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Category Archives: Love your neighbor

If I Were There….

there

It’s something we started years ago, I’m not sure exactly when or who said it first. But my friend and I lived many states away from each other and when one was really sick or hurting from a large disappointment in life, the other would say, “If I were there, I would make you a pot of your favorite soup” or “If I were there I would clean off your patio and pull out two chairs for us to sit outside, in blankets with coffee”. That last one as one of my favorites spoken over me many years ago.

As my daughters live far away from me now, the tradition has moved on to share with them. Our youngest had strep throat last month and I found myself saying, “If I were there I would play with your hair till you fall asleep” and to our oldest during a very trying time, “If I were there I would fill your fridge with good food and make you pancakes.” Nothing extravagant, no trips to Europe or promises to fight the others’ battles. Just a quick picture of what could be.

The whole point is to simply convey that I love you, I know you and want to help, even though we both know I can’t right now. It’s reserved only for those closest to me, the ones I know best, and whose happiness actually affects my own. I wonder if you have someone far away in your life that you can show love to by simply sharing what you would do if you were there with them? I would encourage you to tell them. It won’t change the circumstance, or fix all their troubles, but it will assure your Love that you see them, and you care.

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Celebrate!

yay

We were driving through some winding back roads in Indiana, listening to a local radio station early in the morning. This was last month, on a 1,000 mile drive to move our daughter to college, and we were just starting the second day of the journey. The radio host pointed to several areas of national and international news that were less than uplifting, and then announced it was time for a weekly segment they do called Good News Wednesday, encouraging their listeners to text or call in and share any bit of good news they had, from tiny to tremendous.

Within minutes, listeners were announcing big news like pregnancies and new houses, and tiny things like getting to work on time and looking forward to date night. What struck me was that so many were willing to participate; people want to share their good news, but often don’t know how or with whom they can. Also, as each proclamation was made, one of the announcers said something supportive in response. Every single time. And there were a lot! I felt so inspired after hearing the many ideas to celebrate, as well as the encouraging words of that radio station staff.

I was instantly reminded of a small group we were in about ten years ago. A newer couple sheepishly announced the husband had received a big promotion and we all cheered their good fortune, and thanked God for His provision when we prayed that night. The couple looked bewildered and then confessed they had been afraid to say anything, because they felt they had never experienced friendships who truly wanted the best for them.

So we resort to calling in to strangers to share our good news.

Y’all, we can do better. I want to be a person you call to brag on your child when they make the team or get into that college, when you see something wonderfully new in your spouse you didn’t see before, or when you get that crazy, pie-in-the-sky promotion. I want to cheer you on when you’re pregnant or not pregnant (somebody knows who I’m talking to), or your air conditioner finally gets repaired, or your prodigal child comes home. The truth is, when I hear great news about others it gives me an endorphin rush, or at least, it should. If I feel jealousy or resentment, that is on me, and I need to address it, trying to understand why I would feel anything but support for this person and then I need to get over it.

We are called to encourage one another, to love one another, to serve one another and to consider others more highly than ourselves. Let’s start this practice by cheering each other on every opportunity we have, not the fake stuff either, let’s desire the best for each other and celebrate like crazy when somebody gets it! So, I’m wondering…..what thing can we celebrate, big or small, for you today?

US Virgin Islands

I woke up this morning in a pre-set temperature room and went downstairs to a pot of coffee made minutes prior to rising. I turned on the news and got instantly updated on how Hurricane Irma is making her way through Florida and being downgraded as she goes. I am so thankful our friends all over the Sunshine state are safe and sound, many are going to have hours without power and days of cleaning up, but it could have been so much worse.

Except it was so much worse in parts of our country. The US Virgin Islands were hit in the very way that the media has been warning us about; St. John and St. Thomas are completely devastated with no power on the islands and no way to get to them by air. These tourist destinations are demolished with no resources. Now the problem is safety from downed power lines and fallen trees and looting.

So what can I do, as I sit with my laptop battery fully powered even though it’s plugged in, and plenty of food for lunch and dinner for today and days beyond? I can share. I’ve got a close friend whose brother lives in St. John and he is on the Board for the Salvation Army for the Virgin Islands, and is part of the coordinated effort between the Red Cross and Salvation Army. He assures us that money donated to http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/ will go directly to the aid of these islands. We have made a donation, honestly without even sacrificing a bit of the safety and security I feel in my home this morning. Can you do the same?

I am open to hearing of, and responding to, more ideas of how we can help these desperate people. Please read the accompanying article, it explains the current situation so well. And please, join me in prayer for the people of USVI.

http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/

http://mashable.com/2017/09/10/hurricane-irma-us-virgin-islands/#nsNyUQdHkaqu

 

Be Expectant

 

pedestrians-400811_960_720I was meeting a friend at Starbucks this morning. I got there first, but assumed she was waiting inside so as I entered the coffee shop I searched the room for a familiar face. I was met with two smiles from different sides of the room, and found myself returning the silent greetings, which felt pretty great, and it occurred to me that I often enter a room without expecting to recognize anyone, no scanning the room, no eye contact. I know people who grew up in this town and fully expect to see someone they know every time they leave the house, so it’s like a mystery each time; who will I see today? My second grade teacher? An old boyfriend?

I have moved many times over the years, and usually assume that I will not know a soul when I go to the grocery store or even be recognized as a regular customer at the dry cleaners, it just doesn’t happen. Every now and then someone will recognize me and it throws me for a second. I don’t want to make too big of a deal of this, but when you have lived in as many cities as I have, you don’t take a familiar face for granted, and the fact that someone would take the time to acknowledge me is like handing me a gift, because there have been times in life when I could go many days without making much of a connection.

