Broken for Good

To trust God in the light is nothing,

but to trust Him in the dark –

that is faith.

Charles Spurgeon

I intervene for those who are hurting.

Those who are surrounded by a darkness
only they are able to see.
A darkness that calls out their name
and then leaves laughing as they come.
Leaves them in despair,
mocking them for believing the truth
that can save them.

I intervene for their well-being.
Their light.
Their life.
And then I see them.
I hear them.
They are the Promises.
Promises of truth when life gets messy
and we get dirty.
Promises made to a broken and hurting world.

I see a vessel.
Shaped much like myself
and cracked.
Like me.
A vessel that must be broken
in order to be used.
To be useful.
Without the brokenness,
the light can’t get in
and the light cannot get out.
Without the brokenness
there is no story
for there is nothing to tell.
Without the brokenness
there is nothing to share.
There is no understanding.
There is no comfort
in tears shared together.
Darkness permeates the vessel,
where storms rage
and the enemy attacks.

Hope seems lost.
But remember –
oh how we must not forget –
the vessel is broken.
and light does get through the cracks.
It comes in
before it goes back out.
It fills the inside
with warmth
and power.
The glory of His light spills out.
The shadows flee.
Hope triumphs.
A prisoner is set free.

What Jesus Knew and Peter Forgot

The Son is Always There
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

He tells them to get into the boat. He tells them to go on ahead. Go to the other side and He will would dismiss the crowd.
He knows what he was doing.

The crowd, little by little disperses. Some continue to hang around and chat. Ponder collectively over what they had just heard. The words that had just tickled their ears. Spoke to their heart. Changed their lives.

While some remain, pondering His words, He hikes up the side of the mountain. Alone. To pray.

The air begins to cool. The sun begins to set. And there He is. Sitting, kneeling on that mountainside, alone, praying to his Father.

In the meantime, the boat, now a good distance away from the shore, begins to rock back and forth. Those inside that vessel grow fearful.

Meanwhile, up on the mountainside, He continues to pray. The cool breezes began to blow past Him.

He knows. He is God and, He knows.

He knows who is in that boat which sways more fervently with each sharp gust of wind. It bites at their flesh. The cold water washes over them, drenching their hopes for a safe return. It threatens to fill the hull that holds them in what little refuge they have. It mocks them. Its intent is to sink them. Sink bury their hopes. Their faith. Their trust. Their belief for a better way. If it has its way, it will leave them for dead.

And He knows this.

It is the fourth watch of the night. It is almost sunrise. They have battled through the night with a ship destined for destruction. He has battled all night in prayer. Were His prayers for their faith to increase and their fears to subside?

There are boats by the shore. He could probably get a ride. But instead, He walks. Right onto the water and the waves lap around His ankles.

He. walks.

On. the. water.

How many times do we read stories from the Bible – hear stories from the Bible – that they’ve become commonplace seem to bring nothing into our humdrum lives?

“Oh yes. I’ve read that one – Jesus brought a little girl back to life. Pretty cool.”

Cool? COOL? It’s miraculous! It’s incredible. Incredibly miraculous. And if I think about it for any length of time, at any depth, I realize – it isn’t cool, it’s unfathomable.

And so He walks. And fear rocks each disciple as the waves rock the boat. Then they spot Him. When that fear has clawed its razor sharp talons into the depths of their beings – they see Him. But through fear-tinted glasses they don’t really see Him.

They see a man.

They see a figure.

They see…

“Peter! It’s. a. ghost.!!!”

But He is not a ghost. He is the One who will save them. Now, at this moment. And three years later. And every day after that.

Immediately He calls out. “Guys – it’s okay. Don’t be afraid. It’s me – Jesus.”

Peter gathers his thoughts.

“Lord, if it’s really you then…”

Should he risk it? Should he sound and look foolish should it really be a ghost? Will his request make him look brave so that when he appears foolish in three years on that day of denial, his companions may overlook his shame?

