Love, Kindness, Generosity

tumblr_mf1oy2veT31rph08lo1_500

This morning I can’t help but think about the world and how there’s so much evil in it and so much sorrow.  Yesterday, the unthinkable happened and the lives of 26 families were changed forever.  Twenty precious little souls with eternal significance were robbed of their earthly life…six more adults were taken too and I just can’t fathom it.  Then, my oldest two daughters tell me that a classmate of theirs from Poquoson was killed in a car accident yesterday.  So much sorrow in this world.

And this is  a fallen world.  There is evil in it.  We saw that yesterday.   Every mother I know held her children a little closer and wept for their sisters, the mothers who won’t ever hold their children close again.

It broke my mother’s heart.  And I had to ask the question…why do I get to live but these little ones in Connecticut, Julia and Aubrey’s Poquoson classmate…they don’t?

Of course a question like that has no answer.  Certainly not an answer to assuage my sorrow and even my guilt.  I’ll never stop being grateful that my life was spared.  I’ll never stop being grateful that Nora will know me, that Claire will remember me, that my children will have their mother and John will have his wife and that all the people who love me still have a me to love.  I am so grateful and I don’t understand these mysteries…the question can not be answered.

So, I just prayed fervent prayers for the families of all of these ones, prayed that God would redeem it all and that He would bring comfort.  And I just thought…I’m really good at believing that God works all things together for good…but I can’t see any good in the deaths of children.  It’s a mystery I can’t unravel.  I know He is good.  I know He redeems.  But I know that children dying is just horrific and that those mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and friends will always feel that loss.  I prayed more and more for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding to fall on them…because His peace is steadfast and it doesn’t always make sense but He will give it.  Let your peace fall, God.  Let the Comforter come…nothing will make this okay, but God will stand with those who are hurting.

Is our world just so evil, God, that there is no hope?  Watch the news for five minutes…all you see is death, destruction, horror.  Human trafficking, slavery, murder, thievery, abuse of all kinds…It’s disheartening and discouraging and you wonder if there is any good left in the world at all.

But I know that there is.  This morning, my two little girls came downstairs to heaps of gifts under our two Christmas trees.  Lila said, “Where did all of this come from?”  and I told her that people had heard our story and they were sad that Mommy was in the hospital so long and that Nora is still in the hospital and that those people wanted to bless our family.  I reminded her of the fundraiser that’s happening this morning, where my loved ones and friends and people I don’t even know are gathering to raise money for our hospital bills.

photo

She went back to studying the presents but my mind went back to remembering all the kindnesses that have been shown to us not just since I went into the hospital but since the summer when I first went on bed rest.

  • Meal after meal that have been made with love and delivered to us from June until yesterday and more to come
  • Cards, notes, texts, facebook messages and emails offering love and prayers and encouragement
  • People have come and raked our leaves and cleaned up our yard
  • People have come and cleaned our house
  • People have come and cared for my little kids
  • Gifts sent over from generous hearts and hands
  • Gas cards and gift cards given from people we know and people we don’t
  • Tiny baby clothes purchased and given for sweet Nora
  • Prayer meetings held on our behalf
  • Money contributed for medical bills
  • Groceries bought and delivered
  • Prayers, prayers and more prayers

We’ve been amazed by the kindness not only of our friends and family, but also of those we don’t even know that have heard our story and reached out to us.

I am thinking too of the nurses at Norfolk Sentara who have consistently showed me so much love and kindness.  The ones who took care of me during my two long stays.  The ones who care for my Nora even now.  The ones who remember us from visit to visit, who are rooting for us, who are praying for us.  The nurse who put a bow in Nora’s hair just because I was coming to visit.  They are Good.  They are Loving.  They give with Generosity.

IMG_0027

And maybe our world does have more Evil in it than Good but, Beloved Ones, I think we can change that.  We can be the ones who show love and generosity and kindness.  We can share Jesus by being like Jesus.

It’s been so humbling to be at the center of his favor, to be experiencing such an outpouring of Love, Kindness and Generosity.  Our cups are so full they are overflowing and we are swimming in blessings and favor.  All of this outpouring has allowed us to be more generous to the orphanage, has freed us to be able to focus on my recovery and on Nora’s nicu stay and on the rest of our family.  We’ve been given such a gift- to see the body of Christ come together and to see the floodgates of heaven opened wide and poured out on us…I am awestruck.

The body of Christ is beautiful.  The church is beautiful.

Can we become a people who bring light into darkness?  Can we offer Love, Kindness and Generosity even when it’s hard?  Even when we don’t have much to give?  When we are so empty that the smallest kindness offered seems like an insurmountable effort?  We can.  We can because when we do, it multiplies.  When you share Love, your heart grows and is filled.  When you share Kindness, Kindness returns to you.  When you share Generously…the Lord returns and returns it more and more.  That’s the way God designed it.  When we live like Jesus, Love and Kindness and Generosity multiply.

And don’t you want to be part of that?  Don’t you want to bring His Light to this dark, dark world?  I do.  I want to be the sort of person who Loves Big and lives a life of kindness and generosity.  I want to bless.  I want to pay it forward, because how could  I not?  We’ve seen the Love of Christ in the community that has surrounded us.

