Share the burdens by loving

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Everglades sunset

On this twenty-first day of November, I have noticed many “what I’m thankful for” posts and memes on social media. Since November is the month of Thanksgiving, we are reminded of all the things that we sometimes take for granted. It’s encouraging and uplifting to see so many people thoughtfully posting their thanks throughout the month of November.

We are a blessed nation, even in the midst of some of our current circumstances. However, I want to encourage all of you, my friends, that as we express our gratefulness we would be mindful that this is a difficult season for many. As the holidays approach, there are those without family, those who are estranged from their families and those who aren’t feeling too particularly thankful at this time in their life. They’ve lost loved ones, find themselves immersed in financial difficulty, they may be going through a separation or divorce, going through debilitating illness or watching someone they love fade away. You may know someone that just doesn’t have anyone else. This is life, and we see this year-round, but holidays can make these situations particularly painful.

I pray that we make it our business to search out, to find out who these people are in our neighborhoods. My hope is that as part of the demonstration of our thankfulness, we would reach out and somehow provide that feeling of home and comfort to the aged, the lonely and the downcast.

Many of us will bake and decorate, and our homes will smell of cinnamon and spices; we will surround ourselves with family and friends and feel that “thankful” spirit for our fellowship. Let’s spread it around; let’s be mindful of those less fortunate.
We can do this by our prayers and by giving, but it’s also in the simple knock on the door of a shut-in or a hot apple pie delivered to someone who might not be able to see well enough to do all the baking they once enjoyed.

Please feel free to share what your plans are to give back or things that you and your family have done in years past to share the love. If we all just reach one, there would be hundreds of smiles that might not be possible otherwise.

Love, Prayers and Happy November!

The Who trumps the What

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What do you want to be when you grow up?  I want to be a policeman, a fireman, a dancer, an astronaut.  You might hear any of these if you ask a child this question.  Today as I sit here and contemplate on the aforementioned subject, I am reminded that WHO you are is so much more important than WHAT you do.

I firmly believe that everyone has a god-purposed calling and are bent towards it at a very young age.  Our role as adults and mentors is to help children discover it, encourage it and feed it well and watch it grow.  There is something we are all instinctively good at and naturally have a passion to do.

However, I propose that who we are while we are doing it is what will glean the greater good.  I can be the best in the world at whatever I do, but if I can’t influence a life for good, what is it really worth?  Yes, there are some cases in which you could be a jerk and what you have done would still bring good to the world around you.  You could discover a cure for a disease, for instance, and that would bring good, regardless of your personal impact on society.  As a rule though, the who far outshines the what!

Who we are determines how others are impacted.  Do we exude kindness, generosity and love as we encounter others?  How we treat people has such a lasting effect, for good or bad.  There is a quote attributed to Maya Angelou that says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

Who am I today as I carry on with my work and life, as a mom, wife and friend?  That is what will be remembered and leave a potential life-long impression.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door

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The writing prompt at The Daily Post, said, “This week, we’re asking you to consider things from a different point of view — to walk a mile in someone’s shoes.”  If I understood correctly, we are to write from the perspective of someone else.  Here’s my attempt:

“Honk, honk, honnnnnnnkkkk”.  The young man slowed as he came alongside and looked at me angrily and mouthed what appeared to be obscenities.  He continued pressing his horn as he sped by me, my hands gripping the steering wheel securely at the 10 and 2, just like my dad taught me.  Maybe I was going too slow, but better safe than sorry.  The honking incident hadn’t done much in settling my nerves today.

Moments later, my blinker flashing, I carefully turned into the grocery store and found a spot up close.  That walk isn’t as easy as it used to be and although I’m not ready for a handicapped space yet, the closer the better.  Before I opened the door, I plundered in my pocketbook for an elusive tube of lipstick.  I feel like I need some color, but I’m careful in my application.  I don’t want to look like those old women who miss their lips and color outside of them.

Getting out of the car, I glance down at my Dr. Scholl’s walking shoes and have to remember to be thankful I can still walk instead of wishing I could still sport high heels without pain or injury.

