefully or not) to give flesh and blood, voice and touch, to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

In our day with the 24/7 stream of news about evil and its aftermath it is so tempting to do nothing because the evil is so great and so pervasive. Long ago Paul spoke words to shatter such temptation, inaction, and defeat. In our own country, in our own day, Susan and Patti have not only spoken the same words but they have acted, they have done something extraordinary, to shatter the same temptation and defeatist attitude. They continue to work to overcome evil with good. And so must we.

Some questions to considerWhat small, ordinary, commonplace action are you called to share in order to overcome evil with good? What community, working to overcome evil with good, are you invited to join (for many together can do more than one alone)? To what community do you already belong where, working together, you strive to overcome evil with good? How will you overcome evil with good in your own time, with the skills you have, in the time you have, in the place you are? Be sure to leave a comment here to encourage me and others.

Infusing the sacred into daily life

“Today, Americans are cultivating spirituality by probing deeper dimensions of things they do each day, from prayer to exercise and volunteering.” (1)

One way to deepen spirituality being followed by many: volunteering. As part of the Sunday Morning Forum we seek to encourage each other to do what we can with who we are in the time we have, for the glory of God and the welfare of all God’s children and all of God’s creation. Consider:

Even volunteering is serving as a portal to higher things. Organizations that make up the Catholic Volunteer Network guide some 14,000 volunteers to reflect on vocation, suffering and poverty.

“It takes a little while to realize, ‘I might not cure AIDS, but I might be able comfort someone who’s dying, and it makes a world of difference to that one person,’ “ says Katie Mulembe, CVN’s membership and recruitment coordinator. “You realize, ‘That’s why I’m here. And that’s good enough.’ “ Read the entire post

In our Baptismal Covenant we have promised to seek and serve Christ and to strive for justice and peace in the world. Let us fulfill our promises to God and each other.

(1) “Americans search for ways to infuse daily life with the sacred” by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, USA Today at on 31 Jan 2011

A challenge to “step up”

In the Sunday Morning Forum we share different ways that we, singly and collectively, have become doers of the word. We recognize God is calling us to be better witnesses of God’s love as we serve. We look for encouragement and inspiration by sharing resources and stories. Here is an inspiring story and a challenging question for each of us who take seriously the Great Commandment and who seek to imitate Christ by serving others as Christ did.


A YouTube video prepared by Children’s Defense Fund

Let us know how you are “Steppin’ up,” leave a comment. Share how you are an advocate, for the love of God and neighbor, for those who are the most vulnerable.

For further reflection

  • Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
  • Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

And, we respond, “I will with God’s help.” (Baptismal Covenant used in the Episcopal Church)

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