We have all pitched in to help here and there, but we probably all know someone who is the ultimate helper in a given situation. Who comes to mind?
A coach? A teacher? A parent or sibling? A mentor? A friend who conquers all the PTA duties and classroom parties with remarkable ease?
Someone who is truly servant-minded sees a need and tackles the tasks to get the need met.
It’s a beautiful process to watch unfold.
She rises to the occasion, then fades into the background as the activity surrounding the event subsides.
Sometimes we’re faced with situations in which we are called to become more servant-oriented than what we feel comes naturally.
We have to draw upon our inner strength.
Mothers of young children often step into this role when illness strikes, putting their own agendas aside while they provide a gentle buffer around their child. They power through all the care-taking tasks and offer nursing care graciously until their little one is well again.
Spouses who have partners that are struggling with Alzheimers, cancer, or another chronic illness discover themselves transitioning into a phase of being a Servant Warrior.
They serve out of love, opening their hearts more deeply than ever before.
When I see the tenacity of spiritual mentors shepherding others year after year, I am grateful for the kingdom work being done so tirelessly.
When I see news reports of teachers shielding students from bullies and even armed threats, I am humbled. You put others first and leave a lasting impact on those you protected.
As my boys navigate through all the rigors of Boy Scout campouts and numerous merit badges, I appreciate the solid groundwork laid by faithful men in leadership who have served many young boys throughout the years…leaders showing future leaders how to serve others well.
“Serve wholeheartedly…” Ephesians 6:7
Wherever we are, the opportunity for serving others is there. We can pitch in to help…a little or a lot, depending on our particular season of life.
Even if the tasks seem small or mundane, the end result benefits our greater community.
We stand a little taller when we are shoulder to shoulder helping someone else. Our children are emboldened with empathy when they are involved in outreach to others.
We are allstronger when we are serving in some way.
A special tribute goes out to all of our military families who demonstrate daily what it means to be Servant Warriors…thank you!
The other day in the midst of running typical errands, I was nearly in a head-on collision. A woman careened through the intersection making a left turn and almost hit me as I was going straight on a green light. We both slammed on our brakes and came to a screeching halt. Before I could catch my breath, she backed up and I could see the crumpled front-end of her car. Oh no!
She waved dramatically at me then pulled on around and out of the intersection, leaving me stunned in the middle of a busy intersection.
I pulled out of the way and into a parking lot to assess the damage. There was none. I was both relieved and shocked. It was such a close call, maybe an inch or two… “Did that really just happen?”
As my heartbeat thudded in my ears and I looked about for the other woman, I stood in disbelief as I realized she was long gone. Hadn’t she seen me?Shouldn’t we check on each other? Nobody else had stopped either. I didn’t have anyone to corroborate what had just happened, to validate what I had seen and heard.
– – – To be seen and heard – – –
We navigate our lives in and around people all day long, often on autopilot. How much do we REALLY see and hear about those around us?
How much are WE seen and heard?
Sometimes we have to be still ourselves to be able to tune in to others more fully. We think we’re paying attention, but we’re really not.
As I’ve tried attending a yoga class more regularly, I’m realizing how busy my brain is despite my body being in a relaxed posture. I’m learning to redirect my attention through the simple act of counting my breaths, in and out…in and out. (and starting over when I notice I’m adding something else to my grocery list!)
Slowing down allows us to take in what’s going on around us in this busy daily life of ours.
Noticing details is a way to show others we care, that we acknowledge them for what is unique about them. To act on one of these observed details takes it a step further.
It can be the little things on an ordinary day that make a big difference.
a word of encouragement
a smile from a stranger as you pass by on a brisk winter day
providing an unexpected snack for your kids
picking up your husband’s dry-cleaning to remove it from his to-do list and ease his transition home a little sooner
sending a card to a grandma far away to remind her that she’s always being held close to her family’s heart
flowers celebrating a special occasion – or just because
When someone does something out of their “ordinary” for us, we feel noticed. We feel loved.
I smiled the other night as I prepared a bubble bath, playfully tossing in the rubber duckies my son gave me at Christmas and unwrapping a bath bomb labeled “monkey farts” = gifts of love with a boy twist!
