What SHOULD I Say or Do for My Grieving Friends or Family?

I have learned so much since that day when Dominic left us suddenly for Heaven.

Some of the things I know now are things I wish I didn’t know at all.

Many serve me well-not only in how I respond to my own pain and loss-but also how I respond to the pain and loss in the lives of those I love.

Read the rest here: So What SHOULD I Say or Do For My Grieving Friends or Family?

The Power of Servanthood

Some people are natural servants.

Not the kind in Downtown Abbey but the kind who see something that needs doing and just do it.

They open doors, return shopping carts, wash dishes, pick up trash and bend down or stretch high to help children or senior citizens reach what otherwise would be unreachable.

Some of us aren’t naturals but we can learn.

Because when we open our eyes to those around us and choose to be helpful we make a change to our hearts and theirs. We build bridges of grace and kindness that help to connect individuals and communities.

When a person feels seen, heard and cared for, they are much more likely to drop the drawbridge to their heart.

It’s no good saying, “Well, he didn’t ask for help” or “She didn’t let me know she was struggling”.

If we are paying as much attention to our friends and family as we are to social media memes and funny TikTok videos, we can’t miss the signs of desperation and hopelessness.

If we take time to ask important questions there’s no way we won’t hear sadness or loneliness in the reply.

So let’s stop acting like doing good is something only a few select individuals can or should do. It’s a myth that bringing meals and checking in on those who are no longer able to make it to our fellowships or church services or bingo halls is a special skill.

Compassion isn’t a calling or a gift or a virtue.

Compassion is something we choose to practice.

And for those of us who call Christ “Lord” it is a command.

Holy Week 2022: Maundy Thursday

Today is the day on the church calendar when we pause and reflect on the Last Supper, and the last words of Jesus to His disciples.

A year’s worth of sermons is contained in John 13-17 but this week I have been drawn to just one verse:

[Jesus said] ‘Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.’

John 13:34 PHILLIPS

Read the rest here:  Maundy Thursday

Lenten Reflections: Proximity Does Not Equal Intimacy

Hey friend-I’ve been there.

Many of us who’ve spent decades in church can attest to filling a position because it answered a need deep inside of us rather than because of our love for Jesus.

It’s entirely possible to be near the things and people of God-even God Himself- and not be attentive to or aware of the Presence of Christ.

There were lots of folks around the cross.

Some were paid to be there-for the Roman guards it was just another day at work. Some were there against their will-the two thieves were going to be crucified somewhere it just happened to be next to the Son of God.

Some wished they weren’t there as they watched their son (Mary) and beloved rabbi (John) die. Some were just walking by and were either curious or not depending on their dispositions.

Today Chole invites me to think about where I am in relation to the cross-am I near but not listening?

Am I “doing” but not “loving”?

Is my body occupying a pew or a pulpit while my spirit is far away?

Paid to be close to Jesus: nearest and yet farthest away. The paycheck can change your perspective whether paid in cash or praise. The soldiers valued Jesus’ stuff more than His life. As they kept themselves busy around the cross, they numbed themselves to His voice.

Today, fast God-as-job. Whether your check comes from a church or not, consider ways in which you, too, may be near in body but absent in spirit, taking care of Jesus’ stuff but now attending to His voice. Proximity does not automate intimacy. Only love transforms “near” into “for”.

Alicia Britt Chole

Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Bitterness, Embracing Servanthood

I’ll be honest-it’s not that often that after three plus decades of in-depth Bible study that I hear or read a unique insight into familiar passages.

But today’s devotion and reflection helped me think of Jesus’ service to His disciples in a new way.

Jesus washed the feet of a betrayer, a denier, and ten deserters….Think of someone who has betrayed you, denied your love, or run away in your time of need. What would it take, what would it mean, for you to wash their feet?

Alicia Britt Chole

Chole’s words made me think back to moments where I’ve made an intentional choice to serve someone who had wounded or disappointed me.

Inevitably, loving action led to loving feelings.

One of the things that has become abundantly evident to me in the years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven is this: carrying unforgiveness and bitterness is simply too hard a task.

If Jesus could (and did!) forgive His betrayer, His disciples for abandoning Him and even those who ultimately crucified Him, then I can (and should!) forgive those who have disappointed, abandoned or somehow been “less than” I needed them to be.

So for today, let’s fast “Armchair Jesus”-the Jesus who is all God and not very human. Jesus felt it all.

