Thursday, 20 October 2016

Prickly or Plush

As I was reading (finally!) the chapter for this week from Karen Ehman's newest book "Listen, Love, Repeat", I was reminded of a sweet elderly lady we met a few years ago.

Karen tells us of this curmudgeonly old neighbor of hers that was, well, pretty mean.  He chased animals.  He yelled at kids.  But she made the conscious effort to find out more.  To try and get to know him.  And after a few months, he waved back.  No smile.  No words.  Just a wave.  And she was victorious.  Later on, she found out that he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's. 

Well, this man reminds me a little of my Ida.  We used to go visit my GGPa every Wednesday morning at the seniors' home in town.  And my kids would play downstairs in their coffee area, where everyone say waiting for lunch.  I don't know how many of you have ever been in a care home for the elderly, but they always have a gathering place, often in a little coffee room.  Some people go down there with their companions, so chat and pass the time.  Some just sit at a table by themselves looking lonely and forlorn.  Ida used to sit just outside, on a loveseat.  Often, she'd be asleep, or just watching everyone else.  GGpa used to wait in the doorway for us.  Others sat on their walkers, or by the fireplace.

It was such a precious time for me as I look back on it.  It gave my precious littles the ability to see people, not disabilities.  They never really seemed to notice the canes, walkers and wheelchairs.  Or grumpiness. 

Both of my kids (I only had 2 littles at the time), LOVED to share with Ida.  Whether they had brought something for their own version of show and tell, or they just wanted to chat, they always chose Ida as their companion.  And Ida HATED it.  She would push them off.  She would tell them she wasn't interested.  She ignored them.  But they kept coming back, week after week.  They would climb up on that loveseat beside her and love.  I always thought that maybe she sat on a loveseat rather than a chair because somewhere deep inside, she wanted someone to sit beside her.

Little by little I began to find out more about her.  She did not have an easy childhood, with war and famine everywhere.  She was originally from Poland and had immigrated here for a better life.  If I remember correctly, she used to be a camp cook.  She was a survivor of many difficulties.  Things we probably won't ever have to go through.  After her husband passed, her children had placed her into a home.  We understand that after she arrived, she had very few visitors.  Personally, after visiting weekly for almost 5 years, I had never heard anyone mention she had visitors.  Not once.

I think I might be a little angry at the world if that happened to me too!

Her children may have given up on her, but my kids sure wouldn't.  And after about 1 year, she began to let them sit there.  This time, without a scowl on her face.  And about a month after that, she would watch the kids and listen to their stories.

One day, when we walked in, she waved.  And smiled.  Ohmygoodness.  I almost cried. 

I remember the day she waved clearly.  I came home that day so proud that we had worn her down.  She was starting to like my kids.  I mean, who wouldn't?  My kids are adorable.  ;)  I came home and told my husband at lunch what had happened.  I was glowing all that day.  Because I had someone smile at me.  If someone doesn't have a smile, give them yours, right?

After that, if GGPa hadn't made it downstairs yet, or if he'd gone back up to his room, she let us know. 

She started to hold the kids hands when they sat and talked to her.   

Karen reminds of us this old saying, "Preach the gospel always.  When necessary, use words."  I hadn't actually heard that particular saying before, but it certainly us beautiful, isn't it?  My kids didn't have "gospel" words.  They were 3 and 1 when we first started going.  They certainly had a lot of words, or noises.  But their actions spoke volumes.  Their love shined through.

And if we had never invested that time?  If we hadn't shown interest and respect?  I can't say that we changed her life, but she sure changed ours.  

We are all a work in progress, learning more about ourselves, and those around us each day.  Could we make it a mission to soften our edges, and maybe invest in others too?  Could we shine the light within us as a beacon to those that are lost, lonely and hurting?

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all we have.  That we have what we do now because of those that came before us.  That went through harrowing times and just kept going.  Thank you for the gift of knowledge and experience in those around us Lord.  I pray that you would open our hearts to them.  That we would be open to seeing past the exterior and discovering the wealth they have to offer Lord.  I ask that on those days where my exterior is prickly, that you would fill me to overflowing with your love, to lighten all those dark places. We pray for the world, that we would make it part of our daily lives to see the people we interact with every day for who they are inside, not their reactions that day.  Help us to be examples of Your unconditional love Lord, to those who need it the most.  In Your name we pray.  Amen.

If you have someone if your life that you are trying to "crack open", I would love to lift them up in prayer.  Leave a comment and I will make sure to include them tonight.

Monday, 17 October 2016


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Okay, so I am a little behind on the launch team posting for Karen Ehman's Listen, Love, Repeat.  Sorry!  We went on vacation and then came home to a broken furnace (I live in central BC, Canada, and its October people!), and I homeschool, so life has been about the basics these last 2 weeks.

