Tag Archive | helping others

Awkward…

So, let’s just get this out of the way up front. Today’s post is a little awkward because it involves something that we don’t often talk about. The word begins with “F” and rhymes with art.

I think you catch my drift. So why am I talking about it? Read on and you’ll see.

Back in November, my brother, his wife, Greg and I, and my dad enjoyed a 10-day Caribbean cruise together. We ate great food and even some not so great food. We enjoyed tours on the islands and there was plenty of time in the sun. We even took steel drum lessons which was not only fun but LOUD. Yes, the cruise was everything we anticipated it would be.

But there was that one awkward moment.

The ships are huge and the elevators often crowded so my philosophy is to take the stairs whenever possible. It gets you to your destination faster and the exercise helps offset the extraordinary number of calories consumed through the day.

Typically, you run into other people using the stairs but on one of my stair-climbing expeditions, it was just me and a lady coming down as I was going up. We acknowledged each other with the usual head nod but on this occasion, the lady also acknowledged me out loud. With…you guessed it…a fart.

I didn’t know what to do.

Had I been with my family or in church, I might have snickered or even burst out laughing. But this was a stranger to me and in a flash all sorts of scenarios went through my head. First was the thought This is a completely natural thing; we all fart. And then I wondered if I was the one passing gas, would I have acknowledged it by apologizing or saying “oops?” I had no idea. I even thought about saying “oops” myself with a smile so she would know I wasn’t at all offended.

As it turns out, neither of us said or did anything. There was no acknowledgement, we just continued on our way. Thought, I have to admit I had quite a smile on my face as climbed the remaining stairs. Maybe because it was funny or maybe because I was glad it hadn’t been me.

Awkward moments happen all the time.

We encounter awkward situations all the time and like the one above we don’t always know how to respond. After asking a neighbor how they’re doing we might hear back “Well, I lost my job so not great.” Or “Life is rough now, my drug addicted 40-year old son just relapsed for the third time.” One time I asked the how-ya-doing question almost like saying hello and I was surprised when the person burst out crying instead of saying fine.

While times like that can be a bit awkward, they also open the door to real ministry. When a person bursts out crying right in front of you, it shows me their need for comfort, reassurance, or someone to care. Right then, right now.

And the same often holds true when the unexpected answer to your greeting reveals a lost job, marital infidelity, or a child with drug problems, etc.

What to do?

It can be difficult for people to reach out and ask for that help or to simply admit they’re experiencing a rough time. But if someone takes the time to respond to your simple greeting or if they come to you for help all on their own, please, please be ready to respond. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Be ready for the unexpected. If you ask how someone is doing, be prepared for anything. And respond appropriately. Sometimes all that’s needed is a kind word, some sincere reassurance, a hug. Proverbs 12:25 says “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.”
  2. Do something. Don’t just nod your head. In addition, offer something and be specific, be practical. I’m sorry you’re going through this. May I pray with you right now? I can see you’re overwhelmed; I’d like to ease the load and provide a meal. Or can I run that errand for you?
  3. Follow-up. Many will vaguely offer help but leave it at that. Or they might even help ONCE and then never check in. Be the one who stays connected, who shows you care long-term. Be the one who digs in for the long haul with the one needing help so they don’t feel alone.

Ministry isn’t always convenient or easy or a one-time deal. You often pay a cost such as an expenditure of time or money. But boy, is the payoff worth it!

Matthew 25:40 reminds us: (Jesus talking) “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.’

Mimi

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Sometimes our to-do-list needs to wait.

Today I’m sharing a recent devotional posted on Our Daily Bread.

Because we live in a world that’s super-busy all the time, we can become so inwardly focused on our own to-do list, we may miss God’s gentle interruption asking us to do something on His behalf for someone else.

Read on and see if you can relate.

Scripture to Read

Don’t judge others, and you will not be judged. Don’t accuse others of being guilty, and you will not be accused of being guilty. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you. (Luke 6:37-38)

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)

I headed into the post office in a big hurry.

I had a number of things on my to-do list, but as I entered I was frustrated to find a long line backing up all the way to the door. “Hurry up and wait,” I muttered, glancing at my watch.

My hand was still on the door when an elderly stranger approached me. “I can’t get this copier to work,” he said, pointing to the machine behind us. “It took my money and I don’t know what to do.” Immediately I knew what God wanted me to do. I stepped out of line and was able to fix the problem in ten minutes.

The man thanked me and then left. As I turned to get back in line, it was gone. I walked straight to the service counter.

My experience that day reminds me of Jesus’s words:

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

My wait seemed shorter because God interrupted my hurry. By turning my eyes to others’ needs and helping me give of my time, He gave me a gift. It’s a lesson I hope to remember, next time I look at my watch. —James Banks

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, all of the time I have is in Your hands, a gift from You. Please show me how to use it to bring glory and honor to You.

Reminder: Sometimes our to-do list needs to wait.

Prepping for Irma

When we moved to Florida in 1999, we were looking for an adventure. Had no idea at the time that one of those adventures would be experiencing hurricanes.

Quite honestly, I never thought central Florida was a hurricane prone area until 2004 when four roared through our area (Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) with devastating results for many. We lost two large trees, some screen house panels, and most of our fence but our neighbors lost roofs, entire screen houses, and their house interiors.

Tarps dotted the rooftops for months and the house next to us was destroyed and empty for over a year until it could be repaired. After Charley roared through we walked outside where it was eerily quiet. That’s when we discovered the oak trees lining the boulevard were down, one after the other. It was a poignant reminder of the power of a storm.

Having gone through those four, I planned for Irma. Or so I thought. Water…check.  Flashlights…check.  Clean laundry…check. Extra food…check. Freezers stuffed with extra ice…check. Bathtub filled…check. Cars gassed up and extra propane purchased…check.