He risks it.

“Lord, if it is you, then tell me to come out there to you on the water.”

Does Peter, at this point in time, have an inkling as to who Jesus really is?

There is no bravery here. There is no foolishness. There is relief. Relief that Help has come. But still the winds toss the boat about. And in the tossing and the rocking and the swaying, Jesus says, “Come.”

At this point, Peter may have wished it was a ghost he had seen for now he had to show by works what his faith meant to him. Could he walk over to Jesus, who had been coming to them but now waited for Peter to come to Him?

I don’t think Peter jumped. I think it was more like he wanted to jump ship as he slowly, cautiously, put one leg over the boat and then the next and then with both hands anchored tightly to the rim on the side the boat, with eyes closed, he lets loose. And… he. is .standing.

I can imagine his suprise. He. really. is. standing!

He probably smiles a sheepish grin to no one in particular and turns around and begins walking toward Jesus. You couldn’t wipe that grin off his face. You couldn’t squelch that pride that coursed through his very being.

His shoulders are broad and he could have moved a mountain. If only the waves at his feet would settle. If only the wind would calm. But, as he looks at the waves and feels their sting against his legs, and looks to the horizon and watches the clouds rush toward him, the faith flees and fear fills him once again and… he begins to sink.

Because that’s what fear does.

It pulls you down and makes you feel like you’re sinking. That the storms in life are pounding down so hard upon you that you will drown and no one can save you.

But Jesus knew. He knew what was going on in that boat while he was in prayer up on that mountain. He knew what they were thinking while he was intervening. He knew their battle with fear while he was battling for souls. And He knew what Peter would do.

“Lord, save me,” Peter cried out as he began to sink.

Jesus knew.

He knew the very second Peter quit looking at Him, is the very second Peter would begin to sink.

Peter didn’t sink immediately, but instead, “when he saw the wind”, we’re told he began sinking and cried out for Jesus to save him. And what did Jesus do?

Immediately He reached out and caught him. Not down, not under the water, but out. It shows Jesus was ready for that moment. Because He knew – before he even sent those boys across the lake, before he spent the entire night in prayer – He knew what was going to happen. Peter didn’t have time to sink because Jesus was in the process of saving him before Peter knew he needed saving. Before he cried out, “Lord, save me,” Jesus was in the process of reaching out before Peter had time to go under.

And Jesus meets Peters fears and faltering faith with tenderness.

With an arm around Peter’s shoulder and steadying his weak knees, Jesus asks, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

What do you say to that?

What could Peter say? What could he do? He said nothing.

The story goes on…

‘When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.’

The wind died. In the mere presence of Jesus, the wind died. Not a word was spoken.

And, as the wind died, the disciples were saved. As the wind died, their faith grew. As the wind died, they began to live. Really live. And in their living, they worshipped Him. Why? Because they realized who they were hanging around with. They knew this Jesus – their Jesus – wasn’t some mystical, magical being that appeared as a ghost upon stormy seas. They knew this was the Son of God. The One that had the power to change hearts and minds. To change lives. To turn fear into faith and worry into worship.

There are a hundred and one things I could list that could cause me to worry. And fear. And many things on my list I have granted permission to cause fear and worry. Health issues. Financial issues. Family issues. Failures. On and on.

But God doesn’t want us to live there. We can’t live there for Jesus showed us that to live in fear is to sink in the storm. And His way is much safer: keep my eyes on Him, reach for His hand, and trust Him.

Above all, trust Him.

Prayer -Just Do It

Pearl’s Red Peony
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

There have been times when I’ve gotten frustrated with all the books on prayer that seem to be available to anyone who is considering deepening their prayer life. It seems such a simple thing – to pray. After all, weren’t we given instructions by Christ personally, on how to pray. Doesn’t it seem obvious then, that all that is left to do is… just pray?

Yes. And, no.