Some of my most treasured gifts have an underlying message of “I see you…I hear you.”
All of my guys have witnessed my journey with the Bible Quilt®️ journal, supporting me in various ways as they see the ebb and flow of a fledgling business. They pitch in to do a quick pick-up before a home session then swiftly disappear when they sense an incoming flux of women and girls.
My youngest surprised me at Christmas with his version of a Bible Quilted dinosaur. It was his unique way of showing me “I see you; I hear you, Mom.”
Our mother-in-law, Kitty, was a go-getter. When she saw something that needed done, she marched out boldly and did it… sometimes with an unexpected ending. In remembrance of her birthday today, we’ll share one of her acts of boldness with you:
Kitty once saw a dog running loose in a busy neighborhood in Houston, so she picked it up and took it home with her. She gave him some food and water, soothing him with comforting words. Then she called the number on the dog’s collar. The grateful owner gave Kitty their address. Kitty loaded up the now very content dog back into her car. As she approached the address, houses on the street began to look familiar. She arrived at the destination and suddenly realized it was the EXACT address where she had originally picked up this “stray.” Yep, she had “rescued” this dog from its own yard! She handled this somewhat awkward moment gracefully and told this story to us several times over the years, embellishing it and laughing at herself as much as we did!
After the laughter subsided, what struck me was the boldness that Kitty displayed. She boldly stopped what she was doing to take care of a need that she saw in her community. She called a complete stranger to return a dog to its owner. And, once she realized she had snatched this “lost” dog from its very own home, she still boldly marched up to that house and ADMITTED what she had done.
As we celebrate our two-year blogiversary (is this really a thing, we wonder?), we have been praying some BOLD PRAYERS over this little business/ministry that the Lord has unfolded for us. We’re learning a lot about accounting, graphic design, logos, links, trademarks, inventory and event planning. Our backgrounds in psychology and education didn’t necessarily prepare us for this new territory, yet the Lord has provided the foundation of skills we need, the strength to lean on Him, and the openness to seek from others what is needed to fill in the gaps.
We’ve been stretched out of our comfort zones in many ways, over and over again, since starting our blog 2 years ago. Last weekend I had the opportunity to be the speaker at a women’s retreat – to share not once, but three times. I leaned heavily on prayers of strength from my support team to get me through my public-speaking jitters. (Those retreat ladies were beyond gracious to me!)
One of the illustrations I shared with the group was about how I incorporate the Bible QuiltTMinto my Bible study and devotions. I wanted to give them a visual about how I’ve rediscovered my strength and closeness with the Lord using this devotional technique, so I stood in the center of a hula hoop.
I shared that when I’m in this familiar sphere of comfort with the Lord, I get grounded in the Word and feel more secure. After I’ve refueled in my “circle” of Quiet Time, then I feel more confident to pick up my “hula hoop” of faith and share with others.
I wiggled my way through a little demonstration of hula hooping, which brought smiles and laughter to the group. Then I let the hula hoop fall to the ground and stepped out of it.
The hula hoop, although still colorful and sparkly, did not have the same impact when it just laid on the floor. It wasn’t being used to its full potential of joy. I encouraged the ladies to think about our Quiet Time with the Lord in the same way.
If we get ourselves all filled up on God’s promises and strength but do not share our faith with others, we are not engaging the full potential of joy we have in Him. I challenged them to consider ways they could step out of their comfort zones — to pick up their hula hoops — and invite others to share their joy in Christ.
A couple days after the retreat, I received a text from one of the women. She said, “I’m working on my ‘hula hoop space’ to hear God and how to work more on my Bible Quilt.” I dearly appreciated her response and thought I might share this idea with our readers, too.
In the past 10 days of actually owning a hula hoop again and inviting others to play with it, I’ve noticed that it brings a smile to each face: the one trying to hula hoop AND everyone watching. Hula hooping involves some vulnerability — throwing your hands up and surrendering to what happens, reminding ourselves it’s okay to feel a little awkward sometimes. When we let our guard down, we connect a little more…we let others see us being a little silly and perhaps more approachable in a playful posture. To stretch this analogy a little fuller, maybe we need a reminder that we are children of God. He delights in us.