Then yesterday as we got out the flashlights I realized I hadn’t purchased batteries. Stores were completely out of them. What to do?

I posted my need for D-batteries on our community Facebook page and within a few minutes someone called to offer me four of theirs. And things like that continue to occur not just for me but for others. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Then this morning, while looking through some pictures on my phone, I noticed something about my hurricane prep: it centered A LOT on food! One look at the above photo will show you what I mean. Three of the photos clearly involve food: the giant apple fritter for hurricane comfort food brought by a neighbor, Meyer lemons I picked from my tree so they wouldn’t get blown away in the winds, and then there’s Greg and I eating ice cream cones because when they power goes out they will melt, so it’s either eat them, or they go to waste.

Yet, while I was concentrating on food, my 6-year old grandson was out doing good: he was rescuing animals. Note his little toad in the box. At least one of us has their priorities straight! (Just a little Irma humor before the big event. But also, a reminder that we should never lose sight of what’s important.)

Losing a freezer of food is no big deal. My luscious lemons being tossed in the wind…who cares. But a little boy helping animals…now that’s the right thing to do. Just like my neighbor responding to my inquiring for batteries, helping others, looking for a need to fill, those are noble pursuits.

Irma’s finally going to make her way here tonight and if the predictions are correct, we’ll see 80-90 MPH gusts of wind and 8-12” of rain. That’s a lot for this area. Power will be knocked out and some people will need to go into survival mode.

At this point, we trust in God and are thankful for family, friends, and neighbors who are ready to pitch in.

Mimi

I heart you.

HeartJust me, poking my head in your door once again. The spring and summer have been very difficult for my family, but things are now on the upswing. I have much to be grateful for and want to start sharing once again the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord.

Our family experienced some very dark days. Days that overwhelmed. Days where I would wake up wondering if life would ever be normal again. Days that felt like they would never end, yet they did…only to be replaced with nights of despair and sadness.

I did what many do in those times; I retreated. Instead of a lifeline to people who could encourage and lift me up, the phone became an instrument of conveying bad news and navigating through phone menus of doctors, businesses, and other entities necessary to get us help and information. The last thing I wanted to do was make another phone call or send another text of bad news. I didn’t want to talk with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary.

I did send out texts asking for prayer. I even sent some filled with self-pity. And I set up a family text to keep everyone apprised of what was going on. But sending those texts did nothing to encourage me or provide the hope I desperately needed. Instead they were another reminder that life was hard right now.

But in the midst of our family ordeal, God saw fit to break through the defensive barriers I had erected. He knew my desperation for prayer and He provided tangible encouragement when I needed it most. Here are just a few of those gifts of help. It isn’t all inclusive and I don’t mean to leave any out. I’m sure there are many other ways to get involved in being God’s hands to those in need. But for now I share with you some that were irreplaceable. Perhaps they will give you an idea of how you can help others facing difficult times.

  1. Early on dad’s pastor asked if his church could provide meals. I refused at first, but quickly realized what a tremendous help it would be. People always bring more than you need so we ended up with meals galore for future use as well.
  2. When people texted me they weren’t long-winded. They simply said I love you and I’m praying. It meant the world.
  3. Another friend would text me from time to time saying “I’m so sorry for what’s happening.” She meant it from her heart. I was sorry, too. Knowing someone else understood and felt bad for what we were going through helped me recognize it was indeed a tough time and it was ok to want a way out. And a precious family member began texting notes of thanks for what we were doing and providing ongoing encouragement in our endeavors. Her comments of you can do it gave me much-needed strength on days when I needed it most.
  4. Yet another friend began texting short encouragement EVERY SINGLE DAY. And it hasn’t let up. I didn’t have to answer back, and many times didn’t. But every day I would hear her text arrive around 6am and couldn’t wait to read it. And to this day, I wake every day to the text tone going off to say good morning. This began in early April. Now that’s a faithful friend!
  5. This same friend also introduced me to the importance of repetition. When I would share something positive, she would respond “Good. Good.” At first I thought it was just her manner of expression. But as time went on I realized what that repetition did; it made me take note. It made me rethink what she had said. So the first “good” was her expression of joy that something positive had occurred. But the second “good” was for me. It was like hearing God say “Yes, it’s very good indeed. See, I am with you and things will improve one day.” I have now incorporated this very simple repetition technique myself, hoping it will be an encouragement to others.
  6. Our family tragedy necessitated my husband and me moving 150 miles away for three and a half months. Every few weeks one or both of us would return to Orlando to mow the lawn, get some down time, or just to make sure the house was still standing. As you can imagine, we never had any food in the house. A dear friend and sister in Christ offered to provide us a meal whenever we were next in town. Again, my pride didn’t want to say yes. But my spirit knew this was a gift from God. So one day I let her know we were returning later that week and would love a meal. She texted back giving me a choice of three meals to choose from. (How great was that!!!). And the she asked for a delivery date and time. She arrived as planned with a meal and an embrace. Her kindness carried us through for days.

Matthew 25:35-40 (NCV), Jesus speaking:

“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”

Then the good people will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?”

Then the King will answer, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.”

There are plenty of ways to be God’s hands to others in very practical ways and there are plenty of people who need just what you can offer: a meal, a kind word, a hand-written note or store-bought card, a babysitter for an evening, a short text message, prayer-prayer-and more prayer, a ride somewhere, or an offer to do some errands. Ways to help are limitless.

I am immensely grateful to those who have assisted and continue to assist as we walk toward our new normal. I hope you all know how much your acts of love meant to us and how much we love and appreciate you.

Mimi