It started with a letter and a sweater…
It’s a simple mission, really. We want to reach every woman battling cancer with Compassion Bags. I used to think viral was something very bad; that is, unless it’s social media related. Since July 2013 after a Facebook post “went viral,” we’ve blessed 1289 BEAUTIFUL women battling cancer in 35 states. Compassion That Compels and Compassion Bags started with a letter, sweater and my two sisters-in-law and sister’s cancer diagnosis in a span of four years. To every good story, there’s always a backstory…
I watched through the day as sunbeams moved across the waiting room like solar spotlights, settling along the length of a piece of furniture, highlighting its occupant’s emotions. The day had passed and I was alone in the hospital waiting room. I’d read and reread my sister-in-law’s letter. Her words were written in red. “I want you to know I’m secure and very peaceful with you being here waiting on me to wake up. So while you’re in the waiting room, you show someone your heart and make their wait a little more peaceful.”
My thumb ran imaginary creases across the folds of the letter. Rather than waiting on a call, I made my way to the recovery room and slipped past the nurse’s station. The chorus of beeps and bleeps emitting from machines guided me to Sonja’s lone bed. “Sonja, I’m here.” I watched her fingers pull lightly against the sheets. “Kristianne, I knew you’d come. I kept calling for you but I knew you’d come. I’m so cold.”
I pillaged every piece of wheeled furniture around me for a blanket with no success. My eyes fell to my bag and a wrinkled cardigan sweater. I picked it up and laid it weave-like under and over the tubes that disappeared within the sheets, and into my precious sister-in-law.
I didn’t know it at the time but what started with a letter, a sweater, and my two sisters-in law and sister’s cancer battles; began my Bible studies and ministry, Compassion That Compels.
BAG: Anyone who has walked through cancer or alongside a cancer overcomer has at one time stuffed their clothes into an oversized plastic bag, closely resembling a reusable cold bag.
JESUS CALLING DEVOTIONAL: God’s word reminds you, a cancer overcomer, that you are first an overcomer in Christ.
WARM BLANKET: Covers you with God’s love. And besides, if you’re not freezing, the person next to you probably is.
SCRIPTURE TEA: Because hospital coffee at 6 pm is often thick as glue.
REUSABLE MUG: For when even coffee glue can’t be found.
JOURNAL: To record those thoughts just between you and God.
SCRIPTURE CANDY SOFT MINTS: During treatment your mouth is always dry or suddenly becomes dry when you see a doctor approaching with your chart in hand.
NOTEBOOK & PEN: To phonetically write down all those big, Latin sounding words that confirm this won’t go away with antibiotics and wish you’d paid more attention in science class.
CHICK-FIL-A GIFT CARD: Just to get away from a hospital or treatment center to a land flowing with sweet tea and nugget sauce.
I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth; hide not Your commandments from me. Psalm 119:19 AMP
This life is just a waiting room. So while you’re in the waiting room, do what Sonja wanted everyone to do — show your heart.
Words are Kristianne’s art. A deliberate stringing of words becomes one of the highest forms of human expression when it gives a voice to the heart. Kristianne’s heart for helping spiritual sisters create a life well lived in Christ is reflected in her discipleship ministry and Bible studies..
Kristianne Stewart is a writer, speaker and founder of Compassion That Compels. Compassion That Compels is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides Compassion Bags to BEAUTIFUL women battling cancer. Her life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose.
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It started with a letter and a sweater