If we are seasoned in the habit of prayer, then yes. We can get down to business and pray. We can come before the throne of God in faith and with confidence and present our requests, worship Him, repent of our sins, give Him thanks for all He has done and does still. We have been there at His feet often. We have learned the importance, the necessity, the need to pray. The key thought here however, is that we have already formed a habit of prayer. A routine of and a dependence on conversations with God. We have become (one might say) addicted to prayer.

However, I have found that just because we may think of ourselves as seasoned in prayer, it seems that it’s quite easy to become, if we haven’t already done so, ‘unseasoned’ in the area of prayer.

Instead of forming a habit or starting a routine or becoming dependent on meeting with our heavenly Father, we’ve somehow, somewhere along the way, allowed ourselves to easily become addicted to other things that take us away from that precious time with the Lord. So perhaps a few of those books on prayer might get a wayward prayer warrior back on track. Perhaps they will inspire and create a newness of spirit toward the act of prayer. Maybe we will become like a Nike runner and just do it… Just pray.

Lord, help me not become distracted so that other things take the place of being with You…

You’ve spoken all the words
time and time again,
voiced everything,
in every way you know how.
How do you utter a word
when it seems you can’t pray?
How do you reach into the darkness,
way down,
deep inside
longing to voice the pain
you find hiding there?
The aches and the wounds
have robbed you of words.
The burden you carry
has left you raw and weak.
Yet, still you kneel at your bedside,
holding your heart in your hands,
vulnerable and exposed
and admitting your weakness
you cry for help.

You need to talk to someone –
Is there anybody –
just one somebody who understands?

Your heart
pierced
you have nothing left to give
as your tears mix with the salt of the ocean
where you stand standing at the water’s edge
contemplating your fate.

Yet somewhere within your weakened spirit
Someone calls you by name
and in the silence of the present
you hear the Voice once more,
and you weep.

In the dark of your desperation
you cry out
expressing the anguish
the heartache you’ve held for so long within.

When words begin to flow
the feeling of loneliness
the ache in your life subsides
as hope you’ve known before now
begins to surface once more
and a healing balm soothes you deep inside.

There is a God who cares
though at times
hard to see,
or to feel,
or to touch,
or to hear.

He waits
longing to meet with you
with me
in the dark places
where we’ve thought
and felt
He’s left us –
without Him.

You hold onto His promise:
He will never leave you –
a promise He gave from His heart

and in the times
when words can’t be found,
His spirit intercedes
and speaks for you.

While He already knows
the depth of your pain
the source of your tears
He also knows
you need to tell Him –
you need to say the words
few though they may be
they will cleanse you inside out
and heal from within

and let Him do
His most holy work
to restore
​to renew
​to refresh
​​your life
as broken
and bruised
and beaten
though it may be

He can
and He will
do it.

For He is

Abba Father.
Daddy.
Our Lord God.

A Crown Fit for A King – A Christmas Story

I entered a Christmas story contest a few weeks ago and submitted two entries. This one won third place and I thought I’d share it – Merry Christmas!

 

A Crown Fit for A King

“Hurry up, Benji!”

Benji pulled the old hay out of the stall as Caleb, his brother, pushed the feed trough to the corner.

“I’m hurryin’!”, Benji retorted.

A lamb bleated in disapproval of having been jostled with Benji’s last bundle of hay. Caleb grabbed the tools and made his way to the barn door. “I’ll go tell father it’s ready.”

Benji followed, stopping to look back at the stall they had cleaned out.

“What are you doing?” Caleb asked.

Benji looked at Caleb. “Did you look at the lady? I mean, really look at her?”

Caleb turned to go. “You’re weird.”

Benji hurried to catch up with him. “It’s like she kinda glowed.”

Caleb shook his head. “Go get their donkey and put him in the back stable. Give him some fresh water and hay. And don’t say stupid things.”

Benji ran to the side of the house, retrieved the donkey and ushered him into the back of the barn. As he finished giving the animal fresh water, he heard voices coming from the large stall.

