Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

I love the idea of Random Acts of Kindness-it’s a beautiful way to spread love and joy in our broken world.

With a few dollars or a few minutes, I have the opportunity to make someone’s day brighter, their burden lighter and remind them that not everyone is “out to get them”.

BUT-as I’ve written before here:  Relational Acts of Kindness, it’s relatively easy to do my good deed and walk away.

When I bless a stranger, my work is done.

I feel good, they feel good-it’s all good.

I find it much harder to purpose to be kind every day to the people I actually KNOW-the one who may have said cutting things in the past, the one who consistently rubs me the wrong way, the one I feel is lazy or subversive or just holds opinions with which I disagree.

How about the one I thought would show up to help but didn’t?  Or the one who has told tales about me or my family?  The one who lets her children run wild at church? The one who makes others uncomfortable with her dress, or language, or lack of social skill?

Being kind to THAT person is hard.

I want to turn the other way.  I want to make excuses.  I want to pretend that my kindness toward strangers balances my lack of kindness to those with whom I walk daily.

It doesn’t.

I am called to be kind at precisely that place where it is most difficult.  I am called to act in love toward just that person who is most unloveable.  I am called to lay down my life where it looks most likely to be unappreciated.

ephesians-4-31-32

Denying myself is the very method by which Christ builds His kingdom.

Offering my body as a living sacrifice is the pressure He applies to mold my flesh into His likeness

washing-feet-beauty

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen lord it over them and that their great ones have absolute power? But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave—just as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free.”

Matthew 20:27-29 PHILLIPS

 

 

Repost: Life at the Intersection of Desire and Self-Control

Maybe you can relate:  It is easier to do without if what I want isn’t close enough to tempt me. 

I don’t shop if I don’t want to spend.  I don’t get donuts if I don’t want to eat sugar.  I don’t have soda in the house if I don’t want to drink carbonated soft drinks.

It’s much harder to deny my desires when what I long for is within reach.

Read the rest here:  Life at the Intersection of Desire and Self-Control

A Letter To My Living Children*

I never thought it possible to love you more than I already did.

But I do.

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Your brother’s untimely departure has opened my heart in a whole new way to the glory that is your presence.  It has made me drink you in like water in the desert.

No more do I take even a moment for granted.  Never again will I be “too busy” to listen to you, to hug you, to greet you on the porch when you decide to make your way back home.

I promised you when that deputy came to the door we would survive.

And we have.

 

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I promised you that I would never raise Dominic onto a hallowed pedestal that obliterated his orneriness and only kept track of his laudable qualities.

I pray I have lived up to the promise.

We are changed-every one of us.

I am so very proud of you for continuing to live.  It would have been easy to give up.  It would have been easy to “live for the moment” and give in to hedonism.

You haven’t done that.

You have had to carry more weight than you should.  I am so very anxious to see how you take this awful  pain and weave it into your own stories-how this dark thread helps define who you become and how you choose to impact your world.

You have lent me your strength when mine was waning.

You have checked on me and loved me and borne patiently with me and with one another when it would have been easier to walk away and try to create a life outside this place of brokenness and vulnerability.

I am always cautious when ascribing feelings and words to our departed Dominic-it’s easy to make him say or feel whatever is most convenient since he’s not here to dispute it.  But I am certain of this:  while he would never, ever have wanted us to bear this awful burden, he would be so, so proud of the way we have supported one another in doing so.

Like always, our family has closed ranks and lifted together the weight that would have crushed us individually.

It’s who we are.

It’s who we have always been.

desimones uab family

 

*I am absolutely convinced that Dominic is very much ALIVE today in the presence of Jesus.  But for now, I’m denied his daily companionship.

 

 

Eye On The Prize

“To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.” [emphasis added]

~ I Corinthians 9:25 TLB

I remember one particularly grueling semester in college.  I had foolishly stacked five upper level political science classes on top of one another thinking that taking them together would be easier.

That was a dumb idea.

The end of semester assignments included 200 pages of written term papers along with essay tests and other random bits.  For two weeks I fell asleep on my bedroom floor, pen in hand, legal pad underneath my head and surrounded by dozens of open books I used for reference.

After composing the papers, I had to type them, add footnotes and bibliography and deliver them. All back before computers and word processing programs made it easy and electronic!

Oh, how I wanted to give up and give in!  I was certain that I was not going to make it.  I just knew that my body or mind or both would give out before I completed the task.

But they didn’t and I did manage to make it through.

I was willing to put forth the effort and pay the price for a letter grade!

No one cares what I made on those essays.  No one asks me about my college classes or grades.  At 53 I can’t even remember what I wrote about.

Now I face a much more challenging task:  Living without the companionship of one of my precious children.  The “grade” I make on this effort has eternal impact.  

This is the Valley of Weeping, yet Christ promises it will become a place of refreshing.

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!”

Psalm 84:6 TLB

I can’t see an end for this grueling work.  There’s no “semester break” circled on my calendar.

But there will be an end to this toil and pain-just as surely as there was an end those many years ago.

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.” [emphasis added]

~Hebrews 12: 1-2 GNT

And the reward for faithfully completing this assignment is so much more valuable than a good grade.

“Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ.”  [emphasis added]

~Philippians 3:12-16 PHILLIPS

This reward is eternal-a never-ending supply of God’s grace and love and joy that will overwhelm the toil and pain I’ve endured.

Reunion.

Redemption.

Restoration.

gods stor doesnt end in ashes

So while I wait, I encourage my heart with these truths:

“Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is worth much more than anything else. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can know Christ better.” [emphasis added]

~Philippians 3:8 NIRV

“We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. 11 For while we live, we are constantly handed over to death on account of Jesus so that His life may be revealed even in our mortal bodies of flesh.” [emphasis added]

~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-11 VOICE

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Jesus

~Matthew 28:20b NKJV

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No Remedy

Our family has a reputation:  If it’s broke, sick or something just plain hard to docall us.

We are not miracle workers but we are hard workers.  We can’t fix everything, but we will try to do something.  

But there’s one thing we can’t fix.

One thing none of our skills can shape into a victory in the shadow of defeat.  One thing that will not give in to elbow grease or commitment to persevere.

We can’t fix Dominic’s being gone.  

We can’t make it better.

We can’t undo the deep hole his absence has carved in our hearts and our lives.  

And that is very, very hard to live with.  

 

cant-fix-it-my-family-is-always-achingly-incomplete

Of Leaking Buckets and Grief

I first wrote about this a few months back when I was pondering the FACT that no matter how wonderful the moment, how beautiful the gift, how marvelous the fellowship of family or friends, I am simply unable to feel the same overflowing abundant joy I once experienced.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about the great heroes of Scripture and studying their stories in detail.

I may be wrong, but I haven’t found one whose life did not contain pain.

It appears that sorrow and suffering in this world is one of the chief tools God uses to help the hearts of His people long for the world for which we are made-the eternal city whose Builder is God:

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the summons to go out to a place which he would eventually possess, and he set out in complete ignorance of his destination. It was faith that kept him journeying like a foreigner through the land of promise, with no more home than the tents which he shared with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs with him of the promise. For Abraham’s eyes were looking forward to that city with solid foundations of which God himself is both architect and builder.

Hebrews 11: 8-10 PHILLIPS

Some point to  lack of abundant joy as proof of a weak faith.

I counter that obedience, in spite of the lack of abundant joy is proof of rock-solid faith.

Walking on in spite of my empty bucket means that I am trusting God to fill it even when I can’t see how.

Here’s the original post:  There’s a Hole in My Bucket

 

On The Edge

Almost three years and here I am-

still on the edge.

On the edge of an anxiety attack.

On the edge of the cliff of deep sorrow and darkness that threatens to swallow every thing bright in my life.

On the edge of giving up and giving in.

On the edge of turning my back on every one and every thing.

On the edge of losing hope.

On the edge of deciding that this fight is really not worth it,

that there is nothing left to give,

that I will absolutely never survive this pain and loss.

Some days I manage to take a few steps back.

I might go a week or more and almost forget the edge is there.

And then one conversation will catapult me forward to the brink again.

Shaking, crying, ragged gasping breaths.

Tears.

So. many. tears.

I thought I had run out of tears.

Sometimes sadness is sanity. Tears are the reasonable response. Quickness to shush, shame, or fix them, can reveal a resistance to wisdom.

~Zack Eswine

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Choosing to See Wounded Hearts

I can see her all the way down the aisle-even if she doesn’t say a word,  I know.

I know.

widow

She‘s carrying a burden wrapped in love and buried deep inside.  Someone she poured life into is no longer here.  The missing and the daily sorrow is etched on her face even as she smiles.

What to do?  What to do?  

Making a decision without her better half to help her is overwhelming.  She wants to cry but holds back the tears because, “What would people think?”

So I go up to her and tell her what I think:  “Would you like some help?”

That opens the floodgates.

“I’m looking for hairbands-something to match my white hair.  I have so little left-losing it because of stress, you know. “

Silence while I help her look.

“My husband passed three months ago.  We were married 60 years.  I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

I tell her about Dominic-brief version-so she knows that I understand.

“He’s not suffering anymore and I guess I should be better.  But I just miss him!”

I take her hand and look into her beautiful eyes-eyes that are full of love and compassion and sorrow-and tell her that she will miss him as long as she lives.  That’s how we’re made.

Great love means great grief.  A shared lifetime can’t be severed by death.  We carry that sorrow because our hearts still carry the love.

ann voskamp love will always cost you grief

And I tell her that no one has the right to rush her along. Her wounded heart is a witness to love.  It’s a tribute to her husband and the life they shared.  It’s testimony to the power of God in her that she can bear the wound and still remain.

We prayed, and hugged and both went away refreshed.

Walking wounded has made me much more aware that God places people in my path who are wounded too.  

I want to be the person that stops, no matter what.  I want to be who God created me in Christ Jesus to be.  I want to walk in the good works He has laid out for me ahead of time.

It’s a way of redeeming this sorrow and weaving something beautiful from  my tears.

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would do good works. God had planned in advance those good works for us. He had planned for us to live our lives doing them.

Ephesians 2:10 ICV

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