I posted about Chapter 6 earlier, and then finally put my baby to bed and sat down to read Chapter 7: The Lonely and Unloved.  Ohmygoodness.  The tears!

She gives us this lovely example of how she has chosen to open her home to all of those around her, and the difference it has made in the lives of others.  She is known as "Mama Karen" to many of her kids' friends.  She tells us of one who even thinks of her house as his. 

I have my own special Mama. Mama Cyr.  She is an amazing woman.  She is so quiet, but so strong.  Her life story is a true testament to living a Christ centered life.  And the most amazing part of the story, to me anyways, is that she has loved me before she even really knew me.  You see, I worked with her, well, let's say in my youth.  Goodness, it's been a long time since I was a youth.  I used to work at a local bar during the night, and with her at a grocery store during the day.  I wasn't really living a Christ filled life.  Kind of the opposite.  And rather than judge me, or scold me, do you know what she did?  She prayed for me.  She prayed that I would find a Godly husband.  That I would find Jesus.  That I would find me. 

She didn't even know me.

And over 10 years later, when I walked in to her church, do you know what she did?  She welcomed me.  She gave me a great big hug.  She continued to love me.

It makes me cry just to think about it.  I don't know where I would be without her prayers.  I certainly didn't have many people praying I would find Jesus at that particular time in my life.  I didn't even know she was praying for me.  Such a little thing that had such a huge impact.

Such a beautiful spirit who saw someone struggling to belong, to find who she truly was.  Someone who knelt down to lift me up.

To those of us lucky enough to have someone that beautiful in our lives, you know the gift that they truly are.  To those who have had that experience, can you think of someone you could reach out to today? 

To those who are waiting, I believe that God is faithful.  He is good.  He has plans for you that are truly beyond your imagination.  I am living, breathing proof of that.  Could I pray for you now?

Heavenly Father, I thank you for all the blessings that you have given me.  Even the ones that I don't know about.  I thank you for the challenges that have brought me to today.  I pray for all the people who are struggling right now.  I pray your peace, wisdom and protection over them.  I pray that they would feel your living arms envelop them, Lord.  That they would know your presence.  Lord, that you would put someone so directly in their path that they could not help but know that it is You, and that you love them.  Right where they are.  No matter what they have done.  They are worthy of love.  They are valuable.  And I pray that you would give us a heart to see those hurting around us Lord, and to help us to know what to do to ease the burden.  In Your powerful name I pray.  Amen.

Invest in Yourself by Investing in Others

I have been reading Karen Ehman's new book "Listen, Love, Repeat" these last few weeks, and it has inspired me to try and return to investing in others again.

Life can become so consuming with daily tasks, the mundane things that we have to do: school, laundry, house cleaning, cooking.  Those things that you kind of do on auto-pilot, not always with a lot of joy.  I forgot how much fun it was to really plan to think about others.

I know that some days it can be stressful to fit one more thing into your day.  And I'm not trying to encourage you to add more stress in to your day.  No one needs more stress!

I'm talking about stopping to pray for a friend whose at a really tough juncture in her marriage.  Or who has suffered a loss recently.  Or is up for a new job or a promotion.

I'm asking you to consider stretching your dinner a little farther and inviting someone else to join you.  Your house doesn't have to be perfect.  Your food doesn't need to be gourmet.  You'd be surprised how mac and cheese can brighten someone's day.

I'm suggesting "love bombing" someone's door.  You don't even have to stop and talk.  I've had other people drop off gift packages if I know they are going to that end of town.  I always have a few (too many) gift items in my closet that can be used to cheer someone up.  I have books, candles, cozy socks and other items that can be given whenever I feel God asking me to say yes.  Because you never know.  That "yes" could be the answer to someone else's prayer.

If you have some time, you could always make up a meal to deliver to someone struggling with life right now.  Or taking them a cup of coffee.  Or folding their laundry.  Or just being there.  If you're like me and you feel awkward, know that often just being there is all that you need to do.  Or, if you're like, me, you can nicky nicky nine door them with a package and run.  ;) 

Life doesn't need us to be perfect.  It needs us to be willing to put aside what we're doing to concentrate on someone else for a while.  To let someone know that they are thought of and loved.

And who doesn't need a little of that in their day?

It may seem like a lot to add one more thing to your day.  But I promise you, it can become addicting.  And no matter what kind of day you are experiencing, it can always be made better by focussing on the need around you.

If you have a prayer request, I would be honored if you would leave it in the comments.  I would love to lift you up in prayer.

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