“Are you comfortable, Mary?,” he heard a man ask.

He walked into where the couple was getting settled.

“Well, hello,” the woman said softly, turning toward Benji and then wincing as another contraction claimed her smile.

“”Hi,” Benji said. “I was feeding your donkey and giving him fresh water.”

“Thank you.” The man stood and reached out to shake Benji’s hand. “I’m Joseph and this is my wife Mary.”

Benji immediately looked to Mary. “You’re so pretty.” He could hear Caleb’s voice in his head to not say such things.

Mary turned away slightly and straightened her robe. “Thank you,” she said quietly, then looked up. “What is your name?”

“Benji. It’s short for Benjamin but Caleb said I haven’t grown into my name yet.”

Mary smiled. “Caleb must be a big brother?”

“Yes, mam.”

“Well,” Mary turned away from Benji and held Joseph’s hand. “It’s a strong name. I’m sure,” she added with great effort, “you’ll grow into it very soon.”

“Are you okay? Do you need me to get anything for you?” Benji asked as he watched her.

“Some fresh water?” Joseph asked, seeing the boys’ concern and trying to distract him.

“Yes, sir,” Benji replied eagerly.

He hurried out of the barn and returned with fresh water. “Anything else?”

“Maybe stay close to the door – in case we need anything?” Joseph asked.

“I can do that but I need to let my father know.”

After he convinced his father it hadn’t been his idea to get involved but actually had been invited, Benji grabbed a piece of wood and his knife from off the kitchen shelf and went back to the barn.

“I’m here if you need anything,” Benji shouted from outside.

“Thanks, Benji,” Joseph called back.

Benji sat down and began whittling. Once in a while it sounded as if Mary was trying to scream. Benji was relieved when he saw his mother coming toward him.

“Benji, what are you doing out here?” she asked.

“Father said I could stay. Joesph asked me to help them.”

“How are they doing?”

“Well, she sounds really sick. He sounds kinda scared. I don’t want to go in unless I have to.”

Benji’s mother chuckled. “I’ll see if they need help.”

She knocked on the open door. Benji could hear them talking and then his mother called, “Benji, quickly run and fetch some blankets!”

He returned with an armful of blankets. Joseph met him at the door. “I’ll wait here,” Benji stated as he gave Joseph the blankets.

“Thanks, Benji.”

“Mr. Joseph? Is Miss Mary going to be okay?”

Joseph smiled. “Yes, Benji. She’ll be just fine.”
It was almost dark and seemed only seconds had passed when Benji heard his mother loudly say, “Push!”

He wondered if he should go in and help them ‘push’. Was it the trough they needed moved? Just as he stood to find out he heard it – a faint cry. And then laughter. All the pain and all the hurting disappeared and he could hear Mary and Joseph and his mother laughing. Laughing!

It was almost an hour before his mother came out. Benji jumped up. “Is Miss Mary okay? Is it a boy?”

His mother smiled. “Mary is fine and yes, it is a boy.”

“Can I see them?”

“Later. They need some rest now. Why don’t you bring your whittling to the house?”

“Can I stay?” he asked. “In case they need me?”

“Yes. But, don’t go in unless you’re invited.”

“I won’t.”

Benji whittled until he couldn’t ignore his hunger any longer and walked to his house.

“Good timing,” his mother said as he walked in. “Dinner is ready. Take this tray to our guests first. They are probably starving.”

Benji took the tray out to Mary and Joseph.

“Hello?” he called as he reached the barn.

“Hi Benji,” Joseph said, approaching the door. “Wow. It looks like a feast for a king!” Joseph said, taking the tray. “You want to see him?” Joseph asked with a grin.

“Yes!” Benji said and followed Joseph.

“Something smells good,” Mary said.

“My mother thought you might be hungry.” Benji looked over at the baby, who was sleeping in the trough.

“Would you like to go and see him?” Mary asked.