Entering the store, I walk toward the long line of carts and immediately sense the impatience of the sharply dressed young lady behind me.  She is obviously in a huge rush, so I hurry to get out of the way and feel grateful when the cart comes apart from the others easily and all the wheels work.

As others pile into the store, I again feel the pressure to move out of the way, to get through the front door and move to the side.  Tears well up, as I realize I’m considered an obstacle or a bother once again.  I long for my love, my soul mate to be here with me, by my side.  His hand would always guide me and his presence gave me comfort.

In the aisle for baking goods, as I struggled to read the ingredients on a jar, another woman, this one large and more interested in talking on her cell phone, than paying attention, almost knocks me over.  I overhear something about “the old fool” to her friend on the phone.  I am older now, but I still have feelings and ears.  What happened to respecting the elderly?

I look at the cases of water, and would love to get some, but I’m not sure I can grip and lift, and then I would have to also get it into the car, and then into the house.  The cart is heavy even without the water, but I manage to get the few items I came for and make it to the check out.

The young man operating the register asks, “paper or plastic?” in a frustrated tone, like perhaps he’d already asked me before, so I answer him and begin to arrange my items on the belt.

Behind me, I notice a beautiful young woman, maybe barely in her twenties, wearing a big smile.  She says, “Ma’m, could you use some help?” I looked at her with damp eyes, her kindness griping my heart.  Before I could answer, she was at my side, unloading my groceries.

Her only purchase was a gallon of milk, so she quickly caught up with me before I made it to my car.  She insisted on helping me put the groceries in my car, told me to have a nice day and carefully closed my door, when I got in.  With that big smile and a little wave, she was gone.

This young lady had no way of knowing it, but this was my first shopping trip ever without my husband by my side.  He passed away just last month and after all the affairs were settled and the family all back to their homes, I found myself alone, with empty cupboards.

My emotional state was fragile and this girl showed me attention, respect and kindness, asking for nothing in return.  I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and into a genuine smile for the first time in a long time.

Beneath the surface

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Today as I looked out over the black, murky waters in the swamp at Jean Lafitte National Preserve, I thought about how you have no idea what is under the surface.  In the picture above, the gator popped up and started swimming toward us.  One minute the water was calm and the next, he surfaced and caused a wake, the black water rippling out around him as he swam right toward us.

My husband and I are both Florida natives and are no strangers to alligators and their habits.  We aren’t afraid of them as some people are, but we respect them.  However, as my husband knows, I’ve never been a fan of swimming in the swamp like a lot of people do on occasion.  This is definitely because I am not privy to what is below the surface.  In my most likely, overactive imagination, I envision not only gators, but snakes; and not just a snake, but nests of them and all manner of slimy creeping things and flesh eating parasites.  This is in all probability not the case, but until I know that for a fact, my body will stay above, thank you very much!

The water makes me think of people and personalities and how unless we know them extremely well (and sometimes even when we do), we don’t always know what is beneath the surface.   We don’t know of the private struggles, the personal failures, the pain kept inside.

We are only able to observe and glean from that which surfaces.    It’s only then that we see the emotion, thoughts and actions they allow to break through the outer wall and be felt and heard and viewed.  For many people, more walls go up with every infraction felt against them, so what we see may be very carefully wrapped up and concealed.

Knowing this, I often wonder why we aren’t all more patient with people.  We generally judge from first glance, make our minds up after a first encounter.  Have we even unveiled the first layer at this point?   I know I am thankful for the friends and loved ones in my life who took the time to search me out, to find the gems and ignore the ugliness.  It reminds me of how our heavenly Father takes the time to search our hearts; He doesn’t look on the outside, but at our heart.  Of course, we don’t have the privilege to look there with omnipotent, all-seeing eyes, but we can take the time to at least search it out to the best of our limited human ability.

I know I’ve touched on this before here, but it bears repeating.  Why don’t we try to take more time with people, to show love and kindness, offer consolation and prayer and who knows, we might unwrap something of vast beauty!

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