Some help required

I hate asking for help.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m guessing that’s not the case.

According to the writer of Acts, Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 NIV)

I could try to pretend it is a “holy thing” and say that I’m just trying to live up to Scripture (insert VERY wry grin here)–and I do!—but I think that Jesus was simply stating a very human truth in addition to giving us a reminder that it is our job to help those who are weaker than we are.

It’s that word, I think: “Weaker.” I’ve never liked that word; refused to be that word; been absolutely determined not to live a life defined by that word. To be perfectly frank, I don’t remember applying that word to anyone else unless they were really, truly in that state through no fault of their own…and, even then, I’ve applied that word as a label very rarely. “Younger, smaller, sure, but weaker? Not so much. It just seemed unnecessarily mean. I was taught to be self-sufficient as much as possible. I probably took that to an extreme.

On the other hand, I am generally happy to lend a hand when asked. (That sentence had “always” in place of “generally” when it first slipped out onto the page, but honesty compelled me to change it.) I like helping most of the time—especially if it is something that makes things prettier, more efficient, cuts down on waste, or makes a loved one’s life a little easier. I don’t think of that of helping “the weak” at all. It is simply an expression of affection or the opportunity to be of service to those in my community.

Why, then, do I hate to ask for help…for myself? I have no issue asking for help for others. I’m happy to lead the way in that! But…for me? I hate it. I’d rather just do without.

Until I can’t anymore.

I’ve found myself there lately and I haven’t liked it even a little bit.

A couple of months ago, we dropped my husband’s truck off for repair and he took the big red truck to work the next morning. I didn’t have anywhere to be and it didn’t change my day plans at all…until he called. He wanted to let me know that while he was stopped at a traffic light behind a long line of cars—who were backed up because the police were working an accident scene at the intersection ahead!—he heard a horrible squealing-tire sound…just before being struck from behind. To be accurate, he wasn’t the first point of impact. That dubious honor belonged to the lady behind him who was then sandwiched between the car making impact and the bumper of the big red truck.

It seemed a simple matter, but then it turned out not to be so after all and here I am—about two months into this and still no resolution date for sure and certain. Although I wasn’t even part of the accident, my life has been the most affected by it in our household as I am still without my big red truck, which is currently receiving a new frame and being knit back together because they discovered there was more damage than previously understood.

I’m grateful that they’re able to repair it. I’m grateful that there are people who know how to do that–because I most definitely do not! I am grateful that most of the time I work from home and, at first, my thoughts actually led me to a mini-celebration about all the things I could legitimately say “no” to since I didn’t have transportation for a bit. It seemed a slight bright side in all of this to this introvert who loves being home more than anything. We’ve made it work pretty well for the most part, I’d say, but lately, I’ve begun to notice a change. There are only so many things that I can work into the time when the blue truck is here, when my husband is available to do them, or that can be postponed for the apparently indefinite time it will take to repair the big red truck and return it to factory specs.

I’ve begun to chafe a bit at my confinement. I’ve had to ask for help. (Did I mention that I hated doing that?) Oh, I know. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make me weak. It doesn’t even mean that I’ve been forced into an untenable position in any way–except that I really don’t like to ask or admit a need for help…or a ride…or to borrow a car…or assistance of any kind…despite the number of INCREDIBLY kind people who have volunteered or called to ask if I needed anything…including my very kind neighbor who graciously loaned me her car to drive to Bible study and get my hair cut yesterday! (THANK YOU, SUE!!!) I’ve just mainly associated community as a means of society, not as an avenue for assistance…at least for myself.

I’m pretty sure it’s a part of a pride thing. I’m good at that. Sad, but true: I really get that pride thing. THIS, however, has also had a different element to it: I’m learning a lesson, albeit a lesson I didn’t desire–or even know I needed.

I’ve needed and I’ve needed community in a way I’ve generally been able to avoid previously. Me! The introvert who celebrated at the opportunity to stay home even more than before! I’ve needed…and I’ve needed community. That’s different for me. It’s also been instructive and humbling, a little bit scary, and more than a bit frustrating for me. Additionally, it’s also been probably the most necessary lesson I’ve had from God in quite awhile.

Scripture is always true. It IS better to give than to receive, but it is also a good thing to  be on the receiving end of things sometime so that we don’t take for granted the many blessings we have, the opportunity to bless others when they are in need, and we learn to bless them in ways that show how grateful we are to help. It’s also good to be part of a community that loves you and be reminded of that, as well. Needing community doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human. Life lessons all around. I’ve had a refresher course in attitude around here lately.