Benji nodded and went to the sleeping baby and knelt down beside him.

“He’s so beautiful,” he said looking at Mary. “He kind of glows.”

“Yes. He kind of does.”

Benji pulled a piece of wood from his tunic pocket.

“I want him to have this.” He handed her a piece of wood. “I started it a while ago and wasn’t sure what it was going to be until today. It’s too little for him to wear, but it’s a crown – if you can’t tell.”

Mary looked over at Joseph, then back to Benji.

“Oh, I can tell, Benjamin” Mary said with tears in her eyes, “and it’s absolutely perfect.”

What Christmas Is All About

img_2746What is Christmas?
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
You better watch out, you better not cry…
Jingle bells…
The Annual Family Christmas Tree Outing…
Silent night, holy night…
Santa Claus…
Rudolph and his clan…
Caroling…
The Christmas story told in various and assorted versions…
Watching “A Christmas Story” about Ralphie and his Red Rider BB Gun…
Giving, receiving, and opening gifts…

In high school I memorized Clement C. Moore’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” for part of a speech and debate class, which crazily enough took me to a Speech and Debate Meet where I won something for some category. Funny thing is, I didn’t even believe in Santa Claus. I did as a child and he came personally each year, making a surprise visit in a red velvet suit, trimmed with white ‘fur’ and topped with a matching hat, a pair of black boots and a wide, black belt. He was the real deal. Or so I thought. The year I was six, cousin Dave whispered otherwise.

As Santa rounded the hall corner, cousin Dave, who had also anxiously been awaiting Santa’s grand entrance said, with great disappointment , “That’s not Santa. That’s grandpa.” How he could see past the curly white beard is beyond me, but he was right. I’m not sure if anyone else stopped believing that year or not because I’m not sure if anyone else heard him, but I sure did.

Yes, that was the moment I quit believing in Santa. It had been a deception that I didn’t want to accept: Santa wasn’t real. Santa was my grandpa. Santa was still the man in red, but he didn’t live up at the North Pole. He didn’t have elves such as I had believed. His elves had the same names as my mom and dad and aunts and uncles. He didn’t have a sleigh but instead drove a Buick and he didn’t have a reindeer, but a toy poodle named Prince. I was devastated.

That year Christmas meant that not all people tell the truth.

A few years later, my mom bought the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. The first time I saw it, it was sitting on the top shelf in her closet. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to see it. I had been sitting on her bed, waiting for her to finish her shower and the closet door happened to be open and there it sat, sitting up there in its unopened box, all by itself, staring at me. I wasn’t snooping. It was just there – beckoning to come down and play. When my mom came out, I asked her why it was there and she said it was for my cousin—for Christmas. I didn’t understand that. I had never had a beautiful doll like that one. Well, okay I had beautiful dolls. Just not that one. And so I begged my mother for it and finally, after my persistence and annoying whining and pleas coated with how I didn’t have a doll like that, she gave it to me. Every time I held that doll, I felt selfishly guilty. I don’t think my mother realized that she gave me the gift of learning to be unselfish that year, because that year I learned it’s much better to give than to receive.

A few years later, I learned more about what Christmas meant. I learned what the meaning of Christmas was really all about.
Since the beginning of time, most of us have heard that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.’ In other words, God loved us so much, that He had to do something to give us hope in this crazy place and save us from ourselves. Hope for situations in which we had been deceived and forgiveness for our own selfish ways. And so, he gave us His son.

He put him on this earth as a little baby who grew up, much the same as you and I. However, the difference between us and Him? He didn’t deceive others. He always told the truth. He taught that the Truth would set us free. He didn’t try to manipulate people into giving him what he wanted but came to give what they needed.

He never pushed to get his way. He showed the world that it was better to give than to receive. He didn’t stand in crazy lines that wrapped around store aisles but stood on the stones of a temple courtyard where He was sentenced to die a sinner’s death.