So back to this morning. I walked in and looked up, fully expecting to see my friend and connected, however briefly, with two new humans and it changed the way that I felt. It was a simple reminder that perhaps I need to look up and expect to see someone in each and every room I walk into.

How Can I Help?

Powerful four words to ask right now, in light of the flooding in Houston. I am tempted to wait and watch and see what is needed over time, and who is responding and how. But I am setting that desire to do what is best aside, and I’m going to just do something today. Anything. I’m going to share a link at the end of this post with organizations we can give to today to help our neighbors. I plan to donate to the Texas Diaper Bank because I cannot imagine the stress of needing diapers when you are displaced.

About ten years ago my family’s home was hit by a tornado, our house was marked as Uninhabitable for several months, and we received less damage than most. Many lessons were learned during this time, but one of the most profound was that our community cared. Within just a few days, we were invited into a church to take whatever was needed for our family; sheets, towels, toothpaste and ibuprophen were among the items we walked away with that morning. But more than the physical needs, we left that building knowing that our community wouldn’t let us fall. A few days later a local organization invited us to their warehouse to take whatever clothes we needed for the upcoming winter season. Humbled and grateful, we accepted coats for our three children from the very organization we had been giving to for years.

Another lesson? Wherever you are headed at the time of a crisis, you will arrive sooner than expected. We watched many marriages fail within 24 months of the storm hitting our homes. If your marriage is suffering and a big storm comes from no where, it is going to be easier to walk away than ever before. If you are considering bankruptcy and that storm hits, the decision will probably feel more like a necessity. The contrast is true as well, if your marriage is strong when a storm comes, you lean on each other in ways you never needed to before and you walk out of it more resilient than ever. And if you are living within a financial margin and that tornado comes, you can handle it and just about anything that comes your way in the future.

Know this, a storm will come. I don’t believe any of us are immune. The best thing we can do for ourselves is prepare, be strong in whatever ways we deem necessary, and the best thing we can do for others is respond with prayer or resources or donations. Let’s show our neighbors that we care about them. If you make a donation, please mention it in the comments and tell us why you chose the organization you did.

Here’s the link: https://www.sbnation.com/2017/8/27/16211866/how-to-help-houston-after-hurricane-harvey

A Family Shaped by Grace

morlandOur youngest child will be leaving for college in about eight weeks, going to a school more than 1000 miles away and we are so excited for her! We helped our girl choose where to go, but it was ultimately her decision, and the school she chose is more expensive than most of the others she considered. This detail didn’t concern us much, because we have given our children a set amount of money for college and they are responsible for the rest, by way of scholarship or sweat. No loans.
Over the last few weeks our daughter has talked a great deal about money and wondering aloud how much is enough for her to make over the summer as a full-time CNA at a retirement community. It finally occurred to me to listen to what she was really saying, and realize that she wasn’t sure of the details of her part in paying for college. We had gone over it more than once in the past, but now that it’s getting close, she needed more information and lots of encouragement.
My guy and I sat down and went through all the numbers last night and you could see the relief wash over Georgia’s face. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought, she was going to be just fine. Uncomfortable, but fine. This little experience reminded me of something I’ve been reading.
I just read a newly released book called A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland. The writer is a sober alcoholic whose addiction and family history affected the quality of their family for years. Over time, with the help of a Christian mentor, Morland learns the importance of leaning on Christ for what he needs, and pouring out grace to those he loves most. This is shown in many practical ways; reacting with love and acceptance over anger and bitterness, choosing not to be offended, and being actively present in conversations, asking questions with real interest and to gain understanding, not information.
The book didn’t necessarily contain new concepts for me; it is Bible based and built on ancient themes, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to be the safest place possible for my people to be themselves, and I need to listen carefully to what is being said, and what is not. It also confirmed a suspicion I have had for years that in order to love well, we must fight against making gods out of our loved ones, trust God to be who He promises and allow our family members to be imperfect, messy humans.
I wish I had realized sooner what our daughter needed from us, simple information and reassurance. There was no need to be evasive or to reprimand her for not getting it before, our job is to love on her and give her what she needs, not necessarily what she wants. I think this book came to me at a good time, I am thankful for the opportunity to gain more tools in equipping this family to be as strong as possible.
To order: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Shaped-Grace-People-Matter/dp/0800727959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496953619&sr=8-1&keywords=a+family+shaped+by+grace

Rubiks Cube

 

rubiks

There are times going through life that something occurs and you know that you will not be able to return to what was ever again; you move cross country or leave an important relationship and can feel the glacial shift deep within your self. It’s like a Rubik’s cube and a new row of matching colors has just been lined up; a feeling of satisfaction comes over you because you are a big step closer to the goal.

In our family, a whole side of the cube turned over and got matched this past weekend: our youngest child graduated from high school. I distinctly remember the morning of the first day of kindergarten for our oldest, I wrote a letter to the three little people in our house, explaining the fact that life would be changing from here on out, we would be on the schedule of the school system, with an influx of papers and projects and tests. Our focus moved to the daily muddling through with a very distant goal.

Somehow those three little kids stretched out and became taller and smarter, they started to think for themselves and visualizing their own goals and our house is becoming bigger and quieter by the day. The chaos has changed to small bursts and been replaced with long stints of near silence. In the most practical sense, I have worked myself right out of a job.

When our first two children graduated and started moving towards their next steps I had a deep sadness and already started to dread how it would feel to have the last one move on, but so far I feel nothing but excitement for the future. Their future. Because this isn’t about me. For years they were an extension of me, hanging off of me and looking to me to see how to react to life, but now they have stronger legs than mine and they know how to respond, even if an occasional call to Mom or Dad needs to be made.

 The part that is about me? The Rubiks Cube that keeps getting closer to being completed?  It is a life filled with memories and experiences that have helped to make me who I am, and I can’t wait to see what color of the cube we work on next.

 

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