Tuesday, December 19, 2017

What do a Crunched Bumper and a Shoe have in common?

I always find it fascinating how God answers prayers in unexpected ways.  Like the times that I ask for more patience for example.  God doesn’t just grant me more patience overnight like I hoped.  He instead gives me lots (and lots and lots) of circumstances in which I have to practice and learn to be patient.

So why would this whole idea of mine of the 10 days of Kindness and praying for circumstances where I can show kindness be any different?  Well, it has been.  Yes, there have been some places I have been able to show kindness to others.  But moreso?  Two people, in particular, have shown so much kindness to me and my family in the last few days. 

One man showed kindness when he witnessed someone hit our car in the parking lot of the grocery store.  He acted quickly and wrote down the license plate number on a note he put on our windshield.  But that wasn’t all.  He waited until we came out to our car and told us about it and left his contact info. 

My son and I often park far away from stores to be able to get some steps in before getting somewhere.  Today was no different, and we were actually going to stop at the library before going somewhere else so we parked part way between them and walked.  As we were crossing this busy little street in the shopping center, my son somehow stepped out right in front of me causing us both to fall. 

At this point I should also mention that I was also carrying 15 library books to return when we crossed that road….

I held on to his hand and head to protect him but my knees took the brunt of the fall.  As, embarrassing as that was already was I tried to pick him up and scurry off as quickly as possible when much to my dismay I realized he’d lost one of his shoes in the middle of the street.  As I turned to check traffic and go back for it, a man yelled “I’ll get it”.  And he did.  He then brought it over and helped put it on my son’s foot and helped us up.  Such sweetness.  Such kindness.  I also should note that a very nice, very lifted truck had stopped to allow us to cross and actually waited very patiently during our whole ordeal and only proceeded once he ensured we were ok.  Such an embarrassing and painful (literally) thing to go through and such kindness was bestowed on us. 

As I reflect on my attitude over much of the last few days, I see a work in progress.  A woman and mama who tries her best, but still loses her temper at times.  Perhaps even, God is using these everyday moments to help show me and build up in me the kindness response.  That man didn’t have to take time out of his day to write a note with the plate number and wait to talk to us.  That other man didn’t have to leave his car door open and run and grab my toddler’s shoe (to save it from certain death from being run over).  I didn’t know either of them.  I wouldn’t have thought either of them were rude for not helping.  But in showing kindness and helping us, they gave us something so much more meaningful.

People are not always nice or kind.  Circumstances often stink.  The question is, what are we going to do with it?  Shouldn’t we all make some lemonade, when life hands us lemons?  Like my dear friend who just finished her 8th round of Chemo?  She has faced her diagnosis and treatment with such grace and kindness.  Like my own Mom who just celebrated 5 years of being cancer free?  She has always been someone I admired but her quiet strength and faithfulness in the midst of life’s storms have been so encouraging.

Things will go well.  Things will go badly.  Where is our hope when the things of this world fade away or go wrong though?  I leave you with some lyrics to one of my (many) favorite hymns.

1 My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
in ev'ry high and stormy gale
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
3 His oath, His covenant, His blood
support me in the 'whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
4 When He shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in Him be found,
dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
#Enjoying10daysofkindness is an ongoing kindness project that can be
 found on my facebook page if you've missed it!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How are you doing? Really?

You know the funny thing about this time of year?  It’s both my favorite and my least favorite time of the year.  I love all the sights and sounds of the season.  The excitement in children’s eyes at all the lights and music.  The true reason for the season = the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  But I don’t like all the stress and heartache that comes with this time of year.  I think about my grand fathers I won't get to visit again this year.  I think about our little babe who isn't here.  I think about my friends who have lost husbands, daughters, sons, parents...

It’s no secret that December ranks highest in cases of depression and suicide of any other month of the year.  Why do we think that is?  Probably has something to do with all the hype of Christmas and time to gather with family and then also realizing those strained or non-existent relationships either because of conflict, divorce, deployment or death.  That’s a lot to deal with any time of year, right?  But then add on all the parties and happy celebrations we see all around us.  I think it just makes it too much for many of us.  (I'm not trying to oversimplify depression or suicide either, there are a lot of things that contribute to December being a hard month for everyone.)

So, I am trying to take a step back and take care of myself and my own mental, physical and spiritual health first.  I think as women, and especially for moms, it’s really easy for us to put ourselves on the back burner.  I mean, who else is going to get all the things done?  Diapers need changing, bathrooms need cleaning, papers need graded, things need to be taught, cookies baked, and the lists go on and on and on.  (Am I right?)  But really, if we don’t take care of ourselves and our needs first, who is going to do it?  Who are we going to help when we have nothing left to give?  How are we going to keep going when we are passed out on the floor from exhaustion? Or worse?

I seem to always come back to this idea of I can’t control other people.  I can only control the way I react to them.  I mean, as much as I would like to control others and keep them from saying hurtful and insensitive things, I can’t.  I can’t even always control myself, so why do I expect to possibly control someone else? 

When I am running on empty because I am over here trying to make sure everything is taken care of and everyone is ‘happy’, I’m not doing anyone, I repeat ANYONE any favors.  Then when someone makes a snide comment I can’t hold it together anymore.  Perhaps if my cup was full I could do something other than just cry and try not to totally fall apart.  But we have to take care of ourselves first.  I know it’s hard to find the time or the energy to do it.  But it’s SOOOO important.  And something I am still learning, which is why I am kind of an expert on the what not to do part of this.

So, let’s do this exercise first.  Repeat after me:

I cannot control other people.  I can only control the way I react to them.

I will take some much needed me time to focus on my overall health before any more of this month goes by.  I will check my mental health, my physical health and my spiritual health and seek help if needed for ANY of those. 

You see, there is no shame in seeking out help.  It's the healthy thing to do.  We cannot do this life alone.  

Here are a few things in each category to get you started.  And you better believe that I am doing this right beside you, because I need to fill my cup (or bucket or whatever analogy you prefer) before any more days go by!

Mental health:  Are there any issues I need to work through or talk through?  Any grief that has not been properly grieved?  Triggers to avoid?  People or conversations?  Safe people to confide in?

Physical health:  Am I eating healthy balanced foods regularly?  Am I doing physical exercise a few times a week?  If you hate running don’t run.  If you love walking, Walk!  Just do something active and try to eat a balanced diet!  I helps more than you may realize. 

Spiritual Health:  Am I seeking answers to life’s questions?  Do I need to pray more?  What things do I need to give to God?  Have I been spending time in the word every day?  Do I have people to connect with in fellowship?  How am I growing in my faith and trusting God?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, 
but a harsh word stirs up anger. 
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, 
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
Proverbs 15:1-2