Apparently, God knew I needed help with that, as well.

Grace and Peace!

Edited for update: Just moments ago my phone rang. Although this post wasn’t intended as an actual request for assistance, another precious member of my community called to say that she had read my blog post and she wanted to offer me the use of a truck until mine is returned. Once again, I am humbled–and once again, it is because of the goodness of my God and the graciousness of His people. I am, indeed, the most blessed person I know. Go, God, and thank you, sweet friend!

 

 

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Reading recipes

I seem to have developed a taste for books that combine fiction with recipes. It wasn’t intentional, but I just noticed that I have several books of this sort on my shelves. Perhaps it is a latent, inherited trait since my mother has long read cookbooks for pleasure.

I used to think that was odd. I would pass through a room and see her losing herself in  words combined as a road map to bring a taste of deliciousness into the world. Why in the world would you want to just read a cookbook?! I couldn’t imagine.

Sometimes Mama would look up suddenly and say, “Listen to this!” and then rattle off a list of ingredients assembled by someone from long ago that she never even knew…and she would always seem surprised when I didn’t get the taste of it like she had just by reading them out loud.IMG_20190202_205905963

Tonight, however, I got it. I read a recipe for lavender scones and, though I’ve never eaten anything like it before, I had that taste and texture in my mouth as I wondered if I could substitute a little lavender oil, instead…or maybe just add a little for some extra oomph…

I smiled and wondered if it would have tasted the same to my  mother…just by reading the words.

I started this day off early by participating in an effort to read through the Bible as part of a missions conference at our church. For the past several days member after member has read for their assigned time and been relieved by another. Each of us giving up something to gain the treasure of unity; sharing and consuming the Life we find in the written Word. I teared up as I began to read my portion and was equally moved when the one who followed me had the same reaction to what he read, as well.

These ancient words fill me with hope and joy. They are not fiction, but facts…and so much more. They give direction when I need to make decisions. They instruct when I have questions and lead when I feel lost. To hear them read aloud and see their effect on others who know and love their Author reminded me that cookbooks weren’t the only words my mother reads for pleasure. She also reads her Bible, for in it she has found–and shared!—the recipes for life.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 (CSB)

Grace and peace…and happy memories.

 

following and leaving

My parents always taught us that we were supposed to leave a place at least as nice–if not better!–than when we found it. It wasn’t so much that they always SAID that; they just lived it. I’ve thought about that a lot over the years and tried to do the same. It’s often easier to say than to do, but little things add up when you’re making deliberate choices.

img_20181228_142623459The other day a friend and I were heading out from the church in the rain when she suddenly pointed out a small bit of ivy growing at the base of one of the columns. “One day you’ll need to write about that!” she said before pointing out where a large pot of ivy used to sit nearby. “I’m always amazed to see where things take root.”

 

img_20181228_142654417I looked around and spied the pot and its contents across the way–no longer in the same spot, but still making an impact. I could see the ring caused by the pottery and the ivy sprig left behind growing in a tiny crack and spreading out and I wondered, “What kind of trail am I leaving? What kind of impact am I making and how does that need to change or be improved? Am I leaving my own footprints behind or God’s?

While I rarely make a long list of resolutions, I’m always aware that the start of a new year is a pretty good time for an evaluation of progress. My personal new year starts later in the year–on my birthday–but this was too good to pass up, so ever since then, I’ve been thinking about how I want to use 2019 to reach the next steps.

Last year, my focus-word for the year was “Margin” and God used that to teach me and make quite a difference in how I made decisions. In fact, although the past 4 months was one of our busiest in schedule, it was also one of the most relaxed for me because I made the necessary margin calls so that schedule was even possible. I was busy, but it was a busy that made sense based on the priorities my husband and I had set for us and our business after a long time of prayer. I’m already seeing the footprints of my 2018 Margin decisions affect the path for 2019, and I want that to continue.

When I started considering my focus-word for this new year, the decision didn’t take very long. My word for 2019 is both simple and complex: “Jesus.” I want to follow more closely, linger longer, deepen and enjoy our relationship, and see where He wants me to stay long enough to leave parts of us behind and where He wants us to move onward in new adventures. I want to follow more closely and leave more of His influence behind than my own when I leave a place. That’s the way I want to make things better than I found them this year…by following and leaving. I want to move more of me out of the way and make more room for Him to show up. I want to keep making good Margin calls so I can stay where I need to be and not be concerned because I’ve filled up my calendar with so many good things that I don’t have room for the God-things.