The day had come for Him to go. If he stayed, hope would become a word without meaning. He showed the world once—and for all—the value of a gift when He held out his arms on the cross, similarly as his mother did some years earlier. She held out her arms to embrace the Son of God on that first Christmas night, only to watch Him embrace the world as He held open His arms on the cross.

That is what Christmas means to me – to open my arms to the world. To offer all that I have to those who have nothing – physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. To embrace those who are alone and need someone to comfort them, listen to them, be a friend. To forsake what I think I need and give to another, learning that I have all I need.

The holidays can be so crazy—focusing on wants and desires. The desire for this or that. The desire to give the best gift. The desire for the best deals.

My desire is to focus on that little boy. To please him in my offering of gifts that I bring. And I want to bring to him everything. I no longer want to be the little girl, vying for a plastic doll or to tell Santa my secrets, but I want to scan the faces of humanity and see who needs a gift more than I do.

What is Christmas? Christmas isn’t about me. It’s all about Him.

Prying the Lid Off of My Bucket

Lithia Park Photo by Sherri Woodbridge
Lithia Park
Photo by Sherri Woodbridge

I’ve been trying to get organized.  Decluttering. Simplifying life. SIfting through my bucket box.

To others, it could translate a little differently, like: Getting your ‘affairs’ in order.  Making a new (‘life’) plan.  Cutting stress.  Starting a new habit (or two) or breaking an old one.  Cutting clutter.  Going through ‘stuff’. Methodizing ‘things’.  Putting things in ‘order’.  Making a ‘power productivity program’.  Designating time.  FREEDOM.  Spring cleaning. Setting goals.  Cleaning out.  Sorting through junk.

I’m sure you could come up with more.  For me, it’s been a bit of spring cleaning (trying to get a head start so I can finish before summer this time), setting some goals, sorting through things, cleaning out other things, and/or putting things in order

Another thing I’m doing is trying to fill and empty my bucket, or box.  I have a little box covered rather primitively and given to me by a very special person who hid a packet of soup in it when once I thanked her for the delicious meal she made for her sister and I. I loved the box and was elated to find out it was a mix so I could make it!  The box became (and still is) my ‘bucket’ box.  It holds ideas of things to do, to make, to write.  I am good at filling it.  I slack off on opening the lid to actually doing what I put in there.

In his book, Unfair and Unbalance: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, the author, Patrick M. Carlisle, makes the statement that, “a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night, [will] cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, pry the lid off his bucket list!”  I don’t wish to be querulous now or in my ‘twilight’ years, but I am ready to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid back on my bucket box.  Perhaps live a little more – or a lot.

I think when you have a chronic or a terminal illness (or intimately know or live with someone who does), you tend to look at life differently. It becomes more valuable as you realize in one way or another, your time is limited.  Limited by days or mobility, functionality or abilities.  You tend to see things in a new light and what was once was not, now becomes a possibility.
For me, to make things more possible, involves being more organized and de-cluttering my ‘life’.  That is all materially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I guess you could say I owe this enlightenment to my daughter.
She and her husband came up for Christmas this past December and one evening (in front of her husband, no less) said to me, “Mom, you’ve really got a lot of stuff – a lot of clutter – laying around (yes, she used that word).  You’ve really started becoming a pack rat.”  The shameless boldness to speak to her mother with such truth. Hmph!

The actual truth is – I think I’ve always been a pack rat.  I’ve just organized (or hidden) it well.  So – she doesn’t know it but, her comment lit a fire under me.  January 1st, I made a decision to get organized AND clean out (two different things).  I think what has happened is, I started cleaning out (de-cluttering) and the organization started happening.  When the organization began coming back (I was once super organized), I began to feel less stress and ‘free’. I began thinking of setting goals and designating time anew.  I began thinking about what to take out of my bucket box and doing something about those ideas, whether they be something to make, do, or to visit.
When I began to think of goals, designating time naturally came into play.
Yesterday I heard a woman say, “I realized that I have spent more time thinking about food than thinking about God.”  Shouldn’t that be the other way around (and she was getting to that, I realized as I stood talking to her)?