“For the Lord delights in His people…” Psalm 149:4
As we offer up “hula hoop prayers” to be bold and step out of our comfort zones to share our faith or to make a closer connection with someone, we’re more able to join together in community, capitalizing on our full potential the Lord has designed for each of us uniquely.
How can YOU be bold today?
Who might YOU invite to share in the joy of your hula hoop?
With the shift of seasons comes the inevitable wrestling with our fall wardrobes: what fits? what doesn’t? We cull out items that have lost their elastic or faded. We try to figure out if our favorite sweater is a “classic” or just plain old and out-of-date. Anybody else feel like they need to “phone a friend” just to get a more objective view of their clothing mess?
Cleaning out closets is not for the faint of heart. It requires firm decision-making and perseverance. Although we always feel better once we’ve conquered it, the process can be painful.
Each new season reminds us that we’ve changed. Sometimes our physical alteration is readily apparent while other times it’s subtle.
– – – From season to season, we shift. We settle. – – –
Many times we make it too hard. Our closets are filled with too many choices. We’re overwhelmed by all the micro-decisions we have to make about what goes together or we struggle to predict what’s the “right” dress code for a certain event.
What if we put just as much effort on our inner beauty, dressing from the INSIDE OUT?
We’ve probably all heard reference to the Proverbs 31 woman, an ideal multi-tasker and graciously competent in so many ways.“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
In the aftermath of my closet cleanout, I did a little more digging in the Word to pull out some inspiration for this Fall season:
“clothe yourself with humility.” I Peter 1:5
To me, this is simply keeping it real.
…being genuine in our daily interactions, ponytail and all.
“clothe yourself with strength” Isaiah 52:1
Whatever workouts we’re doing to keep ourselves in healthy physical shape spills over into our emotional and spiritual health, too. Just as we strengthen our core by doing certain ab exercises, we strengthen our inner core through prayer and scripture reading, getting stronger with more and more reps.
“clothe yourself with compassion” Colossians 3:12
I love this one because it is for ALL seasons and looks good on everyone!
Compassion pairs nicely with everything and is suitable for all occasions. It can become as comfy as your favorite pair of jeans.
“clothe yourself with splendor” Psalm 45:3
Ok, so I played around a bit in my wedding dress this summer when one of my bridesmaids was in town.
In honor of our 25th anniversary, I thought it was time to pull my wedding gown out of the box and see if it still fit.
The memories rolled out amidst all the satin and beading….whoosh!
Slipping into this 25-year-old dress made me feel specialeven though I was still in my closet with ordinary, low-key makeup and messy out-of-the-pool hair.
I wonder if this is how God views us – IN SPLENDOR– while we tend to focus on our faults? Imagine if we could feel that splendor bubbling up from within us each day as we leave the house?
This last one is my favorite:
“Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus.” Romans 13:14
No accessories needed. Just Jesus…from the INSIDE OUT.
Be bold as you walk into your day, friends, showing the sweet confidence you have in Christ.
How often do we get annoyed waiting for a download? As technology has advanced, we’ve gotten spoiled and increasingly more impatient with the few seconds this transformation occurs, forgetting that this process used to take minutes. (Not to mention our personal history with “dial-up” connections…we need not remind ourselves how old this makes us sound!)
. . . ___. . . Buffering . . . ___ . . .
Yep, we even have a fancy term for waiting on technology: buffering – -waiting with purpose and a heightened expectation of data coming our way. We’re paused as we wait for data or images to load, so we can proceed with our next electronic interaction. The momentary lapse in electronic connection makes us feel restless.
Software programs have even designed creative ways to give us digital “holding“ cues…a flashing line promising that progress is about to happen or a bright green line racing around a circle offering the illusion of “almost there.”
Last week when I was feeling the pressure of navigating a tight schedule while trying to accommodate the various speeds on which my children operate, it occurred to me how often I act as a buffering agent to those around me.
Like the mysterious data preloading that occurs, our buffering efforts go largely unseen but are constantly at work.
As moms, we’re often filling in the gaps between one family member to the next. We are frequently redirecting children, softening sharp edges of voice tones and harsh facial expressions. We’re constantly monitoring the goings-on in our families, serving as a hub in which each family member dives in for a brief connection then returns to their homework or computer screen.