Following and leaving…it sounds like something that will make a difference this year. I pray it will be a good one.

“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11 (ESV)

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2018–Day 27

Today is #givingtuesday, a time to be generous and contribute to worthy causes. I don’t know when it got started, but I definitely applaud the whole idea, and it makes me wonder…

  • What if we decided to be make every day a giving day?
  • What if we made a plan (not a wish, but a PLAN) to support worthy causes with regularity…because our priority was to become more worthy, too.
  • What if we looked at our resources with an eye toward blessing those whose needs we’re aware of long after “the season of giving” has passed because we realized that the Source of all blessing has promised to never leave or forsake us…and others need to see that promise in action so THEY can believe it, too?
  • What if our whole lives centered around making those around us know they matter, that they’re loved, and that their gifts are needed to help others, too?
  • What if we decided to become walking, talking, giving billboards for grace and peace and the One whose idea they were in the first place?

What if…?

What will you choose to do today…since you’ve given up complaining…and have all that extra time on your hands? (grin)

Grace and Peace!

Romans 12:21!!

NCN 2018–Days 12-16

Happy Monday, everyone! I woke up very suddenly Sunday morning about 4:30 AM and realized two things: God had just given me a solution for a “problem” I had been considering…and I had forgotten to post my weekend challenge. I decided to celebrate both of those things. Naturally, I’m celebrating the first one, because–although it wasn’t a big problem (how to wrap some gifts for the holidays)–I now have an answer that works for me. (no brainer.) I decided to celebrate the second one, though, because I just figured God knew that y’all probably needed the break, as well. (HA!), and NOW, that means that I’m actually ahead! I have a post written for next weekend! (double HA and YAY!) Perspective and choosing to look for the positives are great gifts, y’all. Great gifts!

On this Monday of the week before Thanksgiving I find myself celebrating quite a few things early. Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday because we always celebrated it by gathering with family we hadn’t seen in awhile. Distance from childhood homes, work, and modern busy schedules have made that impossible the past several years and, to be honest, it won’t happen “on the day” this year, either. HOWEVER, if you’re determined to celebrate the reason for the holiday, it really doesn’t matter what day you choose to do that, does it?

Although we can’t all be together in one place again this year like we used to when we were growing up, I have the opportunity to celebrate and see most of my immediate family THIS week instead of next week. I’m choosing to celebrate the GET TO instead of the departure from the traditional. Because I’ll be celebrating, I’m choosing to make this post the main one for the week. If inspiration strikes and there’s opportunity, you might see another post, but if I’m too busy being happy and enjoying the hugs and catching up, feasting my eyes on faces I’ve missed, and getting to see my youngest nephew play basketball, well…I think we’ll all manage just fine.

To give you something to think about and, hopefully, something to do while I’m taking this little break (because I just KNOW you need something else to do! LOL) I want to share something our #5 (hey, Judy!) sent out the other day (and for context, she’s the one who suggested we do NO DIET NOVEMBER–LOL!!!):

So the “cure” for negativity… help someone. Buy a cup of coffee for a young man in need. Feed a homeless cat. Help pay for someone’s groceries. Give until it hurts. Get uncomfortable. Every day. Goodness…. those in need are EVERYWHERE!! You realize how blessed you are and there is so much joy in seeing joy in others.

Although it may cause me to diet… bc I’m broke!!! 😂😂😂😂😂

Judy’s suggestions are a natural extension of her beautiful heart and I think they’re a MARVELOUS way to kick off the holiday season, so that’s your challenge for the week and a great way to get into the Thanksgiving mood: See how many people you can help/bless this week! Bonus points if you can do the helping and the blessing anonymously. (If you’ve never done that before, TRUST ME, you’ll be amazed at how much FUN it can be!! And, when you can pull it off…GLEE, people! Pure GLEE!! Doing it enough can actually make you giddy!–a term you NEED to get familiar with, if you’re not already aware! grin)

So, go have fun, overcome evil by doing good, bless others, have a great week wherever you are and with whoever you’re with, and if you’re doing all of that…well, then you’ll have no cause to complain!

Grace and Peace!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 

 

NCN 2018–Day 8

Well, hello! I know this may sound funny, but I’ve been having the best time this morning preparing for some upcoming venues, trips, and holidays that I got a bit sidetracked and almost forgot to post today! I think that’s part of the joy of life–the preparing to do part! Oh, I love the DOING, but I also love the PREP–and since holidays are often spent apart from loved ones, my holiday prep has to start a lot earlier than it used to so I can get things where they need to be before “the big day” arrives.