This morning, I still mourn for those families who’ve lost loved ones.   This morning, I still pray fervently for God’s mercy and comfort and peace.  This morning, I know there is nothing to say or do to help ease that pain.  Nothing.  But there is plenty to do to bring Light and Love into this world and I promise God and everyone else that I will LOVE big, I will practice KINDNESS, I will give GENEROUSLY.

 

Important Things

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s really important in life and what I’m really living for.

Lots of things are important, lots of things are urgent…we must work, take care of the house, care for the children, get dinner cooked, finish the laundry, drive this one here and that one there.  We must walk the dog, pick up kids from preschool, clean the bathroom, do the homework, get to the doctor’s appointments, pick up the groceries.  At the end of the day, we fall into bed exhausted and I wonder sometimes aloud–

Did I do what was important today?  Did I do what I enjoy doing today?

Because doing what I want to do, what is enjoyable, is a whole other thing.  We want to watch a movie, check Facebook, play Draw Something or Words With Friends, we want to nap, eat Reese’s cups, visit with friends, linger over one more cup of coffee.  We want to paint our nails or color our hair or read a magazine.  We want to sit in the sun with eyes closed.  There are so many things we want to do that don’t necessarily fit in with the urgent.

The days fly by and all I’m doing is rushing around and trying to Get Through The Day.  

And I want more than that.  I want more than just getting through the day.

I say to John all the time, “It’s another marathon week.” because we have one jillion things planned, scheduled and that urgently needed to be attended to.

But what really matters most?

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know that my inner me is under major reconstruction.  God is really weeding some crap out of my heart and making me better.

This has been a painful and glorious process.

Since Paw has gone on to the Lord, my heart and my prayers have been fixed on the heritage she’s passed down to us.  The heritage of faith and family.  On Easter Sunday, my heart almost broke with love for my family, not just my immediate family but aunts, uncles, cousins.  I saw unique beauty in each one, I saw Paw in us all.  Memories and moments and quirks and strengths and weaknesses of  60 odd people coming together in the most beautiful tapestry that Paw began with her own two hands years and years ago.  This is Important.  This is Vital.  This family is full of love and life and laughter.  This family is a good, good gift.  And what better way to honor our Paw than to keep it close.  Deep inside, I hear a cry, “Do not take this good gift for granted.”

Here is the children singing their hearts out to the Lord in honor of Paw on Easter.

All the kids in attendance!

We watched “the Passion of the Christ” on Sunday and I keep seeing Jesus, beaten and bloodied and just made of love and mercy.  I want to burn the images into my eyes and on my heart and I don’t want to forget how I feel right now.  Because seeing that…remembering Him in that way…it makes all the worries that I worry over, all the stressors that I stress over, all the strivings that I strive for…it makes those things seem almost ridiculous.  And while I’m not saying that I should just stop washing the dishes and doing the laundry and only ever read the Bible and I’m not saying that I should never laugh at “Raising Hope” again…I am saying that all the things that make me crazy (or crazier) throughout the day are just almost nothing.

I’m saying that I must examine my life and get rid of the things that hinder love.

And that’s a tall order and it carries enormous implications.

But when I think of Jesus on the cross…when I think of Paw and her faithful, love filled life…I know it’s the next step.  He died for my sins and my pain.  He died for love.  And He didn’t just take too many Ambien and go to sleep…He suffered and struggled and was separated from His Father and descended into hell.  He was beaten and bloodied and bruised.  And my face was in His heart as He did this.  So was yours.

So…all this rushing around…all this stressing and worrying and panicking…all of this must go.

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”   Ephesians 5:1-2

Real Love

Scratching the Surface of How To Love Well

God has given me five answers on how to love well and I want to share them with you.

1. Honor

The importance of honor was made real to me over the summer when we went to the Wave Leadership conference in Virginia Beach. I have since listened to Kevin Gerald’s podcasts on honor.  My heart was stirred and even torn a little as I thought about the ways I honor and dishonor.
You can click here to hear for yourself. Kevin Gerald

2. Forgiveness

I have learned a lot about forgiveness as I’ve moved through the stages of grief in the wake of my divorce. I’ve learned that forgiveness is more about the one who’s been wronged than the one who has hurt us. Forgiveness is key to letting go of bitterness and living life whole and full.

3. Selflessness

This one is big. We must put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the epitome of honor and love. When we serve the ones He loves, we are serving Him.

4. Thankfulness
Have I mentioned “1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and the joy dare? I’ll mention it again…just in case. This book and this dare have changed my inner voice. They’ve changed my heart, my mind and my spirit. I have gained so much from reading this book and learning to live thankful…God has used these tools mightily.

5. Believing God
Oh, my friends and readers, this is The One. We have to believe Him when He says who He is, what He can do, how He loves us and what His plans are. He is believable…and it is key.

So, I’m mulling over these five things. There is so much there that I am almost overwhelmed. I think I could write 365 blog posts about each piece of the puzzle.