It’s 2 degrees here, with howling winds that drive the windchill well below zero.

snowy-gardenI am inconvenienced by such weather–car doors freeze shut, roads are a bit slick. But I slept in a warm bed. I had hot tea and breakfast this morning. I can shower with hot water in my own home, or at the health club after my workout. I can look out at the snow and see its beauty from a warm chair by the window.

I am deeply aware this winter, however, of the plight of those for whom this weather is much more than an inconvenience. But what can I do? How can I help the homeless, or kids who are living in poor neighborhoods within a few minutes drive of my house? I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty–including myself! I just am wondering.

snow-homeless_1211770iThe truth is, you can’t solve all the world’s problems. But you can change the world for one person. And because every person matters to God, that’s a worthwhile goal. And when you reach out in compassion, you grow spiritually. God becomes more real and more present in your life when you align yourself with his purposes.

If you are wondering how to do that, or at least begin to think about that, I’d like to invite you to a seminar for women that I will lead next month, in cooperation with Breakthrough Urban Ministries. The seminar will be held at Breakthrough’s Ministry Center in Chicago on Saturday Feb. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If you’re wondering what you can do to help those less fortunate than yourself, this is a very practical first step.

I’ve been a donor and volunteer with Breakthrough for several years. This ministry, which serves the homeless and the community of East Garfield Park in Chicago, really wants to help people like me to grow in compassion.

Do you feel God stirring in your soul, asking you to start really connecting your faith with your action? Do you wonder how your life can reflect God’s heart of justice and mercy, his concern for the poor?

This one-day seminar will jump start your justice journey. We will look very practically at how we can become women who make a difference: women who act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God. It will provide a safe, guilt-free environment for discussing, asking questions, reflecting and strategizing.

I’ll do four teaching sessions based on my newest book, Simple Compassion. But even better, you’ll have some time to process and pray. We’ll also have group discussion, individual reflection time, and plenty of practical, hands-on learning. Every registrant will receive a free copy of the book for further study.

The four main sessions are:

1.       Compassion Begins with You. every woman matters to God, whether she’s in Sierra Leone or San Diego, in a slum or a suburb. We’ll look at some biblical women who stepped up to be difference makers, and how we can follow their lead. God has a unique calling for each of us—how do we discern that? It starts by letting go of our “little old me” syndrome and believing that God actually is calling us to be his hands and feet in the world. Even small acts of justice and compassion matter, because even if you only help one person, that person matters!

2.       Compassion Grows in Community. The Christian life was never meant to be lived on our own. We were made for community—and sometimes, the people in our closest circles are the ones who are challenging to love.  How can we extend compassion to the people closest to us—whether they are family, church members or next-door neighbors? This session focuses on making a difference right where you are, and why you need others to come on the journey with you.

3.       Compassion Extends Beyond Our Comfort Zones.  Although we can make a difference no matter where we are, God calls us to truly see injustice around us, and not insulate ourselves from it. There are people who need God’s love and tangible help—things like food, clothing and shelter—within an hour of your door. This session will look at women who are making a difference in the Chicago area, and offer some next steps for getting involved with ministries here in the area.

4.       Compassion Offers God’s Love to the World. It is impossible to talk about God’s heart for the poor without looking at the situation in the developing world. We will look at some big issues like human trafficking, poverty, lack of clean water and others. The goal is to see these issues and see how we can take very small steps to make a difference by both what we do, and what we decide to stop doing. We’ll look at some women who have focused their energy on one global issue and are making a difference in that area.

 To register for this day (it’s only $35 and includes a free book), e-mail Mike Murphy at