So, as my life becomes and continues to be reordered, reprioritized, reorganized, I am hoping to get it to look something like this:

~God first in deed, speech, and thought.  What does that look like for me?  He comes first in my attention and affection.  If He truly is the most important, He will get the best of both ~ quantity and quality of time and love.  If that is working well, all the other areas of my life seemto work  well, no matter the circumstance.

Everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated as such.  There are no exceptions.  What does that look like?  Forgiveness.  Unconditonal love.  Random acts of kindness.  Phone calls/notes to friends and family.  If they matter, it should be obvious.  I have a responsibility to love like Jesus.  If I truly love Him and follow Him, I’ll act like Him and others won’t ever have to question if I love them or if they matter.  My words, my thoughts, and my actions will reflect this.

~De-cluttered.  What does that look like for me?
Thoughts can tend to change as the old thoughts are no longer welcome and I let them go. I believe this stems from the desire to put God back in His right place in my life: first place.  When I give  Him priority in all things, I easily see what needs to go.

Are there material things that you hold on to that are a reminder of past hurt?  Emotional memories that keep you from experiencing true freedom and joy?  Maybe it’s time to de-clutter our inner lives, too.

~Open the bucket box and take something out. I love new dieas.  Something new to try.   Going somewhere new.  Sometimes, however, I get so distracted with new ideas that they stay just that – ideas.  I want to begin to take these ideas out and do something with them, even if it’s to throw them away.  After all, what am I going to do with a note that says, “3 clothespins and yellow paper with Josh”?  (A note I quickly jotted to remind me of some sort of a craft to do with my youngest son when he was five.  What do I do with 3 clothespins, yellow paper, and a five year old?)

What was that quote?  I am ready to “cut loose, …dance on the razor’s edge and pry the lid off my bucket box.

A Sincere Smile, A Warm Hello

img_3294A smile. A ‘Hello’. A short question of ‘How are you today?”

Have you ever answered a grocery clerk’s question of ‘How’s your day going?” with a ‘Good’ and followed by a “How’s your day going?”

Have you ever watched their face when you’ve asked that? They look up at you. Right at you. Most have a surprised expression or one of shock. They don’t expect a response. They don’t expect anyone to care how they might be doing.

Questions. Comments. Greetings. They all fall into the same category: a gift of encouragement. I learned how important this was when my husband and I went down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina’s devastating flood. Hellos weren’t nearly enough. People wanted someone to sit and talk with them, pray with them, listen to them, show compassion to them, listen as they answered the question, “How are you doing today?” Really listen.

A few months ago, I posted an article on my Parkinson’s website about a drug that is life threatening to people with PD. It received a couple of comments, the biggest one being from a man who had just lost his father in-law who had PD and they mistakenly gave him this drug. The son in-law was writing to say thank you for the information and only wished he might have found it sooner.

That comment came at a critical time for me, as I was beginning to question whether what I write really does make a difference. It did for him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this –

We are all basically the same. We hurt, we feel pain, we feel sad, we get down and we sometimes want our exit from this world to come sooner rather than later. But then – we go to the supermarket and someone says hi or smiles. Or maybe we go home and while we water our flowerbeds a neighbor walks over and asks us how our day is going and actually sticks around to find out. Perhaps we turn on our computers to check our websites and someone has left an encouraging comment on a post we wrote. And most likely, after being greeted, asked how we’re doing, or reading an encouraging comment after a blog post, we begin to feel better. All because someone took time to go a little further to show they really did care.

If just a small gesture can break up the dark clouds in someone’s day, I don’t want to hold back. I want to be saying my hellos, listening to the responses to my ‘”How ‘ya doin’?’’ questions, and leaving a comment when I’ve been encouraged or inspired. It’s not hard to do – you just have to care a little bit.
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