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August 19th: Faith in Action

This week we’ll be posting from several of Joshua’s female friends and family…some great projects and inspiring commentary.

Elizabeth M.:  I wanted to pass on the first reading from Mass today from the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy that speaks about Joshua.  The full text is below, but I was moved when I read the words this morning where Moses is speaking to the people of Israel and telling them that Joshua will cross to the promised land  before us.    It seems our dear Joshua may be living these words in his special way going before us to the promised land and leading us all to take possession of our heritage as citizens of heaven rather than the earthly kingdom!  This is faith in action.  He was brave and steadfast, knowing the Lord was with him and would never forsake him.

Joshua’s witness helps me to not be afraid of the unknown and to trust that the Lord is leading me in all things.
When Moses had finished speaking to all Israel, he said to them,
“I am now one hundred and twenty years old
and am no longer able to move about freely;
besides, the LORD has told me that I shall not cross this Jordan.
It is the LORD, your God, who will cross before you;
he will destroy these nations before you,
that you may supplant them.
It is Joshua who will cross before you, as the LORD promised.
The LORD will deal with them just as he dealt with Sihon and Og,
the kings of the Amorites whom he destroyed,
and with their country.

When, therefore, the LORD delivers them up to you,
you must deal with them exactly as I have ordered you.
Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them,
for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you;
he will never fail you or forsake you.
Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel
said to him, “Be brave and steadfast,
for you must bring this people into the land
which the LORD swore to their fathers he would give them;
you must put them in possession of their heritage.
It is the LORD who marches before you;
he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you.
So do not fear or be dismayed.”
Mia A.: In honor of Joshua, and the prisoner who was so essential to his crystallization of conscience, I wrote my first letter to a prisoner at Guantánamo, and commit to write at minimum of one such letter a month. This particular prisoner asked for pictures of flowers, so I drew a hollyhock that is in our garden.

Matt, Cory, Emma and Ava T.: Happy to have bought 130 folders, 16 notebooks, 3 huge packages of pencils, 1 huge package of pens, post-it notes, 3 flash drives, 27 highlighters, and 24 erasers to donate to low-income students at MHS in Joshua’s honor. This donation certainly does not bring him back, but I know he would have loved to help these awesome students who just don’t have the means of getting school supplies. I hope he is smiling…..

Madeline T.: Yesterday, Madeline was spontaneously inspired (as we walked into Kmart) to give some of her own money to help those with disabilities. So, she did it in her uncle Joshua’s honor as her “Faith in Action”, remembering his life and legacy of love to those around us! We love and miss you Joshua!

Erin G.: A few years ago I was having dinner with Josh and he shared that he “just wanted to collect all of the weapons in the world and melt them down into farm tools.”  We laughed together at the “modesty” of his goal.  So, to honor a man who dreamed big, I made a donation to L.A. Green Grounds, a grassroots organization created by “gansta gardener” Ron Finley.  The group creates edible gardens in South Central LA.  Finley believes gardens can transform neighborhoods, and his message to his community is to “Get ganster wit’ yo’ shovel, and let THAT be your weapon of choice.”

Stephanie R.: I was thinking about Joshua the other morning and the acts of kindness as I was going through the Starbucks drive thru. I  told the guy at the window that I wanted to buy for the car behind me.  He’s pretty used to having people do this, so he looked at the guy’s total first and said, “It’s $8.45 (that’s an estimate).  Do you want to wait until the next time?”  I was tempted, but it didn’t feel like waiting was in the spirit of my purpose for doing it.  So, I told the barrista to use one of my free rewards (yes, I have more than one because I drink too much starbucks) and I would pay for the rest.

Jordan, Matthew, MCB, Trevor, James, Owen, Avery, Caroline and Robert:  I (Rebekah) drove to Michigan with the kids this weekend to visit my very best girl friends. They surprised me by preparing an activity for all of the kids so that they could all spread acts of kindness to those living around the lake we visited. The kids painted flower pots and we put soil, a packet of seeds and a flower message in each pot. That night all 17 of us walked door to door handing out the pots and counting the smiles. The kids were thrilled that we got 10 whole smiles!

Kristi:

I’ve been having a hard time deciding exactly what I wanted to do for our Faith In Action Project. But I want to first share my ‘missed opportunities’ that led to my decision as an encouragement to some of you who are also maybe having a difficult time deciding what you can do.

