Tag Archives: giving

a passion, Tamara Banks and Africa

4 Nov

a light that so shines
I crisply remember the first time I saw Tamara Banks in person. One morning, my daughter and I decided to enjoy breakfast at a local eatery, Hotcakes.  Of course I recognized Ms. Banks, she is a well-known television personality in the Denver area.  I’m certain she didn’t know who I was, but that didn’t stop her from extending a gentle smile and warm hello.

As time went on, I would see Tamara at various restaurants, the local grocery store and around and about the community we both live in. She is genuinely and consistently a warm, kind person. With each encounter, I grew to admire and respect her greatly.

it was no surprise
A couple of summers ago, I received an invitation from a mutual friend to view a documentary, which was to be presented by Tamara of her travels to Darfar in the west of Sudan in Africa. I made a point of attending for multiple reasons, but mostly I wanted to be supportive.  As I listened to Tamara speak, I understood two things at the very least. One, it was no surprise that her compassion shines through so brightly, and two; I needed to hear what she needed to share.

After viewing the documentary, and as time went on, Tamara and I continued to exchange greetings, but now, I wondered about her journey. I was curious about the work she was doing and I wanted to share her passion with others. I decided to request an interview and she graciously agreed. So we met at a local coffee shop, sipped, shared and I had an opportunity to learn a little more about this woman’s passion.

purpose and passion trumps everything
As a little girl, Africa captured Bank’s heart – no doubt, a passion planted by God deep inside of her. In 1999, Tamara made her first journey to Kenya. She said, “I felt as though I had come home.” Since then, she has visited Africa 10 times. Tamara’s love for reporting and traveling has also taken her to Peru, Panama, and she even played polo in Argentina.

Tarantulas, scorpions, and camping in unpredictable regions of the world would be enough to bring many of us home prematurely. Banks explains, “When you focus on people, you overcome your fears.” When traveling in many parts of the world, Tamara meets people who are very sick with diseases; but she doesn’t like to wear surgical gloves when greeting them. She wants to feel their hands and feel their heartbeats – she wants them to feel her heart.

When asked, “What are your hopes?” Tamara responded with clarity.  She knows who she is, and she understands her purpose.  Through her gift of journalism, she hopes to shine a bright light of truth and justice on the darkness of injustice. Banks is committed to telling the stories that no one else will tell. She lends her voice to women being raped, others being enslaved, and still another being decapitated to discourage others from running away…to name only a few. She wants us to know that the victims become the perpetrators and often times we are pitted against one another.

Ms. Banks believes that though we may not agree with each other, we should try to learn more about one another.  The more we understand, the less we’ll refer to others as “those people” or “they” or even worse, using names that dehumanize. “Everyone wants the same things – food, water, shelter …What keeps us human is knowing that we are all human.” She adds.

a pearl of wisdom – pursue your passion
Tamara has experienced many accomplishments, and guided by her passion will continue to impact the world we live in. I asked her for a single piece of advice for those who are ready to step out on faith.  She responded, “Sit down, write down your thoughts, for example, I really want to ____________. What does that look like?  Why do I want to do it?” She explained that knowing why you want to do something is very important. After writing it down and being clear about your motives, she suggests you share your thoughts with someone you trust and find a mentor in that area.

to whom much is given, much is required
There are stories that are “popular” or “politically correct” to tell. There are also stories about horrific things that are happening in this world, to people who in the most basic of ways are just like you and me. It is essential that their stories be told. It is critical that they be heard. I asked Tamara, what could we, those who read and share this story, do to support her work?  She replied without hesitation, “Pray for me, specifically for wisdom, guidance and strength.”

I am asking that in addition to your prayers you do several things. Share this article, pray for people all over the world, and ask God, is there anything I can do?  If Tamara’s purpose is to expose injustices in the world, it may be another person’s responsibility to pass the message along, and still another person’s purpose to do something tangible like fund-raising. Collectively, we can impact this world in major ways.  It only takes about $50.00 to free an enslaved person in Darfar.

Donations can be made to Colorado Public TV12


Links | Tamara Banks

peace, blessings and love…
cynthia martin


5 ways to encourage ourselves…

1 Jul

Let me start by saying that yes, even I,  miss happy-go-lucky,  ever sprinkling cheer and promoting positive thinking whenever and wherever I can, must work hard at keeping my mind in a good space.  My life is not perfect and I am often met with challenges that could easily break my spirit, but I decided a long time ago that since I can’t always control external factors in my life, I can choose how to perceive and react to things around me. I can choose love rather than hate, forgiveness rather than animosity, peace rather than chaos, joy rather than sorrow, faith rather than fear, thankfulness rather than ungratefulness, and so on.

Making this choice is the initial step, but there are things I have learned to do (and I am still learning to do consistently) to maintain my spiritual equilibrium. In other words, I have moments that I’m not so proud of, but for the most part, these are a few things that have gotten me through.

Pray, pray and then, pray some more…
Pray without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

From blessing my food and seeking direction to laying on the floor, crying and pouring my heart out – I always feel better after I’ve prayed.  I know that my heart has been heard and I am in a better frame of mind to face difficult situations. Praying calms me down and helps me to see the bigger picture more objectively from a spiritual perspective. Praying is like taking a deep breath and counting to 10.

Focus on positive things…
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Call it human nature, but it seems as though it’s just easier for people to dwell on the negative things that happen in life. One of the first lessons I learned as a sales person in my earlier years, and studies have shown, that if a person has a bad experience with a product, or service, they are 10 times more likely to call someone and complain than when they’ve had a generally good experience.

It may take a little more effort, but focusing on positive rather than negative things helps us move from seeing ourselves as victims to seeing ourselves as victorious. This is not to negate the fact that we may have had a bad experience, but rather an opportunity to look for the positive in every situation. From time to time we should take a moment and write down things that we are grateful for.  In more challenging times, we can pull out our notes and reminisce.

Forgive others and forgive ourselves…
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not yet achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, Philippians 3:13 ( NLT)

I know you’ve heard this before, but nothing can keep us trapped in hurt like unforgiveness. Nothing can stagnate us like guilt. Many of us have regrets, but we can do nothing about what has already transpired aside from embracing the lessons we’ve learned and moving forward with maturity and wisdom.

There are far to many victories ahead for each of us, but none of us can travel in two directions at one time.  Either we can remain stuck in the past or we can move forward and see what wonderful blessings lie ahead.

Be a blessing to someone else…
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35 (KJV)

Times when we are feeling our worst are the perfect times to remember and encourage someone else.  We can send a card to a friend, call someone we love and tell them that we care, take a girlfriend to lunch or even volunteer somewhere where we can be a blessing to someone we may not know. There is a unique satisfaction that comes from giving.  It just feels good to give and believe it or not giving can be a great way to encourage ourselves.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

There is not much I can say here. Laughter is good for us. We can’t always be so serious.  We should laugh with our friends, laugh with our children, laugh with our parents, laugh with our brothers and sisters and so on.  Laughter is a gift from God, it is contagious, and can in and of itself make us feel better.

the balance of giving AND receiving

15 Apr

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35 NIV

It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Not only is it good to give, whether it be a smile, a kind word, time, or financial resources, it just feels wonderful to be a blessing to someone else.  Where we have a difficult time – is in receiving.  But if we refuse to receive, we interrupt another person’s sowing and reaping process. So we must find balance in giving and receiving.  We should give from our hearts whenever we can and allow others to be blessed by receiving what God has placed in their hearts concerning us.