Posted in Growing in the Lord, making a difference

Serving Unexpectedly

Years ago at a large Christian music festival in a local park, many who attended brought their own food to munch on while enjoying the wide variety of bands onstage throughout the day. When lunchtime arrived, my mom and I removed our ice chest filled with the prepared lunch for the six members in our family.

I’ve never quite met anyone like my mom. One of her favorite sayings is, “it’s all in the presentation”. Indeed. My mom prepared a table of delicacies that included scrumptious oversized homemade cookies, bowls of neatly cut watermelon and cantaloupe, and mouth-watering sandwiches. To the onlooker, it appeared to be something out of a magazine or found on a Pinterest board.

We were just about to pray and savor this tasty meal when the most unexpected thing happened.

Several individuals—strangers—arrived at our table, plates in hand, smiles on their faces. “This looks delicious,” we heard one of them say. “Thank you so much,” another said.

At first, my mom and I exchanged glances. Who were these people? Did they know this was a private meal?

But seconds later, we shrugged in tandem and encouraged them to help themselves to whatever they’d like. Our bounty was more than sufficient for our little family. You would have thought we offered them a million dollars.

Because it’s a park in the middle of a fair-sized city, there is a sizeable homeless population that migrates through the area on any given day. We didn’t know the situations of our “guests” or what was going on in their lives. But we did know one thing…that something so simple blessed them.

These days, my mom can no longer prepare lavish feasts or create beautiful crafts without assistance due to a life-altering accident and severe chronic pain. However, that day in the park all those years ago reminded me of the importance of serving unexpectedly.

Sometimes we have no idea how the things we do can bless someone. Sometimes, even when we don’t set out to serve someone or enrich their lives, our actions have the biggest impact.

This post was also linked up to The Sweet Tea & Friends Linkup.


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Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord, the importance series

the importance of compassion

Compassion

I recently saw a quote that discussed how we are at times frustrated with someone for the things they cannot do (as in someone struggling with dementia, chronic pain, paralysis, or other debilitating struggle)…if we are that frustrated with them, how must it be for them knowing they can’t do the things they could once do, or would love to do?

It’s message was clear. We need to have compassion.

Our world is full of pain. Broken bodies, broken relationships, broken lives. How can we come alongside someone who is struggling?

In the past couple of weeks, I have heard from people struggling with the following:

Severe debilitating pain;

A son addicted to meth;

An uncle with Parkinson’s and dementia;

A cancer diagnosis;

A caregiver whose days are filled with exhaustion and concern for the loved ones in her care;

An older couple with marriage problems;

Someone suffering the loss of a loved one;

A missionary dealing with the aftermaths of a tsunami;

And the list goes on…

God calls us to be compassionate toward those who are struggling, no matter what those struggles may be. While we may not exactly understand the hardships others face, we can be a listening ear, a gentle voice, and a prayer warrior for those who need us most.

Zechariah 7 9

So, how can you show compassion?

  1. Offer prayer support. Don’t only offer to pray for someone, but actual pray at that time with that person. It wasn’t long ago that my daughters and I stood in our local Walmart and prayed with a woman and her husband after they’d received the news that he had cancer.
  2. Have a listening ear. When someone is going through a hard time, just having someone listen is crucial.
  3. Be engaged. How many times do we catch ourselves saying, “if you need anything, please let me know.” That’s a nice gesture, but how about saying instead, “what is it I can do to help you?” And then be sure to do it.
  4. Don’t offer a million “fixes.” A woman I know who has severe chronic pain says the most difficult thing is when well-meaning people tell her if she’d just take “this” supplement or “do this or that exercise”, she’d be healed. Those who are going through a tough time don’t need suggestions. They need us to be there.
  5. Be patient. If someone you know is struggling with something that is big to them, but you can’t understand the severity of it, be patient. We never know how things affect others.
  6. Put yourself in their shoes.

The God we serve is a God of compassion and mercy.  As we strive to be more like Jesus everyday, let’s strive to be more compassionate toward those in need of our tender care.

Romans 12 15

Posted in devotionals, family/marriage

What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
What if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? I mean, truly loved as Jesus did. Not say we will, not pretend to, but really, truly focus on putting another person’s needs ahead of our own?

Can you imagine how we could change the world one person at a time?

And what if it became a habit?

Allow me to share a story with you about my friend Donna. Donna has rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, back problems, and a host of other health ailments. However, this doesn’t stop her from tirelessly serving others and showing each person she encounters the love of Christ in action.

thread-spool-1378256-mCase in point: Donna is often babysitting her grandchildren while her daughter and son-in-law struggle to make ends meet. Donna also teaches sewing classes to homeschool students, volunteers at church, cares for her mother who has dementia, and assists her niece, who has been hospitalized on numerous occasions with a severe neurological disorder.

I’ve never once heard Donna complain.

Add to that, the fact that a mutual friend was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and Donna came quickly to her aid.

One of the requests of our friend with cancer was that the precious words she’d written would be put into book form before our friend passed away. Donna quickly took care of our friend’s request, even though she was busy with other items, including upcoming medical tests for which she had to prepare.

This didn’t stop Donna.

reading-book-1368361-mDonna went to the local office supply store with our friend’s words. She knew time was of the essence. Our friend wasn’t expected to live much longer and her dream of seeing her words in book print became Donna’s goal.

Donna achieved her goal and was able to present the book to our friend.

Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…” saint-matthew-1336079-m

When I watch Donna, I get a glimpse into what it means to be Christlike and to really truly serve as Jesus did. And not only that, but as an avid prayer warrior, there’s not a day that passes that Donna doesn’t intercede on behalf of others.

I know, because I’ve been blessed to be the recipient of her prayers on a couple of occasions.

So, what if for one day, we loved as Jesus did? What if we set out to bless someone else without the expectation of ever receiving anything in return?

1113096_give_meWhat if everyday, we strove to put others first and didn’t expect to be served, but to instead serve, just as Jesus did?

What a difference we could make!

If you’re looking for ways to enlist your family in making a difference in the lives of others, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others.