At one of my sales I was trying to sell Joshua’s anti-gravity lounger.  I had just marked it down from $50 to $30 and a young couple came in and asked if I would take $25.  I responded that I had just marked it down and he said, “It’s my birthday, come on $25!!”  I smiled and we talked a bit.  Then his wife asked the same thing and I was reluctant…why?  Maybe because it was Joshua’s, I’m not sure, but I hesitated. (normally I wouldn’t haggle over $5) They ended up buying the chair for $30 anyways.  As I watched him happily walk down the driveway swinging his newly bought chair I could hear Joshua saying, ” You should have just given it to him, Mom.  It was his birthday.”  And I immediately thought of the faith in action project and realized that it’s exactly what Joshua would have done.  He was gone by that time and it was too late. Convicted, I asked God to make me aware of another opportunity to show generosity.

So today (Friday) I was eating at a mom and pop’s type restaurant for lunch and a middle aged waitress waited on me.  Just as I was finishing signing the charge slip with the tip on it I felt this nudge to give her a large tip. I’m sure she doesn’t make a large salary by any standard.  But again I was reluctant, not because of the money but because it would have required re-doing the credit card transaction as I never carry cash and we had already finished.  As I hesitantly walked out the door I heard, “wouldn’t it have just made her day if I had given her a $25 tip”?  Again, this is something Joshua loved doing…giving large tips from time to time. I didn’t go back. Second missed opportunity!!

I’m not sure if I would have thought about either of these ‘opportunities’ if it were not for our Faith In Action Project and the memory of Joshua’s generosity. I think God is opening my eyes to just how many different opportunities we have on a daily basis to give, not necessarily always involving money, but simply thinking about ways to bless other people as we go through life in small and big ways.  I know how much joy I do get when I make those kind of choices, even the small ones; stopping to hold a door for someone, helping a mom with lots of groceries and kids, or picking up items or clothing left on the floor by hurried shoppers to ease the load of the workers, or calling or texting someone I know is going through a hard time to remind them that they’re cared about and that I’m praying for them.  I’m praying that God will just enlarge my vision to see how much more I can do for others that will show His love and kindness in ways I’ve never thought of.

Thankfully, I came home tonight to find an appeal from Food for the Poor Inc. (A Catholic relief organization) They highlighted Guatemala and shared that it has the highest rate of malnutrition in our hemisphere.  Their statistics of how far just a few dollars can go towards meals for children were encouragingly surprising. There was no hesitation or indecision on this one.  I immediately made the decision to send a gift that would feed at least 600 children.  And that decision led to another.

Because I oftentimes only eat one meal a day other than my morning yogurt I usually eat it out while running errands. So I’ve decided to take one night every week and use the money I would spend eating out to send to a program that helps the children and families that were ravaged by the war in Iraq.  The Joshua Casteel Foundation is in the process of researching such programs presently and until we find a reliable program to help the people re-group and heal from the war and the ongoing violence my weekly fund will continue to be added to. My goal is to also take the opportunity during those home dinnertimes to pray for the people of Iraq (starting a prayer journal to help keep me at it)and for the opportunity for the foundation to partner with an organization on the ground to bring very real and practical aid to those in need.  And there is no doubt about how Joshua feels about ‘this’ project. It is one of his few requests before he passed away one year ago this month.

And I just can’t miss out on the opportunity to write to a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, as Mia told us about.  Who knows? I just may get a prisoner that Joshua interrogated.  That would be the ultimate joy!! If there are any others of you who would like to participate in that project you can click here to learn more:

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/blog/writetoguantanamo/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/after-guantanamo-another-injustice.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Blessings on all of you for continuing to put your ‘faith in action’. It really is an inspiration for those of us who read about it.

Kristi

PS. This is a rally cry to all you men out there. We haven’t heard from many of you, even though our very first response was from a male. (Way to start us off, Mike). We know that you are probably busy doing good works, but please write and tell us about them.  I’m sure Joshua is rooting (and praying) for the men to lead the way. 🙂

August 20, 2013 - 5:25 AM

DM - Kristi, As one of the men in the wings, I was stirred to write a letter to a widow friend of ours I had not connected with for several years. She would have received the letter a week ago. thanks for your examples of where you dropped the ball. I appreciate your heart. DM

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