Surviving and Thriving by Hearing with Compassion and Finding God in the Midst of the Chaos…

When in the chaos, pray: “…Lord, What a relief it is to know that storm control isn't my job!  Please remind me to stop, to relinquish, to attend to you, the Director of my actions, the Source of all wisdom, energy and strength, the Protector and Provider as I embrace the day that you have gifted me. Amen.”  Faith Clarke writes in her blog Comfort in the Midst of Chaos.
So let us think about this --- in the middle of the chaotic disasters, in order to survive and thrive, we must truly give up work “to FIX what is”.  We can only create a warm, loving, practical, compassionate, inviting atmosphere and environment for ourselves, as volunteers as well as for those we serve, the victims.  In doing this, we create an “oasis” from the storms of life, in which we can survive and thrive!
In this “oasis” environment, as we work with those affected by the disaster, we need to keep in mind what Debra K. Farrington writes in Reflections on Hearing with the Heart:  A Gentle Guide to Discerning God’s will for your Life:   “hearing with compassion and knowing God’s will”  is done with our heart… the center of the whole human being…emotions, feelings, moods, passions, thought, understanding and wisdom…a place where real knowledge and conversion take place” …even in the midst of disaster chaos!
In order to create the “oasis”, St. Vincent de Paul reminds us: “We must begin by establishing the kingdom of God in OURSELVES and ONLY then in others…tend to our interior life…if we fail to do that, we miss everything!”
Blessed Frederic Ozanam, lead founder of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, wrote on November 4, 1834 to Leonce Curnier at Lyon pg 55 in A Life of Letters…“Besides, in such a work (serving those living in and through disasters and/or desperate need) it is necessary to give yourself up to the inspirations of the heart rather than the calculations of the mind.  Providence gives its own counsel through the circumstances around you, and ideas it bestows on you.  I believe you would do well to follow them freely…it (charity) is a fire that dies without being fed, and good works are the food of charity.”
Mary, the Blessed Mother, gave LIFE to Jesus FIRST in her HEART and then in her body.  So, we too can emulate this by giving life to Jesus in our HEART. We are called to serve those in need both corporally and spiritually, seeing Christ in them.  St. Louise would say “The charity of Christ crucified urges us a call to do the will of God and call to imitate Jesus’s ministry of loving service to one’s neighbor.”
Benjamin Disraeli states, “We are not CREATURES of circumstance, we are CREATORS of circumstance.”  So it is God and us as partners, as we listen compassionately – it is by CHOICE we become CREATORS in this life we live – energized and peace-filled and no longer “creatures” reacting to our inner needs.  
Marcus Aurelius is quoted saying “Life is what our thoughts make of it!”  So let’s center our thoughts on thriving through the work we are invited to share with those most in need after a disaster.
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Whatever is Flexible & Flowing will Tend to Grow. Whatever is Rigid & Blocked will Wither & Die”.  So choosing to be flexible and flowing can become our practice in discernment. 
Ira Progoff in the Well and the Cathedral, talks about going deep within into the Cathedral that is within each of us – which is where the loving presence of God exists.    
Through our work as disaster volunteers, we need to remind ourselves and those we serve that “Disruptions that seem to be disasters at the time may end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way,” reflects Bernie S. Siegel, MD. 
Catherine Taylor in The Inner Child Workbook, reminds us, “It is our choice to Become a STUDENT of our suffering, rather than a VICTIM to our pain!”
In closing, Stephen R. Covey, in Discover Your Inner Strength reminds us of an anon quote  “You cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails to always reach your destination."  Covey, continues, “So it is that when disasters occur in our lives and we go within to seek discernment – we have choices – to continue in the same direction the storm of life has paved for us, or adjust our sail and get back on track to what you believe and know to be your path in life.”
Written by Jeanne Harper of Marinette, WI  
​Life Coach, Trauma Certified Educator, and Counselor​
You can reach Jeanne at:  
Jeanne M. Harper. Harper compassionately and effectively addresses issues of life in a participative, creative, and practical style for the public and professionals as a life coach, spiritual director, speaker, and consultant. Before retirement as a psychotherapist in 2008, she specialized in trauma counseling for twenty-eight years.  
Harper’s sole owned Lakeshore Professional Counseling centers was a “beacon of hope in the time of darkness” for many families, adolescents, children, women, couples, veterans (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraqi War and other combat situations) and other individuals.  Harper’s specialties included:  Post Traumatic counseling, crisis debriefings for area businesses, family, individual, child and adolescent counseling.  Jeanne is Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. She is nationally certified through Association for Death Education and Counseling as Fellow in Thanatology: Study of Death and Dying.  She is certified in Post Traumatic Stress therapy, Eye Movement De-sensitization and Reprocessing.  Graduate of UW-Milwaukee Trauma Counseling, Level I and II,  CISD – Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Clinical Director for area EMS and 7 years  and Business ‘n Industry Critical Incident Response Team Clinical Director since1994 to 2008.
Harper also taught locally at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College from 2008 to 2015 Sociology and Psychology courses for seven years including, Intro to Ethics, Intro to Sociology, Contemporary American Social Problems and Intro to Diversity.
Jeanne has authored numerous published articles on a variety of topics including Traumatized Veterans: The Inner Journey and Coping with Disaster Stress, Loss and Grief from the individuals/families and others.
Through forty years of speaking, counseling, visiting, teaching, and coaching, she considers herself privileged to journey with others as they turn their “problems” into “creative opportunities for growth.” Her mission is to journey with and help those she meets find the inspiration within themselves to move forward in life. Jeanne encourages the celebration and appreciation of life—every moment!