Bonnie EmmoreyWelcome back to the Speak Up for Hope Blog.  I’m Bonnie Emmorey, one of Carol’s sisters and the director of Speak Up for Hope.

Many of you have written to our ministry, and one of the common threads through your letters is your surprise at walking the lonely journey with your loved-one through incarceration.  This is not a journey that anyone would choose, or in many cases, even predict.  Yet, something took place that caused your special person to enter prison.  After the shock wears off, you find yourself wondering what to do next.  How can you survive this event with your life still intact and your faith strengthened instead of damaged?

My answer comes from watching my sister, Carol, and her husband, Gene.  They have been on this road for over ten years, and their experience is worth following.

Their secret to surviving is serving. It’s surprising, but it works!  When you are helping someone else, you are able to get past your own pain and despair.

Yesterday, I was sitting with my sister, Paula, in a fast food restaurant at a WalMart.  I looked out at the people passing us, and I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that everyone has a story.  Everyone has an area of pain in his or her life.  Our best way of surviving our own pain is to reach out in kindness to serve someone else.

When you are visiting your loved-one at prison, look around you at the others in line waiting for their turn to go through security.  Offer a smile and a word of encouragement.  It may be their first visitation, and that can be a very frightening experience.

If the prison visitation area is lacking in games to play or coloring books and crayons for the visiting children, check with your church about donations that could be made.  Because prisons vary from place to place, the best way to give a donation of this type is to contact the prison chaplain and ask how it should be done.  For best results, the giving should to be done through a church or a charitable organization.

As you find ways of serving others, I would encourage you to go to our Speak Up for Hope Facebook page, and share what you have done and how it helped you as a result.

My prayer for each of you is this, “May you be blessed, and may you be a blessing.”

Bonnie Afman Emmorey