I looked up some quotes earlier this morning and the first three I saw actually inspired this post. Here they are so maybe they can inspire some action on your part today, as well.

“If you’re not lighting any candles, don’t complain about being in the dark.”

“If you’re not helping to make it right, then stop complaining about it being wrong.”

“Don’t complain about things you’re unwilling to change.”

I’ve already heard some mumbling about people being behind this year on their shopping–and compared to where I normally am in the process, this year, I’m behind, too, but I believe this might be my favorite year yet! I’m having the best time rediscovering things I’ve bought for people throughout the year and thinking about what still needs to be done. While Thanksgiving is normally my favorite holiday, I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit for several weeks already!

Speaking of holidays, gift giving, and mumbling, perhaps today is a good day for YOU to start planning ahead, as well. If it is still WAY too early for some of you who love to do your gift planning at the “last minute” every year–OR, if you’re already ahead on that score, then that’s fine, too! Today’s challenge is for you to take a look around you and see what needs “fixing” where you are. Look for those things that bug you–or others around you!!–and DO SOMETHING about it! Make it your gift to the world where you live to reduce a CAUSE of  complaint today!

What can YOU do today to make someone else’s load a little lighter? Think about it and then get busy lighting those candles so others can find their way in the dark, as well! Make it a Romans 12:21 day and do something GOOD for the people around you!! You can do this. You just have to choose.

Grace and Peace!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 

 

NCN 2018–Day 7

As of today, we’ve been at this NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER-thing  for a whole week! I’ve been highly entertained by many of the comments I’ve gotten, saddened/frustrated by a few others (mainly those who would rather stay firmly glued in negativity and take pot shots at those who’ve made a different choice), and found a few others who are celebrating it on their blogs, as well. Many of those who have posted/commented there are people who won’t ever know me or my friends and aren’t aware that this NCN movement started here, but that doesn’t matter, so long as the influence toward the positive is out there. Becoming a person of influence doesn’t mean becoming a person of popularity or even being known. It does mean, hopefully, that more people were able to see and recognize a step toward the positive and then decide to take it for themselves.

That’s been a theme for some interesting conversations with some of the ones who DO know me lately, as well. The ability to see a need for improvement and take steps to make it so, isn’t as common as we’d would all like to think. I’ve been questioning some things in my own life and wondering, “Am I operating under learned/accepted behavior here or is this something I really want to think/say/do?” Asking that simple question has naturally led me to the next step of requiring me to decide for myself: “What kind of person do I want to be when ____?” and then start to act accordingly.

While you might think most of that would have already been decided by now as a Christian and having been on the planet this long, there are always new areas of discovery that have to do with the kind of activities I desire to pursue and the life I hope to lead in the future. For instance, a conversation with a friend the other day revealed that one of her family members with a influential and demanding job has begun considering how to share their knowledge and influence the future by becoming a lecturer in their area of expertise. Exploring that option means adding even more to the already-demanding schedule, but brings a payoff of being able to share knowledge and prepare for future options. How delightful is it to explore new possibilities in life? Extremely! Knowing someone else is thinking about how to reach for the next possibility has inspired me to start thinking about the options available for me. See! Becoming a person of influence is contagious! (smile!)

My own husband has been modeling this type of behavior for the past several months as he’s begun to sort through his current options for limited leisure time and decided to release some of his hobbies/skilled-abilities (and the equipment/tools that go along with those things–a MAJOR decision for an engineer who loves tools!) so that those items can be used by others who are pursuing those paths. It’s been an amazing process to watch as he’s carefully considered the time available now, the skills he already has, those he still wishes to acquire, and what the best path forward to accomplish his current goals instead of being overwhelmed by past goals/equipment to the point that there would be no room to move forward. It hasn’t been an been an overnight process, but one carefully considered and implementation is in the works as I type.

So, why did I share all of this…and on a WEDNESDAY? I wanted to get you thinking about the future. If you’re going to be positive, you have to plan for it and get busy making positive changes in more than just your verbal communications! What new possibilities await YOU? What skills do you need and what opportunities can you take to move in directions that will impact your future and allow you to positively influence others?

Just some food for thought…on this day after the US elections…when you have time to think about the implications of what happened yesterday and what that means for our future…and you’ve got ALL this time left and have chosen to participate in NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER.

Timing is everything, isn’t it? (grin!) Have a wonderful day of possibilities!

Grace and Peace!