We help modulate the buzz of activity in our households, buffering between family and houseguests or redirecting young sibling traffic to a neutral zone when teens are hanging out in another.
Even our pets use us as buffers. During yesterday’s thunderstorm, my golden retriever would not leave my side as she panted and anxiously tucked her tail, looking at me imploringly to “STOP MOVING ALREADY!” so she could settle.
As women, we probably have more buffering systems in play than men, so it’s not unusual for me to hear stories about how a friend is intervening between her husband and their realtor; or navigating details between her husband and service workers (and hoping to get the details about the roof leak, the hot water gadget, or the pool pump control panel interpreted correctly).
. . . ___ . . . We buffer between extremes.
We lessen the impact of potential harsh consequences we see coming, but they may not.
. . . ___ . . . We referee between siblings.
We reframe feedback from challenging teachers and revved-up coaches in ways our children can absorb it more constructively.
All this buffering can take a toll on us, leaving us feeling battered and weary. Sometimes on a day when we’ve spent so much energy putting out other people’s fires and not gotten our own agenda accomplished, we’re left feeling unproductive with an empty tank.
This past Sunday when I was feeling off-kilter after a busy week of solo parenting, I managed to stop for a few moments and go offline.
Even though I’ve been trying to practice the art of Sabbath rest, the struggle to downshift is tricky. During waking hours my brain does not seem to have an “off” switch, so this striving to rest is a discipline I have to work at intentionally.
As I’ve recognized the draining pull of this nearly constant buffering, I’m beginning to appreciate the nuances more and realize the hidden impact my unseen efforts have on those around me. Slowly, I’m giving myself permission to “power down” so I can truly recharge and be more effective as a nurturing buffer rather than an automatic boomerang.
Like it or not, mommas, this buffering stuff is part of the gig. I’m grateful God wired us to multi-task and self-regulate so we can stay on track when needed. I’m also thankful for the grace He extends to us and through us, so we can upload a positive influence on our families.
Fall is our friendly buffer between the lingering mugginess of Summer and the harsh chill of Winter.
As we transition into muted days with a crispness in the air, may we slip away for some nature walks to rebuild our inner buffering system. We’ve got this, friends!
What is YOUR recharge going to be this season?
“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” – Charles Swindoll
Did you catch #solareclipse fever this week? It was quite the mesmerizing event around here. While capable of making us feel incredibly small in the scope of this wide world, it also pulled us together to focus on a common goal.
This grandeur was possible through a “just so” alignment of the sun, moon, and our precious Earth. The eclipse was the “sweet spot” of these 3 celestial entities, causing quite a stir amongst us humans scrambling for our NASA sunglasses. For a few weighty moments, we were all unified in one purpose.
We all gazed upward into a vastness that we struggle to comprehend. We stilled ourselves in the midst of our daily routines, sharing in the anticipation of this cosmic event. It didn’t matter that we were wearing silly glasses and straining our necks awkwardly. We were aligned in one shared goal.
How great would it be to continue such true alignment with each other beyond these precious few moments?
I was heartened to see diverse crowds of people file into stadiums, stand shoulder to shoulder, then break into spontaneous applause as they were impacted by the aweof the moment.
Other people crossed state lines and joined strangers in open fields to partake in this unique experience, enduring long lines of traffic on the journey home, yet hopefully still full of the wonder they had just absorbed with a wider community than they are typically a part of…stretching out of their comfort zones.
In a nation that has been besieged by divisiveness and hurtful separation, it was encouraging to watch alliances form among strangers. In a country bombarded with negative headlines, it was refreshing to view positive interactions and meaningful conversations about a shared experience.
– – May our moments of alignment not be as fleeting as a rare solar eclipse. May we hold tightly to that sense of greater community and wholeness,leaning toward one another rather than away.
When we align together for a common purpose, we are more likely to be receptive to others – – to be open to their ideas and opinions. It weaves us closer. Joining together in community pulls us into alignment with one another in ways big and small. It doesn’t happen automatically. We have to put ourselves in position to connect…to stretch a bit out of our comfy zones of familiarity.
Maybe if we intentionally reach out in a small step toward someone out of our usual sphere each day, we won’t have to wait ’til 2024 to come together in unity again?