He experienced it all.

And He is more than capable and willing to strengthen me to stand up under any temptation, assault of the evil one or tendency of my flesh.

**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**

Maundy Thursday: Loving Service

There are some congregations that still practice “foot washing” in remembrance of Jesus’ humble service to His disciples.

It’s a beautiful tradition but hardly captures the reality of what it was like to wipe dust, dirt and dung from the feet of (probably) sweaty men with unkempt toenails and calloused soles.

Before the cross, before that ultimate defining act of sacrifice and love which required His willing death, Jesus showed us how to LIVE. He could have given a lecture on love and humble service but He didn’t.

He chose the lowliest task to demonstrate that love is DOING something. It’s doing whatever needs to be done for whoever God places in your path.

I’m often guilty of thinking this task or that task is beneath me- hoping someone else will do it and I won’t have to. I need to be reminded often that’s simply not true.

Today is the day on the church calendar when we pause and reflect on the Last Supper, and the last words of Jesus to His disciples.

A year’s worth of sermons is contained in John 13-17 but this week I have been drawn to just one verse:

[Jesus said] “Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.”

John 13:34 PHILLIPS

Read the rest here:  Maundy Thursday

Repost: The Danger of Rushing To Serve After Loss

There are all kinds of doubts that creep in and take up residence in a mind after child loss.

Most of them have to do with the child that ran ahead to heaven.

But many are also about me:  “What should I be doing? Where should I go from here?” 

For those of us active in church ministries, we wonder, “When do I return to service?”

Read the rest here:  The Danger of Rushing to Serve After Loss

Holy Week 2019: Maundy Thursday

Today is the day on the church calendar when we pause and reflect on the Last Supper, and the last words of Jesus to His disciples.

A year’s worth of sermons is contained in John 13-17 but this week I have been drawn to just one verse:

[Jesus said] “Now I am giving you a new command—love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.”

John 13:34 PHILLIPS

Read the rest here:  Maundy Thursday

How Can I See Love?

Fairy tales and favorite movies aside, what does love really look like?

How can I see this feeling that has driven some to distraction, some to destruction and even more to dedication to another in spite of whatever obstacles life has placed in the path?

It’s not often writ large.

In fact, it’s usually tiny stitches in the tapestry of life.

love is not what you say it is what you do pooh

A choice to fix her breakfast before his. * Bending down to plant a kiss on that frowning face. * Lending a tool or a few dollars knowing full well you’ll never see it again. *Refusing to leave when that friend pushes away.Bearing witness to sorrow and joy and pain and celebration. * Holding a hand when a heart is barely able to hold on. *Showing up, without being asked, because presence makes a difference. * Consistency in the face of chaos. * Doing the things that need to be done even when they go unnoticed and the one you do them for is ungrateful. * Letting go when it’s time.  * Turning up the heat for him and taking off your sweater. * Cooking a favorite meal or dessert or stew. * Carefully preserving a legacy. * Folding the towels the way she likes. * Phone calls across continents. * Refusing to give up, ever, no matter how hard it gets. 

winnie the pooh feel love

If I want to see love, all I have to do is look around.  

Love is so much more than flowers or candy on a single day of the year. 

It’s a life lived in service to another. 

It’s a pouring out. 

Real love is costly-in time, in effort, in energy.

And it’s always, always brave. 

ann voskamp love will always cost you grief

 

George, Barbara and Robin: Child Loss, Love and a Lifetime of Service

I’m not a huge fan of the images of Heaven that feature people floating on clouds.  

But I love this one.  

bush reunion

Here’s why:  Because it highlights the lifelong impact of child loss on a parent’s heart.  

You can agree or disagree with his politics or her choice of service projects, but you can’t argue with the evidence of lives lived passionately committed to loving others and doing good in the world.

And I absolutely, positively believe that a huge part of what informed that passion was burying a child.

A heart that has endured such painful loss cannot remain unchanged.  

Brokenness begets bountiful love if you let it.  

And I believe the Bushes did just that.  

I am thankful they are reunited-no more pain, no more suffering, no more waiting for redemption.

So I’ll hang onto this whimsical cartoon as a reminder to my heart that even as I wait, longing for the same, I can choose to live a life of loving service.

As long as I am here, I will reach out

reach down

reach across

to touch the hands and hearts of other hurting humans.  

Thank you,  George and Barbara, for your example.  

Enjoy your reward. 

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